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ARABS IN ASPIC

Heavy Prog • Norway


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Arabs In Aspic picture
Arabs In Aspic biography
Formed in Trondheim, Norway in 1997

ARABS IN ASPIC II emerged in 1997 from Norway led by guitarist and vocalist Jostein SMEBY and rythm guitarist & Theremin player, Tommy INGEBRIGSTEN. Since they met through their common love for 1970s heavy rock music, they've been playing together with different personnel, each playing different kinds of heavy music until ARABS IN ASPIC surged.

They said goodbye to playing covers and the band was ready with Hammond organ player "Mysterious" MAGNAR, drummer Eskil NYHUS and his brother, bass player Terje NYHUS. They later re-named themselves ARABS IN ASPIC II due to the replacement of Terje.

Their wide range of influences make a very rewarding listen, including stoner-rock music, 60s psychedelic rock, and the 70s heavy weights, with prime influences being BLACK SABBATH and Wetton-era KING CRIMSON(hence their name). Fans of any of those bands won't regret listening to these guys.

- The Quiet One (Pablo) -

In 2009, the band released "Strange Frame of Mind" and received good reviews. In 2011, They return to their original band name ARABS IN ASPIC and signed with Black Widows Records. In 2013, "Pictures in a Dream" is released with vocalist Rune SUNDBY (RUPHUS)on two songs.

Updated by rdtprog

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ARABS IN ASPIC discography


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ARABS IN ASPIC top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 53 ratings
Far Out In Aradabia
2004
3.70 | 94 ratings
Strange Frame Of Mind
2010
3.85 | 138 ratings
Pictures In A Dream
2013
3.84 | 103 ratings
Victim Of Your Father's Agony
2015
3.98 | 154 ratings
Syndenes Magi
2017
3.81 | 108 ratings
Madness and Magic
2020

ARABS IN ASPIC Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.16 | 10 ratings
Live at Avantgarden
2018

ARABS IN ASPIC Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

4.29 | 17 ratings
Progeria / Far Out In Aradabia
2011

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo
2002
3.35 | 19 ratings
Progeria
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sad Without You
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Prevail to Fail / Pictures in a Dream
2015
5.00 | 1 ratings
De Dřdes Tjern / Step Into The Fire
2018

ARABS IN ASPIC Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pictures In A Dream by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.85 | 138 ratings

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Pictures In A Dream
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Arabs In Aspic already established themselves with their first two albums, as one of the bands that brings fantastic heavy prog and with "Pictures In A Dream" the quality continues.

It starts with the eponymous suite, old-fashioned synths buzz and shimmer with organ waves in competition, always encircled by a clear, sometimes riffing electric guitar. Organ prog with symphonic elements alongside with psychedelia is fantastically presented in compositions. There are ten compositions on Pictures in a Dream; 44 minutes of music, where the band create a pretty captivating musical sound. Three band members sing and they do it very well. In addition to melodious lead vocals, there are always tender choirs that flatter themselves into the ears of the listener. Not all songs are sung in English, but a couple of tunes were done in the Norwegian language.

It is a strange mixture that the Arabs In Aspic bring to completion, strange but effective. It is difficult to consider Pictures In a Dream a progressive work in the most classic sense, but the other elements that make up their "wall of sound" are too many and of weight, and it's that link that definitely makes them progressive in my eyes. A pleasant hybrid, which can surely satisfy fans of progressive rock as well as the fans of classic hard rock.

 Victim Of Your Father's Agony by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.84 | 103 ratings

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Victim Of Your Father's Agony
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Arabs in aspic serve fantastic heavy prog. The recipe includes a full-bodied Mellotron casserole, fantastic guitar presentation in a lush layer of Hammond, Fender Rhodes and much more, combine all this and you are ready to embark on an amazing journey. On this album they compile their ideas into nine tracks (three ninths are instrumental pieces). They sing their good-humored nostalgia prog in English. The compositions are short and concise, crisp and with lively arrangements.

The melodious and heavy combination sound of the analog sound generator, evokes wistful memories of the old days of glory, but in all this it brings a new dawn, and a way of presenting the magnificent prog pieces. The Hammond organ is allowed to shine for a short time, but the guitar is always in the limelight.

The vocal part is quite high, three part vocals harmonies are present, the lead vocals are excellent, and the band play and sing with great confidence. There are also purely instrumental titles, on "Flight Of The Halibut", the band present themselves brilliantly in Symphonic Prog world.

With big sounds and amazing harmonies, the album is colorful and chic, but strong at times, also thrilling and very emotional.

 Syndenes Magi by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 154 ratings

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Syndenes Magi
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Arabs in Aspic are a flawless heavy prog band, a musical nostalgia trip to the 70s, which repeatedly evokes memories of big names from back then. In addition, they also produce a predominantly heavy atmospheric music in which gentle Mellotron carpets are often spread over a wide area. On "Syndenes Magi" you can hear progressive rock, which is reminiscent of the 70s, but was recorded in a much harder version. It rocks and cracks again and again, but the Norwegians never lose sight of the melody or ears.

There are only three pieces on the album, one of which even takes twenty minutes. From the first second you embark on a musical journey through time deep into the golden 70s, gently rocking the keys (mostly organ or mellotron). In between the guitar plays a few solos.

The album is sung entirely in their mother tongue, Norwegian. In exactly 42 minutes the band brings different spectrums of prog music. It's psychedelic, easy to hear and yet complex, sometimes overflowing on the longtrack, but not for a second unimportant.

The Longtrack "Morket Part 3", starts with a great, intimate flute playing, then slowly increases the intensity. The compositions, the warm production, the old analog instruments, the voice, everything here is perfectly geared towards the heavy prog fan. This album is a progressive puzzle and through its duration takes us back to the glory days of progressive rock, but it also gives a very important element of the originality that this band possesses.

 Madness and Magic by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.81 | 108 ratings

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Madness and Magic
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Arabs In Aspic is one of those fantastic bands that emerged from Norway wich delivers great classic sounding heavy prog. Since Far Out In Aradabia to the new album Madness and Magic they produced notable records. Madness and Magic bring us a different vibe, a more acoustic feel, but still followed with their sound. I Vow to Thee, My Screen is the opening track and it is a great almost space rock song which delivers beautiful melodies and lyrics that revolve around society's obsession with modern technologies. Lullaby for Modern Kids, Part 1 is a true example of the band's sound. Heavy riffs and great guitar solos make this song a perfect follow up to a more space rock oriented first song. Fantastic lyrics continue through out the album. Heaven in Your Eye is the epic of the album and it rounds up various styles that AIA delivered on this record, from some folk elements to a truly heavy organ and guitar driven parts, and elements of space rock.
 Madness and Magic by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.81 | 108 ratings

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Madness and Magic
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

What do you get if you cross the albums Wish You Were Here and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath? I'd be hard pressed to give a better answer than Madness and Magic. Heck, even the title could be considered an allusion to the two albums. OK, it's not as far as I'm aware (and I'd be very surprised to find it is), but still, there's a heck of a lot of Floydian and Sabbath tropes in the music of the latest album from Arabs in Aspic. I Vow to Thee My Screen wouldn't be terribly out of place on either album from the mid '70s, and this is something Arabs in Aspic have always done incredibly well. Their recreation of the classic '70s prog sound has always been superb.

Of course, it's not all Floyd and Sabbath. The first part of Lullaby for Modern Kids is reminiscent of Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull, while the second part of the song is more reminiscent of Genesis and King Crimson. It's all gloriously done, and unlike a lot of retro prog, never sounds either dated, forced, or derivative. The influences are there, but it's always a unique take on them, which could never be mistaken for the original. The prog greats of the '70s provide inspiration, not derivation, for Arabs in Aspic. I first came across the band with their 2013 album Pictures in a Dream, and was immediately smitten. I've been following the band since, and they're yet to let me down.

With swathes of Hammond and Mellotron, and some chunky and meaty guitar, Arabs in Aspic really serve up a huge helping of catchy and vibrant songs. They're a band that's genuinely fun to listen to. I've never been a great fan of Led Zep and Deep Purple, but when Arabs in Aspic pay tribute to them, I have no problem. They take a sound that's recognisably someone else's and make it entirely their own. The only band that Arabs in Aspic actually sound like is' Arabs in Aspic! This is something that's bewildered and enchanted me since I first heard the band. There are bands I listen to, and cringe when I hear them more or less mirroring the sound of their influences. Arabs in Aspic never do this, so even if you can recognise an influence, it still sounds original and unique.

They are masters of all styles, too. Take the funky groove of High-Tech Parent for example. Again, I could easily tell you who I find this song reminiscent of, but there's little point. It doesn't sound like them. It sounds like Arabs in Aspic. Any reminiscence is just that. By now, from the three song titles I've given, the lyrical theme of the album is probably relatively apparent. It's possibly a little overbearing for some listeners, but I've never really been one to be too worried about lyrics. For me, the voice is just another instrument in the mix, and I love the vocals on this album, regardless of what the lyrics are.

My favourite aspect of this album, though, is the percussion. Alessandro G. Elide was a guest musician on the previous Arabs in Aspic album, but is credited as a full member this time around, and he provides an integral part of the sound of this album. The two percussionists bang and crash upon multiple instruments throughout, and provide much of the whimsy and innocence that pervades the album. Despite the dark Fear of a Blank Planet-like themes, the music is delightful. The aforementioned High Tech Parent sounds happy and joyful if you listen to the music. Not so much, if you pay attention to the lyrics. This contradictory nature runs throughout the album, and the 'boys with their toys' percussion gives a lot of the levity to the music.

Even though I don't pay much attention to lyrics, one stood out for me, and that's the line 'A lad insane', which must surely by a Bowie reference. That line occurs in the title track, which is the only song that does sound noticeably more menacing, and yet it's the kind of menace that's still somehow tolerable, perhaps even lovable. Madness and Magic is one of my favourite songs on the album. It's incredibly catchy, and the hooks are such that they stay in my brain, and I find myself humming the tune to myself long after I've stopped listening.

The best is left until last, though, with the just short of seventeen minute epic Heaven in Your Eyes. With the percussion in this, and the way the song jams, this is more Black Santana, than the Pink Sabbath of the opening number in places. But there's so much going on in this song, and so many changes, it's just a constantly evolving delight. I know I've used that word a lot (or, at least, it feels like I have), but it's what I keep coming back to. Every twist and turn delights. It's no longer surprising, as it was on first listen, but it's still delightful. The effortless way Arabs in Aspic entertains is unrivalled. Despite Madness and Magic being their most mature and assured album yet, it carries with it a childlike naivety and glee. For me, this is the best Arabs in Aspic album yet. The only worry I have now is how they can possibly top this.

 Madness and Magic by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.81 | 108 ratings

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Madness and Magic
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars As a huge fan of Hammond drenched Heavy Progressive, like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, I was very pleased to discover the Norwegian five piece formation Arabs In Aspic, when I got the live album Live At Avantgarden to review, in 2018. I was blown away: cascades of Hammond organ, blended with heavy guitars, many shifting moods between mellow and bombastic, a wide range of vintage keyboards and strong vocal harmonies, wow! Then I started to scrutinize the studio-albums, these are a little bit different story, more mellow, varied and elaborate. That's also the story with this new studio-album (#6), in comparison with the Heavy Prog sound of Arabs In Aspic on stage.

The album starts with I Vow To Thee, My Screen, a dreamy piece with acoustic guitar, piano and soft synthesizer flights, topped with strong and emotional vocals, and soaring Hammond organ.

Then Lullaby For Modern Kids (Part 1) that features first a swinging rhythm and cynical vocals, it reminds me of Frank Zappa. Suddenly a bombastic eruption with heavy guitar and powerful Hammond (omnipresent in this song), the dark and compelling climate evokes King Crimson. Finally, the dreamy atmosphere returns, embellished with wonderful Mellotron violins.

Next is a ballad entitled Lullaby For Modern Kids (Part 2), it contains acoustic rhythm guitar, soaring Mellotron violins, dreamy vocals, soft percussion and a Mellotron flute. In between subtle work on the guitar, this is the gentle side of Arabs In Aspic, and I like it.

In High-Tech Parent we can enjoy a swinging rhythm and vocal harmonies, topped with fiery guitar runs, delicate Fender electric piano and swirling Hammond, the band strongly returns to Heavy Prog.

The captivating titletrack delivers lots of shifting moods: from dreamy with acoustic guitar and Mellotron flute to a catchy beat with rock guitar, and bombastic with heavy and intense guitar play. The Hammond organ is omnipresent and the vocals range from tender to desperate, very powerful and emotional, as a musical translation of the tragical state of mind.

The final epic composition Heaven In Your Eye turns out to be most varied and dynamic one on this new album. The intro is dreamy with Mellotron flute and twanging acoustic guitar, simply wonderful. Then the music gradually turns from a slow rhythm into bombastic with lush Hammond, followed by multiple shifting moods featuring strong work on Hammond and synthesizer, topped with strong vocals. Halfway the climate is very compelling, with sultry overtones, and sensational wah-wah guitar, the Heavy Prog side of the band, how exciting! The final part is more mellow, emphasizing the many musical faces in this fascinating song, and on this entire album.

This review was previously published on the website of Background Magazine, the oldest Dutch progrock source.

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Madness and Magic by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.81 | 108 ratings

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Madness and Magic
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by Muskrat

4 stars Since "Picture in a dream", Arabs In Aspic is one of my favorite band. I look forward to their new releases. It's not that their music is original, no. It comes to us straight from the 70s. I follow this band for a whole different reason: it always surprised me! Arabs In Aspic is known for the eclecticism of its influences. We were treated to Black Sabbath, Led Zep, Yes, then more recently King Crimson. "Syndness Magi" mistakenly picks up a passage from the song "Starless". In fact, when you buy one of their record, you never know what to expect. Some Arabs In Aspic, of course ! But which group will they be referring to? Surprise! From the first bars of "I Vow To Thee, My Screen", we understand that it is about Eloy. Period 80 (Colors / Planets / Time To Turn). We easily recognize the slightly modified rhythm of "Queen Of The Nights" on the guitar, the touch accompanied by synth pads. We would believe it. It will therefore be less heavy than usual. But don't worry, in "Lullaby For A moderna quid", we find the heavy riffs of Smeby and the powerful drums of Nyhus. The Arabs In Aspic are all accomplished musicians. Three of them are more excellent singers with different registers. Even if Kvam Jorgensen's voice isn't always right. They commonly use counter vocals with sounds similar to Ozzy Ozbourne's voice. I'm happy to see that percussionist Elide is now part of the group because the duet with Nyhus works wonderfully, as we can see in "Heaven In Your Eye". Note also the significant presence of a saxophonist. And to top it off, always the superb covers of Julia Proszowska.

A four stars for me.

Regarding the texts, I only understand English if I make the effort. And it never is. But I understand the position of other commentators, I find nothing more painful than to hear nonsense in French. It spoils the fun.

 Madness and Magic by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.81 | 108 ratings

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Madness and Magic
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Norwegian band ARABS IN ASPIC has been a part of the progressive rock scene in Norway for more than 20 years, with the greater majority of the band's output appearing in the last 10 years. "Madness and Magic" is their sixth full length studio production, and was released through Norwegian label Karisma records in the early summer of 2020.

Arabs In Aspic is a seasoned, veteran band at this point, probably very well aware of what they are doing, what they want to achieve and how to go about it to get the desired end result. The band also strikes me as one with a strong affection for what they are doing, and with a creative spirit still going strong too. A very strong production by a veteran progressive rock band, and an album that warrants a check by those who treasure progressive rock bands with a retro-oriented sound and approach combined with an eclectic and expressive spirit.

 Madness and Magic by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.81 | 108 ratings

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Madness and Magic
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars This is Arabs in Aspic's 6th full length album. "Madness and Magic" is really the perfect name for this album as, when I listen to it, it sounds like an excellent progressive sound (which is the Magic), yet it also sounds almost like it is going to fall apart at any time (the Madness). This combination makes for an intriguing listen, not only on the first listen, but also on subsequent listens. I recognize that saying something sounds like "it is going to fall apart at any time" might seem negative, but in this sense, it gives the music a feeling of unpredictability, which to me, is a great thing. But, along with this, the Magic side of the album is that it sounds authentically progressive, borrowing sounds and shades of classic progressive bands while still sound quite relevant and fresh. It is this mix that keeps me coming back to this excellent and well-constructed album.

But, unfortunately, there are some issues here, which, from reading the previous reviewer's comments, is an issue that the band has had in the past. This problem stems with the odd lyrics that are sometimes embarrassingly bad. For those listeners that don't put a lot of weight on the lyrics, this might slip by unnoticed, but since lyrics and vocals are quite an important part of the band's music here, it is hard to imagine that the listener would just not notice that. Looking at past ratings for the band's previous albums, each one of them has managed to average at 4 stars. Honestly, this is the first time I have heard this band, though I have heard of them before. The fact that they haven't raised or lowered that score among fellow Archive raters, does concern me a bit, but listening to this album does make me want to explore deeper into their music.

The 6 songs on this album are all "fused" together, each one flowing into the next, almost making this entire endeavor sound like a suite. However, it's obviously not that as each song (except for the two part "Lullaby for Modern Kids") is it's own entity. But through these songs, one things remains constant, excellent composition and well-constructed progressive music, which flows along quite smoothly from drifting, psychedelic passages to melodic sections to heavy and solid riffs. The album definitely has something for everyone, but also seems focused to deliver high-quality music. But it is the instrumental portions of the album that are the best and that stand out the most in the first several listens, and the vocal complexities soon become a more appreciated part of the music as both your ear and mind adjust to the style.

This is an album that will impress most progressive listeners right at the outset. Of course the track that will garner the most interest from the progressive crowd will be the 16+ minute "Heaven in Your Eye", which again is almost perfect, but seems to end a bit lackluster and abruptly, like the song is ready to move on to another section, but instead just quickly fades out. There are a few minor issues like that that seem to keep this album from reaching a 5 star status, but hopefully that doesn't keep anyone from at least giving this album a try. It's not a masterpiece, but it is still quite enjoyable and worthy of 4 stars.

 Madness and Magic by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.81 | 108 ratings

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Madness and Magic
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by dougmcauliffe

3 stars Arabs in Aspic is a Norwegian symphonic prog rock band. I've known about them for quite a while and I've heard a few songs here and there but this is the first album I've listened to front to back. The music here is seriously fantastic, it sounds great, its epic, extremely layered and detailed. What really makes this album for me is the rhythm section, particularly the percussion. On top of the regular drums we have this awesome addition of non conventional rock percussion and it really feels like the glue holding everything together and making it all work so well. Why doesn't more modern prog have this going for it? The songs often develop into these really nasty flowing jams and I feel like they take this style and successfully create their own identity among the sea of bands tackling this style which is very good. My two favorite tracks are the opening and closing tracks with the former really setting the mood with its menacing guitars and thumping percussion eventually developing into pure organ bliss around the 5:48 mark. The final track "Heaven in your Eye" is a 16 minute track that really just melts time away. In my opinion it's an all around successful epic. I think with Arabs In Aspic its less about big bombastic peaks as it seems to focus more on developing and adding layers to build these really awesome prog rock soundscapes. Simply some of the best Scandinavian prog i've heard. It's not Wobbler or Opeth tier, but it's in the upper echelon if you ask me.

However....

There's one glaring issue that is very offputting to me about this album and it's the lyrical content. It's clear Arabs in Aspic have not mastered the art of subtly which is shown by cringe worthy titles such as "I Vow to Thee my Screen" and "Lulluby For Modern Kids." I'm much more of a vocal melody guy rather than someone who cares deeply about lyrics, and while the melodies are perfectly fine, it got to the point where the lyrics were just hard to ignore and became a bit of an offputting distraction. The album tackles the issue of I guess... phone addiction? We live in a time where just about everyone owns one of these devices which allows us to listen to whatever we want, watch pretty much anything, talk to anyone over voice or text and generally keep us entertained whenever we want. While there might be a discussion to be had about this, here it just rubs me the wrong way. I feel like to put it simply, the lyrics don't fit the music. This is something out of touch 55 year old bald dudes and wine moms post about on facebook, not something you write a prog album about (get off my lawn!). Maybe I can speak about it as a "Modern Kid" (age 19), i'm very happy to be able to pick up my phone and talk to my best friends any time I want, I love wanting to listen to something and being able to with just a few taps. If i'm bored, it's great to just lay back and watch some interesting Youtube videos. But guess what? I still go out a buy physical copies of albums, I still sit and practice piano several hours a day, I still regularly get together with friends, I still go out and explore, I still exercise and I still read everyday. The phone is just a nice bonus that generally makes people happy and it's certainly not exclusive to younger folks. At the end of the day, I'd rather not hear music preaching about how me and everyone else my age is harmfully addicted to their device of choice.

There is absolutely a discussion to be had and plenty of subject matter related to phones, social media, and disconnection. But this goes in all the wrong directions if you ask me and it just really needs to be far more subtle. With all that said, the music is still great, so i'll give it 4 stars, but unfortunately poor lyrics and themes keep it from possibly being masterful.

7/10 Very Strong 3 Stars

Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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