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Änglagård - Hybris CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.35 | 1861 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Swedish group Anglagard stunned everyone in 1992 with their debut album Hybris, which marked the resurgence of prog and the success of Scandinavian prog. Much of the best symphonic prog has since come from Scandinavia. I have never listened carefully to the Scandinavian prog, and only recently have I tried to evaluate it, in particular this record which is in the top 30 in the Progarchives chart, the only one from the 90s to have such an advanced position.

Side A

1. Jordrök (Smoke of the Earth) (11:10) After a classical and very beautiful beginning with the piano, the music becomes hard-rock and syncopated, very sustained, with the rhythm section in the foreground (Mattias Olsson on drums and Johan Högberg on bass). The band is produced in changes of tempo and atmosphere, slavishly tracing the initial theme of the piano. Around 3 and a half minutes it is the turn of the acoustic guitar and then the flute which, together, paint an almost folk and pastoral atmosphere. Until now, great use in the production phase to arrange the same melodic theme in the most diverse ways. At about 5 minutes we can hear Thomas Johnson's church organ which then deepens into a Bach- style "aria" but, after a few seconds, the initial frenzied rhythm restarts. There are too many stop and go, too much display of technicalities, it is not so much the virtuosities that tire because the sound is of the whole group, but there is an exasperation of rhythm changes and arrangements, such exasperation that in the end the nucleous of the melody is missing. Already we can clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of this group: among the strengths the ability to arrange and the sound, among the defects the prolixity and the exasperated and redundant exhibitionism. This long and contort instrumental piece has a melody that the Anglagards doesnt develop in his potential beauty. At about 8 minutes and 15 seconds the music stops, yet another twist arrives, for a few moments there is a slow symphonic piece, but it is a bluff: immediately after the frenzied rhythm starts again: these changes of rhythm and atmosphere that last few seconds are pure cerebral masturbation. This piece makes me angry for how the Anglagards want to exceed in everything, they want to amaze (as true exhibitionists) without giving us time to get excited. Wasted talent. Rating 6.5 / 7.

2. Vandringar I Vilsenhet (Wanderers in confusion) (11:53) Anna Holmgren's flute gives a lot of serenity to the second song that goes on for two minutes, until a prog progression begins which then stops, then starts again, then the vocals of Tord Lindman arrive, and continues with a syncopated math rock a la EL&P but characterized by the rhythm section, which produced a flamenco arrangement for a few moments; but it isnt long enough to enjoy, it is difficult to understand where the composition wants to go. The vocals return and finally something like a verse is heard, then the syncopated rhythm returns, then again the folk piece with the flute. Everything happens with an American film montage: superfast. Towards 10 minutes the music stops, but I already know that a supersonic rhythm will soon start again and in fact it happens after a march rhythm. Like in the first song, after a brilliant start, the track got lost behind the endless changes in rhythm and arrangements. Rating 6.5.

Side B 3. Ifrån Klarhet Till Klarhet (From clarity to clarity) (8:04) It starts with a folk accordion from street music that soon gives way to the electric guitar. The music immediately becomes very sustained. After less than two minutes we can hear the vocals by Tord Lindman: glamorous, elegant way of singing, with an acoustic guitar in the background, but then the music returns to being thunderous. Song shorter than the others, which does not find its center. Rating 6.5.

4. Kung Bore (Winter King) (12:57) A dazzling start in the name of a symphonic power-pop a la Yes (with a contribution from EL&P and Gentle Giant). The stop-and-go as always exceeds, and the music is heard only when the atmosphere relaxes, the arrangements become sober and the flute comes out. The vocals this time are very expressive and represent the best of the whole album (together with the piano of the first song) because then the usual forced stop and go guided by the guitar return, and that pieces are bad, until the return of the vocals, sung with a completely different tone, I would say expressionistic: another beautiful moment, but then Anglagard return to the bombastic sound to end up with the flute. Rating 7+.

This Swedish prog record, epigonal of EL&P, Yes and Gentle Giant (and perhaps also Genesis) represents everything that should not be done in prog: continuous changes of rhythm and forced arrangement, aimed at showing off originality, unpredictability, technical ability, with the result of preventing the musical theme from settling, leaving its mark, hitting on an emotional level. It seems to witness a fireworks competition of a music acrobat. The best moments are those where the arrangements are leaner and there are the vocals, unfortunately they are few. In most cases, this group has wasted its melodies, its musical ideas by exaggerating in the arrangements, exasperating the composition with endless stops and go and changes of rhythm. Art is not exhibition, art is judged on the basis of "BEAUTY": Anglagard have a beautiful sound, indisputably, and the ability to produce interesting arrangements, but they have not been able, in this record, to put their talents at the service of the beauty, they preferred to put them at the service of exhibitionism, they want to hear: "Wow, how good you are, original, full of ideas and technically skilled". They should try to focus only on the music and the emotions they want to convey to get much better results. They got the talent to reach this goal.

Rating 7. Two and a half stars.

jamesbaldwin | 2/5 |


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