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The Samurai Of Prog - The Lady and The Lion and Other Grimm Tales I CD (album) cover

THE LADY AND THE LION AND OTHER GRIMM TALES I

The Samurai Of Prog

 

Crossover Prog

3.27 | 36 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Squonk19
3 stars THE SAMURAI OF PROG is a multinational symphonic prog rock project dating back to 2009, led by Finland-based, Italian composer and bassist Marco Bernard, with permanent members: Steve Unruh on vocals, violin, flute and guitars, and Kimmo P'rsti on drums and percussion ' along with a raft of guest musicians and vocalists ' many who have appeared on earlier releases. THE LADY AND THE LION, released in May, is volume one of a new series of based on the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

As someone fairly new to the project, I found much to enjoy with the ensemble work across the relatively short, 6- track, 42 minutes album duration. Bernard's bass and Porsti's drums drives through most tracks impressively, with Unruh's violin and flute and guitar lovely additions throughout.

Into the Woods is an atmospheric introduction to our journey into the world of magic with the whispered 'Once Upon a Time' vocal welcoming us into the concept and album series. The Three Snake Leaves is even better, with Unruh's vocals combining well with some powerful and dynamic instrumental prog, with retro keyboards mixing fluidly with soaring guitar runs, driving bass and violin and flute supporting this mini-epic. Iron John is an uplifting, cinematic instrumental, written by Kayak's Ton Scherpenzeel, with glorious sweeping keyboard and some moving violin to end with. Long-time collaborator, David Myers, delivers a beautiful and melodic solo piano piece, The Lady and the Lion later on, as well.

However, the two narrative-led tracks: A Queen's Wish and Blue Light, might be more of an acquired taste for many symphonic prog listeners. A Queen's Wish is a very literal rendition of the tale of Snow White ' and unfortunately the excellent instrumental work (which is impressive) is rather dominated by the theatrical vocals and spoken words throughout. Phideaux's Valerie Gracious has a powerful, expressive voice, but in this context, her Kate Bush- like, Evil Queen portrayal feels like it is akin to a commentary over a provincial theatre or children's television Christmas pantomime. Blue Light closes the album and fares a little better, but still suffers from that same melodramatic vocal style at times. However, if you are at ease with that story-telling approach from similar concept prog releases from other artists (as many are), you might have no reservations and enjoy the approach ' as musically, the album cannot be faulted.

The second volume is entitled THE WHITE WITCH and is due out in July. If they continue with the strong compositional work and can find a better balance between the impressive instrumental symphonic prog, and restrain the theatrical vocal performances, the Grimm Tales series of albums might be worth persisting with.

(From The Progressive Aspect - A Different Aspect)

Squonk19 | 3/5 |

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