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Pendragon - Pure CD (album) cover

PURE

Pendragon

 

Neo-Prog

3.89 | 632 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars A very interesting change

Since the release of Believe, it was obvious that PENDRAGON was facing a major evolution jump in their style, but still the pastoral and softer side of 4 men Genesis influences were present, now Pure is a giant leap, since I saw the art cover, it was obvious that something more aggressive and violent was happening in their music, and the music gave me the reason.

The great paradox is that they have not left behind their natural sound, they have sharpened it and mixed, with the soft Mellotron you can listen a heavy guitar that leads the band almost along all the album. Even Clive Nolan, one of the most talented Tony Banks pupils, has accepted this new sound and adapted his clean and pristine sound to this obscure and vibrant sound.

The change of the talented Fudge Smith for the more Rocker Scott Higham helped to accelerate the evolution, and even his distinctive voice blends perfectly with Nick's to create a new and unexpected sound in the border that divides Neo, Symphonic and Heavy Prog.

The album is opened with Indigo an almost 14 minutes epic that hits us from the start with a heavy distorted guitar and a strong drumming only softened by subtle Mellotron touches as the cherry over the pie. When Nick and the band start to add the vocals, it's obvious PENDRAGON is trying to change from the ATOTT fairytale oriented style to something more radical.

No more naive children stories and soft legends, this is one of the heaviest Neo Prog tracks I ever heard, but of course not everybody changes so dramatically, if they wanted to keep their personality Clive Nolan had to provide the necessary relaxation with his elaborate sections. Excellent opener and a slap in the face of those who believed Neo Prog was soft and predictable.

Erraserhead starts more frantic (if this is possible) but with a more prominent participation of Clive Nolan, but when Nick starts to sing, their original essence is revealed, they haven't betrayed their style, the have simply changed it.- One of the strongest criticisms towards PENDRAGON was their predictability, once listening the first part you knew what was coming later, because they were a bit reluctant for dramatic changes inside a song, well, this is over,. you can expect anything from them, even terrifying screams and howls blended with the music, while an electric guitar played in an almost acoustic style provides some relief, a very good song for an album that really promises.

Comatose (I. View From The Seashore) begins more in the style of earlier albums, with a soft piano that supports Nick's vocals, again the band is privileging their melodic side over the new aggressive persona, even when the change is positive IMO, it's nice to listen some of the old band, but don't expect this to last too much, after a couple minutes the change begins and the music goes in crescendo announcing a climax that reaches with the heavy guitar and frenetic keyboards, and they go even further touching the limits of Prog Metal in some moments but again keeping something of their identity alive.

Special mention to Clive Nolan's fantastic performance and Scott Highan who really makes a difference.

Comatose (I. View From The Seashore) begins with a fast guitar supported by Clive Nolan and Peter Gee solid as always with the bass, as before, the song suffers several radical changes, but the most impressive improvement is the use of the Mellotron, when the song requires, Clive still uses it as in AROTT but when necessary he explores a darker sound previously unusual in the band.

As if this was not enough stylistic change Comatose (III Home and Dry) starts a bit dissonant (something almost impossible to imagine in PENDRAGON; probably the most melodic Neo Prog band), but they manage to come back to a sound that reminds of The Masquerade Overture as if they didn't wanted to abandon the sound that took them to the peak. The rest of the track has some PINK FLOD reminiscences, with Barrett playing some sections in David Gilmour's vein with Clive creating a dense atmosphere and even some sound effects, very nice change and a band doing what Prog is about, exploring possibilities beyond their usual sound.

The Freak Show is a return to the roots, melodic and softer but more melancholic and obscure than usual, again Peter Gee is impeccable, this track will probably be the favorite of the old time hardcore fans, because it's the closer they get to their natural sound, again nice change. The album is closed with It's Only Me and another unusual intro, this time with harmonica and keyboards, but as in The Freak Show is closer to early PENDRAGON than to this new aggressive band. As in The Masquerade Overture, the song flows from start to end with little surprises but with incredible beauty.

This is easily a four stars album and I could do an exception granting them an extra star, because any band that after 23 years and despite having a loyal fanbase, dares to change so dramatically, deserves a special recognition, but it's not a perfect masterpiece, so will have to stay with 4 solid stars.

As I said before in the Forum, Progressive Rock bands don't need to evolve or progress, but if they dare to do it, it's much better, great album for anybody, specially for those who believed Neo Prog is a bland, predictable and boring sub-genre.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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