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MERLIN

Symphonic Prog • Germany


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Merlin biography
MERLIN is just another in a long list of obscure, largely forgotten progressive bands from days gone by. One of the unusual characteristics of this band is the throwback style of their music, which was highly melodic with multiple vocal tracks and copious amounts of simple piano in addition to the synthesized symphonic sounds. This was especially interesting considering the band's first album was released in 1982, at a time when most symphonic bands were working to distance themselves from that sound and adopt a more 'modern' feel.

The band has been compared to RENAISSANCE, probably mostly due to the lilting sound of the female vocalist, but the instrumentation is closer to earlier bands such as LOVE and THE LEFT BANKE.

MERLIN released a second and final album in 1989, though it is unclear if these tracks were actually recorded then, or were leftover recordings from earlier in the band's career.

MERLIN deserve recognition for inclusion in the Archives for the melodic and symphonic sound of their music, and for having the audacity to launch their short-lived career at a time when even the most established symphonic bands were moving away from the early sounds.

Bob Moore (ClemofNazareth)

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MERLIN shows & tickets


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MERLIN discography


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

3.04 | 7 ratings
Merlin
1984
3.02 | 5 ratings
Vanish to the Moon
1989

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

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MERLIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Merlin by MERLIN album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.04 | 7 ratings

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Merlin
Merlin Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A really obscure 80's German band with little info around their history and an even more well- hidden career.Sure thing is Merlin hailed from Marburg and the first line-up included female singer/flutist Christiane Schwab, drummer Christoph Zimmerman, guitarist/bassist Marcus Haase and keyboardist Nikolaus Wolters.Their self-titled debut LP from 1984 was a private release, recorded in September of the same year at Blackfield Studios in West Germany.

''Merlin'' was sort of an Art Rock album with strong hints from Psychedelic Rock, Cabaret Music and Symphonic Rock.And while the opening ''Picture song'' has sort of a RENAISSANCE atmosphere led by the Baroque mood created by Wolters' piano and the sensational vocals of Schwab, the rest of the album is not equally strong.It definitely has some nice tracks recalling also EARTH AND FIRE and CAROL OF HARVEST with Schwab's voice sounding a lot like the one of Beate Krause, but it lacks the God-sent talent and consistency of these bands.Most of the tracks have a light symphonic feeling , either being acoustic or electric, created by the delicate piano lines, the lovely synthesizer parts and the elegant flute passages.Other ones recall CAROL OF HARVEST, featuring emphatic piano parts blended with a strong rhythym section and Schwab's dominant yet crystalline voice.The rest are the less interesting ones, which have a more artistic and commercial feeling, sometimes close to Cabaret Music, dominated by fast piano paces, groovy beats and a really cool but incovenient atmosphere compared to the album's more progressive compositions.

An album, which deserves the attention of fans of female-fronted prog bands, especially the ones aforementioned.A satisfying but far from essential mix of Prog, Art Rock and Pop Music.

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 Vanish to the Moon  by MERLIN album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.02 | 5 ratings

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Vanish to the Moon
Merlin Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars Firstly, there's shouldn't be nothing wrong with this music. But there is something in the air about these tracks that brings it down. It sounds a lot like some one man project. Yes, no offense to these multi-instrumentalist (and multi-talented when we're talking about it) people, but for me, nothing can replace "real" several members band. The more the better is my opinion.

Here, there are few people playing on this album, but in overal it's very acoustic album. Maybe that's only for good. Yes Keneth is right, we can hear every instrument quite clearly. Yes, I admit that I'm used to listen more "heavy" stuff, but I have some kind of soft spot for this kind of albums (Aragon, welcome home).

Flute is not so prominent (don't expect Focus, not by far), but when it "kicks" in, it only helps. Sadly it's not more used, it would help it by my opinion. It's listenable, it has its moments, but in overal, this "acoustic" feelings brings it down. Not just for me, I suppose that others will feel more or less the same things as we two do. Sadly.

3(-), one noteworthy thing - this record is as old as I am. Happy B-day then.

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 Vanish to the Moon  by MERLIN album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.02 | 5 ratings

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Vanish to the Moon
Merlin Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Merlin's sophomore effort is skewed to the light symphonic style, which is fortunate because this is where their strength lies. For those who insist on complexity or at least heaviness, please look elsewhere. But those who enjoy German flavoured simple yet strong melodies augmented by excellent almost folky vocals and chrystal clear arrangements will be pleased, even if this is admittedly not a major work or a masterpiece. It is hard to find close parallels but perhaps some of the more mainstream efforts of Renaissance, Illusion, or Epidaurus might qualify, with a bit of Alan Parsons thrown in.

Every note and indeed every word can be heard, and even the English lyrics are not embarassing. Guitars and keyboards share the spotlight and are complimented by flute, cello and sax. "On the Shore Today" is basically a soft rock song but is so affectionately sung and accompanied by appealingly hammered piano and tuneful guitar that it emerges victorious. Some of the songs show a certain penchant for blues and/or swing, which sometimes works ("Nothing at all" and "Coming Home") and sometimes sounds forced and out of place (title cut). One of the male members takes over vocals from Christine Hasse a few times which also helps vary the proceedings, on "Under Your Wings" and "Just Another Lie".

"Vanish to the Moon" has the hallmarks of a band having fun, which probably explains why it is so pleasant to listen to and manages to stay interesting even without much edge. Then again, maybe it is just magic.

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