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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Kalevala - A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic CD (album) cover


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4 stars Almost four very good progressive hours with a lot of first line bands. Of course, when we've got several groups and many songs, is -at least- very difficult to preserve a masterpiece feeling at all moment but, generally, the quality standards are in a high place. The first cd is, IMO, the best and the more homogeneous, standing out OVERHEAD (very fine), SIMON SAYS, SINKADUS (both mellotronic numbers) and CLEARLIGHT (this one maybe the whole opus pinnacle). At second disc, quality decays a little bit, but there are some wonderful moments trought MUSEO ROSENBACH and LEVIATHAN numbers, closing with an operatic song by SOFIA BACCINI. In the last cd we'll find the weakest points. QADESH (lots of vocal games, sometimes dissonant) and GERMINALE (speaking and not really singing) participation makes a "hole" in the general context. Overall, THONK, RANDONE & TEMPORE and CAFEINE are highlights, recovering the whole spirit. Despite the brief poor points above mentioned, "Kalevala-A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic" is a really very good stuff, plenty of very interesting prog moments and an excellent way to know lots of today's prog bands sound.
Report this review (#22438)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, this compilation contains some very nice tracks by good Progrock bands but as well some one can easily ignore (especially on CD 3). The weakest point I found with this album is in fact that the title implies some concept or coherence within the songs, but finally I had to realise that the songs were rather compiled in a more arbitrary way. Might be useful to have samples from bands one did not hear so far. But I'm really afraid to give it more than 2 stars!
Report this review (#22441)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars It took a long time to listen this 3CD package through - partly due to my annoyance of the 1st disc's malfunctioning (skip-button stops the too long disc). First something about how this project was made. Each band from e.g. Finland, Sweden, Italy, UK and US (Italy being the most numerous) were given a section of Kalevala, the Finnish folklore epic, with a request to use old prog instruments rather than modern digital technics, and to sing in their native language. Well, since most of the bands I'm hearing here for the first time, I don't know if those wishes really changed anything. English is the main language (lyrics are in English only, no matter what is the sung language) with some nice exceptions - and a large part is instrumentals.

It's quite clear that hardly anyone likes all the 29 bands/tracks but as sure is that any prog fan gets a lot of highly enjoyable music and will be given many interesting band names to find more their music. Funnily there were some fine Finnish groups too that I didn't know. I think that's the good point of this album: not including more popular Neo-Prog bands (who probably wouldn't fit to the folklore context) but finding excellent less-known musicians who make music from their heart. For me the best moments are played with 'classic' acoustic instruments with a folk touch. And the least favourites are with the heavy prog style.

As so many track is rather long (round 10 minutes), it's for me a worksome task to listen and to get familiar with so many previously unheard names. I remember hearing for example many gorgeous keyboard solos and exciting epic compositions - but not yet able to give much names. Here are some bands I enjoyed: Simon Says (S), Orchard (N), Greenwall (I), Leviathan (I), Aardvark (Fi) and Groovector (Fi). Eastern Europe is not represented at all, a pity. On a narrative epic level (Kalevala) one can choose whether to follow closely the synopsis or just listen the music. My emphasis was on the latter. I guess there could be enough enjoyment for 4 stars too, but I can't help thinking there's SOMETHING phony to have 29 separate contributions by different bands trying to form a coherent entity. But the result could have been much worse.

Report this review (#38736)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is quite an undertaking. The Finnish national epic, Kalevala, set to music. Well, it had been done before in various forms, but here we have 30 prog bands doing a track a piece in a 70's prog rock style. Each band gets a chapter (or more). Now, as the other reviews allude to, this could be a disaster. On the whole, I think it avoided that problem. The first CD is excellent. Not a single bad track in my opinion, with Castello, Magenta, Sinkadus, and Overhead providing the best songs on the CD. The only problem here, as another reviewer pointed out, is that the CD is 82 minutes long. This seems to cause it to skip sometimes on my home CD, and my car CD player refuses to play it some of the time. Annoying, but not a huge problem. The sound quality is the only other real issue for me, sounding somewhat over saturated and possibly recorded too "hot" (though this may have happened in the final mixing and/or mastering, as all the tracks sound this way even though they were all recorded in different studios for the most part). Not a major issue, but does seem to create some distortion and higher volumes (at least on my cheap audio equipment.........and I don't have this problem with most CD's I own).

CD2 is somewhat less impressive, but still generally very good. Malibran is the only real disappointment, though their music has never done all that much for me anyway. There are still standouts here, by Museo, Orchard, and Mad Crayon. For some reason, the listing above does not include the final track of CD2, by Elegant Simplicity, which is actually a very nice instrumental. So the quality slips a bit here, but it's still a CD worth listening to.

CD3, and fatigue can start to set in, if you try to play all the CD's in sequence (as I did on at least one occasion). Not only that, the quality begins to slip more here. The first track, by a band that as far as I can tell has no albums, Qadesh, is very good. One of the most interesting things I've heard in a while, featuring a vocalist (who also plays everything but drums) with a quite broad range and unique singing style. However, from here until track 9 we have a fairly nondescript series of instrumentals and a couple of vocal songs that really don't seem to go anywhere or serve much purpose. Only a couple are not good (Germinal, with their incredibly annoying spoken work dialog delivered by 2 slightly out of sync speakers, all in Italian), and the rest are just okay. Thankfully, the CD ends strongly with very good compositions and performances by Randone & Tempore and Caffeine.

All in all, a pretty heavy collection, that demands quite a bit from the listener. For what I paid, $30 US, not a bad deal. As with all Colossus releases, the booklet is very informative and well done and gives a great overview of a very lengthy poetic narrative. This was the first of the Colossus project albums, and probably the most ambitious of them all (well, maybe not any more than The Odyssey, but that was far less bands). Considering all that, it comes off rather well. I really want to give it 4 stars, but it's probably closer to 3.5, and I hesitate to call it essential considering the investment in time and money it requires. So I'll say 3.5 and round down. But it is a good buy to get to hear a number of bands you might not otherwise be familiar with. Also, if you like the other Colossus projects, consider this essential.

Report this review (#121372)
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a decent compilation with some good bands, some great bands, some mediocre bands, and some downright crappy bands. When you compile a group of 29 differant bands, it's just not possible for someone to enjoy all of them.

Although the bands are working together on a concept album, there is almost no sense of unity between songs. Each band has its own style and there are many differant genres. Its a deffinate struggle to try to make sense of the concept and keep track of the story.

Despite the story line holding everything together, I can't help but look at this as an album that is merely a compilation of alot of prog bands. And thats ok with me. I discovered alot of new bands that I like through this album.

There are just under 4 hours of music here, and about 80% of it is quite good. The rest is just mediocre. But for the price you're paying for this album (around 30 US dollars) the music is well worth it.

Because of the length of the compilation, its hard to listen to it all at once. Who wants to sit listening to music for 4 hours straight? But I have to say, its a perfect album for a long car ride. The first time I listened to this album was on a 4 hour drive from Delaware to Northern New Jersey.

This is a great way to discover new bands, and enjoy some quality prog rock. Its not essential by any means, but its deffinately a good album thats well worth the price.

Report this review (#126173)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars


- How wonderful to notice that in our current commercial Western society the Finnish progrock magazine Colossus and the French progrock label Musea joined in order to release in 2003 an ambitous 3-CD progrock project featuring many lesser known and unknown new progrock bands from all over the world. Meanwhile the first pressing sold out, other Colossus/Musea projects like The Spaghetti Epic and Odyssey also have very decent sales and soon we can expect a now project entitled Tuonen Tytar II featuring band members from Tillion, Ars Nova, The Watch en Glass Hammer, I am looking forward to it!

- But back to the 3-CD Kalevala - A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic (based upon an era in the Finnish history in 50 poems), this year (2008) Colossus and Musea decided to re-release the Kalevala project in a digitally remastered version with one bonustrack (on CD-3). It was a musical marathon to listen to all the 31 bands on the 3 CD's but I am delighted about the quality of all bands (some even surpassed their own level), I cannot trace a weak composition although some tracks are not really my cup of tea.

- DISC 1 (81:32) : all bands were asked to join the Kalevala 3-CD with a new composition, to use Seventies equipment and to sing in their native language. Apart from some bands that preferred to sing in English and some bands that couldn't purchase Seventies instruments, the lion's share succeeded in these musical goals. Especially on CD-1 we can enjoy a genuine vintage sound with cascades of Mellotron waves, Hammond runs and Minimoog flights, this is 'Vintage Keyboard Heaven'! The level of the 10 bands on CD-1 is high, I was blown away by the sound of Overhead (spectacular synthesizer work, strong interplay and lots of fine musical ideas), Simon Says (varied and exciting with some majestic choir-Mellotron, Sinkadus (24-carat symphonic prog with floods of vintage keyboards), Il Castello Di Atlante (warm Italian vocals and intense work on violin and guitar) and Magenta (from twanging acoustic 12-string guitar to sumptuous Hammond, Mellotron and Moog, topped by the beautiful Annie Haslam-like vocals). A very pleasant surprise was Haikara their sound: alternating and powerful with great tension between the classical and progrock parts. The Italian formation Moongarden is now a known band, in 2003 they already impressed with their unique blend of several styles, I loved the bombastis eruptions. Another strong contribution is by the American-French band Clearlight with a great build-up and sparkling Grand piano.

- DISC 2 (71:00) : This CD is less obviously drenched into the Seventies Classic Prog tradition. I was delighted about the instrumental compositions of the unknown Norwegian formation Orchard (very dynamic with propulsive guitar riffs and flute similar to Jethro Tull along excellent choir-Mellotron waves, warm classical guitar and a flashy synthesizer solo) and the English duo Elegant Simplicity (the intense guitar turns to fiery, then a compelling climate with solos on the Prophet 5 synthesizer and Fender Rhodes electric piano). The Italian progrock legend Museo Rosenbach was willing to cooperate and delivered a strongly build-up compositions featuring passionate Italian vocals, delicate classical guitar and lots of Hammond organ (unfortunately no Mellotron like on Zarathustra). Another good Italian band is Revalation delivering wonderful violin - and choir-Mellotron waves, exciting Minimoog and sensitive electric guitar, great! And more from Italy: Leviathan their neo-prog (varied and dynamic with swirling play on synthesizer and flute along warm Italian vocals) and Malibran (fluent and swinging with powerful guitar solos from the 2 guitarists and pleasant work on the flute traverse).

- DISC 3 (76:19) : Although this CD is the least interesting, the level remains decent, especially the English Qadesh (dynamic and varied, from Fender to mandolin), the Italian Cantina Sociale (wonderful flute-Mellotron, the strong work on saxophone and guitar along inspired vocals), the Finnish Aardvark (from folky to Heavy Prog with Floydian guitar and wonderful keyboards), the totally unknown keyboard-driven Swiss band Thonk (lush Hammond sound and some piano and Mellotron), the Italian Randone & Tempore (varied vintage keyboard souns and a bit theatrical vocals) and Cafeine from France (lost of shifting moods and howling guitar runs). The short bonustrack is by the promising Finnish band Viima, it contains a dreamy atmosphere with mellow saxophone and fine Mellotron waves.

- My conclusion: for at about 23 euros/30 dollars you get a huge pile of interesting, captivating and exciting (mainly) new lesser known and unknown progrock bands from all over the world, the cascades of Hammond, Minimoog and Mellotron will caress the ears of the symphomaniacs and progheads, highly recommended!

Report this review (#178743)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars If the counting of reviewed albums is ok, this is to be my 500th one. Time for a special one I would say. And I picked a pretty famous one for that, the very interesting Kalevala 3 CD project played by various artists. This is an incredible total time of somewhere between 200 and 250 minutes, so somewhere between 3,5 and 4 hours !! Can you believe that ? That's pretty much worth the money I feel. I decided to review this one song by song because the songs are extremely different where impact on my personal taste is concerned. And also to make up my mind for the definitive rating because that will end up right in between the 3 and 4 stars I'm pretty sure. So it will probably result in my longest review ever. Nice timing, uh ?

Disc one:

1. Haikara-The Creation/The Sowing. This track starts strangely and darkish then continues with more melody but remains a typical Scandinavian song in the vein of Anglagard and Wobbler. 3*.

2. Overhead- Wainomonen and Youkahainen/The Fate of Aino. Overhead is the second Finnish band which is only logical since Kalevala is from Finland. But this sounds totally different than the opening track. This rocks and swings all along, sounds cheerful really. Nice for the variation ! 3,5*

3. Simon Says-Som Floden Flyter (As the River Runs). This is a track that's also features on Tardigrade, Simon Says' latest album. I always loved this one because of the compositional strength and intriguing atmosphere. 4,5*

4. Sinkadus-Trubadurens Kval (The Minstrel's Cry). With this one we return to darker spheres again, in fact that's how I know Sinkadus as they play in the same style on the Colossus of Rhodes track (a latter release than this one but earlier discovered by me). Short but interesting song. 3,25*.

5. Moongarden-Maiden of the Bow. Moongarden is one of the bands I discovered thanks to Kalevala. One of the 12 (!) Italian bands on this project making it an Italian/Scandinavian feast mainly. This one is sung in English though but it's hard to figure out the lyrics. Good song but not exceptional. 3,5*.

6. Il Castello di Atlante-Ilmarinen forges the Sampo. Another Italian band but more in the RPI style contrary to Moongarden playing the more general symphonic genre. Great track if you like the style, but personally less my cup of tea. 3,25*.

7. Magenta-Lemminkainen's Lament. This is more like it for my personal preference. Nice effort by Rob Reed where the composition is concerned and one of the better song by Magenta ever to me. Fantastic instrumental part in the middle, first featuring great guitar followed by superb keys. 4,5*.

8. Submarine Silence-The Three Battles. Submarine Silence is another prolific RPI band. By a small research I discovered they made one album (tribute to Genesis) but it appeared a real fine one. And so is this track with some good guitar in this instrumental track. 3,75*.

9. Metaphor-Raking the Bones. Metaphor blew me away not too long ago with their Starfooted debut and also here the performance is really good. Surprising twists and a mystical voice are the main features of this amazing band. This particular track is not as great as most songs on their debut though. Eclectic stuff this ! 3,5*.

10. Clearlight-The Boat Builder/Searching for the lost Boat. Same as Simon Says also Clearlight plays a song on this project that's also a part of one of their albums (Infinite Symphony, part III). Nice semi-classical song but not the best track from that album. 3,5*.

Good disk this, on average just above 3,6 stars.

Disc two:

1. Orchard-3. This Norwegian band was completely unknown for me and I just checked, they are not on our site so that will have to do with it. Guitar and flute are the dominant instruments on this pretty heavy track. Very nice melody and good variation. 3,75*.

2. Greenwall-The Wedding. I had one encounter with this RPI outfit and that was on the Colossus of Rhodes Project. I can't say I liked that one and this track is at least less annoying. Still nothing here that really rocks my boat I have to say. Same as the Clearlight track also this one has semi-classical hints thanks to lots of violin and the piano part around the 10 minute mark. Michela Botti's voice reminds me much of Margriet Boomsma from Flamborough Head. Longest track of the entire release, I'll give them that. 3*.

3. Revelation-Uninvited Guest. And here we have another band that likes to contribute to these kinds of projects. In fact these are the only things they did: Colossus of Rhodes and Kalevala, I can't find an album of their own. Never mind, they do these things nicely and also this track is worthwhile, style in between symphonic prog and RPI. 3,25*.

4. Scarlet Thread-Pimeästa Pohjolasta. This band is known as Finnish prog folk according to our site. Unknown to me since I hardly check out prog folk. Nice flute here, friendly music all along on this relatively short track. Very pleasant though not excellent instrumental performance. 3,5*.

5. Mad Crayon-Il Suono Dei Ricordi (The Sound of Memories). Ok, this is getting monotonous now. Also Mad Crayon is known for their contribution on Colossus of Rhodes. Coincidence ? Don't know, apparently some bands really like this kind of exposure. This track starts with enchanting flute followed by typical RPI though pretty restrained here where RPI is often quite dramatic and theatrical. Some wonderful instrumental bits win me over on this one. 3,75*.

6. Museo Rosenbach-Fiore di Vendetta (The Flower of Revenge). This is what I meant by my statement at previous track. Museo Rosenbach is the kind of RPI that makes me stay away from the subgenre most of the time. I must admit they are not showing off too much on this track and then I mean vocally in particular. This is an almost gentle song for their usual style. Pretty good actually I have to admit. 3,5*.

7. Leviathan-Filo di Lama (Edge of a Blade). Ok, just found out that 5 out of 6 bands that featured on Colossus of Rhodes are actually also present on this Kalevala project so here's no.5: Leviathan. This time no RPI even though the band is from Italy. They are categorized as neo and I believe quite rightly. Sung in Italian but obviously not RPI, somehow the keys sound very neo. Very good track. 3,75*.

8. Malibran-Strani Colori (Strange Colors). My remark at the Museo Rosenbach track is actually much more relevant for this RPI band. Especially the vocals here tend to put me off. Instrumentally there's not much wrong here. Good track once again but I will have to limit the score because of mentioned. 3,25*.

9. Sofia Baccini-Malvagio per le Stelle (Mean because of the Stars). Vocals are much better on this track by Sofia. Initially going towards opera style but later on getting back to prog. The composition is disappointing though and so is the instrumental aspect. 3* because of this.

10. Elegant Simplicity-Ilmarinen's Bride of Gold. Now here's another jewel of a band ! Elegant Simplicity plays the guitar how I like it. Crystal clear and extremely melodic. Nice jazzy part near the end. But also here the song itself isn't exactly great. The execution is better to be honest. 3,5* because of that.

Almost exactly 3,5 for this second disc. Looks like my prediction is going to be the right one and this total release is heading for the 3,5*. Depends on disc 3 ...

Disc three:

1. Qadesh-Ilmarinen's Fruitless Wooing. As far as I can tell British Qadesh's only ever performance is this contribution on Kalevala. Jazzy stuff with somewhat peculiar vocals. Not 100% bad but at least a bit weird and that's usually not my thing. Bit of a mix between Zeuhl and RIO Avant prog but then slightly more mainstream. 2,5* for me but I wouldn't be surprised if many proggers really loved this one.

2. Cantina Sociale-Kantele. One of the lesser Italian contributions in my opinion. Extravagant vocals where intensity is concerned. The song is below par as well. 2,5*. 3. Grand Stand-Stormen (Tempest). Now we're talking !!! This is the very best of the entire release for me. Grand Stand already made their masterpiece Tricks of Time at this point and with this Stormen they confirm their ultimate class as far as I'm concerned. First minute should prove enough thanks to a mindblowing guitar solo. The rest is absolutely great as well. 5*.

4. Germinale-La Battaglia Per Il Sampo (The Battle for the Sampo). Typical RPI once again with vocals that remind me of Osanna, more talking than singing. I'm not sure if this is the right way to impress, not for me this. Instrumental bits are very mediocre too. 2,5*.

5. Aardvark-Uusi Kantele (New Kantele). This one doesn't seem very interesting at first but second half of the song is much better with great guitar. 3,75* in the end.

6. Thonk-Kapittu 45/46 (Chapter 45/46). Swiss Thonk plays an organ dominated instrumental, quite melodic at first than suddenly collapsing halfway. The track starts again after that. Interesting. 3,5*.

7. Groovector-Tuletta (Fireless). Another Finnish contribution starting with nice piano in jazzy style. Not really surprising, this band is in this subgenre on PA. Nice atmosphere on this track. 3,75*.

8. Whobodies-Pine. Last one from Finland and same as Qadesh this is their only recorded musical effort (probably) so another occasional band apparently. Same as previous also this track is very jazzy but slightly more in a progressive way. Another very nice one. 3,75*.

9. Randone & Tempore-Runo 49. Collaboration between these two RPI bands especially for this project. Both play the typical RPI style with theatrical vocals. Pretty heavy track this with quite a bit of variation within the song. Ok song but not quite for me. 3*.

10. Cafeine-Way is Open. French Cafeine plays an extended track to round things off. It starts fairly quiet then getting heavier, instrumental for first 4 minutes then various vocals set in, not sounding too impressive to me. Fortunately they quit after a few minutes to return towards the end. I'm pretty ambivalent about this one. Some pretty strong but also weak aspects about this track. 3,25*.

That results in an average of 3,35 for disk three making it the least (equable) of the three. One outstanding track, a few very good ones and a few way below par.

After the usual maths I come to an average of 3,5 so that makes 4 stars for this (almost) essential release. That is if you like these kind of epical various artists products. I do and consider it one of the jewels of my collection. At least it made me discover several very interesting progbands some years ago. Funny thing is that both the average on PA and on Rateyourmusic are just below 3,5 and that's exactly where my average ends up. Still I give it 4 stars because of the effort it must have cost to create a project like this and of course because of the importance for prog rock. Let's not forget it's the chosen picture on the various artists page on PA ! But if I could have given 3,5 stars it would be without hesitation.

Report this review (#254325)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A collection of 31 songs from 31 bands all asked to contribute songs toward the theme of the Finnish folk tale, "Kalevala." The Colossus Magazine-Musea Records collaborative effort asked the bands to try composing and playing their contributions on 1970s period instruments. The results are formidable. Of the 31 songs, I rate no less than 13 of them with 5 stars, proclaiming them as masterpieces of progressive rock, another 15 earn 4 stars, with the remaining three still deserving of 3 stars as "good" contributions to progressive rock music.




An excellent addition to any prog lovers music collection! Highly recommended.

Report this review (#309014)
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Some may have noticed that i'm wading through some triple albums of late. I say wading because many of these include three discs with well over 70 minutes of music on each disc.This one is closer to eighty minutes per disc including the first one which is over 82 1/2 minutes long ! So yeah were approaching 4 hours of music here. Again this is a concept album but this time we get 30 bands (10 per disc) doing a track each. I was thinking of giving this a 4 star rating after the first two discs but the third disc was a huge letdown. I'll comment on the songs that I feel were worth 4 stars or at least were close enough for me to bump them up to that rating.

Disc One starts off great with HAIKARA giving us an 11 1/2 minute track. Keyboards and cymbals to start then it turns dark with violin. It kicks in before 2 minutes. Nice bass with piano 4 minutes in then the tempo picks up. Great sound here. Organ before 6 1/2 minutes as the drums pound. It settles with female vocal melodies before 8 minutes.The tempo continues to change. SINKADUS does me proud with their usual prominant bass / mellotron combo. One of my favourite tracks right here. MOONGARDEN's track isn't as strong in fact it's closer to 3.5 stars but I get drawn in by those vocals. MAGENTA's is a low 4 stars. Gotta love Christina's vocals. I like the instrumental section before 4 minutes to 6 1/2 minutes.It's fairly heavy. CLEARLIGHT finishes Disc One in a surprising way as the singer reminds me of Peter Gabriel. I like this track a lot and in fact half of Disc One is well done.

Disc Two starts off well with a band I hadn't heard of in ORCHARD.These Norwegians use mellotron, flute and picked guitar in contrast to heavier sections very well. MUSEO ROSENBACH's tune might be the best on here.Those classic Italian vocals and powerful sound just blow me away here. Incredible ! LEVIATHAN was a surprise for me.Very enjoyable and the sound late is gorgeous. MALIBRAN also impresses. Nice chunky bass and flue too. Killer guitar late as well. Sofia Baccini I hadn't heard of but she impressed me alot. Mellotron and atmosphere with those vocal melodies are both moving and powerful. So like the first disc I really enjoyed half of the songs.

Unfortunately the Disc Three falls flat. What did they leave the worst for last on purpose ? RANDONE and a Jazz band called WHOBODIES were the closest tracks to 4 stars but both are closer to 3.5.

So 3 stars it is with some real gems scattered around.

Report this review (#479043)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I feel sorry for all people who never will come across this, to say the least, well-fed triple Cd. Most probably I hadn't myself, but fate laid it in front of my eyes in a second-hand shop. For the modest price of 125 kr(19 dollars), mint quality, this is almost half of a brand new. Synphonic takes 35. That means a little more than 4 kr(or 60 cent) per song. Or new 8 kr($1,15). That is not only cheap, it is theft! What about royalties for 30 bands!? All other reviewers here and on other sites who give K. average, below average, maybe "quite good" or at best "very good". My conclusion is different: I adore Kalevala. Probably the best (unreleased) collection of music I've heard. Tastes differ; still for me it's almost unbelievable that someone who is a true fan of the genre don't love this. What if an analogous had been released in the sixties? That would have meant seven or eight Long players in a gaudy paper box. Most likely something of an event or at least a noticeable occurrence. Today, or a decade ago, it was reduced to if not a trifle so at least just one of the scores of releases that particular week. Surely it went unnoticed even for most of the prog community.

The running time of Cd 1 amounts to 82:25 and that's record in my entire collection. Heard earlier that 80 was the limit but that's obviously not the case. Actually it was, I have encountered problems in a portable Cd player, which didn't appreciate its overextended guest. 2 and 3 are just slightly below 80, that means 240 min...four hours of music. To treat K as just another 'sampler' isn't just wrong but ridiculous. To brush it aside as 'neo-prog' isn't less ludicrous. On the contrary, it contains rich, varied material that possibly never would have seen the light of day elsewhere. Hats off to Colossus Magazine who came up with the idea. What's symptomatic, and also highly unique, is that here are multitudinous of groups that exceed themselves in a glaring way. I've heard quite a few of the present artists before, and can only state; did it take this fabulous recording to realize their true potential?

Initial HAIKARA is a classic Nordic prog band whose debut album from early seventies has stood the test of time. Present version of the band, and their fabulous but fateful11:30 min long track outshines everything they've done since the reformation. This is, more than anything else, the true theme of Kalevala. Simply to shine. The occasional vocals, meant to ascend into the mythological Kalevala, are laid on a high octave. They are calling for times long past. OVERHEAD sounds more anglophile but from same point of the compass. Up-tempo and energetic up to 5:30 when you're taken by surprise by its complete conversion, it turns into soft acoustic. Could easily have been start of a new tune if you weren't on the alert. A conductor would define it as; vivace turns bruscamente into mezzo piano. A father-to-son relation between first two Finnish bands. Move with the westerly wind and let SIMON SAYS in. "Som Floden Flyter" is one of the very few songs to be found on a regular studio album with any of the bands included. Mentioned track cropped up several years later on disc Tardigrade. This time in a three min+ longer version. Whether you've heard that version or not, you still get the feeling that it's somehow cut off here. Could be understandable, something had to go in this competition for space. It does not in any sense affect the splendid quality of the song.

Net site All Music asserts that bass phantom Jonas Hellborg plays on K, as a part of SIMON SAYS. He is given generous and extensive introduction to the reader. Interestingly, I strongly doubt that the emigrated Swedish born New Yorker knows that he's here playing. Actually the guitar players name is Hallberg. Still Hellborg has a connection to Swedish prog. I've seen him performing with both Jaime Salazar and Zoltan Czorsz(drummers in The Flower Kings). The same abbreviated situation for following Swedish band SINKADUS. Their offering with penetrating staccato intro is just as competitive as anything they have done before the career came to a halt. At least partly split up, the remaining male quartet contributed to a couple of conceptual works like K. "Trubadurens Kval" is a surprisingly short affair for a band that normally prefers elbow-space. It just ends too quickly. The zealous onlooker may ask why two Swedish bands have been placed no. 3 and 4. It would have been more logical to include at least one Italian group(there are seven such on Cd 2 and not a single Swedish). Is the concept story that coherent or are groups 3 and 4 compensated for undesired 'edits'? A 90 min. running time is still not achievable. Let's move southwards, three Italians are included on disc 1. II CASTELLO DI ATLANTE's roots go back all the way to the mid seventies, although they for some reason didn't enter the studio until early nineties. "Ilmarinen" displays a group that knows perfectly well where, how and why a symphonic song is structured.

MOONGARDEN and SUBMARINE SILENCE share an important quality; keyboard player Christiano Roversi. He's a part of both bands and has written or co-written both tracks. S. SILENCE attracts your attention as soon as you catch sight of debut album from -01. Yes it's unmistakably Paul Whitehead. For the Genesis connoisseur, it's like detecting a lost cubical Picasso painting! A typical Genesis cover band, one may dub them. Both in tone and color. Their own compositions don't disgrace them either. "The Three Battles" is a pleasant instrumental with enough contents to keep the fire alive. MOONGARDEN is inimitably different. Roversi has many irons in the fire; this is just two of them. Possibly could the production of what's playing been a scrap more prolific. The sound was left locked up in the control room, not least the drums. The magical 10 min. line is anyhow subtly crossed. UK's MAGENTA(not the folk music band from same region) performs "Lemminkainens..". How many British recordings with Finnish title have you experienced in your lifetime? Female vocalist Christina Booth is a delicacy throughout first half of the tune. Bel canto! She is replaced by not less effective Kashmir-like riffs on the second. METAPHOR from the U.S. let the world become familiar with Cd Starfooted. The song here might sound harsh for a newcomer but its melodic value comes creeping after a while. I like it more and more.

CLEARLIGHT led by Cyrille Verdeaux, accompanied by American singer/drummer Shaun Guerin and others, lay out a minor symphony in form of a 10 min.(called "Movement 3" on own record). Normally they are found in the instrumental vein though. This is actually the second released version. Present issue is 2 ½ min. shorter, a removed sax section is evident. Some may call CLEARLIGHT's general direction laid-back muzak, but what we find here is truly competent. Epic and beautiful piano playing from the leader of the French born outfit. Shaun Guerin, who also was a part of a Genesis cover band (they are quantitative!), never got the opportunity to witness the release of K. Sadly he passed away in 2003. Born in the same year as myself, with compatible musical orientation, Shaun does one of his best vocal performances on "The Boat Builder"(Listen to the multi-layered overdubbed voice on "Movement 3"). I will seize the opportunity and dedicate this review to his memory. (If you have further interest in P. Whitehead, check out Shaun's solo album The Epic Quality of Life and its incredible cover by the classic artist).

Only slightly shorter than 1, how can 2 possibly live up to the phenomenal standard of the first disc? Sounds too good to be true if so happens.. The boot country Italy dominates Cd2 with a vengeance, with seven out of ten tracks. Is the quantity really related to the quality? Anyhow, Norway's one and only contribution ORCHARD start up the party. No matter how much you search in your local Cd shop, you will not succeed. Their recorded legacy seems to be limited to K. I don't like this song less than any on previous Cd. Some wild Tull flute with harder guitar bottom is a characteristic theme in this opening instrumental. GREENWALL brings the longest track on K. "The Wedding" has points but is perhaps too extended. 10-11 min. would've been more appropriate. The female vocalist(does she sing in English?) lowers the overall impression in the lush and string drenched composition. More Italy and anew a temporary unit, this time in form of REVELATION. So where did they find a makeshift act like we got here? Are they piled up in a supply only to be taken out when it's time for a conceptual triple/ or fourfold package? REVELATION is another example of the high achievement displayed on K. Possibly they have lent an ear to PFMs 'Is My Face on Straight'? Just compare the effective accordion elements.

Once again All Music is out bicycling. They place REVELATION geographically on the North-American east coast. Every band member has changed name, instrument and probably wife as well. More melodramatic Nordic tones in folk disguise from Finnish SCARLET THREAD. Frail violin tones throughout a short/medium long instrumental. I must have listened about forty times almost in row to MAD CRAYON's "Il Suono Dei Ricordi". As I recall I had an album, I think the second, but it got lost. There's no time to mourn. One of the best songs I've ever heard! Utterly melodic, dual flutes, well-thought-out vocal harmonies. Soaring prog/jazz tinged instrumental parts in finest Pat Metheny style. Of all 13 Italian bands included on K, MUSEO ROSENBACH is probably the most renowned. Their album Zarathustra(with its bizarre cover), is on many top 10 lists of Italian prog. Or even on the definite top 10. I have to admit it's on neither of mine. They reformed at the turn of the millennium with a mix of new/old members. "Fiore Di Vendetta" is the third song on K that you will find elsewhere. It was rerecorded on a very recent record by the group. As I heard it here first, I clearly prefer that version. Needless to say it's another great inclusion on K.

LEVITHAN(it's getting sweaty..); I don't even have to listen to the whole tune. It carries on in the 10 min. trad, but the piano/flute section between ca 4,15-4,35 is enough to saturate the most fastidious prog fan. I'll save the rest for another time. I was close to miss MALIBRAN(simply because they are the fourth Italian band beginning with letter M). Like quite a few others here, a band belonging to the nineties school. A more condensed track, plentiful of good flute. The vocals are a minor part, concentrated to short section of the song. The tempo slows down with SOFIA BACCINI, so does the quality. The female solo artist isn't up to scratch in this league. Here is appealing to ask; where are bands from i.e. Germany hiding? Weren't they invited to participate on K? Final track and second British inclusion comes from rather unknown act ELEGANT SIMPLICITY. It's more a one man project by multi instrumentalist Steven McCabe who has an extensive discography. An instrumental with likeable theme, also space for virtuoso guitar excesses.

Rome wasn't built in one day, and it took 13 Italian bands to get K ready. About three of them superfluous. On Cd 3 only CANTINA SOCIALE reaches normal high standard. Others are easily forgotten. CANTINA S. is in the melodic vein, which is a common feature on K. The basic idea of K is retro- sound and performance. Escapism from programming and stiff rhythms. A few years into the noughties after the second- and third wave of progressive. That's a praiseworthy decision. Out of the concrete block back to the forest. To summarize the massive Italian participation one can establish that for most part they are found on the lighter side of the spectra. That's everything but degradation, but there's nothing like the ultra raw eccentricity of Balleto Di Bronzo. There's a distinct line of demarcation in Italian prog before and after let's say -77, or even earlier. The three Finnish inclusions on 3 are appreciably more uplifting. AARDVARK(an English word but emanating from South African Dutch!) are performing in their native language. Once there was a British band with same name. Finnish is remarkably more sprawling than the smooth and fluid English. There are four different languages presented here. That is the French unit(s) evaded their homework. Italian is greatly romantic. Can't judge the reception and opinions of the Swedish vocal worthiness.

AARDVARK, all Finnish, but residing in all corners of the globe, managed somehow to put their musical pieces into one unit. So did compatriots GROOVECTOR, but within the borders of 'the land of the thousand lakes'. An exquisite and relaxed instrumental. If it wasn't for the sharp competition why not a future classic? Followed by additional instrumental tones from WHOBODIES. They offer us the by far jazziest moment on K. There's a unit called QUADESH, which you never have heard about before. Just like WHOBODIES(and earlier mentioned ORCHARD and REVELATION), the only recorded appearance occur here. In the case of QUADESH alas, one can understand why..Just delete. That leaves us with three remaining tracks, and what tracks! THONK, pure and unadulterated Hammond from central Europe and Switzerland. A stunningly good thing without disturbing voices. The intro reminds you of similar Hammond and U. Heep song Sunrise. THONK recorded a record in Par Lindh's home studio outside Stockholm. That vouches for genuine goods. Only to be challenged by the record thick and costly booklet included in the set.

More capital of Sweden, GRAND STAND knocks you to the hilt(if you weren't already) with stupendously strong "Stormen". You might detect some Floydian guitar pyrotechnic but that won't bother you. Didn't have that high expectation actually. I have witnessed two previous Cd with G.S. and can't recall a better song than on K(I've lost count of how many other similar cases here..). Lasts for seven min. and then fades out without precaution. As Cd 3 runs for a diminutive 76:30, GRAND STAND should have filled out the remaining space(why all Swedes..?). Final band, French CAFEINE, debuted in the mid nineties. There were at least tendencies of a challenger to Echolyn, Flower Kings, Spock's Beard and others. This never happened. "Way is Open" is actually their last recorded work. Composed by keyboard player Christophe Houssin with lyrical contribution from the outside. A vast tune running for an impressive 11:40. Reaches higher into the sky than the Eiffel Tower. I place it among the very best tracks on K(which doesn't say little!). Dramatic, eventful, energetic..You name it.

Kalevala doesn't only feel like a music collection. Rather a huge family meeting, despite character of isolated case. Everybody gather for a joyful time, say thank you - good night. You don't have to be uninvited guest, just go ahead and purchase it! Not every square millimeter on Kalevala is of highest calibre, but that would be virtually impossible. I take away four songs, which is negligible. Add to this some minor fluctuation here and there. But with four fleshy hours of by and large new creation, this is a clear five star rating. Everything else should be false marketing.

Seen from the perspective of the band; why donate a good song/lengthy composition to a project like this? The royalty income must be highly limited(compare the number of bands to the under-price). The public relations are narrowed to its purchasers. Without knowing any exact sales figures, many record buyers regard this kind of project with skeptical eyes. It becomes a curiosity, no matter if it's a better curiosity. So one sticks to one's own fave bands. Luckily, the many groups didn't pay heed to professorial reasoning like this. We are only grateful for the venture. Very grateful! As pointed out before, the price tag $35 is on the low side. It ought to be at least the double. I would gladly, and by right, pay $70 myself, provided that I was aware of the content of course.

As the ten-year jubilee of K draws nearer apace, have a look at how many bands who are still, or rather not, around today. Possibly they are all living in Hawaii by now. Squandering the millions they never earned from the Kalevala Project.

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Posted Monday, November 18, 2013 | Review Permalink

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