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ARABS IN ASPIC II

Heavy Prog • Norway


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Arabs in Aspic II biography
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) -

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ARABS IN ASPIC II discography


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

3.86 | 7 ratings
Far out in Aradabia
2004
3.59 | 38 ratings
Strange Frame of Mind
2010
3.91 | 39 ratings
Pictures in a Dream
2013

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0.00 | 0 ratings
Progeria / Far out in Aradabia
2011

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

3.12 | 5 ratings
Progeria
2003

ARABS IN ASPIC II Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Progeria by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.12 | 5 ratings

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Progeria
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars The debut release from Arabs in Aspic is a fine mix of doomy heavy stoner psych that owes a great deal to Black Sabbath, the brimstone-fired Hammond drenched hard proto-prog/occult tinged danger of bands like Atomic Rooster, Bodkin and Bram Stoker, with some nice nods to Pink Floyd too. Full of plodding dirty grooves and sludgy riffs, it's a great start from this Norwegian band, even though they'd later head in a more vintage 70's psych/rock direction with greater focus of pleasing vocal melodies and more concise arrangements.

After a psychedelic and comical introduction, the eight minute `Silver Storm' kicks in, a slow-paced melancholic and spacey rocker. Opening with eerie faraway humming organ over gloomy rain ambience, it quickly moves through a sombre vocal, heavy snarling murky guitars with wild soloing, an intimidating and primal drum-build in the middle with a monstrous stoner rock finale over swirling effects. Rune Stavnesli's searing Hammond organ work dominates this piece, thoughtful and atmospheric one moment, then intense and brimming with hellfire the next.

`Shelob's Cave/Wizard in White' is a slow-burner, a lesson in wonderfully executed doomy tension. A killer rhythm section with plodding bass and perfectly-timed drumming, with shimmering serrated guitars and some very commanding Black Sabbath-styled vocals. This time the organ hums solemnly in the background under some mud-thick guitars with a siren-like urgency and a frantic heavy madness throughout the second half.

"Stranded in a desert of ice, pray for starlight from above" - The almost ten minute closer `Megalodon' is a dark fantasy rocker book-ended with mellow Pink Floyd-styled warm organ amongst the brooding heaviness. Strangely three minutes in, the track diverts into a heavy interpretation of the final section of Caravan's `Nine Feet Underground'! Not so much lazy as a cheeky and risky nod to the beloved Canterbury band that shows the sense of humour that's present in all the releases from the band, it's a nice respite before the piece turns to a ferocious monolithic slab of hard guitar noise and wailing soloing that pans left and right to disorientate the listener and some dirty stop/start grooves. Sadly, after a repeat of the chorus the track just stops, no big finale, which is something of a missed opportunity.

Running a brisk 27 minutes, `Progeria' is more of a glimpse of what the Arabs in Aspic band would eventually be able to deliver, their best work still ahead of them. Although melodically a far cry from their more recent albums such as `Strange Frame of Mind' and `Pictures In A Dream' (where they really nailed some catchy melodies and winning vocal harmonies), `Progeria' is a cool stormy rock album that fans of heavy organ-drenched rock and any of the above mentioned bands should enjoy. Who knows, some fans may prefer this version of the band to the more streamlined and approachable retro-rock direction they're currently in?

The best way to hear the album now is on the lavish double LP set from 2011 with the proper full-length follow-up `Far Out in Aradabia'. Housed in a gorgeous psychedelic erotic blowout cover, there's more incentive than ever to get it, so why not give this great band a go?

Three stars.

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 Pictures in a Dream by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.91 | 39 ratings

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Pictures in a Dream
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars I was greatly looking forward to hearing the follow-up to Arabs In Aspic's `Strange Frame Of Mind', which was one of my absolute favourite albums of 2010, and if I recall one of the first albums I gave a five star review on the Prog Archives. I was wondering if they would continue in the more melodic direction of that album, or perhaps a return to the doomy stoner psych of their earlier works `Progeria' and `Far Out In Aradabia'. Instead, `Pictures In A Dream' sees the band further honing their songwriting craft, as well as taking on more complex vocal harmonies, weaving their psychedelic flavours through more concise arrangements, but still full of all their usual colour, quirky humour and heavy/retro vibes.

The dreamy two-part opening title track, a mix of 70's Floyd with it's mellow vocals and chiming guitars, wavering synths, and bristling Mellotron gets things off to a fine start. After an extended frantic instrumental passage in the middle, the track ends up resembling a soulful Rare Bird/`Beautiful Scarlet'-like vibe, with warm female chorus vocals, humming Hammond and strident drumming. Very positive and thoughtful sounds all around. `Let U.S Pray' bridges numerous styles, parts of the track are built around heavy brooding doomy Black Sabbath-like riffs, a mellow drifting psych atmosphere, female backing gospel harmonies and thick Hammond that will remind instantly of `Division Bell'-era Floyd. This is one of the best of the disc! The deeply psychedelic and unpredictable `You Are Blind' jumps back and forth between murky but darkly groovy hard riffs with joyful foot-tapping sprightly acoustic rock behind a catchy melody, with whirling Theremin drenching the entire piece. Reflective and somber instrumental `Felix' slows things down for a moment, all gloomy Mellotron and grand David Gilmour emotional guitar soloing. Quickie `Hard To Find' is all feral angry riffing, smashing drumming over maddening Hammond repetition and creeping electric piano dreaminess, it's a bit of shame about the abrupt ending that just kills the track dead when they could have jammed on!

The fun `Difference In Time' is a terrific up-tempo poppy distraction, mixing muscular groovy rock by way of fuzzy Canterbury organ that's sure to get your girl headed to the dancefloor! I love the flirty vocal and romantic lyrics, and I know I wouldn't mind finding a girl that `tastes like honey and fine wine, that lights the gloom in my darkest nights'! It's followed by the album's epic `Lifeguard At Sharkbay' (yes really!), the comical lyrics at the start seeming totally out of place with the rest of this intense improvisation! Strap in for floating Mellotron mystery, overwhelming repetitive drumming and bluesy guitar jamming, a slow-burning brood, before up-tempo sprightly Hammond kicks in and the band really take off! The pace keeps up for the sleazy strut of `Ta Et Steg Til Sedan', with the Norwegian band singing in their native tongue, but if you don't understand the words just chill out to the bluesy Nektar-like swagger, while `Vi Motes Sikkert Igjen' again sees the band in Uriah Heap/Atomic Rooster heaviness, but contrasted with a striking and lovely thoughtful melody through dramatic group harmony vocals that recall the warmth of Rare Bird. `Prevail To Fail' is back to dreamy acoustic strumming, washing Mellotron and twisty Moog soloing similar to Yes. The vocals here range from sublime to a little messy, almost getting away from the band in a few spots. The album ends on an acoustic reprise of the title track, and although I'm not sure if it's meant merely as a bonus track, by closing on a return to the opening piece, it gives the album a complete, more rounded feel. Vinyl junkies beware, however, as these two tracks seem to be absent from the LP edition.

Initially a bit of a disappointment (I'd honestly just set such a high standard in my mind of their previous album!), `Pictures In A Dream' quickly reveals it's immense charms, as well as just how much effort has gone into finding a successful balance between catchy songcraft, psychedelic colours and heavy grooves. Housed in mind-bending psychedelic artwork by Julia Proszowska Lund to truly become lost in, this album shows the band playing perfectly to their strength with a winning mix of accessible vocal melodies and dynamic psychedelic rock instrumentation.

Four stars, and another highly recommend release by this wonderful band!

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 Pictures in a Dream by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.91 | 39 ratings

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Pictures in a Dream
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Now, it doesn't take much to get me confused, but at the moment I'm not actually sure what the name is of this band. According to their Facebook page they are Arabs in Aspic II, but according to the label they are Arabs in Aspic. The cover art doesn't show the band name, and I was sent this as a download so I don't have a physical copy to look at. I have no idea where the band name (whichever one it is) actually comes from, apart from thinking that it must have something to do with a certain King Crimson album, so maybe it's fortunate that the name is so unusual. Mind you, one has to wonder about the name altogether, is it likely to upset someone in the current climate? Maybe, but these Norwegians have been together for more than 15 years now and this is their fifth album so they're not exactly newcomers. But, this is the first album of theirs that I've come across which shows how easy it is to miss out on great bands, even with the internet.

They say that their main influences are Sabbath and Wetton-era King Crimson, but there is also the requirement to mention how important psychedelia and plenty of early prog bands are to these guys. This is chunky prog that definitely hearkens back to forty years ago, and makes no excuses for that whatsoever. It is controlled, with really heavy elements which threaten more than appear, with special guest singer Rune Sundby (from famous Norwegian 70's proggers Ruphus) doing a standout job. While the guitars are heavy, the drums are dramatic, and there are loads of mellotron and Hammon on this.

The result is something that those into heavier 'classic' prog that is very much geared towards the Seventies sound will enjoy a great deal. I did. www.blackwidow.it

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 Pictures in a Dream by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.91 | 39 ratings

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Pictures in a Dream
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars This is an album which overtly fits into the realm of stoner rock/psychedelia. What has really impressed me with this album is the production--the sound quality and layers of subtleties woven into the fabric of each song. I compare this music to that of HYPNOS69, QUANTUM FANTAY, and SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, among other, but find the music to be much more thoughtfully constructed and more creatively engineered.

1. a) "Rejected Wasteland" b) "Pictures in A Dream" (6:05) opens the album with some awesome sound combinations, evolving into a kind of HYPNOS 69 sound, but then showing their multi-dimensionality and song-writing maturity with some awesome codas, bridges and cadenzas. The song's "b)" section starts out as a kind of blues-rock jam before taking on a GRAND FUNK/NEKTAR-like shift progression. Love the vocals! Outstanding! (9/10)

2. "Let U.S. Pray" (5:18) though this politically-oriented song starts out like a BLACK SABBATH/LED ZEPPELIN song, at 1:20 it devolves into an interesting, creative and original song with great team vocal work--almost KHAN-like. At 3:12 an awesome scream-vocal introduces an awesome instrumental section. Again I can't help but compare this song to the work of KHAN on my favorite Canterbury album--their only album--Space Shanty. (10/10)

3. "You Are Blind" (5:41) begins loudly before settling back into an acoustic guitar based standard blues rock song. By 1:50 it has turned into a full-blown LED ZEPPELIN song, though more with the vocal harmonies of early BLUE OYSTER CULT, CREAM. At 3:40 the new section even directly references "Stairway to Heaven" and some other ZEP, HEMDRIX, and BEATLES songs. Well done tribute! (8/10)

4. "Felix" (3:04) streams in on the psychedelic synth from the previous song as a simple blues rock chord progression is established with "House of the Rising Sun'-like guitar arpeggios. The Clapton-imitating lead guitar is understated until he starts to soar at the 1:40 mark. Clever and catchy lead melody hooks. (9/10)

5. "Hard to Find" (3:01) travels into early Metal territory, the Farfisa-like organ giving it a MOODY BLUES/BLACK SABBATH quality and sound. Great RAY MANZEREK keyboards at the beginning of the instrumental section at 1:44. Great chunk of nostalgia. (9/10)

6. "Difference in Time" (2:46) again reminds me of a cross between early BLUE OYSTER CULT and LED ZEPELLIN--with a little ROBERT WYATT thrown in there. Good CREAM/ARGENT-like blues rock with a tinge of Canterbury. (8/10)

7. "Lifeguard at Sharkbay" (5:09) is an interesting song with a split personality. The instrumental second section is set up to showcase the Clapton-esque guitar skills. Section three speeds things up like a great URIAH HEEP song. Section four brings it into arena- anthem territory. It all adds up to a kind of a CORUS STONE jam setup song. (8/10)

8. "Ta et steg til siden" (2:53) starts right off into blues rock territory like a classic CREAM or BLUE OYSTER CULT song--and stays there. Solid but . . . proggy? (7/10)

At this point the album is starting to wear on me as being more imitative of classic 1970 blues rock and less of what proggers got hooked onto.

9. "VI Motes Sikkert Ighen" (6:48) opens with some bombast quite reminiscent of classic BLACK SABBATH. Nice song structure, chord progressions, and development. The sparse beginning to the vocal section at 1:48 sets up a pretty classic, almost RPI, section. This one, for some reason, feels less imitative of elders and more original (despite the less-than- exciting drumming in the first four and a half minutes). Great NEKTAR-ish dream-freakout section beginning at the 4:45 mark. Too bad it ends?goes back to the kind of dragging, dramatic vocal section. Still, I like that for the first time the band is displaying something creative and original. (9/10)

10. "Prevail to Fail" (3:22) is an electrified acoustic guitar strummed song with some alternating vocalists kind of treading CHICAGO and STYX ground. I like this second vocalist! He sounds quite impassioned. The quirky synth soli and vocal harmonies make for a very pleasant, catchy, almost poppy tune. (10/10)

11. "Pictures in A Dream" (acoustic version) (3:23) the acoustic version here really brings out the LED ZEPPELIN, URIAH HEEP and even CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH influence on this band. (8/10)

A very enjoyable listen by a group of well-polished stoner-rock imitators, but it is in the band's more original stuff that I find myself drawn back for repeated listens.

Four stars.

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 Pictures in a Dream by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.91 | 39 ratings

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Pictures in a Dream
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars I got a whim to write a review of this album: "Pictures in a dream" by the Norwegian heavy prog band "Arabs in Aspic 2" from this year 2013. Immediately I got the feeling that this is a strong and talanted band which makes a kind of retrospective progressive hard rock. The thoughts of for example Uriah Heep is hard to don't get. I am not a big fan of the heavy genre but like some Uriah and some Rush stuff. This is a modern band from my neighbour country in the west which mostly sings in English but two of the songs are sung in Norwegian. It features Jostein Smeby (guitar, vocals), Stig A, Jörgensen (Hammond, piano, synth, vocals), Eskil Nyhus(drums, percussion)and Erik Paulsen (bass, fretless bass, vocals) and Rune Sundby participates as a guest singer. The cover is amazing like an expressionist painting with a big head from which other things happen to rise. Like on King Crimsons early efforts there seems not to be any text on the front page.

This is heavy but very melodical and sweet hard rock with high intentions. The groovy organs make this retro style which actually feels honest and original. The first song "Rejected Wasteland- Pictures in a dream" is very good. Most of the tracks are actually worth listen to where you can listen to the meanings of the guitars and in "You are blind" i hear something which perhaps is a theremin. "Lifeguard at Sharkbay" is one of the best tracks with a symphonic ending and a clear melody. I even like "Vi mötes sikkert igjen" where we can here how this music could could have been in Norwegian. I think it works out well.

Over all I must say the musicians are very good and the music has a great flow which is nice to fly in. But I don't like the vocals unfortunately. When they're not to screamy I just don't think they're good. I'm not either a fan of heavy prog in particular so this wasn't the best for me. The qualities of this music could has brought four stars, but I am a partial person so I give it three stars. Let me know your statements about this record!

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 Strange Frame of Mind by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.59 | 38 ratings

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Strange Frame of Mind
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars I have a theory about this album that within 5-10 seconds of pressing play on the CD, or in my case putting the needle down on it, you'll be blown away and amazed with what you hear from `Strange Frame Of Mind'! From the very first second, the listener is blasted with a blissful wall of tasteful Mellotron, organ and trippy guitar, and that remains true for much of the rest of the album. Here we have a short but sweet album that is almost all killer, no filler, quite accessible Hammond driven vintage hard prog rock, with a whole lot of catchy and memorable vocal hooks and melodies. There's a great balance of up-tempo rockers and slower psychedelic pieces, all perfectly composed without being too complicated or busy.

The band's previous albums had more of a stoner/Black Sabbath space rock sound, but this album is more relatable to 70's bands like Atomic Rooster, `Remember The Future' era Nektar, heavy organ rockers Deep Purple/Uriah Heap and perhaps Pink Floyd. Anyone who enjoys albums by those artists would potentially find much to enjoy here.

One thing that occurs to you when listening to the album is that it actually sounds relaxed and FUN! The vocals are quite light-hearted without sounding comical or stupid, and there's a bunch of catchy choruses throughout the album. It's great to put on and chill out to. Despite the album being something of a retro 70's throwback, I believe the sense of humour and energy helps the band find their own identity.

I won't go into detail for each track, just mention a few highlights on an LP full of them. The greatest moment of the album is track 6, `Fal Til Marken', which has one of the most uplifting and grand Mellotron fuelled finales I've ever heard. It just keeps going and going, and you never want it to end. While most of `TV's beginning and end is a dirty Deep Purple inspired Hammond organ cruncher, the sedate middle section sounds like Floyd's `Welcome To The Machine', before it launches into space with a hugely uplifting and epic guitar solo. It's not quite long enough, but still beautifully played. The title track has gorgeous weeping Mellotron all throughout, and a very manic middle section! There's also an amusing cover of the Focus track `Hocus Pocus' to end the album, but it's really more of a bonus track.

The great production means all the instruments sound thick and upfront, especially the keyboards, but everything is perfectly balanced to provide a hugely atmospheric album. Most of the tracks are all joined together, so there's a great sense of flow to the LP, and it's all over in a brisk 44 minutes.

Special mention must also go to the striking erotic painting on the front cover. Certainly gets your attention right away, and looks even better on the gatefold vinyl version, so try to track down a copy of that one!

After taking into account everything I love about this album - the playing, the arrangements, the instruments, the production, even the front cover - and after listening to it for over a year now and still finding I love it even more with each additional listen, I feel I have to award it my first 5 star rating. `Strange Frame Of Mind' has been one of my favourite LP's of the last few years. Can't wait to see what the band comes up with next!

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 Strange Frame of Mind by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.59 | 38 ratings

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Strange Frame of Mind
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Weirdly compared to Australian heavy psych outfit Wolfmother by some(?), Norway's Arabs In Aspic are actually anything but, instead reeling off a sharp mixture of Wetton-era King Crimson, grazing 70's rock and prog-referential wordplay that brackets them amongst one of the modern era's more authentic progressive rock acts. Their first album proper - this despite the fact that the group have been active in one form or another since around 1997 - 'Strange Frame Of Mind' is a promising debut, featuring a raw, uncompromising sound tethered with metallic edges, Jostein Smeby's powerful vocals and a nice line in sardonic humour('everybody is watching TV, except for Frank Zappa and me...'). Most of all it is the Crimson references that really jump out, the grinding patterns of 'Strange Frame Of Mind' shot through with a mighty dose of jagged proto-metal riffery obviously influenced by 1974's 'Red', though echoes of both that album's forerunner('Starless & Bible Black') and the new wave-dipped strains of 'Discipline' can also be heard bubbling away. Fleshing out the the groups impressively raw sound is the nicely-subdued but ever-ominous strains of Stig Jorgenson's organ, with the multi-instrumentalists presence adding a smattering of hard-edged psychedelia which juxtaposes smartly with the thrashed-up squalls of drilled guitars. Occasional lighter moments pepper the din, yet Arabs In Aspic seem at their best when performing at full pelt, as evidence by the yelped cries and churning rock structure of the excellent 'The Flying Norseman', the doom-tinged ambience of the seven-minute mini-epic 'Arabide' and the Aardvark-style groove of the excellent 'Moerket'. In between, the group's penchant for name-dropping glosses the satirical art-metal of 'TV', whilst the melodic 'Into My Eyes' showcases a slight Pink Floyd bent thanks to it's uplifting chorus and impassioned harmonies. More than most, 'Arabs In Aspic' seem to truly grasp the ethics of 1970's rock, their mixture of art-rock histrionics and brittle-metal riffs making them a formidable new act in the 21st century prog arena. Those looking for something slightly different to the usual digitally-enhance nonsense are urged to check this Norwegian outfit out as soon as humanly possible. Great stuff.

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 Strange Frame of Mind by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.59 | 38 ratings

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Strange Frame of Mind
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

2 stars Wolfmother on steroids

Seeing this band name, I immediately thought of King Crimson. High-towering mellotrons, jagged riffing and the occasional heartfelt singing. Oh yes we've heard it before. Whenever bands start emulating The Crimson, we're no doubt in for a Red meets In The Court of the Crimson King experience, and that is probably because those are perhaps their most successful and charismatic albums. Then again who could ever hope to lift the heritage from an album such as Lark's Tongues in Aspic - no matter what this Norwegian act call themselves. Nowhere on this album do I get reminiscent of said album. No apart from those jagged guitars and the mellotron, I actually don't hear anything resembling King Crimson, but far more in the vein of current Aussie rock n' roll gasoline fire-house Wolfmother.

The comparison is quite apt I assure you. Take Wolfmother's snarling guitars, melody laden choruses and the pseudo Robert Plant vocals, although slightly more writhing and teen-smitten. Then stuff this mother with a boot full of progressive tendencies ie the aforementioned mellotrons, organs and high soaring synthesizers and we've got ourselves a brand spanking prog rock record! I'm sorry for sounding a bit malicious, but that is not my intention. It is just that this band really shouldn't have named themselves after one of the most progressive albums in history (let's face it when Larks' Tongues first came out NOTHING sounded like that), when most of the music hiding underneath this their debut album resides comfortably within the hard rock sphere albeit with some slightly stereotypic prog by the numbers passages. Again I am sounding somewhat harsh here, but don't let that fool you: This is indeed a very competent album, and if you really dig stuff like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Wolfmother all mixed up with bubbling Hammond organs and the occasional synthesizer outburst, then this album should be right up your alley. The musicians are tight as hell and swing like your daddy on the dance floor, and nowhere does this album loose its breath and count to ten, it just hurls along like a freight- train with cut brakes. Maybe that is the problem I have, because the one time I really got enthralled, the time I dropped everything in my hands and just stood still - listening carefully with my mouth open and peepers wide closed, was the one time these guys sped down and got up close and personal. The track Arabide suddenly transforms into these middle-eastern sloshes of guitar, gently waving back and forth - conjuring up an extremely seductive psychedelic atmosphere, where I truly lost myself in the matter of a few seconds. I hope these guys will investigate this calm, menacing and cradling music some more in the future, because unlike the rest of the album, this thing's truly got some charm and personality to it.

Again, this is by no means a bad album. On the contrary, this is brawny, steam-pumped hard rock with a truck load of all the effects we have come to love about this genre, but to me personally, I'll stick with the original Wolfmother, where things are kept more simple and straightforward.

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 Strange Frame of Mind by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.59 | 38 ratings

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Strange Frame of Mind
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Arabs in Aspic II was an unknown band to me, but now I fortunately got their album from Black Widow Records, and can say that I have truly liked it. 'Strange Frame of Mind' is the name of this record released in 2010, in which this Norwegian band knows how to produce first- class heavy progressive rock, with obvious 70s hints, but with a fresh sound nonetheless. The album features eleven compositions that make a total time of 44 minutes.

It opens with 'Aspic Temple' which is only a one-minute introductory minute that leads to 'The Flying Norseman'. This track starts with drums for some ten seconds and later guitar, bass and keyboards join. The rhythm is fast and the music contains a nice mixture of symphonic with heavy prog, reminding me a bit of Wobbler or Hypnos 69. The vocals appear just before reaching the first minute, they sing in English, in spite of their nationality. The instrumental part that continues is pretty nice, catchy sometimes due to its fresh and happy mood; I like the percussion and keyboards a lot.

'Dive' is another one-minute instrumental track that works as the transition from one track to another, though the album as a whole perfectly flows. The next song is 'Into my Eye', whose sound is practically the same as the previous one, but here vocals enter and create a new structure. The organ as background is excellent, it creates very nice atmospheres and put the necessary nuances to the music's success. This song is more laid-back, but solid, though.

'Moerket' is the opposite, here we can appreciate to a heavy guitar since the first seconds, later keys, drums and bass enter and along with the voice complement the music, taking my mind back to the 70s with bands such as Uriah Heep, Eloy or even Black Sabbath. The second half of the song is more exciting, with some solos and an even heavier, intense and more powerful sound. This is a very good composition!

One out of two tracks that reach the seven minute mark comes next, its name is 'Fall til marken' and has that heavy prog sound previously described. Here I have to say that they now sing in their native language, which is always beautiful to my ears. The song flows and keeps an intense rhythm until the third minute, where it slows down a little bit for some seconds, but later it returns to its original form. With 'TV' the English language returns, and here a kind of humoristic mood can be appreciated, mostly in the chorus.

'Strange Frame of Mind' has vocals since the first second, and they are accompanied by a great mellotron background and soft guitar chords. The rhythm is calm, mid-tempo and open to new elements. After a minute and a half it changes, bringing a nervous and more intense sound for one minute until it slows down and returns to its first form. 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Pt. 2' is a shorter, but very rockish track good to shake the body and sing a little bit. Nice but not the best, without a doubt.

'Arabide' is the longest composition and the final track of the album. The song flows slowly, progressing while the seconds pass. Though it seems repetitive at first, you have to give it a chance and then you will realize new elements are being added, producing different nuances and textures. After that slow beginning the music becomes heavier, dynamic and more emotional. There is a wonderful instrumental passage that starts after four minutes, making new textures, colors and images that let our imagination fly. This may probably be my favorite track of the whole album.

Though I mentioned Arabide was the last song of the album, there is a bonus track, a nice cover of 'Hocus Pocus', that hymn Focus created several years ago. I liked this album by Arabs in Aspic, but I believe they can explode more their skills and give us an ever better production in the near future. My final grade would be 3.5 stars, almost 4.

Enjoy it!

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 Progeria by ARABS IN ASPIC II album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.12 | 5 ratings

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Progeria
Arabs in Aspic II Heavy Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The love for Black Sabbath united two musicians in Trondheim, Norway back in 1997.Guitarists Jostein Smeby and Tommy Ingebrigtsen shared a common passion for the legendary Doom/Heavy Rock act and decided to put it on a cover band, setting the seeds of what would became Arabs In Aspic.Despite changing name after name (Plastic Fingers, Electric Snowjogs, Pilot) they had a solid rhythm section with Eskil Nyhus on drums and his brother Terje Nyhus on bass.A two-year hiatus would follow when Smeby moved to Lillehammer to become a professional ski-jumper (!), eventually he returned to Trondheim and Arabs In Aspic were officially born in 2002, followed by an EP the next year under the title ''Progeria''.

After a short atmospheric guitar-driven intro with distorted vocals, the band will get in full work with the 8-min. ''Silver storm'', a powerful Retro-styled heavy rocker with some psychedelic guitar playing and tremendous work on organ by the session musician Rune.There are also some background effects and a light jazzy edge on the guitar solos, making the track quite unique.''Shelob's Cave/The Great Shelob/Wizard In White'' follows and this has definitely a doomy atmosphere.Low-tempo rocker with a rather overstretched guitar-based opening before the vocals and heavy guitars enter the scene to make it a bombastic Stoner-Rock piece of music.Organs are again present but less dominant but what really surprises is the powerful rhythm section.Solid drumming and deep bass grooves all the way.The closing 10-min. ''Megalodon'' is more of the same.A psychedelic guitar/vocal-led opening section will lead to the bursting of the electric guitars and organs and this time the sound is really close to early-70's BLACK SABBATH, pure Doom Rock/Proto-Heavy Metal with some good guitar solos and dynamic organ passages, quite interesting but a bit too long and pretentious.

Lacking a bit the impressive songwriting of other bands of this Retro/Heavy Progressive Rock style like BLACK BONZO, Arabs In Aspic step into discography with the correct foot.Dynamic performance, rich sound but also lack of personality result to an album far from highly essential but still warmly recommended.

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