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Kayak - Merlin - Bard Of The Unseen CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 129 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The Dutch progressive rock scene saw a lot of comebacks at the start of the century. With a modern symphonic rock / prog / pop sound Kayak returned with 'Close to the Fire' in 2000 with original vocalist Max Werner. After the transitional album 'Night Vision' (which I quite like!) keyboardist and composer Ton Scherpenzeel set out to finish his Merlin concept album, of which they had already recorded five songs in 1981 (which was a return to the progressive rock roots of the band at that time). Max Werner was quick to leave the newly formed Kayak and was replaced by Bert Heerink, who is most famous as the frontman of the eighties (neo classical) stadion metal band VanderBerg (do give a shot at their 'Alibi' album). The talented Cindy Oudshoorn contributed her vocals to the band as well and quickly became a full member after much fan appraisal of her performances live.

With 'Merlin - Bard of the Unseen' Kayak delivers its first full concept album, which of course tells about the Arthurian legend. The adult symphonic prog sound has changed quite a bit, using much of the medieval and classical sounds first introduced in 1981. The album features additional strings of the New Philharmonic Orchestra. With this crossover of medieval music and symphonic rock the band creates a fresh pallet, though some have pointed out it may come across as the sound of a musical. The songwriting is great throughout this record and the new arrangements of the songs from the original Merlin record are beautifully done. Kayak is easily the most melodic band ever to come from the Netherlands and this album really is a celebration of the composition talent of Scherpenzeel en Koopman. The story-line is well established and the music fits in perfectly. My only complaint would be that the string of songs before the finale 'The Last Battle' looses a bit too much steam. Songs like 'Merlin', 'The Future King', 'The Sword in the Stone', 'Branded' and 'The Last Battle' are easily among the best recordings of the band. The vocal performances of Heerink, Oudshoorn and guitarist (and secret weapon) Vunderink are all very lively and well recorded.

This album is considered one of the strongest progressive rock albums of the Netherlands and I think fans of symphonic prog, prog folk, crossover and concept albums should most definitely check it out!

friso | 5/5 |


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