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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


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

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

3.90 | 52 ratings
Far Out In Aradabia
2004
3.69 | 92 ratings
Strange Frame Of Mind
2010
3.85 | 131 ratings
Pictures In A Dream
2013
3.82 | 97 ratings
Victim Of Your Father's Agony
2015
3.98 | 143 ratings
Syndenes Magi
2017
3.74 | 92 ratings
Madness and Magic
2020

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

4.06 | 7 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 Dødes Tjern / Step Into The Fire
2018

ARABS IN ASPIC Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Madness and Magic by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.74 | 92 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
3.74 | 92 ratings

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Madness and Magic
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by nick_h_nz

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
3.74 | 92 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
3.74 | 92 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
3.74 | 92 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
3.74 | 92 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

 Live at Avantgarden by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Live, 2018
4.06 | 7 ratings

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Live at Avantgarden
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "FIRST REVIEW OF THIS ALBUM"

'The Hammond organ rules!'

This Norwegian formation has already released 5 studio-albums, a compilation and now this live album, Live At Avantgarden, my first musical encounter with Arabs In Aspic. During my first lsitening session I got excited about the Hammond drenched sound, and I wondered why I have waited so long to listen to Arabs In Aspic? The li ve CD contains 8, often extended, mid-long compositions: very melodic and harmonic, and simply structured, with obvious hints from legendary prog bands, and loaded with Hammond and wah-wah guitar. But I don't consider it as too derivative, because these guys have managed to blend the sound of their heroes with an own, very tasteful and exciting touch, also due to the native vocals in some tracks, along English vocals in others. My highlights.

Syndenes Magi (11:07) : An intro with soaring Mellotron violins evoking ITCOTCK and Red King Crimson era, then a slow and hypnotizing rhythm (early Anekdoten atmosphere), a heavy and raw guitar joins, with King Crimson assorted percussion and short vocals contributions. The music turns into a more lush and bombastic sound, with mellow Hammond and fiery electric guitar runs. The Norwegian vocals sound inspired and delicate in a mellow climate with dreamy Hammond organ, joined by powerful and moving bluesy guitar work. In the final part the music culminates into bombastic featuring exciting Hammond and biting wah-wah guitar, what a captivating sound!

M'rket 3 (11:43) : A dreamy intro featuring twanging guitar and soaring Mellotron flute, then melancholical vocals join, followed by a slow rhythm follows with an emotional vocal outburst. Gradually the music turns in a more lush sound with bombastic Hammond and wah-wah guitar, reminding me of Italian Heavy proggers Wicked Minds (also on the Black Widow label). The Hammond rules but the band surprises with some electric piano. Then an accelaration, heavy wah-wah guitar, swirling Hammond and a propulsive rhythm-section, close to a psychedelic climate with hints from early Pink Floyd. Next a catchy mid-tempo with swirling Hammond solo and finally a fiery electric guitar solo with swinging clavinet and lush Hammond, now Heavy Prog reigns.

Victim Of Your Father's Agony (11:13) : The Hammond and wah-wah guitar dominate, in a slow rhythm, joined by decent English vocals (with a slight accent) and vocal harmonies, Atomic Rooster come to my mind (organ and hevay guitar riffs). Halfway a dreamy part with vocal harmonies, tender guitar and piano, turning into more bombastic with powerful bluesy guitar and Mellotron violins, nice combination! Then an accelaration with Fripperian guitar and lots of vintage gear: Hammond, Mellotron, Moog synthesizer and Fender electric piano. Next the highlight in this long track, a long and strongly build-up guitar solo, from sensitive to psychedelic and finally biting with heavy wah-wah, accompanied by lush Hammond and propulsive beats, wow, what an exciting blend of psychedelia and Heavy Prog!

Silver Storm (9:22) : First the distinctive sound of the Leslie box tremolo with the Hammond organ, then a slow rhythm with English vocals and bluesy guitar. Gradually the music shifts to a psychedelic wah-wah solo with soaring Hammond, very compelling. Halfway a dreamy atmosphere, slow drum beats, mellow Hammond and hypnotizing guitar work. Then the spectacular use of the wah-wah pedal, blended with Mellotron violins, like 'early Pink Floyd psychedelia meets early King Crimson', very compelling, goose bumps! In the final part another sensational, very biting wah-wah guitar solo, I love it.

One (7:31) : This final track delivers a Deep Purple sound, in a slow rhythm, then moving guitar and soaring Mellotron violins, topped with dreamy English vocals, simply wonderful. Next an accellaration in a sumptuous atmosphere with fiery, wah wah drenched guitar and waves of the Hammond and Mellotron. Halfway Heavy Prog with swirling Hammond, along heavy guitar riffs, propulsive drum beats, and a bass solo with Mellotron sounds, how creative. Then lots of Hammond and heavy guitar, culminating into a bombastic final part featuring wah-wah guitar, lush Hammond and high pitched vocals, like David Byron, a strong goodbey, very much appreciated by the crowd!

Not to be missed by any serious Hammond aficionado who is into Heavy Prog!

This review was previously published in a slighty different version on the Dutch progrock website Background Magazine.

 Syndenes Magi by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 143 ratings

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Syndenes Magi
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by proghaven

5 stars A 'hello-how-are-you' from Aradabia. Or, if you prefer, back to Aradabia. Aradabia rules OK! From Aradabia with love. After two song-oriented albums reminding Cressida's debut, the band returned to their early heavier sound more or less in the vein of Atomic Rooster. Some reviewers also compared early Arabs In Aspic to early King Crimson, Bodkin, Northwinds, Wicked Minds and even Black Sabbath. This all is more or less true. But most of all, the music of Arabs In Aspic reminds Arabs In Aspic. Surely their music has sources and predecessors, but first of all it's original and distinctive.

Their new one, Syndenes Magi, is even more 'aradabian' than Aradabia itself. While the band's second studio release included five songs and one suite, their fifth full-length album consists of three long and complex epic suites. Each of them is heavy enough to be compared to early Arabs and therefore (following the existing cliche) to Atomic Rooster, and - on the other hand - refined enough to be compared to no one else. This is nothing but Arabs In Aspic who found a new source for their inspiration and started to explore it. And the result is more than impressive. A month ago I would say that their best album IMHO is still Strange Frame Of Mind. Now I'm ready to modify my personal mind frame: Syndenes Magi is undoubtedly their best at the moment. And there's a great chance that their next will be even better.

Apart from the amazing music, a nota bene is that the album is their first ever sung in Norwegian. This is an important moment deserving a huge comment.

Since 1970s, many non-UK/US/Canadian/Australian prog bands sought to sing in English. Yes it allowed almost everyone around the Globe to understand what they sang about, but also led to confusions. Just remember the debut album from Novalis which had all chances to become a worldwide recognized masterpiece but was killed by English lyrics with grammatical errors. After that, Novalis started to sing in German, and we must thank them for that. Remember the only album from Tale Cue, Voices Beyond My Curtain, from 1991. Musically, it was one of the most important events of 1990s and will remain an incomparable chef d'euvre until music exists. But the erratic English lyrics irrevocably stripped the album of the status it musically deserves. Enfin, remember the splendid Italian 1990s keyboard-dominated prog metal band Presence with their absolutely stunning female vocalist... who sang in English with errors. That's the only reason why Presence will never be rated as high as (for example) Dream Theater in the coordinate system of prog metal.

No need to prove that the best way to write good lyrics is to write in your native language, even if you think that you speak English quite well. But it automatically reduces the number of listeners who would be able to understand and appreciate your lyrics. On the other hand, current online translators are enough to help you to understand what the lyrics are about. Of course an auto translation soft does not allow appreciating the lyrics as a work of poetry. But is this really necessary? Even a good lyricist/songwriter is not a guaranteed poet. At least I know just a few genuine poets among the rockers and progsters. Neil Peart, Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Gillan, Ian Anderson, Steven Wilson, Syd Barrett, Marc Bolan... who else? I am even not sure that Jon Anderson, Peter Sinfield, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters are instant poets, perhaps they are rather excellent lyricists... By the way, I know at least two non-English speaking but English writing genuine poets in prog rock, Jerker Rellmark (Masque, Sweden) and Herbert von Ruppik (Rousseau, Germany).

But even this is not the main thing. I've no idea if the English lyrics from Arabs In Aspic (on their previous albums) are good or... hmmm... or very good. I don't know if they could be considered a poetry or not. On the other hand, I do know what the Norwegian lyrics from Arabs In Aspic (on their latest album) are about, I did read reviews. They sing about instability of our current world (right?). But anyway, should they sing in Norwegian or English, they are a purely Norwegian band. I mean the spirit of their music. Hope you all agree that in fact we deal not with abstract 'progressive rock in toto' but with national prog scenes/schools. Yes they form a whole, but each of them has strongly expressed features of a given national culture, though they are often difficult to verbalize and there may be no loan elements from the traditional music. I cannot say why Kalinov Most is a Russian band, their music is not similar to Russian folk songs - but it's very Russian nevertheless. I cannot say why Topos Uranos is a common example of Brazilian prog, I even vaguely imagine what Brazilian traditional music really is, but Topos Uranos is very Brazilian. I cannot say what exactly Norwegian may be found in the music of Arabs In Aspic, all the more that they are often compared to non- Norwegian Atomic Rooster, - but their music is distinctively Norwegian. Not in the same sense as (for example) Kerrs Pink or even Wobbler, but very Norwegian. (I am not sure that you all do understand me, but I'm 100% sure that Edvard Grieg or Rikard Nordraak would.)

And that's the main reason why a band who represents a national prog scene should better sing in their native language than in 'international' English. Strangely enough, none of us is surprised when we listen to an Argentinean, or Finnish, or Spanish, or Turkish... or Russian prog band diligently singing in English - while we wouldn't even believe our ears if we heard Maria Mordasova singing Russian chastushkas in (for example) French, it would seem an Alptraum. In other words, we used to link traditional music to the native language, but we still consider prog music 'international' or, if you like, 'supranational'. Meanwhile, just listen to the music and you'll hear that prog is first a part of national culture, and only secondly a part of global music market. And I think it's correct if a prog band proudly emphasizes what national culture they represent. Arabs In Aspic sang in English for fifteen years. Now they've switched to their native Norwegian. What to say? THEY ARE RIGHT.

 Victim Of Your Father's Agony by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.82 | 97 ratings

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

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars - First review for this album -

The Norwegian heavy prog band ARABS IN ASPIC is one of the Scandinavian acts on the Italian Black Widow label. A new acquaintance to me, but in the light of reviews their style has stayed quite unchanged. It's very much oriented to the erly 70's classic heavy rock sound of URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE etc. Lots of Hammond and meaty electric guitars!

The vocals are surprisingly pleasant, pretty free of the usual heavy clich's such as big vibrato or "high & loud" acrobatics, instead full of hree-part vocal harmonies. Yes, they are "heavier" than Crosby, Stills & Nash, but in a good, uplifting way that also non- heavy diggers such as me can easily appreciate. And the music is equally positive and good-spirited (without being lame at all), in all its power. Whereas a great deal of of heavy/metal rock makes me feel angry and frustrated, this quartet makes me feel good.

Tempo ismostly on the middle ground. This is crucial, giving enough room to both PINK FLOYD -reminding atmosphere and Nursery Cryme -era GENESIS kind of instrumentality. Guitars are relatively nuanced and besides Hammond there's also good ol' Mellotron.

I only wish the album to be a bit longer than 37' minutes. With three out of nine tracks being instrumentals, the whole is very balanced. No, it doesn't rival classics such as Demons & Wizards (1972) in the songwriting, but right from the start I knew I like it and want to recommend it to all listeners of vintage old school Heavy Prog.

 Pictures In A Dream by ARABS IN ASPIC album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.85 | 131 ratings

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Pictures In A Dream
Arabs In Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars Now, it's not every day that you come across a release like Arabs In Aspic's Pictures In A Dream (2013)! I confess that I haven't really paid attention to this Norwegian band till now, but as they say, better late than never!

Released by the Italian label (and Progshine's partner Black Widow) Records last year Pictures In A Dream (2013) is the fourth album of the band and a treaty of unexpected things. Arabs In Aspic is a band that could very well released this album in 1971 and it would perfectly fit into the musical context of that period.

Pictures In A Dream (2013) manages to achieve a mix of different influences like Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull in the same track and makes it work! Perfect examples of what I mentioned are 'Let Us Pray' with its Jethro Tull intro and the splendid 'You Are Blind' (with its bits of Led Zeppelin).

After an instrumental atmospheric track ('Felix') Heavy Psych fill the speakers with 'Hard To Find' and with the schizophrenic 'Difference In Time'. Meanwhile in '[email protected]' we have bizarre lyrics with a psychedelic musical background. Maybe the fact that the band comes from Norway and not from acountry that produces high quantity of Prog bands is what gives Arabs In Aspic its unique magic, far away from the fashion going on in the modern Prog Rock.

The next two tracks from Pictures In A Dream (2013) form the Norwegian bit of the album. 'Ta Et Steg Til Siden' and 'Vi Møtes Sikkert Igjen' are at the same time something weird and a pleasure for the ears. It's a bit different for me to listen to the Norwegian language with a Hard Blues Rock (on 'Ta Et Steg Til Siden') musical background. 'Vi Møtes Sikkert Igjen' is a robust Prog that was born with a classic feeling. The final sequence is acoustic 'Prevail To Fail' with its synthesizers 'grooming' the song and then a pretty acoustic version of 'Pictures In A Dream'.

Pictures In A Dream (2013) is not just a blow of fresh air in the last years releases in the Prog world, (even if it's full of 70's sounds), but it's also a modern classic full of great melodic hooks.

4.5 stars. This is definitely a must have!

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

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

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