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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


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

4.41 | 1231 ratings
Hybris
1992
4.07 | 505 ratings
Epilog
1994
4.27 | 737 ratings
Viljans Öga
2012

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

3.60 | 121 ratings
Buried Alive
1996
4.42 | 27 ratings
Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan
2014

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ÄNGLAGÅRD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hybris by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.41 | 1231 ratings

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Hybris
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings

5 stars When I first began my voyage across the prog continent two years ago, Anglagard was one of the names that soon attracted my attention. The CDs were expensive to order (like $40 expensive) and I was bothered by the fact that such highly rated music would be so costly to acquire. But then I listened to some samples and I experienced the "Emperor's New Clothes" feeling for the first time. This is the term I have given to music that many progheads rave about as being extraordinary and masterpieces which to me sound like musicians trying too hard to do something "different". "Where is the music?" I ask myself. I have felt this many times when first listening to Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, The Soft Machine, and even old Pink Floyd. It seems to me that sometimes a deliberate attempt to eschew all formality of melody and harmony results in a cacophonous juxtaposition of sounds which may or may not be created by musical instruments. Of course, over time I have come to understand and even enjoy most of these artists' attempts at being avant guard, progressive, or "different". And what I first thought was a band trying to do everything possible in a single song now strikes me as a genius effort in writing complex music that can be enjoyed given time to appreciate it.

Anglagard, however, would have eluded my collection entirely were it not for Wobbler, whose first and second albums are equally complex and require time to digest little by little. It was Wobbler's third album "Rites at Dawn" that was such a magical concoction of complex retro-symphonic prog that brought me to their previous releases, and ultimately back to Anglagard, this time with an expanded mind for music. Sometimes, in order to climb one mountain you are better off having experienced climbing another first.

The band formed in the early 90's with the purpose of creating highly complex and complicated music in the vein of the 70's prog masters. Their debut in 1992, "Hybris" includes just four tracks (the reissue which was mercifully cheaper but still expensive includes a bonus track) running between 8 and 13 minutes. I find it difficult to describe each song individually without writing a novella; however, the basic ingredients are guitars (clean electric, distorted electric, and acoustic), keyboards (organ, synthesizer, piano, and Mellotrone), flute, bass, drums and percussion, and perhaps some additional string instruments. Vocals are featured on some of the tracks but sparsely and in Swedish. The choice of language is by no means detrimental to the music but the quality of the vocals is wanting. Like many prog bands, there is no gifted vocalist, only gifted musicians.

Each track is unique though on any of them you can expect to hear aggressive music in odd meter, subtle parts and melancholic beauty, building suspense and abrupt stops, and generally a wondrous interplay of sounds. Some parts are truly sublime while others are transitions in between. I only wonder how the band members can remember what to play when during each song. In the Rush documentary, "Beyond the Lighted Stage", Terry Brown, former producer for Rush, said that "La Villa Strangiatto" was so complex that you'd need a computer to keep track of where you were in the song. Anglagard's music goes beyond that in complexity. As such, it is not everyone's cup of prog. If you enjoy songs with more focus on melody then you'll likely be disappointed. Some prog bands take a slow scenic drive through the countryside with their songs. Anglagard is more like a express train at times, with musical motifs almost flying by the window in comparison.

It's taken time to get a feel for the music and identify my favourite parts but I'd say at least three of the tracks are now familiar to me and I quite enjoy them. It's remarkable that a band put this kind of album together while the grunge movement was in bloom. It would seem it was almost a direct backlash to the end of the 80's and grunge.

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 Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Live, 2014
4.42 | 27 ratings

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Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by Progulator

5 stars May 14th of this year saw the release of a new Änglagård live album: Prog på Svenska? Live in Japan. Some of you may have been lucky enough to have been following Änglagård from the very beginning, but if you're anything like me, you came into the game when Änglagård's small catalog of music was either out of print or near impossible to find without spending a fortune; that is, with the exception of one little disc which somehow was available when snagging a copy of albums like Epilogue seemed to be a Herculean feat. That album was Buried Alive, the live recording of Änglagård's last show prior to their 1994 breakup. While the liner-notes of Buried Alive reveal a band that was not 100% satisfied, 20 years later with the release of Prog på Svenska?Live in Japan, Änglagård is back and going strong with a new live recording that is rich in dynamic and deep in maturity, a performance that I am confident that they are proud to immortalize for their fans.

Prog på Svenska represents the first of three consecutive nights that the masters of dark Swedish prog delivered at Club Città in Japan alongside The Crimson ProjeKCt (featuring the legendary Adrian Belew and Tony Levin). For me personally this is a special album that transports me back to when I witnessed their unbelievable performance only three weeks later at Baja Prog. Among a plethora of canonized acts at the festival (such as Hackett, New Trolls, and Three Friends), Änglagård's remarkable performance showed that they stand in no one's shadow. While there's nothing like being there in person, Prog på Svenska is about as good a live recording and performance as I've ever heard on disc. I certainly am jealous of the Japanese fans who got to see them three nights in a row last year.

The live-set on this album shows a balanced representation of the old and the new, featuring two tracks from each studio release along with an unreleased intro track which I assume (and hope) will be on Änglagård's next studio production. So that the anticipation doesn't kill anyone, I'll start right off with the new song: "Introvertus Fugu Part 1." Perhaps the first thing to know about this track is that it's our first look into the composition of the new band featuring Linus Kåse and Erik Hammarström alongside Anna, Johan, and Tord. I can happily say that "Introvertus" shows a band that knows how to move forward without abandoning the distinctive identity that they are known for, a fact that strongly hints at a powerful album to come in the future. The opening moments of the song show the band increasingly incorporating elements of modern classical and atonal music through the delicately dark chord changes on the piano before constructing a wave of tension with ambient bass noise, a distinctive guitar motif, and a descending melody on flute playing against tuned percussion. As the ambient textures continue to swell, a big percussive crash shockingly interjects, setting the stage for an ominous swelling of Mellotron chords, resulting in an eerily delightful sound. The intensity continues to build with a drum roll on snare and cymbals that transition the piece into an aggressive angular instrumental attack featuring howling Minimoog modulation; enter a fiercely dark melody which is doubled or harmonized on most instruments before the band takes the listener into their signature dose of woodsy folkiness. Johan and Linus continue pounding in the rhythm section before the eerie central motif returns to bring "Introvertus" towards its close with the full force of Anna and Linus' dueling woodwinds, one hanging on the melody while the other produces chaotic squeals before withering off the melody in a very unsettling (but cool) way.

After kicking it off with an exciting intro the band takes us back 20 years with "Hostsejd." The rich dynamics, especially the meticulously controlled Mellotron swells, really shine on this one while some small differences in instrumentation (such as the sax on the first main melody instead of flute) really keep the piece fresh and exciting. Although I was craving the intro on the follow up track, "Längtans Klocka," the supreme level of interplay between all instruments that starts off the piece is fantastic. Furthermore, the guitar/Mellotron duet at about 6:30 that leads into a memorable theme is quite the highlight. Finally, the circus-y melody towards the end of the song somehow becomes even more diabolic in this slightly stripped down version as Tord's demented waltzy riff serves as a perfect backdrop for the drunken saxes. Speaking of Tord, it certainly is nice to see him back in the band, and I must add that his guitar playing and sense of emotion is perfect for the band and has improved over the years. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated on "Jordrök," a quintessential song in Änglagård's catalog. The reality of the matter is that despite the fact that the band was quite mature at the time of Hybris' release, their capacity to bring out all the nuances in pieces like this shows that they are musicians who have truly refined their craft over the years. "Jordrök" sounds more alive than ever; the Mellotron flute section in the middle, one of the band's absolute trademark melodies, is to die for, and Linus' superb use of phrasing and pacing in the piano intro certainly takes this classic piece up several notches.

Moving deeper into the performance we see "Sorgmantel," one of my personal favorites from Viljans Öga. The first thing I noticed about this particular performance is that the intro sounds much more raw due to differences in instrumentation, this version starting out with a guitar and bass call and response. While I absolutely adore the studio version, this new arrangement and performance was also wonderful and brought its own set of advantages to the table. First, the bass/guitar duet at the beginning really exposes the melody and shows you that its not just about fancy instrumentation, it's a gorgeous melody through and through. Second, the band is not concerned in the least bit with rushing through the performance of this piece; the pacing is delicate, precise, and emotional with plenty of space for ritard and sway as the intro melody gets passed around from guitar to bass and flute and is then countered by the piano, making the fugue-nature of this piece even more evident. The playing is incredibly tight but busting with dynamic throughout as "Sorgmantel" takes its many twists and turns before working its way to a quiet ending; graceful? even breathtaking.

To wrap up the night, Änglagård once again goes back to the early 90′s, this time with "Kung Bore" and "Sista Somrar." Although the former leans more on the folky side of the band, as does much of their first album, the highlight of the piece actually ended up being the mysterious and ambient middle section where the band shows that they have mastered perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of music: playing quietly with vibrant emotion. Between the light swells of guitar, weird effects on bass, a steady organ pattern in the upper register, and a lightly beating drum, this section goes beyond merely doing justice to the original. Finally, the depth and emotion of "Sista Somrar's" slow, dark intro is, quite frankly, deadly, and goes miles deeper than the original studio recording (which was in and of itself very impressive) as an ominous sax melody flanked by stormy percussion and effects guides us to the unleashing of an uncanny tron female solo voice that will haunt your nightmares for weeks to come.

In my opinion, Prog på Svenska?Live in Japan is an essential live album that you don't want to miss out on. Quite honestly, I am a person who rarely enjoys live albums because oftentimes the performances and production are either significantly worse than the studio recording, or the live version ends up being stripped down to the point where there's just something missing, or the band simply doesn't offer an experience which is significant enough to enjoy the live version deeply; in most cases you sort of 'had to have been there' to get what's so great about it. Such is not the case with Änglagård's latest live documentation. From the performances to the production and the differences in detail from the originals, Prog på Svenska is a stellar capturing of live art through and through. And of course, I might add that if you ever get the chance to see Änglagård perform, take the opportunity; if your significant other isn't a prog fan, take them anyways. Änglagård's extreme level of delicacy in phrasing and dynamic is a tough match to beat in progressive music and should hold up even in the face of the snootiest of music connoisseurs.

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 Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Live, 2014
4.42 | 27 ratings

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Prog På Svenska - Live In Japan
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by progrockdeepcuts

4 stars In March of 2013, legendary Swedish symphonic progressive rock band 'nglag'rd played a series of concerts over three nights at the Club Citta, Tokyo, sharing a bill with The Crimson ProjeKCt. 'nglag'rd, now with a revised lineup, present a unique take on progressive rock with influences such as Swedish folk music, old school progressive rock like King Crimson, Genesis, and Dun, and classical music, all in a very dynamic and symphonic style. Whereas many symphonic prog bands place the rock first and classical second, 'nglag'rd mix the 'sturm und drang' of classical music with rock instruments such as electric guitar, bass, and synths and prog rock experimentation.

I had the immense honor of seeing this band live at 2012's North East Art Rock Festival (NEARfest) and it was one of the best live experiences I've ever had. Over the past few days, I've been transported back to that weekend in June with this new live record which presents a well-documented and energetic performance from one the most perfection-driven group of musicians I know.

The track selection here represents every one of 'nglag'rd's three studio albums with some staples ("Jordr'k" - the classic opening track from the 1992 debut, Hybris and "H'stsejd" from the "Epilog" album) as well as some lesser known tracks ("Sorgmantel" and "L'ngtans Klocka" from 2012's Viljans Oga and "Kung Bore" from the debut). To me, this provides a nice cross section of the band's repertoire, as we get a taste of what the new lineup is capable of through the presentation of familiar material.

I use the word 'familiar' above somewhat loosely, though, as even the older pieces have demonstrated some growth since we last heard them. On all of the pieces, the band have altered the tempos and added some new sounds (such as the recorder on "Jordrok") and some added saxophone parts and synthesizers on a few other pieces. One of the things that makes or breaks a live record, for me, is the arrangements. With 'nglag'rd, the arrangements are constantly in flux and that makes these tracks worth hearing in different versions and the record worth buying. I personally feel a bit ripped off when a band plays the same arrangements time and time again, but 'nglag'rd constantly challenge themselves and their listeners.

In addition to the older pieces, we also get one new piece on this record - "Introvertus Fugu Part I". Clocking in at just under seven minutes, this is the shortest piece on the album and probably the biggest draw for 'nglag'rd fans. Beginning with some spacey piano chords and a disjointed arrangement, the piece gradually rises from freeform chaos to dynamic Crimson-y 'nglag'rd form and develops throughout its short (by 'nglag'rd standards) runtime to a thrilling conclusion that leaves the listener wanting to hear Part II! If this is what is in store of 'nglag'rd's fourth album (to be recorded later this year), then we are in for a real treat.

As for the performances here, they are nothing short of stunning. The newest members seem to fit in with the established style of the group, while flautist Anna Holmgren continues to develop her goregous, vibrato-laden lower register while Johan Brand taps into his Chris Squire meets Jannick Top Rickenbacker brilliance. Essential stuff for fans of progressive rock. Also, if this band comes anywhere near you, go out and support this music, it'll be a concert experience you'll never forget.

MUSICIANS:

Anna Holmgren: flute, saxophone, Mellotron, recorder and melodica Johan Brand: bass, Moog Taurus basspedals and atmospheric sound Tord Lindman: guitar, vocals, gong and atmospheric sound Linus K'se: Hammond organ B-3, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, Moog Voyager, piano, soprano saxophone and vocals Erik Hammarstr'm: drums, cymbals, vibraphone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, cran casa, gong

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 Viljans Öga by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.27 | 737 ratings

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Viljans Öga
Änglagård Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Anglagard is one special creature, a strange animal within a massive zoo of fairly diverse species (a fitting description of progressive music, me thinks) and billed as symphonic prog yet closer to experimental than anything else. The foremost quality they possess in seemingly endless abundance is their own style of chaotic contrasts between the two extremities, whilst professing an eternal worship to the divine 'throne' instruments themselves, I have named King Mellotron and Lady Rickenbacker! The flute provides the serenity and the drums, the propulsion. Add a guitar and voila! Like a musical interpretation of 21st century living, the sounds emanating from their illustrious craft are both paralleling stress and comfort, refereeing work and play and signaling the directions towards heaven and hell. Complex, simple, authoritarian and yet anarchic, the music lives as a sonic dreamscape that hurtles through the spirit like some arctic phenomenon, utterly overpowering and yet fleeting. Others reviewers have autopsied this long awaited release and let us be reminded that Viljans Oga was 18 years in the making, so here is how I see and hear it.

Anglagard specialize in the 10-19 minute epic, a cinematographic entity that is fully arranged, orchestrated and composed as a creative work from a team of musicians who have completely stayed loyal to their 'raison d'etre', understanding their inherent individual value to the whole concept. "Sorgmantel" is a perfect example of their vision, a bold bass rumble that forges through mellotron mountains, flute clouds, guitar winds and percussive valleys, sometimes in complete harmony and then in raging disaccord, weaving into new realms of endless discovery. The talent is utterly phenomenal, all five members masters of their instruments, leading one to rightfully wonder how they pull all this off in a live setting?

This is not romantic, laid back, easy listening background music while one barbecues on the patio, guzzling down brews while the uncouth ladies nonchalantly apply another coat of nail polish to their already garish fingers! In fact, the poor girls might feel compelled to flee the monstrous sound in abject disdain and retreat to the powder room, clicking desperately onto some fluffy youtube vid, disposable flavor of the month. Anglagard will appeal instead to the same testosterone crowd as Magma, perhaps even Rush (Olsson can give Peart a scare) and any audiophile looking to be challenged by musicianship and melodic inspiration. Grilling the ribs and the zucchini will never be the same!

The brooding "Snardom" even has ponderous moments that will recall Focus '3' instrumental workouts such as "Answers, Questions" and "Anonymous Two", unafraid to include cello and jazzy guitar licks that seem closer to a harder Return to Forever. The charming flute wrestles with the manly bass, Thomas Johnson's keys enveloping elegance caresses the guitar screeches with imperial authority.

The windswept "Langtans Klocka" is a revelation, bringing a pastoral embellishment to their honed vision, perhaps closer to classical music that ever before, which may dismay the rockers out there, but Viljans Oga is not a remake of Hybris or Epilog, it's a natural progression. After such a long interval, what would one expect, a refried clone of an admittedly iconic duo of recordings? Just when you are about to become complacent, Brand's booming 4 string monster shatters the sweet softness with a sterling display of sound and 'maitrise', Johnson flushes the heart with torrential cascades of the mighty 'tron and Engdegard crushes some sensational licks (volume pedal slickness) while Olsson pulses madly again.

Beautiful mayhem indeed! Fab sound, artwork and packaging. Combine hard jazz fusion, symphonic splendor, folk accouterments and an experimental fervor, and you get Viljans Oga. Stubborn, insane, focused and slightly bizarre. Just avoid playing this for the prog hating ladies unless you really need some temporary space.

5 Eye's Wills

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 Hybris by ÄNGLAGÅRD album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.41 | 1231 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
4.27 | 737 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
4.41 | 1231 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
4.27 | 737 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
4.07 | 505 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
4.41 | 1231 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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