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Triumvirat Spartacus album cover
3.87 | 403 ratings | 53 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Capital of Power (3:13)
2. The School of Instant Pain (6:22) :
- a. Proclamation
- b. The Gladiator's Song
- c. Roman Entertainment
- d. The Battle
3. The Walls of Doom (3:56)
4. The Deadly Dream of Freedom (3:54)
5. The Hazy Shades of Dawn (3:09)
6. The Burning Sword of Capua (2:41)
7. The Sweetest Sound of Liberty (2:35)
8. The March to the Eternal City (8:46) :
- a. Dusty Road
- b. Italian Improvisation
- c. First Success
9. Spartacus (7:38) :
- a. The Superior Force of Rome
- b. A Broken Dream
- c. The Finale

Total Time 42:14

Bonus tracks on 2002 Harvest remaster:
10. The Capital of Power (live 1976) (3:16)
11. Showstopper (previously unreleased) (3:37)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jürgen Fritz / electric & grand pianos, Hammond organ, Moog & ARP String synths, producer
- Helmut Köllen / bass, acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Hans Bathelt / drums & percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Kochlowski

LP Harvest / EMI ‎- 1C 062-29 567 (1975, Germany)
LP Capitol - ST 11392 (1975, US)

CD Harvest / EMI ‎- 792910 2 (1994, Brazil)
CD Harvest ‎- 7243 5 3516321 (2002, Europe) Remastered by John Cremer w/ 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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TRIUMVIRAT Spartacus ratings distribution

(403 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TRIUMVIRAT Spartacus reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 1975's SPARTACUS is a good "symphonic" prog album from 70s German outfit Triumvirat, but it's unquestionably derivative of some of the classic prog bands, especially ELP. If you can get past that, this is the band's most accomplished effort. The bass and drums are particularly adept, and the powerful and brooding "March to the Eternal City" and the triumphant title track are well worth the price of admission.

Regrettably, the group got increasingly commercial after this, but I'd also recommend the prior ILLUSIONS ON A DOUBLE DIMPLE.

Review by Menswear
5 stars At first I felt curious. Then stunned. Then angered. Then more curious. Then releaved. Then HAPPY.

Yes, after many carefully listenings, I now feel proud I bought this album. A problem with Triumvirat is that everybody told you that it's an ELP clone. It's not. It's Triumvirat. Cleaner sound and oh dear lord, so much catchy tunes in one album.

It's a shame that so many people try to match a band with another. This attitude repels you from trying out new bands. Triumvirat was not the new ELP, just like Echolyn is not the new Gentle Giant. Triumvirat is very 'easy-listening' but not light-written. Isn't that, the greatest challenge in progressive rock.

To those are about to keyboard, we salute you.


Review by loserboy
4 stars "Spartacus" is in my humble opinion perhaps their greatest moments in the recording studio. Sensational keyboard driven progressive rock very much in the same vein as ELP. TRIUMVIRAT deliver some excellent proggy moments here and I think the songs are very well constructed and are in the 7-8 min range. "Spartacus" is a great place to start.
Review by lor68
4 stars Their best effort,which actually deserves a "4 stars and an half" score at least, as they are inspired by the best stuff concerning EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, but with a personal touch of their own, their use of great melodies and inspiring music passages too, which make this album a personal imprinting by this clever German band of the seventies. Highly recommended!!
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is faultless! That's deep! They could not have done better! All the songs are excellent. Reminds me EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, with a better sound. The instruments are less in the background and the songs are more melodic: so the album is very dynamic: actually, quite more dynamic than ELP! Thi record is one of the most dynamic albums ever listened!! You understand it when you turn up the volume!! I also like the fact that all the instruments are very well played and no one looks like ordinary or irrelevant. The second part of "Spartacus" reach the quintescence. The keyboards are the main force of this album, but the drums and bass must not be neglected. Even the classical guitar parts are essential!! The album also has a couples of smooth songs, which are really well made; they give you a feeling of hope, strength and pride. The keyboards performance is absolutely outstanding and it's even sometimes quite jazzy!!!!!!!!


Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Like TRIUMVIRAT's previous album ("Illusions on a Double Dimple"), "Spartacus" is based around a theme, this time the gladiator Spartacus in ancient Rome, and the slave uprising that he led. The sales of the "Sparacus" LP were even better than "Illusions", particularly in the USA.

TRIUMVIRAT have been compared by many with EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, or called an ELP-imitator. Certainly some of their music appears influenced by ELP but, in my opinion, has more of a pop feel to it, or maybe it's just more melodic. This is certainly true of "Spartacus": I find myself whistling along to some of it rather than wanting to play air-guitar, if you know what I mean!

The music is perhaps a bit twee on a couple of the tracks, but nevertheless it's a great album; not up to the standard of "Illusions" in my opinion, but still a worthwhile addition to the collection of a progressive/symphonic rock fan. There are plenty of great synthesiser and keyboard moments throughout the album, and some very good guitar and drum playing too.

The 2002 CD re-release is a digital re-master of the original LP, and the sound quality is good. A couple of extra tracks have been included, one is a live version of the first track on the album (which, incidentally, shows how well the band played live) and the second is a previously unreleased track which I also like.

Review by richardh
2 stars I've owned this album for about 12 years and have probably played it about 4 times thats how much I like it (not). The phrases 'unfocused mess' and 'rip off of ELP' were my very first reactions. Jurgen Fritz's keyboard refrains are so Emerson like that you it makes me think of that fan in an episode of Alan Partridge on TV (just a tad obsessive/ borderline danger to the public). Triumvirat were indeed ELP's shadow accept you don't have the inventiveness ,power or sheer brilliance of ELP but otherwise they are very similar. Its prettyish keyboard based music for sure and Fritz probably plays better than Emerson but frankly I don't care. The songs are presumably meant to tell some story but the vocals make it all sound unimportant to me.I do quite like Illusions On A Double Dimple which was their peak (4 stars) and Mediteranean Tales (3 stars) but this can be safely avoided I feel.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If you like ELP, this album fits your taste. It's ELP-alike with stronger melody. The musicianship is not as ELP but overall this album is excellent. Some nice tracks here are "The Sweetest Sound of Liberty" with a nice accoustic guitar opening. The keyboard playing in this track is really cool; it would make you emulate the piece. My childhood (hey, I knew this album when it was released) favourite track is "The March of The Eternal City". So powerful this simple symphonic prog track so that I proposed this as my gang's (of music nerds?) theme song. Listen to it! You would like it. This must be in your collection if you are a progger.
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After the great artistic success of Illusions in a Double Dimple, The Rat strikes again with the Conceptual and epic album Spartacus. Based in the story of the Gladiator who lead an insurrection against the all mighty Rome, this album is almost as good as the previous (even when some people believe it's better). The concept of course is simpler because the history can't be changed, but this leaves less artistic freedom to the band.

TRIUMIRAT managed to keep the same lineup with Jürgen Fritz, Helmut Köllen and Hans Bathelt that worked so well, and the result couldn't be better, with more clear ELP influence but with much better arrangements, Spartacus is an album that is worth to have in any collection.

The Capital of Power¯ is a magnificent overture or introduction (choose the adjective that fits better for your taste); totally instrumental resumes the epic atmosphere of the album and gives the listener a clear idea about the whole concept. If I had to describe musically the greatness of ancient Rome, there a no doubt I would choose this excellent track of amazing keyboard and extremely accurate drumming.

School of Instant Pain¯ is a small multi part epic that starts with a very beautiful piano solo, which is followed by the classic vocals of Helmut Köllen, a great voice but still keeps the hard German accent. The song develops as a powerful ballad where Helmut's voice and Bathelt drums add enough strength too keep the interest. In the middle of the track there's an interesting jazz/march section where Jürgen Fritz keyboards and piano are outstanding, somehow when you listen this section, the ELP sound is present, but not as a copy, only a strong inspiration. At the end a psychedelic keyboard, bass and drums passage gives a clear perspective of the Gladiator's training, even without a single word.

The Walls of Doom is not one of the best tracks, the marching music intro sounds weak, but the final keyboard and drums section is probably enough to save the song and again provide enough power.

The Deadly Dream of Freedom¯ is a very beautiful ballad mainly for vocals and piano which narrates the moment when the idea of Liberty is born in Spartacus mind idea that's expressed in the phrase "I have a dream that we can make it"¯, before the end we can listen a keyboard section reminiscent of ELP and of course a touch of extra piano, where Jürgen Fritz shows his skills with the keys.

The Hazy Shades of Dawn¯ starts as another march but changes into a more complex tune again very reminiscent of ELP but with the characteristic and unique style of The Rat.

Burning Sword of Capua¯ starts with an absolutely baroque Hammond solo, but what impresses me more is that Bathelt keeps the military drumming to maintain the revolutionary and epic atmosphere, also changes into a very complex and progressive Hammond based song with some good changes.

The sweetest Sound of Liberty¯ is another beautiful and powerful ballad where the rhythm section provides unusual power and strength for a soft and beautiful tune, a song of contrasts, simply delightful.

The March to the Eternal City¯ is another multi part mini epic, the first part Dusty Road¯ works as an introduction for the track, starts as a slow march followed by a vocal part where all the band is amazing, in some way expresses the difficult march of the rebels to Rome, the piano adds dramatics to this first part. Italian Improvisation is an extremely complex section with crossed rhythms and complex keyboards. The last part The Battle, a frantic short section where the listener can feel the fight.

The album couldn't end in a different way than with "Spartacus" another mini epic divided in three songs, The Superior force of Rome¯, A Broken Dream¯ and Finale¯, again a complex track full of contrasts and changes, that mixes with great talent frenetic battle sections softer tunes full of nostalgia with sadness and jazzy chords, simply progressive rock at it's best expression.

IMHO Spartacus is not as brilliant, innovative and free as Illusions in a Double Dimple¯ because of the historic frame that leaves little room for the personal expression, but The Rat does a hell of a job even with the limitations.

So still 5 solid stars, because along with the previous release, it's the peak of the band.

Review by Carl floyd fan
4 stars The first time I listened to this album...maybe even the first two or three times...I was disapointed, they seemed to be an ELP clone and I didn't even finish the cd the first few times. Than gave it a good honest chance and loved it. It seems as though many people did the same as me, which is maybe why people (including me, I am at fault) should stop making comparrissons between two different bands and just rate them on their own merit. This is a unique cd and one I enjoyed as it grew on me. Give it a shot, the keyboards and druming are some of the best I have heard.
Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is an excellent album, one of the best albums from this great band is full of sounds and fellings as atmosphere "status", the synthetizers and the entire music are great , sounds like a withoud ending road... but with a few of hope and makes the single sound to a biggest rythm ... well si great.. but not a masterpiece...
Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very fine and varied third album by Triumvirat, "Spartacus" soon became their apex in their discography or at least in the same line as the previous album. There are lot's of obvious ELP influences here, but not really in a ripoff way which I'll give Triumvirat credit for. It's a wonderfully varied, but unfortunately uneven album album, though the best songs here mostly makes up for it. Very good playing and good melodies makes this Triumvirats best album for me. 4.25/5
Review by erik neuteboom
5 stars This is the German keyboard-driven trio Triumvirat at their best, what a wonderful and compelling progrock experience, I cannot trace one weak moment! All (often very ELP- inspired) compositions sound tasteful and features a lush and varied keyboard, ranging from the soaring string-ensemble and warm Grand piano to bombastic Hammond organ runs and Moog synthesizer flights. The moods shift from mellow with strong vocals and acoustic piano to heavy outbursts or bombastic parts with exciting keyboards. The highlights are "The march to the eternal city" and "Spartacus", these longer tracks sound so lush symphonic. The CD re-release contains two bonustracks: "The capital of power" (live, good recording) and "Showstopper" (previously unreleased, a bit polished and catchy up-tempo song that sounds pleasant)


Review by kunangkunangku
4 stars What this album attracted me first was its cover: a white mouse inside a lightbulb. Very cute. The music got me hooked even more.

Yes, this German outfit easily reminds us to the legendary British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer because of its staunch and articulate keyboard work, which sweepingly dominates the music. It's only partly true, however. Give it a serious listen and you'll know the music is actually different, not just its nuances but also its substances -- say, the melody has its signature dynamic.

And this third effort properly serves as an example of how the band have been so successful in infusing guitar texture -- be it electric or acoustic -- into the dense, uncompromising notes produced by the keyboard and or synthesizer, sometimes accompanied by powerful and energetic bass riffs. In the case of this album, by doing so, the band also easily find a way to seamlessly harmonize them with the chosen theme.

It's safe to say that this is a balance and solid album. Its theme, the rebellion against the almighty Roman empire led by the famous gladiator Spartacus (that's right, the one that was made into a movie in 1960 by Stanley Kubrick, starring Kirk Douglas), set the landscape to any mood and tone the composer(s) intended to put into -- both optimism and pessimism, or mighty and melancholy, or epic and ballad. Try, for instance, "School of Instant Pain", or "March to the Eternal City", or "The Deadly Dream of Freedom".

Whilst it's not as strong as it's predecessor (1973's "Ilussion on a Double Dimple"), this album might serves as an appropriate stepping stone to the remaining Triumvirat catalogue -- to say the least.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Spartacus was the second album with the classic line up of Jürgen Fritz, Helmut Köellen and Hans Bathelt. A concept album about the gladiator who led a rebellion against Rome, it was a daring move for such a new band, but - unlike so many others who tried the same - a very succesful one, both artistically and comercially (it even charted at the USA top 30).

Musicly speaking, this album is more simple than the previous one, Illusions On A Double Dimple, since Fritz did not use any real orchestration or choirs. All the orchestral parts comes from his keyboards, specially the ARP String Essemble Synthesizer. I had mixed feelings about this move. While you have to consider that he did a great job, the ELP influence is back in full force, something he avoided so brilliantly on Illusions On A Double Dimple.

Still what a great piece of music! Rarely I´ve seen a concept album that works so well, the music and lyrics blending together to bring the story a new dimension. The group never seemed so good as a unit. It´s hard to believe that only 3 guys did all this wall of sound. Unfortunatly this would be also their very last. Helmut Köellen left the band soon after the release of this LP. Even if he had stayed it would not meant new works were delivered by the same line up, since he died on a tragic car accident a little over a year later.

However, this CD and Illusions... proved that this band had something special. They both survived the test of time and can be heard with equal pleasure after 30 years of their original release, still sounding as fresh and exciting as they did back then. A must have for any prog fan. Or anyone who likes good music in general.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Looking backwards it's sometimes hard to believe how much TRIUMVIRAT were popular in Brazil in the mid-70s. They certainly surpassed FOCUS, GENESIS and CAMEL, tied with EL&P and YES and where barely defeated by TULL and FLOYD in the prog popularity contest here in Terra Brasilis.

Since all those bands releasing chronology was misleading we thought then that we were facing an original act - the CD era came years later to set things right and show us that TRIUMVIRAT were basically an emulation of some British groups, even being of a fairly quality. They have still many adepts here and a fair amount of people consider them, until today, wrongly as a top krautrock (sic) band. A credit, nevertheless, must be given to TRIUMVIRAT: they chose to work with real historical events instead of getting inspiration from mythology, literature, science- fiction, etc, as done by many other contemporary peers - they probably pioneered in this query.

Anyway, "Spartacus", a concept album, is an amusing work, easy-listening and enjoyable in several moments. However, the album sounds much more as a movie soundtrack than a progressive work. They certainly were guided by the frantic Kubrick's namesake film losing the chance to approach the sorrowful gladiator's life, ordeal and death with the sobriety and gravity expected for a prog conceptual dealing with this matter.

Songs and sounds run quickly all more or less linked by an ever-present musical theme, slightly noticeable in the album opener, 'The capital of power', but clearly discernible in the second track, 'School of constant pain'. Following tracks are basically a cornucopia of synthesizer playing, with neat passages provided by drumming and bass actions - all done apparently to show band's musicianship than to tell a story.

Best moments are the romantic 'Sweet sound of liberty' that grabs the attention with its catchy mood and the ending track, the powerful 'Spartacus', a mini-epic full of nice variations and surprises which provides an interesting farewell to the this album.

"Spartacus" isn't a decisive or groundbreaking album but may fill the blanket of 70s German symphonic acts with much less pain than that suffered by the portrayed character. Honestly good but really non-essential.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars For their third album, "Triumvirat" returns to its roots : a trio. Not a bad idea actually. Almost the original line-up; except on bass.

The band has also tried several vocalists : Hans Pape (the original bass player which was pretty bad) on their first album; on their second one, the band will increase his team up to nine memebrs, of which no less than five were helping in the backing vocals. I believed it was a bit of an overkill for an almost all-instrumental band...

For this album, Helmut Köllen (who shared the bass already on their previous release) will hold the lead vocals. And in a rather satisfactory way. The sound, while fully ELP-ish also show some more poppish influences. But not too much and at the end of the day I quite like these parts (at least on this release).

This album is of course full in-line with their previous ones. No blunder nor weak tracks here. A very well balanced effort (maybe one weaker song "The Walls Of Doom").

My favourite songs of this album are : "The School Of Instant Pain" and "The March To The Eternal City". Strong pieces of music. Fully symphonic and bombastic. "Spartacus" is a very pleasant closing number as well. "Ther March..." is probably the closest one to the ELP spirit. Very melodious vocals and furious rhythm.

If I could, I would have rated this album with seven stars out of ten (like "Illusions On A Double Dimple "). I won't upgrade this one either to four stars. Just below; but still a pleasant album to listen to, especially if you want to increase your ELP-like music collection.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

SPARTACUS is often considered as the pinnacle of their carreer, like their own TARKUS , their own CTTE; maybe, but this album doesn't carry the power of their first 2 albums, at least for me.

Yes, this is a ''concept'' album about the uprising led by the slave Spartacus against the mighty Roman Empire; Yes, the singer HELMUT KOLLEN doesn't sound as aggressive and harsh as on ILLUSIONS; Yes the sound is more polished, clearer but that's the problem; everything sound so clean, in control that you know in advance no craziness, no weirdness, no mad organs will come to disturb you and your peace.

The songwriting is good, even if you have less than average tracks like the cartoon-like music of ''THE HAZY SHADES OF DAWN'' or some ballads like THE DEADLY DREAM OF FREEDOM , a little bit cheesy,you could live without. But the elements that made TRIUMVIRAT kind of different of ELP in their first 2 albums are missing.

The first one is the powerful presence of the keyboards of JURGEN FRITZ which have been restrained; more synths than before, less mighty organ.His solo parts are always smooth, playing the beautiful note, but the craziness has gone. FRITZ played like a young madman on MEDITERRANEAN TALES and ILLUSIONS. It was all about bombastic music coming out of his organ; now that is more the sweet ''proggy''sound of WAKEMAN synths instead of EMERSON fury. Everything is under control, just to make sure this album can reach a wider audience. Don't get me wrong it's well crafted, well composed,well performed, well sung, well produced , well everything but too many well for my taste.

There are some good tracks like THE MARCH TO THE ETERNAL CITY or SPARTACUS, the latter being the closest tune to what they produced earlier. That's a very good album, a good clean album, just a little bit too clean!

I think i listen MEDITERRANEAN TALES at least 20 times a year even 35 years later!! SPARTACUS??? once in a very long while!


Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars TRIUMVIRAT were more then just an ELP clone, but comparisons are impossible to avoid. These guys were borrowing too much. The main theme of the opening track is almost a carbon copy of opening theme in ELP's song "Trilogy". Even the synth sound is the same brassy lead. Somehow, they manage to made up for that: melody derives into something else later, with lovely arrangements and nice vocals - which again sound a bit too much like Peter Gabriel.

The technical level is far from their idols, and because it's impossible to throw out the comparisons from the mental picture, they sound like something's missing...however, palette of the sounds is lovely although a bit too typical for the era.

There lies the problem - this is a pleasant listening album, but it aged very badly.

Imagine a symph trio a la ELP, with Gabriel-esque vocals, traces of (symphonic) Tull and loads of ELO's pompousness...the final result is nice, but nothing to be re-discovered after generations. The plot of a concept is irrelevant for the music, and I wasn't paying attention to the lyrics.

If I had to convince someone who is not the fan of prog rock that genre is actually not hilarious, tacky, pointless, boring and overblown, I would never pick this record for an example....because it represents all of that, actually.

However, for those who have no prejudices - from dedicated symphonic rock fans to the wider audience - this album will provide enjoyable moments and catchy melodies. It's just nothing special. However, if you're fan of sympho rock and/or 70's synth sounds, it's worth giving a try.

Review by CCVP
5 stars Spartacus is one the most underrated Triumvirat album of all history, of progarchives

Here on this album, they take all that they made on Illusions on a Double Dimple, change a bit, put many new elements, make the sound simpler (which definitely does not means worse, especially in this album), which, some may think make the sound a bit popish, but i do not think so (It only make the music more accessible to the people, which actually happened, because this is their more commercially successful album), and add a bit of epicness to it, because of the epic theme and the whole story told there, having a beginning, middle and end.

Just like in Illusions on a Double Dimple and in Mediterranean Tales, this album is very organ / piano driven and here, more than ever, you have the feeling of listening to a happier, simpler and more direct Emerson, Lake and Palmer, even though this album does have a great amount of credit, the Emerson, Lake and Palmer influence here is bigger than ever

The music here, as i told before, is quite simpler than in other Triumvirat albums, due, probably, to the more direct approach of the music. It seems like Jürgen Fritz decided to avoid the extended usage of complex musical theories. Also is noticeable the bigger usage of vocals and lyrics than in previous albums.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Classically charged keyboard rock

And here we have another band like Trace built around the considerable talents of their keyboardist, this time Jurgen Fritz. Inspired by the British band "Nice" Fritz assembled the group in 1971 and they saw a great deal of success over the next several years with album sales. They had a good contract with Harvest records and even toured the states with Fleetwood Mac. Fritz composed the sophisticated music of Sparticus attempting to blend rock and classical music to the lyrics of Hans Bathelt. Everything about the album is classy with Fritz's mastery of piano, Hammond, and synths. Hans Bathelt's drumming is crisp and energetic giving the album really good dynamics. There is some guitar work here and there but mostly this is a keyboard lover's work. My favorite thing about the music is the acoustic piano melodies here and there, and the percussion work. Like Trace it has been an interesting and enjoyable time spent listening to Sparticus but it just isn't my cup of tea personally. Undoubtedly a good album and perhaps much more for you if you are big on Trace or ELP. The 2002 EMI remaster includes a nice bio in the booklet and knock-out sound for the '70s. 6/10

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Much like Spartacus, I will undoubtedly be condemned to being impaled on a cross for saying the following but hey, you got to have courage. I prefer this album by Triumvirat to any ELP album! The reasons are numerous but mostly because the style here, while very technical is not as ego-laden as Emerson's occasional flippant follies. Also the entire disc is purely epic both in structure and in scope with a certain "cinematographic" feel that is hard to put into words. Jürgen Fritz has certain similarities (mostly on organ) but his piano and synthesizer work are way more "romantic" perhaps even more "feminine" as opposed to Keith's rather more technical and muscular delivery. Admittedly Lake is a better bassist and more of an exemplary vocalist than Helmut Köllen but the sadly departed one really was no slouch (singing phonetically is ballsy and tough). Palmer is in another league but Hans Bathelt bashes his Slingerland drums with Bonhamesque aplomb, loaded with spirit if not tornado chops. "The Capital of Power" initiates with a zipping rhythm, laying down the initial main theme that will evolve over the course of the epic story, bass pummeling, drums thwacking, organ chomping and synthesizer blaring, this is a pleasant overture that sets the tone appropriately, laying the groundwork for the fist stunner, "The School of Instant Pain" , elegant and ornamental piano and the vocalized outposts of the Spartakian legend: a gladiator that had the audacity to rebel against the imperial Power of Rome. The organ here acts as a grandiose background to the furious piano-led pace, with Bathelt's locomotive drums leading the charge. The 'liquid' synth solo is legendary in originality, alternating with a Hammond extravaganza that is even more jaw-dropping, a brief rigid drum solo finale. "The Walls of Doom" has some funky moments, chugging along with utter simplicity, a very cool 2 minute of bliss followed by another 2 minutes of synth-fueled mood swing (a tad reminiscent of Emerson). "The Deadly Dream of Freedom" tosses in a more accessible ballad-like segment where the vocals and the accompanying piano set the table for an almost radio-friendlier opportunity that remains nevertheless very proggy (a very common trait back in 1975) . "The Hazy Shades of Dawn" has an almost whimsical air of playfulness that evokes the optimism of every new day and the lads certainly express it delightfully. Very upbeat, almost cocky Celtic/Irish at times, with whistling synths and a very brief hint of an upcoming whopping melody. "The Burning Sword of Capua" is sheer genius, a bold, brash, epic and brilliant piece of progressive that even ELP would have been proud of, sweeping yet funky, technical yet evocative, masterful and also loose. These German musicians were no slouches. "The Sweetest Sound" delectably establishes the main vocal melody with unreserved gusto, the lyrics leaping out thanks to a rather convincing voice performance that displays some pretty and "sweet" pipes. "The March to the Eternal City" is the crown jewel here, a simple steady beat aided by tempestuous synths whirling away and the organ swells stamping the ground, creating the image of soldiers marching into conflict , horses snorting as they trudge through the mud and the defiant troops singing the battle hymns. You can smell the anticipation of blood, sweat and tears. This is simply an extraordinary arrangement and when the pace suddenly heightens and quickens, the bass galloping with the drums, a slash of mellotron adding emphasis, the repetitive theme then explodes into a whopping Fritz Moog solo that seems more Manfred Mann inspired than anyone else. The final vocal lament is of infinite beauty. The disc ends with the title piece, with more thumping musical glory, unshakable playing (some supremely funky piano) and a general feeling of amazed wonderment. The rebellion fails, the Roman army crushes the uprising, Spartacus is punished and the rest is history, as the final majestic synth solo blares eternally on like a flame that cannot die (a wink at Jesus Christ Superstar). While I am no huge fan of keyboard led trios anyway, this really remains a most enjoyable joy ride that has all the ingredients to please the most discerning fan. Easily among my top 20 albums all time as the emotional attachment at the time was just huge. 5 fiery Roman candles
Review by The Quiet One
3 stars Triumvirat does their version of Trilogy, just that this time with a concept

Definitely not as creative as Trilogy, but both are similar in the quantity of songs(9 both), as well as having 2 moderately long songs. Though Triumvirat has already proven that they're no ''ELP clones'' with their previous effort, pittily with Spartacus they loose much of their creative strength, still the musicianship is top notch.

Triumvirat goes and plays the role of Tommy or even Jesus Christ Superstar, based on the true story of Spartacus, the gladiator. One of the main falls of the album, in which the concept takes control of the moods of each song, so Triumvirat couldn't break free as creative as their previous, though still making it highly enjoyable, though lacking that true feel spirit of their previous.

Jürgen Fritz this time dedicates more time with the synths, rather than the balance use of organ and synthesizers he delivered in the previous. His capability on the synths is definitely shown in songs like in the up-lifting instrumental of The Hazy Shades of Dawn or in The School of Instant Pain which is divided wisely in 4 parts, in which each is dedicated to one type of keyboard(Piano, Moog and Organ) or in the haunting and depressing March to the Eternal City, which is definitely one of the best songs of the album. Jürgen's great moments on the Hammond are definitely in The Burning Sword of Capua or in The Walls of Doom, which in the later(Walls of Doom) it'll be balanced with Moog work.

Helmut Köllen goes Greg Lake, writing The Sweetest Sound of Liberty in the like of Lucky Man. Definitely enjoyable to some extent, as well as being well placed to calm the organ-driven sound of it's previous, The Burning Sword of Capua. But unfortunately this is not the only ''ballad'', The Deadly Dream of Freedom is another one, being more repetitive and lacking the energy of The Sweetest Sound of Liberty.

Spartacus makes a place of it's own in Triumvirat's catalogue, as well as the German Prog catalogue, though it's definitely one of the least creative and essential ones.

3 stars, a good release, though not essential by any means, the synths overall have become somewhat unbearable, with the exception of the real killer solo on Marching to the Eternal City.

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2.5 stars at most!!!

Returning to their Roman fascination, but retaining the rat artworks, TriumvirRAT did another concept album about the legendary gladiator and slave in Rome, thus provoking even bigger US sales, as Americans love a good "peplum" under any kind of form. This was around the time I became slightly aware of this band, but I wasn't paying attention back then, slowly awakening to heavier pastures in rock.

Opening on an instrumental Capital Of Power that gets our hopes up, the album quickly plunges into the nightmare of derivative music with the atrociously cheesy suite School Of Instant Pain, where the group really does everything to sound like ELP. I don't mean this is undigested influences here, this is downright copycatting, if you'll except the awful singing, which manages to be more unpleasant than Lake's singing was sometimes. If Walls of Doom is not that bad, the following Dream Of Freedom is not totally unknown to me, so maybe I heard it back then on the radio (it's very radio-friendly and the subject of the lyrics can appeal), it's probably the only track where Fritz sings almost correctly. The closing Hazy Shades Of Dawn is another instrumental that seems to be the alter-ego of the opening track. The tracks on the flipside are basically no different than just described, except that there are two mini-suites instead of one, but for the rest, nothing new under the sun

While some would have you believe this is nothing short of a masterpiece, I not only beg to differ, but I'm not even sure this is either essential or even good enough to keep in your shelves.

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars Triumvirat are a band with a lot of instrumental skill that unfortunately never really sat well with me because of their sound being so akin to that of ELP. SPARTACUS is a very ELP-sounding album right down to the two ballads. The only difference is the unifying concept of a Roman soldier that I really never cared for. All of the short instrumental interludes are highlights for me (especially ''The Hazy Shades of Dawn'') even if all are so ELP-esque. The two ballady tracks are painful for me to listen to as Kollen's voice is grating here. I tend to lose concentration in the longer pieces because none of the themes thrown around really excite me that much. Not recommended.
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars When TRIUMVIRAT formed they were very much inspired by THE NICE. Keyboard virtuoso Jurgen Fritz certainly dominates the sound although the drummer Hans Bethelt is outstanding and almost as dominant. It would be Hans who would come up with the idea to do a concept album about Spartacus, and he would write all the lyrics as well. Their previous album "Illusions On A Double Dimple" sold quite well in the USA but poorly in their home country of Germany. This didn't sit well with the band and Jurgen would in fact move to the USA where he said the working conditions were much better. Regardless,"Spartacus" would sell even better in America than their previous album yet have almost no impact in Germany. Go figure ! I much prefer "Illusions On A Double Dimple" to this one although I still think "Spartacus" is a really good album.

"The Capital Of Power" is an instrumental that opens with synths before kicking in quickly. Great sound here. The tempo will shift quite a bit on this one. "The School Of Instant Pain" opens with piano as reserved vocals join in. It picks up before a minute and the drumming is outstanding. The tempo picks up even more after 2 1/2 minutes and the keyboards are all over it especially after 4 1/2 minutes. It's the drums turn 6 minutes in. "The Walls Of Doom" is another instrumental. It's got a catchy beat with keyboards. That changes half way through although it's still all about the drums and keyboards. "The Deadly Dream Of Freedom" is a ballad that opens with piano and synths as reserved vocals join in.

"The Hazy Shades Of Dawn" is an instrumental that is synths and drums led with some nice organ later. "The Burning Sword Of Capua" is another instrumental. Powerful organ and drums to start in this dramatic intro. The tempo picks up before a minute. "The Sweetest Sound Of Liberty" is my favourite. It's just a great vocal track with acoustic guitar. It gets fuller after 1 1/2 minutes as contrasts continue. "The March To The Eternal City" sounds so good ! The synths and drums especially. Vocals and piano after 1 1/2 minutes as contrasts continue. Cool song. "Spartacus" opens with piano and vocals then it gets fuller, then the tempo speeds up 1 1/2 minutes in.

This for me is a low four star album or high three. I choose the latter because when compared to "Illusions On A Double Dimple" which I gave four stars, it's a definite step down.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Most fans consider Spartacus to be Triumvirat's masterpiece or at least the next best release after Illusions On A Double Dimple. This would have been all hunky dory with me if only there weren't so many problems with this concept album!

Personally, I have two major issues with this release; First off, I don't buy the whole Spartacus concept and this is coming from someone who usually appreciates most concept albums. What I dislike the most is how the whole story is depicted. There are just so many sloppy written passages here that it becomes tedious at times. Here is an example for you --- In the gladiator's school/Things were perfect things were cool/Faith was around. Helmut Köllen did an excellent job, in the vocal department, on Illusions On A Double Dimple but the result here are just tough to get through without sitting with the lyrics sheet. His pronunciation/articulation does create a few truly hilarious moments like the section on the album's title track where I always assumed that the lyrics went --- Spartacus dance, sword in his hands. Combined with the almost disco-like vibe in the instrumental arrangement makes me chuckle every time! Grammatically incorrect you say? Well, how could I assume anything different when an earlier lyric clearly said --- Soon the final dance begins!?!

The second issue comes from the well known fact that Spartacus has a similar structure as ELP's Trilogy, an album that I actually enjoy a lot more. It might be considered strange how I could accept the obvious similarities to ELP on Triumvirat's previous album in comparison to this, but for me it's pretty clear; Triumvirat did something new and interesting on Illusions On A Double Dimple by implementing the ELP-trade marked sound only to go on and created the album I always wanted ELP to do. I'm talking about making a two sides of pure epics which could have made Tarkus a true progressive masterpiece. For more information please see my review of Illusions On A Double Dimple.

After all the bashing in the lyric and concept departments I'm actually quite pleased with the instrumental sections of the album. The only exception comes with the 9 minute extravaganza called The March To The Eternal City which I can only describe as a very long march indeed! An obvious moment where Jürgen Fritz lost himself in his playing resulting in a rather bland and displeasing performance. Still, all in all Spartacus is a good album but not one of my favorites because it's basically ELP-by-numbers, which is not terrible but leaves more to be desired of.

***** star songs: The School Of Instant Pain (6:22) The Hazy Shades Of Dawn (3:09)

**** star songs: The Capital Of Power (3:13) The Walls Of Doom (3:57) The Deadly Dream Of Freedom (3:54) The Burning Sword Of Capua (2:41) Spartacus (7:40)

*** star songs: The Sweetest Sound Of Liberty (2:36) The March To The Eternal City (8:47)

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Triumvirat create some of the best Symphonic Prog of the 70s

"Spartacus" is a wonderful full on excessive symphonic prog album from masters of German 70s prog, Triumvirat. It begins with a terrific instrumental section and then the voice of Helmut Köllen comes in on the second track sounding clear and distinct, enhancing the music. The School Of Instant Pain is absolutely brilliant, even featuring a massive drum solo and the everpresent Hammond stabs very similar to Emerson. It is broken in to a variety of sections: a) Proclamation, b) The gladiator's song, c) Roman entertainment, d) The battle.

Next on The Walls Of Doom there is a jaunty little instrumental on keyboard motif, with breaks in the music including wild drums and some very nice basslines. This is an excellent piece of music with some odd time signature changes and very original approach to the medium, not really an ELP clone as they have been accused. There is enough originality on offer to satiate any prog palate.

The next track The Deadly Dream of Freedom is balladic and sweetly sung, not my favourite style but it has a lovely melody though more radio friendly than their usual material, not that this is a problem as it kind of breaks up the hyper prog swashbuckling.

Then it's on to a mental instrumental The Hazy Shades of Dawn, and its back to prog excess and it is fantastic. This tune is memorable, majestic, grand, Emerson like in places, but has so many twists and turns it is astounding. The tune is a march really with some missing beats in the phrases. I like the descending parts that build with each instrument. The drums of Hans Bathelt are simply virtuoso on this. I am reminded of ELP's Trilogy with this.

The foreboding menace of Hammond organ and drums rising to a crescendo are a true feature of the showstopper, The Burning Sword of Capua. This is a tremendous instrumental with Jürgen Fritz allowed to blaze away with fire and dynamism on keyboards. It is short but it is brilliant.

The sweet vocals of Helmut that are gentle and flowing return on The Sweetest Sound Of Liberty. Once again a real breakaway from the more proggy instrumentals preceding it, but a pleasant enough song, reminding me of the way Lake's ballads on ELP albums were always present.

A spacey effect begins the next track, The March To The Eternal City, which is the first lengthy track at 8:46, on the EMI release, and it is broken into 3 sections: Dusty Road, is a quaint song with some intriguing lyrics about Spartacus, who "has come to kill". It gains tempo with a herald of drums and clean synth flourishes on Italian Improvisation section. There are some excellent keyboard swells on this, and it is a rather lengthy instrumental but never lost my interest. The song ends with the third section, First Success, which is kind of a return to the intro melody.

Spartacus is a good way to end the album, in 3 sections again, The Superior Force of Rome, with softer vocals and then it breaks out into a frenzy of Hammond, sounding as fast as Tarkus. Perhaps too fast as it is rather amusing how zany this is. It even has an off kilter chorus, "no one comes near", and then the keyboard freak out continues, with some frenetic honky tonk piano and those Karn Evil 9 siren sounds. A Broken Dream is the second section which is basically very fast piano, a real tour de force of speed triggerfinger playing. The Finale sounds like a finale funnily enough, majestic and bombastic but delightfully so.

The original album ended there but it is nice on the reissue to get 2 bonus tracks consisting of The Capital Of Power (live), and Showstopper (previously unreleased). The live track is an intriguing version of The Capital Of Power, opening their show, and it is excellent quality wanting me to hear more of this concert. The instrumental is one of their best and is highlights the talents of bassist Helmut in particular. The unreleased track Showstopper, is a curious oddity, a rather fast paced song focussing on the keyboard finesse of Fritz. Helmut's vocals are psychedelic sounding, very good but incomparable to the rest of the album, very different. The instrumental section sounds similar to other parts of the "Spartacus" album. But this is no throwaway and may cause one to wonder why it was never released.

Overall I haven't heard a bad album from Triumvirat and this is certainly one of their best, excellent quality prog, along with the incredible Illusions On A Double Dimple.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Triumvirat's third album - the last with the sadly departed Helmut Köllen - continues in the same ELP-worshipping vein as their previous effort, but brings a stronger emphasis on vocals - as on songs such as The Deadly Dream of Freedom, which sounds a lot like a Greg Lake ballad. To be honest, I think it's a bit of a step down from Illusions On a Double Dimple - the instrumental passages are less inspired and original, and the vocal passages were never Triumvirat's strong point. Still, fans of keyboard-led power trios will probably find plenty to entertain themselves with here - though I'd direct them to Illusions first.
Review by b_olariu
3 stars With the third album from 1975 named Spartacus, Triumvirat as on previous album did a concept album about of course Spartacus, legendary ancient gladiator. Same attitude as on previous release, that's mean symphonic prog constructed on keyboards wizardy, over all not bad, but is to damn predictable in arrangements, the ELP and The Nice influences are all over. Maybe in places more concise passages and more elaborated tricks offered by the head of the band Jurgen Fritz as on Illusions on a Double Dimple, but to my ears the sound is date it. Two pieces stands as great The school of instant pain, with almost one on one ELP arrangements, even the voice is like taken from Tarkus and the instrumental The hazy shades of dawn, the rest even are not bad at all are totaly unspactacular or intresting. Another worthy album from their catalogue but to much time they worship ELP almost 100%. 3 stars is best I can give.
Review by Neu!mann
3 stars "It has everything that makes entertainment great!"

That was the breathless claim on posters advertising the epic 1960 Kirk Douglas film about the legendary Roman slave-turned-rebel hero, and the same PR hyperbole applies to the concept album of the same title, released at the peak of Prog Rock's Golden Age by everyone's favorite ELP clone: Triumvirat.

Okay, so maybe 'clone' is too strong a word. If imitation really is the highest form of flattery then Jürgen Fritz was only extending his appreciation of Classical Music to include Classical Rockers like Keith Emerson. In truth Triumvirat at its mid-'70s best represented a version of how ELP might have sounded without any pretensions to High Culture, making the German keyboard trio a welcome alternative to their English role model. And "Spartacus" found the band at its popular (if not quite its aesthetic) zenith, performing with an energy and confidence that easily offset their often derivative style.

The opening theme to "The Capital of Power" is uncomfortably close to the title track of ELP's "Trilogy" album. But after that the similarities are merely (and not unpleasantly) cosmetic, right down to the ratio of moog solos and radio-friendly ballads. Some of the latter ("The Gladiator's Song"; "The Deadly Dream of Freedom") anticipated the dumbed-down commercial pop of later Triumvirat line-ups, but were arranged and played here with conviction, despite the occasional tonal faux-pas. Hearing the lyric "I've been trained to kill a man / a sword, a spear or with my hand" crooned in the manner of Greg Lake singing "Still...You Turn Me On" can be a little disconcerting, if you think about it.

The subject matter was fitting for a talented secondhand act dogging the footsteps of a conquering supergroup, although maybe Fritz should have considered the fate of his album's hero: captured and crucified on the Appian Way. But the album itself likely profited by a happy accident of timing, appearing while Emerson and company were on their long hiatus before the stumble of "Works Volume 1".

It might have led to even greater success had singer / bassist Helmut Köllen not quit to pursue a solo career (releasing one studio album before his untimely death, ironically titled after the Beatles song "You Won't See Me"). Triumvirat was never quite the same afterward, but "Spartacus" still carries enough nostalgia value to earn three strong stars, especially from anyone who can recall hearing it (almost) fresh off the racks.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The export department of Harvest decided to send the second Triumvirat album over to the offices of Capital in the USA, which issued the album in the States, and this opened the door for the Germans to visit the other side of the Atlantic, performing in about 40 gigs as the supporting act to Fleetwood Mac.Third work of the band was a concept one around Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator, who led the slaves' revolution against the Roman Republic in ancient years.Recorded at EMI's Electrola Studio in Cologne, the album's issue did not met any delays.It was released both on Harvest and Capitol in Germany and the US/Canada market at the same time in 1975.

This time Triumvirat have chosen a more conservative style in terms of pieces' length, as most of the tracks are short and dense.Just in terms of length of course, because the music remains highly virtuosic, symphonic and atmospheric with Triumvirat's ability to change climates in evidence.From romantic Classical-based interludes to powerful organ pyrotechnics to extreme synth acrobatics, the Germans display again their comfort on creating complex music with plenty of dramatic as well as pleasant tunes.The album is mainly led by Fritz'es impressive executions on piano, Moog synthesizer and Hammond organ in a very rich enviroment, which blends the romantic mood of NOVALIS with the massive workouts of E.L.P. and LE ORME, while the trio appears to deliver smooth and emotional moments, based on Koelle's very nice voice.Beautiful symphonic textures with some great melodious soundscapes are the driving force of this release, which sounds less flexible than ''Illusions on a double Dimple'' with the short tracks' length being the main reason for the fact.Even so the level of musicianship is up there, facing the best moments of E.L.P., full of bombastic, dual keyboard waves and more laid-back and harmonic lines.

Yet another consistent and tight album by Triumvirat with a great concept supporting the music.Strongly recommended to all fans of keyboard-driven Progressive Rock...3.5 stars.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars After success both financially and critically with their previous album 'Illusions on a Double Dimple', Triumverat began to work on the follow up album called 'Spartacus', an ambitious concept project that would be a retelling of the tale of the slave turned gladiator. The same trio that made up most of the previous album would be responsible for this album, though it would be the last time that they would be a cohesive band. After that, the band would be in constant flux.

However, 1975, things were looking very bright. Many people were becoming familiar with the Emerson, Lake & Palmer style of their music, which borrowed from ELP's basic sound with heavy reliance on the keyboards of Jurgen Fritz, the vocals (and bass) of Helmut Kollen (the newest member of the group since he was the only non-original member at the time), and lyricist and drummer Hans Bathelt. This is the line-up that would be the one to remember out of all of the band's line-ups. This album immediately landed high up on the Billboard chart, so the band was living the dream.

For a single disc album, it is definitely loaded with music. It has 9 tracks altogether, 3 of which have multiple parts. Beginning with 'The Capital of Power', we get an introductory, instrumental track that sounds more like ELP than anything. In fact, most anybody would easily mistake the sound with that of ELP's most ambitious tracks. It definitely has the pompous style of an introduction to a larger work. Coming up next is the first of the multi-movement tracks 'The School of Instant Pain' which begins with 'Proclamation', which begins with a nice, rhapsodic piano and then brings in the vocals. Kollen sounds nothing like Greg Lake in that his voice isn't quite so flourishing, but it is good enough for the music. 'The Gladiator's Song' moves into a full band sound as the vocals continue amid synths, bass and complex drumming. Things soon change as the tempo picks up with a new meter and some complex passages before returning to the main theme, but with a very dynamic accompaniment, never relying on the same background just like you would expect from ELP. The suite slips into 'Roman Entertainment' which features some fancy organ playing and Palmer-like percussion. The drums are definitely more like Palmer's percussion than the previous album thus making it even harder to distinguish between the two bands especially on the instrumental sections. Bathelt really gets to show off with a great drum solo known as the fourth section called 'The Battle'.

'The Walls of Doom' is another instrumental, this time with a more solid beat and melodic hook that will capture your attention. This eventually becomes more progressive and complex as the music builds up to a more promenade style. Things slow down a bit for 'The Deadly Dream of Freedom', a more ballad-like track with a lot of piano, acoustic guitar and vocals, later with symphonic elements brought in by synths. This has a nice melody, not very progressive, but it still fits in nicely for what could have been a single. 'The Hazy Shades of Dawn' ends the first side with another synth-led instrumental that is presented as a march-style track, another processional style that pulls in a recognizable theme several times throughout the track.

'The Burning Sword of Capua' opens up the 2nd half with a dramatic and cinematic beginning heralded by organ chords later joined by synth effects, rolling drums and thumping bass. 'The Sweetest Sound of Liberty' brings back Kollen's vocals and reminds the listener of a Lake-style ballad complete with a reliance more on the acoustic guitar. 'The March to the Eternal City' is a 3-part suite that continues to rely on vocals to further the story along. It begins with 'Dusty Road' fading in on a solid moderate beat with a darker atmosphere as danger seems to lurk. The music soon becomes reliant on piano and vocals, a lovely melody again with a lot of drama attached. The blues-based motif returns between verses and builds to the 2nd part 'Italian Improvisation'. The bass builds tension with a catchy riff that eventually brings in a synth solo based around the heavy riff, a great and exciting highlight for the album. The tension is released as the original blues-style returns bringing back the heaviness at the first of the track and making up the 3rd sub-section called 'First Success' with vocals coming back in towards the end.

Finally, the album closes with the last of the multi-movement suites, the title tracks 'Spartacus'. Starting with 'The Superior Force of Rome', you can feel the entire concept wrapping up with a variation of the themes that have appeared throughout. Starting with a vocal section, it soon gathers a lot of energy as the synths and a honky-tonk styled piano comes in. All of the themes come together creating the epilogue to the story and things get tied together. Synths and piano trade places as the vocal sections are tied together with some fast-paced interludes, soon the instrumental sections take over for 'A Broken Dream' and 'The Finale', these tracks showing off Fritz's keyboard talents as the keys get to show off.

The overall feeling of the album isn't quite as heavy as that of 'Tarkus' by ELP, but it still gives you all of the excitement of that album. It might not be quite as complex either, but you may not even notice that. But you will notice how the sound is very much like ELP, and those that love the more progressive and complex music of that band will definitely be impressed by this album (and the previous one for that matter) by Triumverat. Yes, they might be considered a clone band, but they were definitely capable of producing music that at times can be mistaken for ELP quite easily, the main difference being the vocalist.

Speaking of Kollen (the vocalist), this would be his last album with the band. He decided to go solo at this point. However, both Fritz and Bathelt would participate in his solo album in part to show that there were no hard feelings. Kollen returned to Triumverat at that time, but soon figured out that his voice couldn't handle the range in the new songs, so he decided to concentrate on his solo career. Barry Palmer was brought in to sing on the next album and original bassist Werner Frangerberg also came back. Sadly, Kollen would later be found in his car dead from carbon monoxide poisoning that he suffered while listening to his own demos. The band after this just couldn't get settled as the lineup continued to change and they also started to sound more commercial. But, at least, they carved their own niche in progressive music history and have been remembered quite fondly for this album and their previous one, albums that can easily stand up next to ELP's best works, thus also creating an alternative for those that can't get enough of that sound.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nŗ 481

"Spartacus" is the third studio album of Triumvirat and was released in 1975. This is a conceptual album based on the story of the Roman gladiator Spartacus who led the third slave uprising in the Roman Empire in 73?71 BC. This is an album in the same vein of Emerson, Lake & Palmer but it isn't a clone. It was certainly inspired by their music and style but the music of Triumvirat has a personal touch of their own. "Spartacus" is considered by many their best album, deserving many reissues in different countries all over the world. It was also the band's greatest commercial success.

The line up on the album is Jürgen Fritz (Hammond organ, moog synthesizer, Steinway grand piano, ARP string ensemble and electric piano), Helmut Köllen (vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitars) and Hans Bathelt (drums and percussion). After this album Helmut Köllen left the band to start a solo career. However and unfortunately, fate decreed that two years later he died dramatically of carbon monoxide poisoning when he was in his car, when he was listening to his own studio musical compositions on his car's cassette player while running the engine of the car in his garage.

"Spartacus" has nine tracks. The first track "The Capital Of Power" written by Jürgen Fritz is a magnificent and very powerful overture for the album. It's an instrumental epic piece of music which leads us into the ambient of the concept and also of the atmosphere and music on the entire album. This is an excellent instrumental musical section. The second track "The School Of Instant Pain" is divided into four parts: "Proclamation", "The Gladiator's Song", "Roman Entertainment" and "The Battle". All were written by Jürgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt. This is an incredible and brilliant multi-part epic piece of music. Musically it's a song very diversified with great individual works performed by the trio of the band. It has also a fantastic and powerful ballad, an interesting jazz section, and in the end, Hans Bathelt performed a massive drum solo so typical on the albums of the 70's. The third track "The Walls Of Doom" written by Jürgen Fritz is another instrumental song. We can divide this song into two distinct parts. In the first part the music is dominated by drumming work and has also a very nice bass line. In the second part the music explodes and has an excellent keyboard work in the style of Keith Emerson, but with a very own approach and style. The fourth track "The Deadly Dream Of Freedom" written by Helmut Köllen and Hans Bathelt is a very sweet and beautiful ballad, essentially made of vocals and piano, very well accompanied on the back by a very beautiful guitar work. Despite be a song with a different style of music, it keeps totally the musical cohesion of the entire album. The fifth track "The Hazy Shades Of Dawn" written by Jürgen Fritz is another instrumental song with the music style of a march. It's a progressive and complex track, very majestic and grandiose in the style of Emerson, Lake & Palmer but once more with the very own Triumvitat's approach and style. The sixth track "The Burning Sword Of Capua" written by Jürgen Fritz is another great instrumental track. Despite be a very small song, it's very complex with several musical changes, what makes of it a brilliant piece of music. The seventh track "The Sweetest Sound Of Liberty" written by Helmut Köllen and Hans Bathelt is a very short ballad in the same vein of "The Deadly Dream Of Freedom". Once again, this song is a break in the kind of the music of the album, but it also keeps in totally the musical cohesion on the album. The eighth track "The March Of The Eternal City" is divided into three parts: "Dusty Road", "Italian Improvisation" and "First Success". All were written by Jürgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt. It's another multi-part epic song very diversified. This is a song with some extremely complex parts with crossed rhythms and complex keyboards, has also lengthy instrumental sections and has also some improvisation musical parts. It's a very progressive track. The ninth track is the title track "Spartacus". It's also divided into three parts: "The Superior Force Of Rome" written by Jürgen Fritz and Hans Bathelt, "A Broken Dream" written by Jürgen Fritz and "The Final" also written by Jürgen Fritz. Like the previous track this is another mini epic track. This is another very progressive and complex song, very powerful and full of contrasts and musical changes. It has some musical sections very frenetic where others are more soft, nostalgic and sad. This is a nice way to end this great album.

Conclusion: "Spartacus" and "Illusions On A Double Dimple" are, without any kind of doubt, the two best releases of Triumvirat. These are two masterpieces with a very unique and own sound, despite the clear influences of the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Both albums placed Triumvirat as one of the best German progressive rock bands in the 70's. Both albums also made of Triumvirat a classic and necessary progressive rock band to check, even in our days. The genius of Jürgen Fritz and his virtuoso musical performances, and the technical superior drumming of Hans Bathelt are absolutely unique, fantastic and completely unforgettable. So, the only thing I can do, in this moment, is to recommend strongly both albums and the band to all prog heads. Both albums must be in your collection if you are a real prog fan.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars Triumvirat's heyday was limited to just two or three albums from the early to mid 1970's (before Helmet Kollen's departure), and "Spartacus" was their magnum opus. Despite other reviewers' unjustified complaints that they were simply an ELP ripoff band, Triumvirat proved with "Spartacus" that they c ... (read more)

Report this review (#2440733) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Monday, August 24, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The tale of Spartacus is an epic and bloody one. In ancient Rome, an escaped gladiator slave leads an uprising of slave rebels to fight in the war against the oppressive higher powers. Meanwhile in 1975, a German trio of Emerson, Lake and Palmer impersonators were looking for a concept to hang th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2417173) | Posted by The Genre Spanner | Friday, July 3, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album could easily be confused as an ELP record. You can't deny that it's got all the trademark elements; booming bass, ferocious drumming, Hammond organ and moog swells; it's ELP in all but name. Maybe I'm being too harsh; this is my first listen. I don't hate it; The ballads are a nice in ... (read more)

Report this review (#1581541) | Posted by ProgressiveHypocrite | Wednesday, June 22, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When I heard that Triumvirat was an ELP clone, I sneered. When a friend of mine actually played me the album, I was excited. Triumvirat had an undeserved reputation as an ELP knockoff - only in the fact that they were a keyboard led three piece band were they actually similar. I've always ... (read more)

Report this review (#901353) | Posted by wehpanzer | Monday, January 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Spartacus is considered to be the best album of the German threesome Triumvirat. Having materialized in the wake of The Nice and ELP, they are often accused of being a clone of these, but IMO they have an own, recognizable sound. However, at times the title track of this album is very close to ... (read more)

Report this review (#522081) | Posted by OT Räihälä | Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The missing ELP album. This is Triumvirat's third album and their most commercially successful album too. Triumvirat was never as successful as ELP and Nice though. This despite of the undeniable similarities in both sound and music. It is almost a waste of time to even start to describe ... (read more)

Report this review (#358333) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Although not quite as good as the previous Illusions On A Double Dimple album, (What is?), Spartacus by Triumvirat is part of what qualifies one of the pinnacles of the group's musical achievements, and some of the best progressive rock in the seventies, period. This type of progressive music was ... (read more)

Report this review (#262495) | Posted by presdoug | Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As the first synths are silently heard at the start of the album,one might just wonder what comes next. As the band quickly introduces it's music in the first two compositions,the profile of Triumvirat is reflected already:massive use of synthesizers in all tracks,cutted by generally brief vo ... (read more)

Report this review (#199838) | Posted by Gustavo Froes | Tuesday, January 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars It's no wonder that Triumvirats Spartacus is hailed as the high point in this copy-cat bands career. Keith Emersons keyboard riffs and runs and are practically cut and pasted by Jurgen Fritz into many of the tracks on this album. This particular album really should have been designated as a tr ... (read more)

Report this review (#196686) | Posted by Valdez | Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of the best German bands, but always considered only as ELP clones, and so unjustly underestimated. In my opinion, Triumvirat have nothing to do with ELP, except for some keyboard scores. In any case the great Jurgen Fritz, although using various Hammond, Moog, etc.. (in those years all keyboard ... (read more)

Report this review (#185185) | Posted by prog61 | Friday, October 10, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Far away, the best Triumvirat's album. I can't understand why some people don't like this band. They say that's because the similarity of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's sound. Well, I really think their sound is almost the same, but I don't see that's a reason to hate this fantastic band. That's wha ... (read more)

Report this review (#141216) | Posted by ProgPeter! | Sunday, September 30, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album provides typical sound of Triumvirat with domination of Fritz's keyboard and a lot of nice melodic passages. Vocal of Helmut Köllen evokes a little bit Peter Gabriel in his Genesis era. Compared to the next album Old loves die hard, this album looks more integrated with very similar a ... (read more)

Report this review (#135305) | Posted by Vaclavka | Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is, in my humble opinion, probably the best keyboard driven (a la ELP) prog album I've ever listened to. Many people decry the band as being a ELP clone - which simply isn't true. They just happen to be another band centered around an incredible keyboardist (in this case the classically tra ... (read more)

Report this review (#134934) | Posted by Pawned Heart | Sunday, August 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ok, so a band named Triumvirat walks into a recording studio and picks up their instruments (which happen to be similar to the gear that ELP uses) and then proceed to record some fun symphonic prog rock. So what's all the fuss about? Maybe because (note that I have been an ELP fan for almost 30 y ... (read more)

Report this review (#111692) | Posted by akamarko | Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I learned about this album when it came out in the mid-seventies. At that time, I thought the concept was great and I listened to that record many many times. And I enjoyed it greatly: well sung, very well played, a good concept. It is offering a great sound, a good production, very good for a s ... (read more)

Report this review (#67392) | Posted by Barakske | Monday, January 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I purchased this CD after asking around on the forum - and I got quite a polarisation of opinion. Some absolutely hated this band - they were the ELP fans, everybody else seemed to deem this CD as worthy of a listen...So listen I did. This is a polished and entertaining CD - the keyboards and m ... (read more)

Report this review (#53035) | Posted by Swinton MCR | Sunday, October 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First time I listen to Spartacus I think : "hey !!! is Peter Gabriel singing with ELP ?". Ok, with time I understood than this band have his own sound. Sparatcus is in my opinion the best album of the trio. Maybe a little bit too pompous to obtain five stars, but certainly a very good addition ... (read more)

Report this review (#45641) | Posted by | Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I adore the previous album ILLUSIONS..., but this one is much worse. A complete copy of ELP´s TRILOGY, but with a horrible sound. And the ballads, my God! Useless. Get the previous album and forget about this one. Seriously. ... (read more)

Report this review (#11837) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Whoever said Triumvirat was/is an ELP clone, lemme tell you. You can all #$%#$%#$!! This German Act is definitely one of the most brilliant Progressive rock acts ever emerged from Planet Earth , and "Spartacus" is their ultimate work of art. Musically speaking, they might be ELP related, but th ... (read more)

Report this review (#11833) | Posted by Minstrel X | Wednesday, June 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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