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A.C.T

Eclectic Prog • Sweden


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A.C.T biography
A.C.T is a very popular and well-known modern progressive rock band from Sweden, having released music since 1999. They have evolved into a respectable band that has had more than a decent impact; more impressive, however, it how their songwriting and style gets better with every album. The band's musical style is eclectic, but also keen to a lot of influences, some (like QUEEN, SAGA, SUPERTRAMP, MUSE, RUSH, DREAM THEATER or ELO) being largely accepted, others (like IT BITES, ZAPPA or STYX) being more particular, and some (like GENESIS, KANSAS, JETHRO TULL, TOTO or the BEATLES) being much superficial.

The band, initially under Ola ANDERSSON on guitars, Tomas ERLANDSSON on drums, Jens APPELGREN on vocals and Jerry SAHLIN on both keyboards and drums, was created out of friendly discussions and leisure musical sessions and was named FAIRYLAND. During the entire rehearsals and the eventful years of playing and discovering their outfit, the line-up saw some changes, APPELGREN departing and three new musicians joining in: Simon NIKLASSON on bass and dynamic writing, later Peter ASP as guitarist/bassist, and Herman SAMING as vocalist, often leading the charm and lucky good impression of A.C.T's clear crystal voice. In 1995, at the suggestion of Jerry SAHLIN, FAIRYLAND finally changed into A.C.T, both in name and in perspective. Taking on a new musical direction, A.C.T went all the way to a finale at a local competition, "Musik Direkt" - which gave them the opportunity to make some demos. The next year, they were favorites all the way to the grand finale in Stockholm, where losing the competition was a small setback compared to the fame and good spirit they've witnessed since.

A.C.T are as good and exciting on stage as they are profound in the studio. They opened for a lot of good artists, like Yngwie MALMSTEEN, FISH or SAGA. Their modern or progressive relation is stable both in a popular and well-supported way.

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Circus PandemoniumCircus Pandemonium
Import
Actworld
Audio CD$15.85
$17.40 (used)
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A.C.T. : Todays Report CD (2005) US $13.46 Buy It Now 11h 44m
A.C.T. - SILENCE [A.C.T.] - NEW CD US $15.86 Buy It Now 13h 56m
A.C.T-CIRCUS PANDEMONIUM-JAPAN CD BONUS TRACK F83 US $30.50 Buy It Now 14h 31m
Carl Cox : Carl Cox - F.a.C.T.: Gold Edition/Mixed By Carl Cox (2CDs) (2006) US $9.75 Buy It Now 20h 54m
A. C. T. - "Silence" CD 2006 1st GERMAN PROMO ONLY + BIO ORIG w/Multimedia Bonus US $23.88 Buy It Now 4 days
CD: CARL COX - F.A.C.T. US $9.77 Buy It Now 4 days
Carl Cox Fact (F.A.C.T) Vol.1 (2CD) Mixed by Carl Cox GOLD EDITION VERY RARE US $24.45 Buy It Now 6 days
A.C.T. Last Epic EU Atenzia CD 2003 Progressive Rock NEAR MINT ! Free Shipping ! US $22.75 Buy It Now 9 days
HORIZON (Swe.) - s/t 1998 CD TITAN Afterglow A.C.T. Cleopatra MEGA RARE SWE AOR US $89.99 Buy It Now 9 days
CARL COX F.A.C.T. US $2.73 Buy It Now 10 days
A.C.T. - LAST EPIC - NEW CD US $35.60 Buy It Now 10 days
CARL COX F.A.C.T. AUSTRALIA II A GLOBAL TOUR MUSIC 2CD US $30.79 Buy It Now 11 days
Various Artists : Carl Cox - F.a.C.T 2 (2CDs) (1999) US $8.11 Buy It Now 12 days
A.C.T Circus Pandemonium JAPAN CD WITH BONUS TRACK US $31.80 Buy It Now 13 days
SebastiAn Feat. M.I.A. ?- C.T.F.O. - CD dj - 5 mixes US $16.29 Buy It Now 13 days
Carl Cox - F.A.C.T. (double CD React 1995) US $11.34 Buy It Now 14 days
Carl Cox -F.A.C.T. (Future Alliance of Communication & Tecknology The Silver.2CD US $26.08 Buy It Now 16 days
CARL COX - F.A.C.T 2 - 2xCD Techno Classic Fact 1997 Dave Clarke Underworld PVD US $16.29 Buy It Now 17 days
Carl Cox Fact (F.A.C.T) Vol.1 (2CD) Silver Edition - Mixed by Carl Cox RARE CDs US $14.66 Buy It Now 19 days
A.C.T.V. : Imaginary Friends CD US $13.46 Buy It Now 21 days
Carl Cox - F.A.C.T. - CD 1 - RARE Original 1995 UK REACT CD1 56 Trance Techno US $3.74 Buy It Now 22 days
A.C.T. Imaginary Friends [German Import] CD US $13.46 Buy It Now 22 days
A.C.T - IMAGINARY FRIENDS - (OFFICIAL RUSSIAN ISSUE) BRAND NEW CD US $24.95 Buy It Now 22 days
A.C.T - TODAY'S REPORT - (OFFICIAL RUSSIAN ISSUE) BRAND NEW CD US $24.95 Buy It Now 22 days
A.C.T. - Silence (CD, 2006, Insideout Music, Germany) US $15.99 Buy It Now 22 days
F.a.C.T Vol. 2-F.a.C.T CD US $2.07 Buy It Now 24 days
Energy 4 Fitness A.C.T. 1 CD US $2.46 Buy It Now 24 days
MTM SAMPLER - Rock Is Coming Home Volume 4 CD AOR AXE DARE A.C.T. + 2 RARE TRACK US $4.99 Buy It Now 25 days
** LAUREL AITKEN ALL STARS SKINHEAD ORGAN INVASION CANCER IS A C**T! II LTD EDN US $21.19 Buy It Now 26 days
Artless Boy With A C##t 1987 Starving Missile Blue Vinyl Record Album Lp US $19.97 Buy It Now 27 days
A.C.T / Today's Report JAPAN+1 AOR E US $24.99 Buy It Now 28 days
T.R.A.C/T.R.A.C. - THE NETWORK - NEW CD US $13.74 Buy It Now 29 days

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A.C.T shows & tickets


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A.C.T discography


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A.C.T top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 117 ratings
Today's Report
1999
4.05 | 131 ratings
Imaginary Friends
2001
4.10 | 216 ratings
Last Epic
2003
3.48 | 119 ratings
Silence
2006
3.85 | 130 ratings
Circus Pandemonium
2014

A.C.T Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

A.C.T Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

A.C.T Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 6 ratings
[The Early Recordings]
2002

A.C.T Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Circus Pandemonium by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.85 | 130 ratings

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Circus Pandemonium
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Failcore

5 stars A.C.T is back with a vengeance. After an 8 year respite in which most of us (myself included) wrote them off, they have concocted an amazing offering. In fact, this may be better than Last Epic. Yes, I'll admit the circusy theme is probably a bit overused in prog, but don't worry because the music here feels fresh, and is consistently addictive and catchy, despite having some quite complex passages and really superb musicianship. I can't really think of a bad track or anything about the music here that I don't like, style wise. Some of their previous works tended to be a tad too chipper, and then Silence went too far the opposite direction and had some OTT emoness, but this release seems much more emotionally balanced, which is what makes it (and I say this tentatively since I've only had this album for a week) their best release to date. I certainly hope it's not another 8 years before we get another.

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 Circus Pandemonium by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.85 | 130 ratings

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Circus Pandemonium
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A 'return to form' effort that's worth enjoying ...

As I mentioned earlier in my previous writing that I am quite happy with recent developments in prog scene as many bands produce excellent albums. In fact it confuses me which one I should spin as so many excellent happenings in relation to prog. For this reason, I do not want to expand my listening horizon to other music but prog. Why? No time man! There are so many good album from many musicians / bands like IQ, Transatlantic, Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Curved Air, The Flower Kings to mention some of them. And now I am writing my view on another excellent album by Sweden prog group called themselves as A.C.T. Prog music is really nice and gives me full of joy in life. Prog music motivates me to create innovative things in my professional life as strategy & change management consultant. In fact, I play prog music from my MacBook when I facilitate workshops with my clients. If I am lucky sometime I got one or some of the participants asked me what music that I play. Or ...sometimes they came to me and say: "Hey ....you are a prog fan?" YUP! Of course I am; and I am proud being a prog fan!!! There is no other music as captivating a PROG - full stop!

I have a strong rationale why I love prog music very much. The proof is quite easy: get the CD of this Circus Pandemonium and spin it. Taste the music with open mind and conclude: what type of music this gentlemen from Sweden play through this album? Most of them will not be able to categorize under what basket this album is. Yes, there is a bit of rock, a bit of pop, a bit of metal and mix of them. While people like us easily say: This is PROG man! In one of reviews I did for the bad, I mentioned that they play a "cabaret rock" music. A term that is not usual in any music critics industry, I think ...

And talking about A.C.T you may want to browse around this site that I have reviewed all of their previous four albums with various rating depending upon how I feel and I think about the music. In a nutshell, after eight years of silent since their weak "Silence" album released in 2006, this new album remarks the "return to form" spirit as musically this one is closer to their best album ever "The Last Epic" released before "Silence". Even though I do not follow the band's activities during its silent or vacuum period of eight years but I always follow their release and write a review for it.

The album kicks off with an ambient nuance that sounds like silence mode just before a show - a circus show. And it blasts off with an energetic music through its second track The End (5:56). The tempo is upbeat and you may consider this as a straight rock kind of style but it surprises me when it suddenly break with powerful vocal which brings the music into its full power. I find a full sense of joy with this track and the vocal harmonies are truly topnotch, backed with excellent music riffs. There is also orchestration as well through the passage of the track. What then surprises me is the break where it seems like audience giving applaud to the circus act. It's really an innovative break! I would say this track is a masterpiece as it's flawless in terms of composition and performance. At the end of the track there is a powerful riffs combined beautifully with orchestrated arrangements and ...again ..another break with people's laugh giving applause.

The third track Everything's Falling (4:55) is still with its high energy tempo, even faster than the previous one. I love the riffs produced through its transition segments as well as jaw- dropping drumwork. The basslines are great and in some segments produce memorable riffs. The interlude part demonstrating short solo of keyboard combined with powerful basslines is really excellent - followed by powerful vocal line. Manager's Wish (5:54) is the next track with still an energetic style combined with some break with slow tempo combined with vocal line. This time it seems like there is a communication between the Manager and its circus players. A Truly Gifted Man (6:44) is different in style with nice piano fills. The music is kind of combined pop rock and reggae rhythm section. Presentation (1:03) is basically a break that demonstrates a dialogue followed with fast tempo and unique music of Look At The Freak (1:13). The follow-ups are short tracks with duration of 1 to 2 minutes :Argument (1:06), Confrontation (1:12), A Mother's Love (2:37), The Funniest Man Alive (3:46) depicting various stages of the circus story. I like Confrontation as it's quite complex and played neatly by the band which then flows into mellow part o Mother's Love. Really nice! And there is a bonus track under Japanese edition titled as Scared (4:43). The last two concluding tracks are also excellent: Lady In White (4:40) and Freak Of Nature (5:59). Lady In White has different style compared to other tracks.

Overall this is an excellent album that scores about 4.5 stars. It's beautifully composed and neatly performed by the band. The composition has good melody, superb harmonies on vocal its backing voices as well as the combined work of instruments used plus its orchestration, may tempo and style changes with relatively complex arrangements. The album has a solid structural integrity from start to end of album despite many breaks in the middle of the album - but that makes it richer. I highly recommend this and definitely it's much better than its predecessor released eight years ago. Happy that the band is still alive. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Circus Pandemonium by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.85 | 130 ratings

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Circus Pandemonium
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Circus Pandemonium" is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock/metal act A.C.T. The album was released through Marquee Avalon in March 2014. It´s the first album release by the band since "Silence (2006)", so it´s been an 8 years long recording break, and I was beginning to wonder if they had disbanded without telling the world.

Thankfully that´s not the case and "Circus Pandemonium" sees A.C.T return doing what they do best: Playing melodic progressive rock/metal with great positive energy delivered with sublime technical skill. They have a distinct sound, that sets them apart from most other contemporary acts although their influences do shine through. When listening to A.C.T I´m first and foremost reminded of 70s art rock acts like Roxy Music, 10cc, Supertramp and especially Queen, but with an added progressive metal edge that reminds me of early Dream Theater.

While the music is played with great technical skill, the tracks are for the most part vers/chorus structured. The band almost always include surprises during the tracks though and while this isn´t the kind of progressive rock/metal music created to show off, there are still some pretty complex parts being played. The music for the most part sounds lighthearted and features great positive energy (sometimes to the point where I´m thinking I´m listening to a piece from a Broadway Musical), which make "Circus Pandemonium" quite the party to listen to. The instrumentation consists of bass, guitars, drums and keyboards, but it´s the high pitched vocals by Herman Saming that´s predominantly in focus. The addition of harmony and choir vocals are also an important ingredient of the band´s sound (the Queen reference is especially strong in that part of the music).

The material on "Circus Pandemonium" are generally quite clever and well written. A.C.T are very skilled composers and they pull off their adventurous ideas with ease. The combination of occasional heavy riffing and lighthearted (almost whimsical) musical ideas work wonders. Packed in a powerful and clear sound production "Circus Pandemonium" comes off as a high quality release on all parameters and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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 Circus Pandemonium by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.85 | 130 ratings

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Circus Pandemonium
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars The Show Must Go On

So after a lengthy break of eight years, Swedish heavy prog band A.C.T have finally released a new piece of music, their fifth album, Circus Pandemonium. I found A.C.T through their critically acclaimed 2003 album Last Epic, a ridiculous and fun record, coming equally from rock opera and the bombast of a stage show as it was from progressive rock and metal. The album was hardly a groundbreaking one, but it was impossibly catchy, and actually incredibly unique ' I can't really think of another record with that kind of eccentricity and catchiness in progressive music, although recently Incura have been tackling a similar style (albeit with more of an alternative approach than progressive). A.C.T were not a huge classic band, but they were the sort that were definitely missed in their absence.

So with this new album, Circus Pandemonium, I guess I have to report some good news, and some bad news. And oddly, both happen to be the same thing ' this album is more or less A.C.T doing what A.C.T have done. I can't speak for any of the other A.C.T albums, since Last Epic is the only one I knew before this, but this is more or less the same style, more or less the same melodies and more or less the same excellent fun. Some people will rejoice to this ' this album is as accomplished as Last Epic and basically just as good, and some people honestly don't care if two albums sound the same. I know every single fan of 'djent' nodded their head in unison. But others will realise that this really is A.C.T writing on autopilot, with the same style and the same mindset. On this album, as the title suggests, we have the inclusion of some circus-style music, including influences from dark cabaret and different areas of stage theatrics. But realistically, when has A.C.T's music in the past not sounded like a carnival?

I don't really mind the continuation of the older style myself, because as I said, this is just as consistent as Last Epic, and the simple fact is that A.C.T's sound is so unique in the first place, that them playing the same thing isn't really going to make me mind. The melodies here are just as ridiculously as fun and just as memorable, particularly the infectious choruses of opener 'The End' and 'Manager's Wish'. The energy throughout the record is also unparalleled, using fantastic dynamics in a similar way that a stage show would, particularly in the first few tracks here. But although these first few songs on the album all have pretty stellar melodies, I do actually think that they all run a bit long, especially since they rely so much on the one catchy chorus melody, and no matter how catchy a chorus, its charm dies after a few repeats. As much as I enjoy the hook 'A Truly Gifted Man', it really starts to grate after a while, and it has the sort of tonality that would make me go insane if I heard it too much.

But then on the tracks in the middle of the album, the band go in the opposite direction, and we have a string of five shorter tracks, with only two of them really having any real musical substance ' the ridiculous and Bungle-esque 'Look at the Freak', and the rather sweet (although a bit clich') 'A Mother's Love'. The rest of the tracks are all story-building ones, giving us a bit of an insight into the characters and plot of this album, which seems to be about a circus freak with no tongue and an evil circus manager and a girl who tries to save him, and I can already feel everyone rolling their eyes. I honestly wish the story had been left to the background of this album, since it's so completely clich'd and contains so many archaic plot devices. 'A Mother's Love', as well as a couple of the other rock-opera styled tracks, has a massive Ayreon vibe, mostly due to the way the lyrics are sung, and the use of multiple vocalists. Although the melody on this is better than anything Arjen has written in years, I still can't shake the clich', and the notion that the lyrics feel simply like sung dialogue, making the lyrics pretty weak (ever heard of poetic dialogue?), but also meaning the melodies come second to the story, and when the story is this bad, you don't really want that.

In the end, Circus Pandemonium is certainly a good addition to the A.C.T catalogue, and long- term fans will certainly be glad for their return, but this really breaks nothing new for the band, and is basically as we should expect from them. Although I've said that this is pretty much on the same level as Last Epic, I would still return to that more than I will to this, since I feel a bit of the clich' and cheesy carnival parts of this album detract from the music, and the melodies aren't quite as good. It's still a solid record, however, and if you are looking for some bombastic and energetic circus-rock-opera-metal, (and you've already heard Incura enough), then this is a must-have.

7.0

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 Circus Pandemonium by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.85 | 130 ratings

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Circus Pandemonium
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars I have, after some writings about it, listened to the Swedish band A.C.T.'s fifth and latest record "Circus Pandemonium". You can't hear that the band is Swedish because they sing in English, so they could have been American or whatever. The band hasn't made a record for some years and now 2014 this is released with Thomas Lejon on drums, Herman Saming on vocals, Peter Asp on bass, Ola Andersson on guitars and Jerry Sahlin on synthesizers.

The cover is frightening but colourful and strong. It seems to display an evil circus trainefr and a poor freak, who is chained on the ground. That motive also is a theme on this concept record. My version of the album doesn't have marks between the different songs so I experienced it such a whole. Some of the passages on this record are really worth hearing. Sometimes the keyboard work is splendid or at least recognizible for prog fans and for example "The End" which nearly starts the record is borth catchy and clever. The vocals on this album are qualitative and varied. Parts of it is like a musical where a woman tries to defend "a freak" from an evil(stereotypical) circus manager. The record is over all well produced and I like it's theme. Many sole songs too are worth hearing at least once.

Though are there a lot of features I don't really like. The album is too heavy for me. I don't often find meaning for its heavyness. A bit too vociferous for me is is as I would consider it. I have also hard to hear originality. This album is good, but not exactly in my style. Three stars!

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 Today's Report by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.89 | 117 ratings

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Today's Report
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars This is ACT's first album. Funny that I review it the last. This is their most eclectic release, and probably less flirtations with metal here. It's basically anything goes approach - they mix rock with pop, light jazz, Latin music, neo-prog with its cheesy synths and prominent lead guitar lines, some electronic keyboard loops, even some biting social commentary. The last part of the album is made up in a typical ACT fashion of a loosely connected suite of humorous vignettes. And it's all delivered with welcome punch. Do ACT hold potential to cross over from eclectic prog to, well, crossover prog? I would certainly wish so, but probably the answer is no. They are catchy, for sure, just too heavy and technical for the pop crowd, and not enough metal for the metal crowd. So, what's left is us, aging prog dudes.

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 Imaginary Friends by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.05 | 131 ratings

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Imaginary Friends
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars ACT is a fun-loving and disco-loving hard rock, sometimes metal band from Sweden. And with songs such as Hippest Flop (or, Hip Pest Flop, as sometimes I've seen this title written) and She.Male how could you not be fun? OK, sometimes they're serious. But mostly they love good melodic hooks. They also tend to abruptly switch between heavier and more poppy, sometimes borderline saccharine, keyboard-led sections, often within the same verse. That might seem really progressive, or jarring, depending on your point of view. What detracts me slightly from Imaginary Friends is the dirty, cavernous guitar sound, coming across as if someone turned on the surround option on an 90s boom box. But hey, ACT is the only band me and my wife can listen to together, and for that I am grateful.

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 Circus Pandemonium by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.85 | 130 ratings

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Circus Pandemonium
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars ACT is backt! After an 8-year silence since their last album, Silence. Their goofy faces (as in their photo on this site) should in the encyplopaedia under eclectic prog. I define their style as Broadway heavy music, or a metal band indulging their Queen, disco-era ELO and that funky-reggae craze many rock bands underwent at the 70-80s border, with a healthy dose of playfulness.

ACT are no strangers to the more-sinister-than-it-seems-by-the-playful-music epic concepts. In this regard, Circus is most similar to their best work, Last Epic. It's tight, well-produced (if a bit too heavy on the guitar side) and catchy as hell. But, like similar efforts - after a long wait - by popular bands such as Arena or Fates Warning, feels kinda perfunctionary. Less fresh and diverse. Evil circus must be the most overused concept in culture. Stylistically, they mostly stick to heavy power-pop here (heading into outright metal territory by the end), and instrumental jams overuse the stop-start heavy riffing- softer keyboards pattern.

Good, but they can do better.

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 Silence by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.48 | 119 ratings

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Silence
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars ACT's last-to-date album is marked by some as a further dilution of their progressiveness. This refers to the first part of the album, consisting of 10 short songs (the second half is a 20-minute quasi-suite, more on that later).

While the style mix is less eclectic (no excursions into Latin music, for example) and songs have a similar structure (intro-verse- chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-emphasized chorus), this is still quite enjoyable and unmistakably ACT with their chamber pop-metal hybrid. They are recommended by fellow Swede singer extraordinaire Tommy Karevik of Seventh Wonder, and t hats saying something.

First 10 songs are 4-minute short, but have a great variation in mood, and still pack a proggy surprise usually in a form of a bridge completely unrelated to the rest of the song. If the first half leaves you with an impression of fluffiness, the second half is dead serious. Literally - it is about a woman dying in an unhappy marriage. It contains both the band's fiercests metal riffs and saccharine melodies. But, as is the case with previous ACT suites, it is more of a suite of song fragments strung together, than a single epic. Transitions don't feel very cohesive.

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 Last Epic by A.C.T album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.10 | 216 ratings

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Last Epic
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Progrussia

5 stars Pop-prog-disco-metal-music theater-reggae.

This is undoubtedly ACT's best work. It's very well produced - punchy and clear, whereas the previous album had an annoyingly fuzzy guitar sound, maybe less over-produced and closer to live performance than here, but then again for a band with such lush sound ( they even have an ELO-like string section) production is key.

Another very appealing feature is the album concept. I won't get into details because I think it is very interesting to discover on your own. Suffice it to say, it's not another tortured assassin concept album. You could do a musical, or, even more fittingly, a play or sitcom around it.

ACT is one of these bands that proves its prog credentials by fusing diverse styles and switching between many parts in its songs. In first half of this album you have generally longer and rockier songs (sans the slightly wimpy Ted's ballad) and it ends with a disco- ish mini-suite of 4 shorter tracks. Some reviewers have noted that Last Epic is less proggy than Imaginary friends. Well Friends had all those changes within a song that sometimes felt abrupt and jarring. Epic is still very diverse, but the flow is more natural. And did I say how catchy it is?

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