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Flagship - Maiden Voyage CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.79 | 45 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars If you can imagine a blend of Kerry Livgren’s A.D. and Stryper, you pretty much get what Flagship’s music sounds like. And maybe a little bit of Queen’s theatrical panache, but closer to Paul Rodgers’ vocals than Freddie’s. Well, that pretty much sums things up - goodbye.

Okay, there’s a bit more than that, I suppose. But not much more really. Flagship are a duo consisting of Narnia bandmates Christian Rivel and Linus Kåse, but their music on this album wouldn’t have been possible without a considerable number of guest musicians including another Narnia alumnus Carl Johan Grimmark; Brighteye Brison vocalist Per Hallman and bassist Kristofer Eng; Modest Attraction drummer Mick Nordström; bassist turned violinist and part-time Santana tribute band member Björn Klingvall; Grand Stand guitarist Michael Rank Jensen; and Candlemass vocalist Thomas Vikström.

Never heard of any of these guys? Good, I thought it was just me.

How about this one then? Kerry Livgren of Kansas, A.D., and Proto Kaw fame not only lends the band a song, he also guest stars on guitar. The final track on the album “Grand Zero” from Livgren’s tremendously underappreciated 1980 solo debut ‘Seeds of Change’. This wouldn’t be my choice of songs to resurrect from that album, but it fits the band quite well. There are some things from the original that are missing here, namely the plethora of keyboards and the choral backing vocals. But otherwise this is a decent cover, and Livgren’s quarter-century of experience since the 1980 release have paid off with a tremendously improved guitar track, including an extended solo bridge leading up to and through the song’s ending. Definitely the highlight of an otherwise modest release.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet, this is Christian Rock through and through. So be warned if you aren’t into that sort of thing. The influence of Kansas is strong and obvious, as is that of other cross-bearing bands like Mastedon, Petra, and any number of other contemporary Christian-oriented rock bands. These guys all seem to be competent musicians, so if you aren’t put off by the constant glory-bound messages, it’s a decent record. “Throne” is a lengthy passage with lots of violin and very decent soaring guitar work, as opposed to the opening track “Heart Is the Center” which also features violin but sounds at times like the theme to “Fame”. It’s a mixed bag at best.

But it isn’t progressive by any stretch of the imagination, unless you count the mildly neo-prog drawn out guitar sustains, haphazard drumming, and layered melodic vocals. In other words, kind of a Bible version of Carptree, or maybe a less guitar-laden Explorers Club. You get the idea.

If these are your kinds of bands, you’ll probably enjoy this album. If you are a Kansas or at least a Kerry Livgren fan, you’ll definitely enjoy “Ground Zero”. The rest of the album gets two stars, maybe 2.5. “Ground Zero” gets four. So we’ll split the difference and say three stars overall, but just barely.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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