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Dice - The Four Riders of the Apocalypse CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.50 | 78 ratings

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5 stars Dice was founded in 1972 by Örjan Strandberg and Leif Larsson, after the two had previously played in other bands. Strandberg and Larsson saw themselves not only as musicians, but also and above all as composers, and so their first jam sessions were more like writing sessions. Among other things, the suite "Follies", which can be found on the previous album, was created during this early period. Strandberg and Larsson soon developed a shared vision of creating an instrumental, symphonic rock piece, a kind of concerto in three or four movements. But they were missing a topic. Then they happened to see Albrecht Dürer's famous copperplate engraving "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and knew immediately: That would be their concept.

The Bible mentions the four horsemen of the apocalypse in the Book of Revelation. They are seen as heralds of the approaching apocalypse, the Last Judgment. John is shown a book with seven seals that only the Lamb of God is worthy to open. He watches the Lamb begin to open the seals. When the first four seals are opened, a rider appears at the call of "Come!" And haunts humanity with his scourges. The four symbolic riders stand for death, greed, disease and war. A great concept for a prog album! In 1973, Strandberg and Larsson composed the entire suite over a period of six to eight months. The result was the forty-minute piece that can be heard on this album.

Then Per Andersson, drummer and percussionist, joined the duo and Dice started working as a trio. At that time they mostly played shorter songs, like the ones on the previous album. In 1975 bassist Fredrik Vildö joined the band and Dice was finally able to tour as a real band. At these concerts the band presented, among other things, "The four riders of the apocalypse". At the end of 1977 Dice then played a one-hour special on national radio with the piece. However, they found the recording broadcast at the time to be too flat, so that was not published, but a different version that had been recorded in the band's rehearsal room in January 1977 in Frescati near Stockholm.

The sound is rough and unpolished, the stereo distribution is unclear, and the drums are very treble-heavy. But should I rate Dice's equipment or the band's music? The budget or the compositions? I mean the latter. One often reads that the compositions are not stringent, but rather randomly string idea to idea in the manner of a hidden object. With this judgment one underestimates the compositional art of Örjan Strandberg and Leif Larsson in the most culpable way. It's true, if you don't listen carefully here, but hang up the album while ironing or driving a car, you will soon be overwhelmed by the richly arranged flood of music. But if you listen carefully and don't just listen in passing, you can not only recognize numerous imaginative details, but also discover how they belong together. Motifs, for example, that consist of ascending or descending tone sequences and recur, transposed, modified, reversed, or simply placed in new contexts, and wonderfully illustrate the four basic themes of the work: death, greed, disease and war. Death and war in particular are wonderful examples of how to do something like that. The sophistication of this music should not be underestimated.

The instrumentation is quite classic with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums, so it's no wonder that classic prog bands like ELP are named as Dice's role models in the 70s. The references to later times are stronger: bands like Änglagard, Shamblemaths or All Traps On Earth owe more to Dice than they do to the great classic prog bands.

Yep, I actually mean to say that with "The four riders of the apocalypse" we have an incredibly creative and original work ahead of us, and I even go so far as to say that this is an unjustifiably forgotten masterpiece of the Progressive Rock is something that is definitely worth rediscovering.

Grandiose, great, ingenious, pure masterpiece.

prog_traveller!! | 5/5 |


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