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Pendragon - Believe CD (album) cover





3.60 | 471 ratings

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4 stars Being familiar to the work of Pendragon since 1987, it took me quite an amount of spare time to get into this one, believe me. Sure this sounds different than previous albums but in the essential parts still sounds as vintage Pendragon. The production is top notch and arrangements include ethnic and pastoral elements, mostly from samples. Some of the interludes seem similar to those on the latest efforts of other neo- progressive bands like Pallas & Galahad. The opening track is like an introduction to those elements but it doesn't add anything significant or do I miss the point ? Fortunately other parts are good so I don't mind.

Quite surprisingly, "Not for the innocent" is a rock track. Catchy riffs, a sober but strong melody line sung in a remarkable good way. Barreths voice seem to have gained some depth. The structure of the composition is standard rock formula. The sound of the guitars is very modern. I don't think I've ever heard the band playing this kind of mainstream rock but I sure like it.

The lyrical idea for "The wisdom of Solomon" is surely interesting. Too much attention for political correctness leads to the mad world we now all live in. Like on all the tracks there's some excellent guitar fireworks going on. This does remind me on the fact that Barreth is one of the most gifted guitar players around. His playing is always a delight to listen to. The acoustic part includes flamenco elements. On this track the melodies are decent but not too memorable I'm afraid.

"The wishing well" is the magnum opus of "Believe". Divided in 4 parts that can be listened at separately as well. On the first part Barreth is the narrator or a preacher with some good advice. Strange enough, Barreth's voice reminds me of Steve Hogarth here. The vocals sound very convincing and the pastoral atmosphere is really impressive. Next part starts of with those typical subtile acoustic guitar/keyboard lines we all know from Genesis. This track has a sing along chorus. The most excitable parts of "Wishing well" are the third and fourth parts which contains great melodies. A complex but exciting piece of music though the different atmospheres are constantly interrupting each other. Some extensions of atmospheres could have made it more accessible I guess.

Pete Gee's catchy bass line brings an extra dimension to "Learning curve". This is another unpredictable track with many different melodies and atmospheres.

"On the edge of the world" is my favourite track. A breathtaking song full of fabulous melodies that seem to come from the bottom of Barreths heart. It shows similarities to music from singer songwriters. When he ever releases such an effort. I'll be willing to lend an ear.

The guitar lines are excellent and get a more dominant role in the sound of Pendragon than ever before. This brings me to the remark that the keyboards have been drawn to the background which is a petty knowing what Clive Nolan is capable of. Every now and then I do miss the symphonic wall of sound that appeared more frequently on earlier albums.

Though the voice may sound better than it's used to be, still this is the weak element. People who loved their earlier albums won't find that a problem but newbies should be warned.

I always considered Pendragon as a band that provides us with enjoyable melodies, guitar fireworks and wide atmospheres. The excellent melodies are still here but it takes time for discovering them. But they like to play safe. I suppose this album was an attempt to break this rule but they didn't quite succeed. There are musical elements from nu-metal, middle eastern music and flamenco present but they could have been more nicely integrated into the songs. Once again the band delivered quite a enjoyable album which I like a lot more than their previous one but it isn't any groundbreaking. "Believe" sums up the evolution the band started from "The world" to "The Masquerade ouverture". The tracks were getting longer, the sound was getting broadened, the concepts more ambitious. now the tracks have become more complex, the sound is enriched by ethnic influences and the lyrics are dealing with important social issues of the modern society. One thing's for sure this band has grown a lot. 3,75 stars

Fishy | 4/5 |


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