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WILLOWGLASS

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Willowglass biography
WILLOWGLASS is solo artist/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Marshall who lives in Yorkshire, England. Although involved in music from a young age and has played in various local groups over the last 20 years, the self-titled debut is his very first solo outing. Andrew's work blends 1970's style progressive rock with elements of classical music, adding a colourful palette of emotions & mood to his compositions, which have a uniquely English pastoral feel. It is clear that his inspiration has come from numerous symphonic prog rock bands since the 60s/70s and there are notable references to early GENESIS, YES, CAMEL and even a touch of PINK FLOYD thrown in for good measure.

The self-titled debut (2005) contains ten instrumental tracks recorded between September 2004 and April 2005, with lashings of mellotron, flute, 12-string acoustic & electric guitars. If you listen carefully you may find references to other works such as : CAMEL- "Rain Dances", GENESIS- "Selling England By The Pound", BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST - "Everyone Is Everybody Else" and YES - "Fragile". However, this is NOT just a hackneyed clone of past Classics, it is a sophisticated, graceful & intelligent interpretation of these, taking the lucky listener on a journey into lush green pastures where we can forget the busy world and almost believe we are back in 1970's again ...

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to those who like any of the 1970's classic prog bands mentioned above and especially for those who like the style & mood of Anthony PHILLIPS' "The Geese & the Ghost" .

: : : Felona, AUSTRALIA : : :

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WILLOWGLASS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.69 | 70 ratings
Willowglass
2005
3.84 | 78 ratings
Book Of Hours
2008
3.79 | 113 ratings
The Dream Harbour
2013

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WILLOWGLASS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Dream Harbour by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 113 ratings

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The Dream Harbour
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It seems to me that multi instrumentalist Andrew Marchall decided to expand a little his Willowglass project; now besides a new drummer (german Hans Jörg Schmitz), he also decided to flash up the sound with American violinist/flute player Steve Unruh. That should have given him more versatility and broader the limited palette of a one man band (plus drummer). Specially in an all instrumental type of music. And in a certain way it does. Unruh does provide fine flute and violin solos: the former reminding me of Ian Anderson, the latter ringing like a mix of Kansas and Jean Luc Ponty. Marshall even threw in some more experimental sounds a la King Crimson here and there for good measure. As usual, his love for 70´s classic prog is showed by the use of vintage keyboards sounds (specially mellotron) and fine Hackett-like guitar lines.

The trouble is that his compositions are not as strong as his second CD Book Of Hours. Besides, I still think he should consider having lyrics and a good singer on some tracks. As charming as some of his melodies are, there are moments of repetition and a need for something extra that simply does not arrive. Sometimes you get the feeling of hearing a fantastic introduction to a great song, but that´s it. Of course those moments do not appear very often, but it does annoy me. As usual, the production is very good and the right influences are all around (I just love those Gabriel-era Genesis sounding keyboards!). The cover art is also beautiful!

It seems that Wilowglass is a band that could go very far if only Andrew Marchall would be a little bolder and realize the full potential of a more "conventional" prog band format (yes, I mean having a good vocalist!). The Dream Harbour is still a very fine record and should be heard by anyone who likes good melodic and pastoral symphonic prog music. But, even if they haven´t disappointed me, they also haven´t fulfilled their initial promise yet. Maybe next time.

Rating: between 3 and 3.5 stars.

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 The Dream Harbour by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 113 ratings

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The Dream Harbour
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I was quite taken with the previous album by WILLOWGLASS called "Book Of Hours" and so it was a no-brainer to pick this one up. This time we get American Steve Unruh adding violin, flute and guitar as well as guest drumming from German Hans Schmitz. Andrew Marshall is the mind behind this project and he composed all of the music as well as being the producer. Once again there is a strong GENESIS vibe but I have to mention the gorgeous cover art, as well as the pictures in the liner notes, all had my undivided attention. And it was a surprise to read the Lee Gaskins is the artist who created these beautiful pictures.

"A House Of Cards Pt. 1" is the over 20 minute opener. I find the synths annoying to start as the violin and drums join in. We get a GENESIS-like rhythm as the flute joins in. The organ starts to pulse and then we get a calm with violin and piano before 6 minutes. It's darker a minute later then it kicks back in with flute, drums and more. More pulsating organ and some intricate guitar before 10 minutes then the violin returns before 13 minutes. A change follows as the mellotron and drums lead. Great section! More violin and then the pulsating organ returns 15 1/2 minutes in. A calm just before 18 minutes as mellotron and flute join in as it stays pastoral to the end.

"A Short Intermission" is just that, a 1 1/2 minute piece that's quite bright well at least until the flute arrives. "A House Of Cards Pt. 2" opens with the synths and drums leading the way then it settles in as the violin starts to play over top. Good stuff. Gotta love the flute after 3 1/2 minutes. The pulsating organ becomes prominent as well. I like how it turns dark with mellotron 6 1/2 minutes in. "Interlude No.2" is acoustic guitar melodies and percussion sounds. "The Dream Harbour" is a Symphonic piece with sweeping mellotron sounds and acoustic guitar. The violin joins in changing the flavour slightly. Flute, drums and violin lead later. "Helleborine" is another short piece at just over 2 minutes. Beautiful is the word. "The Face Of Eurydice" has such a great intro, so majestic. Not a fan when it changes after 1 1/2 minutes but when it changes again before 3 minutes i'm smiling right to the end.

3.5 stars. I just don't think it's as good as the previous one, well not according to my tastes but it you like beautiful Symphonic music you should check this band out.

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 The Dream Harbour by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 113 ratings

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The Dream Harbour
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by DrmmarenAdrian

5 stars Now I have found something really interesting!

Willowglass is the name of the Brittish musician Andrew Marshall from Yorkshire. He has released three records under the name "Willowglass" of which this: "The Dream Harbour" came last year 2013 and is the third. The cover is amazingly full of elements. We see a colourful harbour with mountains inspired by Roger Dean but the people seams more inspired by Genesis' cover pictures. Andrew Marshall plays guitars, keyboards, bass and bass pedals, Hans Jrg Schmitz plays drums and percussion and Steve Unruh plays violin, flute and guitar on the album.

I most make this clear, this is a wonderful record in every aspect and if you like the brittle symphonics of the early seventies, this is a perfect record for you. I could compare it with Genesis' "Trespass" which has parts that go in the same style. The musical inspiration and the themes of Willowglass is not totally new but it feels to totally fresh and honest. I was overwhelmed of the music whichs also grows for every playing. The introducing epic "A House of Cards Pt.1" is one of the true gems. It contains everything I could want from prog. Well the only thing the record lacks is song. i haven't thought about that so perhaps it's not a shortage. The title track "The Dream Harbour" is also totally lovely and the acoustic guitars is known from Genesis but here they are deepened and more thorough in their world. Some tracks on the record are short intermissions and they are lovely as well, especially "Interlude No.2" and "Helleborine".

Andrew Marshall should be really proud of this prog heaven he has created. I am glad I found it and purchased it. I recommend it for every prog lover but especially fans of the melodic and light seventies spirit. The sound aren't pretentious or very grande but the more delicate. My rating will be 4.7 and five stars. A wonderful record!

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 Book Of Hours by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.84 | 78 ratings

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Book Of Hours
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by brotherjohn

3 stars Willowglass produces some lovely music with great sound, instrumentation, and overall production. Andrew Marshall blends acoustic and electric instruments masterfully, and plays them very well I might add. What prevents this album from being more than just "good", however, is the composition. Take "The Labyrinth", the albums fine closer. This piece begins beautifully featuring acoustic guitar. I'm thinking we could have something great here. But then, things start to repeat themselves a bit, and later in the track there is a synth solo that I don't really connect with, and, as with other tracks, the music is just a little too repetitive, without a whole lot in the way of chord changes or variation. This is why the album is not in the territory of something like Anthony Phillips' "The Geese and the Ghost". Now if one could mix the beauty and feel of Willowglass with the compositional density of, say, Anglagard or Cirrus Bay, I think we'd have a masterpiece. Still, this is a very nice album throughout, with beautiful artwork and packaging (as good as any I've ever seen), to lend to a very nice listening experience. So, although the music is typically quite "safe", even slightly "new age", in my opinion, it is also pretty and pleasant, and on occasion, even haunting.

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 The Dream Harbour by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 113 ratings

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The Dream Harbour
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Just take one look at the amazing artwork by Lee Gaskins on the cover of the third Willowglass album `The Dream Harbour', and prog fans will by salivating in anticipation and expectation! Providing those fans enjoy the more symphonic and vintage influenced end of progressive music, they better get a bowl ready to catchy that drool, because grand and luscious music doesn't get much better than this, so that bowl is sure to be running over in no time! Ahem...moving right along from that rather graphic image, main composer Andrew Marshall continues to refine and perfect his wondrous instrumental Genesis-like pieces, with a touch of Gryphon too, and his keyboard/guitar compositions take on a near classical grandiosity here. With additional musicians Steve Unruh and Hans Jorg Schmitz, the trio come together with a superb musical offering that delivers all the imagination, colour and technical professionalism expected of fans of the progressive genre, and it's the best work to appear under the Willowglass banner yet.

The showpiece of the disc is the opening masterwork `A House of Cards', a grand epic that, excluding the playful interlude `A Short Intermission' in between, runs for almost 30 minutes and will no doubt be a big selling point for listeners. It has everything a symphonic prog fan could want - frequently medieval flavoured, full of triumphant fanfares, victorious marches and adventurous strolls, running through endless tempo changes and different emotional textures. It's dramatic, whimsical, frequently tense and thrilling, and always impossibly pretty. There's endless washes of Mellotron and spiraling Moog, regal organ, with more emphasis placed on acoustic guitar passages over electric soloing, and special mention must go to dancing flute and stirring violin player Steve, his exquisite and restrained playing covers many significant sections of the piece. He also knows when to let loose, and these moments comes close to the wild and reckless sound of the defining Italian bands of the 70's. So maybe one or two sections in the overall piece drag on a little long and become a tad repetitive, but there's no denying this is an epic composition expertly executed and one that that Symphonic fans will relish.

Perhaps the second half of the CD might be even better! Yes, the influences become more than a little blatant here, but it's still amazing music. `Interlude 2' is a divine madrigal acoustic guitar piece (how I would love to hear Andrew and company release an album completely in this style), and the title track is an open love-letter to all things Genesis, with the same Steve Hackett-inspired chiming guitars and scratchy dreamy Mellotron washed all over every single beautiful second of it. `Hellborine' is a placid and delicate 'Tron and flute acoustic duet. The opening of album closer `The Face of Euridice' crackles with the same glistening Mellotron as `The Fountain of Salmacis', and it turns quickly into a imposing piece full of pomp and glory. Schmitz's powerful and commanding drumming really stands out here, and very quickly the mighty 'Tron takes on a very sinister and delirious wicked glee. All of these pieces together surely rank among the best Mellotron tracks of the year, and they are all simply gorgeous.

In some sections, it's still a little obvious this is an artist painstakingly cutting-and-pasting everything together, but there is no denying how much love and time has gone into carefully composing and performing this work. Some will scoff at the clear influences on display and dismiss the album as merely lazily recycling past ideas, but that would be missing the point. `The Dream Harbour' relishes in it's prog heritage, and seeks to lovingly offer music in the same tradition. Andrew Marshall and his fellow musicians have delivered the strongest Willowglass album to date, and, along with Trion's `Funfair Fantasy' and `Progenesi's `Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero', it's one of the defining symphonic instrumental albums of 2013.

Four stars.

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 Book Of Hours by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.84 | 78 ratings

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Book Of Hours
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by sinslice

4 stars I could conjure up a good variety of influences to describe this album, and the idea of ​​ Marshall's music in general. But other commentators have done very well, before me.

In parts, flutes, acoustic and classical guitars, give it a unique baroque and medieval touch. In other sections mellotrons and keyboards adjusted and accurate proliferate. All very neatly executed, and without fanfare. Changes and variations without abruptness, pristine production.

Controlled role of electric guitars and keyboards. Completely instrumental, well supported by the warm drums performed by Brightman.

The five pieces are of similar beauty, simple and cozy. Only vary in length, but not in quality.

4- stars.

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 The Dream Harbour by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 113 ratings

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The Dream Harbour
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars When one decides to have a website where reviews will be posted, it's very common to receive lots of CDs to review. In my case, also to play these albums in my Podcast. To be honest, it's not every time that I receive very good albums. In fact, the really good albums are rare. But of course this happens from time to time. I can say that Willowglass is a case of a very good album!

Willowglass is the brainchild of the English musician Andrew Marshall. The Dream Harbour (2013) is his third album. The album was produced by Andrew himself and recorded at Maythorne Studios in the UK, Under The Ark studios at Germany and InvisibleStudios in the USA. The marvelous artwork of gatefold design was made by Lee Gaskins, who has already worked with Willowglass and also with the band Pilgrym.

The Dream Harbour (2013) was self-released in May and it was recorded by Andrew Marshall (electric & acoustic guitars, 12-string guitar, classical guitar, keyboards, bass guitar and bass pedals), Hans Jrg Schmitz (drums and percussion) and Steve Unruh (violin, flutes and guitars).

Willowglass is an instrumental project, but their music is focused on the melodies, not on the complexity. The opener track 'A House Of Cards Pt. 1' is very clear in showing us that. This epic is almost 21 minutes long and has clear signs of Jethro Tull. Well, to tell you the truth, it is quite hard to have flutes in your Prog band and not sound as Ian Anderson. In Willowglass case they're far away from being a copy. Not just that, Steve Unruh violins give the music a Classical feeling. Some passages with violins and acoustic guitars are just wonderful. The keyboards are on the background most of the time, but they make the perfect counterpoint to the riffs. Astonishing track! Second track, as the name suggests, 'A Short Intermission', is just that, a short theme based on flutes, keyboard and bass. Then we have the closing of the first track with 'A House Of Cards Pt. 2'. This track is one of my favorites. There's a Triumvirat feeling in it, especially because of the synths. Also, the Steve violins once again play a big role in Willowglass' music. In fact, Steve himself plays a big role in Willowglass third album. Of course, Andrew Marshall compositions are the strong point in here, but Steve added so many colors to the album. On top of that, we have some well played drums by the German Hans Jrg Schmitz.

'Interlude No. 2' comes to 'divide' the album, as a second side in an LP. As the name suggests, this is an interlude played exclusively by the classical guitar. Some Steve Hackett influence for sure, but at the same time, this is the old classical music period, and pieces like that are spread throughout many musical genres. The title-track is very Genesis influenced. The duo keyboards/acoustic guitar was quite a trade mark of the English band. The flutes on the top came to crown the song.

'Helleborine' is once again an intermission, short track based on flutes, shy keyboards and acoustic guitars. 'The Face Of Eurydice' is the final track in The Dream Harbour (2013) and it comes just to conclude what we know since track one, Willowglass is very much influenced by the Prog bands that carry classical music background. In this track we have a fragile keyboard melody followed by good drums and a simple bass line, at least till the middle. After that the song takes a different path, a bit more chaotic, a bit more King Crimson if you like. The final track is a good one, but very different from the rest of the album.

The Dream Harbour (2013) was my first meeting with Willowglass' music, but I can surely say that the compositions are mature, well-structured and the addition of violins and flutes was a great idea, they just come to add more and more pretty colors to the music. Usually I have some trouble to get through instrumental albums. I admit that an instrumental album is much better than an album with a bad singer, but I like Prog Rock with vocalists. I think it adds another dimension to the music. But, when it comes to the new Willowglass album I have got no problem at all. The melodies speak for themselves.

All in all, despite the obvious influences here and there, The Dream Harbour (2013) is one of the strongest albums I've listened this year so far.

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

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 The Dream Harbour by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 113 ratings

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The Dream Harbour
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

4 stars While I have to agree with other reviewers that Andrew Marshall's instrumental compositions are maturing--and that his more-showcased flute playing has definitely improved--I still find the song elements, sounds, and stylings too derivative of (mostly) classic and Neo-GENESIS. The mysteriously separated two epics at the start of the album, "A House of Cards" (Parts 1 and 2), are, in my opinion, too disjointed and all over the place--they lack flow and sense-making shifts and turns--and are, again, often incorporating sounds and riffs too close to something from a classic 70s Genesis or Jethro Tull song.

The highlights of the album for me are the three Interludes (I'm including "Helleborine" with the other two because of its brevity) and the near-perfect (though blatantly Genesis sounding) title song (9/10).

I will give this album a four star rating because of the wonderful tradition of bucolic soundscapes that Mr. Marshall is championing--and for the fact that he is doing a very fine job of it. Keep on trying, keep on growing, Andrew, your masterpiece is coming.

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 The Dream Harbour by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 113 ratings

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The Dream Harbour
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars The wonderful world of Willowglass just keeps on sparkling along, Andrew Marshall's third installment of delectable instrumental symphonic-prog continues to progress beyond the mellotron-infested previous albums, so as to now include liberal amounts of violin and flute provided by the wicked Steve Unruh as well as the percussive talents of German drummer Hans-Jorg Schmitz. The man is definitely progressing on a path of bewildering achievement, the artwork is again first rate, though the preceding 'Book of Hours' remains one of the finest covers in recent years. Marshall's multi-instrumentalist style certainly owes a lot to a certain Anthony Phillips, in which he handles both 6 and 12 string acoustic and electric guitars with utter ease, as well as supplying some lush keyboard work that goes beyond the norm. The main difference is in the structural arrangements, with an acute concentration on way more symphonics and orchestrations that Phillips really only achieved with his album 'Slowdance', a progressive masterpiece.

'The Dream Harbour' is a shimmering and glimmering musical cove, a recording that exudes a strong sense of pastoral beauty, a sonic reverie for the dreamer who aspires to transcend the boring routine of life in the technological age. I like to call this 'Sunday morning prog' (a new category, chaps?), a restful respite from the vagaries of stressed-out existences, nothing too jarring and certainly never boring. The album has some epic pieces (such as the massive opener , the 20 minute + 'A House of Cards Pt1' and its subsequent 9 minute companion, 'Part2 ' , interspaced with 3 short interludes, as well as two tracks that fit into the 7-8 minute frame. All are sheer aural delights of the highest order and again, mellotron fans will have to purchase 'wetnaps' to soothe their exhilaration.

The first dramatic impression is one of subtlety, Marshall having now personalized his style, moving away from direct Genesisian influences into a more keyboard-oriented package that simply elevates the classical/orchestral feel of his music. In fact, I pleasantly detected some Gryphon-like influences, a strong sense of playfulness and textural contrasts, mostly due to the violin mentioned earlier. Highlights include of course the previously mentioned 'House of Cards' suite, a constantly evolving blossom of sound, sprinkled by a multitude of variance moods and detail touches (flute is another welcome addition), deft soloing and a sense of journey and escape.

The title track is also a worthy competitor, a glittering musical prize very much in the hallowed tradition of classic Genesis (the only return to the past here) with intricate acoustic guitar phrasings, augmented with wispy string mellotron waves that induce storybook daydreaming. Playfully majestic, the symphonic mood revels in its pastoral beauty to the listener's pleasure. The second segment involves spirited synthesized flights, sizzling violin runs and intense contemplation.

'Helleborine' is the short medieval tinged intermezzo, with mellotron and flute conjuring images of grandiose splendor, as perfect prologue for the lush finale. 'The Fall of Eurydice' invokes the majestic Steve Hackett but with enormous doses of quirky rhythms, whopping cascades of mellotron, terrific drumming amid a massive symphonic swirl. There is a slight sense of more complexity and playfulness which was not always apparent previously, showing the attention to detail within the tight symphonic parameters Andrew chooses to follow. Cool organ phrasings, military march drumming and extensive soloing rule the arrangement, creating an entertaining finale.

Willowglass has progressed to another level, perhaps less saccharine and more experimental and orchestral, with noticeably less lead guitar soloing, nothing wrong with all those mellotrons blazing the road ahead. Unruh and Schmitz have given Marshall a new direction which this writer feels more than exalted with. Lovely stuff indeed. 4.5 Fantasy wharfs

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 Willowglass by WILLOWGLASS album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.69 | 70 ratings

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Willowglass
Willowglass Symphonic Prog

Review by Quirky Turkey

3 stars Willowglass is pure symphonic prog; lots of mellotron, synthesisers, flutes, acoustic guitar, choirs, and so on, with no vocals. The atmosphere is mostly laid back and at times relaxing, with all focus on recapturing the sound of 70s symphonic prog. In fact the production of Willowglass would cause anyone to mistake it for 70s music, and this isn't a bad thing. The album isn't very adventurous and safely stays within the confines of the sound it tries to mimic, so don't expect much originality or a cool new sound.

Even though the music here isn't very risky or creative it is still very enjoyable. Though the songs offer little diversity there aren't any bad ones. One little issue I have with the album is that it can lose a bit of interest at times and it all sounds sort of the same; it works better as background music rather than with full concentration. But looking past this I actually enjoy it. My favourite songs are Garden and Waking The Angels. I also love the artwork. It creates a good indication of the sort of atmospheric music likely to be heard. (In fact it's what influenced me to listen to this album.)

Overall it's an enjoyable album for a nice relaxed listen. It makes me happy to hear things like this nowadays. I recommend this for symphonic prog fans. 3.5 stars

I also recommend Willowglass' next album Book of Hours which has more direction and better compositions.

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Thanks to The Symphonic Team for the artist addition.

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