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PENDRAGON

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Pendragon biography
PENDRAGON were formed in Stroud, England in 1978. Originally known as ZEUS PENDRAGON it was decided fairly early on to drop the "ZEUS" as co-founder Julian Baker felt it was too wordy to fit on a t-shirt! There were several line up changes in the early days, members included Julian Baker (co-founder/guitar) Nigel Harris (drums) Stan Cox (bass) Robert Dalby (bass) John Barney Barnfield (keys) Rik Carter (keys). The one constant key element was Nick Barrett. The line up then remained the same for almost 20 years, featuring : Nick Barrett (guitar/lead vocal) Clive Nolan (keys) Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums), until 2006 when PENDRAGON and Fudge Smith parted ways.

Todate there have been 21 releases from PENDRAGON who set up their own label "TOFF RECORDS" in the late 1980's following the release of "The Jewel" and "KowTow" (as well as a couple of mini albums). "The Masquerade Overture" is probably their most acclaimed work todate. Although a recent change of direction with "Believe" has seen opinions somewhat split, it is definitely a remarkable album and maybe showing a move away from classic Neo-Prog.

I would highly recommend this band to anyone enjoying neo-prog.

Pendragon official website

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PENDRAGON discography


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

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

3.29 | 266 ratings
The Jewel
1985
2.59 | 204 ratings
Kowtow
1988
3.77 | 368 ratings
The World
1991
3.92 | 407 ratings
The Window Of Life
1993
3.99 | 560 ratings
The Masquerade Overture
1996
3.86 | 436 ratings
Not Of This World
2001
3.55 | 366 ratings
Believe
2005
3.89 | 579 ratings
Pure
2008
3.75 | 494 ratings
Passion
2011
3.64 | 181 ratings
Men Who Climb Mountains
2014

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

3.23 | 54 ratings
9:15 Live
1986
2.37 | 36 ratings
The Very Very Bootleg Live In Lille France 1992
1993
3.60 | 46 ratings
Utrecht ...The Final Frontier
1995
3.98 | 52 ratings
Live In Krakow 1996
1997
3.35 | 56 ratings
Acoustically Challenged
2002
4.04 | 17 ratings
Liveosity
2004
4.08 | 67 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.12 | 49 ratings
Out of Order Comes Chaos
2013

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

4.19 | 56 ratings
Live At Last ... And More
2002
4.08 | 57 ratings
And Now Everybody To The Stage
2006
4.01 | 59 ratings
Past And Presence
2007
4.43 | 93 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.60 | 40 ratings
Out Of Order Comes Chaos
2012

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

2.90 | 46 ratings
The Rest of Pendragon
1991
2.44 | 8 ratings
1984-96 Overture
1998
2.53 | 40 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 1
1999
2.46 | 36 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 2
1999
3.43 | 23 ratings
The History 1984-2000
2000
4.13 | 5 ratings
A História
2001
4.10 | 10 ratings
The Round Table
2001
3.18 | 7 ratings
Introducing Pendragon
2013

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

3.21 | 47 ratings
Fly High Fall Far
1984
1.66 | 24 ratings
Red Shoes
1987
2.29 | 19 ratings
Saved By You
1991
2.50 | 11 ratings
Nostradamus
1993
3.65 | 85 ratings
Fallen Dreams And Angels
1994
3.39 | 67 ratings
As Good As Gold
1996

PENDRAGON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Jewel  by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.29 | 266 ratings

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The Jewel
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A semi-precious neo-prog gemstone

3.5 stars With MARILLION's (overrated) "Misplaced Childhood" and IQ's "The Wake", 1985 was definitely important for the development of the neo-progressive genre. Nonetheless, considering the same year, my preference goes to the lesser-known rocking PENDRAGON's debut album. Why? Because, despite shorter compositions, this was one of the most original opus in the genre at the time, different than the two aforementioned bands, still inspired by GENESIS, and more epic than PALLAS' "The Sentinel". In fact, the genuine influence of "The Jewel" may be SAGA.

The two first songs are however not the best choices for a beginning. "Higher Circles" seems inspired by STYX, but is a little cheesy. "The Pleasure of Hope" is slightly better, even if its melody remains average. Don't leave now, the real adventure starts now with the fantasy rock "Leviathan" and its enchanting keyboards. The opening of "Alaska" may sound a bit floydian, but then become more melancholic and typically neo-prog-esque with its nervous synthesizer and guitar soli. This rocks!

"Circus" is also quite lively and possesses an enjoyable new-wave feel, a groovy bass, and other elements showing the band's various inspirations. The journey continues with the very nice "Oh Divineo", a piece alternating calm, playful and bravery. Nonetheless, the jewel of the album is clearly the mini-epic "The Black Knight". Longest composition, a true musical fairytale, and one of the best creations of the neo-prog genre! Released as a single one year before, the hard rocking heroic "Fly High Fall Far" is really powerful! Unfortunately, this deluge of epicness is stopped by "Victims of Life", also released in 1984, but a little uneven and hard to follow.

Whereas MARILLION and IQ were merging the style of the 70's prog ancients - such as GENESIS and PINK FLOYD - into the musical landscape of the 80's, which was also pleasant, I personally find that PENDRAGON took the reverse approach by painting the catchy sharp rock of the eighties with progressive colors. For sure, it contains a few moments influenced by the Gabriel-era of you-know-you, but this not the musicians' primary intention. Here you hold a refreshing neo-prog disc full of knights and legends! Not a surprise for a band whose name is Pendragon. The only thing you have to do is to cut the beginning and the ending...

Despite its typically 80's sonorities sounding a bit dated, "The Jewel" is one of the best PENDRAGON releases, more inspired than the commercial-oriented "Kowtow" and than their soapy FLOYD-inspired efforts of the 90's. One of the rock-iest albums of the neo-progressive genre!

 Introducing Pendragon by PENDRAGON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.18 | 7 ratings

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Introducing Pendragon
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A more interesting than really good compilation. I have always waited Pendragon to release a double CD best of, for they had too many good moments to fill in a single CD (although A Historia serves very well as an introduction, at least up to 1996´s The Masquerade Overture). The problem here seems to be that the band wanted to focus on their latter day works, which are, in a way, not as remarkable as what they had produced until 2001. So a newbie would not get anything from their first album The Jewel, and only one song each from 1988´s Kowtow to Not Of This World (2001). and those are hardly very representative of that period. Very little for almost two decades of being one of the best prog acts to surface in the early 80´s.

On the other hand we have a whole CD dedicated entirely to Pendragon´s last 3 albums up to 2013 which were good, but somewhat less inspired and stylistic quite different from their previous masterpieces. Good stuff always, but still not as good as... you know what I mean. So this is more introductory to their recent works than an overview of the band´s discography and talent. I´m still waiting for a double CD with a good account of their best moments. Or, much more deservedly, a three or four CD boxset with rarities and unreleased material.

 The Round Table by PENDRAGON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
4.10 | 10 ratings

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The Round Table
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Released in 2001, this Pendragon compilation has the same songs in the exactly same running order as A Historia and The 1084-2001 Overture CDs. So is hard to know which one came first. In any case, I decided to write this review for two reasons: 1) any of those CDs are the best single disc compilation of Pendragon, taking some of their most representative stuff since their debut The Jewel to The masquerade Overture. and 2) to warn people who has one of these compilations already not to go buy one of the two others thinking it is a different record because of the different title and cover. Except for that, they are all the very same.

I still don't know the reason why there's three compilations with equal tunes and even the same running order. In any case, the content is excellent (see my review of A Historia for further details), but be careful when buying without listening beforehand. I´ll give it the same four star rating because of the quality of the songs. But be aware!

 The Masquerade Overture by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.99 | 560 ratings

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The Masquerade Overture
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Mr. Gone

5 stars I'm not going to do a song-by-song review of this one. There are already plenty of glowing reviews here, and justifiably so, so I'm not going to attempt to do much more than add in a rather thin, reedy voice to a lush, full-throated chorus and say that is Pendragon's masterpiece and an album most bands (even prog bands) would be very happy to have in their catalog. There isn't a single weak track here and really not even a single weak moment. "As Good as Gold", "Paintbox", "Guardian of My Soul", "The Shadow" and "Master of Illusion" are all fantastic tracks - lush, well-arranged and masterfully-written. It's not often that a band hits everything right in a single document, but somehow these guys managed it here. One of my top albums ever. My only complaint is that this was my introduction to Pendragon, so everything I encountered afterward was simply not quite up to this level. But I'd rather have had that happen than to have never heard it all. Five unequivocal stars.
 The Window Of Life by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.92 | 407 ratings

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The Window Of Life
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by AndyJ

4 stars Pendragon's 'The Window Of Life' is for my opinion the second best album by the British neo-prog band - second only to their follow-up album, 'The Masquerade Overture'. What we have on this album is a refined and purposeful sounding Pendragon really coming into their own sound and maturing as a band with some beautiful progressive compositions.

Musically there is a great deal to love here, the songs have a brilliant identity, exploring a variety of progressive styles and even moving into more heavy metal moments from time to time! Clive Nolan's keyboard playing is brilliant, and some of the guitar solos from Nick Barrett are utterly divine, no-more so than on the third track, 'Breaking The Spell'. For my worth the final few instrumental minutes of 'Breaking The Spell' is the best moment on the album.

Vocally Nick Barrett sounds pretty good on here. There's no denying that Barrett isn't the greatest prog vocalist of all time, he's certainly no Fish or Gabriel, but having said that I do personally find something charming about his vocal style - it has a rustic and quaint style to it. Maybe as a British person I don't really have an issue with his accent but I can see why some people might be turned off.

A brilliant Pendragon album, bested only by their follow-up. 4-stars; I can't imagine any prog fan who wouldn't enjoy this album!

 Not Of This World  by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.86 | 436 ratings

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Not Of This World
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by AndyJ

2 stars Pendragon's 'Not Of This World' gets off to a slow start, and arguably never really gets off the starting blocks. There's no 'As Good As Gold' to pull you into this album. In fact, it isn't really until the fourth track, the first part of 'Not Of This World', that we get some of the bombastic keyboard and guitar moments that Pendragon are known for, but its over far too quickly and we are back into the slow synth-laden poppy prog we've already been through beforehand.

There's no doubt that the music is well played, but it feels generic and lacking in inspiration. In places this album feels like Pendragon were writing radio-friendly prog songs with far too much pop influence. A lot of the songs sound a bit "samey" (yeh, I know that's not a real word!) and direction-less. The songs are long on this album, which is usually an encouraging sign for a prog album, but they all tend to meander along with too much filler. Where are the time changes? Where is the progression? None of the songs have any real identity - I'd struggle to tell you which song I was listening to at any point in this album as its all too similar.

In my review for their previous album, 'The Masquerade Overture', I said that it would be one of my desert island discs. Where 'Overture' is utterly essential and probably the definitive Pendragon release, this one is not. Unfortunately, as I sit here revisiting 'Not Of This World', listening again as I write my review I have to say I'd let this one sink into the ocean - there'd be no place for this on my island. Initially I set out to give this album a 3-star rating, but in reading my own words back and hearing this album again I'm really forced to drop this down to 2-stars. The truth is this record sits somewhere between 2 and 3 stars. I'd love to up my rating, I really would, I have a lot of respect for Pendragon, but the enjoyable and interesting moments of this album are just too few and far between. There is too much meandering to sift through to get to the few memorable parts of this record.

2-Stars. There are definitely better neo-prog albums, and much better Pendragon albums than this one!

 The Masquerade Overture by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.99 | 560 ratings

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The Masquerade Overture
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by AndyJ

5 stars As this is my very first review for Prog Archives I wanted to pick one of my all time favourite progressive rock albums for my first review. I've awarded The Masquerade Overture five stars, which is not something I'm planning on doing often with my future reviews. In my opinion this album deserves no less than five stars. This is definitely one of my top ten progressive rock albums, and a sure take for that fabled desert island we all dream about.

For me the most important function of music is to invoke emotion, and this album does it in spades, as a listener it presses every single one of my buttons, and each time I listen to the album it confirms why I love this style of music so much. This album takes the listener through the emotional gamut, from pure joy to melancholy and sombre introspection throughout the journey. I'm grinning from ear to ear during 'As Good As Gold', reflective during 'Paintbox', inspired during 'The Shadow'. Each of the songs does something to me emotionally, and for me that is the most important function of any music.

All of the cornerstones of progressive rock are here in abundance - soaring guitar solos, complex and thoughtful instrumental passages, dynamic time changes, fantastic and emotive vocals and wonderful keyboard and guitar interplay. The vocal style of Nick Barrett might not appeal to everyone, at times he can sound a little 'poppy' and 'romantic', but I find his vocal melodies and tone to be endearing and they add greatly to the flavour of the music.

Now it cannot be denied that this album draws heavy inspiration from Marillion, Genesis and to a lesser extent Yes. For some this might be a negative, but I'm personally of the opinion that music of the past should inspire the next generation. Its true that Pendragon might not have existed were it not for the bands which came before, its an argument which can be used against almost any band. I consider this album to be inspired by some of the earlier progressive works, particularly the earlier albums of Marilion, but that The Masquerade Overture is still entirely original in its own style and execution.

Instrumentally there is a lot of skill here on the album, and while there may not be the complexity of a Yes or Genesis album the compositions on offer are simply perfect. There isn't a note out of place throughout the whole affair. A final note of the lyrics. These are something which often take a back-seat to the music for me, but in The Masquerade Overture I find the lyrics to be powerful and so full of meaning, especially on the album highlight 'Paintbox'.

Stand-out songs - 'As Good As Gold', 'Paintbox', 'Masters of Illusion'

 Introducing Pendragon by PENDRAGON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
3.18 | 7 ratings

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Introducing Pendragon
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A nice introductory compilation!

It is not a secret that Pendragon is a big name in the Neo-Prog realm, a band who have been creating music for over 30 years and that still has a lot to offer. Fortunately, I will see them at the Ramblin Man Fair next July, which excites me a lot, in spite they have never been a favorite of mine. And though I own some albums and know their music, I wanted to dig this compilation album entitled "Introducing Pendragon", in order to feel again that first-time sensation, I mean, I wanted to re-discover them.

This is a 2-CD album that give us over two hours of great Pendragon music, divided in 14 songs (actually 11, one is a long four-part song) that represent their style and their career. What we find here, is a nice selection of songs taken from eight different albums, running chronologically, starting with "Kowtow" and its selftitled song, and finishing with "Empathy" and "This Green and Pleasant Land" from the "Passion" album.

Maybe this is not what we know as "The Best of", but this really is a great introduction to Pendragon's sound, with long compositions, a pure Neo-Prog style full of keyboards, guitars, nice vocals with some theatrical tunes, progressive tunes. Some other songs are "The Voyager", "Masters of Illusion", "Indigo" and the mighty "The Wishing Well" epic, this last one taken from their "Believe" album.

So it is up to you, I think the aim of this compilation is to get new fans, or maybe regain the lost love of old fans, but at least with me, it succeeded. I think it is a very good album for those who want to discover or re-discover Pendragon.

Enjoy it!

 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.64 | 181 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

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

3 stars For their tenth album `Men Who Climb Mountains', UK Neo-proggers Pendragon, led as always by the talented trio of Nick Barrett, Clive Nolan and Peter Gee, with new drummer Craig Blundell, continue in the style of their new-found maturity that began with `Believe' back in 2005, `Pure' in 2008 and `Passion' three years after that. All of those signalled a new direction for the band, eventually heavier, yet still retaining many of those classic grand symphonic gestures the band has always been known for. Using the imagery of climbers and explorers as a metaphor for overcoming and facing hardships and adversity, `...Mountains' is the darkest, most emotionally heavy and brooding work from the band to date. Yet it still retains traces of heart and humanity, and despite initially being quite underwhelming, repeated listens paying careful attention reveals many merits, with just a few occasionally frustrating elements as well.

Despite instantly opening with an overlong stream-of-consciousness lyric vocal passage from Nick over repetitive chiming guitars, the initially melancholic two parter with heavier blasts of `Belle Ame/Beautiful Soul' eventually reveals one of those soaring uplifting choruses that only Pendragon do so well. The almost eleven minute `Come Back Jack' delivers a sad vocal and a punchy muscular repeated chorus, but the highlight is Mr Barrett's playing - his guitar rings with a slightly off, wavering quality throughout the atmospheric intro, turning bluesy and heart-wrenching in moments throughout. A perfect showcase for the whole band, `In Bardo' has Clive Nolan's restrained floating synths and wig-out soloing, Craig Blundell's complex drumming , Peter's serpentine slinking bass and a dreamy vocal and Gilmour-esque reaching guitar solo from Nick all weaving together in perfect unison. Unexpectedly, `Faces of Light', with it's stark but impossibly beautiful piano melody, female backing vocals and uplifting chorus with one of the strongest melodies on offer here, sounds like it's wandered off one of the recent Anathema albums, especially the uptempo burst full of life in the second half.

Less vocals throughout `Faces of Darkness' means more time for the instrumental elements to take focus. It unfolds with a dark and delicate ambient keyboard intro before racing through a mix of skittering frantic drumming, pulsing bass, bristling Mellotron washes and Nick's psychedelic treated voice drifting around. A slightly forced vocal delivering some clunky lyrics let down `For When The Zombies Come' slightly, but thankfully there's slow-burn ghostly bluesy guitar moodiness, a haunting unease throughout. `Explorers of the Infinite' drifts by with jangling acoustic and electric guitars, silky group harmonies and soaring victorious synths, but too many lead vocals over the top mean the eleven minutes here drag on a little too long. `Netherworld' then makes for a more simple and reflective album closer, ideal for the introspective quality throughout so much of the disc.

There is no doubt this is a very thoughtful, mature and complex musical statement from the band, as well as being a deeply personal work for Mr Barrett. Yet it also happens to be deadly serious, frequently wordy and loaded with endless vocal and lyric passages when it could really do with sometimes stepping back and letting the instrumental flourishes the band is so well known for shine a little more. In some sections it almost comes across like a Barrett solo album, with just his voice and guitar and only little contributions from the rest of the band behind him. Thankfully the heavier elements are not quite as obnoxious and upfront as on the previous album `Passion'. While he has grown with immense confidence as a vocalist over the years, there still a few questionable vocal choices Nick presents, and sometimes the combination of tricky lyrics gets the better of him. Finally, sixty-four minutes definitely pushes the friendship here, as, in addition to the increase of vocal sections, several passages are somewhat repetitive meaning attention starts to wander in a few spots.

But Pendragon have proven that they've well and truly moved on from the traditional Neo Prog type compositions and romantic grandness of their first several albums. While not entirely satisfying and easy to enjoy as many of their previous works, it's admirable that the band are inspired, not simply stuck in a rut and repeating what they've done before, instead taking bold chances to push themselves and challenge their fanbase. It would be great if they retained just a little bit more of those softer qualities that made listeners adore them in the first place, but `Men Who Climb Mountains' is still an occasionally thrilling work, and their most rich, dense and subtle release to date.

Three and a half stars.

 Passion by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.75 | 494 ratings

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Passion
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars Pendragon-Passion

'Passion' is the ninth studio album by British progressive rock/metal band Pendragon. After the expanding of a prog metal style on the previous release, Pendragon comes back with my favorite of their albums. I takes everything that was great about 'Pure' and expands upon it, still adding in heavier riffing.

The album opens up with the electronic drum beats of the title track, soon coming in with a heavy guitar blast. The music is surprisingly very different from 'Pure'. The songs are overall heavier and catchier, making it easier to get lost in the music. The song 'Feeding Frenzy' is a perfect example, having plenty of catchy hooks and an equally catchy chorus. There are some slower songs, like 'This Green and Pleasant Land', but unlike the previous album, I love this song. It's not a sappy ballad like the slow songs on 'Pure', It is slow and calm but also rocking at the same time. It has a beautiful catchy chorus, and it eventually starts rocking near the end. The other slow song, 'Your Black Heart', is a ballad unfortunately. It's pretty boring and drags on for too long, and a pretty disappointing finale to such an awesome album.

I said Barrett's vocals were good and fitting on the previous two albums, but he blows those albums out of the way with this album. His vocal performance went up ten-fold, bringing in some guttural screams. You'll feel like kicking ass when hearing Barrett screaming 'DROP MY BALLS' and 'WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE' in the title track. Barrett's screaming on my favorite song from the album, 'Skara Brae' is also very well performed, coming in at the perfect times.

Overall, I highly recommend this album to any fans of Progressive hard rock or metal. It would be flawless if it wasn't for the final track, but that doesn't take this album away from being a masterpiece to me. A nearly flawless album, that deserves more recognition. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Thanks to ProgLucky; Atkingani for the artist addition.

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