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AKACIA

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Akacia biography
AKACIA is a progressive rock band that have never been afraid to play the best rock music. They are a group that simply do not sound like any another band, as they follow the same musical style of bands like GENESIS, YES, ELP and KING CRIMSON.

The musicians of AKACIA use the common instruments found in any famous band, namely guitars, keyboards, drums and vocals. The difference is the band are very impressive musically and also lyrically. In some passages often the arrangements are very complex, and in others parts are very simple, therefore there are distinct shades of light and dark in the music, with tension and release in the instrumentation and composition.

Their music is heavy and very solid, and then veer into softer, gentle nuances. These kinds of arrangements were easily found in the bands of the 70s; music that takes the listener back to the past. The band's debut "An Other Life" was released in 2003 with 4 tracks and some epics such as the title track clocking 16:36 and the mammoth closing track of almost 23 minutes, 'Journal' segmented in 8 sections. The band members on this first release consisted of Eric Naylor on vocals, Michael Tenenbaum on guitars, keyboards, Steve Stortz on bass guitar, and Doug Meadows on drums and percussion.

In 2005 "The Brass Serpent" was the followup, with 4 tracks and a 36 minute epic title track. This time the band lineup transformed with newcomer David Stratton on keyboards, along with original members Eric, Mike, Stephen and Doug. Special guest Mark Rabuck assisted on backing vocals, synthesizers, and cello.

The next release was the last "This Fading Time" in 2006, and the lineup was Mike, Eric, Steve and Doug. Consisting of 7 tracks, 4 of which ran for more than 9 minutes, the album featured a spectrum of musical styles, with 70s sounds of wah-wah guitars, Hammonds and Mellotrons, Heavy Prog, Art and Symphonic Prog, and psychedelic spacey Folk Prog with a Canterbury flavour.

AKACIA is certainly one of the most enjoyable bands that fans of Symphonic Prog and heavy 70s classic rock will have the pleasure to hear. The band's discography is excellent and AKACIA comes highly recommendable to all progressive rock fans.

UPDATED 2014---AtomicCrimsonRush (Scott Tuffnell)---

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The Brass SerpentThe Brass Serpent
Import
Musea 2005
Audio CD$12.89
$7.99 (used)
This Fading TimeThis Fading Time
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Musea 2006
Audio CD$17.81
$87.12 (used)
An Other LifeAn Other Life
Import
Musea 2003
Audio CD$12.88
$10.89 (used)
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AKACIA discography


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

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

2.89 | 25 ratings
An Other Life
2003
3.19 | 28 ratings
The Brass Serpent
2005
3.08 | 13 ratings
This Fading Time
2006

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AKACIA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Brass Serpent  by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.19 | 28 ratings

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The Brass Serpent
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by CCVP
Prog Reviewer

1 stars Boring gospel music disguised as progressive rock

You know, progressive rock isn't e very large genre within the music business and many bands remain unknown in spite of being great musicians, impressive composers, innovative and surprising (in the sense that the music they play twists and turns in unexpected ways). In other words, many bands have no recognition at all despite having all the good qualities it would take to be a successful artist. Some others, however, deserve that lack of recognition. That's the case of Akacia; this may be seen as a bit harsh from my part, but I digress.

However, before I start pointing the reasons why this album is not good, I feel that I need to establish some premises:

First of all, I have come in contact with this band for the first time listening to this album (the band's best rated album here in ProgArchives, and I do not own neither have listened to any of their other works, so I will limit my comments to this album alone), so I had no bias, either positive or negative, towards them, let me make that clear.

Second of all, I do not dislike Christian music. I am a practicing Roman Catholic myself, have a love for Gregorian chant and enjoy Neal Morse's (progressive rock) solo releases quite a lot as well as Glass Hammer (whose work has some Christian undertones to it).

Third of all, I do not have a bias against small, unknown or underground progressive rock bands neither against symphonic prog. In fact, many of the bands I love ARE small symphonic bands. Just as a mean to exemplify that, I can recall from the top of my head bands such as Ars Nova, Trimvirat, Glass Hammer, Tempus Fugit, Bacamarte and Saecula Saeculorum.

Now that all those things have been put aside, allow me to explain why this album is greatly disappointing.

Starting off with the most important thing when it comes to progressive rock, the music, not all of it is terrible, but most of it is. In an album clocking well over the 50 minutes and having an epic with more than 35 minutes, I believe that it is very bad thing when the album's only good parts are the fist song and the epic's first 4 minutes. Yes, the epic is not the album's most impressive part, in fact it is quite bad because of how sloppily it is put together. The music does not develops, one idea does not transforms into another, but, instead, it seems that the bad has just glued together many musical ideas that they had, but were not good nor long enough to be a single song. I must admit that the opening theme (that comes back around the 35 or 36 minute mark in order to give the idea that the song is not just different and unrelated melodies put together) is very good, but since it does not last for the whole song . . .

Also, if the musical ideas were good they could make the song sound somewhat good, even if they were disjointedly put together. That is also not the case. The melodies they portray in The Brass Serpent (the album) are, for the most part, quite generic and lacked soul and personality.

To make it ever better, the closing song isn't even progressive rock, it is just a plain gospel tune with some occasional good instrumental parts! Frankly, the only thing that holds this album together and keeps it from being a complete waste after the Postmodernity has ended is the third song, Olivet, which, ironically, has themes from the opening song; they both end in the exact same way, even the lyrics are same!

The lyrics aren't quite bright as well. The whole album revolves lyrically around preaching the word of God. Again, nothing wrong with that, but I have the opinion that these things have a proper time and place where you can actually meditate and think about it. That is completely incompatible with rock and pop music in general. Quoting the Holy Bible in their lyrics also does not help a single bit. Actually, even before I started listening to The Brass Serpent, when I first unpacked it and started to browse the booklet, it was the lyrics that first made me realize something was bound to go wrong with this album.

Rating and Final Thoughts

So, an album with bad music, bad lyrics and that tries and preaches the word of God, quoting the Bible instead of delivering quality progressive rock. What other grade I could give Akacia's second release besides the single star?

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 The Brass Serpent  by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.19 | 28 ratings

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The Brass Serpent
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Akacia is almost an unknown symphonic prog band coming from USA. They released so far three album, this is their second one from 2005 named The brass serpent. To tell the truth I needed more then 3 spins to fully get into this album, because their music is complex, lots of changing moods, from mellow ones to bursting kybords parts. The album has only 4 pieces, but one of them, the title track is clocking around 37 min of greatness and special atmosphere.The opening track Postmodernit is wise chosen to open the album for the listner to realise that they mean bussines in this field, is a 9 min long piece where symphonic elements are at the highest level. Everything is well done on this release from the voice, maybe sometimes to mellow for my taste for such music, remind me of all those Spock Beard kinda voices aproch but not bad at all to the brilliant instrumental passages. The longest piece from here is a real journey through all bands most inventive momets, from blistering key passages, intristing guitar works to a much mellower moments to gibe to the piece a certain atmosphere. Well done album, quite complex in moods and progressive elements. Akacia is to little known in prog circles, noticed from low number of reviews and some of them with a low rate, quite contrary to me they are a great band, and specialy this album is desearved to be more known by wider public. 4 stars easy one of the pleasent album listened by me lately.

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 An Other Life by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.89 | 25 ratings

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An Other Life
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It seemed to be the perfect album to have for someone like me who just loves symphonic prog music above all things musical. Akacia´s biography says those american guys work was influenced by such 70´s classic bands like Yes, Genesis, ELP and King Crimson. And when I saw that the CD has only four long tracks it just seemed to fit right in! I was ready to see myself listening to those long symphonic prog tracks that take me to a delightful journey through the pleasure of hearing heaven singing. So I was quite surprised when I put the record on my CD player. I could dardly find any trace of those aforementioned bands on Akacia´s An Other Life.

Akacia here plays a kind of heavy prog with some slightly symphonic overtones in some parts, but they´re main influences are not Yes neither Genesis(or any other classic prog stuff for the matter). Not that they are bad: in fact, they are quite good musicians and clearly the drummer and the guitarrist are excellent players (but Doug Meadows is not in the Bill Brufford fashion as one reviewer claimed). But they are clearly influenced by 70´s blues based rock bands like Mountain. And the guitar lines are more rooted in the blues school of Clapton or Page than the classical styles of Hackett or Howe. Keyboards are a bit subdued too, which is very strange to a band labeled as ´synphonic´.

But Akacia´s main problem is their songwriting. The four long tracks have some very good ideas that looked like they were put together without much working: they simply sound tedious after a few minutes and the dynamics are not the best. The first song, An Other Life is a typical exemple of that: a combination of different melodies and rhythm patterns that comes and goes without much cohesion. Eric Naylor seems to try to reach certain notes his voice clearly is not really capable of. I don´t mind the preachy lyrics, though, like several reviewers do. I´m from a non english speaking country anyway and I´m used not to bother with such things.

Conclusion: good band, green compositions, a bit of a lack of discipline on the arrangements. They would do much better if they had worked out those songs a little more before entering in the studio to record them. I wonder if their follow ups are improvements over this one. One day I´ll take my chances with another of their albums to see if they fixed those problems. An Other Life is not a bad record if you like heavy rock with some symphonic hints here and there. But son´t expect too much. Rating: something between 2 and 2,5 stars.

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 An Other Life by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.89 | 25 ratings

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An Other Life
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Akacia claimed themselves as a band that takes its musical roots from the vintage bands like Yes, Genesis with some combination of new sounds from new prog bands (the 90s like The Flowe Kings). They also take a standpoint that their music is different from others. An Other Life is their debut album which contains many footage on guitar solo. The album consumes an approximately one hour of music spread into four tracks.

The opening track which is also the album title track "An Other Life" (16:36) is structured with five movements I) An Other Day II) Dust You Are III) Your Calling IV) I Look Out and V) No Other Life. The bend seems to craft their effort to make this opening track as good as possible using many solo works of guitar and keyboard. The guitar sound to dominate the whole track. There are many changes of mode and tempo where the transitions do not seem to sound smooth to my ears. I think they benchmarked their musical structure with what Spock's Beard did with the first three albums.

"Mary" (6:41) takes its music form in the vein of blues rock like what Jimi Hendrix did. The music is quite good and entertaining. If you like classic rock that dated back in the 70s, this song suits your need as you can hear the sound of Hammond in its background. "Hold Me" (11:02) is truly an excellent composition with vintage intro part combining organ and guitar work. The music turns into blues rock in slow tempo exploring guitar and later keyboard work. Vocal line only enter in the middle of the track after relatively long instrumental piece. No doubt if you like 70s music, this is definitely yours. It's really excellent.

The concluding track is an epic "Journal" (22:41) that comprises seven movements: I) The High Call of God II) Dance of Days III) The Visceral Melee IV) Weight of Glory V) The Beatific Vision VI) Mystery VII) Sands VIII) Insufficient Gratitude. Even though its basic composition is something like modern prog music however the nuances of the music still remind me to the vintage rock music. It's probably determined by the singing style, guitar work and organ sound despite the fact the blues style it has.

Overall, I can say that this is an excellent album even though the opening track sounds to me not a natural composition but the other three tracks a re excellent. You may like opening track as well as it's really prog to the bone. But it's not for me. Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 An Other Life by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.89 | 25 ratings

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An Other Life
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Fortunately, I can be quite deaf on meaning of the lyrics, when I want to. Therefore, only "preaching" word I heard was "Jesus" once. So, I'm pleased by fact that I am not affected by this religulous message as others are. And yes, I don't like it too.

Because now it's not about faith, but about grooves, about pretty damn fine music that's behind this wall of worshiping and as such, I'm going to rate it. When I heard An Other Life, I was quite surprised, because this song isn't exactly the most formal one. It has no intro and goes straight to the point. When I heard their later album, I had weird feeling of something I've already heard before. Yes, this is fine by me and doesn't hurt so much as it hurts others (as it seems), but this nervous feeling was there.

No such thing here, just originality. If it steals from some sources, it's not so noticeable. Reminds me also Echolyn a little bit. And as I said, grooves are here and they literally rocks. They're important thing here, moves entire album somewhere else, to the land of better part of Prog. Some nice jamming, solos, changes of moods, everything works perfectly for me. Interesting sounds to be found here. Really sad that this is so underrated, but I understand why. I understand completely, because I would feel the same. Yes, I'll "get" the lyrics after a while, but by that time, I'll like this music so much that I won't object and will "suffer" through it. Because of the music. Well, not suffer, but just overlook.

After all, lyrics in Prog aren't the most important thing, not by far.

4(+), get over, get into, get out with great feeling.

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 This Fading Time  by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.08 | 13 ratings

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This Fading Time
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars With some magical device, we've been transported to 70's. OK, fair enough, but it sounds like worse things from this era. It's not just that in 1971, this record would be revolution, there's more disadvantages than this. This music follow mistakes of its predecessor, it doesn't have enough power to shine the lights around the way. There's screaming, but there's not enough emotions in it. I'm not moved (strange, because I mostly am), I'm stone cold serious now and I shouldn't be. I should enjoy this music and enjoy it properly. It must be the singer, his vocals are dead. I don't want to offend him or the band more than is necessary, they are doing music, not me. But if I should be free to say my opinion, then this "Symphonic" album is symphonic just because it continues legacy of "The Brass Serpent" a little bit, adding also little bit new, but it's fiasco. Terrible results. Some synth experimental work in Weatherman that I haven't heard before, but nothing too.

Sad thing this album. I don't know whether they're trying or not, but this rating will be on the verge of good and bad,

3(-), no less.

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 The Brass Serpent  by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.19 | 28 ratings

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The Brass Serpent
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Look at this album, it's the virgin land, overlooked by many (who goes after first or third album) with just one review. And no collaborator reviewed it yet, so I'm more or less the first here. Well, this is Symphonic Prog Rock. This can't be anything else and yes, you will feel that you've heard this before. When band is relatively small and releases just few albums (Crucible, I'm talking about you) and/or boast openly about influences by Yes, ELP, Genesis (holy trinity I suppose, it seems like that, but don't take me bad, I like two of these groups and third one I don't know). Great guitar/keyboard solos and (as Mike Portnoy once said), fu_c_kin epic The Brass Serpent.

But wait a minute. When I listen to this album, I always forgot one especially tricky part of this song. The exact middle ("Oh sweet longing..."), which sounds a little bit like Kansas vocals, before turning into more " 'eavy " stuff with more "rock" solo. Never mind it, that doesn't matter much, as it not only fits in, but it also shines. Sounds like late Beardfish at times though (but just for periods of 2-5 seconds, so you'll maybe not even notice).

I once heard Magma (yes, this Zeuhl band) element, but just for 250 milliseconds, so if you haven't noticed previous influence, you'll probably not find this too. Hehe, just joking, this ain't good old Zuhle (sorry, Zeuhl), this is less serious stuff, even also less fun (huh ? how's that possible). This is Symphonic, seriously Symphonic and ready to kill.

Actually not, because there's one problem with this music. I don't care about "I've heard this before", because I can find something good on most of the things in life. Even music. It takes very special album to totally disgust me. This isn't the case, but the problem is in power. They simply don't have it, these songs sound weak. Voice is not strong enough, guitars are not trying enough, keyboards are not making needed effort.

4(-), sometimes it's too weak to enjoy it, but mostly it's good album.

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 This Fading Time  by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.08 | 13 ratings

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This Fading Time
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by Kassimatis

3 stars Akacia have written some excellent music in "This Fading Time". The highlights for me are definitely the instrumental sections, they are composed and performed beautifully! The vocalist has a decent voice, and generally performs well on the album. He hits the notes in his upper range well. My favourite tracks are "Mystery" and "Unfading Divine". "Another life" is a pleasant interlude.

Apart from "Mystery", "Unfading Divine" and "In the Air", the vocals on the other half of the album did not move me - they need more passion (in terms of lyrics and melody) though they are performed well. Hence, this half of the album can't really be called this the 'best' music for personal Christian worship.

Having said that, this album is an instrumental treat, very enjoyable!

3.0 stars

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 This Fading Time  by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.08 | 13 ratings

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This Fading Time
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by nandprogger

4 stars Akacia is a band that has all the elements of a retro-prog group but specifically for the symphonic side: mellotrons, hammonds, a jazzy electric guitar brought to the sound of Steve Howe. The first track is clear SOME of these elements, with a pleasant ambience associated with the synthesizer and its lead singer. In the second they go a full sound King Crimson / jazz, where as in the first, a certain virtuosity of drummer. The third title is simply a ballad with obvious influence of Pink Floyd. The next track mixes a jazz guitar soloing in the background, preparing for almost a hard rock Rush, full plate for lovers of old rock: Rush to Led Zeppelin maybe. "Weatherman" with its gentle guitar which is followed by the synthesizer, growing, with a sense rock'in roll sometimes. The last two tracks abuse of synthesizers, a real cult of old bands. Akacia is a band that can sound nostagia too much, I think the highlight is the electric guitars and jazzy sounding, with a large gap, it is a good alternative for lovers of seventies prog hoping to remember the good times. 3.8 stars

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 An Other Life by AKACIA album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.89 | 25 ratings

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An Other Life
Akacia Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars An American band tries to spread the good word.

In USA, people do God more than over here in Europe. As an European, the blatant preaching here makes me take two steps back and away from the band. This is a cultural thing. Please believe in Jesus Christ, but please do that in private. Don't preach about it on an album because you will scare a lot of people away. It is like telling people that you are a carrier of plague. People will scatter in all directions if you do that in Europe. In USA, on the other hand.........

When overcoming the blatant preaching here, the music is not that bad. I am not sure where these strong references to Yes comes from. If you listen to the track Mary, references to King's X is pretty blatant. The rest of the album have a lot of references to this band too. There is a lot of references to Kansas too and even to Cathedral. OK, I concede that there is some Yes references here. But they are not overwhelming strong. There are also some fusion elements on this album. I also get a lot of strong Bad Company vibes here too.

The music is driven by Hammonds and guitars. It is helped by some boogie piano. The vocals are pretty good. The drums and bassist is good too. Akacia has the classic setup.

Mary is the only really good song here. The rest of the seems a bit underwhelming anonyme. To put it simple; the songs here are not good. This album does not have an identity and I would not be able to pick the band or album in a blindtest. It is a decent debut album and just that. 2.5 stars is all I got.

2.5 stars

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