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X-Panda - Reflections CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.53 | 16 ratings

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3 stars A very nice album!

It is wonderful to discover new bands from around the globe, this time I had the luck to be introduced to Estonian band X-Panda, whose second full-length album was released last year (2016). Their style is heavy prog with a metal tendency but without being metal per se ?at least in my opinion-, they also have some alt rock roots that may the listen a bit more pleasant. The album is divided in nine tracks that make a total time of almost one hour.

Reflections kicks off with "The Game", cool opener that has even a 80s feeling on it, heavy metal roots can be appreciated here, but with some elements that of course make it progressive rock. The chorus is catchy so you could learn it fast and sing it. In the final instrumental parts, I think it is evident Dream Theater has been an influence. Then they continue with a 12-minute track, the longest of the album. "Denial" is a powerful song with orchestral keyboards that create both classical and fantastic atmospheres. The introductory minutes are very epic, much more interesting than the whole first track (personal opinion, of course), creating a kind of film-score process that will bring several changes, different episodes and emotions. After two and a half minutes there is a moment of calm and melancholy, vocals enter and little by little a new structure is created. Bright moments with acoustic guitar and a delicate sound that has nothing to do with that heavy prog I previously mentioned. At half the song it becomes more emotional, new elements are being added, taking us into an adventurous lands. Then that metal-like sprit appears and again, new changes and emotions are appreciated, including a wonderful guitar solo. Excellent track!

"Hit and Run" starts with a heavy sound, it has a kind of industrial feeling as background, while vocals produce vibrant nuances. Drums and strings put that metal touch to the sound. I like both the instrumental and the moments with vocals. "Slaves of Lies" has again that sound of epic battles that even could take us to mid-eastern lands. I like these keyboards a lot and would prefer they keep the initiative for much more moments, but well, songs change so does this one. "Rise Up to Fly" is the shortest track here, but it is a nice catchy song that makes X-Panda a bit closer to alt-rock. I think this could work as a single track of this album.

"On the Way" shows a different face of the band. Here the sound is more in the side of jazz-rock, you can tell it by the piano and then the guitar. This is a instrumental but delicious track, a nice amalgam between the different tendencies of X-Panda's music. "Reflections" is an epic divided in two parts. The first one is "Inner Battle" and as you can imagine ?judging by its title- those epic-battle-keyboards are back, creating what you might recognize as symphonic metal. The music flows and grows, different images are being created, so you only have to let the music leads you to its journey. After two minutes it is like a new dawn, soft acoustic guitar and a tender sound for some minutes, and then it becomes heavier. The second part is "Silent Friend" which has a somber sound made by piano and some backing vocals, but later it becomes colorful, flute and bodhran appear, so it is now a folky atmosphere that brings a sense of hope.

The album finishes with "Esivanemate Pärand", by its name you can tell it is the only song not sung in English, I don't know that language, but I presume it is a local Estonian language. The sound is a bit disarming, vocals with piano at first making an interesting mixture of sadness and hope at the same time (my ignorance of the language doesn't help, of course, so that is my impression).

This is a nice album, I like it, yes, but it has been difficult to me to dig it, it is a double-edged knife because it has a lot surprises that might make it a bit uneven, but once you appreciate them and let them hit you, you might be enchanted.

Enjoy it!

memowakeman | 3/5 |


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