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NEO-PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Neo-Prog definition

Neo-Progressive rock (more commonly "Neo-Prog") is a subgenre of Progressive Rock that originally was used to describe artists strongly influenced by the classic symphonic prog bands that flourished during the 1970s. At the beginning of the neo-prog movement, the primary influence was early to mid-70's Genesis. Debate over when Neo-Prog actually came into being often takes place, with some asserting it began with Marillion's Script for a Jester's Tear in 1983. Others contend it began with Twelfth Night at the dawn of the 80s, while some even suggest the popular symphonic prog band Genesis gave rise to Neo-Prog with their 1976 album, A Trick of the Tail.

If one analyses the progressive movement just before 1980, then some albums which heavily influenced the Neo-Prog movement easily come to mind: Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings, Genesis - Wind & Wuthering, Genesis - And Then There Were Three, Genesis - Seconds Out, Saga - Saga, all the Camel albums between Breathless and The Single Factor included, and some Eloy's albums, especially Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes.

This new form of progressive rock originated in the UK, and is most strongly associated with bands such as Marillion, Pendragon and IQ; and while theatrical stage antics were a part of the live performances of many artists exploring this subset of the progressive rock genre it's the musical elements that are key to the genre; typified by the use of atmospheric guitar and synth soloing with symphonic leanings, with a tendency towards floating synth layers and dreamy soloing. An additional trait is the use of modern synths rather than vintage analogue synths and keyboards. The main reasons for Neo-Progressive artists to be separated from the ones exploring Symphonic Prog in the first place are the above, as well as a heavier emphasis on song-form and melody than some of their earlier symphonic counterparts.

As time went by other artists appeared that also deviated from the norms created by the classic wave of progressive rock artists in the 70's. The late 70's had given the world punk music; the 80's gave the world new wave; and the 90's grunge. These, as well as other forms, had a tremendous amount of influence outside of the progressive rock realm. The advent of the modern synth also inspired artists like Tomita, Vangelis and Kitaro to explore dreamier musical works.

These and other forms of more or less newly made musical genres influenced artists exploring progressive rock as well. Although many artists did so within the framework of 70's progressive rock, more and more artists developed a sound and style so heavily influenced by these more recent musical developments that categorizing them within the existing subgenres of progressive rock became increasingly difficult.

While the Neo-Progressive genre initially consisted of artists exploring a modernized version of Symphonic Prog, these days artists coined as Neo-Progressive cover a multitude of musical expressions, where the common denominator is the inclusion - within a progressive rock framework - of musical elements developed just prior to and after 1980. The Neo-Progressive genre in it's refined form thus covers a vast musical territory, to some extent covering all existing subsets of progressive rock and also searching out towards genres as different as new age on one side and punk and metal on the other.

Opening paragraphs written by Stonebeard, Cygnus X-2, Greenback

Revised, edited and refined April 2009 by windhawk, The Doctor and E-Dub



Current Neo-Prog Team members
as at 27/8/2014

Apostolis (psarros) ... Team leader
Matti
Tom (Roland113)

Neo-Prog Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Neo-Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.42 | 463 ratings
THE ROAD OF BONES
IQ
4.24 | 1482 ratings
MISPLACED CHILDHOOD
Marillion
4.22 | 1422 ratings
SCRIPT FOR A JESTER'S TEAR
Marillion
4.20 | 451 ratings
CONTAGION
Arena
4.13 | 904 ratings
CLUTCHING AT STRAWS
Marillion
4.13 | 644 ratings
FREQUENCY
IQ
4.11 | 782 ratings
MARBLES
Marillion
4.14 | 340 ratings
POSTHUMOUS SILENCE
Sylvan
4.13 | 367 ratings
A TOWER OF SILENCE
Anubis
4.12 | 358 ratings
FANFARE & FANTASY
Comedy Of Errors
4.09 | 326 ratings
EMPIRES NEVER LAST
Galahad
4.06 | 497 ratings
THE VISITOR
Arena
4.02 | 671 ratings
DARK MATTER
IQ
4.04 | 440 ratings
EVER
IQ
4.03 | 450 ratings
THE SEVENTH HOUSE
IQ
4.08 | 243 ratings
SEVEN
Magenta
4.38 | 66 ratings
AMBIGIOUS POINTS OF VIEW
Shamall
4.24 | 92 ratings
IS THIS HUMAN BEHAVIOUR?
Shamall
4.08 | 200 ratings
THE TALE OF THE GOLDEN KING
Psychedelic Ensemble, The
3.97 | 925 ratings
FUGAZI
Marillion

Neo-Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Neo-Prog experts team

THE SPARROW
Metaphor
TALES FROM THE DAM
Healing Road, The
TRAVELLER
Magus (The Winter Tree)
VOICES
T

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Latest Neo-Prog Music Reviews


 The First Signs Of Life by EVOLUTION album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.59 | 11 ratings

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The First Signs Of Life
Evolution Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars An unknown neo prog project appears in mid '90 named Evolution with one album released and then gone into oblivion., Conducted and formed by one of Elegant Simplicity member and later on on Parallel or 90 Deegrees - Ken Senior who is responsable for all is to be heared on this album + vocals aswell. The album issued in 1996 at Mellow records, named The first signs of live is a good example of pleasent neo prog, with no highligts but aswell with no lows. There are lots of instrumental sections, very much in Pendragon style or Like Wendy, but with nods to great '70 like Genesis or even Camel passages. The vocal parts are ok, nothing to talk about, decent. This is melodic neo prog that probably any fan of the genre will appreciate. For me a good but nothing close to great other albums I know from this zone. Still 3 stars maybe 3.5 in places.

 Brave by MARILLION album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.98 | 722 ratings

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Brave
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by Obsidian Pigeon

5 stars Brave is an album that I've come to love over time. My first experience with Marillion after Fish's departure, this album was certainly quite an experience when I first got it, but it took several listens and quite a bit of time to actually sink itself in.

A concept album, Brave has a brilliant cohesiveness to it; however, that's not to say that the songwriting is not diverse or interesting. While some may find the album to be somewhat boring and directionless, I've come to appreciate nearly every song on here, and some of them are simply breathtaking and beautiful. Highlights, to me, are the songs Runaway, Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury, the beautiful title track, and The Great Escape. The rest of the album holds its weight as well, though.

Brave is a beautiful album and a great addition to Marillion's discography.

 Misplaced Childhood by MARILLION album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.24 | 1482 ratings

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Misplaced Childhood
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by Obsidian Pigeon

5 stars I cannot remember what persuaded me to check out Marillion several years ago, but I remember listening to Script for a Jester's Tear and being pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the track and the rest of the album. I checked out more of their stuff, including this album, and found that I really enjoyed their musical style, which, by the way, I find quite unique. While I understand comparisons to Genesis, I find that only their debut had any notable detection of early Genesis, and even then, the music was still fairly original.

Regardless, Misplaced Childhood is probably my favorite album from the Fish-era, and potentially my favorite Marillion release. This album manages to flow flawlessly from track one to the end, and while some parts of it may seem samey or even resemble pop music, I find that the songwriting is top-notch, and the listening experience is very pleasurable. Every song manages to be some sort of highlight because of the album's flow, although special mentions must go to Blind Curve, Lavender, and Heart of Lothian.

All songs on here are certainly nice to listen to on their own, and the album is a very seamless listening experience as well. This album certainly deserves 5 stars from me.

 Contagion Max by ARENA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
3.92 | 10 ratings

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Contagion Max
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Arena - Contagion Max (2014) (fans release)

Contagion (2002) is an album I listened to while bringing newspaper as a fourteen year old kid, ten years ago. I've always had a weakspot for almost all songs on the album and I've never found a neo-prog album that was remotely as good as this one. It is just so mysterious and the combination of abstract and theatrical sounds never worked better. Futhermore, I find the vocals of Rob Sowden perfectly fitting on this album and I'd wish he'd still be around recording music with the band - albeit his performance on stage is not really 'for the poeple' to put it mildly.

This 2014 release is 2cd album with the tracks from the ep's reintegrated in the album, and as a result the overall concept of the album is enhanced and a storyline is said to appear. To be honest with you, I think all the additional tracks are of a lesser quality, with 'Vanishing Act' as an exception, and the overall album atmosphere is disrupted by the new songs that tend to have a more eighties prog sound. If I would have changed the original Contagion album, I would have rather withdrawn a few track like the perhaps misplaced electronic 'Riding the Tide'.

This is a release the band has made because it was asked to do so by the fans - who of course will find this album very rewarding. I myself will keep to the original, one of my favorites of alltime. Three stars for this release, though keep in mind that is because of my preference for the 2002 Contagion release.

 Look Out by PHOENIX AGAIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.02 | 18 ratings

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Look Out
Phoenix Again Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Here's some instrumental progressive rock fusion with jazz, space/psychedelic and symphonic influences. The songs display crafty arrangements, extended spacey keyboards parts, mellotron, hammond, cello, flute and accordion to complete the whole painting. Some psychedelics guitars solos emerge from nowhere in this music that offer many rhythm changes, a nice transition between electric and acoustic guitars. The band take you in to some grooves that can hypnotize you not unlike a band like Ozric Tentacles. Every instruments have his place including the bass and the keyboards, the latter are always present in the background with plenty of symphonic passages. The rhythm section is solid and complex. "Invisible shame" is the only song that contains vocals and the weakest track of the cd save by a nice ending with the keyboards. The vocals are not enjoyable and seems out of place. "Summer" is a dreamy mellower track with cello/piano arrangements that gets rocking with a jazz sequence. "Look Out" has that King Crimson influence and a old classic rock sound in the first part. "The endless battle" show some psychedelic guitar tones and some passages that take you back to the song "21st Century Schizoid Man".

Overall the music here is very good if you enjoy bands mentioned earlier including Camel and Focus. While this band is in the Neo-Prog genre, this is not what i have in mind when i listen to this album. Maybe in the way they have absorb all the influences of the progressive rock bands of the past to create their own music. If their first album didn't convince you, "look out" for this second who deserve 4.5 stars.

 Look Out by PHOENIX AGAIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.02 | 18 ratings

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Look Out
Phoenix Again Neo-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Let's start off by giving a round of applause for one of the most surprising Italian prog revelations of 2014! But first, we backtrack a little...2011 saw the debut from Italian band Phoenix Again that had been around since the start of the 80's, yet, like other bands from the vintage 70's era in a similar situation such as Il Cerchio D'Oro and Sezione Franante, they had never released a proper studio album until now. Back in 2007, the band were recording their debut when one of their own, guitar player and vocalist Claudio Lorandi passed away. The final product, `ThreeFour' was a fitting tribute to him, and his playing and brief vocals were the highlight of a very decent, dignified album. It was mostly full of lush Camel styled instrumental pieces, and the band were able to proudly hold their heads high from the results. Some listeners probably wondered if that was to be the sole release from the band, perhaps as if completing the album was a way to offer a final tribute and closure to their former friend. But, after a live album a year later, 2014 brings a very unexpected - and welcome - surprise in this follow-up release entitled `Look Out', and the album couldn't be more appropriately titled, as I don't think even fans of the band would have expected something this impressive!

`Look Out' sees Phoenix Again take all the promise and potential they showed on their pleasing debut and aim straight for the stars, and the result in one of the most varied, dynamic and powerful instrumental albums of the year. The band draw on all their musical ability, playing with such focus, determination and real purpose here. I wonder if it was the need to show that they can carry on without Claudio and still offer effective music, or perhaps they were setting the bar high for themselves to make it as worthy of his legacy as possible. Likely it was a combination of both these things, but the results are right there on disc for the whole world to enjoy. The debut was already a family affair, with the late Claudio's recordings supported by brothers Antonio (bass) and Sergio (guitars), and this time a further two relatives are added in the form of Marco (guitars) and Giorgio (percussion)! The four Lorandi fellas, with carry-over drummer Silvano Silva and keyboard player Andrea Piccinelli deliver sublime instrumental thrills.

There's not much to align Phoenix Again with the proper Italian/RPI styles that many other bands from that country play in, instead they take sounds from almost every genre imaginable to make a colourful, varied and constantly unpredictable album. Bands such as Rousseau, Camel and Sanhedrin still apply, as well as perhaps newer Italian bands such as Progenesi, but despite constant direction and tempo changes, everything works beautifully throughout with seamless transitions. Spacerock, classical drama, hard-rock, electro-pop and symphonic prog all feature and blend perfectly together.

Twelve minute opener `Adso da Melk' effortlessly glides through the warmest acoustic guitar prettiness, foot tapping jazzy licks, fiery electric guitar driven fusion and grand symphonic melodies back and forth, by way of loopy trilling syth soloing, bristling Hammond organ, murmuring bass, punchy drumming, weeping violin and regal Mellotron strains, all alternating between delicate restraint and excitement. An infectious and catchy repeated lead guitar melody and reflective accordion rings out offering lighter comfort over thick menacing bass and uneasy synths during `Oigres'. The band builds up a hypnotic repetition through gutsy bluesy guitar muscle with a sprinkling of electric piano and searing Mellotron veils on the title track, slowly twisting it into a delirious and noisy frantic space- rock trip almost resembling the Oresund Space Collective! Antonio's bass is absolutely relentless on this one, mixed nice and thick as well. Sedate `Summer' is full of lovely drifting Floydian/Alan Parsons Project synths with light orchestral moments. Just wait for the triumphant rocket-sized electric guitar solo as the piece kicks up in tempo in the middle, and the Mellotron crescendo leaves me no doubt this is one of the best instrumentals to appear on an Italian prog album in 2014, alongside Logos' 'N.A.S'. Bonus points for the playful jazzy final 30 seconds too!

`The Endless Battle' blasts the listener with a stomping Iron Maiden-like mule kick, all thrashing drumming and viper-like biting lead electric guitar runs and molten Hammond organ meltdown. The same manic energy here was present on the brilliant Carpe Nota debut album a couple of years back, so fans of that one will dig this as well. The band take a break on the only vocal piece here, `Invisible Shame' a more upbeat straight-ahead rocker, the late Claudio's raspy vocal giving it a slightly melancholic quality. I think this piece may have worked better placed right at the end of the album, as the sudden move to vocals and out again by the next track is a little jarring! But it's a fine tune anyway, so moving on to the dirty electro-pop guitar grooves of `Winter', which has the whole band on fire! Joyous electric guitar soloing, busy drumming, unravelling synth noodling and slinky bass worming its way around the backdrop in a serpent-like manner! After working up a sweat, the band close on a short romantic piece full of classical guitar, flute, violins and cello, and it's the closest the band come to a proper RPI sound, perhaps along the lines of the more whimsical and sweeping instrumental moments from P.F.M. A delightful and exquisite way to close the album.

`Look Out' is simply one of the finest instrumental works to emerge in 2014. The band have seriously stepped up on this follow-up release with power, finesse and so much variety, and they can truly go anywhere from here. The constant direction changes and extra heaviness is a welcome surprise this time around, who knew these pleasant gentleman had this energy inside them?! Damn they kick all sorts of rear-end throughout much of the disc! Once again, its further proof that Italy is producing many wonderful and exciting works throughout 2014, and I have no doubt Claudio Lorandi is looking down on his friends and couldn't be happier with the results they've all delivered here.

Four and a half stars.

 Arrive Alive  by PALLAS album cover Live, 1981
3.06 | 48 ratings

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Arrive Alive
Pallas Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Later in 1978 guitarist Dave Holt left Pallas and the auditions led to the employment of Niall Mathewson, coming from the disbanded Pryer.His arrival and influence led the band towards a more classic Symphonic Rock sound, which was not be deeply discovered by Craig Anderson, who also left in the year, leading to Euan Lowson, ex-frontman of the local act Balrog.A good bunch of original tracks and famous covers (like ''Supper's ready'') showed Pallas' fame increasing, it was the same time though that Mike Stobbie also quit.At the fall of 79' he was replaced by Ronnie Brown and then comes a set of live performances and tours around Scotland, one of them came at the Bungalow Bar in Paisley, a performance recorded for the upcoming cassette album ''Arrive alive'' in June 1981.

The title-track is the only cut recorded in studio and reminding of the band's Symphonic/Punk attitude, a rhythmic piece with aggressive vocals and edgy guitar leads with a few Synth Pop attributes, reminiscent of TWELFTH NIGHT.It appeared later under the title ''Eyes in the night'' on the band's classic debut ''The sentinel''.''Five to four'' was written during the time the band was a four-piece after the departure of Stobbie.The fresh side of Pallas comes in evidence here, a track with a symphonic atmosphere in the rough set of Neo Prog bands, featuring nice guitar solos and an omnipresent Mellotron along with extended instrumental parts and sudden tempo changes, going for a dramatic lyrical outro.Mellotron washes continue with ''Queen of the deep'', a certain live favorite of Pallas fans and a quite complex piece of music, again the mood is towards classic Symphonic Rock with quirky keyboard lines, led by some spacious, orchestral synthesizer, surrounded by an aggressive vocalist and the raw guitar sounds.Very GENESIS-influenced with evolving textures and some great melodies towards the end.''Flashpoint'' is a rather weak and non-sophisticated rocker, even this piece though contains some surprising background Mellotron strings under a powerful guitar performance by Niall Mathewson.The 15-min. ''The ripper'' was a strong reason this live was released, the most favorite of all Pallas tracks at the time and a very good piece of underground Progressive Rock.A YES-meets-PINK FLOYD-meets-GENESIS tour de force with full Mellotron and synth showering, theatrical vocals and very bombastic guitar passages, the reason to set apart Pallas along with TWELFH NIGHT from the other Neo Prog acts of the time, old-school Symphonic Rock meets an 80's Hard/Pop Rock sound.Elaborate instrumental parts combined with angry vocals in an awesome way.The original edition closes with ''Crown of thorns'', which comes a step closer to ''The sentinel'' sound, pretty rhythmic Neo Prog with keyboard interludes, orchestral parts and soft electric guitars along with a more balanced singing performance, fronted by the use of synthesizers and the tapping grooves, fantastic composition.

Of course ''Arrive alive'' was later released on vinyl and fairly won the battle of CD reissues.Extra tracks ''Paris is burning'', ''The hammer falls'' and ''Stranger on the edge of time'' all come from period singles of the band.Run to catch one of these issues, this is raw, extremely passionate and rich 80's Symphonic Rock in the best British tradition, a rare occasion of a Neo Prog band using the Mellotron and a file next to early GALAHAD and TWELFTH NIGHT.Highly recommended.

 On The Road by MINOR GIANT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.52 | 20 ratings

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On The Road
Minor Giant Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars Hear ye, hear ye! Another new talent has arrived in the form of Dutch newcomers Minor Giant, (not related to their British "Gentler" cousins, lol), a collective of inspired musicians that aspire for progressive rock that is accessible, grandiose, ear pleasing and superbly delivered (sublime playing and brilliant melodies), some will say that is prime neo-prog of the likes of IQ, Galahad and fellow countrymen Silhouette, among many others. Everything here shines quite brightly, long well-crafted arrangements that offer an entire banquet of sounds , from flighty synthesizers on a dense mellotron carpet, delicate piano and occasional raging organ, lasered by some slicing electric guitar. Two keyboardists supply the orchestrations, band co-founder Rindert Lammers and Jos Heijmans, while the guitars are handled by Jordi Repkes. Bass duties are expertly displayed by Harry Hartog, while Roy Post is both the other co-founder, as well as the drum meister. Knight Area's Gerben Klazenga supervises the sound and production, which gives this project its letters of noblesse. Everything is in place in order to achieve maximum enjoyment and yet?..

I am not at all famous for criticizing or nit-picking senselessly but I realize now that I have a problem with the vocals on this album, something I initially dismissed but that has since grown in stature and I am no longer able to pretend it's not there. Jordi Repkes may or may not possess a weak voice, which would only mean that they were poorly recorded but there is a lingering lack of lungs in his delivery, as if 'mouthing ' his singing. Not bad vocals by any stretch but absolutely no power, no modulation, no hysteria or grit. In all fairness, I slipped the CD in the car, boosted the volume to ear-splitting level and the outcome became even more obvious= great playing but I caught myself wincing often at the vocals.

The title track is a kick-ass 12 minute plus rambling opus, cleverly sculpted in two distinct phases, superb mellotron and vocals that sound like a weaker version of IQ's Peter Nichols, again a voice devoid of both power and presence! But this is a thrilling track musically, cleverly symphonic with strong winks at IQ. Quirky at times, shuffling along with impenetrable gusto and nicely loaded up with effects, the mood shifts to a harder edge that is most welcome, guitars and synthesizers ablaze. Little jazzy piano interlude amid the synth-swept canvas, the arrangement is well stretched out and carefully orchestrated. The main theme returns a second time with the hot mellotron whooshing ragingly. A truly promising beginning, verging on a classic prog epic!

The vaporous "Dream with Eyes Open" is another luxurious aural voyage, funneled by some desperate Repkes guitar stylings that will shock the uninitiated casual listener, doing 6 string pirouettes that defy gravity. Lots of keyboards on as well, synths and blasts of mellotron to add to the depth. This is arguably the most satisfying piece here, just a perfect prog epic, clocking in slightly past 10 minutes, again high marks for composing material that captures ones attention from the get-go. Vocoded vocals give the intro a gaseous appeal, a lovely melody to boot, with compact drums, contrite bass and a burly guitar disposition as the tune explodes into a rambunctious affair. Feathery synthesizers recall the legendary stylists (Manfred Mann) as Repkes does a little Jan Akkerman to fit the bill as both den Hartog and Post thrust this one along. Championship piece!

Three shorter songs follow and unfortunately, the first one constitutes a bit of a letdown when compared to the previous two dozen minutes! More accessible as a pop ballad, the conventional and short "Lead Me Home" is lame and it's precisely on such a vocal-oriented track where the spotlight is on the microphone that one has to concur with my colleague friso in relation to Jordi Repkes' vocals lacking oomph and hence, impact. The wee synth solo is great but the voice is reedy at best. This is a skipper.

Thankfully the middle piece is a return to swirling brilliance with the determined "Hand in Hand", a typical Neo- prog ditty, possessing all the classic elements in scope and effect, sounding like a lost Genesis-Trick of the Tails track. The vocals are a bit insipid and sound shallow, so the initial impressions are not subjective to some deluded interpretation, they are really acceptably weak. On the other hand, the thrilling guitar solo is anything but, a twisted guided missile of emotion and feel. The synthesized follow-up no slouch either, these young lads can play. Vinyl grit adds an old school veneer to the swooping symphonics.

"We Are Strangers Here" is again closer to convention and suffers from some 'hum-ho-ness', an okay sung track that has a slight nasal tone that I sadly pick up, quickly and effortlessly anesthetized by the instrumental playing and melody. There is still a fair amount of pleasure deriving from the emotions expressed, this will do.

The finale is the longest piece here, "The Last Road" clocks in nearly 16 minutes of progressive expression and the band throws everything into the fire, starting out sunshiny, fresh and upbeat, before gradually delving into more melancholic ruminations that are best expressed with the lead instruments, two talented keyboardists and a slick axe player. Both Lammers and Heijmans really lather up the ivories (Ivory Snow?) and unleash some nifty interplay. The second part is as powerful neo-prog as one can hope for, the grandiose guitar rant is full-on tremendous! Post drums like a confident madman and genuine applause should greet this kind of exuberant playing. Shall I bother to talk about the vocals? Nah. They are what they are.

Get a cool and confident Dutch singer like De Graeve or Smits, and they will become Major Giant! Pretty good and promising debut, though.

3.5 underage hulks

 Scarab by AGENESS album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.65 | 21 ratings

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Scarab
Ageness Neo-Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Finland, 1983. Just about the most anti-prog musical climate you can imagine. Not even the British Neo proggers MARILLION and others have found much sympathy in the public yet. Five school kids form SCARAB and make a prog album, distributing the 180 copies themselves. "The band broke up after a major tour was cancelled and frustration for the Finnish musical circles became unbearable to us (Finland was actually a New Wave Paradise)."

In the next decade AGENESS belonged to the small bunch of Finnish prog revivalists. At the time the prog association Colossus was founded too. Since the band's roots are unquestionably in SCARAB whose frontman and composer was the keyboardist-vocalist Tommy Eriksson as well, it makes very much sense that Scarab's studio and live recordings from 1983 were released on CD with the words 'Two Vintage AGENESS Recordings' printed on the cover. "Just recently it became in to my knowledge that the value of the original vinyl version (only a few copies left) has risen to unbelievable heights", Tommy writes in the liner notes. I'm very glad I finally got the chance to hear this brave chapter in the Finnish prog history.

The opener 'Day of Doom' starting with a wind effect is aptly titled as one immediately senses the dark drama in the music. The sound reminds the 80's commercial hard rock, with an emphasis on organ-oriented keyboards and the addition of violin & viola. KANSAS of this era may sound similar to some degree. The GENESIS influence is not quite as obvious as on the Ageness output, but it comes audible here and there. And I bet the "musical box" in the lyrics of 'Asylum 32' refers to no other than Genesis. That track gives a big role to the violin, though mostly in a riff approach.The short and tight 'Haze and Visions' feels at first like a very straight-forward rocker, but it's not without a prog attitude either. 'Dor-en-Dor' offers more Genesis-reminding complexity and Banks-y keyboards. By the way, Eriksson's vocals remind a lot of IQ's Peter Nicholls!

The brief album's compositions get better towards the end. The minute-long 'Sand Finale' is the only instrumental, and the tracks after it have a deeper and more mature atmosphere. Maybe we should talk about an EP or mini-LP because without the 7-minute, originally excluded 'Mortal Wings of Sin I' (a highlight, no doubt) the vinyl has been approximately half an hour long.

If Marillion's debut was very strikingly against the contemporary pop/rock especially in the epic song structures, Scarab's music stays a bit closer to the slightly poppy, hard edged rock of its time, but without sacrificing the totally unfashionable progness. They definitely were pioneers who were swimming against the tide. For an advanced prog listener this hardly offers anything new but it has stood the test of time better than I expected.

It's interesting to note that the live set (recorded in Helsinki's Tavastia, June 30th 1983) offers six other tracks. They're quite similar in style with the studio tracks, but sadly the sonic quality really could be better. Anyway they are a welcome addition already for the curiosity value alone. 3½ stars!

 Anima by INTROITUS album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.24 | 14 ratings

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Anima
Introitus Neo-Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams

4 stars My, my. Trying to follow up Introitus' "Elements" is a difficult gig for any album by any artist, as it is a true masterpiece, in my opinion. Introitus themselves have given it a shot, and "Anima" has turned out to be a smashing success and a rock solid musical experience. Introitus, very much a family effort, features the Bender family and their friends making gorgeous music and great traditions, too.

After "Fantasy" and "Elements", the band has taken their sound a little bit to the heavier side at times, believe it or not. We still get to experience (and it really is an "experience") Mats Bender's lively, lush tapestry of keys, and also Anna Bender's monumental voice. However, Pär Helje on guitar and Mattias Bender on drums seem to have a little more leeway here, as the music really picks up some grit and features some rather hard-hitting sequences. This is all counterbalanced, however, by the beautiful flute from Henrik Björlind and the impressively noteworthy bass lines of Dennis Lindkvist. Indeed, the rhythm section of this album really nailed the vibe and the feel it needed.

Introitus has always written lyrics that seem close to home and to the heart. In fact, I really admire the way Anna and Mats respect and encourage their children, and also the love they express for each other. "Anima" is no different, as the same heartfelt lyrics return, such as in the tender "You Will Always Be My Girl". And, yet, there is a dark side to this album, too, with some depressing, insecure songs like "Broken Glass". However, Introitus' signature neo-prog, complete with grand flourishes and rockin' instrumentals, is constantly weaving its way through all of this.

I confess that Introitus is one of my very favorite bands, and this album really shows why that is. This band isn't afraid to utilize sweeping synth in the same place as fantastic blast beats. They aren't afraid to include purely instrumental tracks like "Free", a complete knock out of fast paced rock, Celtic flutes, and even some electronic elements. They aren't afraid to tackle a sixteen minute epic called "Anima" that is literally the best epic I've heard this year, complete with a compelling chorus, ambient sections, and, like usual, a firestorm of an instrumental. In fact, it's so impressive, that they had to include a dreamy cooldown track directly afterwards, "Exire".

So, kudos to Introitus for creating yet another masterful album. "Anima" has all the synthy goodness, beautiful lyrics, and hardened edges that I was hoping to hear, and that automatically makes it one of my favorites of the year. And the best thing? Introitus albums always grow on me, so I expect to love "Anima" even more within a few months. Be sure to hear this wonderful album.

4.5 stars

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Neo-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
25 YARD SCREAMER United Kingdom
ABACAB France
ABEL GANZ United Kingdom
ABRAXAS Poland
ACCEPT Japan
AD INFINITUM United States
ADN France
AELIAN Italy
AETHELLIS United States
AFTERGLOW France
AGENESS Finland
AGENTS OF MERCY Sweden
AHMSHERE Netherlands
AIRBAG Norway
AIRBRIDGE United Kingdom
AISLES Chile
ALBION Poland
ALKOZAUR France
ALMA SIDERIS Italy
ALSO EDEN United Kingdom
ALTAVIA Italy
AMANDA Belgium
AMON RA Germany
ANAMOR Poland
ANANKE Poland
ANDROID Hungary
ANIMATOR United States
ANNALIST Poland
ANUBIS Australia
APPLE PIE Russia
ARAGON Australia
ARCANSIEL Italy
ARCHANGEL Italy
ARENA United Kingdom
ARENAL Chile
ARGOS Germany
FINN ARILD Norway
ARK United Kingdom
ARKUS Netherlands
ARLEKIN Ukraine
ARLON Poland
ARRAKEEN France
ASGARD Italy
ASTRALIS Chile
ASTURIAS Japan
ATEMPO Argentina
ATRIA France
ATRIUM Portugal
AUFKLARUNG Italy
AVALON USA United States
SIMON AYRES United Kingdom
BACKYARDS France
BALLOON ASTRONOMY United States
BAROCK PROJECT Italy
NICK BARRETT & CLIVE NOLAN United Kingdom
KEVIN BARTLETT United States
SAULO BATTESINI Brazil
BEING & TIME Japan
BEL AIR Germany
BELIEVE Poland
BELLAPHON Japan
BIG PICTURE United States
BIJOU Spain
BLACK PAGE Japan
BLIND EGO Germany
BLIND OWL United States
BLUE MAMMOTH Brazil
BOLUS Canada
FABRICE BONY France
XAVIER BOSCHER France
BRASSÉ Netherlands
DEC BURKE United Kingdom
TIM BURNESS United Kingdom
CAAMORA United Kingdom
CARPTREE Sweden
ALAN CASE Netherlands
RICH CASEY United States
CASINO United Kingdom
CASTANARC United Kingdom
CATAFALCHI DEL CYBER Italy
CATHEDRAL United States
CATWEAZLE Sweden
MARC CECCOTTI France
CENTAUR RODEO United States
CHANDELIER Germany
CHANETON Argentina
CHEST ROCKWELL United States
CHILDREN OF NOVA United States
CHRIS Netherlands
CINDERELLA SEARCH Japan
CIRKEL Netherlands
CIRRUS BAY United States
CLEPSYDRA Switzerland
CLIFFHANGER Netherlands
COALITION United Kingdom
COLD FAIRYLAND China
COLLAGE Poland
COMBINATION HEAD United Kingdom
COMEDY OF ERRORS United Kingdom
CONTEMPORARY DEAD FINNISH MUSIC ENSEMBLE Finland
COSMIC DANGER United States
COSMOGRAF United Kingdom
COSMOS Switzerland
CRAYON PHASE Germany
CREDO United Kingdom
CRIMSON SKY United Kingdom
CRISÁLIDA Chile
CROMWELL Germany
CRUZ DE HIERRO Mexico
CRYSTAL MAZE Germany
CRYSTAL PALACE Germany
CYAN United Kingdom
THE D PROJECT Canada
DARIUS Germany
DARWIN'S RADIO United Kingdom
DAYS BEFORE TOMORROW United States
DEAD HEROES CLUB Ireland
DEAD LETTER CIRCUS Australia
DEEP THOUGHT Switzerland
DELTA CYPHEI PROJECT Germany
DEYSS Switzerland
DIAL Netherlands
DIFFERENCES Netherlands
DIFFERENT STRINGS Malta
DIRECTION Canada
DISPERSE Poland
DISTANT DREAM United States
DOCKER'S GUILD Italy
TROY DONOCKLEY United Kingdom
DR. NO Spain
DRACMA Spain
DRAMA Uruguay
DREAM ARIA Canada
DUSTER United States
EARTHSTONE United Kingdom
EAST Hungary
ECHO US United States
EDEN SHADOW United Kingdom
EDHELS Monaco
EDISON'S CHILDREN Multi-National
EDITH Italy
EGDON HEATH Netherlands
EGOBAND Italy
ELEGANT SIMPLICITY United Kingdom
ELEPHANT & CASTLE France
ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND United States
ELIXIR France
EMERALD Netherlands
ENDLICH ALLEIN Italy
EPILOGUE United Kingdom
EQUINOX Panama
ERASMUS United Kingdom
ESKAPE Germany
ESTHETIC PALE Germany
ETERNAL WANDERERS Russia
EUREKA Germany
EURHYBIA France
EVERY WAKING HOUR United States
EVOLUTION United Kingdom
EVOLUTIVE France
EXHIBIT A United Kingdom
EXOUSTIA United States
EYE 2 EYE France
EYESTRINGS United States
EZRA United Kingdom
FACTORY OF DREAMS Portugal
FANCYFLUID Italy
THE FAR MEADOW United Kingdom
FAUN Germany
FINAL CONFLICT United Kingdom
FISH United Kingdom
FIVE-O-ONE AM Netherlands
FJIERI Italy
FLAMBOROUGH HEAD Netherlands
FLAMMARION Portugal
FLUTTR EFFECT United States
FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Netherlands
FOR YOUR PLEASURE Germany
JACK FOSTER III United States
FRACTAL United States
FRAMAURO Poland
FRAMES Germany
FRAMEWORK United Kingdom
SALLY FRENCH United Kingdom
FROST* United Kingdom
FRUITCAKE Norway
THE FYREWORKS United Kingdom
GALADRIEL Spain
GALAHAD United Kingdom
GALLANT FARM Italy
GALLEON Sweden
GAMBIT France
GANDALF'S FIST United Kingdom
DANIEL GAUTHIER Canada
PETER GEE United Kingdom
GERARD Japan
GHIRIBIZZI Belgium
IL GIARDINO DEI VIZI CONTINUI Italy
JIM GILMOUR Canada
GLACIER United Kingdom
GOOD AUTHORITY Netherlands
ANDREW GORCZYCA United States
IAN GORDON United Kingdom
GPS United States
GRACE United Kingdom
LE GRAND BATON Guadeloupe
GREEN SPACE France
JEFF GREEN Ireland
GRENDEL Poland
GREY LADY DOWN United Kingdom
HANGOVER PARADISE Netherlands
HARNAKIS Spain
HARVEST Spain
HAZE United Kingdom
THE HEALING ROAD Germany
HELLO MADNESS Mexico
HIDDEN LANDS Sweden
HIGH SPY United Kingdom
HIGHER CIRCLES United States
TRACY HITCHINGS United Kingdom
LALO HUBER Argentina
HUIS Canada
HYBRID United Kingdom
I AND THOU United States
ICE Netherlands
ILLUMION Netherlands
ILUVATAR United States
IN NOMINE Spain
INDISCIPLINED LUCY Sweden
INES Germany
THE INSTITUTE OF MODERN LOVE United Kingdom
INTROITUS Sweden
INVERTIGO Germany
INVISIGOTH United States
IQ United Kingdom
IRIS France
IT United Kingdom
VELISLAV IVANOV Bulgaria
IXION Netherlands
JADIS United Kingdom
JANISON EDGE United Kingdom
JESETER Czech Republic
JOLLY United States
JUMP United Kingdom
K2 United States
KAMPAI Germany
KEN'S NOVEL Belgium
KINETIC ELEMENT United States
KING OF AGOGIK Germany
KNIGHT AREA Netherlands
KONCHORDAT United Kingdom
KRAMER Netherlands
LAHOST United Kingdom
LANDMARQ United Kingdom
THE LAST PLACID DAYS OF PLENTY Canada
LEAP DAY Netherlands
LEGEND United Kingdom
LEGGAT Canada
THE LENS United Kingdom
LEVIATHAN Italy
LIFESIGNS United Kingdom
LIGHT Netherlands
LIKE WENDY Netherlands
LITTLE ATLAS United States
LONGSHOT France
LORIEN United Kingdom
LOW BUDGET ORCHESTRA Finland
LUNAR CHATEAU United States
MACROMARCO Italy
MAD PUPPET Italy
MAD TEA PARTY Germany
MADELGAIRE Belgium
MAGENTA United Kingdom
MAGNÉSIS France
MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) United States
MAJESTIC United States
MALOMENOS Chile
MANDRAGORA Argentina
GEOFF MANN United Kingdom
MARATHON Netherlands
MARATHON Italy
MARILLION United Kingdom
MARTIGAN Germany
MARYSON Netherlands
MASCARADA Spain
MASQUE Sweden
MASTER OF CEREMONY Italy
MAYBE France
MAYER & ROUCH United States
MEDICINE MAN United Kingdom
MENAYERI Puerto Rico
MENTAUR United Kingdom
MERCHANTS VICE United Kingdom
MERCY TRAIN United Kingdom
METAMORPHOSIS Switzerland
METAPHOR United States
MILLENIUM Poland
MINDGAMES Belgium
MINOR GIANT Netherlands
MK II United Kingdom
MONARCH TRAIL Canada
MONTECRISTO Indonesia
MOONRISE Poland
MORIA FALLS United Kingdom
MORPHELIA Germany
MOTHS United Kingdom
MR. GIL Poland
MR. SO & SO United Kingdom
MUDWAY Italy
MULTI-STORY United Kingdom
MUTE ALBINO Belgium
MYSTERKAH France
MYSTERY Canada
BADER NANA Kuwait
NAOS France
NAVIGATOR United States
NEGUA Spain
NEMEZIS Poland
NEO-PROPHET Belgium
NEON LEAVES United Kingdom
NEPENTHE United States
NEW EDEN ORCHESTRA United States
NIADEM'S GHOST United Kingdom
THE NIGHT WATCH Italy
NINE STONES CLOSE United Kingdom
NO NAME / THE NO NAME EXPERIENCE Luxembourg
NO RESTRAINTS United States
NOLAN & WAKEMAN United Kingdom
CLIVE NOLAN United Kingdom
ERIK NORLANDER United States
NORTH STAR United States
NOSTALGIA Italy
NOVEMBER Netherlands
NOVOX Netherlands
NOW Belgium
NTH ASCENSION United Kingdom
NUANCE France
NUMEN Spain
NURKOSTAM Finland
NYL Russia
OCEAN Norway
ONZA Spain
OORT France
OPUS EST Sweden
MARTIN ORFORD United Kingdom
ORPHEUS Japan
OSIRIS Bahrain
THE OTHER SIDE United States
OUTSIDE France
OVERDRIVE Italy
OVERLOAD Pakistan
OVNI El Salvador
PALLAS United Kingdom
PANDORAS.BOX Germany
PANGAEA United States
PANTOKRAATOR Estonia
MATTHEW PARMENTER United States
PARZIVALS EYE Multi-National
JAKE PASHKIN Russia
INDREK PATTE Estonia
PAX ROMANA Finland
PBII Netherlands
PENDRAGON United Kingdom
PETER PAN Poland
PHAESIS France
PHENOM India
PHOENIX AGAIN Italy
PHREEWORLD United States
PI XPRNC Venezuela
PICKLELEGAZ Netherlands
PICTURES Italy
PILGRYM United Kingdom
PLACKBAND Netherlands
PRELUDE Belgium
PRIMITIVE INSTINCT United Kingdom
PRODUCT United States
PROFUNA OCEAN Netherlands
PROTEO Italy
PROTOS United Kingdom
PROVIDENCE Japan
PROXIMAL DISTANCE United States
THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE United States
PTS Netherlands
Q Chile
QANTUM France
QUADRA France
QUASAR United Kingdom
QUIDAM Poland
QUMMA CONNECTION Finland
QWAARN Canada
RADAVIQUE Netherlands
RAEL Argentina
RED SAND Canada
REVELATION United Kingdom
RICOCHER Netherlands
RIVENDEL Spain
RIVERSEA United Kingdom
RIVERYMAN Finland
RIZENGARD Mexico
RPWL Germany
SAENS France
SAGITTARIAN Japan
MOTOI SAKURABA Japan
SALEM HILL United States
SANGUINE HUM United Kingdom
SAQQARAH France
SARIS Germany
SATELLITE Poland
SCAPELAND WISH United States
SCHEHERAZADE Japan
SEA VINE Poland
SEASONS OF TIME Germany
SECRET CINEMA Italy
SETI Chile
SEVEN DAY HUNT Netherlands
SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR Germany
P.J. SHADOWHAWK United States
SHADOWLAND United Kingdom
SHAKARY Switzerland
SHAMALL Germany
SILENT AGREEMENT Netherlands
SILHOUETTE Netherlands
SILVER KEY Italy
SINISTER STREET Netherlands
SINUS Poland
SIX ELEMENTS United States
SKEEM France
SKYFOX 8 Brazil
SLOW MOTION REIGN United States
SLYCHOSIS United States
MARK SMOOT United States
SNOWDONIA Spain
SOLIS Brazil
SOLSTICE United Kingdom
SPEKTRUM Sweden
SPLINTER Netherlands
STEALING THE FIRE United Kingdom
STEP AHEAD France
STRANGEFISH United Kingdom
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN United Kingdom
SUBSIGNAL Germany
SUBTERRA Chile
SUPPER'S READY Luxembourg
ROBERT SVILPA United States
SYLVAN Germany
T Germany
TALE Multi-National
TALE Italy
TALE CUE Italy
TALE OF DIFFUSION Poland
TALIESYN Germany
TAMARISK United Kingdom
STEVE TASSLER United States
TAURUS AND PISCES Netherlands
TEA IN THE SAHARA Germany
TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER') Japan
THALASSA France
THEATRE Italy
THIRD QUADRANT United Kingdom
TIME AND TIDE United States
TIME HORIZON United States
TIMELOCK Netherlands
TMP (TOON MARTENS PROJECT) Belgium
TOP LEFT CORNER Italy
TOWER Italy
TR3NITY United Kingdom
TRAMA Italy
TRANSIENCE United States
TRIANGLE Netherlands
TRISTAN PARK United States
TSUKI-USAGI Japan
TSUNAMI Germany
LA TULIPE NOIRE Greece
TWELFTH NIGHT United Kingdom
TWIN AGE Sweden
ULTIME ATOME France
ULTRA VIOLET RAYS United States
UNICORN Sweden
UNISPHERE Canada
US Netherlands
UTOPIAN FIELDS Norway
VANTASMA Indonesia
VESTAL United States
VIENNA CIRCLE United Kingdom
VINTAGE Spain
VIOLET DISTRICT Germany
THE VIOLET HOUR United Kingdom
MIKE VISAGGIO United States
VISIBLE WIND Canada
THE VOW Germany
THE WATCH Italy
WHITECHAPEL France
WILTON SAID Canada
WINTER United Kingdom
XENN Poland
YACOBS Germany
YAK United Kingdom
YLECLIPSE Italy
YUKA & CHRONOSHIP Japan
YWIS Netherlands
ZENIT Switzerland
ZENOBIA Germany
ZIFF Germany
ZONK MONK Japan
TOMMY ZVONCHECK United States

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