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Pendragon Believe album cover
3.60 | 470 ratings | 55 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Believe (2:56)
2. No Place for the Innocent (5:36)
3. The Wisdom of Solomon (7:06)
- The Wishing Well (21:07):
4. Part I - For Your Journey (4:30)
5. Part II - Sou' by Sou' West (6:48)
6. Part III - We Talked (5:29)
7. Part IV - Two Roads (4:17)
8. Learning Curve (6:34)
9. The Edge of the World (8:15)

Total Time 51:31

Line-up / Musicians

- Nick Barrett / vocals, guitars, co-producer
- Clive Nolan / keyboards
- Peter Gee / bass guitar
- Fudge Smith / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Simon Williams

2xLP Madfish ‎- SMALP977 (2015, Europe)

CD Toff Records - PEND 13 CD (2005, UK)
CD Madfish ‎- SMACD977X (2011, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy PENDRAGON Believe Music

PENDRAGON Believe ratings distribution

(470 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

PENDRAGON Believe reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ProgLucky
5 stars Believe - the new Pendragon studio album

After a four year wait, since the release of "Not Of This World" in 2001, autumn 2005 will see the release of the eagerly anticipated new Pendragon album Believe - and, in my opinion - although admittedly biased (as a member of the band!) it will have been well worth the wait!

I personally see "Believe" as a mixture of all that is good and strong about Pendragon, plus some exciting new elements added too. "Believe" is an emotional album, in that Nick has once more put his heart and soul into the songs, and I feel that the vocals and lyrics are among the best that he has ever done - yet it is not as introspective or moody album in the same way as NOTW, and has a much more up beat, positive feel to it. Yet "Believe" has a powerful rocky edge to it in terms of how the instruments have been played and in terms of the production of the album, and it also sees some really modern sampled sounds which add a whole new edge and dynamic to the Pendragon sound.

In my humble opinion, "Believe" is very much a mature, positive and 'grown up' album - yet with references in it which are reminscent of earlier Pendragon albums. I feel that those who wanted a 'new' Pendragon style of album will have got it in "Believe" - but also those who wanted Pendragon to stay true to their melodic roots and quality of song alongside instrumental passages, have also got what they wanted. We are all very proud of "Believe" as an album, and as I write this, we are in the final stages of mixing it.

Recording the bass parts for "Believe" was a real pleasure to record for me, as it was the first Pendragon album that I have literally been able to record in my own home - as I only recently got my own home for the first time - but also, because I now have a computer at home suitable for recording straight onto. The deadlines were quite tight in terms of me getting my parts down, which was also quite reminiscent of early albums, such as "The Jewel", but this can be a good thing - as it makes you that much more focused on what you have to do. It is also more relaxing recording and engineering your own parts, without a producer/engineer waiting for you to 'get it right' on take 1!

As with any Pendragon album, each song on "Believe" has its own character:

No Place For The Innocent has a good rocky groove to it, with some nice instrumental sections in it.

The Wisdom Of Solomon is a longer song with an eastern flavour to it and some great acoustic guitars and fast instrumental passages.

The Wishing Well is made up of two distinct sections, with a melodic opening section and a soaring/floating/dreamy second section, powered along by Fudge's drums.

Two Roads is a song with a great vocal melody and some fantastic trademark guitar playing by Nick.

Learning Curve has got my favourite groove of the whole album on it at the beginning of the song, with some great vocals and it then goes into a spanish style second half with some great guitar work on it.

The final track (The Edge Of The World) is written for the classical guitar and strings and has a powerful vocal and some great guitar playing on it - very emotional.

The album also features Nick doing some narrated parts, which are very emotional and powerful.

I think for me the first sign of a good album is always that it feels like a 'whole' piece of work - that it has a continuity to it and a sense of completeness about it - and also that it has a collection of really strong songs on it. And I think that "Beleive" has both good songs and this sense of continuity and completeness about it. It feels finished. It feels complete.

But hey, don't take my word for it - go and check out a copy for yourselves when it comes out in the autumn of 2005. (August 29th).


MY RECOMMENDATION... PROGLUCKY (founder of ProgArchives)


Review by lor68
2 stars Sorry but once again- talking about their inspiration- there's almost anything else to say, above all in comparison to their previous recent works.The ensemble of Pendragon, whose main composer Nick Barrett has been always the prominent figure of the British New Progressive Wave scene (for over 20 years...), doesn't add something really diverse or fact since the issue of "Masquerade Overture", their best recent album dated 1996- they have never showed a better inspiration or an improvement (think also of the disappointing "Not of this world").Therefore, in spite of containing a few melodic and simple songs as within "Masquerade...", unlike this latter album their new work is not characterized by a real attempt to experiment the variety of possibilities that a synth can offer (for example the synth exploration of various loops, a sort of experimentation after the best keyboard/guitar interplay inside "Guardian of my soul", that has never been included within "Believe")...however the keyboards are good, sometimes heavy and quite interesting too, but as usual the work is smooth and simplistic as well,especially in some circumstances. Ok Nick Barrett has showed an improvement in his vocalism (usually his melodic lines are weak) and his lyrics are quite emotional; nevertheless lacking the connection with the music harmony at the end the output is a bit "sterile"..."The edge of the world" of prog music is not here, but for sure their passionate fans will buy this album!!
Review by Fishy
4 stars Being familiar to the work of Pendragon since 1987, it took me quite an amount of spare time to get into this one, believe me. Sure this sounds different than previous albums but in the essential parts still sounds as vintage Pendragon. The production is top notch and arrangements include ethnic and pastoral elements, mostly from samples. Some of the interludes seem similar to those on the latest efforts of other neo- progressive bands like Pallas & Galahad. The opening track is like an introduction to those elements but it doesn't add anything significant or do I miss the point ? Fortunately other parts are good so I don't mind.

Quite surprisingly, "Not for the innocent" is a rock track. Catchy riffs, a sober but strong melody line sung in a remarkable good way. Barreths voice seem to have gained some depth. The structure of the composition is standard rock formula. The sound of the guitars is very modern. I don't think I've ever heard the band playing this kind of mainstream rock but I sure like it.

The lyrical idea for "The wisdom of Solomon" is surely interesting. Too much attention for political correctness leads to the mad world we now all live in. Like on all the tracks there's some excellent guitar fireworks going on. This does remind me on the fact that Barreth is one of the most gifted guitar players around. His playing is always a delight to listen to. The acoustic part includes flamenco elements. On this track the melodies are decent but not too memorable I'm afraid.

"The wishing well" is the magnum opus of "Believe". Divided in 4 parts that can be listened at separately as well. On the first part Barreth is the narrator or a preacher with some good advice. Strange enough, Barreth's voice reminds me of Steve Hogarth here. The vocals sound very convincing and the pastoral atmosphere is really impressive. Next part starts of with those typical subtile acoustic guitar/keyboard lines we all know from Genesis. This track has a sing along chorus. The most excitable parts of "Wishing well" are the third and fourth parts which contains great melodies. A complex but exciting piece of music though the different atmospheres are constantly interrupting each other. Some extensions of atmospheres could have made it more accessible I guess.

Pete Gee's catchy bass line brings an extra dimension to "Learning curve". This is another unpredictable track with many different melodies and atmospheres.

"On the edge of the world" is my favourite track. A breathtaking song full of fabulous melodies that seem to come from the bottom of Barreths heart. It shows similarities to music from singer songwriters. When he ever releases such an effort. I'll be willing to lend an ear.

The guitar lines are excellent and get a more dominant role in the sound of Pendragon than ever before. This brings me to the remark that the keyboards have been drawn to the background which is a petty knowing what Clive Nolan is capable of. Every now and then I do miss the symphonic wall of sound that appeared more frequently on earlier albums.

Though the voice may sound better than it's used to be, still this is the weak element. People who loved their earlier albums won't find that a problem but newbies should be warned.

I always considered Pendragon as a band that provides us with enjoyable melodies, guitar fireworks and wide atmospheres. The excellent melodies are still here but it takes time for discovering them. But they like to play safe. I suppose this album was an attempt to break this rule but they didn't quite succeed. There are musical elements from nu-metal, middle eastern music and flamenco present but they could have been more nicely integrated into the songs. Once again the band delivered quite a enjoyable album which I like a lot more than their previous one but it isn't any groundbreaking. "Believe" sums up the evolution the band started from "The world" to "The Masquerade ouverture". The tracks were getting longer, the sound was getting broadened, the concepts more ambitious. now the tracks have become more complex, the sound is enriched by ethnic influences and the lyrics are dealing with important social issues of the modern society. One thing's for sure this band has grown a lot. 3,75 stars

Review by kunangkunangku
4 stars With a wonderful, strong opening as "Believe", a song started with Celtic flavor of a woman's voice, Pendragon launch their latest effort with a lot more confidence. And indeed they hit the mark.

Four years after taking a break, the neo-prog band founded in 1983 still managed to bring a set of very well-constructed songs, which are powerful in melody and rich in harmony. They are even flawlessly arranged. Take no farther than the second track, "No Place for the Innocent". A catchy, rocking tune, this surely is going to be a surprise for old fans and progressive rock enthusiasts as well.

Taking advantages of the first two tracks, the band extend the range of their formula still further and take the overall album to the higher level. These attempts are embodied into superb tracks such as "Wisdom of Solomon", a great political song with wonderful acoustic guitar passages, and, most importantly, the only real epic bore the elements fans always love about Pendragon, "The Wishing Well".

This album generously rewards the listeners with marvelously crafted music. And it should be in the buying list of, at least, neo-prog fans.

Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When I slipped this CD into my player, I had to check again to make sure I had bought the right album. The erhu-like instrument (Chinese violin), the weird sound samples and the eerie Gaelic female chanting that open the album all sounded so unfamiliar. Then sure enough, the searing electric guitar that threatens to split the sky and the catchy rocker that follows ("No Place for the Innocent") quickly restored order. But the intro wasn't to be my only surprise: I discovered a well rounded Pendragon album with a fresh new sound and tracks that flow into one another in very unexpected ways.

The previous release "Not of This World" sadly had left me with a feeling of déjà vu; I had also found it overly dramatic, as if the whole CD had been made up swooping finales. "Believe" is 100% pure Pendragon but is more raw and wears an acoustic outfit, stressing the guitars over keyboards. It has a crispier, richer and much cleaner sound : no more syrupy/swampy arrangements that threaten to swallow all instruments into one big lump. Clive Nolan's keyboards, unfortunately, are not as present as I would like; but Nick Barret does a superb job on guitar, whether offering some Flamenco-style play ("The Wisdom of Solomon"), weeping passages à la Andy Latimer ("The Edge of the World") or a sizzling solo I can only compare to Jeff Beck ("We Talked"). At last, his voice seems to have undergone a complete transformation: his vocal performance is simply outstanding - the only weakness being the narrated parts that sound a little forced to my ears.

This being said, don't go thinking that "Believe" is an all-acoustic affair. Rather, try to imagine some genuine Pendragon grooves presented with a different twist, and enriched by lots of acoustic guitar as well as various unlikely instruments, especially exotic Asian ones.

After listening to the album repeatedly over the last few weeks, not only am I very happy with the band's new sound but I like the album more and more. I still very much "Believe" in Pendragon and surely, the CD is an excellent addition to any neo-prog collection.

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars In the mid-Eighties Pendragon emerged in the slipstream of Marillion, the icon from the neo- progressive movement. I have always loved their simple but moving progrock with that pleasant voice, sensitive electric guitarplay and bombastic keyboards. But I have to admit that my collection doesn't contain many albums, for me it was pleasant progrock but too much the same. During my first session with this new album I couldn't believe (sic!) my ears, what a fresh and varied sound! Of course its the typical Pendragon progrock ("The edge of the world" is so compelling and moving!) but more elaborated and more adventurous featuring sound-effects, samples, pure R&R, Spanish inspired guitarwork, exciting acoustic guitar play and a wonderful slide-guitar solo. Next year (or this year?) the current line-up exists 20 years and PENDRAGON IS STILL ALIVE AND PROGGING!!
Review by chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I discovered Pendragon on this site and have fallen in love with "The Window of Life" and "The Masquerade Overture", so I was expected great things from this new CD. I've had it for a few weeks to give it time to 'settle in' so now it's time for the review.

It starts off promisingly with the atmospheric "believe", featuring female vocals (possibly Gaelic?) before a voice pops up with "and now, everybody to the dancefloor!".

This leads into the riff-driven "no place for the innocent". This is a great guitar-based number which could even be a hit single!

"wisdom of solomon" starts off with Arabic-sounding female vocals, then some typical Nick Barrett guitar before an acoustic guitar leads us into a Spanish-sounding number.

"the wishing well" is this album's epic with 4 sections. "for your journey" is a mainly spoken section, very atmospheric, leading into "sou' by sou' west" which is reminiscent of earlier Pendragon and features some nice acoustic guitar. "we talked" speeds things up a bit, although I find the stuttering snare drum beat interrupts the flow a bit. "Learning curve" starts off with some more talking and ends with some brilliant guitar work.

The final track "the edge of the world" is another very atmospheric mainly acoustic number. Features some Polish! I'm sure there are some forum members who can tell us what "dzien dobry, jak sie mamy" means. Another typical Nick solo and something that sounds like the dreaded vocoder.

Pendragon have changed direction a bit here, as others have noted there is less keyboards than before. The guitar work is as good as ever, but there are still reservations over Nick's vocals. I was disappointed with this CD initially, comparing it to the brilliance of Masquerade Overture, but it is now growing on me. At the moment I give it 3 stars.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Challenging the preconceptions

My first reaction to "Believe" was one I am sure I shared with many Pendragon fans, "this is not what I expected from this band". Having listened to it a number of times now though, I am happy to report that Pendragon have come up with another fine album.

There is certainly a harder edge to "Believe" than there was on its immediate predecessors "Out of this world" and "Masquerade overture". The overall feel is more akin to their early albums, including those prior to Clive Nolan's arrival. Indeed, Nolan appears to take a bit of a back seat on this album, with Nick Barrett's guitar work being generally dominant. This tends to disguise the fact that the lush melodies and traditional Pendragon sound are very much alive.

The opening title track is rather misleading in terms of the content of the album. The almost ambient mood of eastern sounds and Celtic female vocals belies the fact that this is Pendragon at all. Only when Barrett announces "And now everybody to the dance floor" prior to a burst of Tom Petty/REM like guitar does the band enter more familiar territory. Even then, the almost growling vocals and cynical lyrics, combined with a conversational use of different voices, immediately make it apparent that Pendragon are trying to move out of their comfort zone.

The feature track is the four part "The wishing well", which extends to over 21 minutes. Essentially four separate tracks combined to form a suite, this epic moves through all Pendragon's fundamentals, including a "Paintbox" like "So by sowest", and some fine instrumental work especially on "We talked". The opening section also includes some spoken narrative, creating a somewhat doomy atmosphere, complemented by the generally harrowing lyrics of the piece.

Pendragon have clearly attempted to explore areas beyond their traditional territory with "Believe", and they are to be applauded for that. While the results are sometimes patchy, with some tracks working better than others, by and large this is a solid album, which appeals more with each listen.

Review by chessman
3 stars This one is definitely a grower! When I first played it I was a tad disappointed. It is not as immediate as their previous excellent four albums. It starts off rockier and less progressive. Nevertheless, repeated plays have bumped it up in my estimation. 'Believe' is a short piece of atmospheric music to open, keyboard-led, with a voice singing away, ending with a voice saying 'everyone please to the dance floor', this leads into track number 2, 'No Place For The Innocent' which is an uptempo rocker, with nice slide guitar in the chorus. Very straightforward and unPendragon-like! However, the next track, 'Wisdom Of Solomon' is back in more familiar territory, with superb guitar work, as usual, from Barrett. (He is one of the best around today, both on acoustic and electric guitar, sounding sometimes almost Hackett-like, other times Gilmour-like, yet retaining enough of his own personality to be different.) A good track that Pendragon fans will love. 'The Wishing Well' comes in four parts, my favourite being the second, 'sou by souwest', an almost waltz like beat with catchy chorus and nice harmonies, plus understated guitar. 'We Talked' is anothe fave, but the first and last parts have their moments too. 'Learning Curve' is probably my favourite track on the cd; classic Pendragon with good melody and stunning guitar. This track would have sat nicely on either of their last two albums. The album finishes with the ballad, 'The Edge Of The World' which is nice, but not outstanding. All in all, the album is another decent effort, not, in my opinion, up to the standard of their previous three albums, or even 'The World' but it is in no way bad. Fans should like most of it.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is surely a good album in the vein of neo prog music. By design this album had some sort of bombastic approach especially when I read Nick Barrett's views about this album. Reading it I expected something bombastic as well in delivering this album to the ears of prog lovers. What came out was something that I did not feel really outstanding even though it's not bad at all. When I first listened to the opening track "Believe" with its richness of textures using female chanting combined with ambient music using keyboard, it really blew me away at first spin.

What then a bit disappointed me was the connecting part with next track that follows "No Place For The Innocent" which to me does not work out smoothly and it needs further polishing, I think. This is not to say that stand alone this song is a good one to enjoy. I got only problem with its transition to the second track.

"The Wisdom of Solomon" is a nice track with tight composition combining nice vocal of Nick Barrett and mellow guitar solo in neo prog vein. The music flows in excellent way even though the texture of the song seems so empty as it sounds like guitar solo only and other instruments serve as rhythm section.

Next is an epic "The Wishing Well" which comprises four parts namely: "For Your Journey" - 4:30; "So by sowest" - 6:48; "We Talked" - 5:29; and "Two Roads" - 4:17. It's a good epic with thematic narration by Barrett augmented through keyboard work during opening part. Female chanting sounds softly at the back. The acoustic guitar work combined with flute-like sounds enrich the textures of this epic.

The album concludes with two tracks "Learning Curve" (6:34) and "The Edge Of The World" (8:15) which both have strong composition and good textures through the use of flute-like sounds.

Overall, this is a good neo prog album. The only problem that I have is that I tend to get bored when I listen to this album in its entirety. It's probably this album does not offer sufficient hike-up points in its overall composition. But it's worth owning the CD as the album has good melody of its composition. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

i-Rock! presents: ANGRA Live in Jakarta, October 16, 2006. Be there!

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Believe it or not - it's very good!

This is my first complete album of PENDRAGON to evaluate. The songs I've known before couldn't convince me. There are some people who have the opinion that PENDRAGON is not a Progressive Rock band. Why? After hearing this for nearly 20 times I can declare: 'Believe' is much more than a mainstream rock album and I'm sure Nick Barrett spent all his tears and his last drop of blood when he wrote and produced this songs. The whole production is various using space/psychedelic and folk elements combined with remarkable rock parts. Nick Barrett is dominating the songs and something is strange: Clive Nolan keeps himself or is mixed into the background. But it's not my turn to criticize this.

Before we are invited to enter the dancefloor it all starts with a wonderful spheric opener. Combining a metal guitar, strings, celtic voices and a talkbox is very curageous. But it works - excellent! 'No place for the innocent' is a solid rock song and the nearest to mainstream. 'Wisdom of solomon' begins with acoustic guitars and has very catchy melodies. 'The wishing well' - very sentimental with four sections - is a highlight of this release. Part one ('For your journey') opens and for the first time I thought they had invited Steve Hogarth. A spoken word peace accompanied by Nolan. 'Learning curve' is my favourite song with a wonderful melody and groove. 'The edge of the world' is another very emotional song and seems to be a homage to their polish fans.

'Believe' contains a various mix of acoustic and electric guitar parts, excellent melodies, perfect vocals - what should I say more. Worthy to be an important addition to any prog music collection ...

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Considering the lenght of their career, Pendragon is definitely my preferred neo-prog band. They haven't been very prolific during all those years (probably because Clive is also dedicated to Arena as well as to his solo career and his own record label managed together with Mick - Pointer).

Four years have passed between their last studio album ("Not Of This World") and this one. To be complete, five years separates their masterpiece "Masquerade Overture" from "Not Of This World". So, three albums in nine years. You can't call this very productive, can you ? But Nick admits than he is kind of lazy, so...

I have always been rather reluctant to consider Pendargon as a neo-prog band. To me, they sound so symphonic that symph prog is their genuine genre. So far.

Because with this album, the music is harder, almost no symphonic at all; which is rather a big move in comparison with their previous work. Here and there, they will revert to their original and beautiful style but only too scarce I'm afraid.

"The Wisdom Of Salomon" is the first example. Symphonic intro and brilliant spanish guitar play. We'll also get the brilliant and so emotional guitar play from Nick which has turned me into a Pendragon fan.

Pendragon has also released several long compositions throughout the years. This album will feature one as well. An almost twenty minutes suite called "The Wishing Well". It is made of four "movemenst" of which the first one is truely stratospheric. The very special female voice that can be heard on the opening track gets back here as well. It is almost a recitation from Nick. The whole being somewhat boring, I must say. Sounds a bit pretentious.

Things get a bit better with "So By Sowest". Actually, this is a typical Pendragon song. Wonderful harmony, emotions and all the stuff, you know. Some will argue that they always sound the same, but that's how I like them. Beautiful and accessible music. It doesn't hurt, really. Give it a try. During this number, some very nice acoustic guitar moment will transport you to the good side of prog heaven (because, there's no doubt there is a heaven for progheads, right ?). So, welcome (not to my nightmare but to my prog world). This song is my fave from this album.

I must say that the magic has gone a bit. This album is my least favourite one since "Kowtow" released in...1988. But I guess that it is only normal to be less efficient once in a while. Even if Pendragon has sounded rather similar for some albums, it is really obvious during "We Talked" that the inspiration is just short on here. And that's the problem with this Pendragon recording. While they try to be different, they are noisy and when they play some traditional pieces of music, the "déjà vu" feeling prevails. Too much. And you know how I like this band. But, I "believe" that fairness obliges me to say so.

There is also no real link between the four "themes". Each one being more a song of its own than a part of an ensemble.

This album is by no means a bad one, but I cannot be thrilled either. What I have appreciated enourmously with Pendragon was Nick's ability to write simple and beautiful prog songs with great melodies and fabulous guitar breaks. Almost none of these are included here (or too briefly like in "Two Roads").

I have read on their web-site that they are reducing their live appearences because they want to concentrate on their next studio album. I hope it will lead to something more interesting than this one. It is not "Learned Curved" which will change my opinion (although a very nice guitar breaks finally appears during the second half of the song).

The last number features again some nice acoustic guitar notes, but it is definitely too melancholic. An inspired guitar moment (which is very much remininscent of Carlos, I'm sure you know whom I am talking about) will only comfort me in my judgment that toolittle of these are availble here.

I would rate this album with five out of ten, but since it is not (yet) possible, I will downgrade it to two stars. I just hope that the next Pendragon studio album will be better.

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A very nice return for Pendragon after a few years between their previous studio effort, the magical Not Of This World. From the beginning of track 1, I was aware that this was going to be a very different sounding Pendragon album. One with a more gritty sound and more experimentation.

The album starts off with an ethereal intro for "Believe", but suddenly launches into a great guitar bit by Nick for "Not For The Innocent". Nicks vocals sound very sinister as he's on his soapbox about the state of the world and the people who "run" it. Very nicely mixed with acoustic guitars adding a nice layer during the more rocking sections of the chorus, but with a classic Barrett solo towards the songs end. A great way to begin the disc.

"The Wisdom Of Solomon" again begins eerily similar the first track with a landscape of keys and chanting. Barrett cuts in with a very Gilmour-ish guitar intro that reminds me of a less grittier "Sorrow" from A Momentary Lapse Of Reason that yields to a lovely acoustic guitar interlude. Such a different sounding disc altogether thus far with the implementation of different percussion instruments, guitars and varying soundscapes. Ultimately, we're reacquainted with the classic Pendragon sound of driving rhythms, soaring keys, and heartfelt solos.

Sandwiched in the middle of the album is the epic "The Wishing Well", which is broken up in 4 sections. Sounding like a continuation from Not Of This World, Clive Nolan adds a lovely choir of keys and synth underneath Barrett's advisory speech of part 1. Part 2 lifts off from the more subdued part 1 to more beautiful guitar by Mr. Barrett (He's truly an overlooked gem in the world of prog, in my opinion.) Simply brilliant in it's construction. The Wishing Well suite continues with part 3: "We Talked" with more fingerpicking guitar by Nick, but a solid rocker with indian chants and tribal screams. "Two Roads" brings The Wishing Well to a close, again with a very Pink Floydish sound with Nick playing some good slide your heart out, Joe Walsh!

"Learning Curve" follows with an almost Enigma-like intro with a great bass riff by Peter Gee anchoring it. Very vulnerable and passionate lyrics. "The Edge Of The World" closes out Believe. Not necessarily Pendragon's strongest song in terms of structure and lyrics, but still showcasing Barrett's vocals in a more tender state.

For me, Believe could be a turning point for Pendragon. Maybe it was the time away from one another that sets it apart, but it doesn't sound like any of it's predecessors. I do like the use of acoustic guitars on Believe and hope it continues in the future of their music. Absolutely essential in my eyes.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars PENDRAGON are a band that never ceases to surprise me (in a good manner, indeed!). When I thought they had reached their peak with "The Masquerade Overture", a great album released in 1996, the band after almost an entire decade gifted their fans, appreciators and proggers in general with this stunning conceptual work - of course, I know they have a 2001 release (not yet reviewed by me) which I consider a step behind if compared with "Masquerade"; but it's not the case for "Believe".

The best feature here is the sound; in reality, PENDRAGON, although included as a basilar neo-prog band have left the style a long time ago. "Believe" is a blend of symphonic prog with the traditional art-rock fluid, fueled by spices of folk, pop and romantic tunes, but the overall atmosphere simply rocks. This is what we could name properly and doubtlessly prog-rock. Also the production, the arrangements and the band's musicianship are enjoyably high. Lyrics are fair but they simply may reflect the way I felt them, since English isn't my native language.

Just like they've done in "Masquerade", PENDRAGON chose a kind of bombastic opening for "Believe", but instead of the operatic track heard in their 1996 work, they opted by a more smooth approach mixing space & new- age making the hearer wanders for almost 3 minutes with the title-track until Barrett's voice announces: "and now everybody." and we have a rock explosion: hard, sharpen, sour, even a little sorrowful, that goes by the name of 'No place for the innocent' and from now on things take their course. Fine vocals and nice guitars are heard. 'The wisdom of Solomon', the following track, has an ethnic intro, catchy and weird simultaneously, replaced by poignant guitars and sweet keyboards accompaniment for the second segment and again replaced by some of the most catchy tunes of the entire album.

And then we are faced with a 21' plus suite that goes by the name of 'Wishing well', which by its shift is divided into 4 songs linked by some of the best bridges heard currently in the prog-rock scene - a dazzling adventure, a blend of fine pungent and uplifting moments, from hectic to peaceful, from nothingness to completeness, from here to nowhere; this special epic-like segment pays per se the album in its entirety. If one wants to divide the suite, I recommend being amused with '2 roads'.

'Learning curve', a song that points to the album's end is a bit cheesy although honest and well crafted, even being above average it's the weakest track here, while the real ender, 'The edge of the world' closes the album in a lovable manner: fine vocals, great guitars and ambient keyboards - all running in a kind of crescendo to bid a nice farewell for "Believe".

This album is one of PENDRAGON's best moments. A masterpiece? Not totally sure, let's wait 5-10 years ahead but the prospects are good. For awhile, an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Review by progrules
3 stars When I learned about Not of this world, fell in love with it completely and reviewed it I knew this had to be their best effort ever and it would probably never be surpassed anymore. And what is left after such an apogee ? That's a tough one. The band could have quit or make a radical change. A third possibility might have been to try and do something almost as good as NotW but to top that one, I'd say: keep dreaming !

So it became the 2nd option: make a (radical) change. Well, let's not exxagerate, it's a pretty big change but at least I can still recognize it as Pendragon. But where the astonishing compositions were plenty on NotW on this album they made way for a very diverse range of songs, some (very) good but others far less. I can be more precise here: the first four, among which the epic (consisting of 4 parts) The wishing Well don't impress me really, they are good songs and I really have a hard time here not trying to compare them to NotW. But even if I don't: these four songs reach an average of about 3 stars to me. But fortunately the sting is in the tail here. Learning Curve and mainly the gorgeous The Edge of the World make up for a great deal. I think the last track is the most beautiful ballad Pendragon has ever produced.

But alas it is not enough to save this album from a 3 star rating although it's rounded down (3,33).

Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Oh, it took me a long time to write this review and it hurts. I had to forget this CD for some time and then hear it again and again to be sure. But the first impression remained: it was not the CD I was expecting from a band of this calibre and after all that time. Mind you, I'm a big fan of Pendragon. I have all their CDs and I like them all. But Pendragon always surpassed everyone's expectations since The World (1991). Ok, maybe I was expecting too much after all. Some people don't even think Not Of This World is such a great record, but to me it is as good as you could wait after the masterpiece Masquerade Overture. It was maybe too bombastic, but it was good. They certainly reached a point where the band could not go much farther in that mould.

So it was supposed that sooner or later they have to make some changes. Still I was surprised how different it turned out. This is the first Pendragon record that does not sound much like Pendragon. We all know that Nick Barrett is the chief songwriter and driving force behind the band. But the others always made it sound like a group effort. That's what gave Pendragon its distinctive mark. Believe on the other hand sounds too much like a Barrett's solo album.

Why do I say that? First it has too much acoustic guitar on it and very few of Barrett's trademark electric guitar licks. The songs are below average (by Pendragon's standards, of course) and the worst of all: Clive Nolan's majestic keyboards are nowhere to be found! In fact I had to go back to the CD booklet credits to be sure if he really even played on the album. It could be anyone on keyboards and the result would be the very same. And it also can be said about bass and drums (sadly, also the last contribution by long time member and drummer extraordinaire Fudge Smith).

Please don't get me wrong. It's a good album to hear if you don't remember what those guys have done in the (recent) past. It's different (very!). Maybe a necessary step back before the next release, I don't know. Some songs are even very good. But for a band like Pendragon, very good may be not enough. Two and a half stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I applaud PENDRAGON for the change of direction here. I was surprised at the amount of acoustic guitar here, and the lack of keys.The big Symphonic sound is all but gone as well. For me parts of this album work beautifully, while other sections not so much.

"Believe" is a powerful, atmospheric intro track with female vocals.Male vocals join in as well. "No Place For The Innocent" is a straight forward guitar led track. Nice beat in this one as vocals arrive a minute in. Even some violin before 2 1/2 minutes. A calm 4 minutes in but it kicks back in a minute later with some great guitar. "The Wisdom Of Solomon" opens with that mysterious atmosphere from the opening track with those female vocals again.The guitar takes over tastefully, then acoustic guitar.The vocals before 3 minutes sound fantastic. Love the guitar before 5 minutes and 6 minutes in. "The Wishing Well" is divided into 4 parts. First up is "For Your Journey" which begins with more atmosphere as Nick comes in vocally. She's back after 2 minutes. Spoken male vocals follow.

"Sou' By Sou' West" opens with acoustic guitar as vocals and synths follow. The sound gets fuller after a minute. Electric guitar and more passionate vocals are up next. It calms down again. Some nice soaring guitar before 4 minutes. Some uptempo acoustic guitar after 5 1/2 minutes as vocals join in. It blends into "We Talked". Electric guitar before a minute as vocals come in and the tempo picks up.This is catchy. Guitar is back before 2 1/2 minutes.That atmospheric section from earlier returns again here after 4 1/2 minutes.

"Two Roads" ends this epic in fine fashion. Acoustic guitar and vocals to start as the sound gets fuller after a minute. Soaring guitar 3 minutes in. "Learning Curve" doesn't have a melody until around a minute. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. Nice bass too. I like the beat with guitar after 4 minutes that continues right to the 6 minute mark. "The Edge Of The World" opens with acoustic guitar before spoken words then vocals come in. Synths 2 minutes in. Electric guitar is laid back after 3 minutes. The sound is building. Vocals are back after 6 minutes. Spoken words and acoustic guitar end the song the way it began.

I think the change in direction is good, even though I love their old stuff better. They just need to find the right path and improve upon what they've done here.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Unbelievable!

Believe is quite different from all other Pendragon albums. This is no longer your usual Neo-Prog album and conservative Pendragon fans might therefore not like it. It is obviously an album that divides people. Some people think it is the best album the band ever made, while others seem to think that it is the least good of their albums. For me, Believe is the Pendragon album that appeals to me the most. I see this album as a product of a more mature band that has finally found a way to make something a bit different and thus a bit more original.

One thing that makes Believe different is its heavy emphasis on acoustic guitars and its many influences from Folk and World music. There are, for example, some very nice Flamenco influenced passages that I really like in The Wisdom Of Solomon and Learning Curve. The guitar playing is exquisite throughout and a very good balance between acoustic and electric guitars is offered. The band also make use of some sparse violin and some "tribal" male and female vocalisations to great effect in addition to the traditional Neo-Prog line up of keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and lead vocals.

Had this album been made by another band, it would perhaps fit into Prog Folk just as well as in Neo-Prog. But this is not to say that the Symphonic side of the band is no longer here; Believe is still symphonic as well as folky which creates a special sound and feeling. This music is perhaps not "groundbreaking" in any way, but at least the band has found a quite original and interesting sound for themselves on this album. If earlier Pendragon could be accused of being a Genesis clone, this can by no means be applied here. Many other influences can be referred to, but Pendragon do not wear their influences on their sleeves anymore. Another thing that makes Believe stand out for me is that is has more of a Rock edge and a darker, more serious tone. I am one of those who find albums like The World, The Window Of Life, and even (parts of) The Masquerade Overture, a bit too lightweight and light-hearted. I find more depth and substance in this album.

The songs are all strong and memorable, but like with many good Prog albums it took several listens to get into the album and really appreciate it. Every time I listen to Believe I find new details and aspects. Nick Barett's vocals have never sounded better than here, he sounds more mature as a singer. There are also some tasteful spoken word passages that contribute to set the mood and create a special atmosphere. The mood of the album sometimes reminds me of some of Steve Hackett's solo albums, especially the superb Hackett song There Are Many Sides To The Night that also utilizes spoken word and lovely acoustic playing.

For me this is a highly enjoyable album that I find more interest and appeal in than other albums by this band and thus my favourite Pendragon album. Unless you are a more conservative fan, Believe is highly recommended!

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I always have difficulties when speaking about Pendragon music. Possibly, they are just oriented to too different listener than me. But whenever I just trying to listen them time to time, I have my impressions on some their works as well.

First of all, this album surprised me being so bulky - there are few better melodic songs, with not-so-bad musicianship, and some songs which sound just terrible for me. I believe, that neo-prog is wrong place for searching on master musicianship or brave experimentalism. But even between these Genesis-influenced soft-pop-rock bands there are some professional ones. This Pendragon's album sounds for me as badly organized collection of some slow folk-influenced songs with half-spoken voice, few strange compositions with dated electronics on them and few more average typical Pendragon songs (Marillion songs shadows).

I am not regular neo-prog listener, possibly it is a reason, why I was almost shocked by level of musicianship on this album. Simple, almost pop-songs, worst then average arrangements. I don't want to speak about vocals -everyone who heard Pendragon music knows, that this is their weakest point. So - few standard mid-tempo melodic songs - is it enough for average prog album?

Sorry, I know that the band has many fans, so possible my point of view will sound not pleasant to some of them. I just tried to say what I felt when listened this album - with some arguments why I felt like that.

I believe band fans aren't too much interested in my review whenever it is point of view from outside world. But for not neo-prog maniacs I couldn't recommend this album at all, there are better works for sure.

Review by lazland
4 stars I've been listening to a lot of this band's material lately, and have left it a long time before I started to review any of them.

I've decided to start off with 2005's Believe, which I must stress, is not particularly representative of what went before from this great band. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to state that this album marked a bit of a turning point, in that it moved well away from more "traditional" neo prog territory, to a more guitar orientated, and, dare I say it, modern feel.

It is none the worse for that. This is a very good album, and one that drips throughout with Nick Barrett's very acidic view of the world, expressed with some very good vocals.

There are some fine acoustic guitars on the whole work, and the band mix these with some very strong heavy passages.

This is also one of those albums which demands to be listened to a number of times before being fully appreciated, and it gets better with each listen.

If you are stepping into this album expecting a mere Genesis lite clone type of album, think again, and step back. If, however, you wish to hear a great band from the second wave of prog update their sound to a thoroughly modern, acoustic strong, almost post indie sound, then come along and enjoy the ride, because it really is thoroughly worth it.

Four stars. A fantastic piece of work.

Review by Matti
4 stars I was amused to see how strongly this album divides opinions. Does it really sound that different from their other albums as some disappointed reviewers seem to think? Maybe it's not the most typical PENDRAGON album, but to me it's only for the better! There's maybe less of that "rollercoaster ride" type of Neo, and some faint folk influences instead. Also there's more of acoustic guitar than on many other albums. But it's still pure PENDRAGON to my ears, and I like it being quite mellow, not hard rocking. On some tracks Nick Barrett rather speaks softly than sings, and I like those moments. On earlier albums his vocals sound nearly ridiculously boyish, here he sounds more mature.

I haven't yet listened to it several times (and therefor I can't give more detailed review), but my first impressions were very positive - and usually I trust the first impression. Some say this is a grower and I believe that. This music touched me emotionally, especially the lengthy closer 'The Edge Of The World'. That's the most important thing any music can do. Believe! 4½ stars.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Pendragon's Believe is a transitional album, and suffers from most of the problems transitional albums tend to suffer from. The band are captured in the process of moving on from the Floydian neo-prog style which had sustained them from The World to Not of This World, and whilst it is refreshing to hear them experiment, at the same time they don't seem to have conclusively hit on a new direction, which has meant that the album took a while to grow on me.

That said, it's refreshing to see a band experimenting with their sound to this extent two decades into their career, at a point when if Pendragon had continued in the same general sound they'd had from The World to Not Of This World they could have probably reliably kept the loyalty of a faithful fanbase indefinitely.

There's a greater emphasis this time on Nick Barrett's guitar playing, and an attempt by Nick to play in more varied styles than just wailing Gilmouresque solo after wailing Gilmouresque solo, and the band cast a wide net in terms of the sounds they are working with. Sometimes they seem to be edging towards indie rock, at points you get a sort of Clannad direction going, other times things get a little folky. (It feels, in fact, like at points the band are taking on influences from their fellow Marquee veterans Solstice.)

On the whole, it's an interesting experiment and there's many pleasurable songs and sections on here, but the album's highly varied sound means that it feels less cohesive than the albums which preceded or followed it. In addition, given that Nick's lead vocals are such a big component, it's worth noting that around this time he started getting big into David Icke, and worked some of his themes into the lyrics here; it's a little subtle at points, but once you know he's on the Icke train it kind of jumps out at you. I've never considered Nick's vocals to be a strong suit of Pendragon - but it's one thing to hear an OK-but-not-great singer singing meaningless nonsense or personal love songs, another to hear them singing about weird conspiracy theories.

Review by kenethlevine
5 stars I would never have imagined, as I sat in this chair several years ago and reviewed the overwrought "Not of this World", that I would ever want to indulge PENDRAGON again. But circumstances intervened in the form of several enjoyable samples sent my way. Unfortunately, these were often among the only highlights present, but "Believe" actually provides an appropriate setting for a surprisingly compelling collection of songs.

Whereas before PENDRAGON aimed for extended arrangements and running times for their own sake, on "Believe" the songs and indeed the concept are only as long as they need to be. Whereas before PENDRAGON put up walls of sound between the essence of their pieces and their audience, "Believe" steps back and permits that essence to flow forth from groove to ear. Whereas before PENDRAGON was a typical neo prog group with inconsistent and infrequent flashes of distinction, "Believe" marks their transformation into a confident modern progressive group with a few influences that pre-date the 60s and 70s, and that emanate from beyond the stiff upper lip of the UK. I could go on, but at this point I think you get the picture.

All the tracks here merge together in sequence better than apart or shuffled, so this is a remarkably complete and well compiled effort with a concept that doesn't require a double PHD but also doesn't insult. Many of the tracks have spoken and chanted parts that span cultural and temporal influences. Acoustic guitar is more prominent than usual. The main act is the 4 part "The Wishing Well", with the anthemic and heartfelt "Sou by Southwest" being the obvious highlight. Still, "We Talked" shows a harder edged facet of the group for one of the first times, and with remarkable success, and "Two Roads" settles us down well as the suite closer.

Everything else least good and mostly very good. The rock and roll of "No Place for the Innocent" and the wistfulness of "Edge of the World" are both convincing, while the closing few minutes of "Learning Curve" surely inspired the polish neo groups SATELLITE and BELIEVE, and possibly even the name of the latter!

I'm going to go out on a limb here. There is often something missing in neo prog that makes it hard to consider albums as 5 star classics other than occasionally from a historical perspective. To some extent that intangible is also lacking in "Believe", but, on the flipside, it quite surpasses much of its ilk in terms of folk, world, and even experimental leanings, production, and consistency of vision. I reserve the right to re-visit should my faith be challenged, but at least for now I am about devout. 4.5 stars rounded up.

Review by Second Life Syndrome
5 stars This is another STRONG release from Pendragon that followed 4 years after "Not of This World". While it is admittedly not as amazing as that album, or "The Window of Life", this album has still managed to capture my imagination.

Pendragon has always been known for their soaring melodies, their amazing guitars, their mellower sound, and their grand themes. This release changes things up a little bit, as it adds quite a bit of psychedelia to the mix. The band added a different sound to the synth, many vocal harmonizations that are often female, and even some weird "medicine man"-type atmospheres that feel thick, rather the normal light and sweeping textures Pendragon usually utilizes. Indeed, you can almost feel the incense in the air sometimes, and every track has a strange twist to it. However, every track is also very strong. From the amazing "Wisdom of Solomon" to the multi-track song "The Wishing Well" to the sublime "Learning Curve", this album features several 5-star songs with 4-star songs in between them. As always, though, the band's masterful handling of progression is evident.

This album also features a darker theme then usual. As best I can tell, this album is about the feeling of being lost and confused in a world full of secrets, lies, and knowledge. There is so much we know, so much we THINK we know, and so many lies that have been told us. In the midst of all this, how can we trust even the loved ones in our homes? This album leaves an ominous cloud over your mind, as it causes you to question much that you know. In the end, what do you BELIEVE? How can you cope? Are you willing to trust and believe?

Overall, this album has a unique feel to it, and there are even passages that really remind me of Riverside. But this atmosphere is a fitting vehicle for a discussion of BELIEF and living in an unsure world. Pendragon continues to impress me, and I can't wait to tackle another album in their discography.

Review by The Crow
3 stars After the fantastic Not of This World, Nick Barrett took four years to follow up on that excellent work. And the result was Believe!

Which for me, without a doubt, is perhaps his weakest effort work since the infamous Kowtow. Above all, because of a worrying inability to create exciting melodies and evocative instrumental passages, which were the hallmark of the group.

It is obvious that the Barret and company tried to evolve their style, trying to sound more modern and contemporary (talking about 2005), bringing back the acoustic guitars, and taking down the dominance of Nolan's keyboard, who is sort of absent on this record. Sadly, part the charm of the group was lost in the process.

In addition, the failed attempt to create a long and epic song with The Wishing Well did not go well, mainly because the song lacks strength and inspiration, which ends up almost ruining an album that on a personal level was a considerable disappointment despite the fact that it cannot be considered bad under any circumstances.

Best Tracks: The Wisdom of Salomon (good guitar melodies, reminiscent of the best moments of Not of this World) and The Edge of the World (beautiful work on acoustics, and a very Pink Floyd influenced instrumental development)

My Rating: ***

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 647

"Believe" is the seventh studio album of Pendragon that was released in 2005. After four years of inactivity, in terms of studio albums, Pendragon released this new studio work. It represents, somehow, in my humble opinion, the beginning of a change into the type of their progressive rock sound. It represents, in a certain way, a cut with their previous four studio albums "The World", "The Window Of Life", "The Masquerade Overture" and "Not Of This World". While staying true to the band's melodic roots and progressive orientation, as is usual, it has quite some new elements to offer too.

The line up on the album is the same of their five previous studio albums "Kowtow", released in 1988, "The World", released in 1991, "The Window Of Life", released in 1993, "The Masquerade Overture", released in 1996 and "Not Of This World", released in 2001, their second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth studio albums, respectively. So, the line up on the album is Nick Barrett (vocals and guitars), Clive Nolan (keyboards), Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums).

"Believe" has six tracks. All tracks were written by Nick Barrett. The first track "Believe" is a very unconventional and mysterious way to open the album. It's a prolonged instrumental track that seems to me have the use of some native instruments combined with Celtic vocals sung by a woman in Gaelic, followed by a weird guitar sound. This is the kind of songs that immediately sets the album with a very mysterious and original vague way, holding the listener's attention instantly. The second track "No Place For The Innocent" begins after a very mysterious sentence that closes the previous track "And now everybody to the dance floor". It starts as a very strong contrast with the previous mysterious atmospheric introduction of the album. The album never ceases to amaze me. This is a very powerful rock track that sounds more as a conventional track than a really progressive track. Curiously, sometimes it sounds to my ears as a song very close to REM's music. It's curious and interesting but this song sounds remarkably good, new and refreshing to me. The third track "The Wisdom Of Solomon" is a kind of a mini-epic song that starts with some Arabic sound with some female vocals. It starts fantastically with some vintage keyboard and guitar sounds. This is a song full of great guitar work with some very good guitar solos towards the end. The song is so interesting and nice to hear that we don't realise the time spent, as if the song never takes about its seven minutes long. This song continues the change of the sound of the band as if the group was trying to show the new Pendragon of the 21st century. The fourth track "The Wishing Well" is divided into four parts "For Your Journey", "Sou' By Sou' West", "We Talked" and "Two Roads". This song is the centrepiece of the album with an epic with about twenty-one minutes long. The first part is a largely spoken piece of music, accompanied by a celestial musical atmospheric ambience, extremely beautiful. The second part brings the album back to a more common Pendragon's musical territory. It has an extremely beautiful Genesis' style dual acoustic guitars during the verses and some great guitar electric solos which are played thorough the choruses. The third part is a great rock song filled with some weird vocal effects and some great musical parts very well performed by all band's members. The fourth part starts as an acoustic ballad that soon rocks very strong with an excellent slide guitar solo in the end. The fifth track "Learning Curve" has some organic wind instruments mixed in the very electric arrangement of keyboards and guitars. The instrumental section of the song is simply great with a very impressive bass line, turning it in one of the best instrumental sections the band ever made. The sixth and last track "The Edge Of The World" follows the same formula of their previous four studio albums backing the music in a more familiar Pendragon's territory. Again the song has a long instrumental section, with a great and long guitar solo extremely beautiful. This is, in my humble opinion, an excellent and beautiful way to close this new, strange and very beautiful album from the band.

Conclusion: "Believe" is a strange album, especially for band's fans that are more akin with the traditional music of the band. As I wrote above, with "Believe", Pendragon begins another change in their music and continues progressing on it. "Believe" is, in my humble opinion, a transition album of the band which opens the way to their following two new studio albums "Pure" and "Passion". "Believe" is a very emotional album with a mix of all we knew before inside Pendragon's music, plus some new musical elements added to it. With "Believe", Pendragon proves that the band is still very much alive and kicking, sounding stronger and more powerful than before. Nick Barrett also proves that he can still deliver and that his guitar playing is heavenly as before and that his vocals are stronger and better than in the past. Concluding, "Believe" is, in my humble opinion, an excellent and very beautiful album, too much underrated and misunderstood. Sincerely, I recommend it very strongly. And for those who didn't like it at the first impression, I hope they can give to it a new opportunity and hearing it a couple of more times. Probably it will change their initial opinion.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars After three albums of what many consider neo-prog paradise, PENDRAGON shocked their fans after the release of "Not Of This World" with the 2005 followup BELIEVE. Gone were the saturated layers of synthesizers that crafted unthinkably dense atmospheres and major key exercises in happy songs that delivered crisp melodic constructs that were taken through subtle variations that climaxed in rock fueled upbeat tempos. For whatever reason many of the better known neo-prog acts underwent a metamorphosis in the early 2000s with some flirting with full-fledged progressive metal and others just taking their signature sounds to ever increasing complexities.

While PENDRAGON would wait until the next album "Pure" to ratchet up the metal qualities, BELIEVE took a completely different turn from what the fanbase was used to. While Clive Nolan was taming his keyboard passions, lead vocalist and guitarist Nick Barrett was rockin' his acoustic skills. This album focuses primarily on the guitar unlike any previous PENDRAGON album where the synthesizers have always dominated and then some. Starting with a beautiful acoustic guitar title track that begins the album more like a folk album rather than neo-prog. The guitar oriented songs continue for awhile with only Nick Barrett's vocal style simulating the neo-prog singing style of previous works.

Yeah the album still starts out with some Floydian production tricks and maintains that space rock pace throughout much of the album but this time around the space part is often left behind for more serious rockin' out with more attention to varying aspects of the guitar rather than the typical Steve Hackett guitar sweeps or the David GIlmor twang-a-thon. The space rock and traditional neo-prog sounds though are fairly well integrated into this new approach which makes this quite recognizable as a PENDRAGON release despite the radical new shift in the band's direction and perspective as the lyrics have become more sombre, melancholic and downright conspiratorial.

The album in many ways almost sounds like a completely different band until the 21-minute suite "The Wishing Well" kicks in and then it offers some moments of business as usual albeit with subdued synthesizer sounds in the background and acoustic guitars never out of range. The electric guitar parts are more prominent and in addition to the dreamy sweeps of classical neo-prog, they also invoke the dirtier bluesy rock styles of classic rock. The album also took on a noticeably darker sound as the dreamy tapestries of yore had suddenly become a bit more gloomy. While this is still basically neo-prog at its core it's not exactly depressive black metal but for PENDRAGON a different style indeed.

The gist of the album is to usher in melodic hooks through the folky guitar strumming with Nick Barrett narrating his usual poetic prose however the songs tend to stick to the rock paradigm rather than get too wrapped up in the atmospheric dominance that excelled on "Not Of This World." The album is also noticeably shorter than previous offerings with a mere 51 1/2 minutes of playing time. It seems very succinct in comparison. PENDRAGON goes through its usual shtick of nurturing a melodic hook and then crafting myriad variations to keep the musical flow humming along in that regard they do quite a decent job even though this was new territory for them.

The album has a more intimate feel to it as it's not smothered in layers of keyboards and focuses on a more stripped down approach. Despite a change in direction the basic formula of starting slowly and ratcheting up the tension to a thundering crescendo and then a soft coming down moment is still intact. The production is damn near perfect as usual and Barrett's acoustic guitar tones are phenomenal. Overall the album sounds really great and i actually like the direction they took the new sound even if most fans don't. The album seemed to boost the band's confidence and far as rockin' out because next time around they would unleash their inner metalheads and merge the once metal-free neo-prog zone with the more feisty guitar heft of the metal universe. Perhaps not as perfect as what came before but to my ears an experiment that worked out quite well and one i love to play from time to time.

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Report this review (#84684) | Posted by pirkka | Monday, July 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars O.K., this is a different Pendragon-album. So what? One of the things I really like about bands like Pendragon, Marillion and IQ is that they take their music seriously. Which means that it is all too easy to play the same trick over and over again and grab the money easily. Well, I don't ... (read more)

Report this review (#82242) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Thursday, June 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Oh, it took me a long time to write this review and it hurts. I had to forget this CD for some time and then hear it again and again to be sure. But the first impression remained. It was not the CD I was expecting from a band of this caliber and after all that time. Mind you, I'm a big fan of Pe ... (read more)

Report this review (#82241) | Posted by | Thursday, June 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Excellent! :D this album is fantastic. quite different from anything before it, but still very much Pendragon music. unfortunately, people always want to be one of the first to review new albums and they make a review so soon after first hearing it. think about albums like Relayer and Going ... (read more)

Report this review (#80328) | Posted by onslo | Monday, June 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After NOTW and The World I'm generally dissapointed. They had lots of time to create something more sophisticated, but they didn't. I miss guitar solos of "Acoustically Challenged album. I expected something ...more than I've heard. Of course after you hear it several times you can get used to ... (read more)

Report this review (#76373) | Posted by ccaarrllooss | Wednesday, April 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 2.5 stars- but I'll boost it up to 3- After Hearing "The World" and "Masqerade Overture" I was expecting great things from this album. I was really dissapointed. I found the music dissapointing- the lyrics to be very cliche, and the vocals to be annoying at parts. Sure- there are som ... (read more)

Report this review (#69511) | Posted by ProggerBro | Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Pendragon's last studio outing, Not of this World, may have given the impression that the band had lost their inspiration. The songs were long-winded, the album was over-produced, and the vocals and music seemed to be contrived re-hashes of past albums. But I still had high hopes for Believe, ... (read more)

Report this review (#63804) | Posted by stonebeard | Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars As a true fan of proggy music and Pendragon, I highly anticipated this new recording. I was terribly disappointed. I've listened again and again trying to find the Pendragon sound, but to no avail. In short: I felt I wasted my money on this disc and will pre-listen any new records before buyin ... (read more)

Report this review (#57215) | Posted by | Sunday, November 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've been listening to Pendragon for, let's say, 4 years now (I'm 20), and I've loved a lot "The Window of Life", "The Masquerade Overture" (which made me discover the band), and finally the a-bit-more-complex "Not of this world" album - along with Utrecht and some more live stuff... I've let ... (read more)

Report this review (#54977) | Posted by gbi.bytos | Sunday, November 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Brilliant. This is work of a band that successfully combined clean melodies, nice lyrics and good musicianship. I like a band that combines acoustic guitars with electronic gadgets, the sounds of acoustic snares instead of power snares, and clear music works. I discovered Pendragon through this f ... (read more)

Report this review (#52929) | Posted by Sharier | Sunday, October 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I wasn`t sure what to expect when I purchased believe I heard Pendragon had matured their sound but was this a good thing ? Let me tell you I "believe " it is. Pendragon have taken a more deeper philisophical direction in their song writting the very concept of "believe" as the CD is entitled ... (read more)

Report this review (#47636) | Posted by Trouble X | Wednesday, September 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is going to be rather short as it is my first review here. Much of the in depth analysis from long-time Pendragon fans is on display above. My perception is from someone rather new to prog and completely new to Pendragon (this is the first of their albums I've had the pleasure of listening ... (read more)

Report this review (#47016) | Posted by | Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 5 year wait for 51 minutes ofmusic which, to my ears, could have come from left over tracks. Gone is everything that was great about Pendragon as this album has none of the memorable hooks and melodies associated with their last 3 albums and Clive Nolan playing a bit part. The symphonic swee ... (read more)

Report this review (#46531) | Posted by | Tuesday, September 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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