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ABRAXAS

Neo-Prog • Poland


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Abraxas picture
Abraxas biography
Active from 1987 to 2000.

ABRAXAS was born on 29 October 1987 in Bydgoszcz when Adam Łassa (vocals) and Łukasz Święch (guitar) found the right name for their band. And as in Hermann Hesse's novel "Demian" Abraxas was the god of good and evil forces, penetrating each other, so it soon turned out that this dualism became the distinguishing mark of the band. Alternating moods, sudden rythm changes, controversial lyrics, very good arrangements and unique harmony are what characterised the style of ABRAXAS. They gave some concerts beside a couple of stars of those days like ZIYO or REZERWAT and started to dream about their own album and of course about fame. But deepening crisis within the band appeared and it broke up after two years of existence in 1989. Silence lasted two years.

In 1991 the band was resurrected with new members who were Mikołaj Matyska (drums), Krzysztof Pacholski (keyboards), Rafał Ratajczak (bass) and Radek Kamiński (guitar). In this period a great number of songs were composed many of which were to appear on the first album of ABRAXAS. However in October 1992 Łukasz Święch left the band and it ceased to exist once again. When on a rainy day in July 1993 Radosław Kamiński was killed in a car accident it seemed to be the definite end...

But the best times for ABRAXAS were yet to come! On Adam Łassa's initiative in 1994 the last trial to bring the band back to life was made. This way appeared the third incarnation of the band with the lineup consisting of Adam Łassa (vocals), Szymon Brzeziński (guitar), Marcin Mak (drums), Marcin Błaszczyk (keyboards) and Oleg Bałtaki (bas), who was soon replaced by Rafał Ratajczak.

The year 1995 was a year of intensive work. Finally in 1996 the band recorded their debut album titled "Abraxas... Cykl obraca się. Narodziny, dzieciństwo pełne duszy, uśmiechˇw niewinnych i zdrady..." and the best period for the band became a fact. They appeared on stage performing beside such internetional stars as Fish, Porcupine Tree or Robert Plant & Jimmy Page.

In 1998 they issued their very well received second album "Centurie" and it's english version called "Prophecies". Around the same time Szymon Brzeziński and Marcin Błaszczyk took part in recording of a solo album of Colin BASS followed by European tour summed up ...
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ABRAXAS discography


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ABRAXAS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.14 | 136 ratings
...Cykl Obraca Się, Narodziny, Dzieciństwo Pełne Duszy, Uśmiechˇw Niewinnych I Zdrady...
1996
3.96 | 97 ratings
Centurie
1998
3.79 | 38 ratings
Prophecies
1998
3.72 | 73 ratings
99
1999
3.50 | 4 ratings
99 (English lyrics)
1999

ABRAXAS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 31 ratings
Live In Memoriam
2000

ABRAXAS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ABRAXAS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ABRAXAS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Abraxas
1996

ABRAXAS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 ...Cykl Obraca Się, Narodziny, Dzieciństwo Pełne Duszy, Uśmiechˇw Niewinnych I Zdrady... by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.14 | 136 ratings

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...Cykl Obraca Się, Narodziny, Dzieciństwo Pełne Duszy, Uśmiechˇw Niewinnych I Zdrady...
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The debut release from a Polish band whose lineup had been through nine years of evolution including several breakups. All of that time, I think, must have steeled their resolve and polished their vision and chops as the songs and production of this album are quite mature and sophisticated.

1. "Before" (1:49) a hard-drivin' rockin' out intro as if Keith Emerson had put together a 80s prog-pop ensemble. (4.25/5)

2. "Tarot" (8:30) bleeds over from the previous song with an ominously sustained low synth note/chord. Incidental guitar, keyboard, bass, flute, cymbal, and even spoken word and "taped" singing line flourishes flit in and out of the soundscape for almost three minutes until bass, drums and guitar(s) break into a pulsing, swinging rock base over which synths, guitar, and vocals take turns. Very dramatic vocal theatrics come from the singer's performance reminding me a lot of Austrian singer Johan H÷lzel's performances as FALCO. It's entertaining but also far too central and dominating to the song relegating the musical accompaniment to restrained simplicity. Drum flourishes, Spanish and electric guitar flourishes pepper the music but really it's Adam Łassa's show. (17.5/20)

3. "Dorian Gray" (5:55) A solid atmospheric heavy prog song with a story and great sound production. Though one might have predicted it (based upon the subject matter as indicated in the title), Adam's vocal performance here is far less theatric than the previous song--which gives the instruments more room to shine. Unfortunately, they don't take full advantage of this opportunity. A bit of a VDGG/BABYLON feel to the mid-section, but then things turn more toward the realm of hair band 1980s metal. (8.25/10)

4. "Kameleon" (4:30) more solid heavy rock-prog with interesting subtleties as value added items. Again, Adam's vocal performance is more hard rock--with background vocal support in the second half. Again, the band's mature restraint is noticeable--especially for a supposed "debut" album. (8.5/10)

5. "Alhambra" (8:25) Spanish guitar with deep organ pedals open this one before flute and synths join in. Then, at 1:25 the full band joins in setting up a nice soundscape for Adam to sing over. There is a little FALCO-ADAM ANT-like delivery of the lyrics during the fair-like music of the fourth minute, then everything turns classical both in terms of instrumentation choices and structure. Even Adam's singing is more classical like, feeling wholly like a AFTER CRYING song and performance. The final two minutes have Adam singing in his insistent voice over a return to a more proggy sound palette--though the fade out is purely classical with piano and flute. Nice musicianship on display, but the song is missing . . . something. One of my three favorite songs on the album. (17.75/20)

6. "Inferno" (5:12) by this point the minimally complex instrumental structures and sound palettes are becoming too uniform and monotonous. Even the pacing seems too homogenous. Though Adam's theatrical performances put him into the same group as Peter Gabriel, Peter Hammill, Nina Hagen, Dorrocus, Fish, and Falco, even these become a little tedious for their repetitiousness due to the language barrier. (8.25/10)

7. "Ajudah" (9:07) opens with some delicately played arpeggiated chords from keyboard and guitar before Adam enters to sing. Again, the music is solid but Adam's performance suffers from my inability to understand what he's singing about. Some very Genesis-like sounds and structures peak through here and there but overall this kind of sound foreshadows the heavier prog of many bands to come. (17.5/20)

8. "De Profundis" (4:56) I love the classical instrumentation and sounds used within the weave of this song. The band members all seem to be on full display and Adam's storytelling fits perfectly into the weave. A top three song for me. (9/10)

9. "Tabula Rasa" (11:15) opens again sounding like every other song on the album despite the prominence of the chunky bass, flute and Spanish guitar soloing in the opening section. Adam enters, singing more forcefully than usual, and the music soon comes to match his aggressiveness. An extended synth solo (the album's first and only!) in the first instrumental section after the first verse might give some indication of why there aren't more of these: he's not very good (as a soloist)! Come to think of it, neither is the electric guitarist (taking the solo after the second verse and chorus). The bass player and drummer might be the best things behind Adam--though, to be fair, all of the instrumentalists do a rock solid job of creating great soundscapes over which Adam is able to perform. Better guitar solo the second time around?more of a STEVE HACKETT approach than heavy metal. The Spanish guitar solo in the seventh minute?later joined by lilting flute?is wonderful--almost "I Talk to the Wind"-ish. The reemergence of the heavy "tabula rasa" chorus to break up the delicate instrumental solo section is brilliant--as is Adam's successive highly Teutonic vocal section. My final top three song. (18/20)

Total Time: 59:39

I don't mind the lyrics to be in Polish--especially when you have as good a singer as Adam Łassa delivering them. The instrumentalists feel so very competent yet I am surprised at how seldom they solo--or, rather, how seldom their solos flash or wow. Again, it seems obvious from this album that Adam is the front piece and everything and everyone else takes a back seat to not step on the singer's toes.

B+/4.5 stars; a solid addition to prog world and a remarkable Neo Prog debut.

 Centurie by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.96 | 97 ratings

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Centurie
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars With already a fantastic album out and a steady line-up, the doors of success had opened for Abraxas, even if the Progressive Rock scene was just a small part of the whole music map.The group, besides their own concerts, played live next to important names such as Arena, Fish, Porcupine Tree, Colin Bass and Robert Plant/Jimmy Page.In search of a better distribution Abraxas also changed label, moving from Ars Mundi to Metal Mind, on which they released their second album ''Centurie'' in 1998.

Ok, it would have been a miracle if the band could top the masterful moments of their debut or even released an equal material, still ''Centurie'' is a great album, among the very good releases of 90's Polish Prog.Exploring the territories of extreme lyrical and passionate Neo Prog, ''Centurie'' is another nice offering by Abraxas, moving from sensitive pieces to more bombastic and dynamic moments, always supplied by great keyboard parts, electrifying solos and a nice dose of acoustic soundscapes, which have a very romantic sound.Even in these later cuts the unique vocals of Lassa and the ethereal keyboard parts make them far from syrupy and pale ballads.The rest of the material comes in a familiar Abraxas style.Majestic passages with grandiose synthesizers, delicate piano interludes and thrilling electric guitars, always supported by Lassa's personal singing approach.The longer ones contain nice variations with plenty of more symphonic vibes, excellent heavy riffs, haunting keyboards and of course nice shifting moods between laid-back passages and pounding instrumental work with a dramatic atmosphere.There is still something missing to reach the ultimate inspiration of ''Abraxas'', but the good moments in ''Centurie'' are more than enough.

The next year the album was released in its English version, containing also a cover on King Crimson's ''In the court of the Crimson King''.Preferably stick with the original Polish version, which has its own charm.Nevertheless, this is very good, atmospheric and well-executed Neo Prog with plenty of conveincing material.Strongly recommended...3,5 stars.

 99 by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.72 | 73 ratings

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99
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Abraxas certainly don't embarrass themselves with this swansong album which takes a rather harder and heavier approach to neo-prog than their previous albums - or, indeed, most other neo-prog acts at the time. Darker and murkier than the preceding two albums, 99's comparatively brief compositions (by prog standards) flow past almost without the listener noticing, immersing you in a mysterious netherworld of the band's creation at their best but unfortunately being a little forgettable at their worst.

Adam Łassa's vocal performance doesn't seem quite as compelling or immediate as on the previous albums, and some may question some aspects of the production (I think it's intentionally murky but I admit that it could just be murky), but aside from that the band's high standards are upheld throughout. Abraxas may not have have a particularly long and prolific career, but I think any band could look back on a back catalogue such as theirs with pride - they really never made an album which wasn't at least worth a listen. At the same time, I don't think they ever quite matched their excellent debut album.

 Centurie by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.96 | 97 ratings

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Centurie
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Abraxas followed up their classic debut with another good album which doesn't bowl me over the same way its brilliant predecessor did but still provides a strong platter of delicious neo- prog treats. Though I found the outro to the concluding Nantalomba a little cheesy, by and large the compositions and atmosphere are superbly judged, and Adam Łassa once again gives an excellent vocal performance - there's a point where his vocals start getting all hot and bothered and I could have sworn I was listening to a Polish Jarvis Cocker. It isn't the wonderful exploration of the frontiers of neo-prog that the debut was, but Abraxas retain a strong claim to their territory with this one.
 Live In Memoriam by ABRAXAS album cover Live, 2000
4.07 | 31 ratings

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Live In Memoriam
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The epitaph from this sadly split up Polish neo-prog band.

And a live album it is too. A seventy-eight minutes long album which takes the CD format to the absolute limits of how much you can put on a disc.

The music is neo-prog with male vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. There are some guest female vocals here too. The music is lush, a bit hard and a bit symphonic. Those who likes Satellite and Collage will find themselves in familiar territory here. Abraxas was very much the pioneer in the Polish neo prog scene and a lot of bands has followed in their path.

Quality wise, this live album is very good. I am not a big fan of this band, but I like a lot of the music here. Some songs here are not that great though. But I am overall pretty impressed by this very good album. But it is more an album for the neo-prog fans than an allrounder like myself.

3.5 stars

 99 by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.72 | 73 ratings

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99
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars An uber-smart band outsmarts themselves.

Abraxas returned with their final album in 1999 and named it 99. And that is all I know about them. This and that they have split up and are legends in the Polish prog scene.

I do not know their other albums. But I know their sound. A crispy clean sound with some hints of the 1980s, a very good vocalist a lot of Dream Theater chugging guitars and a lot of synths. That's the Polish sound from that time. A recipe other bands followed too and Poland got their own neo-prog sound. A very smart sound. Abraxas has added some female vocals to their sound too.

The songs here are good. Good and that's it really it. The songs is cleverly put together and this album is really faultless. Faultless and pretty dull. This album is lacking teeth and some really great songs. Fifty-three minutes comes and goes. I let this album run the required spins and I am still not taken by it. But I find nothing that offends me either so the character is given.

3 stars

 Prophecies by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.79 | 38 ratings

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Prophecies
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars ABRAXAS are a Neo-Prog band out of Poland who up until this album have failed to really click with me. Even this one I would rate as a low 4 star album, but there is enough here that makes this an enjoyable listen.This is basically the English version of their "Centurie" album. I must admit getting a real kick out of the bonus track which is a cover of KING CRIMSON's "The Court Of The Crimson King". Even if the vocals are with an accent that is such a majestic track.

"Spiritus Flat Ubi Vult" has an interesting intro with reserved but theatrical vocals along with a beat and synths. It's fuller 1 1/2 minutes in.Excellent sound here. Some fat bass too. I really like the vocals. "Michel De Nostre Dame-Mistrz Z Salon" opens with organ as synths, acoustic guitar and drums join in quickly then vocals. It gets fuller then settles back as contrasts continue. It kicks into an uptempo melody before 5 minutes then settles right down before 6 1/2 minutes to end it. "Velvet" is mellow with fragile vocals then it gets fuller with aboe joining in as well as bass. It settles right back with vocals. "Excalibur" opens with keyboards and reserved vocals. Aboe follows. It picks up 2 minutes in with some nice guitar to follow. Flute 3 1/2 minutes in then it settles with atmosphere and reserved vocals after 4 minutes. Flute too. It kicks in heavily after 6 1/2 minutes .Nice.

"Kuznia" is a short piece that is beat driven and vocals come in around a minute. "Czakramy" opens with gentle guitar and synths as reserved vocals join in.Some vocal melodies follow then the vocals return. It gets fuller after 2 minutes then settles back as contrasts continue. Some beautiful stuff here. It builds to a heavy sound late and I like the vocal expressions too. "Pokuszenie" kicks in beautifully before 1 1/2 minutes then settles back quickly with vocals. Flute after 3 minutes. A calm with whispered words before 5 minutes. It then kicks in heavily with guitar. It settles again and check out the soaring guitar that goes on and on. "Nantalomba" opens with synths and atmosphere. Aboe joins in then acoustic guitar. It's fuller 1 1/2 minutes in and vocals follow. Lots of atmosphere late.

Barely 4 stars but I wouldn't feel right giving it 3 stars so...

 ...Cykl Obraca Się, Narodziny, Dzieciństwo Pełne Duszy, Uśmiechˇw Niewinnych I Zdrady... by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.14 | 136 ratings

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...Cykl Obraca Się, Narodziny, Dzieciństwo Pełne Duszy, Uśmiechˇw Niewinnych I Zdrady...
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars "Cycl" - which apparently isn't actually the album's title (this was meant to be a self-titled album but everyone thought an extract of the lyrics printed on an early version of the cover was the album title) - is the debut album by Abraxas, and the opening instrumental "Before" presents a style that isn't too far from the more complex bits of the first Jadis album, or maybe IQ in their more light-hearted and whimsical moods (such as the opening instrumental from their demo, Seven Stories Into Eight). The next track, "Tarot", abruptly slows down the pace and darkens the mood, with brooding synthesisers creating an air of menace before guitar and drums kick in and whispered vocals deliver... something in Polish which I'm afraid I don't understand, but it seems pretty spooky whatever it is. When the track kicks into high gear I hear all sorts of influences - a shot of Middle Eastern folk, a fair slice of Marillion, and again a big slab of IQ, but Abraxas do a good job of carving out their own particular flavour of neo-prog.

Vocalist Adam Lassa helps a lot with his unique delivery, which is somewhere between an even more deranged Peter Hammill and a much less harsh and grating version of Mr Doctor (vocalist with Devil Doll), but everyone in the band contributes to this - just listen to Szymon Brzezinski's use of acoustic guitar in "Tarot", a little touch which isn't quite what you'd expect from any of their influences, and is well beyond most neo-prog Marillionalikes. And Marcin Blaszczyk's use of keyboards and flute in "Dorian Grey" are absolutely key to the atmosphere. And that's what Abraxas understand - the very best neo-prog albums out there might not be the most technically complex products of the prog scene, but what they sometimes lack in complexity they more than make up for in *atmosphere* and establishing a particular mood. It's true of Script for a Jester's Tear, it's true of The Wake, and it's true of Abraxas's debut.

 ...Cykl Obraca Się, Narodziny, Dzieciństwo Pełne Duszy, Uśmiechˇw Niewinnych I Zdrady... by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.14 | 136 ratings

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...Cykl Obraca Się, Narodziny, Dzieciństwo Pełne Duszy, Uśmiechˇw Niewinnych I Zdrady...
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I just stated in my previous review that Prophecies is in fact not even the best output by Abraxas even though it's a great album. That honour is for this debut by the band from 1996, the one with the unpronounceable (for non-Polish people) title I usually refer to as Cykl. This one is often regarded as one of the standout neo progressive albums and I can only agree with this.

The album kicks off with a nice guitar dominated short track to warm things up apparently. Next is one of the longer songs, Tarot, the first with vocals which are sung in Polish so I don't have the slightest idea what it's about. The vocals are good, sometimes theatrical sometimes drenched with emotions. Tarot is more a vocal than an instrumental track which is a pity for an instrumental devotee like me, still a good song though. Dorian Gray shows the rough side of Abraxas that is a versatile band where style is concerned. This one goes towards heavy prog or even prog metal. Kameleon is one of the more average songs, good but actually drowning in this pool of great music, it simply doesn't stand out. Expressive vocals once again. Alhambra sets in with beautiful flute, after one and a half minute moving in a typical "Shadowland-like" rhythm (I was actually expecting Clive Nolan to start singing but no it was mr. Lassa anyway). Interesting song where the compositional aspect is concerned. Notice the piano part halfway the song for instance. Next song, Inferno, is again a very vocal track though there is also room for the guitar here. Ajudah appeals a bit less to me mainly caused by unpleasant vocals. In De Profundis these get better again albeit that also here vocals are very dominant. Highlight to me is Tabula Rasa, you could say the Pokuszenie of this album. The longest song and also the most interesting of this album. And most of all the moments of sheer beauty, in the end the feature most significant to me of Abraxas.

It strikes me that this album is actually hardly true neo. Neo progressive prog rock is more straightforward with at least 80-90% emphasis on catchy melodies. These melodies are truly present on this album, no doubt, but there are also quite a lot general progressive and even original elements present in the music of Abraxas. I also noticed this on Prophecies but it certainly is also the case on this debut. A marvelous album, highly recommended to all neo minded proggers and worth exploring by any proghead. 4 stars (4,25).

 Prophecies by ABRAXAS album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.79 | 38 ratings

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Prophecies
Abraxas Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Abraxas is one of an interesting line-up of Polish neo progressive bands. The one they come closest to in my opinion is Believe, a band that appeared on the scene after the break up of Collage. I feel both bands are somewhat less romantic sounding than Collage, Satellite, Albion and Quidam and both have a rougher edge on their music at times. Biggest difference with Believe is the more frequently appearing guitar solos by Abraxas. But there is one thing all these Polish bands have in common and that is the highly melodic element in their music.

In fact Abraxas is a versatile band because they mix all kinds of emotions in the music, they play ballads (Velvet) just as easily as pretty heavy tracks (Kuznia). Like Quidam they can play flute in a beautiful way (Excalibur !) and even the oboe is used. This album has songs in all sorts also where length is concerned (just about everything in between 1 and 12 minutes) and almost all songs are worthwhile. Highlight is probably Pokuszenie where beautiful passages are alternated with progressive moments, here the band really shows what they are capable of.

This makes the choice for the rating pretty easy this time. Four stars is the only logical outcome even though this isn't even their best album (3,8).

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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