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THE SAMURAI OF PROG

Crossover Prog • Multi-National


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The Samurai of Prog biography
Multinational ensemble THE SAMURAI OF PROG was formed sometime around 2009 as a project lead by Finland-based Italian composer and bassist Marco Bernard. He's been active in the Finnish Association for Progressive Music since 1995, and have been involved in their Colossus Magazine since 1996 - and instrumental in the Colossus series of theme albums they have created in cooperation with French label Musea Records.

It was for a contribution to one of those projects that The Samurai of Prog was born, and joining Bernard as permanent members we find US artist Steve Unruh and Finnish drummer Kimmo Pörsti. Besides this core trio, the philosophy of this band appears to be to involve additional musicians as needed and wanted, and their debut effort Undercover from 2011 bears testimony to that line of thinking, with a list of guest appearances impressive in length, scope as well as quality.

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THE SAMURAI OF PROG discography


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THE SAMURAI OF PROG top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.41 | 36 ratings
Undercover
2011
3.81 | 69 ratings
Secrets of Disguise
2013
4.18 | 19 ratings
The Imperial Hotel
2014

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THE SAMURAI OF PROG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Imperial Hotel by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.18 | 19 ratings

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The Imperial Hotel
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Ovidiu

5 stars THE IMPERIAL HOTEL is the third album of the great band THE SAMURAI OF PROG,the guys have already released 2 excellent albums with cover songs!!This time,we have on this album only original compositions from the guys ,but the title track is in fact a composition of the Brit symphonic progressive band ENGLAND,from 1975!Robert Webb,the mastermind behind ENGLAND is giving here a serious hand on the new interpretation,and everything sound excellent in 2014 with a track composed almost 40 years ago!The first thing about this album is the amazing look,it's absolutelly stunning-a gorgeous digipack,with a massive 40 pages booklet conceived by Ed Unitsky and a cd which fits perfectly well inside the digipack,packed like a classic vinyl,in an envelope!The sensational artwork is breathtaking,very coloured and impressive,with great photos and all the informations about the musicians and the album !Musically speaking,we have al album of almost 1 hour of vintage prog rock,extremelly well composed and masterfully played by amazing musicians!The title track is a 28 minutes monster composition,very diverse and catchy,with plenty of musical twists and unexpected moments!All the guys in the band are on top of their technical skills,without being too demonstrative,just efficient and proud to deliver such high class prog rock!We have here influences from prog rock giants like YES....GENESIS....GENTLE GIANT...or more modern prog icons like THE FLOWER KINGS or SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN...great vocal harmonies a la Yes...and also a marvelous vintage sound,with a Rickenbacker bass guitar in front and great old school organ sound!Also,the drum sound is marvelous,all the sound is very organic and shows the unique fascination of this type of music!The mix is just perfect,it captures all what it has to,a great sound of the instruments and a production which puts in evidence the unique flavour of vintage prog rock.This album proves at 100 % that old school prog still has many things to offer to his fans and the charm of this music is timeless!Definitelly ,a musical triumph for TSOP,and the promise to have from this extremelly talented musiciand,great albums in the future!It seems that only sky is the limit for THE SAMURAI OF PROG!I dare to say that THE IMPERIAL HOTEL is almost a masterpiece album,everything is close to perfection-both music and look,presentation of the album!4.75 stars for me....rounded to 5!

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 Secrets of Disguise by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.81 | 69 ratings

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Secrets of Disguise
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Ovidiu

5 stars So,here we have the second album of THE SAMURAI OF PROG band,2 years only after their sensational debut album!To be honest I had great expectations about this album,because the impressive level of musicianship shown on the first album was so promissing and full of hopes to get from the guys a marvelous following !And,my expectations have seriously get their reward-THE SECRETS OF DISGUISE is a major step forward,under all aspects,for our beloved band!First of all it's the fact that we have a double album,and this means more additional music compared to the first album-then the impressive artwork-trully superbe!The choice of the songs was-once again-very cleverly made,and the original material-something around 20 minutes,that's even more impressive!You can see at the descriptio of the album what are the tracks choosed,classic and solid old school prog-from ENGLAND,passing thru GENESIS-PFM-KING CRIMSON-VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR-RUSH-YES-RUSH-among others!Really impressivesongs of this prog rock icons-and,definitelly-there'a serious challenge to try to bring a new dimension to the music of this maestros of prog in 2013!But TSOP are some amazing magicians and they managed ,in big style, to bring back to live,with new versions,this amazing classic prog rock compositions!I like the production-it's solid,not at all overproduced,with mindblowing crystal clear effects-it's sober and trully professional made!The impressive technical skills of our musicians are sensational-and the help get from other unbelieveble musicians involved in this project-is magical too! Just take a look at the list of the guests-it's almost scarry to see all of those great names on one album!All of them give a serious hand to the guys in TSOP to produse great versions of the songs choosed!It's very difficult and subjective to choose which track is the best one,I see al the material of the album in a very organic and monolythic way-all are very solid,diverse and strong!So,to sum up,this SECRETS OF DISGUISE is ,no doubt about that,a very strong prog rock album of cover songs and original compositions -a triumph for the amazing trio of the musicians which are the core of the band-and they have endless inspiration and a huge potential to offer in the future other amazing albums!For me 4.5stars rounded to 5 ,because albums like this are more and more rare nowadays,SECRETS OF DISGUISE is made with burning passion for prog music and shows what huge inspiration is this beautiful music forever!

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 Secrets of Disguise by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.81 | 69 ratings

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Secrets of Disguise
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Multinational ensemble THE SAMURAI OF PROG first appeared in 2009 as contributors to some of the Colossus series of concept albums, planned and organized by the Finnish prog organization Colossus and released by French label Musea Records. Initially a duo consisting of Finland based, Italian musician Marco Barnard and Finnish musician Kimmo Pörsti, later with US musician Steve Unruh added to the core band. But rather than restricting themselves to the talents of those three musicians, guest musicians have been involved too. Especially when the band decided to make an album of their own. This production, "Undercover", appeared in 2011 and consisted first and foremost of cover tunes with a few minutes of original music thrown in for good measure.

Come 2013 and The Samurai of Prog returns with their second album. A double feature this time around, but pretty much set up in a similar manner as their debut album: A lot of cover tunes and a few items of original material flavoring the proceedings.

The cover tunes are bye and large enjoyable excursions into rather varied parts of the symphonic progressive rock universe. Playful Italian prog and Gentle Giant oriented material with jazzy flavoring side by side with accessible, melodic varieties of the style closer to the likes of Camel as well as a ballad from Yes and a few items of darker sounding, brooding material pulled from the archives of bands such as King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. The Samurai of Prog generally sticks to a faithful rendition of these compositions, they don't try to revolutionize these more or less classic songs but they don't try to replicate them either. Subtle alterations is a feature for all the songs covered, with arrangement and instrument choices as well as a somewhat larger emphasis on certain instrument features or expressions the main variations given to the different songs. Sometimes to good effect and at other times not quite as much, most likely depending on just how close a relationship you have to the song in question. For me personally, their take on Aspirations by Gentle Giant lacked the magic of the original as I'm probably to accustomed to and to fond of the sheer superficial simplicity of the original, the cover version here containing a few too many details for my taste. Other pieces came across as much more charming, and most charming of all for me their take on Utopia's "Singring and the Glass Guitar". A tongue in cheek epic composition on all levels, as a fantasy fiction fan and as someone who have spent a few hours of my life playing computer role playing games this songs brought frequent smiles to my face.

But the general tendency of these songs residing somewhere in the symphonic progressive rock universe is probably the most important bit of information for those curious about this double CD, and I might also add that all the songs covered has been given if not a modern then at least more of a timeless mix and production, which at least to younger listeners most likely will make these cover versions worthwhile checking out for this detail alone.

The most impressive tracks at hand are the original ones however. Like on their debut album David Myers is at hand again with a splendid piano introduction to one of the classic pieces of progressive rock, in this case it serves as an introduction to the band's take on Genesis Dancing with the Moonlit Knight. And while it does take a bit of time to get accustomed to some of the vocal parts in it, the Gothic-flavoured dark symphonic exploration of Lovecraft's spine chilling tale about Charles Dexter Ward is another clear highlight. Previously released on a conceptual tribute to Lovecraft, but on this double CD presented in an alternative arrangement - nice.

The clear highlight for me was the playful, diverse and rather jolly Sweet Iphigenia however. From medieval folk music through vintage oriented symphonic progressive rock to jazzrock and back again, this item is a celebration of the 70's progressive spirit given a contemporary coating, and a tune I suspect was challenging, frustrating but also sheer fun to create and record. An excellent piece of progressive rock in it's own right.

All in all, "Secrets of Disguise" is a solid album by this multinational project. A taste for symphonic progressive rock is needed, and an open mind as far as cover versions are concerned, but if you recognize yourself in such a description this is a double CD that should provide you with plenty of enjoyable listening. And, at least for me, the 20 or so minutes of original material presented the proverbial icing on the cake.

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 Undercover by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 36 ratings

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Undercover
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars The Samurai were considered to be the fiercest warriors of the Japanese military class of their time. Does this band warrant the title?

Primarily, this album is a tribute to some of the classic prog bands of the seventies and beyond, with cover versions of songs by ELP, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, and more. It's a grand concept, and one that this band pulls off with style.

These samurai tread a fine line, showing that they are able to retain the spirit of the original pieces while adding their own flair. They especially succeed on Yes' Starship Trooper, where they really go off on a great jam in the Wurm section, and Pink Floyd's Dogs.

I'm disappointed in their choice of a Genesis song to cover. The Lamia was never one of my favorites, even though it came from Genesis' most progressive period. Although I suppose they chose ot because of pianist David Myers' Tony Banks tribute, Before The Lamia, which opens the album.

Where these samurai fall on their swords in in the original pieces, most of which are tracks that the primary band members played on with earlier groups. By comparison, these songs don't match the intensity of the covers, and feel out of place on the collection (to be fair, most are billed as "bonus tracks").

Without the originals, this album would rate a solid four stars. But those bonus track pull almost a full star from the score.

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 Undercover by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 36 ratings

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Undercover
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars THE SAMURAI OF PROG is a multinational band based around the core trio of Marco Bernard, Kimmo Porsti and Steve Unruh. Following a few years of contributions to various CDs in the Colossus series of theme albums, they released their full-length debut "Undercover" in 2011 through Musea Records.

The aptly named "Undercover" is a debut disc that doesn't tell us much about the quality of The Samurai of Prog as a musical unit. The sheer number of cover tracks at hand and the plethora of guest musicians result in a disc that feels like a project to a much greater extent than a band effort as such. As far as recommendations go, those with an interest in good quality cover versions featuring excellent instrumental performances within a high quality mix and production framework would appear to be the main audience: In particular if you enjoy the majority of the originals covered or have an interest in the musicians performing them.

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 Undercover by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 36 ratings

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Undercover
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars This is a prog cover album released by Musea Records - with four bonus tracks by Resistor, Costa & Mariotti, Roz Vitalis and Contrarian. A bit peculiar solution, why not the same idea for the whole album? On the other hand it's nice to hear four bands new to me. The cover band consists of Marco Bernard (bass), Steve Unruh (vocals, guitars, flute, violin) and Kimmo Pörsti (drums, percussion). The list of guest musicians is long. The music covered is by the prog greats such as GENESIS, YES, ELP, PINK FLOYD, MARILLION and FLOWER KINGS, and the performances are excellent, if not too close to the originals.

It starts beautifully with a 2-minute piano solo (David Myers) from the theme of 'The Lamia' which directly follows it. Wonderful, melancholic choice from the classic Genesis! Steve Unruh proves to be a very flexible singer who captures the spirit of each band he covers. 'Starship Trooper' is sung by Jon Davison who sounds a lot like Jon Anderson. Then comes a fusion- like instrumental 'World Of Adventures' from FK's debut album. Faultless! 'Assassing' is IMHO a bit bad choice from Marillion though it's performed with energy. 'Jerusalem' follows closely the overblown grandiosity of ELP.

'Dogs' is a highlight, and I give extra points for editing it anew: the latter half of the PF original gives way to a new instrumental section and it works really well. (Oh Yes, also 'Starship Trooper' differs slightly from the original in the end, which saves it from being a carbon copy.) Fine instrumental long track 'The Promise' is the only new composition - by a Finn (saxophonist Risto Salmi if I remember correctly. Sorry if I don't.)

A brief introductory text accompanies each cover track, and the thick leaflet features other memorabilia too. The lay-out is pretty good-looking. As a cover album this is very good (hmm, maybe the choices are too oriented to the best known prog bands; some more stylistic variety would have been nice!). 3½ stars. Most of the music on this CD is easily worth four stars but this cover album is not really that necessary product.

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 Undercover by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 36 ratings

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Undercover
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Brollyhero93

5 stars One of the best (top quality) cover-albums I have ever heard in my life. All the songs have their own twist to them, and they sound professionally recorded. Great to hear Roine Stolt and Michael Manring providing great guest appearances. My favorite tracks are "Starship Trooper" by YES, with the ending section "Würm" standing out as a great performance from all the envolved musicians, "Dogs" by Pink Floyd, was a very close runner-up, I liked how it had it's own feeling to it. Finally, "Stranger" performed by Resistors, has been the cherry on the cake! Although, far from the progressive standards of un-commerciality. I strongly recommend this CD to all Prog/Rock afficionados.

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 Undercover by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 36 ratings

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Undercover
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by Ovidiu

4 stars UNDERCOVER is the debut album of an interesting project,musical project called THE SAMURAI OF PROG,where we find some extremelly talented musicians,as you can see in the presentation of the band above!The core of the bandBERNARD,UNRUH and PORSTI is helped by a bunch of other top musicians and the final result is more than astonishing!What we find here are some superbe tracks from famous progressive bands ,played in the manner of the guys from THE SAMURAI OF PROG-and this cover tracks are really excellently performed ,with the help of the modern technology and recording technique!Great variety of the tracks selected-from GENESIS to PINK FROYD or YES and ELP-we talk here about some icons of prog music-passing by MARILLION and THE FLOWER KINGS and the Italian monument in prog called ARTI e MESTIERI!As bonus ,we have 4 tracks as tribute for the band ELECTROSHOCK -Marco Bernard's first band in the 70's!All the 3 guys in THE SAMURAI OF PROG are very talented and professional musicians-and the result is simply wonderful!What is even more attractive about this album,is the cohesion and the clever choice made by the guys about the songs!All fits perfectly well with the message of the album!The new versions of the songs get another dimension in 2011,and it seems that the wide range of expression for progressive music is endless and timeless!Hard to say which track looks to be the highlight of the album,all are excellent and this album is an excellent opportunity for all prog music lovers to discover what real prog music means!MARCO BERNARD,STEVE UNRUH and KIMMO PORSTI seem to have a real common passion for the treasure that progressive music means,and their collaboration and alchemy-give to the prog music lovers a little pearl-this excellent album!Just look in the future for what BERNARD is doing in collaboration with MUSEA-he offers constantly to the prog community excellent albums with different themes and that's wonderful!4 STARS for an album based on covers-but what about an album of original compositions in the future?!?!Then will be 100 % a 5 stars album!Congratulations and thank you for the music!

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 Undercover by SAMURAI OF PROG, THE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.41 | 36 ratings

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Undercover
The Samurai of Prog Crossover Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Samurai of Prog is - yes, you've guessed it - a progressive rock act, and Undercover is their debut full-length studio album. Despite only being a trio at their core, the band recruits genre-veterans like Roine Stolt, Guy LeBanc, Michael Manring, Jon Davison, Jonas Reingold, as well as many others to help flesh out this album that mainly consists of cover tunes. Prog rock fans should have their interest immediately piqued by some of the guest musicians, but the track listing which includes covers of songs from Genesis, Yes, Marillion, ELP, Pink Floyd, and many others should make many fans of the genre track down Undercover immediately. The trio plays all of the songs with convincing power and execution, and The Samurai of Prog are clearly an extremely gifted ensemble. Undercover may be more of a novelty than an actual artistic statement, but as far as cover albums go, this is one of the best options out there for fans of progressive rock. Consider this one highly recommended!

For better or for worse, every one of the covers here does a remarkable job of sounding extremely similar to the original act. The trio does mix up a few songs - particularly on their rendition of Pink Floyd's "Dogs" - but their versions of "Starship Trooper", "The Lamia", and "Assassing" sound especially like their respective originators. Everything from the vocal arrangements to the clever uses of instrumentation sound remarkable similar to the original acts, even though The Samurai of Prog does put their own unique twist every now and again on all of the tracks. And even if they didn't, the musicianship is so impressive that the covers are remarkable either way. The sleek, modern production also suits the music perfectly.

Undercover doesn't exactly re-invent the wheel, but if you're looking for an absolutely top- notch album of progressive rock cover tunes it's hard to go wrong with this one. The Samurai of Prog have proven that they are an extremely talented ensemble with this debut effort, and I'll be keeping a close eye on them in the coming years. It's rare to come across albums with this level of finesse contained within the musicianship and arrangements, and the choice of cover tunes should easily turn the heads of prog fans worldwide. 3.5 stars seem fair for this impressive effort. Undercover may not be an entirely independent artistic statement, but it's a damn good one nonetheless!

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