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PANIC ROOM

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Panic Room biography
Following KARNATAKA's 2003 release, 'Delicate Flame of Desire', Jonathan EDWARDS (keyboards), Paul DAVIS (guitar) and Gavin GRIFFITHS (drums; MOSTLY AUTUMN, FISH) elected to break away and form PANIC ROOM, with Anne-Marie HELDER (vocals, guitar, flute; MOSTLY AUTUMN) who had been brought in to perform backing vocals on the album. Alan VAUGHAN (bass), who completed the line-up, joined them shortly afterwards.

Explaining the missive behind their debut album, 2008's 'Visionary Position', Jonathan EDWARDS (principle co-writer, along with Anne-Marie) says ".we really wanted to explore all the different kinds of music that turn us on and make something fresh and original. Because of the common background in KARNATAKA that Anne, Paul, Gavin and myself shared it was inevitable that some elements of our musical past would resurface in PANIC ROOM's music, but there are so many other influences and elements coming through as well."

Indeed, while setting their music against a background, which may best be described as 'Crossover Prog', their music also undoubtedly incorporates mainstream rock, acoustic ('Moon On The Water'), ambient sound-scapes ('The Dreaming') folk, jazz and even eastern influences ('Apocalypstick'), in order to expand their ever-growing palette of sound. This 'eclectic' scope is similarly reflected in their lyrics, principally penned by Anne-Marie, who explores "futuristic dsytopian sci-fi worlds and 'Arabian Night' fantasies as well as achingly honest love songs". Such tracks serve as vehicles for the diverse, richly emotive and wide ranging singing styles mastered by Anne-Marie, whom the writer feels to be one of the most accomplished on the present UK progressive circuit.

Naturally, PANIC ROOM stem from the 'new wave' of female fronted, progressively influenced bands within the UK scene, which had been initiated by MOSTLY AUTUMN and KARNATAKA, during the late '90s. Although PANIC ROOM's music stands to one side as being a little more diverse than others within their 'stable', fans of the above bands, beside those of MAGENTA, THE REASONING and the present European Neo-Progressive scene, should find much of interest here.






Thanks to Jared (Fandango) for the biography

Panic Room official website

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IncarnateIncarnate
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$13.48
$15.42 (used)
SkinSkin
Import
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$11.29
$16.42 (used)
Visionary PositionVisionary Position
Import
Firefly Music 2008
Audio CD$23.50
SatelliteSatellite
Import
Firefly Music Ltd / Voiceprint 2010
Audio CD$39.99
$99.95 (used)
SatelliteSatellite
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$32.98
EQUILIBRIUMEQUILIBRIUM
ALKEMIST FANATI
Audio CD$47.85
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PANIC ROOM shows & tickets


  • Panic Room on 24 Apr 2014
  • Panic Room on 25 Apr 2014
  • Panic Room at The Stables, Milton Keynes on 27 Apr 2014
  • Panic Room at Komedia, Bath on 6 Jun 2014
  • Panic Room on 13 Jun 2014

PANIC ROOM discography


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

3.53 | 32 ratings
Visionary Position
2008
3.32 | 58 ratings
Satellite
2010
3.65 | 79 ratings
Skin
2012
3.79 | 18 ratings
Incarnate
2014

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

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PANIC ROOM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Incarnate by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 18 ratings

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Incarnate
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I am on record for having anointed 2012's "Skin" as one of the best prog albums in recent memory, a seductive selection of heart stopping tunes, played by some of the finest lesser- known musicians on the planet. This was a complete package, amazing artwork, crystal clear production, expert technique and seamless songs that simply charmed me to no end. Firstly, there is such a thing as eye and ear candy, her name is Anne-Marie Helder, a beauty with a gorgeous voice, both powerful and evocative, suave and forceful. She can hush, she can rush, growl and howl are her fortes. Her reputation has grown by leaps and bounds, a perennial vocal queen for the prog throne. She has the tools to be the next Kate Bush, and that is saying something! Next up, Gavin John Griffiths is perhaps Britain's current master prog drummer, having pummeled with Fish, Mostly Autumn, Iain Jennings and Karnataka. He has a no nonsense style, solid, masculine and highly rhythmic, providing a foundation that breathes, pants and shrugs eloquently with the material. Jonathan Edwards is an accomplished keyboardist, always elegantly adorning instead of showing off his many skills. His piano work in particular is noteworthy. Bassist Yatim Halimi is a find, a sensational lo-end purveyor, who adds a great sense of lyrical playing to his repertoire, including fretless rampages that will seek out attention. New recruit Adam O'Sullivan takes over the hallowed Paul Davies' role as lead guitarman, a hard act to follow as Davies was a tour de force player, famous for more substance than flash, thus fitting the music perfectly. Adam does very nicely indeed.

I am proud to report that "Incarnate" is a fine follow up to the previous 'dermal' masterpiece ("Skin" is just timeless!), the talent here just too impeccable for any possibility of failure or disappointment. The material is first rate, a fine panorama of various sounds, moods and tones that all seem to fit perfectly in synch with each other as well as a whole, a hallmark feature of "Skin". Now, please take into consideration that this is not going to be a synth solo festival, shredding effect-laden ping-pong guitar duels that feature every pedal known to man or bombastic 6 part suites that rekindle some medieval fairy tale. No, only majestic songs that exude class and quality, fully bathing in prog gloss and shimmering with utter beauty. That being clear, the three epic 7 minute + tracks are clearly the finest selections here, the sumptuous title track, as well as the devilishly charming "Into Temptation" and the colossal finale "Dust" are just impeccable musical statements that transcend musical borders, styles and genres. The violin is gone but the music and the lyrics, phew!

Immediate kick into overdrive with the impeccably visceral "Velocity", a speedy little ditty that charms, cajoles and caresses adroitly, a cool riff and cooler groove makes this an ear- opening statement. Ladies and gentlemen, this album is going to kick your behind something fierce because you won't expect anything surpassing "Skin". Well guess what? All the ingredients are in place for a tremendous ride with Anne ?Marie belting out intense lyrics and impassioned emotions. Explosive!

"Start the Sound" is perhaps closer to classic Karnataka but that's where three of these musicians cut their teeth, as a unit for a long time. The chorus is celestial, soaring like a massive rainbow of kaleidoscope colours, showing once and for all that simple melody can be just as poignant as complex rifferama, sugared by glossy orchestrations that amplify the ache. Bold and beautiful!

The emphatic title track swirls and simmers like some slow-acting soporific anesthesia, the electric piano taking over the reins and leading the whispering vocal prowess, unleashing a heady symphonic barrage that sparkles in the rain. Another fine example of how well thought out the melodies are and the level of build-up needed to give them emphasis. Jonathan Edwards certainly excels in the arranging department! The spiraling ivory keys reveal an inner revelation of eternity, as Helder wails unremittingly. Addictive!

Breathless vocals are splattered all over "Nothing New", a method that agrees very nicely with Miss Helder, highlighting a bluesy guitar that shrouds the fragility of the theme. Cello and viola agree to strengthen the majesty of the arrangement, the orchestrations again bowing to the audience. Edwards does a little piano etude, while O'Sullivan does a few zesty guitar pirouettes. Mesmerizing!

The splashy "Waterfall" could have been a Supertramp song, it's that good! Very English, quite angelic and absolutely anthemic. This could be in a queue, after the classic "Dreamer". Set up the premise properly and then, infuse a rollicking along bass line, emotive e-piano and a good steady beat. Cap that off with another vocal performance from Helder and here is another one slotted "into the old onion bag".

The heavenly "Into Temptation" needs more words, a thoroughly enticing Celtic-prog tinged style that should have been recent the Iona, a towering voice that emotes at the deepest level, almost spiritual but somehow wilder as well. Halimi and Griffiths really braise nicely, very secure and confident in their buzz, an articulate and muscular combo that is intoxicating (throughout the album, BTW!), while O'Sullivan does some slick Phil Manzanera-style licks. Loads of symphonics only escalate the pleasure, one of the finest prog songs ever. World class, truly!

"All That We Are" is a song for the ages, smooth as silk, bluesy, rocky, folksy, pure unadulterated class. Think along the lines of Squeeze and even Stealy Dan with torch song tendencies, full of restrained melodrama in a Hollywoodian setting. Helder shows her mettle and her control is full ON, easily convincing the listener like some actor nailing the scene, gently secure. In a normal world, this would be a galactic hit, rendered by all the glittering stars, Stunning!

The glittering beat extolled in "Searching" is a fine example of the genius presented here, a lovely melody wrapped in dense keys, hard drums and a sultry vocal that would make Ann Wilson (Heart) turn green with envy! The mood is palpitating, in a sonically erotic way, the music being utterly carnal but in seduction mode, haunting the soul with whispered longing. If I play this for a lady friend ?.well,?.she melts right into my arms, ready to 'drown in a sea of love' (a song by Irish pop band the Adventures, I believe) ! Beautiful love songs with deep meaning get the girls every time, as they should always remain the eternal optimists and yearn to become strong and happy women. Astonishing!

Need I doubt that "Close the Door" is anything more than the same scintillating quality of the previous tracks, another absolute winner that has all kinds of emotive ties to everything from Donovan to Roxy Music with a little Linda Ronstadt thrown in for good measure? Yes and more, quality my friends, sheer quality! Like a swing between two maple trees, the summer wind blowing gently, the song holds on to all that we need to sway serenely, in raptured delight. Transcendental!

To end on a song like "Dust" requires a lot of guts as it tackles atmospheric experimentation that winks at This Mortal Coil or Dead Can Dance phased in spectral sheen and neo-gothic grandeur. The piano is cemetery somber, the axe tortured into brief spasms of electricity, Edwards really putting out all the stops on his keys and a schizoid pace that is unbending and unending. Helder diversifies by treating her voice accordingly and howling when need in the more Wagnerian exit. Frightening!

I am a big fan, so I am obviously and unashamedly biased and perhaps even in love with this kind of very romantic and sexy prog. Being a long-time and proud Roxy Music fan, what would you expect, a swerve into math-rock ? Nope, but Panic Room has all the makings of a perfect soundtrack for modern lovers looking beyond the accessible and yearning to venture into the mystical world of progressive enchantment. Far more elegant than any other female fronted band anywhere, Panic Room is that emotional oasis that guarantees keeping the ugly outside world unable to enter one's inner world.

5 Flesh and bloods

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 Incarnate by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 18 ratings

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Incarnate
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Math Rock Team

3 stars Well, if I've learned anything as a music fan, I've learned that you can never expect every anticipated album to meet all expectations. After being blown away by a few albums so far this year, I had high hopes for Panic Room's follow-up to "Skin", an incredible album full of atmosphere and eclectic attitude. "Incarnate", though, is neither the same type of album nor as good of one, either. With that said, though, "Incarnate" is a wonderful album still.

The beautiful cover art of this new album may give some clue as to the contents. The music is very heartwarming, slow (for the most part), and rather simple. While that may be, it is also quite beautiful. It is an album of songs, plain and simple. The band didn't set out to make some masterwork of progressive proportions, but instead made a lovely album featuring excellent songwriting and some thoughtful lyrics. I did appreciate the latter, as the lyrics on songs like "Nothing New" and the title track are rather philosophical in nature. I wasn't really expecting this, but I love it just the same.

The main presence here is the vocal skills of Anne-Marie Helder. Her exceptional voice is on full display here. She wows again and again whether in both difficult and simple lines. She doesn't even seem to struggle at all, and masters both soaring melodies and low, personal verses with ease. Her rich, full voice is something this band couldn't live without, and her sense of style and presence is rather remarkable.

I think what disappoints me most about this album are the musical choices. Anne-Marie is flawless here, but the choice to tone down the interesting aspects of Panic Room's sound was not a good one. "Skin" featured organic violin passages among an eclectic array of instruments. It really set the album apart, for sure. "Incarnate" has none of this. There is a little sprinkling here and there of guitar genius and the like, but the music is mostly rather simple and low-key. None of the instruments stand out really, though there are some tasty keyboards here and there, especially on the title track or on "Start the Sound". Everything else seems so disappointingly "blah" and just kind of there. There is so much room for experimentation and for more layers of sound, but the band seems just to play it safe.

That said, this is still a good album. It's still enjoyable and very gorgeous in many ways. Heck, the vocals alone make the album worth a purchase. I also won't say there are any bad songs on "Incarnate", though I can't seem to connect with "Into Temptation" at all. There is a bit of a cheese factor on a few (such as "The Waterfall"), but nothing too over the top. My favorites include the wonderful "Start the Sound", "Incarnate", the gorgeous "The Waterfall", and the especially atmospheric "Dust". "Nothing New" and "All That We Are" are both noteworthy, as well.

Panic Room has provided us with a lovely soundtrack moving into Spring, and I think the delicate, subtle nature of this album is very appropriate. It is definitely missing something, however, but not enough to keep me from enjoying it. I don't think "Incarnate" will end up at the top of any list for 2014, and I'm afraid it will be forgotten as the year moves on. Yet, if you have the desire, definitely take a look at this simple and beautiful album.

3.5 stars

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 Skin by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.65 | 79 ratings

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Skin
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Math Rock Team

4 stars I will come right out and say that I am very impressed with this release from Panic Room. I had no expectations going into "Skin", as this is my first experience with the UK-based outfit. However, they have gained my immediate attention, and also my anticipation for their recently announced 2014 album.

Panic Room is a female-fronted progressive rock band that utilizes dark guitar atmospheres, some novel instruments, and incredible violins. The rock music is very well performed, and it is augmented with some electronic elements and a melancholy ambiance that draws you into the emotions being portrayed here. Really, the violin is masterfully performed and written, as can be seen on such tracks as "Tightrope Walking" and "Promises". It is simply astounding to see such inventive and purposeful use of an instrument that is usually more atmospheric or orchestral. Here it is raw, vulnerable, and beautiful.

Speaking of raw and vulnerable, I think the cover art really showcases what you will experience. Confusion and insecurity reign in the lyrical content, and you can really detect the feelings of vulnerability portrayed by the nudity in the open forest. Wet, alone, and possibly scared, "Skin" is a fascinating look into a melancholy mind.

Anne Helder has one of the best female voices I've ever heard. Actually, she has one of the best voices I've ever heard, male or female. Clear, concise, and extremely melodious, Anne's voice is powerful when necessary and small when appropriate. "Impressed" doesn't begin to address her voice. More like "astonished" or "flabbergasted". I was, strangely enough, especially interested in her ability to annunciate but still keep the melody intact. That's talent! I can think of no great compliment than to say that she reminds me of a younger Anne Jobs Bender of the band Introitus. Amazing!

Dark, emotive, and hauntingly beautiful; "Skin" is a near-masterpiece, and I am confident that Panic Room's next album will be something special. I really hope they can continue their very personal style of music.

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 Skin by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.65 | 79 ratings

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Skin
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by FemmeMetalWebzine

4 stars My introduction to the UK prog/folk rock outfit Panic Room came via the excellent, "Satellite" album which was released in 2010. I came away with a very positive impression of the band. Now with their 3rd album, "Skin", Panic Room have upped the ante and released a solid follow- up to "Satellite".

While they are primarily lumped into the Prog genre, Panic Room is so much more. In addition to their prog leanings, they also offer influences that range from folk to pop or just straight rock. "Skin" contains over an hour's worth of lush, atmospheric compositions and Anne-Marie Helder's classy vocals. Panic Room mix 6 and 7 minute compositions with more accessible 3- 4 minute songs. Tracks like "Song For Tomorrow", "Tightrope Walking" and "Promises" are all very well crafted melodic compositions. The 8-minute "Nocturnal" brings "Skin" to a close and is a fitting way to wrap things up. Panic Room is quickly becoming one of the better bands in the prog-rock scene. With the release of "Skin", it is easy to see why.

Rating ? 82/100

Review by Tony Cannella

(Originally published at Femme Metal Webzine smarturl.it/PanicRoomS)

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 Satellite by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.32 | 58 ratings

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Satellite
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

3 stars Knowing that the band was formed by former Karnataka and former Mostly Autumn members can already give an idea of what this album can contain. I have to say that I hear more similarities with MA than with Karnataka as I could have expected but it may be just my subjective feeling.

Not a bad album at all. I've been a little surprised reading in another review that the track that doesn't work for the reviewer is the one that I have liked more than the others: "I Am A Cat", which demonstrates how subjective the perception of music can be.

The album starts with a rock guitar riff. "Freedom To Breathe" is a good rock song on which the former MA Anne Marie Helder shows her vocal extension. Paul Davies is not mimic of David Gilmour. At the end this song reminds me a bit to Magenta.

"Picking Up Knives" is bluesy. Anne's voice works very well on this track which leaves some room to piano and bass. A radio friendly song good, I think, for driving.

Now it's the turn of the already mentioned "I Am A Cat". Meows are done by the guitar. the song is a sort of grotesque waltz. with a nice chorus of the kind which remains fixed in the head for some time.

"The Fall" is a good title for a song which fails to keep me interested. It's too far from my tastes, just melodic chill-out. It doesn't mean that somebody else can't like it. Not my pot.

Instead, I like the bass on the following "Black Noise". On this song Anne sounds a bit like Heather Findlay on "Caught In A Fold". This is another rocking song which unfortunately has another chill-out in the middle that I like less, however Anne's voice is excellent and in its complex the song is surely not bad even if far from being a masterpiece.

"Yasuni" is an important song. "In a land in the Amazon There is a sound Like the burning of Eden Down to the ground ". Unfortunately in that reserve which is considered the place most rich of biodicversity in the world somebody has found petrol. A song with a little newage flavor.

I remember a short time lived Italian duo called "Nocturna". This "Sunshine" is a song which reminds me to them. btw, that duo was considered newage.

I think that putting too many slow-time melodic songs in sequence sometimes doesn't work. When "Into The Fire" comes I'm in general a bit tired of all this sweetness. Taken alone this is an excellent song. Easy chords and very radio friendly but makes its work.

"Dark Star" is opened by a church organ which closes the sequence of sugar and honey of the previous songs. It's a melodic song, as well as the rest of the album, but this is more tasty, the chord passages are not trivial and the mood is dramatic. Close to the Mostly Autumn of the "Passengers" period.

"Muse" is another nice pop song. I think to Christina Boothe's solo debut album. Keys and voice.

The title track closes the album. It's also the longest song and even if length doesn't necessarily mean "progressive", this is a song which can qualify a band for this site. It switches on a flag in my mind, but I can't identify exactly what it is. It's the sensation that I often feel when a song contains elements which are common with others. I have felt this sensation the first time I've listened to Mostly Autumn's "The Gap Is Too Wide". I was trying to remember when I had listened something I had never listened to before. A very good closer for an average album.

Good but non essential, with some weaknesses in the middle but also some very good songs

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 Visionary Position by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.53 | 32 ratings

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Visionary Position
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Swansea-based UK act Panic Room was actually the reason Karnataka almost disbanded in mid-00's, when Jonathan Edwards and Anne-Marie Helder parted ways with the band and later asked Gavin John Griffiths and Paul Davies if they would like to join them in a new project.Both accepted the invitation, leaving Karnataka's leader Ian Jones all alone, simultanseously giving birth to Panic Room.They were joined by bassist Alun Vaughan and released their debut ''Visionary Position'' in 2008 on their own Firefly Records.Some of the tracks feature also the help of Liz Prendergast from Bluehorses on violins and arrangements.

The 4/5 of Karnatake escaped the attention of Ian Jones, but seem to have to not escaped their music past with KARNATAKA at all, as Panic Room's sound has strong references from the music of KARNATAKA.All these kind of bands seem to be extremely influenced by the ''Brave''-era MARILLION plus the evident folky touches, eventually coming up with a pretty song-based and accesible form of Progressive Rock, approached by a wider audience.The music of Panic Room remains melodic and easy-listening all the way, even in the very long ''The Dreaming'', with a very dreamy atmosphere surrounding their music.The tracks are split between short, laid-back Art Rock pieces with ethereal soundscapes and warm vocals by Anne-Marie Helder, musically led by acoustic guitars, piano and synths, and more upbeat cuts, which still are quite easy-listening, with evident use of electric guitars, more sharp keyboards and safe riffs, eventually producing a more passionate and energetic mood.Among the pieces there are a few violin- or flute-based themes, a sign that Panic Room can be easily regarded as a KARNATAKA offshoot act at least in this release.

If you are fond of the music of KARNATAKA, IONA, MOSTLY AUTUMN and the likes, Panic Room's ''Visionary Position'' will be an excellent addition in your collection.Atmospheric, smooth Progressive/Art Rock of decent quality.Recommended.

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 Skin by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.65 | 79 ratings

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Skin
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

3 stars PANIC ROOM is a fairly new band from the United Kingdom formed around 2005. When I was approached to review their newest album called Skin (2012), I have to say that I had some concerns. I am very open to mostly any kind of music, especially when it comes to Progressive Rock, but the name of Anne-Marie Helder, their vocalist, brings me some mixed feelings. I knew her from bands like KARNATAKA and MOSTLY AUTUMN and these bands are quiet weak when it comes to Progressive Rock. They have light influence by the genre and a lot of Pop Rock. Don't get me wrong, I like good Pop Rock a lot but not when it is sold as Progressive Rock.

But I decided not to pay attention to that and listen to the album with care. Skin (2012) was recorded in the Sonic One studio and mastered at Close To The Edge. The album had Tim Hamill as mixer and engineer and it was produced by members of the band: Anne-Marie Helder (vocals and guitars), Jonathan Edwards (keyboards and guitars) and Tim Hamill. The band's line-up included also Paul Davies (guitars), Gavin John Griffiths (drums) and Yatim Halimi (bass). Skin (2012) was released by Esoteric Antenna/Cherry Red Records in June.

When 'Song For Tomorrow' starts, the pop accent I was worried about is shown and it continues on the second track 'Chameleon'. But to tell the truth, it is a minor thing. Both songs are well written and catchy, including wonderful pianos and vocals. Anne-Marie Helder was elected in 2011 as Best Female Vocalist by the Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine and listening to this songs you understand why.

But at the same time tracks like 'Chances' almost ruin everything. It is Pop and with no trace of interesting parts, just chorus repeating endlessly. Another one like this is 'Freefalling' that begins acoustic and pretty and soon turns out to be a semi electronic piece of music, which doesn't make sense at all.

But the Prog moments are what makes the band shine. Like on the third track 'Screens', or 'Tightrope Walking' with the indian mysterious feeling, a good riff and The Larkin Quartet performing on it. All of it make it a great track. They should have used strings in more tracks. 'Hiding The World' and the last track, 'Nocturnal' are another good moments on the album. The former has great vocals by Anne-Marie. Unfortunately, there are few moments like these on Skin (2012), not even half of the album. In the end, what makes me worried before listening to the album turns out to be a fact. PANIC ROOM is a very nice band but not really Progressive Rock. They belong to the subgenre that some call Crossover Prog. The album is quite fine and enjoyable as a whole but the problem here is that they're not Pop enough to be called Pop and not Prog enough to be called Prog, if you know what I mean. This road was travelled before by many bands (as with the new album by the Polish band Quidam) and the result is always the same. They don't have good audience in both sides of the spectrum. It is very hard to please Prog lovers with Pop and vice-versa.

The truth is, if you like to have light Prog music that's not intricate or complex, this is the perfect band/album for you. But if you're looking for some listening challenges' you'll not find them here.

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 Skin by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.65 | 79 ratings

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Skin
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars It's strange to think that Panic Room are on their third album ? they of course formed out of Karnataka, a band I caught in concert years ago. To be honest I had gone to see support act Sleeping Giant who were themselves an offshoot of Mr So & So, and having such a great band as support plus having Steve Rothery stand up to play with SG as well probably didn't help any and I wasn't overly impressed with what I saw in the main act. But, I have always loved Anne Marie Helder's vocals so I was really looking forward to this album, and straight away I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed. The effective, atmospheric, artwork demands that the listener plays close attention, so I did. The music is effective, complex and layered, and is obviously just there as a vehicle as all focus are on the vocals.

There is a good use of strings and plain old piano as opposed to complex keyboards, and the drums are sometimes incredibly effective. Ah, there is the word "Sometimes". Yep, many are going to see this as a truly great album and not for the first time people are going to disagree with me, but I feel that while there are some truly great songs and wonderful performances this isn't a great album.

Why? Because vocal delivery on many of the songs are similar throughout and there isn't enough variety in the music either. I found that if I just played one song (and I honestly do love the opener "Song For Tomorrow") then I enjoyed it much more than if I played the whole thing. There are times when the drums can actually be intrusive, and while the bass is warm and inviting the strinsgs and production do make me feel that I am being smothered in a blanket. "Screens" stands out like an oasis with it's harder more rocking style which I thought was great, although the vocals weren't as rough and ready as they could have been, and I just wish that there had been more of this.

So for me this is a missed opportunity and while I am sure that I will be returning to this often, it will only be for one or two songs at a time as opposed to working through the album in its' entirety. www.panicroom.org.uk

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 Skin by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.65 | 79 ratings

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Skin
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by ProgPanda 2/71

2 stars With great expectations I entered the new album of Panic Room in my player, heard so many positive things about it. The first composition "Song For Tomorrow" starts with a beautiful symphonic rock theme, a bit (too) similar to a theme I already heard in an old Kayak song. So far so good. Lead singer Anne-Marie Helder has a pleasing voice, that evokes Andrea Corr. The band deliver a solid sound and the themes are all touching. "Chameleon" is a nice poppy song with a neat refrain and I think the same goes for songs like "Screens" and "Changes".

But then the monster of monotony strikes. One song after the other, all sounds the same. The singing of Anne-Marie seems to be based on repeating the same tricks and melodies over and over again. As a counterpart the band have nothing spectaculair to offer. It just rambles on. Every now and then I seem to recognize an old Corrs-song, but no it still is Panic Room, I am listening to.

It's hard to deny that Anne-Marie is a talented singer, but she should severely consider a bit more variation in her singing and the band should try a bit harder to bring up some more interesting instrumental interventions, elsewise this Panic Room will be suffocated in the boredom of the worst AOR.

This album will probably appeal to fans of the Corrs, the cd-cover however promises a far more captivating and exciting music. Nice pop music, but no prog.

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 Skin by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.65 | 79 ratings

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Skin
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Hello? Jody, is that you?

Well, I vowed to follow the career of this stellar little Karnataka off-shoot and I certainly cannot even glimpse at the thought of any regret, as I am a sucker for female vocal fronted prog bands anyway. Panic Room continues on its merry prog way, with Anne-Marie Helder's lush voice leading the way and proposing a new set list of impressive and romantic songs that skirt with the outer edges of progressive rock, nothing too complicated and technical, relying purely on emotion and atmosphere. But the quality of the overall package has leaped ahead by a zillion miles, a complete success on every front.

There are some new positives that will anoint this release with an impeccable rating: on the third try, they get the artwork they deserve as the previous two covers were rather insipid, this one strangely very similar to Quidam's latest, sort of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- like, a bare lady in an icy, desolate forest gloom. Gruesomely effective. Secondly, musically there is a massive improvement to an all-ready high quality of playing, the band has recruited new bass player Yatim Halimi who makes his presence felt all over, as the fretless bass rules the low end majestically. The intricate drumming is also very obvious, Gavin John Griffiths raising quite a few eyebrows, keyboardist Jonathan Edwards using a vast arsenal of keys (piano, organ, synths and e-piano) but also creative with diverse tones and tangent structures. Lastly, Paul Davies displays a corporeal tone, certainly ballsier than ever before, with a higher level of masculinity in his playing, yet extremely inventive in his stylings. Finally, a string quartet adds some orchestral dimension that bodes well for the symphonic sheen that this material clearly deserves.

The entire song list is effortlessly memorable, diverse and astounding, showing an uncanny resourcefulness that eliminates any semblance of sameness, such as on the mercurial "Screens", a sparkling piece with string quartet, burping bass, polyrhythmic beats and a surly synth-lead , all held together by some weighty riffs, a stubborn stop and go lead guitar solo that is gigglingly original. The preceding "Chameleon" is a haunting slice of cinema-prog, highly evocative and hypnotic, like a sensual opiate cloud armed with a sultry vocal that sweetly swerves into the brain. The mid-section piano solo is consummate stuff; the silky almost jazzy approach most noteworthy. For the romantics out there, some great love songs are here to wallow in such as the string- driven "Chances" with its serene Spanish guitar section and some wonderful vocals from Anne-Marie (a lovely looker to boot) and a colossal orchestral outro. I mean, WOW! The mood settles into dreamscapes with the suave "Tightrope Walking", a 7 minute flight of thrilling sounds, featuring a simple beat, amplified by wobbly bass and uncomplicated piano, a painstaking lament that slowly grows in stature and expression, tossing in some slight Arabic tinges, coupled with fine e-piano noodlings, string quartet denouement and a few axe frills. "Promises" is even sexier, a ringing ELO-like theme, Anne-Marie mischievously vocalizing while the bass pummels a Native American styled riff and a sudden swirling synth tornado to keep the panting honest. The power is propelled by a crescendo chorus that reaches for the skies and will be sure to leave a lasting impression. A shorter, acoustic ballad, "Velvet and Stars" proposes a fragile vocal that proves what many already believe, Helder is an awesome talent that can only get even better! Acoustic guitar and voice, that's it! Bravo! "Freefalling", well with a title like that, you would think of Tom Petty, wouldn't you? Except this is a 6 minute shuffling masterpiece, a gasping love affair of sound and texture, very sexy and appealing in its utter simplicity. Hey, its definitely not math-rock but WTH, one cannot dine on blitzkrieg riffs for ever (wait until you get older and crankier!), this is unabashedly feminine prog which serves up a great purpose when you eschew your masturbatory (read = lonely) prog collection and settle into some musical cuddling with your female partner. An amazing tune!

The title track is another hallmark track, straightforward but devastating lead vocal, a plea of crushing beauty and immeasurable delivery, within a huge orchestral flow. Enough said, world class ballad. Yeah, syrupy stuff but "Hiding the World" gets nice and aggressive, so as to counterbalance all that sweetness and melancholia, sounding like fellow compatriots Touchstone, combining dynamic riffs with monster drumming and relentless pummeling. This splendid disc climaxes with the appropriate "Nocturnal", a haunting piano-led reverie that defies description, an epic piece that introduces the night and all its fragile shimmering , a howling voice beckoning the gentleness of nature's rest and all its little pleasures. The piano rollicks sensually, violins in embrace, prepping the ground for the urgent and desperate guitar solo and all restrained emotion, waiting to explode. Helder wails like a woman possessed, how can anyone resist this?

Move over Mostly Autumn, Iona, Karnataka, the Reasoning, Legend, Magenta and other female voice-led bands , Panic Room has arrived. Only Frequency Drift's latest can rival this one for 2012's top album crown. This is a fantastic release, not a stinker or filler in the lot. A soundtrack for carnal exploration is just as proggy as a Roine Stolt solo or a Portnoy drum fill. So brand this as "Prog with benefits" and you will not be disappointed.

You can kiss your progman again, darling! My goodness, you are in the mood, aren't you?

5 radiant dermatologists

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Thanks to dean for the artist addition.

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