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ÄNGLAGÅRD

Symphonic Prog • Sweden


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Änglagård biography
Änglagård were a short-lived band who nonetheless generated critical acclaim and a loyal following in the early nineties with their brooding mellotron and synth heavy sound that also featured virtuoso percussionist Mattias Olsson and classically trained flautist Anna Holmgren.

The band was formed in the summer of 1991 by guitarist and lead vocalist Tord Lindman and bassist Johan Högberg. The pair placed ads to form a band in the vein of the seventies progressive bands such as Yes and King Crimson, which were successfully answered by keyboardist Thomas Johnson and guitarist Jonas Engdegård. Drummer Olsson and flautist Holmgren were soon added and by the following spring the band were touring and logging studio sessions that would yield the well-received album Hybris. The release was followed by an American tour which included an appearance at the 1993 Progfest in Los Angeles. By 1994 the band had released their second and final album Epilog, followed again by an appearance at Progfest. This would prove to be the band's final performance. The Progfest recordings were engineered and released in 1996 as the live requiem Buried Alive.

Founding member Lindman went on to a career in the film business after the demise of the band, while the remaining members reformed briefly to tour in 2003, but are currently on indefinite hiatus. Olsson has since had a hand in the formation of Nanook of the North and has played in Pineforest Crunch and the Par Lindh Project, among others. Johnson has also appeared on studio released for the post-rock project Reminder.

Änglagård's sound is rich in mellotron, Hammond and piano, and a brooding wash of guitars and bass/bass pedal accented by Holmgren's moody and precise flute. The band's compositions are characterized by long, often instrumental tracks with significant tempo shifts and sometimes intense guitar flourishes. The Epilog album is instrumental in its entirety, and many of the tracks are distinguished by striking passages from Johnson's grand piano. Early Porcupine Tree also comes to mind, particularly when listening to Epilog.

Änglagård deserves a place in the Archives for their admirable effort in carrying the banner of large, expansive symphonic music well into the nineties, with a sound that both pays homage to the great progressive giants of the seventies, and advances that sound with virtuoso accompaniment and expansive, layered compositions.

Bob Moore (ClemofNazareth)

Änglagård official website

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ÄNGLAGÅRD discography


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

4.42 | 1127 ratings
Hybris
1992
4.06 | 464 ratings
Epilog
1994
4.24 | 665 ratings
Viljans Öga
2012

ÄNGLAGÅRD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.61 | 110 ratings
Buried Alive
1996

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ÄNGLAGÅRD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hybris by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.42 | 1127 ratings

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Hybris
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by BatBacon

4 stars Usually I'm very sceptic to progressive rock with the main goal to recreate the music of the 70s with todays sound quality, the result is more than often horrific and annoying. �nglagård is one of the few exceptions I know of bands succeeding to create "classic" prog with a modern touch (not to modern, though) and actually make something interesting from it. With a lot of Crimson blended with some classic swedish melancholy their "Hybris" is a modern classic and a fine example on how great progressive rock is to be done!

The sound of first song "Jordrök" is raw, mysterious and crazy with all the melodies colliding into each other and a drummer going completely mental over his drum kit. It goes through all this different phases, from the scary piano opening to something absolutely wild and then back to slow and calm. It goes on like that for eleven minutes without losing the listener for a second. Its a fantastic and beautiful mess!

I think all the songs have pretty much the same characteristics (and I don't mind at all), wild and crazy, slow and beautiful, all in one. Howling guitars, flutes and bass playing that reminds you a little of Yes. Drummer Mattias Olsson sound a lot like Bill Bruford at times, which adds an extra dimension of complexity to the songs. Its as close to perfection as you get. Also Hybris got one of the best closing tracks I know, "Kung Bore" is so epic it almost makes you faint in the end!

So why four stars? Why not five? Its with a great deal of sadness I tell you that I absolutely hate the vocals on the album, its terrible! I dont really know if its the singer or the vocal melody, but there is something about it that just doesn't work for me, it just sounds so awkward, like the singer doesn't really wants to sing. Im from sweden, so I know the texts aren't that good, but I think its more the way the singing sounds. But I don't know if Hybris would have been that good without any song at all either, instrumental music is hard to write. The first song is of course instrumental, but for an whole album?

I can't end this review like that, because it IS an awesome album and deserves better. The music is as good as it gets, overblown and probably too majestic for most people, but thats the point with progressive rock! And I got to say (except from the vocals) �nglagård nails it big time!

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 Viljans Öga by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.24 | 665 ratings

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Viljans Öga
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by bhikkhu
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Team

5 stars The legendary, cult favorite, Swedish prog band Änglagård had gone into hibernation after two incredible albums. Most of us thought never to return. Even the two albums, "Hybris" and "Epilog" were out of print. The rarity of the recordings only added to the band's mystique. In 2002 they decided to test the waters and try rehearsing together, only with Tord Lindman choosing to bow out. This resulted in some live performances and new hope from the fans. It was however short lived as Jonas, Anna, Thomas, Johan and Mattias retreated back to their separate lives. Then in 2009 "Hybris" was rereleased, followed by "Epilog" in 2010. There was also news about the band reuniting and recording again. 2012 saw a new dawn with concert dates and their first new studio album in 18 years, "Viljans Öga." Änglagård lives!

For those of you not familiar with Änglagård, you should be. There is a reason why the return was a major event in the prog community. Even one original member short (Tord has still not returned), this is one of the best bands you will ever hear. So good in fact, there was little concern about measuring up to the legacy after being gone for so long. I personally just about did backflips when I found out I was going to see them perform at NEARfest. Unfortunately the new album was not available before that time. I did manage to snag a copy before the performance and discovered that "Viljans Öga" is another masterpiece.

Honestly it did take a little more time for me to attach the masterpiece label. Hearing three out of the four tracks live certainly helped but digging into the CD a few times confirmed my original assessment. It is one of those albums that gets better every time you hear it. They seamlessly weave so many ideas through their compositions that there is almost always something new to discover. Plus, these musicians being at the pinnacle of virtuosity are never anything but captivating. Experiencing music like this reminds the connoisseur of why the obsession exists.

The album essentially carries on where "Epilog" left off. Entirely instrumental, dark moodiness and almost schizophrenic ups and downs prevail. I do however see a stylistic shift genre-wise. I'd say symphonic still works as a label but I am hearing much more RIO (rock in opposition) or avant-garde influence. This should come as no surprise as I believe that element was always present. It is what made Änglagård more than just a 70's prog revival in the first place. Incredibly I think each musician has improved as well. The maturity has seemed to transform them into people that belong more in the company of orchestral musicians than eclectic rockers.

Make no mistake Änglagård still rocks. Their swirling, angular crescendos still exist along with frenetic rhythms and howling mellotron. True to symphonic ideology this is of course blended with sullen softer passages. This may not sound like a stretch from the earlier work and it isn't. The craft is being further perfected, as any master would do. Moving toward the avant-garde side of things has also made things more challenging for the band and the listener as well. There is no expectation that anyone will be easily brought in through the tightly woven density. Effort will be involved and isn't that true of anything worthwhile anyway?

American Idol fans don't waste your time. I highly doubt these are the people that read my reviews anyway, but just in case? "Viljans Öga" is for the educated musical palette. It is the equivalent of an Angelo Gaja Barolo. If you aren't ready for it, go to the grocery store and get yourself some white zinfandel.

H.T. Riekels

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 Hybris by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.42 | 1127 ratings

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Hybris
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars "Hybris" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock act 'nglag'rd. The album was originally released on CD through the Mellotronen label in late 1992 and on vinyl through the Norwegian Colours label. "Hybris" has since seen several reissues. The original version of the album featured 4 tracks while later reissues feature a 5th bonus track in "G'ngl't fr'n Knapptibble"

The relatively inactive 80s progressive rock scene in Sweden, which had been pretty active in the 70s, made a major comeback in the early 90s with acts like The Flower Kings, Anekdoten, Ritual and Landberk. Few artists have been met with almost universal praise as 'nglag'rd have though. They didn't exist for long the first time around and only released two studio albums before they disbanded, but especially "Hybris" is widely considered a "classic" Swedish progressive rock album.

...and it's apparent why that is when listening to the album.

The first thing you notice when listening to "Hybris" is the high level musicianship. These guys (and girl) are outstanding on their instruments. They successfully balance their playing between organic dynamic playing and precision interplay. Flute is the dominant lead instrument in the mellow folky sections, while the busy drumming, keyboards/synths, guitars and bass form the basis on the more energetic parts of the album. Vocals are sparse, mellow and delivered in the Swedish language.

The music is heavily rooted in 70s progressive rock and while a combination of Kaipa and King Crimson is a much too simplified description of 'nglag'rd's sound, I think it'll give people a general idea of how the music sounds (I heard a few nods toward Genesis too). The lush and occasionally folky symphonic progressive rock of Kaipa (the sparse Swedish language lyrics also point in that direction), the dissonant darkness of mid-70s King Crimson and the beautiful and mellow acoustic guitar sections of Genesis (as heard in "Ifr'n Klarhet Till Klarhet"). It's a great combination of mellow and heavy elements that make "Hybris" a very dynamic listen.

The tracks range from 8 to almost 13 minutes in length, and there is a lot going on in each track. This is not an easy listen and even seasoned progressive rock listeners might find themselves challenged quite a bit. But that's of course also part of the appeal of the album and it certainly ensures longivity. This is the kind of album where you'll find new details every time you give it a spin. Initially I found the compositions a bit disjointed and I struggled to understand them as full compositions and not a bunch of great ideas thrown together to form tracks. The more I've listened to the album though, the more all the pieces seem to form a coherent puzzle.

But it's not only the musicianship and the songwriting that are top notch. Add to those two important elements the fact that "Hybris" features an organic, detailed and powerful sound production and we have a high quality product on our hands. The only flaw/issue, if you can call it that, is that the music isn't particularly original sounding (it's still highly adventurous though). Most elements on the album have been used before by various 70s progressive rock acts, but I guess it's the combination of elements, that makes "Hybris" such a strong release. To my ears this one deserves it's "classic" status and a 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

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 Viljans Öga by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.24 | 665 ratings

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Viljans Öga
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by Neo-Romantic

5 stars I've wanted to review this album for a while, but honestly didn't know where to begin. This is one of the most interesting albums I own. It doesn't sound like anything else in my catalog for many reasons. It's also one that I felt would end up falling by the wayside, as on the 2nd and 3rd listens, I felt like I just wasn't getting into it. But something kept me coming back...

If I know an album won't work for me, I usually have a definitive reason why. This was not the case with Viljans Oga. All I knew was that it contained four highly dense compositions with highly contrasting moods, ideas, and textures, along with much more that only the most discerning minds can perceive with few listens. Not knowing why I didn't understand this album kept me coming back, even when it felt laborious and tedious. But then one day, something changed for me. I don't know what, but now I see the picture more clearly.

Here's what changed: I stopped thinking about this as just a rock album. This is also a classical album.

My reasoning behind saying this is that I listen to this album as I would a symphony. We as prog fans listen to our rock albums with a much greater attention to detail than someone not invested in the listening experience who puts the hits radio station on as background noise. But the classical listening experience is different still. It's not something that can easily be defined, but the listening experience changes between these two mediums, despite the fact that prog utilizes many classical traits by its very nature. I'm not trying to say the difference is ineffable as a cop-out. But compare and contrast how you would listen to In the Court of the Crimson King and Mahler's Ninth Symphony. Now replace Mahler's symphony with Viljans Oga. There's the difference.

This album has successfully confounded me, challenged how I listen to music, forced me to change my perception and values of what matters the most in prog, and ultimately helped me grow as a listener and musician. The album has inspired me to approach my own classical writing with a more energetic mentality. Through hearing this, I began utilizing modern instruments in my compositions in a way I never would have thought to do before. This album bridged the gap between classical and commercial music for me. It is a trail-blazer and an indispensable milestone for prog, as it definitively rewrites the rule book on what progressive music is, what it can become, how it can be appreciated, how we assess its value as listeners, and with what mentality we approach such music in order to enjoy it to its fullest capacity.

And to top it off, the compositions are truly wonderful. They display tremendous artistic depth, wonderful contrast, dazzling technical displays, variety and surprises that will keep you guessing, and truly emotionally invigorating melodic and harmonic ideas of tremendous depth. If you don't like it at first, I won't be surprised. This is a real grower, one of the hardest to get into in my entire collection. But once you start getting it and it grows on you, your appreciation will only go higher and higher. It holds a place apart from a conventional top 10 for me. It inhabits its own space and its value is assessed with a unique set of standards. But trust me, it more than just exceeds those standards. It throws out the play book and hits you hard with some trult amazing music. 5 stars is the only appropriate rating for this monolithic achievement.

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 Epilog by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.06 | 464 ratings

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Epilog
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It's a shame I never got around to listen to Anglagard's repertoire recently. I've had their first two albums laying around forever. And yet it's the latter of the two I pick up and play first.

Interestingly, this second album is instrumental, unlike the first. Then again, instrumental jams are my favorite, and the three megaliths on this record are no exception. "Hostsejd" really introduces you to the flavor of the whole disc, with a collage of organ licks, stringy guitar plucks, and a bit of a circusy atmosphere. The key work is phenomenal, layering haunting lick after haunting lick. The syncopation and the pace is unbelievable, it's nigh impossible to keep up with the changing pace half the time. This is progressive rock at its core. The meat of the track (the middle) is constantly changing and fluctuating in terms of pace, rhythm and keys. The song even ends in a circus-like waltz filled with spontaneous cymbal crashes, plinks and plunks on wood blocks, tin cans, and probably other assorted percussion instruments. It's quite unique, but not a very accessible track to the introductory prog fan.

"Skrogsranden" is a bit more definable. It keeps the pace of Hostsejd" in spectacular fashion, but there are more melodies to grab on to. The softer, slower organ/key sections are much more enjoyable because they add to the dark, dreary atmosphere that the entire album creates. It's a continuing theme that's peppered with what I call "shots in the dark", like certain scenes in movies where one big beam of light shoots through a sea of dark clouds like a ray of hope. This "beam of light" reference can be related to the soft subtle strings and flute that slide of the piano harmony about seven minutes in, and then roughly a minute and a half later it's gone again, replaced by more somber organ notes and gloomy choral pitches. Then without warning, the organ scythes through with an onslaught of harsh chromatic tones when the ensemble gets back together, like someone took out an entire three-story building to land right on your head. And of course the end concludes in similar hectic fashion.

"Sista Somrar" also begins with this very ominous piano/organ laced melody, soon to be replaced by strings and flute. Once the ensemble joins in roughly four minutes later, the hectic chromaticsim returns and the drums once again become the main focal point. Then, unusually, the band cuts out to a hint of medieval-style folk music, with the drummer laying out a waltz type beat for the flute to solo over, something I wouldn't have expected (and haven't seen) throughout the entire record. Still, it remains a high energy piece with a few "beams of light" and happy melodies scattered throughout., until it all drowns out and the acoustic guitar takes center stage with strings and flute.

VERDICT: After listening through "Hybris", I found much to be very similar with "Epilog" except two key things. 1) no vocals (which is a good thing; constantly moving lines and changing key signatures is NOT a kind of song you want to sing over) and 2) a much darker, gloomier atmosphere. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's one that sticks out like a giant zit on a supermodel. Then again, I'm biased to instrumental jams, catchy and unconventional. Again, like most albums, the ultimate decision comes down to the listener, but to me, the musicianship displayed here is unlike any I've ever heard. This is truly a unique, one of a kind record that all prog fans should at least consider.

Which makes me all the happier realizing they came back for another album last year.

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 Hybris by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.42 | 1127 ratings

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Hybris
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by Memo_anathemo

5 stars Hybris is a whole, Hybris is perfection, Hybris is the first album of these Scandinavian masters... five excellent tracks (including the BONUS) and a group of excellent musicians, plus a nice cover make of this album one of the best in progressive rock. Simply impressive... piano, mellotron, hammond, guitars, bass guitar, drums, flute, voices ... every single instrument used in this album fits accurately in time and space. The progressions in the songs are perfect, the combination of melodies as well. I love the beautiful folk sounds playing while the rest of the band is playing in different tempos and arrangements... without a doubt a masterpiece to have in your hands!

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 Hybris by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.42 | 1127 ratings

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Hybris
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by Xonty

3 stars As "Formentera Lady" said, the whole album is just copies of old prog rock acts with quite little variation (albeit great production). "Hybris" is not really in the spirit of progressive rock for me, and doesn't feel risky and outgoing enough for a high rating from me, even though on paper the music should be excellent, and almost as good as bands like Genesis. Some nice little melodies throughout, and it's good to hear some of the old stuff in a slightly dimmer light, with a whole new atmosphere, but this is just the most overrated album on PA by a long shot. It's almost in the top 10, and I could think of hundreds of better albums! But anyway, I'll stop my rant and start the review!

The first song "Jordrok": too dark and intense for me. If you listen to this album for the first time, don't expect much variety afterwards. Quite depressed piano tunes, which sound a bit awkward, and don't really fit in with what's to come, but quite intriguing. The whole song doesn't really flow, and the instruments don't complement each other most of the time. Good tones and recording though, and of course the musicianship is spot-on.

"Vandringar i vilsenhet" is also a bit over the place. Quite an odd mood change from the dark symphonic opener, to the more simple (but very layered) style. Of course, everything is there that you would want in a prog rock song, but it's not experimenting with anything further. I suppose in a way it states a signature consistent sound for "Hybris"

"Ifrån klarhet till klarhet" is quite similar to the previous track so it starts to get a bit tired after 15 minutes of ongoing "laid-back" complexities in the album. The guitar (as with the following track) brings a gentle, warmer vibe joined with the flute that I think defines a certain sound that they could have refined down to a very melodic and calm work, but one of the problems with "Hybris" is that it's all over the place really, and quite undecided in its direction apart from progressive rock.

The last track, "Kung Bore" is probably my favourite, and is what secures this album in the 3-star rating for me. This is the sort of thing that I like, with the intricate passages and mixtures of baroque and rock, although once again lacking the experimental value. I could probably listen to this song on its own, but not with the whole of the album - it's just too much altogether. The mellotron, flute and acoustic guitar works well together, but not at all a fan of the organ/electric guitar thing going on. A bit stifled in my opinion, but some nice little themes reappear I guess, and some pretty good melodies.

C(-): A struggle to listen to and to not feel drained by the length of non-stop, non-varied music, regurgitated from the prog rock bands of the 90s. Therefore, mediocre.

Jordrök: *** Vandringar i vilsenhet: *** Ifrån klarhet till klarhet : *** Kung Bore: ****

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 Hybris by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.42 | 1127 ratings

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Hybris
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

5 stars Hybris by Änglagård (not Anglagard!) is one of those records that sure draws people to the world of progressive music. I had just heard Viljans öga before, and it amused me much. But this was even better. I presume it's a matter of taste and that others would consider the third record as the best. But this record featured voices by guitarist Tord Lindman. He doesn't sing much but what he does, spices the music with an even stronger dimension. The lyrics are poetical and take inspiration from the nordic religion.

Hybris includes super powerful symhonic rock as its best. It is totally genuine unlike some other new bands I think just tries to be symphonic without being real progressive. I hear a mixture of inspiration from swedish folk musik, Genesis, other progressive stuff and something they have found out by theirselves.

"Jordrök" is a magnificent blend of heavy and light, deep mellotrons and melodic flute. The recurrent melody is amazing. This is a sound to dive and drown to. "Vandringar i vilsenhet" has some vocals but it doesn't do so much. Even spanish tunes can be heard here. "Ifrån klarhet till klarhet"s music is full of chaotic and wonderful signs and this episodic music proves it develops, like its title suggests. The lyrics takes place in the world of the Gods: Oden, Tor, Frej, etc. Finally we hear "Kung Bore", absolutely an epic, with brutal folk influences and wondersweet lyrics.

Änglagård shows the sound of thhe mellotron, the flute, guitar, drums and bass unto a marvelous harmony of frameless music. I feel almost ashamed I waited so long with listening to this. This is the proud heir of seventies prog. Tord Lindman and Jonas Engdegård make Hackett and Fripp proud, Anna Holmgren makes Ian Anderson happy, Thomas Johnson is the heir of Wakeman, Johan Högberg would frighten Squire and Mattias Olsson is the new Bruford. Thus, a progressive masterpiece i every second of listening.

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 Viljans Öga by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.24 | 665 ratings

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Viljans Öga
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by Dark Nazgul

4 stars I highly recommend a hibernation to save them for another twenty years.

After nearly two decades , Anglagard still can really impress. "Viljans Oga" is an excellent album, it has the same quality of "Epilog" and is almost comparable to "Hybris", which in my opinion remains their unsurpassed masterpiece.

It is a totally instrumental album with four long compositions that recall the style of the great masters of '70s progressive; influences of King Crimson, Genesis and Yes are evident, as always, but this time the songs reminds me very much the style of Magma and other experimental jazz-rock band from Canterbury (Soft Machine, Henry Cow, Hatfield And The North).

The song structure is extremely complex, even more than in the previous albums. It is a very difficult album to digest and you may not like it at first listen; after three or four listening, however, emerges the real value of masterpieces as Sorgmantel (full of virtuosity and jazz-oriented, with a great crescendo in the central section, around minute 7) and Snardom (the second half of the song is amazing, with a beautiful romantic theme that closely resembles the Italian progressive and PFM in particular).

There are incredible rhythmic variation (the work of Mattias Olsson on drums is really breathtaking), romantic atmosphere with mellotron, cello and flute in evidence, and finally the hardest moments, that are very reminiscent of King Crimson in the Fripp-Wetton-Bruford era.

Needless to say, this is a must-have album, not only if you are a great fan of this band. Despite some short drop in quality here and there (sometimes the technical and spectacular virtuosity causes a little coldness), all the songs are interesting. It is one of those albums that I always doubt whether to assign a rating of four or five stars (a really 4,5 stars).

Final rating: 8/10.

Best song: Sorgmantel

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 Viljans Öga by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.24 | 665 ratings

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Viljans Öga
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

5 stars This is the only Änglagård record I have heard som can not compare with the earlier versions of this band. This "Garden of Angels" makes incredible living music from the 21th century. It has so many spectras of progressive music in it. I saw Änglagård perhaps two months ago but then thay had already switched members since this record. I also bought the album on vinyl and have listen to it some times thereafter but primarily before the concert.

The album contains four long tracks and I can't pick a favourite of these tracks. Every has their own beauty and gives the listener some time of thinking and musically journey. The pieces are: "Längtans klocka", "Sorgmantel", "Snårdom" and "Ur vilande" all of them fantastic music. What so amazing in this music is the melodical flute wandering and it is also very melodical, strong and melancholic. It throws us back to the seventies without being nostalgic. In the guitar you can hear King Crimson but the feeling is more of Camel but more advanced arrangements. It is very strong music without a fixed place in time and space. I am convinced people will listen to Änglagård in the far future. The audio quality is perfect and you can relisten to this many times without getting bored. The lp version has one song on every side (a double lp) but you have to play them with single speed. Very dynamic music.

It's not a disc I would recommend to someone unused to prog rock but for us prog nerds this is sweat as candy. This music is very melodical and very pretentious, exactly what it shuld be to please me.

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Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — the ultimate jazz music virtual community | MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music virtual community


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