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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Prog Rocks! (Magazine sampler) CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

4.00 | 4 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine continues to surprise readers with glossy articles and innovative segments becoming the number one commercially selling prog magazine on the market. With issue 20 comes the most incredible CD sampler. Usually the sampler have artists that are either releasing new albums or contains samples from latest CD releases in order to give the listener a taste of what to expect and therefore may lead to them purchasing new albums, having heard and enjoyed a song from the sampler.

In this case however we have a sampler of classic prog over the years including the likes of quintessential prog from Van der Graaf Generator, Jethro Tull, Marillion, and Eloy to name a few. The sampler works well as an introduction to these artists and hopefully will lead the listener to dipping into more of the artist's albums. It begins well enough with Jethro Tull's new stereo mix version of 'Locomotive Breath' from Aqualung 40th Anniversary. VDGG are represented by the serene 'Refugees' gem from "TLWCDIWTEO" or "Wave" as its affectionately known among the prog community.

'Galadriel' is a top choice from melodic Barclay James Harvest's "Once Again", and this is followed by essential classic 'Castle in the Air' by Eloy. This track alone is worth picking up this disc for as it is an incredible piece of music with killer riffs, lengthy jamming and awesome vocal work; Eloy are at the peak of their powers on this and it actually lead to me picking up the album "Floating" that had somehow eluded me.

'Lounging There Trying' is an old fave from Hatfield and the North's classic "The Rotter's Club". 'Cell 151" is a synth soaked, guitar driven goodies from Steve Hackett's "Highly Strung" that I had not heard. I enjoyed it but it was a bit too 80s for me. More synth follows with Marilion's 'Punch and Judy' from "Fugazi" that I had not heard for a long time. Returning to it on this CD was nice but I prefer the more modern Marillion these days, though there is no mistaking that vocal aggression from Fish.

The sampler becomes more in to the modern era and seems to be chronological as it moves to The Flower Kings, Riverside, Ayreon and Transatlantic next. Each somg is excellent though I had them all on the respective artist's albums. It was weird to hear the songs out of context, expecially Riverside, whose 'Conceiving You' is so powerful on the "Second Life Syndrome" album but just a quiet ballad here. It is sandwiched between 'Monkey Business' from Flower Kings "Unfold the Future", a more commercial sound from the band, but very well executed, especially Stolte's keyboard wizardry.

The track from Ayreon's 2008 release "1011001" is 'Comatose' and I certainly viewed this as a highlight of that excellent release. The quiet mesmirising keyboards and atmospherics immediately engross, with the beautiful vocals Floor Jansen and Jorn Lande with memorable lyrics.

To hear the opening of Transatlantic's "The Whirlwind" is a breath of fresh air though once again it is better heard in context with the rest of that epic, hopefully listeners to this sampler will get hold of it as it is a masterful release. The opening track of The Whirlwind features minimalist feminine sections of symphonic beauty which are augmented by the masculine rock sections balancing out the quieter moments. Morse is in full voice. The majestic keyboard of Stolte is incredible, and Trewavas' bassline is augmented by Portnoy's percussion. It is a strong sound and one that should be experienced in full on the sensational blockbuster album.

The Tangent have featured on samplers before and here the track 'The Company Car' from "Down and Out In Paris and London" is featured. It is a good sound with loud guitars and soaring keyboards. The synth solo is phenomenal and I locked into the melodies. All in all a terrific sampler from an album I will no doubt get hold of after hearing this song and enjoying it.

?And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead is a band that really disappointed me with their debut, I had no interest whatsoever so it was with trepidation that I listened to the track 'Pure Radio Cosplay' from their latest "Tao of the Dead". It begins with nice droning synth and a building rock rhythm. The guitars are Hawkwind like, grinding and chugging and then the vocals forcefully sing along a grungey riff. The guitars are loud and aggressive but I liked the whole atmosphere and the way the song drives along with guitars ringing out feedback, and the vocals blaring, and an awesome spacey ending. I really liked it and wanted to hear more, so there you go.

Beardfish's album "Mammoth" is one of the best releases of 2011 and it was a sheer delight to revisit them with 'Tightrope'. This track from the masterpiece is rather subdued after the chaos of the previous track on the album. The pace is moderate with melodic guitars. The vocals are passionate; "I walk the tightrope, and tell you I love you, Even if you don't, Even if you don't, I'll say the words that I long to hear, I hold you so dear." The melody is delicate and it is rather short compared to the rest of Beardfish's album tracks but no less powerful. There is an atmospheric section of echoes and guitar blasts and the pace changes tempo, and a flute lends an ambience to the sound towards the end.

The sampler ends with Karmakanic's 'Turn It Up' from "In A Perfect World". I liked the melody, the vocals are crystalline and the keyboards are brilliantly played. It is a more commercial sound but no less innovative, with a plethora of instrumentation and memorable lyrics. Overall this is one of the best sampler from the magazine and deserves to be heard by all proggers.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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