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PENDRAGON

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Pendragon picture
Pendragon biography
Formed in Stroud, Gloucestershire, 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.

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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)

3.36 | 331 ratings
The Jewel
1985
2.64 | 256 ratings
Kowtow
1988
3.81 | 466 ratings
The World
1991
3.95 | 518 ratings
The Window Of Life
1993
4.05 | 710 ratings
The Masquerade Overture
1996
3.91 | 539 ratings
Not of This World
2001
3.60 | 431 ratings
Believe
2005
3.91 | 676 ratings
Pure
2008
3.76 | 576 ratings
Passion
2011
3.67 | 281 ratings
Men Who Climb Mountains
2014
4.07 | 353 ratings
Love Over Fear
2020

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

3.40 | 66 ratings
9:15 Live
1986
2.36 | 43 ratings
The Very Very Bootleg Live In Lille France 1992
1993
3.61 | 55 ratings
Utrecht ...The Final Frontier
1995
3.99 | 63 ratings
Live In Krakow 1996
1997
3.44 | 69 ratings
Acoustically Challenged
2002
4.04 | 20 ratings
Liveosity
2004
4.14 | 88 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.18 | 66 ratings
Out of Order Comes Chaos
2013
4.48 | 23 ratings
Masquerade 20
2017

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

4.18 | 63 ratings
Live At Last ... And More
2002
3.97 | 70 ratings
And Now Everybody To The Stage
2006
4.03 | 66 ratings
Past And Presence
2007
4.45 | 105 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.57 | 54 ratings
Out Of Order Comes Chaos
2012
4.16 | 23 ratings
Masquerade 20
2017

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

2.92 | 59 ratings
The Rest of Pendragon
1991
2.46 | 9 ratings
1984-96 Overture
1998
2.55 | 46 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 1
1999
2.46 | 41 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 2
1999
3.44 | 30 ratings
The History 1984-2000
2000
4.16 | 6 ratings
A História
2001
4.10 | 12 ratings
The Round Table
2001
3.22 | 12 ratings
Introducing Pendragon
2013
4.15 | 8 ratings
The First 40 Years
2019

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

3.35 | 60 ratings
Fly High Fall Far
1984
2.11 | 35 ratings
Red Shoes
1987
2.52 | 27 ratings
Saved By You
1991
2.70 | 18 ratings
Nostradamus
1993
3.68 | 104 ratings
Fallen Dreams And Angels
1994
3.43 | 81 ratings
As Good As Gold
1996

PENDRAGON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 353 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by tempest_77

2 stars Pendragon's latest album was very unfortunately disappointing for a band that is often touted as one of the best neo-prog bands (and for good reason - The Masquerade Overture IS a fantastic album); but it also frustrating because while the musicianship is very clearly present - the band performs excellently and there are some satisfying instrumental sections - the lyricism and the overall compositional approach simply causes the album to fall flat on its face.

The first song I heard off of this album was the last one, "Afraid of Everything", and out of context, it's a very pleasant atmospheric track. When I actually sat down to listen to the whole record, though, the beginning of "Everything" already had me a little apprehensive right off the bat. I'm not one to knock the value of simplicity in music; especially in such a complex genre, it's important to mix in a tasteful amount more straight-forward moments - otherwise your album turns into a mess of noodling and over-indulgence. But the snare-driven power pop drum beat that the album starts out with goes on for just over 50 seconds - I was already over it halfway through around the 25 second mark when, for reasons I can only imagine, Velazco chooses to perform a fill that I can only associate with a 16-year-old on the drum kit at Guitar Center who wants to be a metalcore drummer but still sucks at double bass techniques, so he slows it down just enough for the fill to lose its energy and become entirely boring.

This might seem like quite an unnecessary amount of complaining over just 50 seconds of a 64 minute album, but its the first of countless underwhelming compositional choices throughout the album that all add up to result in a general feeling of mediocrity. It feels like Pendragon felt the need to make their music "more accessible" to the Millennial population (or whatever) despite simultaneously being both: A. already a fairly melodic and "pop-oriented" (70s pop, not 00s pop) neo-prog band, and B. old enough that it's painfully obvious that they are out of touch enough with the world today that their attempts to be "relatable" (I think? It's honestly hard to tell) end up being more painful than if they had just stuck to their guns.

This is a bit of a harsh criticism when looking at the instrumental side of the music alone, but beyond the band's lackluster composition choices, the lyrics are the real thing that absolutely kill this album's chance of being worth listening to. Much like Orion 2.0 on 2019's "Virtual Human", Pendragon seems to have the impression that everyone below the age of 40 is a technology-obsessed idiot who knows quite literally nothing about anything that happened before the year 2000. Take the following set of lyrics from the opening track "Everything": "You're just a Mona Lisa staring at a screen / Knows nothing of the Nephilim and all that goes unseen / Another would be Socrates just melting in the crowd / Doesn't know who Lennon was, the legend of The Shroud". First of all, I had no idea that Nick Barrett was so devoutly Jewish that he thinks everyone needs to know about the Nephilim from the Hebrew Bible, although given that he also wants everyone to know about the legend of the Shroud, I have to pity the man for his obvious spiritual crisis between Judaism and Christianity. Secondly, just like Orion 2.0, Pendragon just kind of throws the line "staring at a screen" in there as if they don't have an official website, a Twitter account, an online store, a Bandcamp page, as well as Nick Barrett's own personal BLOG (which, admittedly, he only seems to update once every 3-5 years). They also sell their tour tickets online, which is pretty obvious given that that's the #1 way to promote yourself nowadays, but it still makes them sound like hypocritical idiots to pretty much anyone with a brain who thinks about it for more than five seconds. Also, how much of an old cynical piece of s**t do you have to be to think that people nowadays don't know who John Lennon is? It's like no one in the band has taken a step outside of their house in the past 20 years. Or, what is much more likely, the band couldn't be bothered to put a single shred of creativity into their lyrics, so they slapped a bunch of lousy, half-hearted, meaningless bulls**t together and called it a song. This theory is further supported by the lyrics in the song "Water": "When the wolf is at my door / She wraps her waves around you / And makes you feel loved once more / 'Cause water is the truth // I can't turn my back on this / 'Cause back on dry land is where all the trouble is / Lost in stories by Hemingway / Feel the salty ocean spray". If you take out about half of these lines, you might be able to make some lick of sense out of what's left, but it's just so obviously gibberish soup that's might sound deep on the most extremely superficial level possible, but in reality doesn't mean a goddamn thing. I would pay actual money to anyone who can look me in the eyes and tell me on a completely serious and genuine level what on earth this s**t is supposed to mean.

I think above all else, the fact that I got genuinely more angry about this album throughout the hour that I spent writing this review solidifies my belief that this is a 2-star album that has decent musicianship, but beyond meeting that absolute bare minimum criterion, isn't worth anyone's time.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 353 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by mental_hygiene

2 stars Love Over Fear came to my attention early in 2020 when it was one of the early contenders for album of the year, dominating the progarchives charts for the first few months and still (as of 5/26/21) at a considerably high rating, even among Pendragon's more recent albums. I haven't listened to much from them, as I've had to buy their albums from bandcamp. Which, by the way, you should absolutely consider buying their earlier works that are some of the defining 90s neo-prog albums. It took me a while to get to this, but I'm just so saddened to say that this is just not a good album.

I really don't like giving overly negative reviews unless there's something very fundamentally wrong. But that's how I feel about this album. The musicianship is good, Pendragon are experienced and have aged very well in terms of their general arrangements and sound, especially coming from a band that uses a lot of cheesy synth sounds. There are many points on this album that are actually really good. There are points that sound truly vulnerable and emotional, especially the second track.

That said, my first problem is composition wise. Like I said before, there are awesome riffs, but they get completely decimated by repeat after repeat with added arrangements that don't seem to build anywhere. Sometimes there are good instrumental moments, but it's otherwise scatterbrained or overly simplistic in a way that doesn't sit right. This is a fundamental flaw, but it's not really what I would pick at this album for. Neo-Prog is a pop inspired genre, and I can't get mad at them for doing just that (even when I think they don't do what they're going for that well).

Second, the production. It's atrocious. It's compressed to oblivion at times (not a unique problem, but again, these flaws, I would argue, all stack high). There's this cheap sounding reverb that doesn't decorate the soundstage as much as it throws glitter on a cake, rendering it inedible. This album sounds pretty bad at times. The synth choices are highly questionable, but that didn't get in the way of how I like the masquerade overture. To my ears, it feels like an unconscious flaw rather than a conscious aesthetic decision.

Third, and most importantly, the lyrics on every song are bordering on meaningless. I tried hard for the first half of the album to stop being cynical and have fun. There are fun moments, like that "all aboard" part early on, that's the kind of zany character that I love to hear in neo-prog. The lyrics to this album are competent but way too heavy handed at best, and complete idiom soup at worst. I mean, read the lyrics of Water. Sometimes Neo-prog lyrics can be heartwarming in their naivete when it's executed properly (I mean, that's literally Misplaced Childhood!). Wolf at the door, yadda yadda yadda. It means absolutely nothing, and it's executed vocally like it should mean something.

This album feels extremely superficial to me, like it's the kind of music that is the reason why I've been radicalized to listen to prog. I know there may have been some harsh sentences in here, but I wouldn't say them if I didn't at least think they held up (especially on an album with an extremely high standing). First, this is not excellent, I think Love Over Fear fails to add up to excellence in any sense. Here's the tricky part, I think this is a competent album. On an objective level, based on my own experience as a prog listener and a musician, I could never take that away from Pendragon. At the same time, if you asked me a yes or no question: "is this a good album", I would say ehh. I wouldn't want to give this to someone who's asking for a good modern prog album. I feel like fans of Pendragon are really the only crowd who could get something from this.

In summary, the unfocused composition style, bloated production, and incoherent lyrics drag Love Over Fear down to two stars.

 The Window Of Life by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.95 | 518 ratings

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The Window Of Life
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After developing their true sound and personality in "The World", "The Window of Life" definitely consolidated Pendragon as one of the most prominent Neo-Prog bands of the 90's.

The Walls of Babylon starts with a Pink Floydesque guitar solo, but soon the splendid Clive Nolan's keyboards and trademark's epic Barrett's melodies come to life to give use the usual goosebumps. The rest of the album manages to maintain a great level of quality.

Barrett's vocals are a take it or leave it thing and Am I really losing you? is clearly under the rest of the tracks in terms of quality, but apart from that "The Window of Life" is an almost flawless album which deserves to be remembered as one of the milestones of 90's Neo-Prog.

Best Tracks: The Walls of Babylon (a band's classic), Ghosts (marvellous melodies which begins in minute 2, they only make this album worthy to be heard),

My rating: ****

 The First 40 Years by PENDRAGON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2019
4.15 | 8 ratings

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The First 40 Years
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars There are some reviews which are more pointless than others, and here we have a case in point. To put it bluntly, if you are already a Pendragon fan then you will have either purchased this album already or have it on your "wants" list, and if you are not a diehard fan you will not be investing in a 5-CD set which comes in a hardback 32-page book. I had noted the release and was contemplating when to get it when Covid 19 hit, causing the band to cut short their European tour. Knowing just how hard the guys worked to get that together, along with the associated costs, I knew this was a major financial setback for a band who have always been a cottage industry, so I told my family exactly what I wanted for my birthday.

The book is packed full of photos from throughout the band's career, and I had to smile when I recognised the Astoria stating Pendragon, Galahad and Mentaur, as I was there that night nearly 30 years ago. There are notes from the current line-up, plus lyrics to 'The World' and 'Men Who Climb Mountains" which have had new drums recorded by Jan-Vincent Velazco as well as additional instrumentation by the other guys as well as being remixed. I must confess I find it is a little strange that they decided to choose those two albums, as 'The World' (which I love dearly) was their third release from 1991, while 'Men Who Climb Mountains' was their most recent studio album at this time, coming out in 2014.

The first three CDs are taken from the 40th Anniversary Tour, recorded at The Venue on November 9th, 2018 (the band point out this is the first official live recording from London since 1986's '9:15 Live'). The quartet of Nick Barrett (guitar, vocals), Clive Nolan (keyboards, backing vocals), Peter Gee (bass guitar, bass pedals, backing vocals, keyboards) and Jan-Vincent Velazco (drums) are joined by backing singers Zoe Devenish and Verity White, while saxophonist Julian Baker guests on a few numbers and original drummer Nigel Harris came back for a few songs. Of course, the real problem when pulling together a setlist for a tour like this is that you simply cannot please everybody, and I for one am disappointed not to see "The Black Knight" or "Leviathan", while I have also always had a soft spot for "Red Shoes", but they would have had to have played for four or five hours every night to be able to do it all. Velazco may have only been with the band for 3 years on this tour, but Nick and Peter had been there for the whole 40 while "new boy" Clive had been involved since 1986 and had actually known Nick from a very young age when they first met at school. Together they have played for countless hours in studios and on stages throughout the world, and it shows. There is an easy relaxing into the material, knowing they are among friends, with their earliest numbers such as "Fly High, Fall Far" and "Excalibur" sounding fresh and exciting, even though they were originally released as long ago as 1984.

One of the things one notices when looking through the photos, which will be familiar to anyone who has seen the guys play, is that there are a great many smiles among the band as even after all this time together they are still having fun and genuinely enjoy being together. There is a photo of Nick and Clive together where they are both genuinely laughing about something while Nick is playing, neither of them actually looking at each other or the camera, just enjoying each other's company, which just has to be in front of a crowd full of fans. I particularly like the older photos, from the Eighties, and just love leafing through the book while the music is playing. It is a wonderful set, and I am certainly pleased to own what I believe is the most Southern copy in the world (latitude 172.1985° E ? anyone else got a copy closer to the Antarctic?). A classic set of incredible songs played by musicians who really are at ease with each other and the material, along with new versions of two of their albums, what is there here not to love?

If you are one of the many people who have only come to Pendragon since the release of the excellent 'Love Over Fear' then this is a fantastic addition to the collection. No Pendragon fan can really do without this glorious set.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 353 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars Okay, the last PENDRAGON came out, so it can only be a 5 star assured, seeing as he's a dinosaur now in the closed world of art music. Well, I'm still a fan of Nick and Clive and I pay tribute to them for continuing to release great things in the 90's when everything would die. It is a little thanks to them that we continue I think to vibrate with each exit; so why would the reader languish in this way? The observation is simple: we are always dealing with beautiful melodies, well-placed atmospheric atmospheres, also beautiful solos with this characteristic guitar among a thousand; we have the synths on a rhythmic basis, but from now on, at least on this last opus, it lacks the creative energy, the sound emotion that made you leave this world! So no it's not a bad album, but an album lacking inspiration in my opinion, an album that any fan will drink without thinking too much, an album that no longer has the illumination of a '' The window of life "or the pep of a" Pure ", this album will not delight those who seek the little extra, the spark that makes us live. It took me a long time to think about this note, but objective I am, objective I will stay.
 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 353 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

2 stars Pendragon released their new album Love Over Fear in 2020 and it represents a departure from rougher, angrier and darker sound from their previous albums. This release brings a more positive side and it begins with Everything which starts with strong drums, bass and organ and delivers a nice guitar and keyboard solo, it's the best song on the album.

After the great opener the album, for me, looses quality and delivers mellow sounding songs. Starfish and the Moon, Afraid of Everything are ballads which feature the gentle piano and keyboard themes, the songs are very simple and forgettable.

Love Over Fear represents a attempt to return to soundscapes of the band's more symphonic approach in the past and maybe for longtime fans, it delivers all that they expected from the band, but for me this album brings nothing innovative or interesting.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 353 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

4 stars An excellent, uplifting, and memorable album. Pendragon's latest craft is musically reminiscent of their previous release, with the exception that 'Love Over Fear' is not really a dark album. There is still a cathartic feel to many of the songs but they are generally, as I said, uplifting.

Lyrically, Nick Barrett tells us stories about philosophy, love, beauty, being misunderstood, and definitely the central theme here is the sea. This, of course, corresponds to a recent change in his life ' moving to Cornwall in the UK.

His voice sounds absolutely fantastic, but this is something that applies to the whole album which is excellently mixed and mastered. Productionwise, it is better done that its predecessor and the band seem to have found the right moments where to stop playing, which results in just a few fractals of the whole LP that could be considered of excess.

With all this said, there are same purely magical compositions here, songs like 'Everything', 'Truth and Lies', 'Eternal Light', 'Water' and 'Who Really Are We?' reveal the full power and capability of the band. Majestic and grandiose soundscapes camouflaged in Nick Barrett's interesting lyrics and brilliant guitar playing, resulting in a fabulous and elevating listening experience. Moreover, I would not refer to any of the songs on this album as weak, repetitive, or unpleasant.

Simply put, 'Love Over Fear' by Pendragon is excellent and a real treat for any progressive rock addict.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 353 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by FatherChristmas

5 stars I've just bought this album yesterday, and it surprised me - in a good way. Before hearing I thought Pendragon had had their day since the album "the Masquerade Overture". Luckily, I was wrong. But I'll get one with the review.

The album gets off to an excellent start with fanfare style organs from Clive Nolan on the first track "Everything", before the guitar comes in and bursts into song. This is, in my opinion, one of the best and most important songs on the album as many of it's motifs are repeated in other songs on the album. Anyway, it's a great song and brilliant intro.

"Everything" then flows into "Starfish and the Moon", a quiet, simple song featuring only piano and a soft guitar solo in the middle - and Nick Barrett's excellent vocals, of course. The quiet is undisturbed as the next song, the 8-minute opus "Truth and Lies", comes in with more of that soft guitar - do not be deceived, however, as it soon flows into an harrowing guitar solo - in my opinion, the best on the album. As the harsh, storminess of "Truth and Lies" fades away, a mandolin comes in, signifying the begin of "360 Degrees". After the first verse, the drums enter with bombast pronouncing a happy violin melody. The entire song is inspired by the sea, which would make sense as Nick Barrett is curently living in Cornwall. In fact, the entire album seems sea-orientated - even the cover.

As "360 Degrees" fades away, in comes "Soul and the Sea" - probably the most musically varied track. It begins, like "Truth and Lies", with a soft guitar. Soon the violin comes in and then the drums, followed by somewhat whispered vocals; until all of a sudden it breaks down into a short piano motif. Then, thunderous guitar and drums enter, the vocals now loud and clear, until it fades out with an acoustic guitar.

After "Soul and the Sea" ends, "Eternal Light" begins with a soft but soon loud guitar. After the first lyrics, a motif from "Everything" comes in - and after that, more lyrics, an instrumental section, then yet more lyrics, then the end. I've barely described it there - it is as varied and complex as "Soul and the Sea" - but "Soul and the Sea" gets the most complex prize, as it is much shorter.

Then - "Water" - another long song at seven minutes long. It begin only with a soft, sad guitar, but continues to build up and up as the song goes on, with a great, harsh guitar solo not dissimilar to "Truth and Lies". The album continues with "Whirlwind", a fairly short piano song, that fades into the longest track - "Who Really Are We" - that begins with a thunderous guitar riff, which descends into an acoustic passage with drums, but then breaks down - and builds up again with that thunderous guitar riff with added solo. The final lyrics come in, and then...

"Afraid of Everything", the final track. It enters with a fairly soft guitar, builds up, then swirls out with a beautiful synth solo. A brilliant outro to a brilliant album.

So, to sum up... I didn't want to have my first album review to be five stars for some reason, but here I am forced to. It has both the two requirements I consider for a five star album:

1. The songs are all great. In the words of Special Collaborator chopper, "not a duff track in sight".

2. It works brilliantly as an album. It flows well from song to song, and many songs share motifs.

So... five stars.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.07 | 353 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars 2018 saw the band celebrate their fortieth anniversary, looking back over a career which has seen them release amazing albums, toured all over the world (although not New Zealand, yet!). But they were not finished yet, and with "new boy" drummer Jan-Vincent Velazco (in fairness he joined in 2015, but given Nick and Peter have been there since 1978 and Clive since 1986 it is a tag he is always going to have) they headed into the studio to record the band's eleventh studio album. These days Nick lives in Cornwall, a far more pastoral and relaxed existence, and this has come through to the music as well. When I first saw the stunning artwork by Liz Saddington, I felt I had gone back somewhat in time, as although it is a very different style indeed to Simon Williams, it felt similar in so many ways. I opened the digipak (I have the single CD release, but it is available in multiple versions), and the card was embossed and cried "quality" to me. As I looked through the booklet containing the lyrics and some wonderful photos by Rachel Wilce I started to feel quite concerned, as in many ways here was an album which was asking to be taken very seriously indeed. But could it live up to the quality of all which had gone before? I mean, they have been at the game for a very long time indeed, and I and countless others have sung the many anthems at gigs, could this live up to the promise??

I put on "Everything", and my jaw dropped open. Clive and Jan-Vincent commence the song as if they are onstage waiting for the rest of the band with strident chords and snare drum kicking it along. A small drum fill invites Peter to join in the fun, and the three of them keep it powering through, and it is as if we have been taken back in time. Then all of a sudden Nick is there. Gilmour/Latimer style guitar soars and it is as if a black and white image has suddenly burst into full colour and light with the band now concentrating on supporting the main act. Throughout the album the music twists and turns, looking back in on themselves (I am sure I heard a tinge of "Queen of Hearts" at one point), acoustic guitars are there when needed, mandolin at others, while Peter switches his instrument and style as the need arises.

Clive has become far more confident in his own singing over the years and provides strong support to the person he first met when they were five years old, adding that additional vocal element. "Starfish and the Moon" has to be one of the most remarkable songs Pendragon have ever produced, being mostly Nick and Clive, with vocals and piano giving way to guitar and keyboards. It is full of emotion, life, and passion and some of Nick's most wonderful lyrics. The more I played this album the more I realised something quite incredible had happened, in that Pendragon had released something which is possibly their finest ever work. It has been hard to get this away from my player and looking at various forums there is no doubt that many Pendragon fans feel exactly the same way. As I write this, 'Love Over Fear' is sat at #2 on the ProgArchives charts as the best album of 2020, but given the incredibly high number of ratings given so far, I would not be surprised to see this end the year as #1.

As for me? This emotional, pastoral, delicate, soaring, majestic, polished, powerful, dramatic release from Pendragon has become my favourite release of theirs, ever. Given how much I hold close to some of their other releases that is quite some statement, but it does not get any better than this and if I could rate this 11/10 I would do so. I am so looking forward to the next one?.

 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.67 | 281 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars I'm somewhat at a loss here, as I honestly thought I reviewed this album when it was released back in 2014, but as I can't find it in any of my files I am guessing that somehow it slipped through the cracks, so it is definitely time to rectify that. Back in the Nineties, when I just dipping my toe into the progressive rock waters, not knowing that was enough to find myself either drowning or floating for the rest of my life, one of the people I contacted early on was Nick Barrett. In a very different lifetime (ok, so according to my records it appeared in Feedback #12, February 1992), Nick was the first person I ever interviewed as we discussed the amazing album which is 'The World'. We did more interviews through the years, and a poster for 'The Masquerade Overture' was the only piece of musical artwork which ever graced the walls of our family home, and anyone walking down the stairs couldn't fail to see it proud in place in front of them.

Like many, I felt the line-up of Nick Barrett (vocals, guitar), Clive Nolan (keyboards, vocals), Peter Gee (bass, vocals) and Fudge Smith (drums) was one that was destined to last forever. But he departed in 2006 after 20 years at the back of the band, being replaced by Scott Higham for the next two albums, although by the time of this recording he had also moved on, to be replaced by Craig Blundell. Over the years the band's sound had changed a great deal, as one would expect from a group who had been performing for so long, and while I have enjoyed all their releases, some have made a larger impact on me than others, with the trinity of 'The World', 'The Window of Life' and 'The Masquerade Overture' being my personal favourites. But this album is some 18 years on from the last of these, albeit with three of the same musicians involved, so what would it be like?

Pendragon in 2014 are not the same beast as Pendragon in 1996, it is just not possible as all those involved have gained different life experiences and taken musical journeys during this timeframe. Clive, as always, has been the most prolific and diverse, but his role in Pendragon has always been to interpret Nick's songs and what is required from him no matter what he has been doing outside the band. Peter has been the reliable sideman, providing the perfect support ever since 1978, using a fretted bass when the time is right, and also showing how much a master he is of fretless to slide in the sounds when it adds additional benefit and warmth to the sounds, while Colin sounds as if he has been there for years, sitting patiently for the right moment, concentrating on some wonderful cymbal flourishes, or dramatically pounding the drums, and there of course there is Nick. The top hat may have disappeared, along with the fancy shirts, but here is a man who is still focussed on Pendragon and what that means.

In many ways this album sounds to me to be the perfect combination of the 90's material and the harder edge which had come through in the 2000's, the result being something that fans can easily embrace. This allows that edge to combine with the soaring majesty of old, as the band feel full of confidence and vigour. This is a true Pendragon album, one which fully embraces the depth and breadth of their canon, yet also looking forward. How does it compare with the class albums of yore? Well, it is right up there, but possibly not quite peaking above 'The World'. But is that due to the material, or just the feelings of an old proghead who played that album to death nearly 30 years ago and still listens to it today? Quite possibly to be fair. What I can say is to my ears it is the most enjoyable Pendragon album since 'Not of This World', and possibly since 'The Masquerade Overture'.

Thanks to ProgLucky; Atkingani for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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