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    Posted: September 07 2020 at 13:58
I got the idea for this from Psychedelic Paul's blog "Prog Brittania - Album Reviews", it is intended as a celebration of prog in recent years. I'm making this because in those recent years - the 2010s, that is - there has been what look likes a new wave of prog. There does not seem to be a new distinguished genre from this (yet), though there are certainly a lot of new prog bands that are adopting a different sound and approach to prog, but note the use of the term "wave" - I mean there has been a recent rise in the number of new bands forming - and old ones too. 

First, let me note the main sub-genres that have been buzzing about recently: 


Neo Prog - I am glad to say that one of my favourite prog sub-genre is having a second heyday at the moment! Newer bands like Sanguine Hum have made some great stuff, fairly recently. Old bands have reformed, too - IQ and Pendragon are the main ones to look out for here. 

Crossover/Eclectic Prog - a lot of new bands have been put in these categories recently. Thank You Scientist, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Steven Wilson are, I'd say, most famous here. 

Prog Metal - prog metal, of course, remains ever-present - I've just been listening to Beyond the Exosphere by Pyramid Theorem, and it's really great - I'll be a prog metalhead yet, Cristi!  Wink

RIO/Avant and Zeuhl - The weird sub genres of prog, which have become even weirder in this day and age. Try out Lost Crowns and Zwoyld, two of my favourites of modern avant. 


^They are, as I say the main ones - I'm aware I've probably missed everyone's favourite! Please tell me if you want to add a sub-genre to the list, if you think it is like those above more abundant than most sub genres. 

As for the supposed new sub-genre... it hasn't really showed itself yet. There might never be a new sub-genre of prog, who knows what the future may hold.

And so, to finish, my review of Love over Fear by Pendragon, in the neo-prog category (which ironically is an ancient band, this album is new though). I’ve already posted it on the Neo Appreciation thread, but I’d like it to be the first review here. Smile


#1 - Love over Fear (by Pendragon) Review - Five Stars:

I've just bought this album yesterday, and it surprised me - in a good way. Before hearing I thought Pendragon had had their day since the album "the Masquerade Overture". Luckily, I was wrong. But I'll get one with the review. 


The album gets off to an excellent start with fanfare style organs from Clive Nolan on the first track "Everything", before the guitar comes in and bursts into song. This is, in my opinion, one of the best and most important songs on the album as many of it's motifs are repeated in other songs on the album. Anyway, it's a great song and brilliant intro. 


"Everything" then flows into "Starfish and the Moon", a quiet, simple song featuring only piano and a soft guitar solo in the middle - and Nick Barrett's excellent vocals, of course. The quiet is undisturbed as the next song, the 8-minute opus "Truth and Lies", comes in with more of that soft guitar - do not be deceived, however, as it soon flows into an harrowing guitar solo - in my opinion, the best on the album. As the harsh, storminess of "Truth and Lies" fades away, a mandolin comes in, signifying the begin of "360 Degrees". After the first verse, the drums enter with bombast pronouncing a happy violin melody. The entire song is inspired by the sea, which would make sense as Nick Barrett is curently living in Cornwall. In fact, the entire album seems sea-orientated - even the cover. 


As "360 Degrees" fades away, in comes "Soul and the Sea" - probably the most musically varied track. It begins, like "Truth and Lies", with a soft guitar. Soon the violin comes in and then the drums, followed by somewhat whispered vocals; until all of a sudden it breaks down into a short piano motif. Then, thunderous guitar and drums enter, the vocals now loud and clear, until it fades out with an acoustic guitar. 


After "Soul and the Sea" ends, "Eternal Light" begins with a soft but soon loud guitar. After the first lyrics, a motif from "Everything" comes in - and after that, more lyrics, an instrumental section, then yet more lyrics, then the end. I've barely described it there - it is as varied and complex as "Soul and the Sea" - but "Soul and the Sea" gets the most complex prize, as it is much shorter. 


Then - "Water" - another long song at seven minutes long. It begin only with a soft, sad guitar, but continues to build up and up as the song goes on, with a great, harsh guitar solo not dissimilar to "Truth and Lies". The album continues with "Whirlwind", a fairly short piano song, that fades into the longest track - "Who Really Are We" - that begins with a thunderous guitar riff, which descends into an acoustic passage with drums, but then breaks down - and builds up again with that thunderous guitar riff with added solo. The final lyrics come in, and then... 


"Afraid of Everything", the final track. It enters with a fairly soft guitar, builds up, then swirls out with a beautiful synth solo. A brilliant outro to a brilliant album. 


So, to sum up... I didn't want to have my first album review to be five stars for some reason, but here I am forced to. It has both the two requirements I consider for a five star album: 


1. The songs are all great. In the words of Special Collaborator chopper, "not a duff track in sight". 


2. It works brilliantly as an album. It flows well from song to song, and many songs share motifs. 


So... five stars. 

[End of review]


I’d love to hear you’re reviews! Big smile



Edited by FatherChristmas - October 26 2020 at 06:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 08 2020 at 13:00
I'll be posting my review of Beyond the Exposure by Pyramid Theorem tommorow when I finish it. Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 09 2020 at 12:54
#2 - Beyond the Exospere (by Pyramid Theorem) Review - Four Stars:
Despite always being a big fan of what some call "heavy prog" (Rush, Porcupine Tree etc.) I've never really paid much attention to progressive metal. Now I've listened to this album, I now realise what a massive mistake that was. This album has really got me into the genre, and I've enjoyed it so much I'm going to try and listen their previous albums as soon as I find time. Anyway, here's my review of this one.

"Beyond the Exosphere", a 17-minute epic, opens the album with a bombastic guitar riff, which soon develops into an equally epic guitar solo. The first section, "Ascension", acts a bit like "Prelude" in the Rush (with whom they share nationality) epic "Cygnus X-1", many riffs from it are repeated later in the song - or, I should say, many similar riffs are played later in the song, I'm not sure whether the exact riffs are played again - with a short section include vocals.

And talking of vocals, I was impressed by the singing. From all I've heard about metal, I expected the lead vocalist to be screaming his head off, but no, his voice is perfectly in tune, clear, and generally ideal for the music. Also, the band are all great musicians - not that I wouldn't expect that, but they play some stuff, particularly on "Beyond the Exposure", that sounds very difficult - and they play it with expertise.

Back onto the subject of the opening track, once "Ascension" ends, the next part, called "Planetary Transit" comes in; which begins with - I have to admit it - one of the best drum solos I have ever heard (though I shall say no more here to ruin it for those who have not heard it). The other parts - "Regenesis" and "Quantum Leap" - are just as good; I particularly like the outro (some of the keyboard parts, I believe, are similar to "The Cinema Show" by Genesis).

So, to conclude my small essay on this marvellous song, I shall waste no further time endlessly describing it paragraph by paragraph, when I can do so in three simple adjectives: amazing, entertaining, and imaginative. Amazing goes without saying. Entertaining - I have not once been bored while listening to this song, and despite (as I mentioned earlier) repeating some riffs from the first section similar to "Cygnus X-1" by Rush, it is somehow not repetitive like "Cygnus X-1" is - and, to be honest, I'd actually rather listen to "Beyond the Exposure" than "Cygnus", as it is much less boring and more fun (yep, I said it). Finally, I have stated perhaps the most important word, imaginative, because it is hugely musically varied. It seems Pyramid Theorem have not been afraid to experiment, like the very first prog bands, with new technology - look at that drum solo - and with a huge variety of riffs and motifs throughout the song, that clearly indicate they as a band have a wide imagination, represented all at once in one brilliant, epic... epic.

After the brilliance of "Beyond the Exosphere", an acoustic (well, sort of) guitar and synths swirl in, which evolves into a heavy muted guitar riff, accompanied by the rest of the band - announcing the beginning of the next song, "Under Control". It features a lot of shifty time signatures, which give it a sense of speed and urgency, and thus feels a bit like a fast, short break after the lengthy "Beyond the Exposure". An ok song, but I think it lacks a certain distinguishment between each part of the musical composition - it feels a little repetitive, but not on a large scale.

Next, we're onto "Freedom". This sounds more like a classic metal song (if it weren't for the odd time signatures, conceptual lyrics and quite a few other things it would be perfect), due to the heavy riffs and drums, bellowed vocals, very loud volume - not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, after "Beyond the Exosphere", it's my favourite song on the album, featuring a great guitar solo (always a winner with me) and has some excellent lyrics - "Obey, or be swept away" ...epic.

Then we get to "Closer to the End", which, literally, is closer to the end. It begins with vocals though a voice distortioner accompanied by some mysterious-sounding acoustic chords on the guitar. This develops into an electric, thunderous guitar riff, and the rest of the band join in. The lyrics go on for a bit before it all breaks down at about two minutes fifty seconds in; however, it soon gets up again with a really good instrumental section featuring an organ solo that gives Rick Wakeman a run for his money and yet another astonishing guitar solo. After a while it returns to the mysterious-sounding acoustic chords and distorted vocals and basically repeats the cycle - except without another instrumental section. A really topping track.

Finally... "Intonate", the last song. It opens with distorted drumming - in fact, a lot of the music in this song is distorted. Even the time signatures are a bit distorted, if you know what I mean. You couldn't wish for a more uptempo, bombastic, musically varied finale - there's so much music in the song I can barely describe it. I suggest you just listen to it and see what I mean.

And to conclude! As you will know if you have read my other reviews, I have two requirements for a five star album:

1. The songs must all be excellent.

2. It must work brilliantly as an album.

I'll head of number two quickly. This album flows from track to track excellently. You might say this is not an important consideration, but actually, if the tracks on an album don't go well together, or they're ordered wrongly, it can seriously affect how people view it.

As for number one, the songs are generally great. "Under Control" perhaps could have been better, and if you wanted to be really perfectionist "Intonate" should have been a bit longer - there are so many parts I thought it was about three minutes long, I was shocked to see it round to about seven. Other than that, though, it's perfect - and, as I mentioned at the beginning, it's what's got me into prog metal. It might not be as brilliant for others, but for me it's as classic as an album like Moving Pictures.

So, the final verdict is... four stars.

[End of Review]



Edited by FatherChristmas - September 13 2020 at 07:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 09 2020 at 13:13
Thanks to Christian Di Mambro, for asking me to give the album (Beyond the Exosphere) a listen. 

Edited by FatherChristmas - September 09 2020 at 13:13
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Hrychu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 10 2020 at 13:14
Kaipa da Capo - Dårskapens Monotoni
This is an unfinished review from 2017. Keep that in mind.
----
The only Kaipa record without Lundin, that black sheep of the collections to me, actually turnred out to be one of their very best efforts, losing only to the eponymous debut album from 1975.

The decision to record Dårskapens Monotoni (Monotony of Insanity) in Swedish was one heck of a bold move. In consequence, the group of listeners who understand what's being sung declined considerably. On the other hand, thanks to the fact that this is the vocalists' native tongue there shouldn't be any instance where for example the momentum of a song drops due to dodgy pronunciation (the syndrome of some of the Flower Kings songs). Also, for non Swedish speakers or people who only know the very basics of that language (like me) it adds a dose of mysticism and that's great. In addition to that, there's a strong folk element going, to which the Swedish lyrics serve as company. It just wouldn't sound as folky (or even kind of magical sometimes) if it all were sung in English. Moving on, the songwriting is very musical here, very simple yet effective and reminiscent of the 70s sound. Not as keyboard-heavy as on Kaipa (1975) but still retains the crunchy counterpoints and fluid trademark Roine lick work. It also bears traces of the pre-Reingold era Flower Kings tracks with the reduced use of darker riffs. On the contrary, the bass pedal work does bring up the sound of the newer Roine arrangements (Agents of Mercy, Anderson/Stolt) a little. The rhythm section (the same as on the debut Kaipa album) consisting of Eriksson and Bergman (you know, the other Ingmar Bergman wink wink) brings in really solid work and glues the arrangement exceptionally well. The drum solo towards the end of the epic Tonerna (The Sounds) is spectacular. As for the other members: Roine - absolutely top notch. Great guitaring. Also, we have here Max Lorentz of Mårran on the Hammond organ. His playing's good but where it really shines is in the intro to Tonerna. Because the album was recorded almost fully "live in the studio", an extra guitarist was needed. The person chosen for the job was Roine's brother Michael. He also did some vocals. I have mixed feelings about his voice... sometimes it shines (Spår av vår Tid [Traces of Our Time]) but sometimes like on the second verse of Tonerna, I think I would rather Max had sung it. As I said, the compositions have a folky atmosphere, however there's this one track I don't like - Vi Lever Här (We Live Here). It goes nowhere and seems to be a filler. Overall, Dårskapens Monotoni is a great album and I highly recommend it, especially to the fans of Roine Stolt and classic Kaipa.
“To fly with the canyon on a cliff, see the river crash and roar, see how it flows...”
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 10 2020 at 15:19
Originally posted by Hrychu Hrychu wrote:

Kaipa da Capo - Dårskapens Monotoni
This is an unfinished review from 2017. Keep that in mind.
----
The only Kaipa record without Lundin, that black sheep of the collections to me, actually turnred out to be one of their very best efforts, losing only to the eponymous debut album from 1975.

The decision to record Dårskapens Monotoni (Monotony of Insanity) in Swedish was one heck of a bold move. In consequence, the group of listeners who understand what's being sung declined considerably. On the other hand, thanks to the fact that this is the vocalists' native tongue there shouldn't be any instance where for example the momentum of a song drops due to dodgy pronunciation (the syndrome of some of the Flower Kings songs). Also, for non Swedish speakers or people who only know the very basics of that language (like me) it adds a dose of mysticism and that's great. In addition to that, there's a strong folk element going, to which the Swedish lyrics serve as company. It just wouldn't sound as folky (or even kind of magical sometimes) if it all were sung in English. Moving on, the songwriting is very musical here, very simple yet effective and reminiscent of the 70s sound. Not as keyboard-heavy as on Kaipa (1975) but still retains the crunchy counterpoints and fluid trademark Roine lick work. It also bears traces of the pre-Reingold era Flower Kings tracks with the reduced use of darker riffs. On the contrary, the bass pedal work does bring up the sound of the newer Roine arrangements (Agents of Mercy, Anderson/Stolt) a little. The rhythm section (the same as on the debut Kaipa album) consisting of Eriksson and Bergman (you know, the other Ingmar Bergman wink wink) brings in really solid work and glues the arrangement exceptionally well. The drum solo towards the end of the epic Tonerna (The Sounds) is spectacular. As for the other members: Roine - absolutely top notch. Great guitaring. Also, we have here Max Lorentz of Mårran on the Hammond organ. His playing's good but where it really shines is in the intro to Tonerna. Because the album was recorded almost fully "live in the studio", an extra guitarist was needed. The person chosen for the job was Roine's brother Michael. He also did some vocals. I have mixed feelings about his voice... sometimes it shines (Spår av vår Tid [Traces of Our Time]) but sometimes like on the second verse of Tonerna, I think I would rather Max had sung it. As I said, the compositions have a folky atmosphere, however there's this one track I don't like - Vi Lever Här (We Live Here). It goes nowhere and seems to be a filler. Overall, Dårskapens Monotoni is a great album and I highly recommend it, especially to the fans of Roine Stolt and classic Kaipa.

Thanks, Hrychu. Unfinished may it be, you seem to be very thorough. You've also made it sound like it's a pretty good album. I'll go and have a listen and find out.
I'd like to note 2020 has already turned out to be a really good year - and it's not even over yet. The two albums I've bought from this year in this past week are now two of my favourite albums -and yes, I did say just this week. We may, as I have predicted, be on the verge of a new wave of prog - but let's not get our hopes up!
Anyone got any great albums to recommend from this year?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 12 2020 at 10:34
^Well, I myself recommend the albums I've reviewed here already.
To move back into the earlier stages of the new prog wave, I'll be reviewing Thank You Scientist's Terraformer (2019), an album by an American Crossover Prog band that has crossed over so much prog, they (and some others) are developing a highly unique sound - signs of a new sub-genre, eh what?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 13 2020 at 08:38

#3 - Terraformer (Thank You Scientist) Review - Five Stars: 

I was thinking about doing a long and thorough review on this album. That was the first sign I hadn’t listened to this recently. Well, I just have, and I’ve realised that if I do what I call a “thorough” review, I'll be here writing it until next Sunday. 


This is because Thank You Scientist, being Thank You Scientist, expanded on their older work and made one of the most eclectic and musically varied albums ever. An album so eclectic and musically varied it would take ages to describe and judge properly. An album, nevertheless, that has helped shape new/modern prog. But I’ll get on. 


It contains jazz fusion with “Wrinkle” and “Shatner’s Lament”, it expands on funk with “Son of a Serpent”, it adds a bit of metal with “Swarm” and “Terraformer”, and classic prog with “Everyday Ghosts” (I say “classic prog”... not really classic, just prog – and odd, experimental prog at that). Thank You Scientist are more imaginative than ever on this album – there's nothing like it. 


Or is there? Well, they’re certainly not the only band that’s “imaginative”. Another band whose music I was reviewing recently, Pyramid Theorem, has a similar use of fusing prog, new experimental methods and, in their case, metal. This, of course, does not mean they are similar bands and part of some new sub-genre – in fact, they’re nothing like each other, Pyramid Theorem is progressive metal and Thank You Scientist is jazz-experimental-fuelled crossover prog – but this does not alter the fact that when a band of prog metalheads is using similar methods as a band of prog “what on earth is this?”s... something like a new wave of prog is coming, is what I’m driving at. 


Anyway, back to this album – nothing like has been seen before this day and age, even though other bands in this day and age are coming close. And, on that note, before I start waffling on and on forever, I reach my conclusion. 


It’s got normal prog, jazz and funk influences, a hint of metal, a general experimental approach – surely anything you’d ever want in a prog album. Therefore, five stars. Expanding on that, I give my two requirements for a five star album: 


  1. 1. The songs must all be excellent. 

  1. 2. It must work brilliantly as an album. 


Every song is good – or failing that, excellent. “FXMLDR”, in my opinion the best track, meets, I think, the requirements for a classic – an amazing song, I will say no more. As for the second requirement... The tracks couldn’t have been arranged better, but after a while it does give you a bit of a headache. That, however, does not prevent it from being a masterpiece, and since PA says a masterpiece must be five stars, I'll let them off there.


So... five stars. I expect to hear even better on their next attempt, though! Maybe six stars!


Next time, I think I’ll review something easier – Wish You Were Here, maybe. Or Permanent Waves. 

[End of Review]



Edited by FatherChristmas - September 27 2020 at 05:16
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Next: The Raven Who Refused To Sing, SW. Going even further back - that was 2013. Then I'll do some 2020 albums. Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2020 at 11:24
I changed my mind on SW...

#4 - Bubble-Burst-Pop (Peachy the Band) Review – Three Stars 

This is the instrumental debut EP from a fairly promising new band called Peachy the Band – in fact, they’re so new they’re not even on Prog Archives' database yet. Since this is an EP, this means another short review from me, the last album I reviewed I had to make short or I’d have been writing for weeks on end.


The EP begins with the bombastic “Bubble-Gum”, opening with a heavy guitar riff that develops into several others – including a refrain with some very nice organ synths. It, like other modern/new prog, is very imaginative, though use of modern technology is less abundant here. 


One thing I particularly like about “Bubble-Gum” is that it immediately proves that Peach the Band are not one of those prog metal/heavy prog bands that is effectively a Rush clone. Not that being inspired by Rush is a bad thing – some of the best prog metal band of recent years take influence from them. It just gets a little annoying when people say, “Here’s a brilliant new band with a unique new sound!”, you listen to it, and you wonder “what is this, a Rush tribute band?”. But Peachy the Band’s sound, though I would not say is totally unique (a lot of other prog metal I’ve heard sounds quite similar), nor not entirely uninspired by Rush (I’d say all heavy prog is) but they’re not afraid to “elevate from the norm”, as Rush themselves would say, and not try to sound exactly like the great band. 


After “Bubble-Gum”, “Cloud-Burst” comes in, a song maintaining much more of a sense of urgency, featuring a very good guitar solo (always a winner with me). This, similarly to “Bubble-Gum”, has a refrain – but there are still no vocals, which sounds slightly odd to me – it would have worked a lot better with a singer. 

Then we have “Popin-Jay”, which to be fair, sounds a bit more like Rush, but it also has a much more experimental, much more Thank You Scientist-style modern prog sound – it even features a sax. Still very much heavy prog, though. My personal favourite. 


So, to conclude, my conclusion – something you might expect when concluding.


My two requirements for a five star album:  


1. The songs must all be excellent.  

2. It must work brilliantly as an album.  


Well, I’ll knock one star for the combined effect that the songs (well, tracks) aren’t excellent (though they are very good) and the fact I do not believe it is right to rate the minimal amount on an EP a masterpiece. 

If I was nice, I’d leave it like that. But I am not nice (…). Sorry, but this band would be TEN TIMES BETTER if they had a singer! The tracks seem almost designed for lyrics. I’ll stop ranting here and now, but this band could be amazing even if they only had a half-decent vocalist. 


So this EP is only three stars. However, it’s still quality music, so if you like heavy prog/prog metal, keep them in mind. 

[End of Review]



Edited by FatherChristmas - September 27 2020 at 05:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote chopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2020 at 13:20
Originally posted by FatherChristmas FatherChristmas wrote:

^Well, I myself recommend the albums I've reviewed here already.
To move back into the earlier stages of the new prog wave, I'll be reviewing Thank You Scientist's Terraformer (2019), an album by an American Crossover Prog band that has crossed over so much prog, they (and some others) are developing a highly unique sound - signs of a new sub-genre, eh what?


This is a great album.

btw - why not just post links to your reviews rather than copying in the whole text?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2020 at 14:28
Originally posted by chopper chopper wrote:

Originally posted by FatherChristmas FatherChristmas wrote:

^Well, I myself recommend the albums I've reviewed here already.
To move back into the earlier stages of the new prog wave, I'll be reviewing Thank You Scientist's Terraformer (2019), an album by an American Crossover Prog band that has crossed over so much prog, they (and some others) are developing a highly unique sound - signs of a new sub-genre, eh what?


This is a great album.

btw - why not just post links to your reviews rather than copying in the whole text?

Good point. I suppose Psycho Paul doesn't do that with his reviews, and I based this on his blog.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote DamoXt7942 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 15 2020 at 17:04
Quote #2 - Beyond the Exospere (by Pyramid Theorem) Review - Four Stars:
Despite always being a big fan of what some call "heavy prog" (Rush, Porcupine Tree etc.) I've never really paid much attention to progressive metal. Now I've listened to this album, I now realise what a massive mistake that was. This album has really got me into the genre, and I've enjoyed it so much I'm going to try and listen their previous albums as soon as I find time.
Likewise. Cool
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 16 2020 at 10:11
^Thumbs Up
Complete hypocrite that I am, I'm not going to do SW's The Raven Who Refused To Sing - I've decided that more modern neo prog needs attention. I'll be doing Taskeha - a lesser known neo band from Norway.


Edited by FatherChristmas - September 22 2020 at 12:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 17 2020 at 12:23
#5 – Taskaha (Taskaha) Review – Four Stars 

Taskaha are a fairly new band from Norway, who have recently released their self-titled debut album. As it happens, according to Google translate, Taskaha means nothing in Norweigan, although does mean “treasures” in Somali. But I’ll get on. 


“Mind Date” begins the album with a heavy guitar riff, which goes on for a while before it breaks down (partially, there are still drums) and the first lyrics ensue. I’ll say no more, except that it is complex, professional (the guitar is especially advanced – note the guitar solo specifically), and imaginative – a great quality that seems to be so abundant with new bands/artists today. Being different and imaginative in music is what made bands like Genesis famous. 


Next up, “Nature Girl”. Opening with a soft electric guitar riff and fairly quiet vocals, when I first heard this song it had a strange sense of foreboding at the beginning of it – and I was right, it continues with a heavy riff worthy of prog metal. Dark and emotional, this song has the usual qualities of neo prog – but it has elements of the band’s own style too, a very good sign, since if a band has not got it’s own sound it won’t go very far.  


After “Nature Girl” ends with a bang, “Reframe!” begins with a bang – with one of the best riffs on the album. Don’t quite know what it is, but this magnificent song really brings me back to the 80s – it's a masterpiece, I’m serious. If this was the 80s, this would have been a hit, I’m sure – not in the way of “Sussudio”, more in the way of “Lavender Blue”, it’s not a pop song, it’s just great. No other way of describing it. 


“Daylight’s Fading” is another very powerful song. It, like all long neo songs I’ve ever heard, is emotionally varied, soft sometimes and hard at points, dramatic, and feels like you’ve heard all the music in the world at the end. It is the magnum opus of the album – not necessarily the greatest song on the album (“Reframe!” takes that honour), but it the most complex musical achievement – and a great song besides – and a guitar solo to match “Mind Date”, the other opus of the album. 


The final song, “Invisible”, makes a change – opening with acoustic rather than electric guitar (though, mind you, so does “Daylight’s Fading”). It is as complex and multi-layered as the other songs on the album – if not more so. In fact, it’s a bit too complex – I can barely describe it, though it has yet another excellent guitar solo – that eventually becoming a riff, that ends the song and the album. All else I can say is... it’s a good ender, but lacks the urgency and emotions of the rest of the album. 


My conclusion: I was very tempted to give the album five stars, but resisted. My requirements for a five star album: 


  1. 1. The songs must all be excellent.  

  1. 2. It must work brilliantly as an album. 


Number one is perfect – though “Invisible” is perhaps not quite as good as the others. Number two – a little like Terraformer by Thank You Scientist, the music is so complex and imaginative that it gets a bit much. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just is an imperfection (since some will not appreciate over-complicated music – even in the world of prog) – and knocks off a star therefore. 


However, this is a very promising album in general – and Taskaha, I must say, are very promising band in general. I’ve heard material by classic prog bands that is not up to their standards. They are also very talented musicians – the guitar is superb, it really is – and even better, the guitarist has his own style of playing, just like some of the best players (Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Green, etc.) and the singing is also to be noted – it must be difficult enough singing well, let alone in not your first language. Like I said, very promising, I expect even better on their next album, and I've really enjoyed listening to this one.


And as I sometimes like to say at the end of a review: The final verdict is... four stars! 

[End of Review]



Edited by FatherChristmas - September 27 2020 at 05:13
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 21 2020 at 11:13
Originally posted by FatherChristmas FatherChristmas wrote:

#3 - Terraformer (Thank You Scientist) Review - Four Stars: 

I was thinking about doing a long and thorough review on this album. That was the first sign I hadn’t listened to this recently. Well, I just have, and I’ve realised that if I do what I call a “thorough” review, I'll be here writing it until next Sunday. 


This is because Thank You Scientist, being Thank You Scientist, expanded on their older work and made one of the most eclectic and musically varied albums ever. An album so eclectic and musically varied it would take ages to describe and judge properly. An album, nevertheless, that has helped shape new/modern prog. But I’ll get on. 


It contains jazz fusion with “Wrinkle” and “Shatner’s Lament”, it expands on funk with “Son of a Serpent”, it adds a bit of metal with “Swarm” and “Terraformer”, and classic prog with “Everyday Ghosts” (I say “classic prog”... not really classic, just prog – and odd, experimental prog at that). Thank You Scientist are more imaginative than ever on this album – there's nothing like it. 


Or is there? Well, they’re certainly not the only band that’s “imaginative”. Another band whose music I was reviewing recently, Pyramid Theorem, has a similar use of fusing prog, new experimental methods and, in their case, metal. This, of course, does not mean they are similar bands and part of some new sub-genre – in fact, they’re nothing like each other, Pyramid Theorem is progressive metal and Thank You Scientist is jazz-experimental-fuelled crossover prog – but this does not alter the fact that when a band of prog metalheads is using similar methods as a band of prog “what on earth is this?”s... something like a new wave of prog is coming, is what I’m driving at. 


Anyway, back to this album – nothing like has been seen before this day and age, even though other bands in this day and age are coming close. And, on that note, before I start waffling on and on forever, I reach my conclusion. 


It’s got normal prog, jazz and funk influences, a hint of metal, a general experimental approach – surely anything you’d ever want in a prog album. And yet, I’m only giving four stars. To help explain this, I give my two requirements for a five star album: 


  1. 1. The songs must all be excellent. 

  1. 2. It must work brilliantly as an album. 


Every song is good – or failing that, excellent. “FXMLDR”, in my opinion the best track, meets, I think, the requirements for a classic – an amazing song, I will say no more. It’s just the second requirement. The tracks couldn’t have been arranged better, but after a while it gives you a bit of a headache. It’s just a bit much, that’s all – I still hold that all the songs are good, nevertheless.


So... four stars. I expect to hear even better on their next attempt, though! 


Next time, I think I’ll review something easier – Wish You Were Here, maybe. Or Permanent Waves. 

[End of Review]

I have decided this review is unfair. I mean, I go about telling everyone this is masterpiece then only give it 4 stars.
Edited addition: 

#3 - Terraformer (Thank You Scientist) Review - Five Stars: 

I was thinking about doing a long and thorough review on this album. That was the first sign I hadn’t listened to this recently. Well, I just have, and I’ve realised that if I do what I call a “thorough” review, I'll be here writing it until next Sunday. 


This is because Thank You Scientist, being Thank You Scientist, expanded on their older work and made one of the most eclectic and musically varied albums ever. An album so eclectic and musically varied it would take ages to describe and judge properly. An album, nevertheless, that has helped shape new/modern prog. But I’ll get on. 


It contains jazz fusion with “Wrinkle” and “Shatner’s Lament”, it expands on funk with “Son of a Serpent”, it adds a bit of metal with “Swarm” and “Terraformer”, and classic prog with “Everyday Ghosts” (I say “classic prog”... not really classic, just prog – and odd, experimental prog at that). Thank You Scientist are more imaginative than ever on this album – there's nothing like it. 


Or is there? Well, they’re certainly not the only band that’s “imaginative”. Another band whose music I was reviewing recently, Pyramid Theorem, has a similar use of fusing prog, new experimental methods and, in their case, metal. This, of course, does not mean they are similar bands and part of some new sub-genre – in fact, they’re nothing like each other, Pyramid Theorem is progressive metal and Thank You Scientist is jazz-experimental-fuelled crossover prog – but this does not alter the fact that when a band of prog metalheads is using similar methods as a band of prog “what on earth is this?”s... something like a new wave of prog is coming, is what I’m driving at. 


Anyway, back to this album – nothing like has been seen before this day and age, even though other bands in this day and age are coming close. And, on that note, before I start waffling on and on forever, I reach my conclusion. 


It’s got normal prog, jazz and funk influences, a hint of metal, a general experimental approach – surely anything you’d ever want in a prog album. Therefore, five stars. Expanding on that, I give my two requirements for a five star album: 


  1. 1. The songs must all be excellent. 

  1. 2. It must work brilliantly as an album. 


Every song is good – or failing that, excellent. “FXMLDR”, in my opinion the best track, meets, I think, the requirements for a classic – an amazing song, I will say no more. As for the second requirement... The tracks couldn’t have been arranged better, but after a while it does give you a bit of a headache. That, however, does not prevent it from being a masterpiece, and since PA says a masterpiece must be five stars, I'll let them off there.


So... five stars. I expect to hear even better on their next attempt, though! Maybe six stars!


Next time, I think I’ll review something easier – Wish You Were Here, maybe. Or Permanent Waves. 

[End of Review]



Edited by FatherChristmas - September 27 2020 at 05:12
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 22 2020 at 12:53
Upcoming: Seven Seas, by the Barock Project, a neo band that aim to combine neo with classic baroque music.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 24 2020 at 11:10
Originally posted by FatherChristmas FatherChristmas wrote:

Upcoming: Seven Seas, by the Barock Project, a neo band that aim to combine neo with classic baroque music.
Sorry, but I am afraid from now on I will only be abe able to write reviews at the weekend now, taking into consideration that I am now back to work. This is rather annoying, but I'll have the review ready by Saturday, along with my review for Virus by Haken. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 26 2020 at 14:17
#6 - Seven Seas (by Barock Project) Review - Four Stars
The new album of the Italian project to combine PFM and Puccini has not failed to impress me – after all, classical music and prog rock are two genres Italy has excelled in. Despite being around for about thirteen years, they have not lost their touch, and have made a record worthy of both Tosca and Per un Amico (by the way, PFM and Puccini are not their only influences; I like my little joke ;]). 

Seven Seas funnily enough opens with the song “Seven Seas”, beginning with only a muted guitar, piano and vocals. It’s interesting to see how this song effortlessly develops from very little into a dark, thunderous guitar riff, with the rest of the band joining subtly without you really noticing. That’s my take on it, others might disagree, but however it is a song that is enjoyable, emotional, displays excellent musicianship, and all in five minutes – very short for both a prog band and for that amount of good material in it. A good and suitable opener for a great album.
 
“I Call Your Name” is very much the pop song of the album, but do not be daunted, prog fans! It opens with a capella, somewhat suspiciously characteristic of prog (“Looking for Someone”“I’ve Seen All Good People”“Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” to name a few) and classical music (making a point here?). This evolves into a lively guitar-led tune, with the drums, bass and keyboards following. It’s energetic, fun, and has odd time signatures and a middle section to make it up to the proggers.
 
Next, the soft “Ashes”, beginning with a lovely piano ostinato, and fairly soft vocals. This carries on for about two minutes until the whole band comes together and plays a very colourful melody, compromising guitar, drums and bass with very classical piano and strings arrangements. However, that’s not it, it then breaks down into a very jazzy piano ostinato, joined by the thunderous as ever guitar, soon evolving into a hard rock riff with vocals – but breaks down again into a (sort of) reprise of the first part. It’s another highly musically varied track, something that occurs very often in the prog of today.
 
The first opus of the album, “Cold Fog” opens with elegant strings and the omnipresent piano, and from there, I won’t ruin it for you. I’d also be here writing for a while. It contains further fantastic musicianship, great tunes and a very nice acoustic section with a guitar solo (as I may have mentioned in another review of mine, always a winner with me.).
 
After the foggy mistiness of “Cold Fog”, “A Mirror Trick” ensues – beginning with an acoustic guitar melody that sounds very much like a certain simple piano piece I know of called “Allegretto Grazioso” by Cornelius Gurlitt. It is a short, quiet song, led by the lovely classical guitar.
 
“Hamburg”, the longest song, starts off with more acoustic guitar, led by what sounds like an oboe. The drums come in, with a brilliant guitar solo, reminiscent somewhat of Pendragon’s Nick Barrett’s playing (in my opinion). It breaks down for the first vocals, but soon picks itself up again for a very heavy section lasting until about, I’d say, seven minutes through. Then a very nice piano-dominated section that lasts until the end. 
This is probably my favourite songs on the album. It makes a perfect combination of classic neo, the guitar and synths to perfection, and the beautiful baroque piano – and a balance between complexity and just good tunes. 

“Brain Damage”, the next song, is not a cover of the Pink Floyd song, but a very original emotional, sentimental ballad of a kind only Barock Project can write – well, until about the middle, that is. A lovely classical guitar begins the nine minute opus, which at about four minutes through becomes electric and the rest of the band joins in with a bang. The heavy guitar is soon accompanied by a spacey synth solo which becomes wilder and wilder until you can’t believe that it started out a bit like a neo version of a Simon and Garfunkel song. 

Then, “Chemnitz Girl”, also beginning a bit like a neo version of a Simon and Garfunkel song, but unlike “Brain Damage”, stays that way. Not that that is a bad thing, though, in fact quite the contrary – it works wonderfully. “Chemnitz Girl” is followed up by the heavy “I Should Have Learned To”, that provides a cheerful break from the somewhat melancholic earlier tracks. 

“Moving On” follows, heavier still, that is reminiscent of the heavy prog of Porcupine Tree (in my opinion, at least), with an imaginative middle section. What is interesting is that there are virtually no classical elements in “Moving On” - the entire album, even, seems more rock orientated than perhaps their earlier work. That is my opinion, others may disagree. 

The final track, “The Ones”, I will not try and ruin with crude words, and say only it is one of my favourite Barock Project songs and an excellent outro. 

So, since I have not said a word against any song I have described here, why have I so cruelly rated it four stars? To help, my personal requirements for a five star album: 

1. The songs must all be excellent.  
2. It must work brilliantly as an album. 

Even then... both of them are satisfied. The thing is, brilliant though this album may be, would I put it above, say, Misplaced Childhood by Marillion? The fact is, no. So, for the fact it simply is not as classic to that level... four stars. 
[End of Review]


Edited by FatherChristmas - September 27 2020 at 05:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FatherChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 29 2020 at 11:36
Next: Virus by Haken.
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