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Lizard - Half-Live CD (album) cover

HALF-LIVE

Lizard

Eclectic Prog


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5 stars Lizard is Lizard again!

I had been a long time fan of this Polish band, up until they released Master & M, when I noted in another review that their style had changed substantially, and not for the better (in my opinion). All that disappointment I had is now gone with this wonderful release.

Gone is the Damian-only vocal/guitar show that was Master & M. And also gone is the poor mixing that sent the rest of the band to inaudible oblivion. Back are the wonderfully melodic vocals of Damian Bydlinski -- pure tonal with no annoying runs or other embellishments -- vocals that fans will appreciate from the Spam era and before. Back are the wonderful compositions that feature all the band members unabashedly displaying their talented musicianship with ample time in the foreground. They're balanced again. They're Lizard again.

The lineup is the same as on Master & M, except for drummer Mariusz Szulakowski who returned to the band shortly after Master and M's release. The violin performance is un-credited, but a good guess is that it is Krzysztof Maciejowski who played with them on Spam and prior releases, and whose play is credited on Single Omen, a single released prior to this album. Welcome back to both of them! Mariusz wastes no time in making his presence known with some cool poly-rhythmic work at the start of the album (beginning around the 2:00 mark). I just wish Krzysztof had a greater violin presence, but what he does is truly sublime.

Interestingly, this album has only one track at 44 minutes. You might think that it comprises a bunch of unrelated passages, unceremoniously glued together, but in fact, the entire piece is well composed, flows seamlessly, and incorporates a recurring piano theme to tie it all together. Also interesting is the incorporation of excerpts from prior albums. The attentive listener will hear Bez Litosci, Pt. 2 from the album W Galerii Czasu at around the 32:55 mark.

Thank you, Lizard! Thank you for returning to your roots and your strengths. Four and a half stars, rounded up to five for the shear joy of having you back!

Report this review (#2076990)
Posted Monday, November 19, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Today, I've just realised that in 1997 I had the opportunity to see them live, supporting EL&P on their, first and only until then, concert in Poland. To be honest I do not remember their performance, so I assume it wasn't great, but 22 years changed a lot. Actually I fell in love with their latest album. On the first go it seems to be a bit to lightweight IMO, what sometimes means it's not going to stay with you for long, but after a few more tries I'm quite optimistic about that. There's also a layer not available for non-polish speakers which makes the whole album definitely worth 5 stars, but for some of potential listeners it's an obvious obstacle in true appreciation of its beauty.
Report this review (#2121867)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Half-Live" is a new, delightful studio album by one of my favourite Polish prog bands, Lizard. There guys have been around for way over 20 years now, and man, they still come up with a great material. Actually, I'd consider "Half-Live" to be the best Lizard album, right after their wonderful "W galerii czasu" debut.

Everything is in the right place in here. The instrumentation is very well balanced, every instrument gets some important roles in the structure of the piece, none of them seem more important than the other. The violin feature in the first part of the piece is a really nice touch and recalls the UK and early King Crimson influences. Damian Bydlinski's rich and poetic lyrics (anti-war message, it seems) are great, as always. Too bad all the non- polish listeners are going to miss on that. Also, I wanna mention just how amazing the artwork is! I love both the concept and the color scheme, very much in Roger Dean's style. Gotta be my new favourite Polish prog-rock cover art from now on. Unfortunetely the band doesn't really break any new grounds here, everything you're going to hear on this album was done before at some point. I'm also kinda tired of the band proclaming their music as "hard, difficult and unpleasant", which just seems a little bit pretentious. I mean, this album isn't pushing any new boundaries of prog music, let's just be clear about that. Still though, I'm very positively surprised by this album. Both great material and performance. As I mentioned ealier - I'd consider it to be the best Lizard album since the debut. I'm very happy to hear the band in great shape, and wish for more new music, which hopefully'll be a bit more experimental and cutting edge. Definitely worth recommendation, especially if you're into classic retro prog.

Report this review (#2132002)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2019 | Review Permalink

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