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Dr. Coenobite - Dragons CD (album) cover


Dr. Coenobite


Symphonic Prog

2.98 | 3 ratings

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3 stars Dr. Coenobite is the name of a Symphonic Prog project headed by Coen Vrousenvelder from the Netherlands. Coen provides pretty much all of the instrumentation for his albums which he has been releasing since 1990. His 15th full length studio album is called "Dragons" and was released in March of 2019. The album is a concept album dealing somewhat loosely about the legend of St. George, the dragon slayer. St. George was an actual person, but whether he really slayed dragons is still up for question after all these years. Once again, Coen provides all of the instrumentation and composition on this album of 9 tracks that has a total run time of just under 43 minutes.

The first track is "Enter the Dragon", and this track acts as the prologue for this cinematic album, complete with sound effects, bright synth melodies and anthemic guitar interludes. It's a nice balance of synth and guitar as they trade off the solos on this track, improvising on some of the thematic material of the album all interspersed with dragon roars and some baroque-ish effects. "The Sacrifice - Princess of Dawn" has a definite symphonic feel to it as the drama intensifies. Underlying the layers of acoustic guitar and woodwinds are some female vocals along with some screaming and more dragon roars. The music turns pastoral with more baroque style instruments underscored by the symphonic effects. This brings about the medieval style that the story is wanting to invoke. There is no credit to any vocals, so I assume this is done by Coen and possible manipulated to sound like a damsel in distress.

"Dragon Attack - Castle on Fire" starts with tense music, growling dragon speaking and so on. A guitar plays a theme and eventually it builds to include drums, more reeds and then a synth solo underlayed by a guitar invoking some drama. As the music plays, you can imagine it sounding like a soundtrack that would probably sound quite impressive if done by an orchestra, but Coen does his best to still make it sound cinematic and symphonic with synths, guitars and reed instruments. "St. George, the Dragon-Slayer" begins with piano and flutes, then a horse sound effect and then actual lyric content sung by Coen. He does a respectable job of evoking the medieval style, but it can sound a bit corny, but, it is also a lot of fun. The key is to not take it all too seriously, his instrumentation and composition is well done, however, the delivery can sound dated and a bit tacky at times. It is quite ambitious though, and would probably be quite impressive if an orchestra was playing more of the parts.

"Dragons and Knights" has quite a regal sound as trumpet effects played by the synth paired with sword sound effects can paint the picture. Synth and guitar exchange the lead on this track, and it feels like a soundtrack from the 70s, a bit dated sounding, but still effective in painting the right picture. If you remember the soundtrack to "Ladyhawk" by Alan Parsons, then this will remind you somewhat of that, except maybe in a less orchestral format. "Chasing the Dragon" takes on a steadier beat, as you would expect from a chase theme, the main instrument being the synth while the guitar provides more progressive sounding interludes enhancing the dramatic feel. Dragon roars along with spoken lines by the dragon ("I am the dragon") and by St. George ("I am the Dragon-slayer") in case you were wondering who was who here. The music becomes slower and heavy at 4 minutes, probably signifying the death of one of our main characters, as the howling dragon effects attest.

"Return to the Castle" signifies the heroic return of our hero as heralding trumpets and ecstatic crowd noises bring in a stately anthem. At this point, the bright synthesizers are getting to be a bit annoying and you find yourself wishing for more stringed instruments, but at least he brings in a harp at the end. "Burn the Ice-Queen" beings in a cheery sound that slows when the 2nd instance of lyrics and vocal melody comes in, this time is sounds like a small choral has joined Coen. The music retains that medieval sound to the melody, but the authenticity is a bit ruined by the guitar and synth. Finally we come to the Epilogue which is called "Year of the Dragon", which pretty much serves it's purpose well by wrapping everything up in a musical coda for the album.

Again, the thing to remember here is to not take it all too seriously. Even so, the music sounds a bit dated, at times approaching the authenticity of the symphonic sound used in a soundtrack like "Ladyhawk", but at other times just sounding a bit too bright and a bit tacky. The use of electric guitar and synths is a bit too extensive here to portray things authentically, and I think a use of more organic and acoustic instruments would have helped, along with real orchestra, but it needs to be understood that this can also be more expensive. So the real key to enjoying this is to imagine the story in your head and appreciate the music for what it is. Anyway, we'll go with 3 stars and consider it a retro style for it's 70's sound which is a bit abused by overuse of synths.

TCat | 3/5 |


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