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ASGARD

Neo-Prog • Italy


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Asgard biography
Although it began in Treviso (Northern) Italy, Asgard has strong ties to Germany as well. The origin is in a band named Fire Dusk, formed in 1984 by guitarist Massimo (Max) Michieletto,
drummer Marco Michieletto,
 basist Glauco Giacchello, and Alberto Ambrosi on keyboards. They became a popular local band, won many contests, and appeared on radio and T.V. Shows. Fortune smiled when they went to Ibiza, and got the chance to work with Nick Griffiths (former Pink Floyd producer), and recorded a few tracks. These ended up on the sampler "Italian Rock Invasion," and another from a Dutch label called "Exposure '88." Soon after, Giacchello was replaced by Chris Bianchi d'Espinosa, and lead singer Francesco (Chicco, or Kikko, depending in which article you read) Grosso was also welcomed to the mix.

In 1991 they signed with German label WMMS, and were given to producer Peter Wustmann. This began the band's heyday. The first proper release was 1991's "Gotterdammerung." In 1992 work was begun on an EP, but it evolved into a short album that became "Esoteric Poem." This was also when the first lineup change occurred. Michieletto left, and was replaced by another drummer named Marco (this one with the surname of Ferrero). Later that year, a darker path was explored on "Arkana." With three solid efforts under the band's collective belt, the time was right to pull out all the stops. So, in 1993 (true to prog form) the epic concept album "Imago Mundi" was recorded. After its release, Franchesco Grosso left, and was replaced by Franco Violo. In late '94, co-founder Max Michieletto also said his goodbyes. Andrea Stefani sat in to cover tour dates.

The website tells a tale of how two of the members wished to stay in Germany, while the others left the band and returned to Italy. Other sources site a financial dispute. The truth is most likely a combination of the two. So, Alberto Ambrosi and Chris Bianchi d'Espinosa would now remain the core of the group. In 2000, the urge to record again came upon them, and "Drachenblut" was released on their own label. This time the other positions were filled by Sergio Ghiotto on guitars, Peter Bachmayer on drums, and Ivo Gallo taking on lead vocals.

By the turn of the Millenium, Ramsau Germany was home base, and through the revolving door came vocalist Dietrich Kuhn, guitarist Michael Brandt and drummer Markus Hinzmann. Information suggests work being done on a fifth album to be titled "Ragnarøkkr," usi...
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ASGARD discography


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

3.14 | 39 ratings
Gotterdammerung
1991
3.16 | 39 ratings
Esoteric Poem *
1992
3.89 | 74 ratings
Arkana
1992
3.61 | 43 ratings
Imago Mundi
1993
3.11 | 26 ratings
Drachenblut
2000
3.49 | 13 ratings
Ragnarøkkr
2020

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

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

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Asgard
1988
3.00 | 1 ratings
Concerts
1990

ASGARD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ragnarøkkr by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.49 | 13 ratings

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Ragnarøkkr
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars If my wife asks me about a conversation we have had recently, I must confess it is often a struggle to remember what it was about. But, if a band comes onto my radar then somehow it sticks, so as soon as this came through, the synapses started firing and I knew I had reviewed them back in the day. A quick check of the bible (according to both Acid Dragon and Record Collector) which is The Progressive Underground Volume 1 and I can see I reviewed 'Imago Mundi' back in 1994, but the brain hadn't finished yet and a quick check of Vol 3 (out soon) and I can see I also reviewed a cassette of a gig performed in Zwolle at the beginning of 1997 which was sent to me by keyboard player Albert Ambrosi. 'Imago Mundi' was the fourth release from the band, but it took until 2000 for the band to release another album, and then nothing.

Fast forward to 2020 and Asgard are back with their sixth album, and although it appears that Ambrosi is the only musician still involved from back in the day, they still have a distinctive sound. They describe themselves as folk/prog/metal, and while that is undoubtedly true, the word they are also missing is 'medieval' as there are some definite traits in there as well, particularly in sections such as the opening to 'Battle'. They are heavy in a similar manner to recent Galahad, not really a prog metal act but definitely turning up the volume and crunching some very heavy riffs in a manner which is more neo prog than anything else. But sometimes those riffs are just allowed to resonate while there is piano tinkling in behind which gives the band a very different sound. Ambrosi uses a wide selection of different sounds which provide some of the breadth, but it is the use of so many different styles within the songs that allow them to fully spread their wings. Singer Franco Violo is full of emotion, Kikko Rebeschini Sambugaro (drums) and bassist Paolo Scandolo are happy to provide complexity or simplicity, while one gets the impression that guitarist Andrea Gottoli is at his happiest when he is allowed to crunch, although he also provides some lovely restrained lead lines.

I can only hope that this album is the beginning of a revival for Asgard, and they manage to maintain both line-up and enthusiasm and deliver us another album in the near future as opposed to waiting another 20 years. Well worth investigating.

 Ragnarøkkr by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.49 | 13 ratings

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Ragnarøkkr
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars ASGARD is an Italian band that has strong ties to Germany and has been successful, having been mixed by an engineer who knew PINK FLOYD a bit. I've known them since their beginnings in 1991, a genre flirting with neo-prog à la MARILLION or IQ. On their second, I even felt influences from ARAGON, which got me even more hooked. FYI, they claim to be QUEENSRYCHE, DREAM THEATER, GENESIS, early PINK FLOYD and SAGA or RUSH for their incisive riffs, which clearly shows the diversity of their music over time; progressive metal, certainly with a touch of folklore. So it is with emotion that I get down to this review of their 6th album, coming some 20 years after "Drachenblut" and a few internal departures delaying its release. It is here Roland GRAPOW (HELLOWEEN, MASTERPLAN) who produces the album and who gives a strong sign on the musical orientation.

"Trance-Preparation" opens the album with a short symphonic intro, then a deluge of sounds on a somewhat folk-medieval voice, a good-natured, rather frenzied rhythm; it starts much louder than what I had heard. "Rituals" continues with a small flute from the Middle Ages and then typical instruments that give in the folklore of yesteryear; choirs, a chained and frenzied rhythm to sound the death knell for Marillionian reminiscences; not bad, just confusing. "The Night of The Wild-Boar" continues at the same tempo with a bit more cut-off phrasing, and a sound that reminds me of the sound of ARAGON in the "Mouse" period; it's more fruity, more playful, fresher to listen to and more worked out, not to be underestimated.

"Visions" starts off with an energetic intro, a voice supporting the percussion or vice versa; the guitar solo quickly forward to a hard prog tune; the tones here really take on epic metal with only a few prog traces, in particular the use of a synth; the title arises with the appearance of a bagpipe or a hurdy-gurdy, giving there the distinctive atmosphere of the group raging inside the castle. "Kali-Yuga" extends the impression of yesteryear on a shorter title; we have a bit of BLACKMORE'S NIGHT in a metal version as if the guitarist wanted to resume service within DEEP PURPLE or RAINBOW by staying in his castle with his feathered hat. ASGARD does not cut corners and revisits troubadour airs in an electrified version. "Shaman" or the middle title, the longest, linear intro, predictable on a slower tempo, a solo that Steve ROTHERY could release then flew to the spaces of RUSH suddenly until the arrival of a piano solo which poses a little listening, return of a new guitar solo as sharp as ever, it's quite worked as a title but you have to go look for it, dissect it because many drawers, Pandorre boxes are open here; a little more ARAGON then the traditional instruments, some reminiscent of the typical Biniou kozh of Brittany, in short it is quite hilarious and the solos seem to be superimposed on each other rather than following each other in a logical musical framework.

"Battle" announces the 2nd part of the album always with sounds coming from medieval times, it's strange because we know that it is not possible, but the ears try to tell themselves that it is maybe true; the symphonic intro is superb in any case during these 90 seconds, it sounds bombastic, Hollywood metal, a little RHAPSODY too, then a deadly riff à la IRON MAIDEN sets fire to the powder for a fairly well constructed and rather melodic piece; small end to the harpsichord. "Der Tod" continues driving the point home with a title sung in the Gothic language on a well targeted prog-medieval tune, you know the group of troubadours who had already invented electric guitars and who hid their amps behind the large curtains protecting from the cold , in short we believe it and the final rhythm which slows down leaves a sacred guitar solo limit spleen. "Danse Macabre" occurs here by again distilling an epic and very nervous prog metal, to the point that one could think at times of RAMMSTEIN then of NIGHTWISH, the voice is indeed in the language of GOETHE on the other hand. "Anrufung" follows with a dark litany that takes off halfway and makes you want to take the leap, weird kid. "Ragnarokkr" comes with the 2nd long track of the album and its muscular intro, a little crows awaiting the sentence, a little PINK FLOYD hovering followed by a melodic metal tune on small progressive symphonic digressions, that s' packs but it remains well grouped.

ASGARD is therefore in BLIND GUARDIAN, a bit of ROYAL HUNT with lyrical flights. The title therefore speaks at the mythological level of the Twilight of the Gods, which must lie between Italy, Germany and Austria de facto. A singular album with medieval atmospheres and heavy riffs, progressive drawers; beware, what may seem a bit messy is just the conglomeration of the various influences mentioned above and requires a little exercise in the ears; an album not excellent in itself but innovative, an atypical album and mixing styles of music that fought amicably not long ago, to discover.

 Imago Mundi by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.61 | 43 ratings

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Imago Mundi
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Forth album of this discret neo prog band from Italy with moderate succes in the '90s, issued at same WMMS and named Imago Mundi - 1993. Well this is a little known album that desearve a far more attention then it has today, is a concept album well played , performed and composed. Not a weak moments here, I like a lot this kind of neo prog, up tempo with very nice keyboards parts, guitar and all is more then great. I also lik the voice of Kikko Grosso, he has that goth special tone, deep and very elastic in manner of singing. So, as I said before I'm in minority here because I find this one better then Akana in any way. Pieces like opening track Transmigration - On A Blow Of Immense with bombastic chorus, the excellent duel between guitar and keyboards on Courage - Land Of The Dark Wood, the folky with nice flute on Serenity - Land Of The Green Flowers, the rest are also strong. So what to complain here I don't know, I like what I've hered here a lot, this kind of albums I can listen every time with pleasure never get boring. Imago Mundi is one of the unfairly little know album from neo prog field from early '90s. 4 stars easy and to me their best work for sure.
 Arkana by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.89 | 74 ratings

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Arkana
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Asgard is one of the forgotten neo prog bands coming from Italy from early 90s. Their third album from 1992 and second from same year named Arkana is a good example of how must be played this kind of music. Issued at German label WMMS, Asgard was at their peak of their shor career. I guess I'm in the minority here but I don't think this album is their best, I find the next one Imago Mundi to be the most acomplished work they ever done. So regarded to this album the neo prog is rooted very much in Marillion early albums, but also they developed their own aproach. The first 3 pieces are the best from here for sure, specially Olaf Stonehand, a very nice complex neo tune that is very well performed and composed. The rest of the album even is ok, good, there is to much mellow parts interfear between more up tempo ones, cuting the piece when was more intresting. Anyway I like this album, nothing particular excellent but good towards great in places. In some parts they are similar with neo prog bands like Chandelier, Tsunami or High Wheel. 3 stars maybe rounded up to 3.5 because of the first 3 tracks.
 Imago Mundi by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.61 | 43 ratings

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Imago Mundi
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It's been over six years since a written review was done for this record. This is their fourth studio album released in 1993. Again there is a MARILLION flavour here but a fair amount of heaviness as well. I still feel that "Arkana" is their high water mark and I rated it a very low 4 stars. This one isn't as good in my opinion. It's a concept album by the way. I'm just using the first half of the album titles.

"Transmigration" is led by riffs until the vocals arrive after 1 1/2 minutes. Ripping guitar before 3 minutes. It sounds like mellotron coming and going along with those riffs. This is my favourite track. "Justice" kicks in quickly with vocals. This sounds like Power-Metal light. Not a fan. "Violence 1" is short but very good. This is slower but heavy but it does pick up some. "Violence 2" is uptempo and again in the light Power-Metal style. "Virtue" puts the focus on the vocals for the most part, although there are some good instrumental sections. "Fortitiude" sounds like part 2 of the previous song. "Serenity" is an upbeat listen with vocals. Flute late ending with children's laughter.

"Disharmony" kicks in hard after a minute with vocals. "Courage" is one i'm not a fan of at all with those fast paced vocals and backing vocals helping out. "Imagination" is heavy as vocals join in. It turns lighter a minute in. Contrasts continue. "Vulgarity" kicks in quickly with vocals. An uptempo track that settles 1 1/2 minutes in but not for long. "Nobility" features what sounds like strings and reserved vocals. A tasteful guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. "Egoism" has a good heavy intro. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in in an uptempo but not so heavy soundscape. Later it seems like each member gets a chance to solo. Good stuff.

A good album that just doesn't do a lot for me overall.

 Arkana by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.89 | 74 ratings

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Arkana
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Asgard had improved substantially since their debut, and by this album had developed a distinct style of their own; the bedrock of their sound is still Genesis-influenced neo-prog, but Asgard distinguished themselves from the many bands working in the same vein by placing a greater emphasis on the folky, acoustic side of the Genesis sound, as well as introducing a few traditional folk sounds from around Europe which Genesis had not incorporated into their own music. I still wouldn't rank them amongst the upper ranks of the neo-prog scene, but I'd say this album is a decent listen for anyone who thinks "acoustic folk pagan Genesis" sounds like a good concept for a band.
 Gotterdammerung by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.14 | 39 ratings

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Gotterdammerung
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This first release from Asgard is rather rough and unpolished. The Gregorian chant opening to the album on Antiquum suggests that perhaps this particular neo-prog group will go for some unusual influences and lash together a novel sound; alas, what we finally get when the band let rip is a fairly mediocre sound cobbled together from the cast-off musical ideas of neo-prog legends such as Pendragon and IQ, with perhaps a pinch of early Marillion here and there to spice things up and a pronounced Genesis influence to really drive the cliches home. Zealous neo-prog fans who can't get enough of such things might find something to enjoy here; for my part, I can't hear anything on this album which hadn't been done better previously by their influences.
 Drachenblut by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.11 | 26 ratings

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Drachenblut
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars I have really never understood the old ancient world's fascination for the old Viking world. It seems like the Italians & Co from the old Roman empire believe the old Asatru has the answers to all their ills. Financial meltdown and a sprained wrist ? Unleash Odin. Most of us up in the North would gladly swap minus twenty degrees with Sicily and Italy. And we frequently do ! The trade and tourism from Scandinavian countries is one of Italy's biggest income sources.

Asgard developed and expressed their fascination for these old Nordic beliefs a decade or two ago. Their music is dark and brooding neo prog with some hints towards the Italian occult music scene. Dark and brooding, but still pretty standard and not that interesting. The music is more standard rock than neo-prog. It is bereft of most ideas though.

I find the music here pretty dull and that even after weeks of listening to it. Not all the time, that is. I am not in a loony home. But on a more infrequent basis though to see if this album has the ability to mature. It does not. The vocals are on the less satisfying end of the scale. The music is standard rock and I have long time ago entered the bored out of my mind stage. It is OK, but not more.

2 stars

 Esoteric Poem * by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.16 | 39 ratings

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Esoteric Poem *
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Having already entered their most busy period,Asgard did a lot of gigs but still found time to write some new material.Their next work was intended to be an EP before the second full- length release of the band,but ended up to be a 37-min. epic composition divided in 5 tracks.This was called ''Esoteric poem'',released in 1992 again on the German label Music Is Intelligence.

The title says it all.This is for most of its part a very long poem and only at moments a Progressive Rock epic.The first part is a long lyrical introduction with only hypnotic background guitars supporting Grosso's voice,by the second part Asgard remind of the band,which recorded the excellent ''Gotterdammerung''.Sensitive guitar work, dreamy synthesizers, romantic harpsichord and Grosso as a Fish clone,delivering an excellent performance.For the third and longest part Asgard return to the opening style,poetic lyrics surrounded by low backgound keys and guitars and only a MARILLION-esque middle-part close to the likes of ''Misplaced childhood'' remind that this is music and not poetry.The same story with ''Esoteric Poem 4'',which starts off again as a poem (music is totally absent),but after the middle the band offers some nice Theatrical Prog with guitar solos,keyboards and vocals to the front and, at last, some rockin' edge.The last part flows into the lighter side of Symphonic Rock with again plenty of vocals,low-tempo guitars and delightful keyboards,lacking although in terms of energy and passion.

What is really succesful about this EP is definitely the choice of its title.A trully esoteric poem by the band,heading to fans of atmospheric music and with only a few sunbeams of the band's style on the masterful debut.''Esoteric poem'' is propably created straight out of the members' souls,heavily leaning towards the lyrical side of prog,still one can indicate Asgard's creativity and pure talent...2.5 stars.

 Esoteric Poem * by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.16 | 39 ratings

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Esoteric Poem *
Asgard Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars OK....... I will try not to joke too much here although I feel a long witty rant is just coming up. But frankly; this Italian band sounds and feels like the Fish fronted Marillion. The vocals, the sound..... most things here = Fish & Marillion. To this mix, add the band that Marillion once based themselves on; Genesis. And people, well make that me too, claims The Watch is a Genesis/Marillion rip-off. Their countrymen in Asgard has bettered The Watch. Well, based on this album at least.

I have just said everything you need to know about their sound. Yes, it has some RPI flavours too. But most all of it is Marillion/Genesis based.

The quality of the music is very good though. This is a concept like album. The musicians is more than competent and they pulls of a delightful album which has made me order some more Asgard albums. Then again; I am a Genesis fan. But also those with normal mental health will find this album very enjoyable.

3.5 stars

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to kev rowland for the last updates

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