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SOLARIS

Symphonic Prog • Hungary


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Solaris biography
The Hungarian formation SOLARIS was originally founded by some school friends in 1980. The band's name was derived from the title of book by SF writer Stanislaw Lem. After they made impression on a talent contest at The Budai Park for a massive crowd (mainly youth) the band was offered an opportunity to make a record. In '80 SOLARIS released their first single entitled "Rock Hullam" (actually this was a split single, SOLARIS got the B-side). The line-up in the early Eighties was Ferenc Raus (drums), Gabor Kisszabop (bass), Csaba Bogdan (guitars) and the remaining schoolfriends Istvan Cziglan (guitars), Attila Kollar (flute) and Robert Erdesz (keyboards). They released the second single "Eden/Counterpoint" in '81. In '84 SOLARIS released their first album "The Martian Chronicles", it sold almost 40.000 copies. In those days progrock was popular in Hungary: OMEGA had crowds of 100.000 spectators! The classical SOLARIS line-up' between '83 and '85 was Attila Kollar, Istvan Cziglan, Robert Erdesz and newcomers Laszlo Gomor (drums) and Tamas Pocs (bass). In '90 the controlled Hungarian record company was finally willing to release early SOLARIS recordings entitled 1990 (a 2-LP). Then the members of SOLARIS went their own way and joined or founded new bands.

In 1995 SOLARIS was invited as the headliner of the Progfest Festival in Los Angeles by Greg Walker, mastermind behind the USA progrock label-mailorder service Syn-Phonic. He succeeded in persuading the band for a reunion concert (recorded on a 2-CD and partly on a video with other progrock bands ARS NOVA and WHITE WILLOW). The band got a standing ovation by a bunch of real "symphomaniacs"! A year later SOLARIS performed on the Rio Art Rock Festival, organized by the Brasilian "proghead" Leonardo Nahoum. On December 27th 1998 guitarplayer Cziglan died of an incurable illness but he can be heard on the surprising new SOLARIS CD entitled "Nostradamus" ('99), perhaps we will hear more from this marvellous progrock band. The Hungarian label Periferic Records released in 2000 "Back to the Roots - Solaris Archive 1" (a great introduction to the band's history but with a bootleg sound) and the solo-albums "Musical Witchcraft" by Kollar Attila (1998) and "Seven Gates of Alhambra" by the late Istvan Cziglan (1999).

On "The Martian Chronicles" SOLARIS creates a very dynamic and compelling progressive mix of classical and rock music. It's build upon sensational interplay between fiery electric guitar, tasteful keyboards and a powerful flute with lots of changing climates, surprising breaks and bombastic outbursts. Although SOLARIS sound rather unique, elements of JETHRO TULL (flute), MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND (Minimoog solos with pitchbend) and Jean Michel JARRE (electronic intro in the first part of the titletrack) can be traced. The 2-LP 1990 contains typical SOLARIS songs: dynamic and propulsive with spectacular synth runs, fiery electric gutiar and beautiful flute-play. Remarkable is the spacy keyboard sound in some songs and the obvious classical influences. The tracks from the mid-period (1986) sound rather accessible: a catchy and often funny combination of classic, pop and rock. But the most impressive composition is their magnus opus "Los Angeles 2026" (almost 24 minutes long): lots of changing climates, bombastic synthesizers, exciting interplay, compelling crescendos and halfway a long and alternating pianosolo. The songs on the live 2-CD "Live in Los Angeles" sound even more powerful and exciting than on the studio-LP's and the bonus material is great: Bonus Game (14 minutes) includes lots of solos on guitar, drums and bass and "Beyond" (12 minutes) is a typical exciting SOLARIS track.

"Nostradamus - Book of Prophecies" is a captivating album in the vein of SOLARIS but with fresh ideas and a modern sound. The titletrack contains outstanding sonic paintings: a howling electric guitar, fat Moog Prodigy runs ("Mark Kelly meets MANFRED MANN"), native North-American indian chants and the Aboriginal didgeridoo. The other songs includes elaborate and dynamic compositions with many changing climates, spectacular breaks, splendid solos and sensational interplay. A "killer-comeback" by SOLARIS!

Erik Neuteboom

UPDATE: Lately some sites like Allmusic and even Prog ones, have been promoting the release of a new album by SOLARIS called "Jelaia", but don't be mistaken, this album was released by a Heavy Metal Bulgarian band.

This sites describe the career of the Hungarian Symphonic band listed in Prog Archives but add the album by the Bulgarian Metal band to the discography, leading to mistakes.

Iván Melgar-Morey

Solaris official website

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SOLARIS shows & tickets


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SOLARIS discography


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

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

4.27 | 215 ratings
Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
1984
3.61 | 63 ratings
Solaris 1990
1990
4.18 | 143 ratings
Nostradamus Book Of Prophecies
1999
4.15 | 40 ratings
Martian Chronicles II
2014

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

4.20 | 26 ratings
Live in Los Angeles
1996
3.36 | 16 ratings
Back to the Roots (Official bootleg)
2000
4.32 | 13 ratings
NOAB (official bootleg)
2000

SOLARIS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.71 | 7 ratings
Archive Videos
2006
2.84 | 11 ratings
Nostradamus - Live in Mexico (DVD+CD)
2007
4.73 | 11 ratings
Live In Los Angeles 1995 (Official bootleg)
2010

SOLARIS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SOLARIS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 6 ratings
Rockhullam
1980
4.00 | 3 ratings
Ellenpont / Eden
1981

SOLARIS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.27 | 215 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Solaris - Martian Chronicles (1984)

Released in the age of comminism, with the necessary approval of the Hungarian regime, comes one of the finest progressive rock records of the eighties, Martian Chronicles by Solaris. A combination of spacey electronics, symphonic prog, flute and heavy rock guitar that sounds unique and exciting! Solaris aims for the larger-then-life progsound, bombastic and intense, and succeeds brilliantly! Moreover, all musicians are deeply involved in all the compositions. All tracks are instrumental.The recording sound is great and time doesn't seem to have gotten any grip on it.

On side one the six Martian Chronicles parts form the main attraction of the album, creating an side long epic of melodic space exploration. Sometimes the music reminds me a bit of Camel at its best, but Solaris has a bigger sound and a refreshing lack of Englishness - something one can also find listening to the Polish SBB. Side two is a collection of shorter tracks, some mellow and others spacey and heavy. Overall I must admit I find side one a bit stronger and more connected.

Conclusion. Prog at its best, musicianship at its most intense. Five stars.

PS. Solaris has released 'Martian Chronicles II' in 2014. I'm just listening to it myself and I'm really amazed! It can really use some quality reviews.

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 Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.27 | 215 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars SOLARIS is a Hungarian symphonic prog band that just LOOOOVES sci-fi novels. Their name comes from the novel written by Stanisław Lem and the title of their debut album MARSBÉLI KRÓNIKÁK (THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES) comes from the famous book by Ray Bradbury. The music is almost all instrumental save an electronic vocal intro that isn't Martian at all but actually highly weirded out Hungarian. The theme of the album is supposed to highlight the plot of the novel where humans flee a trashed Earth and colonize Mars (OK not as creative as Kobaia but still pretty cool.) The band formed in Budapest in 1980 and went through many lineups before releasing this album. This is a strange album in the world of prog for it virtually has no strange time signatures and its focus is squarely on melodic development that sounds like a strange progressive form of 80s synth pop in a way. Although there are scant Eastern European sounds making their way into the mix I have to say that the sounds of the flute, guitar and keyboards make me think more of an album done by a band of the Andes such as Los Jaivas if they had upped their symphonic sound and made it a bit more aggressive.

Much of this album is highly exciting as track by track the unfolding melodies and dancing rhythms pulsate to simulate the colonizing theme and it works for the most part but for me it's the slow tracks that keep this from being a true masterpiece of all time. Those are the ones that make me think more of Peru or Bolivia than Mars. Mars after all has the connotation of being the alter persona of male aggressiveness and this music can cry out more of a feminine Venus at times. There are also times when this seriously reminds me of new agers like Yanni or Kitaro which also doesn't lend itself to the whole Mars thing. I find myself really enjoying much of this album but the slow parts let me down a bit and I feel a disconnect from the intended theme. On my 1995 CD edition with two bonus tracks it is the second of those "The Yellow Circle" that really feels like it was made for this album. It cranks up the guitar and percussion unlike on any other tracks on this album. Overall I dig this album but I feel it should have a bit more percussive oompf to the whole thing. As i'm writing this review it has been announced that the band is releasing a sequel to THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES which will be released in this here year 2014. I hope it kicks some serious Martian butt!

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 Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.27 | 215 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by sinslice

5 stars Another priceless gem from the eighties.

1984 was dominated by Metallica with their 'Ride The Lightning', 'Powerslave' by Iron Maiden, Prince, The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, Springsteen and Lloyd Cole, among others. Most importantly, from the progressive side, were two works superlative, the fantastic Marillion 's Scripts, and this intense, mature and fluent 'Martian Chronicles'. Little known at the time, and it was becoming an essential work of the decade.

Almost entirely instrumental, high percentages of keyboards, flute significant contributions, as well as guitars. Drums and bass make great cooperation when required. What enhances above all are the great melodies, intelligently interpreted. The sound is good, but not excellent, and is influenced by the era.

Later, Solaris produced some acceptable jobs, like Attila Kollar. However, it would never reach the magnificence of this.

4,5 stars.

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 Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.27 | 215 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars From way down in Eastern Europe comes one of the most atmospheric, enchanting and captivating prog albums ever recorded in the 80's. Solaris album "Marsbeli kronikak" is a mostly intrumental piece of music, with only occasional vocals adding spice.

The opening trio of songs is quite enough to make any prog fan happy. These are truly ambitious and well crafted pieces of music, capturing the essence of the bleak 80's and the apocalyptic, sometimes truly terrifying, threat of nuclear war. The contents of the remaining album are of extremely high quality, making "Marsbeli kronikak" a joy to listen to.

The music could be described as symphonic with hard rock edges. While there are enough keyboards and symphonic soundscapes to make any prog fan insane from pleasure, the guitar provides a great hard rock feel to it, making the music diverse and always interesting. It is a sort of symphonic, space rock close to Eloy (of the 80's) and even some of Hawkwind's contemporary output.

Conclusion: "Marsbeli kronikak" is one of the most prime examples of symphonic prog of the 80's but could well be one of the highlights of all time. It has a retro feel to it, yet the music is firmly rooted in the 1980's. It is a pleasure, a delight and an experience of great worth. Do give it a chance and be amazed at what these guys produced 30 years ago. From the opening, creepy sound of childlike voices to the majestic, pompous sound of keyboard orientated prog, "Marsbeli kronikak" delivers in spades. Gloriuos.

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 Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.27 | 215 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by Mr. Mustard

4 stars The 80's was a tough period for prog and good music in general. But in the middle of this decade comes the symphonic extravaganza of Solaris' The Martian Chronicles. Though rather obscure, the musical merit in this album speaks for itself. These guys play with the same symphonic prowess that Genesis and Yes did before them by flawlessly interweaving flute, synth, and all of the other instruments into an enjoyable mass of melodies.

This album is practically drenched in synth, as was the custom for many albums in the 80's. Some may not find it to their liking, but being one of my favorite instruments it's a welcome addition.

I won't analyze the album on a track by track basis as I believe most of the songs employ the same overall sound and technique as the last. In general, the songs are usually up-tempo with a plethora of interesting melodies played by a variety of instruments. No vocals are present, but in my opinion that just rids of a diversion to the wonderful music.

Perhaps the only flaw with this album is that there aren't any real standout tracks, and there is a slight lack of variety. I will also note it may have not aged well, but that's just a minor point. Overall, this is simply a wonderful 80's prog album and is great addition to any symphonic prog collection.

8/10

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 Nostradamus Book Of Prophecies  by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.18 | 143 ratings

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Nostradamus Book Of Prophecies
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars It's a wonderful gem - great composition!

This album by Solaris has been with me for quite a very long time and I keep enjoying it very much and finally I realize that I have not put any writing about this. The band Solaris itself is not something that I am familiar with even though I knew the name sometime ago from prog friend right here in Jakarta. Specific to this album I can comment that it's really an excellent symphonic prog music album that any of you who like early prog would likely love this one even though this is not something like Genesis or Yes but it's something different that you never imagine before. Yes there is some elements of space music as well as fusion but it's more than that. I think, the most critical thing about this album is its novelty in creating unique experience to the listeners where the music flows beautifully from start to the point where you are listening to.

Let's look at the epic first three track that are titled 'Book Of Prophecies' (20:35), I can see myself being brought forward by the music from start until now when I reach third minute of the third track. I do not realize that the band has dragged me into the 17th minute of the epic without notice. Why? Because its segments have been composed wonderfully by the band that finally the listeners are not aware that they have been with the music for more than 15 minutes unnoticed! So, what do they specifically do with the music they produce? Well, it's basically comprising of combined efforts by all instruments used here including flute as well as vocals that play as choirs. It's actually an instrumental track as there is no lyrical verse. For me personally I really enjoy the changes in tempo, mood as well as the use of flute as melody in some segments plus the beautiful rhythm section.

In fact when the track moves into the fourth 'The Duel' (7:20), I am not aware of it. This track offers great flute-work as well as stunning guitar solo combined with vintage organ work. It's so nice! It then flows nicely to the fifth 'The Lion's Empire' (6:40) through a nice combination of flute and guitar fills. The mood then changes to something rocking with flute as filler, followed by nice Rickenbaker bass solo - even though quite short.

'Wings Of The Phoenix' (5:08) starts off with bass guitar followed with flute and then keyboard work. Flute and guitar take the lead in bringing the melody of the music. I love 'Ship Of Darkness' (5:46) as it demonstrates great drum works around the music accompanied with rocking flute-work. Oh man ... I used to play this track loudly as I love the drum work.

Overall, this is a very close to perfect album by Solaris. I really enjoy the music from start to end and I think most of you who love prog music would really enjoy this album. It's really excellent!!! Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.27 | 215 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by Frankie Flowers

4 stars Marsbéli Krónikák is a great, all-instrumental symphonic prog album inspired by Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. It came out against the odds: it was recorded in the eighties in Hungary, which was still a communist country at the time, so it's a miracle an album like this was allowed to be released and made available there.

Solaris often gets compared to Camel. I can catch some similarities, especially from the flute work, although the guitar is much heavier and the keyboard work is pretty much to Robert's own style, with some classical overtones and plenty of mysterious, spacey creations to keep up the mood of the theme. The keys are all analog, but be aware, it's in the early '80s style, rather than '70s, so you won't find tons of Moog, Hammond, Mellotron, etc, with the exception of some Tangerine Dream style synths at the beginning of the album.

The music here has quite an extraoridinary concoction. It kicks off with the side length title track which is divided in to several parts and includes many different themes and great ideas. Parts two to five are particularly spectacular. Part one is also quite charming, starting with some funny sounding voices which are presumably sounds of martians speaking Hungarian. The second half of the album consists of shorter, often heavier pieces, like "M'Ars Poetica", "Apokalypse", and "Undefeatable". Plus the CD reissue contains two bonus cuts, "Orchideák Bolygóya" and "A Sárga Kör", the latter an interesting, highly percussive rock with a strong ethnic beat (in Hungarian style of course!) to it.

As everyone knows, the 1980s was a very prog unfriendly decade, but you won't be disappointed by the technical quality of these artists and their instruments. Well worth getting in your collection.

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 Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.27 | 215 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Make sure to get a thorough physical and stock up on the Tang before you get pulled into this deep space nebula and its nods to Grainer/Derbyshire, Tangerine Dream, Goblin, and Vangelis circa Cosmos but still with enough hard rock to form an edge. Not exactly Spacerock, Electronic or Symph per se, this is closer to the death knells undoubtedly played between flameout rounds at Carousel for the impatient crowd. Solaris' The Martian Chronicles is absolutely unashamed astro-rock spectacle, and that's pretty cool if derivative and impure.

The nearly vocal-less set is a continuous sprawl of oft-changing but always focused numbers that are both simple and developed, and you don't have to be an electronic rock fan to enjoy it thanks to Istvan Cziglan's fine neoclassical guitars and the well-suited drums of Laszlo Gomor. The title cuts bop the galaxy, Rob Erdesz's concert hall pianos taking up the empty space over the gargling foam of the band's synths. 'Ha felszáll a köd' is when Solaris may begin to remind of anyone from Tull to Eloy to Saga, but this is more an incidental byproduct of the music than direct influence. 'Apokalipszis' is a solid bit o' prog that covers all the bases beautifully with the wailing squeal of hardcore synths and driving rhythms, great heavy metal bluster on 'Solaris' and a return to the black matter of 'Orchideak' with overtones of Goblin and John Carpenter. Nice. I paid ten bucks for this and it was well worth it.

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 Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles) by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1984
4.27 | 215 ratings

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Marsbéli Krónikák (The Martian Chronicles)
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

5 stars A 1980s masterpiece?!! A rare thing, indeed, for the prog world post-punk and amidst the techno revolution. A difficult album to obtain--I'd been trying for over two years since I first read reviews and heard a song of theirs--and I am so glad I did! Though its sound is, obviously, a bit dated, it is full of catchy melodies, fine symphonic and classical constructions, awesome recording/engineering, and very high calibur playing. This album reminds me a lot of a prog masterpiece from some 20 years later: KOTEBEL's "Omphalos"--not just because of the presence of the flute but because of the frequent juxtaposition of jazz elements (soli or constructs) over the predominant classical feel to the music. JEAN-MICHEL JARRE is mentioned though TANGERINE DREAM and VANGELIS would be my suggestions for who the electronic elements most sound like. Every song is melodic, well constructed, and stands well on its own--while offering just enough variations to not get mixed into one lump (e.g. the folkiness of the last song contrasts well with the Electronic elements of the song just before it.) I love how every band member gets a turn reiterating the main theme in the third song "Marsb'li Kr'nik'k IV-VI. - The Martian Chronicles IV-VI." And I love the distinctiveness of the two guitarists. Plus, it's always to hear good old fashioned pre-gated, pre-metal drumming. Awesome album with nary a flaw. I've been playing nothing else for over a week now and am liking it more and more with each listen. EASILY a masterpiece of symphonic progressive music!

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 Nostradamus Book Of Prophecies  by SOLARIS album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.18 | 143 ratings

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Nostradamus Book Of Prophecies
Solaris Symphonic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

5 stars Another obscure gem by Solaris

Fifteen years after the release of their debut album "Marsbeli Kronikak" (Martian Chronicles), the Hungarian Symphonic band SOLARIS presented to their huge fan-base their latest album "Nostradamus Próféciák Könyve" (Nostradamus, Book of Prophecies) , this time without Istvan Cziglan who died in 1998 after an incurable disease, but the show has to go on and in what way, SOLARIS launches what for many is the top album of their discography, and worth to be reviewed.

Unlike their debut, this album has a few vocals but incredibly complex, because they mix some normal singing with male and female Hungarian Operatic Chants that normally can only be reproduced in non-western keys, a fantastic addition to the already excellent music of the band.

The album is opened by "The Book of Prophesies", a 20 minutes epic divided in three parts, but unlike songs like "Close to the Edge", this division makes perfect sense and can be easily perceived by the listener.

Part I is a mysterious prologue that introduces he listener to the mysterious and even haunting atmosphere of the album, with almost Gregorian chants interrupted by acute female choirs, simply breathtaking.

Part II: is the main section of the song, where the band develops the concept of the track and hits the listener with all they have. From almost religious chants to fluid keyboard passages and strong guitar sections softened by the flute of Attila Kollar, the band demonstrates what they are capable of, blending pristine Symphonic with religious music and a good amount of Romanian Ethnic music that flows gently until the complex finale.

Part III works as the epilogue of the song and as a bridge from the complex and breathtaking Part II to the next song, please, play special attention to the interplay between guitar, keys and flute, it's delightful.

"The Duel#" is the dream of a Progressive Rock listener, because SOLARIS shows all their facets and styles blended with class and coherence, we can find fluid Rock passages, Psychedelic organ solos and Folksy sections where "Kollar" really exploits all his skills, a restless duel between Hammond organ and flute only interrupted by a heavy guitar that keeps the listener at the edge of the seat

After a confusing intro "The Lion's Empire" turns into a Heavy Prog song with Casaba Bogdan's guitar at it's best and Robert Erdesz keyboards adding all his repertoire, again a good combination of strength and mystery with a delicate edge.

"Wings of the Phoenix" is another frenetic song which after a soft introduction keeps going "in crescendo" until the dramatic finale. This guys give no rest to the listener blending Symphonic Prog, Hard Rock and Folk with such dexterity that everything sounds perfectly coherent, as if this sometimes contradictory styles were created to be played together as a whole unity.

At the beginning of "Ship of Darkness", the listener may believe that SOLARIS is going to provide a calmed track that would serve as relief after the powerful previous tracks, but this is only a mirage, because as soon as they take speed, nothing can stop SOLARIS. The first warning sign comes with a killer flute section that suddenly changes into a mystic sound and again to some sort of Heavy Prog, this time with Tamas Pocs (bass) and Laszlo Gomor (percussion) giving a lesson of how a rhythm section should work.

"Wargames" is an attack to the senses but at the same time a pleasure to the ears, the dramatic and mystic chants blended with constant drumming, it's almost like non violent violence and at the end a marching band playing a war hymn.

"The Moment of Truth" Parts I and II, shows a new face of the band, now they embrace some sort of Jazzy Symphonic that relieves us from everything we've been listening before, despite some vibrant interruptions, the song is soft and melancholic with excellent vocals in Hungarian, amazingly beautiful and different to everything SOLARIS has played before.

The album ends with "Book of Prophesies (radio Edit) which is only a 3 minutes version of the first epic for radio play, a good finale.

After listening Martian Chronicles, I believed that no SOLARIS album will reach that superb level, but I was wrong "Nostradamus Próféciák Könyve" (Nostradamus, Book of Prophecies) is at least in the same level (if not slightly better), so again I have no other alternative than to rate this release with 5 solid stars.

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