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VERSUS X

Crossover Prog • Germany


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German VERSUS X plays symphonic and intricate progressive rock in the vein of the best bands of the seventies (KING CRIMSON, ELP, VDGG, .) with influences of classical music, heavy rock, jazz-rock and the music of contemporary classical composers. The songs are lenghty with fantastic arrangements and great musicianship.

Unlike their second excellent work "Disturbance", the level of complexity on "Versus X" is moderate, though the absolute majority of themes and arrangements shows that their authors were full of wish to create really original production within the frame of Progressive Rock. As a result, "Versus X" become one of the most ambitious albums in 1993. All the basic "parameters" of "The Turbulent Zone" album such as composing in general and arrangements particularly, musicianship and performance, overall sounding and the sound as such, at last, entirely correspond with my perception of this album as of a Classic Art Rock masterpiece. If you're a fan of that classic '70's prog, it's hard to beat VERSUS X.

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DisturbanceDisturbance
Import
Musea 1996
Audio CD$8.74
$10.49 (used)
The Turbulent ZoneThe Turbulent Zone
Import
Musea 2000
Audio CD$11.89
$9.99 (used)
Live At The SpiritLive At The Spirit
Import
Musea 2002
Audio CD$12.19
$10.96 (used)
Primordial OceanPrimordial Ocean
Musea 2008
Audio CD$17.71
Versus XVersus X
Import
Musea 1994
Audio CD$15.89
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VERSUS X discography


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

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

2.89 | 8 ratings
Versus X
1994
3.41 | 31 ratings
Disturbance
1996
3.40 | 26 ratings
The Turbulent Zone
2000
3.83 | 41 ratings
Primordial Ocean
2008

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

3.09 | 2 ratings
Club Voltaire Live
1998
3.67 | 3 ratings
Live at the Spirit
2002

VERSUS X Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

VERSUS X Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Primordial Ocean by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.83 | 41 ratings

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Primordial Ocean
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Supremely satisfying hardcore prog, deeply symphonic, luscious, even pornographic in its pure pleasure-seeking and masterful handling. I got aroused just hearing the first cut, fifteen minutes of well-developed assets carefully drawn out through peaks and valleys until 'The Pulse of the Earth' transitions to 'Essentially Human', a burner full of counterpoint, crosscut rhythms, varietal modulations dropped with ease, and the delicate shared lines of Ekkehard Nahm's keys and fusiony guitars of Arne Schäfer (who shares his vocal range with one Andy Tillison). Nahm packed the record with 'tron samples from his synth richly filling-in the background and Keller & Völlmar are flawless timekeepers. Weird atonal jazziness of 'Fingerprints' vacillates between highhanded piano work and wall-of-sound symph, and 23 minute monster 'Into the Vast Unknown' is terrificly angled and intricate.

Wobbler does spring to mind as well as the aforementioned Mr. Tillison, but perhaps not as intense and with a touch more maturity, the median age range of this group being about forty-five. A highly commendable issue, Primordial Ocean, and a worthy part of the millennial symphonic revival.

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 The Turbulent Zone by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.40 | 26 ratings

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The Turbulent Zone
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Third album from their catalogue named The turbulent zone issued in 2000 at same Musea is almost in same league with previous one. Again the musicianship and performance, overall sounding is excellent and to me is a very good one in every aspect. Opening with a very leghthy pieces Cutting The Veil very much sounding and aswell in manner of composing with previous 3 pieces from Disturbance, is avery solid and full of captivating moments for sure, the keybords, drums and bass are awesome here, at least for me. The rest of 3 pieces of the album are aswell great, no weak moments here, complex , elaborated eclectic prog. Versus X I see doesn't have many fans, but I think this band needs attention, specialy for the instrumental arrangements and passages offered, who I found them very enjoyble and tight. I like a lot this band, specialy previous album who was a killer one IMO, this one is quite near. 4 stars again without hesitation.

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 Disturbance by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.41 | 31 ratings

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Disturbance
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Versus X from Germany is one of the most intresting bands I've heared lately. Conducted by excellent musician Arne Schäfer responsable for guitars and vocals here, he is also the main man on Apogee band. Second album released in 1996 named Disturbance issued at Musea records, to me is a total winner, to discribe it in one word - intresting. Only 3 pieces features here, but all lenghty, one of them clocking around 23 min and is a killer one in every aspect. Dark moody atmosphere grace this album with long instrumental passages , alternating from mellow to more uptempo in a good and very intresting manner. Quite complex eclatic prog , elaborated arrangements, piano , keyboards and guitar having an important role here, sometimes remind me a lot of Genesis - Selling England by the pound era, specially on piano parts. very good are the guitar lines, dark , very spacey with a clear tone and very inventive partrs. Is a realy nice surprise this album for me, even I have it for some years only now I have the time to re listen carafuly. This is the kind of prog that I like, complex, elaborated with plenty of great instrumental parts, Forte piece I think the last one The Mirror of Division , is absolutly a killer one, Curtain fall comes second. I don't realy know why is so low rated this album, aswell as the next one, to me Disturbance is a damn fine release that needs a far more exposure. Maybe the vocals are not among the best I've heared but fits perfect in the atmosphere of the album. 4 stars easy, among my fav albums ever.

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 The Turbulent Zone by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.40 | 26 ratings

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The Turbulent Zone
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Their previous album "Disturbance" simply pushed all the right buttons for me, and while this is in the same sort of style it's not clicking with me at all. Most prefer this album to "Disturbance" though, so I guess i'm in the minority once again.

"Cutting The Veil" has a good powerful intro of synths, drums and bass. It settles with piano then vocals. A calm with piano before 4 minutes. Reserved vocals are back then it picks up as the tempo continues to change.The focus is on the vocals but there are some long instrumental passages in this almost 22 minute opener. "Between The Phases Of The Night" opens with piano,bass and drums then the vocals arrive as it settles. It's building 3 1/2 minutes in as the guitar joins in.The tempo picks up too then it all levels back.

"Strange Attractor" is melancholic to start and reserved vocals and piano join in.This is tough going unfortunately. It's better when the tempo picks up. It's heavier after 3 minutes. Sampled mellotron after 5 minutes too. It settles back with almost spoken vocals before 7 minutes. Not a fan. It builds again as themes are repeated. "The Hostile Sea" is led by piano early as vocals join in. Drums and relaxed guitar follow before 2 minutes.The tempo picks up a minute later. It settles back as the song continues to shift gears. Great sound 12 minutes in with mellotron, guitar and drums.

So overall a pretty good 3 star album.

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 Disturbance by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.41 | 31 ratings

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Disturbance
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This album took me by surprise i'll tell you that. VERSUS X are a German band who on this their second album have created three long tracks totalling 57 minutes.The music is mostly vocal and keyboard led with contrasts between the mellow and heavier sections throughout. It does keep the same kind of style and mood throughout. I did think of GENESIS but the overall feel reminded me of SINGULARITY's "Between Sunlight And Shadow". Both albums draw me to the lyrics more than I usually am, and for whatever reason I just enjoy the mood that is offered even though objectively i'm a little surprised i'm so into this.

"Curtain Call" kicks in with some heaviness before a minute. Organ plays over top then piano.It settles before 3 minutes with vocals and piano. Vocals stop and synths roll in at 5 minutes. Guitar before 6 minutes. Vocals are back before 8 minutes with piano. Heaviness starts to build before 10 minutes. Piano only as we get a calm a minute later. It picks up with different instruments taking the lead to the end.

"In Silent Age" opens with solo piano as reserved vocals join in. Drums and a fuller sound before 2 minutes. The tempo picks up 3 minutes in. Piano and synths only 5 minutes in. It picks up again with vocals before 7 1/2 minutes. Piano and synths as it settles back. Vocals after 10 minutes. It kicks back in after 14 minutes for a powerful conclusion. "The Mirror Of Division" builds as synths wash in. Guitar then takes the lead after a minute then organ. A calm 3 1/2 minutes in with organ then vocals. Piano too. It kicks back in at 5 1/2 minutes before settling a minute later. Vocals too. It's heavier before 8 minutes. It settles back with piano and synths 10 1/2 minutes in. Vocals are back too. The tempo picks up then the guitar leads. Synths and piano only after 16 minutes and vocals return as well. It kicks in before 19 minutes. Nice. Synths join in then vocals before 21 minutes for the emotional ending.

Sure the music here gets predictable fairly quickly but I don't care this album just draws me in for some reason.

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 Versus X  by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.89 | 8 ratings

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Versus X
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Overlooked German band with great love for 70's progressive rock,led by (professional chemist)Arne Schaefer,also leader of the side-project APOGEE.They were formed at the dawn of the 90's by Schaefer and druumer Stefan Maywald,who were members of the new wave band ''Vague Venture'' .Keyboardist Ekkehard Nahm saw Scahefer playing at a solo concert and meant to be the third member of the band's early years.The Frankfurt-based trio recorded their debut in 1994 with Schaefer playing basses,guitars and handling the vocals.

As Schaefer is a devoted fan of PETER HAMMILL,plenty of the material is song-based without lacking in instrumental intensity.Actually most of the tracks have a good balance between song-based stuff and instrumental passages.The music is not complex overall.''Versus x'' is based on grandiose pianos,obscure synths and strong guitar riffing and melodies with a somewhat symphonic touch at times,while Schaefer delivers a few sensitive solos as well in a style adapted by the Neo Prog bands.However,VERSUS X are a progressive rock band who respect themselves,so some nice interplays are also scheduled with Nahm's beautiful piano battling Schaefer's guitars from time to time,offering the most interesting moments of the album (especially on the all instrumental self-titled track).What I would also notice is that their music is quite recognizable,despite being influenced by most of the legendary 70's bands.

Unfortunately one reason for their easily recognizable sound is Schaefer's vocals.This section seems to be a painful issue for the band throughout their career.Schaefer tries to be dramatic and expressive,but the heavy German accent doesn't help at all.That is a pity,as the vocal lines and harmonies are quite interesting,but Schaefer is not the right person to support them in my opinion.

For fans who don't care much about really good vocals,this would be a fine experience.The album contains strong guitar work and some lovely pianos,often in the classic 70's spirit and has a distinctive vintage feeling,despite the use of modern equipment in general.3 stars are a fair rating I think...

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 Disturbance by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.41 | 31 ratings

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Disturbance
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by infandous

3 stars A very good, if not exactly excellent album. This band in general gives me a sense of some decent hobbyists making prog albums in their spare time. I think Arne is a chemist by trade, so this may be an accurate description of this band. Judging by the time in between releases, it does seem that this is not a full time gig for any of the members (but that is certainly not unusual in the modern prog scene).

Having said all that, I like this album quite a bit. The first song is, so far, the best Versus X song I have heard. It has a very nice, if quite long, development of themes and melodies and the most understandable and well written lyrics of any of their songs. The vocals I've never had a problem with. They are not particularly great, but they are not bad by any stretch. The are considerably better than many neo-prog bands I've heard, though I'm not sure this band is really neo-prog (they are certainly NOT crossover, which is what they are categorized under here......I can only assume that the people who put them in that category never listened to any of their albums after the debut). In any case, the standout for me is the piano playing of Nahm. I love his playing and I think he really gives this band some character and a sense of technical proficiency. Because, I must admit, they don't come off as the most technically impressive band I've heard. But that doesn't mean they are not good, far from it. I've heard far worse prog albums for sure. But I'm making this sound worse than it is I think.

The second track is much slower paced and darker, and I think takes a bit too long to develop and doesn't really do much when it does. The lyrics are more obtuse and it's more obvious that he is not a native English speaker, and they are quite dreary as well. But it has interesting bits. Probably the only one I find to be a bit too long and not quite on par with the other two tracks. Not a bad song overall though.

The final epic track (I suppose they all are pretty epic in length, if not scope) is the most traditionally prog in its development, even containing a somewhat uplifting finale. It features a number of changes as well as faster paced material mixed with slower paced sections. Overall, a very good song.

This is not one of the best bands in prog music, no doubt. But there is something I really enjoy about their dark, fairly technical compositions. The lyrics are often hard to understand, but that is not a big issue for me. Shaffer's vocals are nearly without an accent (except on the pronunciation of certain words) and are pleasant enough in a nondescript yet competent fashion. So for myself, this was an excellent addition to my collection. To others, I would say this is good but non-essential. So 3.5 stars then. Rounded down, because really in the scope of this site, this band doesn't stand out nearly as much as a lot of others. Neo fans in particular may want to give it a listen though.

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 Primordial Ocean by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.83 | 41 ratings

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Primordial Ocean
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by bolteau-romluce

5 stars Masterpiece !

This album is a masterpiece. As common, a masterpiece is often difficult to listen at the first. As a "Tales From Topographic Oceans" in 1973, which was misunderstood at the first release, this one may be in the same situation. With a complexity and a subtil writing, Versus X offers to us a fantastic album of VERY VERY good progressive music.

With a lot of differents themes (classical, jazzy, rock and others) and a lot of influences (Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, The Tangent), it sounds like the best groups we know on this progressive planet.

But keep in mind, you need to listen to this album several times before understanding how this music is so great ... If you like Yes, The Tangent, The Flower Kings, and others bands mentioned in this review, you'll like this fabulous album. Enjoy.

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 The Turbulent Zone by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.40 | 26 ratings

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The Turbulent Zone
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by infandous

3 stars 3.5 stars really.

This is a long overdue review on my part, but I figured I'd get this one done before I move on to the next album.

For the most part, this is a band that seems to be definitely a part time project. The time between albums bears this out. Still, this album sees the band sounding considerably more sophisticated than the first two albums and the previous live album. This is due largely (if not entirely) to the addition of a new drummer who fits the bands style far better than the previous one (who was still quite good), and a new bass player who is leaps and bounds better than the previous one.

The music is still in the same style, symphonic prog with a neo-prog sheen (why this band is listed as crossover prog is beyond my comprehension.........they do not fit that category's definition as given on this site in any way, shape, or form). However, everything seems more precise, more tight in execution. The first track, a 21 minute epic, is probably their best yet instrumentally. The first few sections are taken up by the vocals, which carry some interesting melodies and culminate in the chorus (this band doesn't really have traditional versus and choruses and bridges, but that is not unusual in prog). The entire second half of the song, about 11 minutes, is given over to the best instrumental ensemble playing Versus X has ever delivered. Great dynamics and variety, and showcasing some of their most complex and interesting melodies and progressions to date. All in all, a fantastic song.

The next track is a bit mellower, but features an incredible acoustic guitar melody that dominates the song. Some very interesting vocals over this lead into a heavier section towards the end that develops the initial guitar melody further. Fantastic drumming during this part of the song.

The next two tracks are something of a let down after the two excellent opening tracks, though both have things to like. Strange Attractor is a fairly disjointed song that actually reminds me a bit of Van der Graaf Generator in the way it jumps all over the place. Many of the transitions seem odd and forced and the song definitely doesn't flow very well. Still there are some good instrumental moments within, but the vocal melodies never really seem to work and certainly don't stay with you after it's over.

The Hostile Sea is the track most similar in sound to their previous album, and considering it was performed with the previous lineup it's easy to understand why. This one has a long melodic theme that is worked through in the first half, followed by some instrumental development of that theme, which is then resolved back to the end of the original melody sung over floating synths to create a very ambient conclusion. A decent song, but not particularly memorable or one of their best.

So two great tracks and two not so great tracks. I'm going to give this a 3.5 out of 5, because it is quite good, but probably not essential. This is a second or third tier band when you come right down to it, and only really of interest to neo prog fans that lean toward the more symphonic and somewhat more complex side of that genre. Personally, I really enjoy this album and this band and I'm not really a fan of much neo prog, so this band probably fits more squarely in the symphonic prog category. Worth checking out if you are digging deep into the obscure corners of progdom.

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 Primordial Ocean by VERSUS X album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.83 | 41 ratings

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Primordial Ocean
Versus X Crossover Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Primordial Ocean" is an album in which German ensemble Versus X reinforces its retro-symphonic trend. As I remember, the band started on a prog metal-meets-neo vein ("Disturbance" being a clear testimony for this line of work), but by now the band has managed to deliver a development toward the pompous, nostalgic roads of old-fashioned symphonic prog. Keyboardist Ekkehard Nahm operates as the pivotal man for the full band's instrumental schemes and explorations. As points of reference, Versus X has a musical feel very related to 90s Flower Kings, the resucitated Kaipa, High Wheel, and why not, The Tangent - as a matter of fact, guitarist Arne Schäfer's vocal range and style remind of Eloy's Frank Bornemann y The Tangent's Andy Tillison. The band feels at ease when creating and elaborating long compositions: four are the ones comprised in this "Primordial Ocean". 'The Pulse of Earth' gets teh albums started with ceremonious organ and mellotron layers, with a controlled power that gradually gets more patent as the whole band develops the themes. The increase of sonic power is not generated by way of contrast, but with a well-measured build-up. The most magnificent moment of this track take place between minutes 8 and 15, whose melancholic atmospheres are convincingly portrayed by the synth washes, mellotron layers and lead guitar phrases, in this way paying a great tribute to old-school space-oriented symphonic rock. 'From a Distance' is a brief piano solo piece whose meditative tone serves as a proper prelude to the impetuous intro of the next track, 'Essentially Human'. This suite goes for more extrovrted moods than the opener, even getting deeply into the most sophisticated side of progressive things (some specific instrumental passages take hints to Gentle Giant or Van der Graaf Generator). The mellotron sounds are pretty recurrent here, while the guitar harmonies and leads always stay loyal to the moods created by the keyboards (organ chord progression, mellotron layers, piano scales) - in fact, the lead guitar is the crucial item for the track's melodic development, except when the synth assumes the leading spot. The emotional climax literally fills teh air around the attentive listener. 'Fingerprints' begins on a very ethereal mood, alternating spacey synth layers and classicist piano interventions. When the whole band settles in, they elaborate an effective linkage of various motifs, bearing diverse levels of intensity. The track's second half is dominated by a very groovy motif, obviously catchy while ornamented with some sophistication in its rhythmic basis. The last minutes are filled by a languid closure. The longest suite in the album (it last a bit less than 23 ¾ minutes) is the last one: "Into the Vast Unknown" follows the path of musical ambition pursued by the two preceding suites, even giving more room to the instrumental deliveries. Particularly relevant is the fact that bassist Thomas Keller makes his instrument steal the limelight for a few moments. Complexity is an essential rule here, with the band exploiting the compositional paraphernalia enthusiastically between minutes 10 and 13 - simply delicious! Actually, tracks 3-5 can be enjoyed as a contant zeniyh of the album. In conclusion, Versus X has delivered a great retro-prog album with this 2008 effort "Primordial Ocean". Not unlike Thieves' Kitchen, The Tangent or Brighteye Brison, Versus X has shown us that 2008 is yet another year of good health for old-fashioned symphonic prog.

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