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Änglagård - Hybris CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.38 | 1672 ratings

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Fight Club
Prog Reviewer
5 stars <Nearly Flawless

Hybris has been a really odd album for me ever since I was first introduced to it about a year ago (actually I think it was Thanksgiving day of last year!) Back then I was instantly turned off. It was too random, not melodic enough, too meandering, far too proggy for my current tastes. Those were a couple of the things I recall thinking at the time, a couple of my excuses for why I just couldn't handle it. Oh I couldn't have been more wrong. How I ever came to any of those conclusions (except yes, it is very proggy!), I'm really not quite sure. In the genre of progressive rock, Hybris is everything one could hope to find and so much more.

I gave Anglagard numerous chances, each of which ultimately led to failure. It wasn't until I decided to give it a spin in my car that it hit me for the masterpiece it was. It all began with the melancholic piano intro of "Jordok". There was just something about it that instantly hooked me, something beautiful and mysterious. Then the mellotron choir came in and I knew I had come across something fantastic, some measure of elation that so many seek and few rarely ever find. After a minute or so the song catapulted into a ridiculous 7/4 frenzy that just ruptures my insides to point of near eruption. It's one of those experiences that's just so exhilarating that I almost lose control and feel like I'm going to crash my car every time I hear it. It's that good.

At this point I realize, "my God, and this is still the beginning?" Only a few minutes through the first track and I already don't see how the band could go any further. But they do. The album moves from one section to another, seamlessly covering every inch of ground traveled by the classic prog acts of old. All out time and key changing prog destruction, beautiful flute work, soaring guitar solos, and a rhythm section that just leaves the listener breathless in the end. The final notes leave the listener begging to find out what the band next has in store for them.

After the sensational "Jordok", which may take its place as my favorite instrumental track of all time, we get another incredible piece of art, "Vandringar I Vilsenhet". The song starts off slowly, building it's way up ever so slowly. A sense of impending doom fills the air as the tension rises, like a time-bomb that could go off at any second. Suddenly everything breaks out into another breathtaking section that once again takes control of my appendages. It's always a miracle I make it home in one piece after a full listening of this album.

Musically, this track is again, Flawless. Besides the climactic levels reaching Olympic proportions, the level of instrumental interplay between each member is enough to make even the most prestigious musicians jealous. Did I mention how ridiculous the changing time signatures are? Only about 19 bars into the first track we get some 5/4, 11/8, 7/8, 6/8, and 7/4, all of which lie within a few measures of each other. As if things aren't complicated enough, each instrument continuously plays in its own independent rhythm. Pay close attention to each alone, barely between them are the same melodies and timings repeated, yet it all somehow works. Not only does it work, but it manages to sound beautiful, melodic, and intense. An awe-inspiring feat in my eyes if I've ever witnessed one.

After all that raving you must be wondering if there are actually any weak points on this disc. Well, for one thing I'll tell you this is not your average joe's cup of tea. Play it in the presence of your roommate or your work acquaintance and they'll probably think you're out of your mind (trust me I know). But hey, we're all pretty used to that aren't we? So no big deal. If you're only just touching upon the progressive genre (ie. Dream Theater) this might be a difficult listen at first, but if you've been a long time fan then you need to witness this ASAP.

Honestly, the album is a bit weird. Yes, weird. Compared to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or Koenjihyakkei they're the most normal band on the planet, but like I said, for someone just getting into prog they might seem pretty obscure. The intense sections are a little difficult to follow for an untrained ear. Persistence is the key though, as I learned myself. Fail once, listen again. Fail twice, don't give it up, it'll come to you I promise. I can hardly come up with the words to describe how rewarding it is in the end. Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone seeking anything different. For a progger, it's essential.

5 stars without hesitation.

Fight Club | 5/5 |


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