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GARY HUGHES

Progressive Metal • United Kingdom


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Gary Hughes biography
SYMPHONIC HARD ROCK WITH AN EPIC TOUCH


Gary HUGHES is of course the "mastermind" behind the band TEN (plus producing/writing with Bob CATLEY). He's back to go on with his solo career after three pop/aor beautiful albums. Gary HUGHES spent the entire year of 2002 writing and recording his most ambitious project to date: an immense opera rock entitled "Once and Future King" in two chapters based on the myths and stories of King Arthur, the legendary King of Britain. They're both chapters of the same story and they're both told with the same vibrant brilliance. It's got a great story, great instruments, and some absolutely fantastic vocal performances. The musical feel here is a mix between prog-like metal and melodic, heavier AOR (ala TEN). Everything from ballads to heavy, powerful hymns can be found here and the songs are catchy and quick to enter your mind. Those who enjoyed other rock/metal operas like AYREON, STAR ONE should find "Once and Future King" to be a nice addition to their collections.

For this two-CD project he enlised a huge supporting cast, with various big-name vocalists playing "roles" in the story. Each song adds a layer to the intriguing tale and the dark story is told with conviction through the various singers. For the most part, the musicians behind Hughes and his guest stars are the members of TEN. They make sure that the music is high class.
"Once and Future King - Part I"
Featuring a stunning cast of musicians including; Arjen LUCASSEN, Damian WILSON (THRESHOLD, AYREON) - Prologue Narrator; Gary HUGHES - as Arthur; Lana LANE - as Guinevere; Danny VAUGHN (TYKETTO) - as Lancelot; Irene JANSEN (KARMA) - as Morgana; Bob CATLEY (MAGNUM) - as Merlin; Sean HARRIS (DIAMOND HEAD) - as Galahad.
"Once and Future King - Part II"
The second part featuring appearances by DC COOPER - as Aelle; Sabine EDELSBACHER (EDENBRIDGE) - as Nimue; Doogie WHITE (RAINBOW, Yngwie MALMSTEEN) - as Mordred; Harry HESS (HAREM SCAREM) - as Epilogue Narrator; plus special guest Arjen LUCASSEN.

If you're a fan of melodic hard rock, you've got to hear "Once and Future King" as soon as possible.

Gary Hughes official website

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Once and Future King, Part 1Once and Future King, Part 1
Import
Frontiers Italy 2003
Audio CD$13.69
$9.93 (used)
Sacred CitiesSacred Cities
Audion Records 2002
Audio CD$2.99 (used)
VeritasVeritas
Import
Imports 2007
Audio CD$6.58
$10.81 (used)
Once and Future King, Part 2Once and Future King, Part 2
Import
Frontiers 2003
Audio CD$47.95
$17.80 (used)
Precious OnesPrecious Ones
Import
Audio CD$221.01
$10.98 (used)
Gary HughesGary Hughes
Import
Universal/Polygram
Audio CD$190.42
$63.79 (used)
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GARY HUGHES discography


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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Strength Of Heart
1990
3.53 | 13 ratings
Once And Future King - Part I
2003
4.00 | 14 ratings
Once And Future King - Part II
2003
4.00 | 1 ratings
Veritas
2007

GARY HUGHES Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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GARY HUGHES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Once And Future King - Part II by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 14 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part II
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Once and twice king

The second part of Gary Hughes' Rock Opera Once And Future King continues right where the first part left off. Once again we get a strong set of tunes performed by a wide range of guests (some of which are new and some of which return from part one). If there is a difference between the two albums, I would say that this one is more eclectic. Like the first album, this is a mix of AOR, Power Metal, and Magnum-esque Pomp Rock with some folky and classical touches. But, in addition, this second album also contains more genuine Prog Metal, and at the same time also more straight-ahead bluesy Hard Rock and even some Pop! Both albums have some very good songs, and a few not so good songs. Overall, I slightly prefer part one (but they deserve the same rating).

Among the returning performers we find the wonderful Lana Lane as Guinevere, Magnum's distinctive Bob Catley as Merlin, and Sean Harris from Diamond Head as Galahad. New additions include DC Cooper and Dougie White. Sean Harris really surprised me here with a superb vocal on the ballad Without You.

There is no doubt that Gary Hughes is a talented songsmith and a good vocalist. The production values are high and the cast is highly professional. Again, like on the first album, I don't think that anything here is in any way ground breaking or particularly unique. But it does live up the expectations set by the first part, clichés and all. Taken for what they are, both albums are good.

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 Once And Future King - Part I by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.53 | 13 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part I
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars The myths and legends of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table

The King Arthur legend must surely be one of the most common themes for conceptual albums in all of Rock. Rick Wakeman's The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table from 1975 and Kayak's Merlin from 1981 (which is much better than the re-recorded version from 2003) are two well-known and successful examples from the progressive Rock world. Here is yet another one by Gary Hughes.

I'm normally not a fan of Rock Operas, but this is actually a rather good one. Hughes enlists a wide range of instrumentalists and vocalists including Damian Wilson, Lana Lane, Bob Catley, and (Mr. Rock Opera himself) Arjen Lucassen. Wilson, Lane, and Catley hand in first-rate vocal performances and so does Hughes himself. The material they are given to sing was written by Hughes and is generally of a high quality. My #1 favourite song here is the opener Excalibur (sung by Wilson). This one will appeal to Threshold fans. At The End Of The Day and King For A Day are two other good songs, but there is really only one embarrassment here in Sinner which is uncomfortably similar to Queen's I Want It All.

Nothing here will take the progressive Rock or Metal fan by storm, but it is certainly a well made album of its kind. It will not challenge anyone's conceptions, but it will live up to the expectations.

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 Once And Future King - Part II by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 14 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part II
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The second part of the King Arthur concept album by genius artist Gary Hughes is even better than the first one. It is more epic, heavy and progressive, with some stunning performance by both musicians and singers involved. But, with such a team work, how could he go wrong? Certainly he was very fortunate to have all these people around to enhance his great skills as songwriter and producer (and he is also a fine singer!). The tracks are superbly arranged and played (great guitar and keyboards parts, always, very tasteful). The first ever AOR/Melodic Rock opera is something of a masterpiece in all aspects (even if the prog influences are maybe too subtle for most progheads).

Highlights are many, but I should pick up some favorites: the powerful drive of There By The Grace Of God, the poignant Believe Enough To Fight, with the very beautiful voice of Edenbridge´s singer Sabine Edelsbacher (as Nimue) and, in the end, a great duet with Bob Catley (as Merlin) and the grand finale with the epic title track (fine vocals by Harry Hess of Harem Scarem and an emotinal guitar solo by Chris Francis of Ten). But, again, as the first album, all tracks work very well together and there are no fillers. The artwork and booklet is quite good too, telling the whole story beside the lyrics. The only down side is that maybe the opener was not really suited to D.C. Cooper´s powerful voice (he sounds a little restrained here). Still a fine song, though.

Those two records make a highly successful work. A great showcase of Gary Hughes´s skills as songwriter/singer/producer. This CD defies definition. I can only say it´s great music.

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 Once And Future King - Part I by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.53 | 13 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part I
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Well, some people might be wondering what such AOR/Melodic Rock artist is doing here. And that was my first impression too. But if you take the word Progressive in its origin (i.e., going beyond one genre´s bounderies), then Once And Future King, parts I & II, are in the right site. Or did you ever heard of an AOR/Melodic Rock opera? True, Hughes had already showed his knack to write fine, a little prog influenced, epics wiht his band Ten. He even released a futurist concept album with that band (Babylon, 2000). But this project is far more ambitious and successful.

Backed by excellent musicians (including all Ten members) and a cast of some of the finest singers around he recorded both parts during the year of 2002. The theme is far from original since so many bands and artists have recorded songs or albums telling the same classic story of King Arthur (Rick Wakeman always come to mind in this case), but still he does a great work - and quite revolutionary in terms of AOR, both musically and lyrically. You´ll find fine songs on it, all very well crafted and arranged, with some great performances of all involved. There are elements of hard rock, heavy metal, power ballads, symphonic rock, classical passages and the like.

Highlights for me are the opener Excalibut (Damion Wilson in a heartfelt, storming perfomance), Dragon Island Cathedral (great instrumental parts and backing vocals) and King For A Day (fine symphonic arrangement and emotional choir), but the album as a whole works very well. All of course is helped by the wonderful songwriting skills of mr. Hughes, who also does a great job at the production field. Some may say everything here is too clean and perfect, but I guess this is a matter of taste. I like the state-of-art way he does his records.

If PA was an AOR site this would be a five star record. Since it is not, I guess a 3 star rating would be more fitting: good but not really essential. An extra half star for the quality and boldness of the project. 3,5 stars.

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 Once And Future King - Part II by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 14 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part II
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by BookAboutSalad

4 stars First I have to say - I don't find this album very progressive at all - okay, it's a mix of rock, AOR or even pop choruses, power/heavy metal with symphonic touches but the music is very simplistic compared to most of the bands featured on progarchives. The guy who wrote the music, Gary Hughes, is also (or was maybe) in a popisch band call Ten. Although, music don't have to be better just because it is harder to play, so I'd say the geniality of this album (if there is any) lies in the songwriting. And since I still am more of a metalhead than a true prog listener I don't think I will have problems to give this album a fair rating ;)

Almost all the choruses on the album are sing-along choruses and I've had each and every one of them on my head, wandering around a whole day singing on them. So the album for me is totally based upon choruses, maybe not as much as the first part but still.

Since the songs differ a bit from each other I would like to comment all of them:

The album kicks of with Kill the King wich for me is one of the best songs. It was the same with Exalibur on Part 1. The song is very metal, but I kinda miss a cool cinematic intro as the one in Part 1 (written by genious Arjen Lucassen). The singer, DC Cooper (from the NWOBHM band Diamond Head I think) does a good job but is not a favourite of mine. Next song There by the Grace of Gods (Go I) is also a very cool song wich I did not like so much the first listenings. It is sung by Gary Hughes himself and is both soft and hard in a nice way - it even features very deep growling in the chorus. Then comes the shame of the album - I Still Love you. It sounds like a crappy pop song and it really is, it's the worst song on both part 1 and 2 and I just can't stand it. Skip this one. Oceans of Tears is sung by one of my favourite female singers in the world of symphonic music - Lana Lane. It's a down-tempo song wich is very cosy but a bit boring. It's definately okay. Rise from the Shadows is sung by another of my favourite women - Irene Jansen. I just don't get why she doesn't get to sing more songs - she does a fantastic job and though I prefer "weak" female voices she is just great. Her voice is really like an explosion on this album. The song is kinda metal and one of the better songs on the album. And then comes the only duo on the album, Believe Enough to Fight. It is to 85% sung by Sabine Edelsbacher from Edenbridge (from Austria), and she does a good job, but it's far from her best. I prefer her in Angra (she does guest vocals on Temple of Shadows), her best work in my opinion. The song fits her well though, she has very high pitched vocals and it's a slow song. The last 15% is sung by Bob Catley from Magnum who really is among the best singers on the album, and this is the only part he gets to sing on the album wich is really sad. And he only sings a short fade-out part in the end so it's not much of a duo song at all. The Hard Way is maybe the most odd song on the album, sung by a guy called Doogie White. He has a nice voice, not a favourite but okay. I have some serious problems describing the sound of the song so you have to listen yourself. The Pagan Dream is also sung by Sabine Edelsbacher and sounds a bit like a song that could be in the Eurovision Song Contest, maybe just a bit to hard - it's a metal song. Here she sings in a completely different way and though it's one of the most catchy songs on the album I don't really like it. Gary really should've picked another singer for this one is my opinion. The layered vocals in the chorus also feel very messy. Demon Down is also sung by Doogie White and reminds a bit of his other song, I still have problems to describe it but... well, it's "cool rock"... guess that doesn't say it, you'll have to listen. An ok song. Another dissapointment (for me) on the album is the short instrumental song Deius. I really looked forward to and instrumental song, it fits very well in an album with 95968632923 songs based upon pop choruses... so when I found that the song was one and a half minuted and was only march drums and darker male "opera" vocals singing on latin I was dissapointed. Maybe not bad but totally unescessary. Then comes Without You, sung by Sean Harris, not a favourite but he is okay. It reminds me a bit of the song "Make Believe" by Angra, he sounds maybe a little bit like Andre Matos... but when the chorus comes, just forget it. It's no more Angra. Not really bad but one of the worst songs on the album. Very slow. And the last song, the epilouge entitled Once and a Future King is just the stereotype of the last song on an epic album. It's very good written but reminds to much of Phantom of the Opera. And it's kinda boring, this kind of last songs use to be that. It fits in and feels nescessary but - boring.

It's a bit sad that he made this an epic album (it's about the tale of King Arthur). The booklet features storylines wich are very well written but the songs are mostly not epic at all wich gives a very strange and duality feeling to me... Again - the songs are well written, not always lyrically (at least NOT for an epic album - pop lyrics) but musically definately, almost all songs are very catchy and the arrangements and guitar solos are nice. The production is also totally acceptable. But it's far from my favourite epic album and if I should recommend an epic album based upon the tale of King Arthur I would certainly recommend Imaginations from the Other Side by Blind Guardian (not very prog) instead. But I bought this album for 29 SEK (something like 3$ 50 cent) so it was not a bad buy. I'd say get it, but don't pay to much for it ;) I also prefer this one a bit more than the first one - this one is more even.

And the rating - I'd give it a straight 7 out of 10 wich I actually would like to round upwards - because this is better than Part 1 and I would like to give that one 3. It's a good addition to any music collection if you want tons of choruses to get stuck on your head - but as I said, not very prog at all.

/Jesper

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 Once And Future King - Part I by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.53 | 13 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part I
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I'm really asking myself what such "schnulzy" wannabe "Metal" records are doing on a site like this. Rock or Metal opera is fine, it can be okay, when it's done with high quality. But not like this. It's even for an AOR album a quite mediocre one. The phrase "Oh baby I'm still loving you" can be heard often enough, one has just to switch on the radio. Sorry, I respect the effort of the musicians, that's why I give even 2 stars, although I don't think it's worth. This is just absolutely not the type of metal opera I need. The same applies BTW as well for part 2 !

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 Once And Future King - Part II by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 14 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part II
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by Clayreon
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Part 2 opens strongly with "Kill The King", pure guitar power with some bombastic keyboards as support. The dark deep voice of Dc Cooper (Symphorce) as accompanying vocals is great. "There By The Grace Of The Gods (Go I)" and "I Still Love You (I Still Do)", both with Gary Hughes, the first is a rock song, the other a semi rock ballad. Lana Lane puts her best foot foremost for "Oceans Of Tears" which is again a track with a high sing-along feeling. Morgana, played by Irena Jansen brings us back with both feet on the ground. A very good rock song. With Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge) as Nimue, we get another highlight entitled "Believe Enough To Fight". The voices at the end of the song are brilliant. "The hard way" and "Demon down" are both sung by Dougie White (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen) as Mordred. Nicely old fashioned Rainbow... and yet...? "The Pagan Dream" with Sabine Edelsbacher sounds more like Rhapsody, which is not really my cup of tea. The instrumental "Deius" (though there are a lot of male voices) is what I really like, that is, if you can bare a male choir. Sean Harris (Diamond Head) as Galahad sings "Without You" as if he never did anything else in his life. Excellent song that grows on you each time you hear it. "Once And Future King" by Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) has everything an epilogue of a concept album should have. A gripping voice, a solid building up and a memorable ending.

Before you know it, the 101 minutes have passed by. For fans of the genre this is a real must. If you like Ayreon and Star One than you can buy this one blindly.

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 Once And Future King - Part I by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.53 | 13 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part I
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by Clayreon
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I don't know how many times the legend and myths of King Arthur or someone from his entourage were used as subject for a concept album, but I sure can't count it on one hand. This rock opera is, as you could guess, also based on this story. The whole story has been divided on 2 CD's. The first part will be available on August 25th and part two on October 6th. I already received both promos, so I can give you an overview.

"Once and future king" is a rock opera that completely answers all the expectations you get when you hear the word 'rock opera", including the cast. The big names of the participants make sure that this CD will not pass unseen to the public. But the quality of this album is very high, so you have more than one reason to buy this CD's.

I've always been a passionate fan of concept albums with the necessary theatrical bombast, heroic epics and nice ballads with a guitar solo as climax. And this album has it all. All melodies and choruses are pleasant to hear and can be sung along after a few times. A short overview: "Excalibur" opens part one as a movie soundtrack with some keyboards from rock opera specialist Arjen Lucassen, better known as Ayreon or Star One. It changes into a rock track sung by Damian Wilson. "Dragon Island Cathedral" is a rock song by Gary Hughes as Arthur. Very beautiful keyboards. The first semi-rock ballad "At The End Of The Day" is one of the highlights of the CD. Both vocalists Gary Hughes (as Arthur) and Lana Lane (as Guinevere) take this song to unknown heights. A very strong track with ditto guitar solo and community singing. Danny Vaughan (Tyketto) is Lancelot on "The Reason Why" and "Avalon", which both have a catchy melody line. Irene Jansen (Karma) as Morgana makes it clear that a woman can stick up for herself on "Shapeshifter". "King For A Day" is carried by medieval keyboards and the grotesque "In Flames" with Bob Catley (Magnum) as Merlin are both tracks that stay in your head. There's a wonderful organ sound on "Sinner" with Sean Harris (Diamond Head) as Galahad. Part One closes with 'Lies", a track with a lot of driving power and Gary Hughes as Arthur.

see part 2

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 Once And Future King - Part I by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.53 | 13 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part I
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by semismart
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I Love This Album!!! Once and Future King, Pt. 1 - Gary Hughes

Yes, I love this album. I've had it about three weeks now and I listen to it at least once a day. Even my teenage daughter sorta likes it. Shes says it's not as weird as the other music I have and sometimes force her to listen to in the car. The music actually varies from song to song with most of the songs falling in the melodic progressive rock category.

Once and Future King is a Rock Opera, loosely based upon T.H.White's classic King Arthur novel of the same name. This rock opera is the creation of Gary Hughes, the lead vocalist of the British AOR group TEN. O.F.K.,however, is strictly Hughes' baby, consisting of two separate and separately sold CDs, Part 1 and Part 2. I have Part 2 as well and it is also good but I prefer Part 1.

After composing this masterpiece, Hughes, who has been a guest vocalist on at least one Arjen Anthony Lucassen's* own rock opera's, borrowed a page from the master and enlisted Arjen and several other very talented guest musicians for his own rock opera.

*For those not familiar with Lucassen, he is the creator and genius behind numerous concept albums including Ambeon, Ayreon and Star One. Additionally, he has been a valued guest musician on numerous projects in addition to this album, having worked with Lana Lane, Erik Norlander, Rocket Scientists, Within Temptation and Glass Hammer.

Characters

Gary Hughes.............King Arthur Lana Lane...............Queen Guinevere Danny Vaughn............Lancelot Bob Catley..............Merlin Irene Jansen............Morgana Sean Harris.............Sir Galahad Damien Wilson, sings "Excalibur" (The Prologue)

Highlights:

"Excalibur", "Upon a pagan land in darkness came, A black and heartless spawn of seed, A cruel and wretched plague, For the mists of time a king lay slain ",

Basically an intro, starting out with a piano and bell solo with background thunder and choir reminiscent of a sound track, leading into a very accessible medium fast paced, melodic prog rock number with very catchy chorus. Excellent singing by Damien Wilson.

"Shapeshifter", "The perfect spell you could not resist, I cast it well, beguiled and bewitched, The evening fell and knocked like before, But this time Hell had come to your door,"

This is a great, great song in a mainstream rock vein, reminiscent of Garbage a bluesy number with just excellent vampy, singing by Irene Jansen and great backing vocals by the cast. Who is this chick? Well, I checked and she is the sister of Floor Jansen (After Forever). No wonder she's so good, Floor's arguably the best singer in the Galaxy.

"King for a Day" "True Gods, they sleep, Locked in their mountain of dreams, They wait for the call, for the hunger, Thry must be freed,"

This is slow rock song, almost a ballad, almost a waltz, a truly wonderful composition, beautifully sung by Bob Catley of Magnum. My respect for Gary Hughes is growing and growing.

"In Flames" "The time has come, There's no other way now, This Crime is done, It tore what remained of our reason, "

Another marvelous song, a medium paced, somewhat anthemic, ordered, marching style, rock number, with Bob Catley again lending his superlative style on the vocals. Great percussion and guitar.

Conclusion

Conclusion, there's only one conclusion. The music is wonderful and easy to listen to, the musicians are top notch and the singers are emotional and captivating so, buy, buy, buy, buy. And this one's not that hard to find for a change, so buy, buy, buy, buy!!!

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 Once And Future King - Part II by HUGHES, GARY album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.00 | 14 ratings

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Once And Future King - Part II
Gary Hughes Progressive Metal

Review by ProgLucky
Forum & Site Admin Group The Founder of Progarchives.com

5 stars The first word that comes to mind when thinking about these albums is... AWESOME! "Once and Future King" is a great blend of AOR and neoclassical/symphonic/power metal. Part I and II together form a fascinating tale told through an epic musical journey.

Part I - A truly excellent melodic rock epic! Part II - An excellent follow-up to Part I "Believe enough to fight" contains very strong performances by both Bob CATLEY as Merlin and EDENBRIDGE siren Sabine EDELSBACHER as Nimue in a wonderful duet.

Gary HUGHES certainly deserves credit for tackling a very ambitious project and putting his heart and soul into each of its 22 songs. My respect for making me enjoy 107 minutes of music.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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