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Gary Hughes - Once And Future King - Part II CD (album) cover

ONCE AND FUTURE KING - PART II

Gary Hughes

 

Progressive Metal

3.98 | 14 ratings

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BookAboutSalad
4 stars First I have to say - I don't find this album very progressive at all - okay, it's a mix of rock, AOR or even pop choruses, power/heavy metal with symphonic touches but the music is very simplistic compared to most of the bands featured on progarchives. The guy who wrote the music, Gary Hughes, is also (or was maybe) in a popisch band call Ten. Although, music don't have to be better just because it is harder to play, so I'd say the geniality of this album (if there is any) lies in the songwriting. And since I still am more of a metalhead than a true prog listener I don't think I will have problems to give this album a fair rating ;)

Almost all the choruses on the album are sing-along choruses and I've had each and every one of them on my head, wandering around a whole day singing on them. So the album for me is totally based upon choruses, maybe not as much as the first part but still.

Since the songs differ a bit from each other I would like to comment all of them:

The album kicks of with Kill the King wich for me is one of the best songs. It was the same with Exalibur on Part 1. The song is very metal, but I kinda miss a cool cinematic intro as the one in Part 1 (written by genious Arjen Lucassen). The singer, DC Cooper (from the NWOBHM band Diamond Head I think) does a good job but is not a favourite of mine. Next song There by the Grace of Gods (Go I) is also a very cool song wich I did not like so much the first listenings. It is sung by Gary Hughes himself and is both soft and hard in a nice way - it even features very deep growling in the chorus. Then comes the shame of the album - I Still Love you. It sounds like a crappy pop song and it really is, it's the worst song on both part 1 and 2 and I just can't stand it. Skip this one. Oceans of Tears is sung by one of my favourite female singers in the world of symphonic music - Lana Lane. It's a down-tempo song wich is very cosy but a bit boring. It's definately okay. Rise from the Shadows is sung by another of my favourite women - Irene Jansen. I just don't get why she doesn't get to sing more songs - she does a fantastic job and though I prefer "weak" female voices she is just great. Her voice is really like an explosion on this album. The song is kinda metal and one of the better songs on the album. And then comes the only duo on the album, Believe Enough to Fight. It is to 85% sung by Sabine Edelsbacher from Edenbridge (from Austria), and she does a good job, but it's far from her best. I prefer her in Angra (she does guest vocals on Temple of Shadows), her best work in my opinion. The song fits her well though, she has very high pitched vocals and it's a slow song. The last 15% is sung by Bob Catley from Magnum who really is among the best singers on the album, and this is the only part he gets to sing on the album wich is really sad. And he only sings a short fade-out part in the end so it's not much of a duo song at all. The Hard Way is maybe the most odd song on the album, sung by a guy called Doogie White. He has a nice voice, not a favourite but okay. I have some serious problems describing the sound of the song so you have to listen yourself. The Pagan Dream is also sung by Sabine Edelsbacher and sounds a bit like a song that could be in the Eurovision Song Contest, maybe just a bit to hard - it's a metal song. Here she sings in a completely different way and though it's one of the most catchy songs on the album I don't really like it. Gary really should've picked another singer for this one is my opinion. The layered vocals in the chorus also feel very messy. Demon Down is also sung by Doogie White and reminds a bit of his other song, I still have problems to describe it but... well, it's "cool rock"... guess that doesn't say it, you'll have to listen. An ok song. Another dissapointment (for me) on the album is the short instrumental song Deius. I really looked forward to and instrumental song, it fits very well in an album with 95968632923 songs based upon pop choruses... so when I found that the song was one and a half minuted and was only march drums and darker male "opera" vocals singing on latin I was dissapointed. Maybe not bad but totally unescessary. Then comes Without You, sung by Sean Harris, not a favourite but he is okay. It reminds me a bit of the song "Make Believe" by Angra, he sounds maybe a little bit like Andre Matos... but when the chorus comes, just forget it. It's no more Angra. Not really bad but one of the worst songs on the album. Very slow. And the last song, the epilouge entitled Once and a Future King is just the stereotype of the last song on an epic album. It's very good written but reminds to much of Phantom of the Opera. And it's kinda boring, this kind of last songs use to be that. It fits in and feels nescessary but - boring.

It's a bit sad that he made this an epic album (it's about the tale of King Arthur). The booklet features storylines wich are very well written but the songs are mostly not epic at all wich gives a very strange and duality feeling to me... Again - the songs are well written, not always lyrically (at least NOT for an epic album - pop lyrics) but musically definately, almost all songs are very catchy and the arrangements and guitar solos are nice. The production is also totally acceptable. But it's far from my favourite epic album and if I should recommend an epic album based upon the tale of King Arthur I would certainly recommend Imaginations from the Other Side by Blind Guardian (not very prog) instead. But I bought this album for 29 SEK (something like 3$ 50 cent) so it was not a bad buy. I'd say get it, but don't pay to much for it ;) I also prefer this one a bit more than the first one - this one is more even.

And the rating - I'd give it a straight 7 out of 10 wich I actually would like to round upwards - because this is better than Part 1 and I would like to give that one 3. It's a good addition to any music collection if you want tons of choruses to get stuck on your head - but as I said, not very prog at all.

/Jesper

BookAboutSalad | 4/5 |

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