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Crossover Prog • United Kingdom

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Panic Room biography
Founded in Swansea, Wales, UK in 2006

Following the decision of the members of KARNATAKA to end the band's activities (this by the agreement of all members - it is a common misconception that there was a spilt to form a new outfit), Jonathan EDWARDS (keyboards), Paul DAVIS (guitar) and Gavin GRIFFITHS (drums; MOSTLY AUTUMN, FISH) formed PANIC ROOM, with Anne-Marie HELDER (vocals, guitar, flute; MOSTLY AUTUMN). Alan VAUGHAN (bass), who completed the line-up, joined them shortly afterwards.

Explaining the missive behind their debut album, 2008's 'Visionary Position', Jonathan EDWARDS (principle co-writer, along with Anne-Marie) says ". we really wanted to explore all the different kinds of music that turn us on and make something fresh and original. Because of the common background in KARNATAKA that Anne, Paul, Gavin and myself shared it was inevitable that some elements of our musical past would resurface in PANIC ROOM's music, but there are so many other influences and elements coming through as well."

Indeed, their music undoubtedly incorporates symphonic prog mainstream rock, acoustic, ambient soundscapes, folk, jazz and even eastern influences. Far from being an archetypal "crossover prog" act, the band provide us with a truly eclectic scope of music. This is similarly reflected in their lyrics, principally, but not exclusively, penned by Anne-Marie, who explores "futuristic dystopian sci-fi worlds and 'Arabian Night' fantasies as well as achingly honest love songs". Such tracks serve as vehicles for the diverse, richly emotive and wide-ranging singing styles mastered by Anne-Marie, who is one of the most accomplished vocalists on the present UK progressive circuit.

Photo by Tina Korhonen & Jason Parnell-Brookes

Naturally, PANIC ROOM will appeal to those who admire the 'new wave' of female fronted, progressively influenced bands within the UK scene, which had been initiated by MOSTLY AUTUMN and KARNATAKA, during the late '90s. However, PANIC ROOM's music stands apart as being more diverse than others within this sub-genre.

The band have released four original studio albums, namely Visionary Position, Satellite, Skin, and Incarnate, one acoustic reworking album Essence, and, latterly in 2017, a Pledge Music fan funded live DVD/CD, Screens Live in London, which is only available at the time of writing on their w...
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PANIC ROOM Videos (YouTube and more)

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Firefly Music 2014
$29.33 (used)
Esoteric 2014
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Esoteric 2012
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Visionary PositionVisionary Position
Firefly Music 2008
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Satellite by Panic Room (2010-02-27)Satellite by Panic Room (2010-02-27)
Visionary Position by Panic Room (2008-04-29)Visionary Position by Panic Room (2008-04-29)
Firefly Music
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PANIC ROOM discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.54 | 48 ratings
Visionary Position
3.32 | 72 ratings
3.70 | 107 ratings
3.69 | 76 ratings
3.75 | 16 ratings

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

4.05 | 2 ratings
Screens - Live in London

PANIC ROOM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

5.00 | 3 ratings
Screens Live in London

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

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Screens Live in London by PANIC ROOM album cover DVD/Video, 2017
5.00 | 3 ratings

Screens Live in London
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The melodic and romantic side of prog is generally (but not always) viewed as perhaps a less progressive style that does not always get the proper recognition. Sure, technical prowess is always inspiring but the context is of equal importance. So, crafting accessible melodies, played by expert instrumentalists, is entirely palatable and a joyous diversion from all the fury of complex polyrhythms and intricate technique. There are quite a few talented female singers in current prog, which explains the highly praised status of bands such as Mostly Autumn, Karnataka, Breathing Space and Panic Room, who all have staffed various members in a revolving door fashion in the past. The latter is growing in reputation as well as forging quite a career, staffed by amazing players such as Dave Foster (Mr So and So, Steve Rothery) , the slick bass playing of Yatim Halimi (Rothery) , the pulsating drums of the genial Gavin John Griffiths (Mostly Autumn, Karnataka, Jennings) as well as keyboardist and songwriter Jonathan Edwards . Lead singer Anne-Marie Helder is quite a lead vocalist, having joined Mostly Autumn and Karnataka in the past as well as a slew of sessions, fronting expertly with her powerful and expressive voice.

From their debut 'Visionary Position' in 2008, the core group has been releasing a new chapter of their artistic vision every two years, polishing and perfecting the quality of their compositions. 2010's 'Satellite' was another revelation but the real breakthrough came in 2012 with the thunderous 'Skin', their last album with guitarist Paul Davies (of Karnataka fame) , which simply enthralls me still to this day, one of the finest female fronted prog albums ever. 'Incarnate' followed in 2014, introducing guitarist Adam O'Sullivan, keeping the band on their quest of excellence. 2015 saw 'Essence', a semi-acoustic reworking of past songs with a couple of new pieces. I was really hoping for a taste of their live work and this DVD collection is quite the treat for both fans such as myself or even prog outsiders looking for something palpitating yet accessible. The 'Live in London' concert is a torrid affair that encompasses all their albums' best songs , giving a glimpse of their mature style , blasting off with the heavily Celtic-influenced 'Into Temptation' , a gorgeous whirlwind of pulse and melody , propelled by Halimi's 5 string fretless bass noodling around the binary beat and stamped by Helder's smooth voice. There is a definite Iona feel, crowned by a sumptuous Foster guitar blister and a mystical atmosphere. They also know how to rock, with the powerful 'Freedom to Breathe' blasting forward, the voice urging the need to inhale, at times hushed, and then wailing like a banshee, while the band plows ahead, raunch and rattle. Things get predictably melancholic with the title track 'Screens', a sorrowful musical labyrinth that weaves wildly, loaded with bass burps and poly rhythmic percussives, the manic guitar solo rages, fumes and explodes with fury. Time for the mellow 'Yasuni', a heavily atmospheric piece that directs attention to ecologic man-made disasters, a rather soothing track full of delicate bitterness and contempt.

Panic Room kick it up a notch with the stellar 'Start the Sound', easily one of 'Incarnate''s finest songs, a glorious melody that would be a prog 'hit', if such a thing could possibly exist, showcasing a delicate sense of symphonics and vocal prowess, loaded with subtlety and flair. Truly majestic. Two powerhouse tracks from 'Skin' follow, proving what a monster album that was: an ornate piano motif introduces the intriguing 'Chameleon', which in a live setting morphs into quite a show stopper, Foster's sultry guitar solo a clear example of technical expertise, while the piano and the rhythm section hold the fort. The chameleon does change its skin after all! Jonathan Edwards has a solo time on the piano and Foster takes over with another brilliant flurry. Anne-Marie also adds her flute to the mix with great effect. 'Promises' has both quirk and charm, a nervous lament where the lyrics take over, expertly delivered by Helder, both hushed and angry, about the human condition.

Current events also are expressed, none better that the heartrending 'Dust', a condemnation of the brutal war in Syria, where use of chemical weapons seems to have not outraged the world community enough. The mood is appropriately somber, with dark slashes of electric sound and a forlorn voice crying out somewhat desperately, a soundscape of bursting and phosphorescent guitar explosions, amid stormy synthesizers and a funeral beat. Intelligent music and a thoughtful theme will impact any listener and this is a true moment of incredible emotion. Gulp! A little respite is desperately needed after such a calamitous piece and the thoughtful 'Firefly' does the trick, with just acoustic piano, acoustic guitar and voice. 'Times of darkness and when the heart is grey' she croons, aching and bellowing with majestic grace. Lovely'and entrancing!

Things get back to hectic with the blustery 'Song for Tomorrow', another immaculate gem from 'Skin' that pounds mercilessly , armed by Halimi's deep bass carving huge arcs as the band rages collectively. My esteemed PA colleague Lazland is so correct in his praise for the Singapore bassist, who really shines throughout and seeing him play is such a total treat! Combined with master drummer Griffiths, one can only drool at the talent on display! To follow up with the thrashing brilliance of 'Velocity' was quite the right move, as this is also quite the rhythmic workout, another monster one two punch in the face. Tight and intricate, with ebb and flow, veering from gentle serenity to impossible power, this harder side of the band proves just how they have mastered their song writing, not surprising in view of the huge talent at their disposal. Foster again peels off a few blitzing leads, all sizzle and rant! Seeing Halimi's natural exuberance is an added treat. Warmer climes ahead, as 'Tightrope Walking' gets a slightly different touch, all kinds of Middle Eastern percussives abound and a Kashmir-like feel with a curvy Foster guitar solo that spits fire and brimstone. Orchestral and grandiose, the sampled violins give this track so much expanse. From their debut album, the mysterious 'Apocalypstick' keeps the Saharan feel intact, with sweeping synths and slithering guitar forays that evoke some distant oasis, lost amid the sand dunes. The two talented soloists collide often and hard, dervishes whirling masterfully. Again, two different tracks that have a common feel and thread. The delirious 'Incarnate' is more subtle, a slow-growing anthem that is crowned a by a whistling guitar solo that goes on, undeterred.

Three tracks from the amazing 'Skin' album are up next, the title track being one of my favorite tracks, a visceral melody that grabs by the jugular, piano-led and expertly sung by Anne-Marie, as Foster wields his double neck guitar with amazing grace. The bitingly aggressive 'Hiding the World' has Foster sniping madly, his brash guitar darts in and out of sight and sound, while the nasty bass forages wildly and joins drummer Griffiths in a tectonic display of rhythmic union. Again, the quality of the musicianship is clearly evident, their enthusiasm overt and bold. And finally the epic monster, 'Nocturnal', best described by comments on my Skin review :' a haunting piano-led reverie that defies description, an epic piece that introduces the night and all its fragile shimmering , a howling voice beckoning the gentleness of nature's rest and all its little pleasures. The piano rollicks sensually, violins in embrace, prepping the ground for the urgent and desperate guitar solo and all restrained emotion, waiting to explode. Helder wails like a woman possessed, how can anyone resist this?' . Absolutely splendid masterpiece track.

The first encore, 'Sandstorms' is a quirky rocker, perhaps impromptu as it's never been on any album before. Roiling organ, choppy drums, gurgling bass and slick guitar phrasings are united with Helder's voice in a rousing and rollicking slice of concert fun. Foster manhandles his guitar neck with another series of sweltering solos. A clear set-up for Edwards to manhandle his ivories, the organ in particular being in the spotlight. Smoky, sensuous and fiery. 'Satellite' is Panic Room's anthem, a spectacular melody, wrapped in instrumental candy, instantly adorable and yet still not really commercial. Mesmerizing yet simple, the moody atmosphere is immediate and devastating, fueled by a slick guitar riff, a pulsating beat and a chorus to expiate over. Halimi does a solo that is all subtlety and grace. The vocal talent of Anne-Marie Helder is crystal clear, her voice both soft and authoritative. Enough said, a total treat and a highlight moment of this splendid concert. Two hours of bliss'.

The bonus material is mesmerizing, starting with one of their finest tracks and one I personally adore : 'The Fall' which actually kicks off the concert, a tenderly gorgeous piece full of sorrow, with evocative lyrics that dwell on the ebb and flow of emotions, of guilt and acceptance, in all matters of love and relationships. A sterling e-piano solo from Jonathan Edwards ends this treat. The sweet 'Sunshine' is another perennial favorite, perhaps one of the most 'epidermal' songs in the Panic Room pantheon, all elasticity and gentle tribulation. The lyrics are bright and heartfelt, expertly delivered by the incredible Anne-Marie Helder. The playing is silky and evocative. The sweet 'Denial' is a new track written for 'Essence', a shimmering rocker lush with sensual demeanor, a cool tune passionately conveyed, with more e-piano and fuzzy guitar to enhance the convincing mood.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening of entertainment that deserves a massive audience. Expertly filmed and a great package altogether. The easiest rating ever'.Get this jewel from the band website !

5 Jodie Fosters.

 Screens - Live in London by PANIC ROOM album cover Live, 2017
4.05 | 2 ratings

Screens - Live in London
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars First, I'm only partly familiar with the output of this British band. And I might also add that live albums are not usually my cup of tea, I prefer having the picture too (the DVD, that is). But despite that preference, I'm pleased to have this gig at least on CD. Panic Room plays melodic and elegant Neo Prog with a very good female singer (Anne-Marie Helder). Some members were originally in KARNATAKA, and as far as I know these two bands are rather similar in style. Of course there are several other female-fronted Neo Prog acts, such as Magenta, Iamthemorning, IoEarth, etc. Panic Room may not be the proggiest of them, but easily among the most pleasant and satisfying, if you appreciate lightness instead of edginess in modern prog rock.

This double CD contains the whole concert recorded at London's Islington Assembly Hall, 16th October 2016. The set list of two hours and 23 minutes seems pretty fine. The sound quality is faultless, and as there are no extra editing, the listener can imagine being there on the gig. Anne-Marie, who's probably also pictured on the cover (she plays additional guitar), has a warm contact on the audience, and the whole band is in an excellent shape. As I know only one studio album throughout (Skin), I can't really say how well the set has been chosen. No weak songs included. There are two newer albums after Skin, which is also represented by many songs. An excellent set of melodic Neo Prog, recommended to all who enjoy light prog with female singers.

 Screens Live in London by PANIC ROOM album cover DVD/Video, 2017
5.00 | 3 ratings

Screens Live in London
Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Screens is the DVD recording of a Panic Room gig filmed at Islington Assembly Hall, London, on 16/10/2016. The gig was planned, and the entire project commissioned, with a Pledge Music campaign by the band. Those readers of this review wishing to purchase this fine piece of work should note that it is only available from the band direct at

Panic Room have released five consistently excellent albums now since their inception out of the ashes of another South Wales band, Karnataka. At their heart are the excellent vocalist Anne-Marie Helder, whose work with Mostly Autumn will be familiar to many, Jonathan Edwards on keyboards, and Gavin Griffiths on drums, also of Mostly Autumn vintage.

The band is completed by two superb musicians. Dave Foster's marvellous riff on gig opener, Into Temptation, gives the viewer a foretaste of a superb performance, whilst the band have enjoyed the services for a while now of one of the finest bass exponents in modern progressive rock in Yatim Halimi. That these two also play with The Steve Rothery Band should give you an idea of their expertise.

The DVD itself is sumptuously packaged, and the filming by Toward Infinity, responsible for work with Marillion, amongst others, more than does justice to the occasion. There is also a bonus disc, which is more interesting than most, featuring the intro to the gig by the venerable Jerry Ewing of Prog magazine, three more live tracks, and an 'access all areas' feature of the band in rehearsals, amongst other jaunts.

Panic Room are a band clearly in their element live. As with the studio albums, the sheer breadth of their music shines through. The playing is never anything less than tight, and we are treated to a fair old mixture from hard rocking, to melodious love songs, to progressive symphonic rock, to lush middle eastern soundscapes. For early evidence of a band utterly in tune with each other, witness Screens, which is as fine an ensemble piece as you will see and hear. It is perhaps unfair to single out anyone, but Halimi thunders along on this, playing a massive bass riff to a wonderfully dark Edwards key lead.

As with all films of gigs, the DVD really needs to be watched from start to finish. There are twenty-two tracks in total, nineteen on the first, main, feature. As with all gigs, though, there are standout highlights which deserve special mention in a review, and I will touch on some of these.

The gig features my favourite track of the 2010's in Start the Sound. From the wonderful album, Incarnate, this track is as good a piece of melodic progressive rock as you will have the pleasure of witnessing. By heaven, Helder sounds joyous on this, and Foster plays a lovely understated solo. As he quietly plays the denouement following Edwards delicate keys, you stare at the screen, boggled at the beauty of what you have heard. I also appreciate deeply the political comment element that the band bring to their music. Yasuni is a fine piece centred around the scandalous oil drilling in Ecuador's National Park. Dust is an emotional rollercoaster of a rocker which tells the tragic story of airstrikes dropping chemical weapons in Syria on children. This track is every bit as good as Gaza, Marillion's opener on Sounds That Can't Be Made, and the intensity of it leaves you stunned. The combination of honest lyrics, combined with fine musicianship speaks volumes for the maturity in a band which I always look for. Anyone can sing about boy meets girl, boy shags girl, & etc. A band such as Panic Room deserves the progressive community's support for this social comment set to outstanding music, in the finest tradition of the genre.

They do, though, also play some rather catchy stuff. Some call it 'commercial'. I just call it mighty fine. A recent review in The Times of boxsets by ELP & King Crimson described them, rightly, as, ahem, 'difficult'. The same review then suggested, as a Christmas box, that the non-progger partner in your life might prefer the superb Big Big Train, as an example of how modern progressive rock bands can also play, er, tunes. Panic Room are in that vein and in that quality. For no better example, I give you the quite beautiful Firefly, a ballad wonderfully sung, accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar.

Tightrope Walking is one of those tracks with wider world influences, and reminds one of Kashmir in parts. Helder plays hand drums on this, and the orchestral keys are very atmospheric.

Skin is classic Panic Room, melodic and played at a deceptively quiet intensity.

In the gig closer, Satellite, the band have one of the finest anthemic songs ever put to record. It is simply one of those songs which demands the lowering of the lights, the volume cranked up to the max, and a damned fine singalong.

This is an excellent film, and I enjoyed every minute.

On Prog Archives, we are obliged to provide a rating. Well, for existing fans such as I, this is simply essential. For those of you who are tempted to begin a Panic Room journey, it is quite an excellent way to start said road. If we had such a rating, 4.5. I am rounding it up to the maximum five for two reasons. First, I am allowed to, and, second, it really deserves no less. Very highly recommended.

 Incarnate by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.69 | 76 ratings

Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars "Incarnate" is an excellent Panic Room album that has some of the most infectious melodic hard rock songs the band have produced. As always Anne-Marie Helder is an incredible asset as her crystalline vocals permeate the album. She has an angelic tone that evokes emotion and passion on every song. The album really grows on you; I heard it on repeat for some hours while renovating my house and it was very inspiring. The melodies are so well executed it actually becomes better with every listen.

Among the highlights are Velocity, Incarnate, Nothing New, All That We Are, Searching and Dust, that is one of the most ethereal and atmospheric tracks from the band. The themes include relationship breakdowns and the temptation to explore monogamous relationships.

The music is not heavy but still includes some great riffs and guitar licks. It is an hour of high quality music, not too heavy for those who like their metal light, and features enough brilliant lead breaks from O'Sullivan to satisfy those into well played lead guitar. The keyboards are handled well too by Edwards so it is a great band effort.

I was delighted with this album and hate to add to my top 10 albums of 2014. A great Panic Room album to add to their growing catalogue.

 Satellite by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.32 | 72 ratings

Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by thwok

3 stars I'm writing this review from the perspective of a big Panic Room fan. Other Panic Room reviews suggest that the band's music walks the line between classic rock and progressive rock. That's an excellent description of this album. The album is also very melodic, expertly played, and beautifully produced. Anne Marie Helder has a lovely voice which beautifully suits the music. Her lyrics are thoughtful, moving, and coherent (especially for a prog band!) If you are interested, the lyrics are presented in an entertaining and creative way on the band's official website. SATELLITE, the album under consideration, is good, but it's not the best representation of the band. It seems like Panic Room was trying a variety of different approaches to the songs here to see which would be the most successful. The results are inconsistent. To be fair, there are some really good songs here; the title track is one of the band's most memorable. However, if you're interested in Panic Room, VISIONARY POSITION or their later albums are better examples of what the band can do.
 Skin by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.70 | 107 ratings

Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by thwok

4 stars I love Panic Room, and while they wouldn't be in my top 10 bands, all of their albums are worth listening to. The main complaints against the album under review, Skin, seems to be that there's not enough complexity and variety. I think these shortcomings are not vital, and I think Skin is a 4 star album.

I like a lot of music considered crossover prog. Panic Room is in this category for a reason. They are clearly not trying to be Gabriel-era Genesis or King Crimson. KC is my favorite band, but their music takes too much concerted effort to listen to every day. "Song for Tomorrow", "Chameleons", "Screens" are all fine songs. The album has no bad songs, although favorites depend on the person listening.

Some also claim that the songs sound too much alike. If you like what Panic Room does, I don't think variety is a problem. I personally think that the music of Dream Theater and Pink Floyd, after Syd Barrett, hasn't changed all that much. Yet, we don't criticize DT and PF for it. Therefore, I'm giving Skin 4 stars. It's an excellent album in Panic Room's consistently fine discography.

 Skin by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.70 | 107 ratings

Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by toilet_doctor

5 stars Panic Room Skin

Would you rate Uriah Heep Magician's Birthday or Wishbone Ash Argus 1-3 stars just because they are not complex enough? I doubt. The same is with Panic Room Skin. The complexity is not a high point of these 11 songs set, where almost each of them has a small neat moment. So nice, melodic and touching. Highest point here is vocal, soulful and passionate, it's ranging from gentle to powerful, and everywhere in between it's very enjoyable. Great musicianship, string section, excellent drumming, musical arrangement and stunning crystal-clear sound quality are also high points of this album. Did I mention gorgeous backside on the front cover?

We have to rate this album not for what it should be, but for what it is: Soft Rock with Prog elements. We need such a music to have a brake, sometime, from heavy and complex stuff, and this album serves it purpose perfectly. To my surprise, I found myself to listen to it again and again, when it was just released, then I put it on the shelf, and now, I'm listening to it with the same pleasure.

5 softly rocking stars.

 Incarnate by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.69 | 76 ratings

Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Panic Room are a band who I have followed since their exceptional debut in 2008 (which I really must get around to reviewing). Not only are they a fairly local band to me in South Wales, but they are amongst the leading lights of that movement of female fronted, melodic, progressive rock bands that have graced this new millennium of ours.

This is a song based album, and is really rather beautiful in places. I simply adore the orchestral backdrop to the bright and lovely Start The Sound (a track which reminds me of the excellent Satellite from the second album).

In fact, the sound of the whole album is not that of an act who have lost a massive influence and character in Paul Davies, but are confident and bright enough in their ability and the band's future to absorb and, hopefully, bring in a long participation in the excellent guitar work of Adam O'Sullivan. That commitment to the cause, by the way, is very amply demonstrated by the decision of Anne-Marie Helder and exceptional drummer, Gavin Griffiths, to end their longstanding association with Mostly Autumn to concentrate on all matters Panic Room.

It is fair to say that Helder is at the centre of much of what happens in this album. Her rich, deep, lilting voice is not only as brilliantly evident as ever, she also wrote five of the nine tracks alone, and co-wrote the remaining four with old cohort, Jonathan Edwards (O'Sullivan also contributing to the Mid Eastern influenced delight of Into Temptation).

As with many song based album's with a distinctive commercial sensibility, there is a deceptive simplicity on first listens. In reality, this outfit wear their progressive rock badges with pride, and play as a true collective, with some interesting and complex soundscapes, ranging from the aforementioned orchestral delights to the delicious blues backdrop of Nothing New (I love Edwards' piano and O'Sullivan's guitar duo at the close with light rhythm of Halimi and Griffiths). There is the finest Supertramp track never made by that band in Waterfall, by which I mean this act have captured that piano led riff and wonderful uplifting sound of the classic Hodgson and Davies era. Traditional prog rock fans will simply delight at the wonders of the album closer, Dust, which creates an incredible atmosphere, very dark in places.

Those who have read my reviews over the years on Prog Archives know that I am a bit of a sucker for this type of music. However, that does not mean I accept any old rubbish.

Incarnate is the sound of a band that will continue to delight us for many a year to come. Confident, and not afraid to make and release a work which really should sell a damn sight more copies in a commercial world sadly dominated by cheesy pop remakes and dull "r 'n b". Come on world. Enter the sphere of a band simply making delicious, excellent music for the sheer joy of such an act.

Four stars. An excellent album, which presently tops my list of an impressive 2014 thus far.

 Incarnate by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.69 | 76 ratings

Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I am on record for having anointed 2012's "Skin" as one of the best prog albums in recent memory, a seductive selection of heart stopping tunes, played by some of the finest lesser- known musicians on the planet. This was a complete package, amazing artwork, crystal clear production, expert technique and seamless songs that simply charmed me to no end. Firstly, there is such a thing as eye and ear candy, her name is Anne-Marie Helder, a beauty with a gorgeous voice, both powerful and evocative, suave and forceful. She can hush, she can rush, growl and howl are her fortes. Her reputation has grown by leaps and bounds, a perennial vocal queen for the prog throne. She has the tools to be the next Kate Bush, and that is saying something! Next up, Gavin John Griffiths is perhaps Britain's current master prog drummer, having pummeled with Fish, Mostly Autumn, Iain Jennings and Karnataka. He has a no nonsense style, solid, masculine and highly rhythmic, providing a foundation that breathes, pants and shrugs eloquently with the material. Jonathan Edwards is an accomplished keyboardist, always elegantly adorning instead of showing off his many skills. His piano work in particular is noteworthy. Bassist Yatim Halimi is a find, a sensational lo-end purveyor, who adds a great sense of lyrical playing to his repertoire, including fretless rampages that will seek out attention. New recruit Adam O'Sullivan takes over the hallowed Paul Davies' role as lead guitarman, a hard act to follow as Davies was a tour de force player, famous for more substance than flash, thus fitting the music perfectly. Adam does very nicely indeed.

I am proud to report that "Incarnate" is a fine follow up to the previous 'dermal' masterpiece ("Skin" is just timeless!), the talent here just too impeccable for any possibility of failure or disappointment. The material is first rate, a fine panorama of various sounds, moods and tones that all seem to fit perfectly in synch with each other as well as a whole, a hallmark feature of "Skin". Now, please take into consideration that this is not going to be a synth solo festival, shredding effect-laden ping-pong guitar duels that feature every pedal known to man or bombastic 6 part suites that rekindle some medieval fairy tale. No, only majestic songs that exude class and quality, fully bathing in prog gloss and shimmering with utter beauty. That being clear, the three epic 7 minute + tracks are clearly the finest selections here, the sumptuous title track, as well as the devilishly charming "Into Temptation" and the colossal finale "Dust" are just impeccable musical statements that transcend musical borders, styles and genres. The violin is gone but the music and the lyrics, phew!

Immediate kick into overdrive with the impeccably visceral "Velocity", a speedy little ditty that charms, cajoles and caresses adroitly, a cool riff and cooler groove makes this an ear- opening statement. Ladies and gentlemen, this album is going to kick your behind something fierce because you won't expect anything surpassing "Skin". Well guess what? All the ingredients are in place for a tremendous ride with Anne ?Marie belting out intense lyrics and impassioned emotions. Explosive!

"Start the Sound" is perhaps closer to classic Karnataka but that's where three of these musicians cut their teeth, as a unit for a long time. The chorus is celestial, soaring like a massive rainbow of kaleidoscope colours, showing once and for all that simple melody can be just as poignant as complex rifferama, sugared by glossy orchestrations that amplify the ache. Bold and beautiful!

The emphatic title track swirls and simmers like some slow-acting soporific anesthesia, the electric piano taking over the reins and leading the whispering vocal prowess, unleashing a heady symphonic barrage that sparkles in the rain. Another fine example of how well thought out the melodies are and the level of build-up needed to give them emphasis. Jonathan Edwards certainly excels in the arranging department! The spiraling ivory keys reveal an inner revelation of eternity, as Helder wails unremittingly. Addictive!

Breathless vocals are splattered all over "Nothing New", a method that agrees very nicely with Miss Helder, highlighting a bluesy guitar that shrouds the fragility of the theme. Cello and viola agree to strengthen the majesty of the arrangement, the orchestrations again bowing to the audience. Edwards does a little piano etude, while O'Sullivan does a few zesty guitar pirouettes. Mesmerizing!

The splashy "Waterfall" could have been a Supertramp song, it's that good! Very English, quite angelic and absolutely anthemic. This could be in a queue, after the classic "Dreamer". Set up the premise properly and then, infuse a rollicking along bass line, emotive e-piano and a good steady beat. Cap that off with another vocal performance from Helder and here is another one slotted "into the old onion bag".

The heavenly "Into Temptation" needs more words, a thoroughly enticing Celtic-prog tinged style that should have been recent the Iona, a towering voice that emotes at the deepest level, almost spiritual but somehow wilder as well. Halimi and Griffiths really braise nicely, very secure and confident in their buzz, an articulate and muscular combo that is intoxicating (throughout the album, BTW!), while O'Sullivan does some slick Phil Manzanera-style licks. Loads of symphonics only escalate the pleasure, one of the finest prog songs ever. World class, truly!

"All That We Are" is a song for the ages, smooth as silk, bluesy, rocky, folksy, pure unadulterated class. Think along the lines of Squeeze and even Stealy Dan with torch song tendencies, full of restrained melodrama in a Hollywoodian setting. Helder shows her mettle and her control is full ON, easily convincing the listener like some actor nailing the scene, gently secure. In a normal world, this would be a galactic hit, rendered by all the glittering stars, Stunning!

The glittering beat extolled in "Searching" is a fine example of the genius presented here, a lovely melody wrapped in dense keys, hard drums and a sultry vocal that would make Ann Wilson (Heart) turn green with envy! The mood is palpitating, in a sonically erotic way, the music being utterly carnal but in seduction mode, haunting the soul with whispered longing. If I play this for a lady friend ?.well,?.she melts right into my arms, ready to 'drown in a sea of love' (a song by Irish pop band the Adventures, I believe) ! Beautiful love songs with deep meaning get the girls every time, as they should always remain the eternal optimists and yearn to become strong and happy women. Astonishing!

Need I doubt that "Close the Door" is anything more than the same scintillating quality of the previous tracks, another absolute winner that has all kinds of emotive ties to everything from Donovan to Roxy Music with a little Linda Ronstadt thrown in for good measure? Yes and more, quality my friends, sheer quality! Like a swing between two maple trees, the summer wind blowing gently, the song holds on to all that we need to sway serenely, in raptured delight. Transcendental!

To end on a song like "Dust" requires a lot of guts as it tackles atmospheric experimentation that winks at This Mortal Coil or Dead Can Dance phased in spectral sheen and neo-gothic grandeur. The piano is cemetery somber, the axe tortured into brief spasms of electricity, Edwards really putting out all the stops on his keys and a schizoid pace that is unbending and unending. Helder diversifies by treating her voice accordingly and howling when need in the more Wagnerian exit. Frightening!

I am a big fan, so I am obviously and unashamedly biased and perhaps even in love with this kind of very romantic and sexy prog. Being a long-time and proud Roxy Music fan, what would you expect, a swerve into math-rock ? Nope, but Panic Room has all the makings of a perfect soundtrack for modern lovers looking beyond the accessible and yearning to venture into the mystical world of progressive enchantment. Far more elegant than any other female fronted band anywhere, Panic Room is that emotional oasis that guarantees keeping the ugly outside world unable to enter one's inner world.

5 Flesh and bloods

 Incarnate by PANIC ROOM album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.69 | 76 ratings

Panic Room Crossover Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Well, if I've learned anything as a music fan, I've learned that you can never expect every anticipated album to meet all expectations. After being blown away by a few albums so far this year, I had high hopes for Panic Room's follow-up to "Skin", an incredible album full of atmosphere and eclectic attitude. "Incarnate", though, is neither the same type of album nor as good of one, either. With that said, though, "Incarnate" is a wonderful album still.

The beautiful cover art of this new album may give some clue as to the contents. The music is very heartwarming, slow (for the most part), and rather simple. While that may be, it is also quite beautiful. It is an album of songs, plain and simple. The band didn't set out to make some masterwork of progressive proportions, but instead made a lovely album featuring excellent songwriting and some thoughtful lyrics. I did appreciate the latter, as the lyrics on songs like "Nothing New" and the title track are rather philosophical in nature. I wasn't really expecting this, but I love it just the same.

The main presence here is the vocal skills of Anne-Marie Helder. Her exceptional voice is on full display here. She wows again and again whether in both difficult and simple lines. She doesn't even seem to struggle at all, and masters both soaring melodies and low, personal verses with ease. Her rich, full voice is something this band couldn't live without, and her sense of style and presence is rather remarkable.

I think what disappoints me most about this album are the musical choices. Anne-Marie is flawless here, but the choice to tone down the interesting aspects of Panic Room's sound was not a good one. "Skin" featured organic violin passages among an eclectic array of instruments. It really set the album apart, for sure. "Incarnate" has none of this. There is a little sprinkling here and there of guitar genius and the like, but the music is mostly rather simple and low-key. None of the instruments stand out really, though there are some tasty keyboards here and there, especially on the title track or on "Start the Sound". Everything else seems so disappointingly "blah" and just kind of there. There is so much room for experimentation and for more layers of sound, but the band seems just to play it safe.

That said, this is still a good album. It's still enjoyable and very gorgeous in many ways. Heck, the vocals alone make the album worth a purchase. I also won't say there are any bad songs on "Incarnate", though I can't seem to connect with "Into Temptation" at all. There is a bit of a cheese factor on a few (such as "The Waterfall"), but nothing too over the top. My favorites include the wonderful "Start the Sound", "Incarnate", the gorgeous "The Waterfall", and the especially atmospheric "Dust". "Nothing New" and "All That We Are" are both noteworthy, as well.

Panic Room has provided us with a lovely soundtrack moving into Spring, and I think the delicate, subtle nature of this album is very appropriate. It is definitely missing something, however, but not enough to keep me from enjoying it. I don't think "Incarnate" will end up at the top of any list for 2014, and I'm afraid it will be forgotten as the year moves on. Yet, if you have the desire, definitely take a look at this simple and beautiful album.

3.5 stars

Thanks to Dean for the artist addition. and to Lazland (W/ Quinino help) for the last updates

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