Header

SYMPHONIC PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Symphonic Prog definition

Symphonic is without doubt the sub-genre that includes the most bands in Progressive Rock because for many people it's almost synonymous classic Prog, something easy to understand being that most of the classic and/or  pioneer bands released music that could be included in this sub-genre, except JETHRO TULL and PINK FLOYD (who still blended some symphonic elements), even KING CRIMSON who very soon expanded their horizons to more experimental music, made their debut with a Symphonic album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" which is a cornerstone in the development of the genre.

The main characteristics of Symphonic are the ones that defined all Progressive Rock: (There's nothing 100% new under the sun) which among others are:
  • Mixture of elements from different genres.
  • Complex time signatures.
  • Lush keyboards.
  • Explorative and intelligent lyrics, in some cases close to fantasy literature, Sci Fi and even political issues.
  • Non commercial approach
  • Longer format of songs

In this specific case the main characteristic is the influence of Classical music (understood as Orchestral works created from the late Gothic to Modern Classical) using normally more complex structure than other related sub-genres like Neo Progressive (That's why sometimes the borderline that divides Symphonic from Neo is so unclear being that is based mostly in a degree of complexity rather than in an evident structural difference)..It is easy to find long keyboard solos reminiscent of Johan Sebastian Bach or melodic works that could have been written by Handel.

As in any other genre, different Symphonic bands had different approaches to Classical music, for example YES and GENESIS are mainly influenced by the Baroque and Classical periods, while EMERSON LAKE & PALMER has a predilection for post Romantic and modern authors like Mussorgsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Bartok or Ginastera, being that their sound is less melodic and more aggressive.

The peak of the genre starts in 1969 and lasts until the mid/late 70's  (more precisely until the release of A Trick of the Tail), when the genre begins to  blend more mainstream influences that took to the birth of Neo Progressive (a new approach for a new decade).


It is important to remember that even though the creative peak of Symphonic Progressive ended before the 80's, we can find a second birth in the 90's coming from the Scandinavian countries (specially Sweden with ANGLAGARD or PAR LINDH PROJECT) and even bands that still in the 21st Century recreate music from this period like SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN.

Before ending this short description I feel necessary to say (In order to be strictly accurate) that the term Symphonic is not 100% exact, because these bands very rarely played symphonies and was probably used because the music that influenced the genre was performed by Symphony Orchestras, but it is so widely accepted by the Progressive Rock community that would be absurd and futile for anybody to attempt a change after so much time.

Iván Melgar Morey, Peru 2006



Symphonic Team

Current Team as at 02/17/2014

Ivan_Melgar_M (Iván Melgar More
Scott Tuffnell (AtomicCrimsonRush)
Fritz (SouthSideoftheSky)
H.T. Riekels (bhikkhu)

Symphonic Prog Top Albums


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

4.65 | 3152 ratings
CLOSE TO THE EDGE
Yes
4.63 | 2895 ratings
SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND
Genesis
4.61 | 2501 ratings
FOXTROT
Genesis
4.42 | 2410 ratings
FRAGILE
Yes
4.42 | 2164 ratings
NURSERY CRYME
Genesis
4.41 | 1197 ratings
HYBRIS
Änglagård
4.38 | 1781 ratings
MIRAGE
Camel
4.38 | 1533 ratings
MOONMADNESS
Camel
4.36 | 2102 ratings
RELAYER
Yes
4.39 | 897 ratings
SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUIÈME SAISON
Harmonium
4.28 | 1937 ratings
THE YES ALBUM
Yes
4.28 | 2032 ratings
THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY
Genesis
4.27 | 1760 ratings
A TRICK OF THE TAIL
Genesis
4.27 | 1553 ratings
THE SNOW GOOSE
Camel
4.31 | 769 ratings
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES
Renaissance
4.33 | 594 ratings
DEPOIS DO FIM
Bacamarte
4.23 | 1368 ratings
EMERSON LAKE & PALMER
Emerson Lake & Palmer
4.26 | 722 ratings
VILJANS ÖGA
Änglagård
4.25 | 694 ratings
HAMBURGER CONCERTO
Focus
4.16 | 1616 ratings
TRESPASS
Genesis

Symphonic Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

GUET-APENS
Ange
NOCHE ABIERTA
Cai
BRIDGE ACROSS FOREVER LIMITED EDITION
Transatlantic
HIJOS DEL AGOBIO
Triana

Download (Stream) Free Symphonic Prog MP3


Open player in a new window

Download (Stream) Free Symphonic Prog MP3

Latest Symphonic Prog Music Reviews


 Relayer by YES album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.36 | 2101 ratings

BUY
Relayer
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Deathangel

4 stars Relayer is a bit of a contradiction

On the one hand it has one of the best epic tracks ever written: The Gates Of Delirium is an effortless, massive journey of a track that takes the listener to the brink of war and back. It builds brilliantly, like only Yes can, and the extended instrumental section is literally breathtaking (for me at least) in its excitement. The build and release and subsequent explosion of Steve Howe's guitar riff is sooo good, and of course the emotional end section with Jon's perfect voice always sends shivers down my spine. An epic in every sense of the word, made all the better for having Patrick Moraz's breath of fresh air keyboard sounds in the mix.

So, what a great side of vinyl (for those that remember such things). And then you turn over and get two very run of the mill Yes tracks, both of which are 'not too bad'.

Admittedly 'Sound Chaser' is a great example of how to develop one musical idea into a 9 minute track, and it's certainly exciting in places, but ultimately not as good as anything from 'Fragile' or 'The Yes Album'. And 'To Be Over' is, well, just a little pointless. Similar but nowhere near as good as the closing section of TGOD.

Relayer has a similar layout to 'Close To The Edge': one great side of music and one 'so so' side. A definite 4 stars for TGOD though.

 Moonmadness by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.38 | 1533 ratings

BUY
Moonmadness
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars By mid-70's Camel were reaching their peak in terms of popularity.The band was voted as ''The Brightest Hope'' in a Melody Maker poll, followed by a monumental presentation of ''The Snow Goose'' in October 75' at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with the London Symphony Orchestra.Next album finds the band collaborating with producer Rhett Davis at the Basing Street Studios in London.''Moonmadness'' was somewhat of a concept album, where individual tracks refered to the individual band members with the lyrics becoming again part of Camel's music structures.It was released in 1976 on Decca.

With each new album Camel were getting closer and closer to a jazzier sound and ''Moonmadness'' was no exception with the band flirting more than ever with the Canterbury sound.Soundwise this was definitely one of the most, if not the most, energetic albums produced by the classic line-up of Latimer/Ward/Bardens/Ferguson.With a deep sense for melodic interplays and more complex instrumentals Camel fused elements of Classical, Canterbury Fusion and Jazz in equal doses to deliver a fantastic work, filled with tremendous keyboard parts, genuine guitar moves and some impressive solos on keyboards and guitars, supported by the flawless rhythm section.As a result the music can become very rich at moments with furious battles between organ and guitar, while a number of breaks lead to more mellow themes with a slight psychedelic touch of the past.The symphonic elements are still present (melodic flute parts, atmospheric synths and sentimental guitar lines), albeit more refined and discreet, and the increase of jazzy rhythms and loose soloing (via the Canterbury-styled keyboards and electric piano) eventually offers a unique combination between smooth arrangements and dense instrumental activity, while the addition of vocals is rather preferable compared to the previous album due the emotional voices of Latimer and Ferguson.However the album is mostly instrumental and the band's inspiration is absolutely fantastic at this point of career with some of the best music ideas they ever recorded.

A classic of the mid-70's.Pronounced synthesizers, unique guitar touches and old-styled keyboards complete a work, where Rock, Classical and Jazz Music meet in a fascinating way.Not much more to add, this is at least a highly recommended album from the endless British Prog scene.

 Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep by SPOCK'S BEARD album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.13 | 448 ratings

BUY
Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep
Spock's Beard Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

3 stars Once again I listen to another Spock's Beard album and cannot get over the incredible number of musical and lyrical cliches present in their music--in every song, in every sound choice, every solo choice, every bass line, every rhythmic pulse, every dynamic shift, every chord progression, every vocal styling, every production/engineering choice. They are masters of everything borrowed, nothing original. Whenever I hear their music all I can feel is disbelief and gnawing anxiousness. "Is this a joke?" I ask myself (over and over). "Are they prog rock's SPINAL TAP?" Talented musicians all, but their melodrama is so embarrassingly close to classic rock as to cry out "parody!" As hopeful as I am whenever I see high ratings for one of their albums, I have yet to be impressed with anything from their norm--which is . . . rubber stamp, over-the-top classic rock by numbers, prog by association and wishful thinking, repetitive to excess. I feel bad writing these words for I have no doubts that the boys from SB are well-intentioned and probably quite sincere in their efforts. I can only express my utter frustration with my listening to pretty much all of their output--not the least of which has been this most recent release. Nothing new. "Second tier" prog. No more than a modern day LOVERBOY (though with better staying power).
 Yesshows by YES album cover Live, 1980
3.62 | 349 ratings

BUY
Yesshows
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Yesshows' - Yes (55/100)

There seems to be a general consensus that Yes' first live album Yessongs is something of a masterpiece. At two hours and six sides long, it takes the scope of the band's vision to its natural zenith, offering a cross-section of the band's best work over the span of their three most classic records. It seems fitting, then, that Yes' second live album would attempt to follow in the ambitious footsteps of Yessongs, this time largely representing the period between 1973's Tales from Topographic Oceans and Tormato, the tumultuous swansong to the band's classic era. While Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer are actually my two favourite Yes albums, Yesshows still seems to fall short of Yessongs in virtually every way. Besides feeling like a half-hearted addendum to their first live LP, Yesshows doesn't quite come together the way it could have. There's nothing dreadfully wrong it, but there's very little of that same refreshing magic that made Yessongs such a gem.

I don't think there could have been any way Yes could make a truly weak live album using material from their 1973-78 period. Although a live album should be judged for the way it presents material rather than the material itself, having a library of brilliant music to work with certainly makes the matter of making a good live album that much easier. In the case of Yesshows, I'm surprised it didn't work out better than it did. Tormato and Going for the One had choice cuts readily available for the energetic short-form songwriting, whilst Relayer and Tales from Topographic Oceans offered a taste of Yes at their boldest. Not to mention, there were still plenty of songs from their earlier catalogue they could submit without dubbing over the selections on Yessongs. While Yessongs had a nigh-impeccable choice of material, Yesshows is more of a mixed bag. "Going for the One" is a suitably amazing choice for the album, with an infectious chaos that translates perfectly live, and while I've never been a fan of the organ-heavy "Parallels", it's a solid way to open the performance following their signature Stravinsky's "Firebird" intro.

On the other hand, "Time and a Word" and "Wonderous Stories" do very little with the potential allotted to them by the live setting. Neither of them are particularly marvelous in studio, and there's nothing here that changes my mind any. "Don't Kill the Whale" fares a little better, but lacks the kick and punch of "Going for the One". I think the most pronounced element that defines Yesshows is actually the wasted potential for the more ambitious cuts. I've made no secret about my love towards Relayer's "The Gates of Delirium", and any track from "Tales from Topographic Oceans" would (and should) have made for an excellent cornerstone to the album. Sadly, these live renditions don't do nearly as much as I would have hoped for. Perhaps I'm comparing it too much to the vivace of Yessongs' most proggy material, but Yes' performance feels dull compared to their studio versions. With a live album, I expect to hear the music performed with more intensity and urgency than the studio. While Relayer's version of "The Gates of Delirium" sets a heavy precedent with its chaotic faux-musique concrete noise and production, Yesshows' version is dull and streamlined. Undoubtedly for the sake of vinyl limitations, the originally twenty minute "Ritual" has been split into two parts. If there's any part of the album where Yes have clearly tried to reinnovate themselves, it's with this epic, but even then I don't find myself entirely convinced. Whereas "Ritual" was originally a sleepy epic with some beautiful restraint and otherworldly atmosphere, the two halves are packed up with a noddy intro from Jon Anderson and added percussion passage towards the end. The Alan White drum showcase is a nice touch, but the introduction to "Ritual" here feels pretty undesired. Having some banter and dawdling helps to create a live impression, but here Anderson is only giving thanks to the road and laser/light people. It's good to give credit to people who have helped make a show a success, but it's entirely puzzling to hear this credit given for the part of the performance we're not seeing.

Yesshows doesn't match Yessongs in any way, nor does it offer any improvement on the muddy mixing that album had. What we have is an inferior live album that seems to acknowledge the fact it is lesser in inspiration and ambition to Yes' first bout. Released following Drama and the breakdown of Yes' classic lineup, Yesshows was compiled with the knowledge that the days of glory were now over. Maybe that sense has translated somehow into the album. It's a functional live album in most respects, but there's nothing here that would make the songs favourable over their in-studio counterparts.

 Chapter II by CHALCEDONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 11 ratings

BUY
Chapter II
Chalcedony Symphonic Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars That album cover has to be one of the most misleading things. The music is often buoyant, plaintive, odd, or even festive. For the progressive rock fan who enjoys showtunes and the melody and stylistic variety found in that category of music, there will be many moments of enjoyment found here. The vocal style is more histrionic than I care for, peppered with falsetto passages and eccentric articulations. In terms of instrumentation, there's no denying the talent.

"Truth Be Told" A symphonic heaviness with sprightly, Gentle Giant-like off-kilter vocal passages jumps right into the action. A third of the way through, there is an instrumental passage remarkably similar to the "Workings of Man" section from Yes' Awaken, complete with bright organ but adding heavy guitar.

"Regyne" The first part of this song sounds cut from a Christmastime collection, with delicate chimes, bells and fretless bass. It feels similar to some of the lighter Jon Anderson-penned songs. The final portion is devoted to soft melodic metal lead guitar work.

"India" Quirky percussive tones and an unadorned synthesizer lead create what initially could have been background music for an ad on paper towels or automobile insurance. It transforms into something darker while retaining its lightheartedness.

"Blood from Stone" In spite of the unrestrained, theatrical vocals, "Blood from Stone" establishes itself as a mostly straightforward hard rock tune. The flute makes a strange but brief appearance. Occasionally, I am reminded of Andy Tillison and The Tangent here.

"The Angel" I don't care for the high-pitched falsetto hanging out in the background or the rather trite lyrics in this unremarkable ballad-like song.

"Pandora's Box" A rich symphonic treat of an instrumental, "Pandora's Box" juxtaposes dazzling swirls of keyboards with a riptide of tight drumming.

"Wrong Again" Lovely piano and flute stand in contrast to heavy, dramatic passages.

"Pulse" Another idiosyncratic bit gives way to what is almost 1980s electronic-based pop music in vibe. It sounds like out-of-place filler considering the context of the rest of the album.

"Mechanical Wind" Blending heavy and symphonic progressive rock styles punctuated by soft, piano-led moments, this is a longer, generally upbeat song that reminds me of Simon Says' Tardigrade.

"Final Love" Beginning with highly pleasant vocal harmonies, the final, longest piece wastes little time surging forward into the heavy, semi-operatic style explored elsewhere on this album. However, it primarily consists of several piano-led parts that have a certain musical theater manner about them. The piano work is the most accomplished here than anywhere else on the album.

 Harmonium En Tournée by HARMONIUM album cover Live, 1980
4.24 | 62 ratings

BUY
Harmonium En Tournée
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There are bands that supposedly made, or even makes, albums of the most extraordinary quality, bands that one (i.e. I) know more by name than by musical strengths. Harmonium is one of those. Their second album ranks as one of the finest among symphonic prog. It must be said that I have not spent alot of time examining that record but sure, it is sort of amazing. However, I would like to push for another of theirs.

Live albums are, for the most part, uninteresting or unnecessary. At least that is my personal opinion. Then it happens, a live album comes across your path that really gives you something just a little extra. Harmonium's "En tournée" is one of those examples.

Atmospheric. That is the word that most frequently spring to mind. Atmospheric, rich and varied. See, now there's three words and I do feel that each one of them fits like any glove bought directly from the most merited glovemakers shop. The opening track, setting "Introduction" apart, is one hell of a way to start. Seeing that this live album is made up of the entire "L'heptade", it may be no wonder that "En tournée" starts off just there, with "Comme un fou" but rather it puts the finger on just how amazing a track it is. Especially in a live environment. Everything keeps going after that. "L'exil" is obviously brilliant, as is "Lumiere de vie" or "Comme un sage".

The music is a weird but excellent blend of everything french and beyond. Just as with any band from any country, the music of Harmonium is very much of it's origins. Apart from the symphonic prog rock (which in itself is a vast ocean of sounds and textures, depending on your origin) there are chansons, folk and just about anything that in the musical field makes you think of France or the french speaking Canadian territories, from where Harmonium hails. It may be hard to digest at first, if you're squemish or particular, but I find that after a while it all falls in place. The result is a soundscape impossible to evade, if you were thinking of doing so. It really is spectacular.

The conclusion, then, is that "En tournée" is an album of extraordinary music. The grandest of epics, the most beautiful and haunting melodies and an atmosphere you can touch and feel in the very fibres of the soul. It is sort of sombre but never depressing. Though varied it sometimes seems an album made for reflection and soulsearching. Lovely!

Apart from the brilliance displayed, it came out in a time when progressive music was fighting for it's life and, better still, recorded in 1977, the year when punk rock (some say) brought havoc to the lands of Prog. A live album is never essential in my book but this is probably as close as it will ever get.

Four shining stars and two thumbs up.

 Claude Monet - Volume 1, 1883-1889 by XII ALFONSO album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.76 | 19 ratings

BUY
Claude Monet - Volume 1, 1883-1889
XII Alfonso Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars For many years Francois Claerhout had shown interest in the life and the works of impressionist painter Claude Monet.With a main goal to complete a whole book for his career he started writing down a few new songs, while his brother Philippe accompanied him on guitar.Soon they were found with so much material it could fill a triple-disc edition.The period between 1883 and 1889 was covered by XII Alfonso in the 2002 album ''Claude Monet vol. 1: 1883-1889'', released in 2002 on Musea.The quartet of Claerhout brothers, keyboardist Michael Geyre and Thierry Moreno was helped again by a long list of musicians, Laure Oltra on lyrics, Ian Bairnson (Kate Bush, The Alan Parsons Project) on guitar, French-Portuguese singer Bevido and even actress/actor Catherine Alcover and Claude Aufaure.

A trully impressive concept and a rich artistic package (52-page booklet illustrated by two young artists from Bordeaux, Guiral Claire and Philippe Poirier) is unfortunately supported by a no more than mediocre album, which undoubtfully serves the needs of covering Monet's life, but ending up to be only good for background music.Any symphonic moves are completely sidelined and the album sounds like a mix of Spoken Word, New Age and Prog Folk, styles with which XII Alfonso were already familiar with, but this time the final result is far from impressive.Too many lyrical passages and a very mellow atmosphere with folky and light Classical underlines, mainly performed on piano, is not the best content for a work with such an impressive background.The music is heavily relying on acoustic guitars, accordion and piano with occasional dashes of flutes and keyboards, there are even some Chamber Music arrangements and MIKE OLDFIELD-like soundscapes in here, but the flow just isn't there and the dynamics are much needed than ever, despite some good cinematic atmospheres.16 tracks as a result and only a few of them are above average, some intense symphonic electronics and a sporadic grandieur between acoustic and Film Score-like orchestrations are signs that the band was capable of producing something more intense and atmospheric.Because the rest of the album is too soft, often resembling to French Chanson or Acoustic Folk, lacking the nerve to become trully competetive, albeit some careful arrangements.

Dissapointing album.Great concept behind, but musically too smooth and calm, propably working better as a Soundtrack than a Prog Rock album.So I would recommend this mostly to anyone in love with Film Score Music.Prog Rock fans will be merely left unsatisfied.

 Scheherazade And Other Stories by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.31 | 769 ratings

BUY
Scheherazade And Other Stories
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by Dark Nazgul

4 stars Thousand and one words could not describe this beauty.

This album represents a sort of cornerstone in the career of Renaissance because with this record, on one side, the band released the sublimation of his progressive style (through one of the most successful fusion between rock and symphonic music of the 70s) and, secondly, show the first signs of wanting to give a more commercial appeal to their songs. It is also important to note the use of synth, which is very rare in the previous records. The centerpiece of the album is represented by the excellent suite Song of Scheherazade which occupies the entire second side of the 'original LP. The long epic is a top of the band's career, perhaps even the highest point ever reached in a single song from Renaissance. The lyrics refer to one of the most famous tales of the "Thousand and One Nights" but what really makes the difference is the excellent result of the fusion of rock music and symphony orchestra. The orchestral parts are performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, and they are absolutely fundamental in the construction of this long epic, so that in some moments the band is totally absent and the orchestra is the absolute protagonist of the scene. This aspect is a clear differentiation than in the past, where the orchestral parts were limited to give more redundancy to the sound of the band, in my humble opinion with not remarkable results. It should be emphasized above all the extraordinary contribution of the vocal choir of the London Symphony Orchestra, the section "The Young Prince And Princess" with a wonderful interpretation by John Tout on piano and Annie Haslam on vocals, and the amazing, majestic, grand finale.

The opening A Trip To The Fair is another excellent track. It opens with a long introduction by Tout on piano and various rhythm changes that lead to the vocal part, as always impeccably executed by Annie. The arrangements recall the classic music that you hear in markets or fairs.

The reasons why I will not rate with five star this excellent album are the other two songs: Ocean Gypsy," too melodic for my taste and monotonous after several listening, and the short and insipid The Vultures Fly High, clearly a filler.

In any case, this is an album not to be missed for lovers of symphonic genre, and the best album of Renaissance after "Ashes Are Burning".

Final rating 8/10.

Best song: Song Of Scheherazade

 In From The Cold by CAMEL album cover DVD/Video, 2014
4.04 | 13 ratings

BUY
In From The Cold
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Camel - In from the Cold DVD (2014)

I saw a gig of this tour in Groningen and I must say it was one of the best rockconcerts I ever saw, right up with Magma and Iron Maiden (in 2004). I've been playing the electric guitar for 12 years now, but that evening forced me to rethink what a guitar actually is. The band received a warmest of welcomes by the Dutch crowd and every note played was just perfect.

Watching this dvd I must admit I was at first a bit dissapointed. Andy Latimer is bit sick and has troubles with his vocals, moreover his playing on the first set is way less accurate then what I witnessed live. But arrangements for a dvd recording can't easily be changed I guess. The mixing of 'The last Farewell' had given the band a heavier feel with more bass and drums, this dvd sound milder - more like the 'Coming of Age' dvd.

Having said that, the dvd is still very good! The first set is an integral version of The Snow Goose with some minor rearrangements, the second set is a walk through the extensive carrere of the band. Tracks like 'Song within a Song', 'Echoes' (a brilliant track that got lost on the otherwise mediocre Breathless album), 'Watching the Bobbins' (this track sounded sooo good live!) and 'Lady Fantasy' are great to hear. The photography fits the music, easy going and focussed on the musicians that take the lead.

Conclusion. A great dvd for fans of the band, but like 'The Opening Farewell' is doesn't come without its defects.To be honest, I think theis recent reincarnation of the band still deserves its definite live footage. Still, what band of the classic prog era can produce anything better? I though so.Three and a halve stars for this one. I will most certainly go and see them again if possible.

 Cairo by CAIRO album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.38 | 83 ratings

BUY
Cairo
Cairo Symphonic Prog

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

3 stars Formed back in the early 90's, San Francisco five man band Cairo delivered an easy to enjoy, well played and occasionally dynamic release on their self titled debut album from 1994. At first, a combination of `Union'-era Yes, `Falling Into Infinity'-era Dream Theater and a proggier take on Asia are obvious influences, but a surprising mid-album turn into supreme Emerson, Lake and Palmer-level technicality and showboating takes the album to another level altogether!

After a brief announcing wailing electric guitar introduction that wouldn't sound out of place on any Dream Theater album, lengthy AOR rocker `Season of the Heart' properly opens the album. Despite a ten minute running time, it's a fairly straight-forward track with a main focus on melodic vocal passages and a catchy chorus with numerous little instrumental fills. Clean cascading electric guitar runs, quick little synth dashes and a soaring confident lead vocal from Bret Douglas, it's a somewhat cold, but certainly punchy opener, but not nearly the strongest piece on the album. `Silent Winter' sounds like a gutsy cross between Asia and U.K, another strong chorus with a romantic lyric and a nicely contained instrumental soloing spot in the middle.

Those listening and not being too impressed at this point should persist, as the album all of a sudden bursts to life with an unexpected urgency and determination. `Between The Lines' blasts the listener right away, all Mark Robertson's delirious E.L.P keyboard bombast and Jeff Brockman's thrashing smashing drumming. A variety of synths, Moog and Hammond feature, with thick upfront bass and a bellowing unhinged vocal tear through this powerful piece. A softer 90's Dream Theater-styled number, `World Divided' is a quick return to a more AOR style, offering a `world gone wrong' lyric with a more restrained vocal and plentiful opportunity for lead guitarist Alec Fuhrman to offer emotional soloing.

If the earlier E.L.P flavoured piece `Between the Lines' offered just a glimpse of what the band could really do, the 22 minute epic `Ruins at Avalon's Gate' shows them firing on all possible levels. It's as if the band were thinking `Well, if we only get this one shot to make a great album, let's do everything!' With only a brief vocal passage a few minutes in and a quick reprise at the end, this extended piece is mostly a grand instrumental showcase for the band, a dazzling array of tempos seamlessly shifting back and forth, heavier passages, pompous fanfares and dizzying drama. Rob Fordyce's chunky galloping bass workout is a standout, as is the total dominating slaughtering (but in a good way!) complete keyboard overload from Robertson, his Triumvirat-like piano even reminds me of their `Illusions on a Double Dimple' album. Exhausting and thrilling in equal measures, but thankfully despite the band darting through so many ideas, the piece never sounds directionless. Album closers really don't come much more satisfying than this one, possibly one of the finest vintage/retro styled keyboard dominated epics since the Seventies, and fans of those above mentioned bands should adore it.

Occasionally the 90's sheen gives the album a slightly flat and lifeless sound (most noticeable on the first proper track `Season of the Heart'), but eventually the sheer melodic compositional skills of the band and their talented instrumental displays more than grab hold of the attention. Have a bit of patience and take the time to listen to the whole of the album instead of making a rash judgement on the opening few tracks, and chances are you'll end up very impressed and surprised! `Cairo' is an album well worth snapping up if you happen to come across it, and the band deserve a bit more attention and praise for their efforts here.

Three and a half stars.

Data cached

Symphonic Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
21. PERON Turkey
5BRIDGES Netherlands
7 OCEAN Belarus
ABBHAMA Indonesia
ABSTRACTION LAYER Brazil
ACCENT Romania
ACHE Denmark
ACUITY United States
ADVENTURE Norway
AETHER Brazil
AFTER CRYING Hungary
AFTER THE FIRE United Kingdom
AGNUS Argentina
AGNUS GRAAL Brazil
AIRLORD New Zealand
AJALON United States
AKACIA United States
ALAMEDA Spain
ALASKA United States
ALBATROSS United States
ALMS Spain
ALPHA CENTAURY France
ALPHA III Brazil
ALTER ECHO Sweden
SERGIO ALVAREZ Argentina
AMAGRAMA Argentina
AMENOPHIS Germany
AMOS KEY Germany
ANABIS Germany
ANCIENT VISION United States
ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE United Kingdom
ANGE France
ANGIPATCH France
ÄNGLAGÅRD Sweden
ANIMA Argentina
ANIMA DOMINUM Brazil
ANIMA MORTE Sweden
ANIMA MUNDI Cuba
ANOXIE France
ANTARES Germany
ANYONE'S DAUGHTER Germany
APHÉLANDRA France
APHRODITE'S CHILD Greece
APOCALYPSE Brazil
AQUAPLANAGE United Kingdom
ARABESQUE United States
ARACHNOID France
ARION Brazil
ARS NOVA (JAP) Japan
ART IN AMERICA United States
ASA DE LUZ Brazil
ASIA MINOR Turkey
ASTRË United States
ASTURCON Spain
ATILA Spain
ATLANTIS PHILHARMONIC United States
ATLAS Sweden
ATMOSPHERA Israel
ATOLL France
AUTUMN United Kingdom
AUTUMN BREEZE Sweden
AVIVA (AVIVA OMNIBUS) Russia
AXCRAFT United States
AZABACHE Spain
BABYLON United States
BACAMARTE Brazil
BANANA Argentina
BANZAI Belgium
ZELJKO BEBEK AND PODIUM Yugoslavia
BEGGARS OPERA United Kingdom
ROBERT BERIAU Canada
BLACK SEPTEMBER United States
BLAKULLA Sweden
BLANK MANUSKRIPT Austria
BLEZQI ZATSAZ Brazil
BLUE SHIFT United States
TOMAS BODIN Sweden
BONDAR & WISE United States
BRIMSTONE United States
BUSKER Canada
CAFEINE France
CAI Spain
CAIRO United States
CAJA DE PANDORA Mexico
CAL Spain
CAMEL United Kingdom
LOS CANARIOS Spain
CANNABIS INDIA Germany
ALEX CARPANI BAND Italy
CAST Mexico
CATHEDRAL United States
CHAKRA United States
CHALCEDONY United Kingdom
CHAOS CODE United States
CHRONOS MUNDI Brazil
JOSÉ CID Portugal
CINEMA Japan
CIRCLE Germany
CITIZEN CAIN United Kingdom
CLAY GREEN'S POLYSORBATE MASQUERADE BAND United States
CLEARLIGHT France
CODA Netherlands
CODICE Mexico
COLLEGIUM MUSICUM Slovakia
COTO EN PEL Spain
COUSINS & CONRAD United Kingdom
COVENANT United States
CRACK Spain
CRAFT United Kingdom
CRESSIDA United Kingdom
CRONICO Mexico
CROOKED MOUTH United Kingdom
CRUCIBLE United States
CRUCIS Argentina
DAWN Switzerland
DEJA-VU Japan
DELUGE GRANDER United States
DIALOGUE (DAWN DIALOGUE) Russia
DIAPASAO Brazil
DISCIPLINE United States
DOGMA Brazil
DORACOR Italy
DR. COENOBITE Netherlands
DRAGONFLY Switzerland
DRAMA France
DRUCKFARBEN Canada
DRUID United Kingdom
EARTH AND FIRE Netherlands
EARTHRISE United States
ECCENTRIC ORBIT United States
ECHOLYN United States
ECLAT / ECLAT DE VERS France
ECLIPSE Brazil
EDEN Canada
EGGROLL Israel
EIK Iceland
ELOHIM France
ELOITERON Switzerland
EMERSON LAKE & PALMER United Kingdom
REDJY EMOND Canada
ENGLAND United Kingdom
THE ENID United Kingdom
EPIDAURUS Germany
EPIGNOSIS United States
EPISODE United States
EQUILIBRIO VITAL Venezuela
ESPIRITU Argentina
ESTRUCTURA Venezuela
ETCETERA Denmark
ETHOS United States
EVERFRIEND United States
EX-VAGUS France
EXODE France
EXODUS Poland
EZRA WINSTON Italy
FAITHFUL BREATH Germany
FALLING EDGE Canada
FANTASY United Kingdom
FICCION Venezuela
FINCH Netherlands
FIREBALLET United States
FIRST+AID United Kingdom
FLAGSHIP Sweden
FLAME DREAM Switzerland
FLAMING BESS Germany
THE FLOWER KINGS Sweden
FLÜGHT Mexico
FLYTE Belgium
FOCUS Netherlands
FOREVER TWELVE United States
THE FOUNDATION Sweden
FRÁGIL Peru
FRIGHT PIG United States
FROMAGE Japan
FRUUPP Ireland
FUSONIC Netherlands
GALIE Mexico
GENESIS United Kingdom
GENS DE LA LUNE France
THE GIFT United Kingdom
GLASS United States
GLASS HAMMER United States
GOTIC Spain
GOVEA Mexico
GRACIOUS United Kingdom
GRANADA Spain
GRAND STAND Sweden
GRANDBELL Brazil
GREENSLADE United Kingdom
GROBSCHNITT Germany
SHAUN GUERIN United States
GUILDENSTERN Germany
HALLOWEEN France
HANDS United States
BO HANSSON Sweden
HARLEQUIN MASS United States
HARMONIUM Canada
HECENIA France
ANDERS HELMERSON Brazil
HIGH WHEEL Germany
TERUTSUGU HIRAYAMA Japan
HOGGWASH Ukraine
HOKUS POKUS Norway
LYLE HOLDAHL United States
HOLDING PATTERN United States
HOLY LAMB Latvia
HORIZONT Russia
HYACINTUS Argentina
I.C.U. Germany
III MILÊNIO Brazil
ILVCIA Spain
IN SPE Estonia
INDEX Brazil
INFINITY United States
THE INNER ROAD United Kingdom
INQUIRE Germany
JACK INTVELD United States
INVISIBLE Argentina
ISILDURS BANE Sweden
ISOPODA Belgium
IZZ United States
JELLY FICHE Canada
BJÖRN JOHANSSON Sweden
KAIPA Sweden
KAIZEN Brazil
KALABAN United States
KALO Japan
KANSAS United States
KARDA ESTRA United Kingdom
KARFAGEN Ukraine
KARMAKANIC Sweden
KHATSATURJAN Finland
KING EIDER Netherlands
KLOCKWERK ORANGE Austria
KOTEBEL Spain
KVAZAR Norway
KYRIE ELEISON Austria
LADY LAKE Netherlands
LANVALL Austria
LÁQUESIS Argentina
LAZA I IPE Yugoslavia
LEGACY United States
LEI SECA Brazil
LEITMOTIV Canada
LETHE Netherlands
FRANCIS LICKERISH United Kingdom
LIFE LINE PROJECT Netherlands
LIFT United States
PÄR LINDH AND BJÖRN JOHANSSON Sweden
PÄR LINDH PROJECT Sweden
LITTLE TRAGEDIES Russia
THE LOAD United States
LOCH NESS Brazil
LORD FLIMNAP Israel
DUNCAN MACKAY United Kingdom
MADAME CLAUS Argentina
MADISON DYKE Germany
MAGDALENA Japan
MAGIC PIE Norway
NICK MAGNUS United Kingdom
MAGRATHEA United Kingdom
MAHOUJIN Japan
MAINHORSE Switzerland
MALDOROR France
MANDALABAND United Kingdom
MANDRAKE Japan
MANGROVE Netherlands
MANTICORE Sweden
MANTRA Spain
LA MÁQUINA DE HACER PÁJAROS Argentina
MARCO Mexico
MARYGOLD Italy
MAZE OF TIME Sweden
MEDINA AZAHARA Spain
MELVIN'S NOSEHAIR Netherlands
MEMORIANCE France
JACQUES MENACHE Mexico
MERLIN Germany
METABOLISME France
MEZQUITA Spain
MIA Argentina
MIDAS Japan
MIKLAGÅRD Sweden
MIKROMIDAS Norway
MILKWEED Canada
MARIO MILLO Australia
DAVID MINASIAN United States
MIND SKY United States
MINOTAURUS Germany
MIRROR Netherlands
MIZUKAGAMI Japan
MONA LISA France
MONOLITH United States
MOON SAFARI Sweden
MOONGARDEN Italy
MORGAN United Kingdom
MORILD Norway
MORSE CODE Canada
NEAL MORSE United States
TIM MORSE United States
MOSAIK Sweden
MOTH VELLUM United States
MUGEN Japan
NAUTILUS Switzerland
IAN NEAL United Kingdom
NEGASPHERE Japan
NESSIE Belgium
NETHERWORLD United States
NEUSCHWANSTEIN Germany
NEVERNESS Spain
THE NEW GROVE PROJECT Sweden
NEXUS Argentina
THE NICE United Kingdom
NOSTRADAMUS Hungary
NOTTURNO CONCERTANTE Italy
NOVALIS Germany
NOVELA Japan
OAKSENHAM Armenia
OCEAN Germany
OCTOPUS (NOR) Norway
ODYSSICE Netherlands
OMNIA Argentina
ONIRIS France
OPUS Yugoslavia
ORION France
OUTER LIMITS Japan
PABLO Argentina
PAGEANT Japan
PALE ACUTE MOON Japan
PANTA RHEI Hungary
PARAGONE United States
PARTHENON Venezuela
PAZZO FANFANO DI MUSICA Japan
PELL MELL Germany
PENTACLE France
OTA PETRINA Czech Republic
PETRUS CASTRUS Portugal
ANTHONY PHILLIPS United Kingdom
PHYLTER Belgium
PI2 Spain
PICTORIAL WAND Norway
PIG FARM ON THE MOON Venezuela
THE PINK MICE Germany
MICHAEL PINNELLA United States
POÇOS & NUVENS Brazil
POLLEN Canada
PRE United States
PRISMA Netherlands
PROGRESSION BY FAILURE France
PROJECT (ALSO KNOWN AS PPRY) Finland
PROTO-KAW United States
PULSAR France
PUPPET SHOW United States
PYTHAGORAS Netherlands
QUANTUM Brazil
QUATERNA REQUIEM (WIERMANN & VOGEL) Brazil
QUILL United States
R-U KAISER Chile
RAIN United Kingdom
RAINBOW THEATRE Australia
RAISON DE PLUS France
RAK Switzerland
REALM/ STEVE VAIL United States
RECORDANDO O VALE DAS MAÇÃS Brazil
REFUGEE United Kingdom
RELAYER United States
RENAISSANCE United Kingdom
RING OF MYTH United States
ROCKAPHONICA Argentina
ROCKET SCIENTISTS United States
RAIMUNDO RODULFO Venezuela
KURT RONGEY United States
ANTON ROOLAART United States
JAIME ROSAS Chile
ANDREW ROUSSAK Russia
ROUSSEAU Germany
RUMBLIN' ORCHESTRA Hungary
RUMPLE STILTZKEN COMUNE Switzerland
SAECULA SAECULORUM Brazil
SAENA Mexico
SAGRADO CORACAO DA TERRA Brazil
SALMON Netherlands
SANDROSE France
SCARAMOUCHE Germany
SCHICKE FUHRS & FROHLING Germany
SEBASTIAN HARDIE Australia
SECOND MOVEMENT Germany
SENSITIVE TO LIGHT France
SEVEN REIZH France
SHADES OF DAWN Germany
SHADOW CIRCUS United States
SHARKMOVE Indonesia
SHINGETSU Japan
SHYLOCK France
SILVER LINING France
SIMON SAYS Sweden
SINKADUS Sweden
SIRIUS Germany
SIXTY-NINE Germany
SKRYVANIA France
SOCIAL TENSION Japan
SOLARIS Hungary
SOULENGINE Italy
SPHINX Multi-National
SPIN XXI Brazil
SPOCK'S BEARD United States
CHRIS SQUIRE United Kingdom
STARCASTLE United States
STENCIL FOREST United States
STERN-COMBO MEISSEN (STERN MEISSEN) Germany
ROINE STOLT Sweden
SUBLIMINAL Argentina
SUPERNOVA Argentina
SURPRISE United States
SWEDISH FAMILY Sweden
SYNOPSIS France
T-TAURI Netherlands
TABULA RASA Finland
TABULA SMARAGDINA Hungary
TAI PHONG France
TANTRA Portugal
TARANTULA Spain
TARKUS Brazil
TAURUS Chile
TAURUS (NETHERLANDS) Netherlands
TEMPUS FUGIT Brazil
O TERÇO Brazil
TERPANDRE France
TERU'S SYMPHONIA Japan
TESIS ARSIS Brazil
THETA Japan
THIRTEEN OF EVERYTHING United States
TIBET Germany
ARMANDO TIRELLI Uruguay
TISARIS Brazil
TOCCATA Mexico
TOMPOX Hungary
TRACE Netherlands
TRANSATLANTIC Multi-National
TRAUMHAUS Germany
TREM DO FUTURO Brazil
TRESPASS Germany
TRESPASS Israel
TRIANA Spain
TRILOGY Germany
TRION Netherlands
TRITONUS Germany
TRIUMVIRAT Germany
UNDER LINDEN Argentina
UNIFAUN Sweden
URBAN TRAPEZE Spain
MARIÁN VARGA Slovakia
VERMILION SANDS Japan
VERSAILLES France
VERTICAL ALIGNMENT United States
VESANIA Brazil
VIA LUMINI Brazil
VIA OBSCURA Germany
THE VOYAGER France
RICK WAKEMAN United Kingdom
WALLENSTEIN Germany
WALLY United Kingdom
WANIYETULA Germany
WELCOME Switzerland
WHITE WILLOW Norway
WILLIAM GRAY Argentina
WILLOWGLASS United Kingdom
WINDCHASE Australia
WOBBLER Norway
X RELIGION Uzbekistan
XII ALFONSO France
XNA United States
YES United Kingdom
YESTERDAYS Romania
ZARAGON Denmark
ZEBULON Germany
ZEN ROCK AND ROLL United States
ZOMBY WOOF Germany
ZOUNDWORKS Netherlands
ZYCLOPE Spain

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | GeoIP Services by MaxMind | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — the ultimate jazz music virtual community | MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music virtual community


Server processing time: 0.34 seconds