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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



The neo-prog team has also decided on 5 representative albums of neo-prog that encapsulate the essence of the genre. They are as follows:


Marillion-Script for a Jester's Tear
Collage-Moonshine
Satellite-A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset
Sylvan-Posthumous Silence
Frost-Milliontown


Current Neo-Prog Team members
as at 1/3/2020

Luca (octopus-4)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)
Dan (earlyprog)

Neo-Prog Top Albums


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

4.25 | 2317 ratings
MISPLACED CHILDHOOD
Marillion
4.24 | 2151 ratings
SCRIPT FOR A JESTER'S TEAR
Marillion
4.24 | 1362 ratings
THE ROAD OF BONES
IQ
4.18 | 1467 ratings
CLUTCHING AT STRAWS
Marillion
4.15 | 708 ratings
CONTAGION
Arena
4.16 | 519 ratings
POSTHUMOUS SILENCE
Sylvan
4.17 | 485 ratings
RESISTANCE
IQ
4.10 | 1181 ratings
MARBLES
Marillion
4.10 | 984 ratings
FREQUENCY
IQ
4.10 | 457 ratings
EMPIRES NEVER LAST
Galahad
4.07 | 731 ratings
EVER
IQ
4.06 | 741 ratings
THE MASQUERADE OVERTURE
Pendragon
4.11 | 378 ratings
LOVE OVER FEAR
Pendragon
4.06 | 735 ratings
THE VISITOR
Arena
4.05 | 994 ratings
DARK MATTER
IQ
4.16 | 198 ratings
NIGHT DREAMS & WISHES
Modern-Rock Ensemble
4.04 | 496 ratings
A TOWER OF SILENCE
Anubis
4.11 | 240 ratings
SPEAK
I And Thou
4.12 | 225 ratings
THE CLOCKWORK FABLE
Gandalf's Fist
4.06 | 358 ratings
SEVEN
Magenta

Neo-Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

ARGOS
Argos
TRAVELLER
Magus / The Winter Tree
THE ART OF MADNESS
Psychedelic Ensemble, The
TALES FROM THE DAM
Healing Road, The

Latest Neo-Prog Music Reviews


 The Sound of the Seventh Bell by RED SAND album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.88 | 50 ratings

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The Sound of the Seventh Bell
Red Sand Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars I know I am not as close the prog scene as I used to be but must admit to being amazed to realise this is the tenth studio album from a band I have never heard of. Formed by multi-instrumentalist Simon Caron back in 2004, this neo-prog outfit is also an active touring unit where they are joined by additional musicians, but whereas the last album (2019's, 'Crush The Seed') was by a quintet, here we find them operating as a trio. All three played on the last album, with Simon Caron here taking on additional roles and now providing guitars, bass, and keyboards alongside drummer Perry Angelilo and singer Steff. Hailing from Quebec, Simon produced it himself but then brought Michel St-Pere (Mystery, Huis) to mix while it was mastered by Richard Addison.

The bass is very powerful in this, reminiscent of when Neil Pepper was in Galahad, adding additional elements and runs which provide something of a funk element at times, and while polished neo-prog is the main approach there is also plenty of Floyd in what they are doing, combining different sub genres together to create something which is both approachable and interesting at the same time. It has the American polish which is reminiscent of the bands which broke out of the scene in the 90's, and although I have seen comments likening them to the early British scene, to my ears it is from that viewpoint as opposed to a direct influence. It never sounds like a multi-instrumentalist plus others, as this has a real band feel but the keyboards are not as dominant as one would normally expect within this style, allowing the ears to concentrate more on the vocals which are pleasant with nice harmonies and edge.

It does not have the bite one would normally associate with this style, and there are times when they fall between neo and Floyd and end up with something which can be bland and wash into the background, but there are also times when it is very interesting indeed. The result is a prog album which can be played in the background and not frighten anyone, but with not quite enough focus to be truly enthralling throughout.

 The Theory of Molecular Inheritance by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2022
5.00 | 6 ratings

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The Theory of Molecular Inheritance
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by alainPP

5 stars Arena founded in 1995, a mega group at the time with members from Marillion, Pendragon and Asia initially. A powerful neo, the 3rd generation of prog rock after Genesis and Marillion. The heaviness of their sound has in my opinion oriented the prog towards metal for the greater good. This is their 10th opus with the contribution of Damien Wilson who has worked for Landmarq, Threshold, Headspace, Maiden United and Ayreon; it lacked a major group, it's done with Arena. 'Time Capsule' and synths forward, iron rhythm of Mick and Kylan, egosilated voice of Damian it goes fast and heavy! Uncompromising prog with this instrumentation and voice melting pot; Clive almost steps back to let John and his 6-string unleash a first solo that makes me shiver, it's still simple when the music is done well; hypnotic title with a warm, divine final ah ah ah. 'The Equation (The Science of Magic)' segues into my wood- burning piano to give way to Damien; Clive's break and Damien's revival, that's it, he's incorporated into the group as if he had been there from the start; a fat, viscous Moog reinforces the feeling of a job well done; the rhythm is heavy, nervous, makes you want to see them in concert...that's good the sound is between the sound of 1995 and that of 2022, magnificent. Damien uses his voice on different registers to break up the usual verse- chorus; the finale is explosive. 'Twenty One Grams' heartbeat, Kylan's dark bass, Mick is recognizable with his many caressed drums; Damian sings to a mermaid, castrato tune, I hope he will appreciate given the place of excellence they were given before; well, an angel, maybe it will be better. It goes up halfway with this Clive solo that makes me raise my last two hairs, it's really good at the instrumentation level, the atmosphere reminds me for a time of the dark metallic wanderings of the Riverside, I melt; final where the keyboard shows that it can be a centerpiece in a prog band these days. 'Confession' and the Genesis ballad on a piano-voice basis, the time to recover from the dose of unloaded musical adrenaline. I feared a lambda album, warned by a chronicler friend of the potential bomb that this album represented, I remain stuck for the moment. 'The Heiligenstadt Legacy' with Damien on a statement from Ludwig van Beethoven's will bequeathed to his brothers, an angelic voice boosted again by Clive's divine, solemn piano. An emotive voice, sensitive before explosion where it is found in its more usual register; John oozes his guitar notes, they fall from the sky; a crescendo where the power of the guitar goes hand in hand with the captivating voice.

'Field of Sinners' starts with oblivion, undead cries? Then a Marillion Fish-era synth, I like that already; it's latent, explosive, a pure product of Arena with the keyboard pads, with this feeling that Clive has 3 hands; the most progressive title in my opinion, less melodic, more search for musical atmospheres; I'm thinking back to 'The Visitor', it's well done, nervous, it makes my head move, I'm definitely seduced from the first listen, rare for me and John's machine-gunner solo isn't going to make me change my mind . 'Pure of Heart' ah this tune to The Passions, yes by far but the music has this fabulous thing that it brings back many memories; well it goes up and I find the energetic Arena with the intro that warms your ears, the one you don't know when it's not going to stop. Damien tumbles, choppy voice on a metallic riff then his high voice à la Jon Anderson 'Drama' era; the synths deliver far then closer with a break before launching John; the final hard riff revives Damien on high choruses, explosion before 'Under the Microscope' and a robot comes to introduce the longest title; only 7 minutes but given the hook between each track, the pleasant impression of having long songs. Good 2 minute warm-up before the climb; fat, twirling synths, it flows everywhere, the guitar gets involved, we go full force into the world of Lewis Caroll with nursery rhymes that we suppose are extravagant but I don't want to go under the microscope; the final instrumental with endless Gary Moore air guitar; a chilling crescendical title. 'Integration' forms a clean break, title apart voice and piano, it rests the ears, Damien still in value; a ballad that nay a fight of keyboards and strings that starts suddenly; Clive does nervous Pendragon, Arena, neo-neo fruity prog, yes some will still say that I mix food and music? but music can be spiritual food. 'Part of You' classic riff with a majestic, emphatic hit; superb climb that reminds us that in prog there is progression, a moment of musical distraction where you don't know where the musicians are going to take you; it's composed, researched, John tortures his guitar, Damien sings on Clive's keyboards securing the atmosphere that Kylan and Mick have undermined; solo spurting on the machine-gunned bass, simple but perfect, gripping, bringing adrenaline, sweat, emotion. 'Life Goes On' on 'The Exorcist' not possible! Ah yes Mike? Oldfield is listening he might sit down and listen interested; culmination of this flawless album where each title is linked to the next, a concept that does not look like it; the most agreed title in my opinion, everything is in place and I feel like I have already listened to it.

Arena that I had never reviewed, I who fell into the pot with their 'Songs', I who always fear to review an album before its release, I started... and I did well. This album is in my top 2022, no matter what we say in view of the perfect millimeter association between the guitar, the keyboards, the rhythmic bass and the voice of Damien. I will listen to the other albums without any problem again, I feared too much vocal presence, I am doubly reassured and enthusiastic. Clive had to be sure to wink at me. Note the artwork of David WYATT who had already worked for 'Contagion' and 'Pepper's Ghost'.

 Warm Wet Circles by MARILLION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1987
3.97 | 45 ratings

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Warm Wet Circles
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Warm Wet Circles" is a single release by UK progressive rock act Marillion. The single was released through EMI Records in October 1987. It´s the third single released to promote the band´s fourth full-length studio album "Clutching at Straws" from June 1987. The 7" single version of the release features a remix of "Warm Wet Circles" on the A-side and a live version of "White Russian" on the B-side, while the 12" version also features a live version of "Incommunicado". Both live tracks were recorded at Freilichtbühne Loreley (Open-Air Stage) Loreley, St. Goarshausen, Germany on the 18th of July 1987. The two live tracks were also available as part of the November 1987 "Live from Loreley" VHS tape, but audio versions of the tracks along with the remaining tracks recored at the same concert, wouldn´t appear until 2009 with the release of the "Live from Loreley" live album.

"Warm Wet Circles" is an intriguing progressive rock song featuring lyrics by Fish, which have elements of both innocense and brutality, deep melancholy and fear of a normal life without adventure. Fish uses the image of a warm wet circle to create several different images in the listener´s mind, and tell multible stories along the way, using very few words. It´s quite brilliant really...

"White Russian" is one of the more challenging and epic tracks on "Clutching at Straws" (1987), and as always Marillion perform on stage with what sound like ease and natural comfort. The same is the case with "Incommunicado". These live versions are slightly less polished than the live versions on the 1988 "The Thieving Magpie (La Gazza Ladra)" live album, but still very well sounding, detailed, and powerful. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

 Farewell to Childhood by FISH album cover Live, 2017
4.00 | 16 ratings

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Farewell to Childhood
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Way back in 2005, Fish did a special 20th anniversary tour for Misplaced Childhood, a live performance of which was chronicles on the Return to Childhood album. That was OK, I thought, but the main attraction of the show - Misplaced Childhood itself - sounded off to me, like Fish and his band hadn't quite cracked the problem of reconfiguring the songs to account for how Fish's voice has aged since his days in Marillion.

10 years later, and another big anniversary for Misplaced Childhood beckoned. Fish was enjoying a bit of a late-career peak at this timel with Feast of Consequences being perhaps his most accomplished solo album and the Movable Feast tour showcasing him and his band in fine form - in particular, his voice, which had been struggling for a while there from the late 1990s to the 2000s, seemed to have bounced back somewhat, albeit with the lower range that inevitably comes with age.

At the same time, Fish realised that whilst he was in rare form in 2015, there was no guarantee that he'd be in the same form in 2025... and nor would he necessarily want to be. Indeed, in 2020 Weltschmerz would be explicitly declared as being his retirement from studio albums; whether that sticks or not remains to be seen, but for a good few years now Fish has made it clear that he doesn't want to keep dragging his old hits out year after year until he falls to pieces onstage; he'd rather take a dignified last bow and go out strong than live to become a mockery of his former self, especially since he came close to suffering that fate already in his solo career.

As such, the 2015 tour was billed as the big farewell to Misplaced Childhood: this was it, game over. Fish might or might not include individual songs from the album on subsequent live gigs - though recent live sets do seem to have allowed it to lie fallow - but this would be 100% the last time he'd play through the entire concept album from start to end. And since Marillion had long since stopped doing that, that'd be it outside of tribute acts and the like.

Like the Return to Childhood album, this is a two-disc affair, with the first disc consisting entirely of Fish solo material. This time, Fish keeps this part short, keeping this part to 40 minutes - but damn, it's a good 40 minutes, with excellent picks from across the whole span of his solo albums. (Feast of Consequences is, of course, the title track from what was then Fish's latest album, whilst Family Business hails from his solo debut, Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors.) Rather than restricting himself to old standards, however, Fish also slips in a couple of deep dives - Long Cold Day from Fellini Days makes a surprise appearance, and the set opens with a great version of Pipeline from the unfairly maligned Suits album, a song which through subsequent live refinement has only become more potent.

Then disc 2 has the main event - the playthrough of Misplaced Childhood itself. This, I think, is substantially more successful than the version on Return To Childhood, both because the band do a smoother job of adjusting the material to a lower key and because Fish isn't trying to force his voice to do things it can't do (and he's rehabbed his voice to the point where it's a bit more reliable than it was in 2005). Two encores are provided, aptly chosen - Market Square Heroes because it was an early anthem of Fish's when he was Marillion, and The Company because ever since it first emerged it's become something of an anthem for Fish's solo career.

The end result is a substantially tighter set than Return to Childhood (100 minutes instead of a shade over 2 hours), and a better performance. This gives it the clear edge, to my mind, and that's good. Presented in fairly lavish packaging - in a similar form factor to the recent remasters of Fish's back catalogue - Farewell To Childhood joins The Movable Feast in being part of Fish's recent effort to put out some really nice, high-quality live releases, to make up for the somewhat hit and miss nature of his previous live efforts. I can't say it quite measures up to that, but it does more justice to Misplaced Childhood than the Return To Childhood release did.

 Sugar Mice by MARILLION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1987
4.00 | 48 ratings

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Sugar Mice
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Sugar Mice" is a single release by UK progressive rock act Marillion. The single was released through EMI Records in July 1987. It´s the second single released to promote the release of Marillion´s fourth full-length studio album "Clutching at Straws" from June 1987. It was released in multible formats from a 7" vinyl single version, to a 12" vinyl EP version (picture discs of both versions also exist), plus a 5" CD single version. The regular 7" vinyl single features "Sugar Mice" (album version) as the A-side track and the B-side track "Tux on", while some of the other versions feature a radio edit version and/or an extended version of "Sugar Mice".

"Sugar Mice" is one of the highlights of "Clutching at Straws" (1987), as it´s an incredibly well composed track featuring a signature guitar motif from Steve Rothery and an engaging emotive vocal performance by Fish singing melancholic and moving lyrics about an unemployed man who feels like he has let his family down and drinks to ease his sorrows and hide his shame. "Tux on" is a great track too, which at this time was exclusive to this release. It was later included on the "B'Sides Themselves" compilation from January 1988. The lyrics for "Tux on" are about a rock star who becomes more and more arrogant and egocentric the more famous he gets and ends up doing drugs. So upon conclusion "Sugar Mice" is a strong single release from Marillion featuring to great quality tracks and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

 Heroic Materials by COSMOGRAF album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.44 | 7 ratings

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Heroic Materials
Cosmograf Neo-Prog

Review by markrp

5 stars In a year that has featured some excellent releases already, this is my favourite to date. I have found earlier albums by Cosmograf to be inconsistent; they are brilliant in places, but less impressive in others, despite the high quality of the musicianship. This new album is superlative throughout, featuring melodic keyboards and soaring guitars - and an intriguing narrative throughout the album of a former WW2 Spitfire pilot reflecting on significant events in his life. The highlight for me is the 13 minutes title track, Heroic Materials. I have had the album for a week now since its launch and have played this song repeatedly.
 Immortal? by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.94 | 513 ratings

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Immortal?
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Among Arena's best we have to mention 'Immortal?', the band's fourth full-length studio release, put up for the world to enjoy in the first year of the new millennium. This one is also the first record with vocalist Rob Sowden, who would record two more before parting ways with the band, and has the severely difficult task of following up the stellar masterwork of Arena, 1998's 'The Visitor'. Of course, the core of the band, in the face of Clive Nolan, John Mitchell and Mick Pointer, as well as the other two players do not disappoint and deliver the second installment of what could certainly be considered the 'Holy Trinity' of Arena albums, including 'Contagion' as well.

'Immortal?' opens with 'Chosen', a dark, heavy song, with a throbbing main riff and a haunting atmosphere, this is still Arena, but they dare to go to some even gloomier places than before, still focusing on atmosphere, as on 'The Visitor'. The 9-minute 'The Butterfly Man' is another highlight of the album - this is pure neo-prog mixed up with heavy metal, ultimately ending up as one of the most evocative songs in Arena's entire catalogue. 'Ghost in the Firewall' is pure emotion, always highly anticipated when playing the album, this for me is one of the band's all-time bests tracks. 'Climbing the Net' does reflect slightly Mick Pointer's Marillion days, as this one is certainly an homage to the 80s neo-progressive rock scene, reminiscent a bit of 'Double Vision', a song appearing on Arena's previous album. Then there is the great 20-minute composition 'Moviedrome', this one is epic and suspenseful, dark and melancholic, heavy and abundant, everything you might expect from this group.

'Immortal' is a great debut for Sowden, and a very strong release for Arena; It is, my least favorite of their classic three, but the album definitely has a lot to offer and serves impactfully as one of the better neo-prog releases of the early 2000s.

 Vision by PHOENIX AGAIN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.06 | 7 ratings

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Vision
Phoenix Again Neo-Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

4 stars Lorandi & Co.

Phoenix Rises Again...Again!

That is, the mythical immortal bird that cyclically is reborn, lives again; so, Phoenix rises again...again. And this is a tribute to the Lorandi clan, a number of whom contribute to this remarkable album, some of whom were part of the original Phoenix, and especially Claudio Lorandi, now gone, but never forgotten.

"Vision" is the fourth studio album released by Italy's PHOENIX AGAIN- the band that arose from the ashes of the early '80's PHOENIX, with the tragic death of Claudio as a catalyst to rise...again. When their first album "ThreeFour" was released in 2011, some thought that might be the end of the line.

But NO!

I said, "remarkable". And although to these ears much of the neo-progressive music I've heard seems a bit dialed back and lacking inner fire, in "Vision" PHOENIX AGAIN clears up the fog and gauzy edges. From the growling Hammond organ in the opening "Ouverture", to the gentle nightmarish chaos of closing "Threefour" (intriguing reference to their 2011 album, eh?), PHOENIX AGAIN offers a rich tapestry of lavish keyboard work, tasteful acoustic 6 and 12-string, clean and gritty electric guitar playing, solemn bass guitar, and for me the star of this outfit- the stellar, tasteful, colorful drumming throughout.

The lengthiest track, "Moments of Life" has dark, heavy guitar, a growing chaotic synth line, organ, electric piano, shifting into nifty jazzy lines with dreamy guitar overhead, with many examples of that tasty, propulsive drumming. In fact, one of the defining qualities for me is the inner propulsive, fiery aspect of the works of PHOENIX AGAIN, in "Vision", even when things slow and become moody, or sweet, and ever-present melodicism abounds.

King Crimson

Do I have your attention now? At least for me, "Triptych"- and elsewhere- gave me KC-vibes- the spare fury, odd but compelling guitar/bass lines sometimes coupled with synth, some off-kilter acoustic guitar accents, and some cool guitar/bass/drum riffs, leading to syncopated rhythms from the gutsy guitar.

"Air" brings in acoustic 12-String guitar chiming, with just the hint of hi-hat percussion, then the guitar/bass lines ring out, and intensifies , only to subside with sweet, melodic guitar and piano melodic lines. There are lush ascending lines, then darker textures leading to grand piano with bold arpeggios. Somehow free-form playing and chaos threaten throughout the album- the "vision" apparently includes the reality of intrusions into the gorgeous textures and joys of living.

"Psycho" reinforces the 'craziness' by opening with brash synth lines that race and tumble, and a deep, grumbling synth, developing and intensifying. Spooky mellotron textures enter- and somehow glockenspiel adds to the mix.

So, Considerable Width and Depth

...in this "Vision". There are so many highlights. For me, "Propusione" is the standout track among standout tracks. I love the choral depth- more Lorandi's participate- and the presence of brass instruments brings some cinematic grandeur. Here again, drumming really stands out. What strikes me is the humility of the drumming, not seeking the limelight, but playing so well to the music, to enhance, to accentuate, to lend depth and texture.

My Conclusion

Grand. Melodic. Playful. Chaotic. Reflective. So many fine elements in this instrumental gem. I rate this one a solid 4 stars, and excellent addition to any progressive rock collection- and one you may find yourself returning to again...and again!

 For King and Country by CYAN album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.24 | 31 ratings

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For King and Country
Cyan Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars Imagine if you will, a time when there was no glossy Prog magazine, no internet, no email, and the only way to find out about the latest progressive bands was by subscribing to fanzines, word of mouth, joining mailing lists (which were photocopied missives) and attending gigs. It feels like a different world now, but when Cyan released 'For King and Country' nearly 30 years ago that was the position we were all in. 1993 saw multi-instrumentalist Robert Reed re- record some tracks from the Eighties, along with some new ones, and it was released on CD by SI Music from Holland. I was on the SI promo list, so was sent this along with some others and reviewed it in Feedback #18 and put the artwork on the cover. Not long afterwards I remember meeting Rob at Whitchurch where he was then working with Ezra, neither of us imagining that all these years later he is not only known as the man behind Magenta and countless other albums, but he would be revisiting that debut anew.

For those who have never seen or heard the original, which is most of you to be fair, the cover of the new version is what the original would have looked like if a professional artist with high digital skills had been employed the first time around, and in many ways we can say the same about the music as back then it was one man at home whereas now we have a full band and loads of experience. Rob may have sung on the original, but here he allows himself background vocals only, (as well as keyboards and guitar) and is joined by Peter Jones (lead vocals, sax, whistles), Luke Machin (guitar) and Dan Nelson (bass) along with guests Tim Robinson (drums), Angharad Brinn (backing vocals) and Tesni Jones (backing vocals).

This is not a faithful reproduction of the original album, but rather is a re-imagining as the songs have been re- written, extended and changed, and then the band have put their own stamp on proceedings. Many will recognise at least one of these, "Call Me", as it is one which has been performed by Magenta for years and can be found on their 2010 live album 'The Gathering', but here it sounds quite different with male vocals, but it is opening track "The Sorcerer" which will probably be gaining most attention as it is simply epic, both in style and length. Classic prog with neo leanings. Remember, this was originally recorded back in 93 when that style of music was at its height, yet here it has been taken into new progressive areas while never losing that naivety and joy. One does not need to have heard the original to enjoy this for what it is, a wonderful progressive album with Peter relishing the opportunity to put his stamp on these songs while Robert takes all his years of working with Magenta to transform the originals into something special while the rest of the guys push all the time.

This is a wonderful album which prog fans need to get hold of and take it from me it will be much easier than trying to track down the original. My review of that album back in 1993 (which can be read in TPU Vol 1) said the weakest part was the vocals, yet even then the album was well worth discovering. Nearly 30 years now, I can address that by saying this version is essential.

 Find a Way by ARTS album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.17 | 10 ratings

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Find a Way
Arts Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars Swedish band Arts originally came together in 2008 as a trio comprising Stefan Sahl (bass, vocals), Jessica Jonevad Bonté (guitars, vocals), and Dan Berglund (drums, percussion). A few years later they brought in keyboard player who was soon replaced by Jonas Kjernald. They recorded 'Find A Way' with the aim of releasing it in 2012, but life got in the way, and Jonas left, and the band went through various changes over the years. In 2018 the quartet got back together to see what could be done with the recordings, and they enjoyed themselves so much during the process that there is now a second album planned. But firstly, we need to look at the debut which was originally planned to be completed and released in 2012 but finally saw the light of day in 2021.

I notice on PA it is indicated as being neo-prog, but that must have been a close-run thing as to me this is much closer to crossover prog that neo. For the most part this is a very relaxed album, with a commercial Eighties feel with some elements of the late Seventies as opposed to the more biting and edgy neo which tends to have more guitars. It is laid back and middle of the road which makes for a very pleasant release even though I do wish it had more rock within it. When one pays attention, it is easy to see just how much complexity there is within, and a special mention must be made of some wonderful basslines, yet for much of this it feels rather bland. Rather frustratingly, the last track of the six shows a very different side indeed, and one which really caught my attention. This is an instrumental track which combines folk with much more guitar, and sounds almost like a different band altogether, so much so that I do wonder if this was completed when the band got back together as opposed to being part of the earlier sessions. Jessica is much more to the front in this number, which is intriguing and contains real depth, with Jonas also having the opportunity to be more dynamic while the drums and bass are very solid indeed.

It is going to be interesting to hear what they come up with next, as this is an interesting album which will certainly gain a lot of plays from those who do not want their prog to be too heavy.

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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
THE ADEKAEM Poland
ADN France
AELIAN Italy
AETHELLIS United States
AFTERGLOW France
AGENESS Finland
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
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ANANKE Poland
ANCASTES Costa Rica
THE ANCESTRY PROGRAM Germany
ANDROID Hungary
ANÈMA Italy
ANIMATOR United States
ANNALIST Poland
ANUBIS Australia
APPLE PIE Russia
ARAGON Australia
THE ARC LIGHT SESSIONS Canada
ARCADELT Italy
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ARCHANGEL Italy
ARENA United Kingdom
ARENAL Chile
ARGOS Germany
ARGUS Netherlands
FINN ARILD Norway
ARK United Kingdom
ARKUS Netherlands
ARLEKIN Ukraine
ARLON Poland
ARRAKEEN France
ART Italy
ARTS Sweden
ARVE Germany
ASGARD Italy
ASSAL Poland
ASTRALIS Chile
ASTURIAS Japan
ATEMPO Argentina
ATLANTROPA PROJECT Germany
ATOMIC TIME Brazil
ATRIA France
ATRIUM Portugal
AUDITE Germany
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
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BELIEVE Poland
STEWART BELL United Kingdom
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BIJOU Spain
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BLIND EGO Germany
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DEC BURKE United Kingdom
TIM BURNESS United Kingdom
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CARPTREE Sweden
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COLLAGE Poland
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ALESSANDRO CORVAGLIA Italy
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CRAYON PHASE Germany
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CREDO United Kingdom
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