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XANG

Crossover Prog • France


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A new young quartet playing an instrumental prog close to PENDRAGON coming from the north of France. The French guys are offering here all that the heart desires: Mysterious chords envelop strong guitar riffs, melodies on which we can dream and all kinds of varieties, that results in the listening of demo there is no boring. The guitar playing recalls very strongly Steve HACKETT and bass and keyboard players let themselves be inspired by MARILLION. It's complex, sometimes quiet, sometimes loud and always very intriguing, like a mix between ARENA, DREAM THEATER, FLAMBOROUGH HEAD, GENESIS, IQ, LANDS END, RUSH and SPOCK'S BEARD, but all instrumental.

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Last of the LastsLast of the Lasts
Import
CD Baby 2007
Audio CD$13.61
$23.04 (used)
Destiny Of A DreamDestiny Of A Dream
Galileo Records
Audio CD$23.03
$12.95 (used)
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XANG discography


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

3.76 | 22 ratings
Destiny Of A Dream
1999
3.61 | 23 ratings
The Last Of The Lasts
2007

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XANG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Destiny Of A Dream by XANG album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.76 | 22 ratings

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Destiny Of A Dream
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars This French quartet was born in mid-90's in Cambrai, near the French-Belgian borders, giving life to an idea of keyboardist Vincent Hooge and drummer Emmanuel Delestre.The two were joined by Vincent's brother Matthieu on bass.After a long time spent in guitar players' rehearsals Xang finally found their fourth member on Antoine Duhem.In 1999 the first album of the band ''Destiny of a Dream'' sees the light, marking thie first ever release of the Swiss label Galileo Records.

A full hour of well-crafted, highly energetic and deeply melodic instrumental Progressive Rock is the type of music Xang had chosen and they did it quite well to say the least.This is an album with a very modern sound, plenty of technique thrown in as well as catchy grooves and flashy solos.It comes as an all instrumental version of late-ARENA, CAIRO, CRYPTIC VISION, MAGELLAN and the likes, maybe with a touch of DREAM THEATER at moments, creating soundscapes full of intricate melodies and demanding interplays.''Destiny of a Dream'' is an extremely tight release with a superb coherence from start to finish, filled with balanced compositions flirting with Heavy/Neo Progressive Rock due to melodic guitar textures and the strong amount of grandiose synthesizers surrounding, but the changing climates are also endless, making it a quite challenging work.Nornally I would get bored with an album having a similar style all the way, but Xang's performance is really inspiring, professional and really enjoyable.

This is some very cool modern instrumental Progressive Rock by our French amis, where Symphonic Rock meets Melodic Prog meets Heavy Prog in series of challenging compositions.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 The Last Of The Lasts by XANG album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.61 | 23 ratings

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The Last Of The Lasts
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars XANG are a talented French band who play all-instrumental music.This is their second release and it's a concept album. I do prefer the debut because I find it more dynamic and powerful. It's hard for me to get into concept albums like this, I guess i'm too lazy.The subject matter is too depressing anyway.

"Sacrifice" opens with gentle guitar and percussion.The guitar is more passionate before 1 1/2 minutes. Some heaviness in the second half of the song which ends before 9 minutes when it settles back. The synths become prominant after 10 minutes. "On Leave" is kind of jazzy with guitar, drums and bass. Piano replaces the guitar before 2 minutes. It kicks in harder after 2 1/2 minutes briefly with organ outfront. Organ then leads then it kicks in again as contrasts continue. "Verdun" is mellow with synths, a beat and relaxed guitar.The piano replaces the synths before 3 minutes then the synths lead again. It changes completely before 7 minutes as the piano takes over.It then picks up with synths 8 1/2 minutes in. It's heavier late.

"Sons Of The Empire" opens with spoken words but we also get sirens and experimental sounds. "Mud" is heavy early on but it settles right down a minute in with synths and drums.The guitar is back 2 minutes in. Nice. "Roommates" opens in a mellow way with accordion and piano. Drums and synths take over after 1 1/2 minutes.The guitar joins in and the tempo picks up before 3 minutes. A change before 4 1/2 minutes as it turns atmospheric. "Trenches" has some heavy outbursts and the guitar lights it up 5 minutes in. "Gas" opens with gas sounds. No not that. A beat comes in and the guitar cries out in this emotional closer.

It certainly has it's moments but not enough of them for me to give up the fourth star.

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 Destiny Of A Dream by XANG album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.76 | 22 ratings

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Destiny Of A Dream
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars First, an official disclaimer: this is one of my favorite prog discs ever, certainly in my top 20 all-time, so take note that I am grossly biased having listened to this masterful recording over and over again ad perpetuam since its arrival. I anointed the follow up "Last of Lasts" with equal lavish praise, so I am a fan. Even though I unabashedly prefer the mellower , more pastoral melancholic side of prog, I was also raised on a steady diet of hot, searing , sweaty rock , so it should come as no surprise that this excellent hard prog group from the north of France remains one of my little pet/protégés, a rambling bruising instrumental outfit that can really lay it on thick, with an abrasive and mellifluous guitar courtesy of the incredible Antoine Duhem (straight from the Lifeson school of riffs and solos), suggestive keyboards from Vincent Hooge who throws in a few oblique organ forays and tons of razor- sharp synth solos , all held down by the prolific Matthieu Hooge (Vince's bro?) and the tremendously agile drumming of Manu Delestre. From the opening "La/The Revelation" , the unending roller coaster ride goes unabated , swerving in all directions, great riffing, stop on a dime arrangements, constantly huffing, puffing, spewing and devastating the aural landscapes with well thought out interventions, not one boring second on this puppy! . Strangely, while there are no vocals, there are some lyrics, which make this rather brainy exercise even more appealing, giving the listener the ability to imagine the story via the music only. Darn brilliant, if you ask me! "Misgivings/Le Doute" is another highlight, with some fascinating rhythms, dive-bombing guitar runs, machine-gun percussion and that solid bass buoying everything down tight. "My Own Truth/Ma Verité" provides a heavy symphonic background for some added instrumental mischief, with both synthesizers and fretboards simply ablaze with inspiration and steadfast drive. A ravishing Duhem solo ignites the deepest passions, sparkling fiercely in the sonic tornado. "The/La Prediction" is a contrast-laden epic with calm almost minimalistic piano musings clashing suddenly with more cerebral sections, featuring hooting six-string howls, some fine ensemble playing, stupendous heavy drumming and another rousing synth solo, brimming with folly and a Duhem blast that spells mayhem. "The Dream/Le Songe" is a brief piano interlude that clearly resonates the simple beauty of a lull after the storm, where time and space suddenly disappear into oblivion leaving only weightless introspection. "Bitterness/Amertume" is the first monster cut, clocking in at 10 minutes plus and rewards the delirious listener with a majestic romp that slowly builds from a gentle symphonic awakening into a blossoming adventure , replete with melancholic inflections despite the strong rhythmic guitar groove, wailing synths whistling the pain of regret , bass booming in tandem and full- fisted drum patterns. Antoine Duhem radiates again with a series of world class solos full of gritty suffering, precise yet evocative highlights that remain forever etched in one's brain's sensory boards. A brief e-piano/cymbal duet mid-section keeps the tension in place, rebuilding the tonal melancholy into a gloriously exploding finale. This is a riveting, deliberate piece that is surely among the finest prog instrumentals ever recorded. "The Choice/Le Choix" continues as an extension of the previous brilliance, with a more mid-tempo guitar led assault, Duhem weaving some bending guitar notes, here sounding more like a cross between Holdsworth and Latimer. There's some playful and restrained group playing until they all simply take the tune into muscular overdrive, zooming along at breakneck speed, lobbing heavy riffs, shredding nicely into the boiling cauldron. Out of the blue, an organ announces a change of direction and the rifferama begins anew in a different expanse, an oblique at times Holdsworthian solo burning incandescent. Incredibly creative stuff, really, I cannot imagine someone not liking this. The nearly 7 minute finale "The Light/La Lumière" (though its listed at 13 minutes, it has some dead air and noodling towards the end) starts off with some imperial church organ (sounds like Wakeman's 6 Wives of Henry VIII there for a moment!), a luminary guitar blazing away, controlled shining at all costs, unending peaks and valleys in terms of intensity, always veering near the outer fringes of insanity, at times harsh and then warm and glowing. Rarely has instrumental prog shown itself so versatile, fun, exhilarating, aggressive, melodic and moody. Packaging is interesting reading, this being obviously musicians with day jobs (Manu is a university teacher !) whose passion for ace prog is clearly expressed in their discography. First-rate prog that will definitely upgrade your collection's scope and quality. 5 shining etoiles.

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 The Last Of The Lasts by XANG album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.61 | 23 ratings

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The Last Of The Lasts
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "The Last of the Lasts" was indeed one of the most amazing prog albums in the year 2007: the French ensemble Xang really went to high places with this opus, which comprises a repertoire so consistent and so eclectic at the same time. The opener 'Sacrifice' kicks off with a heavily Mediterranean vibe, featuring soft acoustic percussion and Flamenco-oriented acoustic guitars. The mood is quite joyful at this point, but then the pulsating bass brings a shift of things toward an ambitious exercise on symphonic rock that benefits enormously from the motif twists that occur along the way (including a circus theme and Arabic fusion). The last portion features an explosive synth solo in which Vincent Hooge combines Wakeman's stylish pyrotechnics and Ordford's dynamics - awesome! 'On Leave' is a whole different nature: 6/8 jazz-rock set on a powerful framework that sounds like a mixture of Niacin and Tribal Tech. At least, until things turn into a slightly creepy ambience: that is where Xang states a heavy prog thread with a subtle spacey touch. For the final section, the track returns to the original 6/8 tempo on a jazzy note, culminating in a exciting 5/4 coda. The 11+ minute long 'Verdun' follows, beginning with a clear melodic path quite related to the standard of neo-prog (Versus X-meets-Twelfth Night), yet with a darker vein that soon erupts during a brief prog-metal escalade. The next section features an eerie Watkins-inspired synth solo, properly installed on a constrained instrumental frame. The remaining part of this section stand somewhere between melodic prog-metal and classic prog (Yes, ELP) with a hard rocking twist. The piano chords rolling up and down like sea waves and the guitar adornment that flows like an autumn breeze is lovely, but mostly, a brief prelude to the patently bombastic section that follows: this one brings the prog-metal/classic prog thing to a more frantic level. 'Sons of the Empire' is an interesting landscape of industrial effects plus a soliloquy, military orders, a warning siren, a crossfire, a radio reporter... The track is segued into the very prog- metal 'Mud', whose rough dynamics mixed with eerie jazz-oriented moods kind of reminds me of experimental metal acts such as Canvas Solaris. A radical change occurs when 'Roommates' settles in with its bohemian moods, pretty much reminiscent of the night club spirit that used to be embraced by the night owls in the early stages of the XX Century. A second section shifts into an exercise on modern symphonic rock, with a coda that displays a somewhat disturbing set of industrial synth layers. 'Trenches' finds the band once again exploring the mixture of prog-metal and classic prog that they had already mastered in some preceding tracks: just like the previous track, the track's end consists of a brief set of industrial synth layers. The album's last 8+ minutes are occupied by 'Gas', a slow sonic travel that is focused on distant atmospheres on an elegiac tone. The minimalistic approach and hypnotic repetition of the main layer-filled motif states a captivating marriage of post-rock and "Kid A"-era Radiohead, with a slight touch of the introspective side of Can. This piece is really beautiful as it is sad, which in my opinion/speculation is like a portrait of the desolation that fills a battlefield after a battle, only surrounded by the remaining gas after the shooting of various war weapons. The fact that this portrait of tension, destruction and sadness is inspired by the WWI enhances the main idea: that no matter how cruel and ultimate a war can seem, human nature eventually won't let it be the last. A terrible contemplation about human beings translated into great prog rock by the guys of Xang.

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 Destiny Of A Dream by XANG album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.76 | 22 ratings

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Destiny Of A Dream
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Having gotten acquainted with Xang with their impressive sophomore album "The Last of the Lasts" (one of my Top 10 favorites from 2007), I couldn't help embracing great expectations concerning their debut effort "Destiny of a Dream". It became clear to me that this band had it all figured out about the purpose of following an eclectic progressive rock approach, although this particular release shows the band more obviously inclined toward classic symphonic prog and neo-prog. You can hear evident traces from Yes, ELP, UK and "Criminal Record-era" Wakeman, as well as abundant stylish arrangements that hint at the standards of modernized symphonic prog. At times, the hard-driven guitar passages state a prog-metal oriented vibe, while other times 8a few times), the drummer moderately indulges in jazzy undertones. The instrumental arrangements somehow give preferential room to the keyboard inputs; together with the guitarist's penchant for showing his own strength, the bassist also delivers virtuosic lines here and there in a very Myung-meets-Geddy Lee kind of way. 'The Revelation / Gaïa' kicks off the album with a clear ostentatious stance, filled with convenient punch and robust agility. The Howe- meets-Beck guitar phrases state powerful dialogues and connections with the Jonson-meets-Emerson keyboards. The keyboard parts in 'Misgivings / Guernica' are more focused on the Wakeman Heritage: at this point, I notice confluences with bands like Tempus Fugit and pre-"Excelsior!" Mastermind. 'My Own Truth' leans closer to the neo-prog chiaroscuro of IQ, with DT remembrances during the final section; it is such a pity that the fade-out has to get in so soon, since I feel that a more expanded display might as well delivered a more conclusive climax. Anyway, this is a highlight of the album - I have no doubt about it. 'The Prediction', through its various sections, shows the most recurrent air of mystery in the entire album: it starts quite serene, indeed, shifting gradually toward an expectant mood; then, in turn, it lands on an explicitly explosive motif that feels partially creepy. The band really takes full advantage of the 7 minutes occupied by this pompous number - yet another highlight. 'The Dream' is a piano solo piece consisting of an evocative reprise of one of the motifs from the preceding track. This is a momentary repose among the consistent energy Xang is so recurrently fond of. 'Bitterness' retakes that special mixture of neo-prog's agility and prog-metal's hard rocking vibe that was so efficiently delivered in a few previous tracks - the melodies' lyricism and rhythmic dynamics are just impressive. 'The Choice' features the lead guitar more than any other track in the album: it carries a bluesy trend, incorporating an interesting 13/8 interlude that states an effective break as a preamble for the powerful climax. The album's last 13 minutes are occupied by 'The Light', a catchy piece that reminds us of the melodic developments comprised in 'Misgivings / Guernica' and 'The Prediction', almost matching the latter's pomposity. It actually lasts 6 ¾ minutes; after minutes of silence, a weird combination of acoustic guitar chord progressions and noises of airplanes states the real closure. "Destiny of a Dream. is a very good album that in many ways anticipates the superior sophomore album "The Last of the Lasts". Among the new prog bands from France, this one should be more appreciated by all members of the prog Internet community.

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 The Last Of The Lasts by XANG album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.61 | 23 ratings

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The Last Of The Lasts
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I usually find very difficult for an all instrumental album to express a concept. I got this feeling es with "Camel" already ("Snow Goose").

Same applies here. This album refers to WWI and the awful episodes of the useless butchery that occurred on the French soil in the Verdun area (amongst others).

Musical genres are plenty in this album : jazz, prog metal, symphonic, neo-prog. The whole being mixed even within a song ("Sacrifice", "On Leave").

The most emotional one is "Verdun". The mother of all battles during these dark times for Europe. Hundreds of thousands of useless deaths for a military status quo. If only men could have learned from this !!!

Some "vocals" will tell us a bit about this massacre of these battles in "Sons Of The Empire" (2,5 million deaths). Battlefield noises (gun shots, sirens etc.). An apocalyptic atmosphere. Poignant but you could hardly listen to this more than five times. Works as a soundtrack actually.

This album is very far from the symphonic mood of their debut. "Mud" is almost heavy-prog-metal. Maybe to illustrate the ugliness felt by the soldiers in the muddy trenches.

I can understand that during the seven years break between their debut album and this one, their musical approach has evolved, but this is a (too) radical one. It has basically nothing to do (or very little) with its predecessor which I liked more.

There is an attempt to simulate Hendrix during "Trenches" (you know the guitar sounds imitating the fall of a bomb and then its explosion). But Hendrix is Hendrix...

Oppresive mood for "Gas". We really have the impression of wearing a mask to avoid these gases when listening to the intro during which we can hear a soldier breathing through such a device. A beautiful and symphonic (at last!) atmosphere. Peaceful theme amongst these warrior sounds. My fave out here. More in the vein of their first album.

This album goes into too many directions and lacks of unity IMO. I believe that a good storyboard with lyrics would have worked much better. It is not bad but there is no highlight either. Five out of ten. I will round it up to three stars for its subject and thanks to "Gas". I wish "Xang" had produced more songs of this caliber.

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 Destiny Of A Dream by XANG album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.76 | 22 ratings

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Destiny Of A Dream
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is an all instrumental album featuring a high level of technicity, loads of keyboards, wild guitar and strong melodic parts. You get all these flavours in the opening number "The Revelation". I bet you! What a revelation indeed! This is an excellent number, very close to the "Genesis" sound of course but played with great feeling.

None of the tracks are weak on this album (except maybe "The Dream", a smooth piano tune).

One of the most complex number is "The Prediction". Starts delicately and turn into some heavy sounds and furious rhythms to close a great introduction part. Some "Watcher" riffs and pleasant synthesizers for the finish. The word "pleasant" is probably the one that fits better to describe this album.

Global mood of this album is truely "Genesis" oriented. But an all instrumental "Genesis". Quite good I must say.

"Xang" was moved from the Neo-prog into Cross-over without any major reason IMO.

Actually the band flirts more between symph and neo-prog than anything else (just listen to "Bitterness", my second fave, which holds some nice and inspired guitar work). Same applies to a fantastic : "The Choice". Gorgeous keys all the way through (with some "Watcher" textures again) and a very skilled guitar break to finish this excellent number.

Same mood for the closing "The Light". This is the only negative comment : the whole of this album sounds a bit too much of the same. Should have been more diversified to justify the four stars rating.

Three stars then...

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 The Last Of The Lasts by XANG album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.61 | 23 ratings

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The Last Of The Lasts
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by pirkka

5 stars Bigger than life!

Now here we have a true masterpiece. The French now how to do it. how to combine talent and creativity, sophistication and power. This is a real treat all the way from start to finnish. Some have mentioned that this is a versatile album, too versatile and that the band has no style of their own. Well this probably is their style. And the issue that the music deals with is also quite chaotic. The music expresses fine the feelings people must have had in those therrible days.

The musicianship on this album is first rate and the compositions are allmost all the time musically interesting and demanding. There is a lot of feeling in the playing. And as a bonus the sound quality is superb. If tehere is a five star album then this is it.

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 The Last Of The Lasts by XANG album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.61 | 23 ratings

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The Last Of The Lasts
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by Forgotten Son

4 stars This is certainly a very ambitious album, an instrumental concept album that deals with one of the most destructive conflicts man has ever seen, World War I. This is probably enough to give all but the most avid Prog fans pause, as concept albums dealing with such titanic events inevitably have a high chance of failure, not to mention the fact that this French group has choosen to musically render such events without lyrics, albeit with sparse use of sound effects and a short spoken word passage.

I can safely say, on an intellectual level at least, they pull it off admirably. On the first few listens one is taken aback by the sheer musical diversity of this album, from the bombastic, more traditional keyboard-driven Symphonic Prog of "Sacrifice" and "Verdun", the crushing Prog-Metal of "Mud" and "Trenches", the unsettling, industrial-sounding "Sons of the Empire" and the strangely cathartic ambience of "Gas". Iit is due to this eclecticism that, early on, one is in doubt as to what much of the music has to do with "The Great War". However, with repeated, more intent listening, it becomes clear that, rather than harming the conceptual nature of the album, the wide musical palette serves to keep things interesting and largely free of the sort of cliche, angst-filled monotony one would expect of an album based on this subject matter, while at the same time emphasising the chaotic nature of war, emotionally as well as physically.

Each track, even the initially heartening Jazz-Fusion of "On Leave" or the gentle melancholy of "Roommates", in addition to more obvious emotional content, is filled with an air of tension and despair, an emotional underpinning which prevents what would otherwise be a rather awkward, directionless collection of music. Take "On Leave", for example, which brilliantly represents the idea of solidiers just returned from the trenches, attempting to relax and have a good time, trying to forget, but at the same time realising that they'll have to go back to the world of mud, misery and industrialised killing which they just left.

For those looking for something in the heavy Symphonic Prog vein, but with a difference, this is an excellent album, so long as you don't mind putting some effort in. Certainly an excellent addition to any prog collection.

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 Destiny Of A Dream by XANG album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.76 | 22 ratings

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Destiny Of A Dream
Xang Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars XANG are an instrumental band from France who were introduced to me by tszirmay.They have included a little written blurb (about life) for each song making this a concept album of sorts.The synths on the first two songs really dominate the sound at times, which didn't impress me much, but the guitar really takes over the rest of the way thankfully.

"The Revelation" opens with synths galore for 2 minutes before we get cooking with drums and guitar and they sound incredible. A nice heavy sound follows then more synths. Well, they've made it abundantly clear with this first song that they sure know how to play ! "Misgivings" has a nice mellow intro before the guitarist fires off some energetic solos. Synths start to dominate until we are treated to some beautiful guitar melodies. The drumming gets pretty heavy. "My Own Truth" is one of my favs. I love the drumming with the guitar playing over the top. Some heaviness after 3 minutes, this guy can sure play guitar. The song fades out.

"The Prediction" opens with keys as some tasteful guitar comes in. The song really builds to a powerful melody before it stops and rebuilds to a fast paced synth led song. "The Dream" features piano melodies throughout. "Bitterness" is another highlight. An uptempo tune with synths and drums dominating. The mellow passages are excellent with some good guitar. It gets very pastoral after 6 minutes. Beautiful. It sounds like mellotron before guitar takes over. "The Choice" is an excellent guitar driven track.The guitarist lets it rip as the tempo speeds up with drums and synths following. Great tune. "The Light" opens with organ.The guitar is like ear candy it's so well done. There is a gap of silence before the song ends with some spacey sounds.

I thoroughly enjoyed this album especially the guitar playing. Favourites are "My Own Truth" , "Bitterness" and "The Choice".

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