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Heavy Prog • United States

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Bigelf biography
Formed in Los Angeles, USA in 1991 - Situation unknown as of 2019

This California band offer unashamed retro hard rock with heavy use (and abuse) of growling Hammond organ, fat, juicy, heavy guitar riffs, plodding, booming bass, multiple mellotrons and lots of other unmentionable keyboard artefacts. With its mix of pop, glam and prog rock elements, their music features aggressive experimental passages with the dark, psychedelic sound of early 70's metal combined with elements from the 90's. The band consists of vocalist/keyboardist Damon Fox (a terrific vocalist who prefers a moderate range to banshee wails or toadlike croaking); Ace Mark on lead, rhythm and slide guitars; Duffy Snowhill on bass; and Steve "Froth" Frothingham on drums and gong.

Their first EP, "Closer to Doom", was recorded in Hollywood in 1998. Apart from the production, this could have been recorded in 1973: nothing over six minutes, genuinely good songs with BEATLES-like melodies and harmonies, heavy Hammond-driven stuff and nasty Mellotron on just about every track. After relocating to Scandinavia where audiences seemed more receptive to their brand of retro-rock, the same album was released in Sweden with 4 extra tracks. In 2000, they released their first official full-length cd, the highly praised "Money Machine", and in 2003 they came with the album "Hex", where they concentrate more than ever on the "BLACK SABBATH-with-more-tron" sound. Good, groove-driven stuff that is a true blast from the past. Their latest assault goes by the name of "Cheat The Gallows".

If you like BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP and KING CRIMSON, you won't be able to help yourself head banging and humming along with these guys' material. Highly recommended.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

See also: WiKi

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Cheat the GallowsCheat the Gallows
$67.80 (used)
Into the MaelstromInto the Maelstrom
Inside Out Music 2014
$3.70 (used)
Closer to DoomCloser to Doom
PID 2010
$26.38 (used)
Money MachineMoney Machine
PID 2010
$13.46 (used)
Cheat The Gallows [2 LP]Cheat The Gallows [2 LP]
Limited Edition
Custard 2010
$11.86 (used)
Closer To Doom by BigelfCloser To Doom by Bigelf
Hex by Bigelf (2007-10-30)Hex by Bigelf (2007-10-30)
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BIGELF discography

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

3.63 | 71 ratings
Money Machine
3.68 | 93 ratings
3.70 | 117 ratings
Cheat The Gallows
3.61 | 85 ratings
Into The Maelstrom

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

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

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

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

3.78 | 23 ratings
Closer to Doom (6 track version)
3.70 | 42 ratings
Closer To Doom
3.30 | 14 ratings
Goatbridge Palace
3.29 | 16 ratings
The Madhatter EP

BIGELF Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cheat The Gallows by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.70 | 117 ratings

Cheat The Gallows
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars On this third album (from 2008) by the exciting USA progrock formation I notice more variety and less emphasis on a bombastic vintage keyboard sound than on their previous two albums. Just take a look at the huge amount of guest musicians, especially the The Gallows Orchestra, The Section Quartet and The Kung-Pao Horns. Due to their contributions Bigelf sounds like The Brian Setzer Orchestra (brass in Blackball) and ELO (omnipresent violin sound in Gravest Show On Earth and The Game). And often Cheat The Gallows sounds like a tribute to many sixties and seventies Classic Rock Bands, I notice hints of Marc Bolan (Superstar), Black Sabbath (Blackball, Race With Time and Hydra), The Beatles (Money, It's Pure Evil), The Doors (Blackball) and Pink Floyd (Race With Time).

But Bigelf succeeds to sound like Bigelf because of the way they blend their distinctive elements like the compelling atmospheres featuring strong vocals (with that cynical undertone), heavy guitarwork (I love those fat Black Sabbath inspired riffs) and a lush Mellotron sound, especially on The Evils of Rock & Roll (fiery guitar solo), The Game, the dynamic and alternating Race With Time (delicate Floydian slide-guitar and sensational interplay between powerful guitar and intense violin-Mellotron) and Hydra (great break with synthesizer flights and heavy guitar riffs). The two dreamy tracks are very tastefully arranged: flute-Mellotron, fiery guitar and an orchestra in Money, It's Pure Evil and acoustic rhythm-guitar with choir-Mellotron a long a wonderful, very moving guitar solo in the emotional No Parachute.

The long final composition entitle Counting Sheep is their most ambitious work, it sounds like a mini rock-opera with lots of shifting moods, multiple breaks and captivating musical ideas, Bigelf in its full splendor as a progressive rock band and for sure Bigelf has progressed on Cheat The Gallows!

 Into The Maelstrom by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 85 ratings

Into The Maelstrom
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by SteveG

3 stars Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Up to a point.

Of all Mike Portnoy's post DT collaborations, his teaming up with Damon Fox for Bigelf's ambitious 2014 album Into The Maelstrom is the least celebrated. Portnoy adds solid drumming without showboating and this album is really Fox's show. Indeed, Fox plays all instruments on most of the tracks sans drums. That itself is not a problem as Fox is a proficient multi instrumentalist.

What is a problem is Fox's adoration for classic prog and metal groups that spans the gamut from 10cc, Alice Cooper, ELO and Black Sabbath with Fox wearing these influences proudly on his sleeves.

ITM is a vague concept album about time travel and it's travails. Musically, the swooshing sound of Fox being transported from one time to another, compliments of a time traveling machine, naturally, has the familiar synth sounds associated with space travel from groups like Hawkwind. So, this is fun prog. The song Incredible Time Machine starts the listener off on his journey with the afore noted synths, with Fox's multi tracked vocals warped, at times, beyond recognition. The riff happy Alien Frequency might just be the best song Alice Cooper never recorded, with its anthem-like chorus and driving rhythms. Great stuff, but soon the comparisons start to overtake the listener, especially one who is long in the tooth and knows his way around seventies progressive and hard rock/metal and eighties AOR material.

By the fifth song, The Professor And The Madman, Fox's rants and riffs start to sound stale. I don't know where Fox will go from here, but I hope he forgoes Bigelf in favor of something more Himself. Pun intended. 3 stars.

 Into The Maelstrom by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 85 ratings

Into The Maelstrom
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars After the long wait from 2008 when Bigelf released the excellent album "Cheat the Gallows", there was a bit of disruption from members of the band and Damon Fox, the frontman of the band, was debating whether to continue in music. Mike Portnoy, the ex-drummer from Dream Theatre, convinced Damon to continue on, and so a new Bigelf album suddenly appeared after the long break with Portnoy as the band's new drummer.

So, was there much of a change from the previous sound? Not really much, but that is a great thing when it comes to the retro-inspired heavy prog rock style of Bigelf. With the new album, you get the shot in the arm from the great drumming talent of Portnoy, but you also still get the amazing and infectious hard guitar hooks, excellent organ and mellotron in abundance as before, and the obvious influences of Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Queen and The Beatles. The band wears their influences on their sleeve, and believe me, they deserve to be raised up on the high standard that their influences are on. The music is retro, yet it is original and specific to the band. This album does tend to be a little thicker in atmosphere than the previous albums, but not enough to turn anyone that is familiar with their sound against them at all. The rhythms are ever changing, the tracks have multiple themes and prog elements running rampant through each song.

Every single track has it's own surprises and personalities. There are heavy tracks and others that are softer, at least in parts because the music is always changing. It is dramatic music, never really going over the top in pompousness, but it is there in enough quantity to keep things fun and interesting. There is enough in each track to keep things interesting for several years worth of listening, just like their other albums. There are some amazing noteworthy tracks, namely the complex "Mr. Harry McQuhae" and the strange yet original sounding "Alien Frequency". If there were more tracks like these two, then this would have been a 5 star album because of their progressiveness beyond what the band has previously done. There is the powerful and completely proggish multi movement work "ITM" which clocks in at over 8 minutes and then there are the shorter, yet not at all diminished in creativity, tracks like "Already Gone" and "Control Freak", which even in their brevity, still contain some great ingenuity and even have room for impressive soloing.

The music is heavy, but not without quieter breaks in the action. The music has a certain level of flamboyance, which is to be expected considering their influences. This album takes the sound of the prog bands that were popular in the 70's and moves them a step further. If the prog sound of the 70s was allowed to continue on without the influence of the New Wave sound of the 80s without so many prog bands trying to adjust their sound to fit in with that sounds, then this album is the logical progressive sequence that we could have expected, the same instruments used by those bands taken to the next progressive level, yes including the mellotron, and plenty of it. This is music that shouldn't be ignored in prog circles, especially those that yearn for great bands that continue the true legacy of 70s progressive rock.

I gave a 5 star rating to "Cheat the Gallows" which I stand by. There wasn't a lot of progression evident from that album to this album, and like I said before, that is not a bad thing and that by no means signifies that this is a lesser album. But with progressive rock, I come to expect a little more of a progression in the overall sound of each album, and this one, other than being a little denser, is not much different in sound from the previous album. I still recommend this album but not as an essential album as the previous one because of that reason. It's still great music that I enjoy immensely, but not different enough from before, so it can't really be considered essential. But I can easily give it 4 strong stars, and who knows, I may even change my mind as time proves it's ability to continue to be interesting.

 Hex by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.68 | 93 ratings

Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars Bigelf is such a joy to listen to, especially for someone like me that was around when a lot of their obvious influences were current. This music is simply awesome. It is so reminiscent of 70s prog bands, but far from just another cheap copy. This band could have co-existed right along with these bands and received all of the accolades that their influences would have received at the time. This is excellent heavy prog with music dripping with mellotron, heavy guitar solos, lots of prog elements, everything about rock music that is good is evident in this band.

That being said, this album is excellent, but falls a little short of what would be their next album "Cheat the Gallows", but don't get me wrong, there is plenty in this album that is simply awesome and amazing. The crazy synth solo is "Falling Bombs", the heaviness of "Madhatter", the heavy mellotron in the beautiful "Disappear", the dark mysteriousness of the organ and bass in "Black Moth" and so much more, this band creates music that never lacks in sound that lovers of 70s prog rock love and say they miss so much. The band is also not afraid to admit to their reliance on the sounds of bands like Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Black Sabbath and King Crimson. But the music they create is excellent and not a cheap copy. This is not a band of wannabes. These guys are the real deal. The guitar hooks work so well to draw you into the music which is ever changing, sometimes straightforward and other times totally psychedelic and off the wall, but always consistently top quality. Bigelf is probably the most similar to what Galactic Cowboys wanted to be. Even though GC is great at times, they are not consistently great. Bigelf, on the other hand, is so much better and consistently so. And GC sometimes had that element of cheesiness that could be annoying at times. Bigelf, even though there is an undercurrent of sarcasm in the music, are so much more professional and authentic.

I said it on my review of "Cheat the Gallows" and I say it again, I don't understand why more proggers aren't listening to this excellent band. You need to get a hold of their music, preferably "Cheat the Gallows" but most of the music on "Hex" will also do just fine. Because there is a little bit lacking on the production of this album which got remedied in the following album, it ends up with a 4 star rating because it is still great, just not as great. I'll say it again....Try Some Today! You won't be sorry.

 Closer to Doom (6 track version) by BIGELF album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
3.78 | 23 ratings

Closer to Doom (6 track version)
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars This was the first official recording for Bigelf and it is only a taste of what they are to become. This particular title is a 6-track EP and it is only 25 minutes long. But it is full of truly enjoyable retro prog related music. Both heavy on organ and guitar, the band relies on old 70s equipment for instrumentation and they create fresh music for those people who continually lament that "there just isn't any good new music out there anymore". Guess what? There is still good music being made out there! Here it is, a band called Bigelf. But the music doesn't fall into the trap of feeling dated, it's new and original and based on the sound of bands from the 70's. Fans of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep will like this and everyone else would probably find it very enjoyable. Shades of The Beatles' harmonies exist punctuated by hard rock guitar of the highest caliber.

Since this is Bigelf's first, released back in 1998, it doesn't sound quite as polished and well produced as their later full albums would be, but it is still very well done. Hard rock with very good vocals, a lot of variety, great quality in the songwriting, it doesn't sound like a copy of other bands, it sounds like a band that would have co-existed right along with those bands producing prog related hard rock in the 70s except with updated production and mixing tools. What more could you want? I would suggest looking into their albums first, pick one, they are all good. Then get this one once you find out how big of a fan you are and you can't get enough of their music.

This one is good but not essential. It's great, but not quite to the level of excellent yet. Come back to this one though. But you must check them out. There is no reason why this band should not be a supergroup. 3 stars......but please check them out and stop complaining about there not being any great music anymore. (By the way, there so much great music out there still being made it will make your head spin if you only knew how much.)

 Cheat The Gallows by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.70 | 117 ratings

Cheat The Gallows
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars I don't deny the fact that Bigelf gets their sound from 70's progressive related bands just like every other reviewer says here. They use them all from The Beatles to King Crimson, but they don't copy. I am one of the first to criticize a band for copying a sound especially when they don't qualify for being even a good band. But these guys are the real deal. They know what they are doing. They don't just play a riff or two, play a bunch of commercial crap and consider themselves retro, they play music that would have fit right in during that era and I have no doubt they would have been a supergroup if they had been around in the 70s..

I love this band and this is one of their best. Even the so called "filler" tracks are good, but the "non-filler" tracks are excellent. The lyrics are a little cheesy, but so were most of the lyrics from that decade and we were able to look right past them. The instrumentals are what you should expect from this kind of band. This is glitzy rock n roll with prog sensibilities. I love this music and this band because they do it right. They do pay homage to the great bands of the 70s, but you know how you all (yes you know who you are) always complain that they don't make music like that anymore. Well, here you go. Just don't go off complaining that they are ripping off the sound. They are not. These are original compositions with a lot of flair, rocking hard guitar riffs, crazy organ/keyboards, even an occasional sax solo, done tastefully of course, not in Kenny G style. The biggest difference is that the production value on this album is great, so imagine what the 70s would have sounded like if today's equipment and production techniques were used.

I really do enjoy this album. I can play it in the car and rock out. I can play it at home and rock out. It sounds good everywhere. There is nothing avant garde or groundbreaking about it, it's just excellent music, straightforward and interesting enough to not be boring. There is plenty of variety in the music that each song has it's own personality, but it is not inconsistent. All of the instrumentation fits in including the sax in "Blackball" (it's not cheesy sax at all), the strings in "Money, It's Pure Evil", the glam in the vocals, the electronics and special effects added to the all fits in nicely and never seems out of place. And if you want a quick way to know if it's prog rock as good as the giants of prog, then listen to "Counting Sheep" (an almost 12 minute epic) and your doubts will be erased. Then go back and listen to the whole album and you won't be able to doubt the fact that this band really knows it's stuff.

I don't understand why people don't rave about this band, especially those that are yearning for a new band or new music that sounds as great as those 70's bands. They need to stop lamenting how "music is not as good as it used to be" and look a little harder, take a few risks, and listen to the music that is out there and they will find good and great bands. The music is there. Stop complaining and start listening!

I love this music and this album. It's fun, entertaining listening and it doesn't get boring because there is still an element of challenge to it. I can't give this album anything lower than a 5. Well developed sound, great production, excellent musicianship and showmanship and vocals. It's there and it's even progressive. Try Some Today!

 Into The Maelstrom by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 85 ratings

Into The Maelstrom
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars I had my first introduction to this band a couple of years ago but i didn't take the time to listen properly to their music. But this time i did and i am glad because this cd is really something special. Their music is a original combination of hard-rock, psychedelic and prog rock. The band use vintage sounds and instruments and wear some influences from the psychedelic era of The Beatles with a singer that can take the tone voice of John Lennon, but other times it changes in something more evil depending on where the style of music is going. Some hard rock riffs are very similar to Black Sabbath. You can feel a little dose of insanity in they way the band use many tempo changes while keeping the melody intact. The vocals are very effective by delivering plenty of nuances.

The band has succeed to create a very good cd, that is keeping the momentum in the second part of the cd with even more progressive elements and more space allowed to the keyboards. I don't know if this is their best cd, maybe i have missed something before, i will check that later. A nice addition to your progressive collection!

 Into The Maelstrom by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 85 ratings

Into The Maelstrom
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Daggor

4 stars Bigelf is unabashedly one of my favorite bands. Like many, I was introduced to them by Mike Portnoy's Progressive Nation 2009 tour. I was blown away by dominating showmanship and a completely heartfelt vintage sound that embodied many of my favorite early metal and progressive rock bands from the 1970s, along with a heavy dose of Beatles worship. While recent events have perhaps threatened their status as the "Evil Beatles", vocalist/organ player/songwriter/mastermind Damon Fox has joined forces with longtime Bigelf bassist Duffy Snowhill (Which is, as far as I can tell, not something he got out of a Scandinavian hobbit name generator) and longtime Bigelf fan and progressive rock nomad Mike Portnoy to put out release #5 in what's been a 24 year career.

So what of this offering? Into The Maelstrom is a decidedly different approach from the hell's circus-show of Cheat The Gallows, and even though that album was built as a send-off to the Beatles' Sgt. Peppers album, there's actually a stronger dose of Beatles influence on Into the Maelstrom. On top of that, there's still plenty of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and Alice Cooper influences abounding. The album, like much of Bigelf's career, plays like a loving tribute to a bygone era.

This is also the first Bigelf album that is the result of a single creative vision. Previous efforts had always been collaborations between Damon Fox and whoever was in the band at the time, and in the case of Cheat The Gallows, that was just the result of the creative vision of the band's entire history. Damon on his own is less inclined to the excess and explosiveness that made Cheat The Gallows a jaw-dropping extravaganza, but that's not to say that these moments are entirely gone. The musical introduction of "Hypersleep", the guitar solo of "Already Gone", and the front end of the album's closer "ITM" are still rich in the bombastic DNA that makes the band great. Still, the songs are carried more by vocal melodies than in the past. The result is still phenomenal, if a little bit less distinct.

In addition to Mike Portnoy behind the drum kit, Into The Maelstrom welcomes Luis Carlos Maldonado onto guitars for the solos. Maldonado is certainly talented, and when given the opportunity, as on "Edge of Oblivion", "Control Freak", "Mr. Harry McQuahae", and "Already Gone", he can lay down some really impressive guitar solos that reek of sentimentality and swagger. Still, I can't point to a single instance where the whole song seems to stop for an awe-inspiring solo like on "Money" or It's Pure Evil". In fact, on "Already Gone," Maldonado puts on his most impressive solo of the album, only to be sung over.

Still, the songwriting of Damon Fox is as superb as ever. "Alien Frequency" sounds like nothing the band has ever done before, and it has a chorus that's absolutely stunning. "Control Freak", while dubious as a choice for a lead single, functions wonderfully within the album, shifting the tone to a darker direction. "High" is the seemingly obligatory Sabotage- era Black Sabbath tribute, which has always been one of my favorite attributes of the band. "Edge Of Oblivion" is really where it all comes together though. For someone whose favorite Bigelf track was "The Evils Of Rock And Roll", this was the track that really tied everything together for me. It's got lyrics worthy of the legacy Fox crafted on "The Gravest Show On Earth", and Portnoy's fills and solos are completely stunning. I was actually quite worried about how Portnoy's style would mesh with the band over the course of this new album, especially since I was a huge fan of the style of the band's long-time drummer Steve Frothingham, AKA Froth. Much to my satisfaction, Portnoy adjusted his style to fit the needs of the band wonderfully.

For the vintage-minded progressive rock fan, Into The Maelstrom is essential listening. While Bigelf is often accused of derivative songwriting and leaning too strongly on its influences, I see a much different picture. While the sound can so obviously be traced to that bygone era, rich with hammond organs and the almighty mellotron, Bigelf completely inhabits their niche.

4.5 // 5 (Originally posted at, check it out for this and other great progressive and power metal reviews)

 Into The Maelstrom by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 85 ratings

Into The Maelstrom
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Well, I'm at a loss on what to say about this new release from Bigelf. "Into the Maelstrom" is an interesting album with highs and lows, and plenty in between, too. Bigelf has something of a cult following, and it's been a long 5 years since their last album. So, I think the expectations and anticipation are pretty high, especially with Mike Portnoy stepping in to take over on drums.

I'm going to be honest. Maybe I just don't like Bigelf's style, or maybe it's just this album, but my first experience with them has been one of annoyance. "Into the Maelstrom" is annoying. It's boisterous. It's impossibly over the top, brick-walled, and devoted to fun. That may appeal to many out there, but it is a big turn off for me. I find the songs to be repetitive affairs that generally focus on sounding retro. I have no idea why this is labeled progressive at all, as they must barely ride the edge.

Their style is certainly influenced by Black Sabbath. Everything from the low, groovy guitars to the annoying vocals are taken straight from these metal masters. Bigelf adds just enough strangeness and eeriness to make a sound that is all their own, but the classic rock/metal underpinnings are definitely the foundation for everything else. Because of this, the instrumentals (very few) are rather predictable and sound like something I've heard a million times. This is especially true for the guitars and bass.

I do, however, really enjoy the keys. I found the mix of organs and atmospheric synth to be delightful and a huge elevation for the rest of the music. Portnoy does a decent job on this record, though his drumming is more or less by the numbers. There are few fills and such that I found really good, though. All in all, I found nothing special at all about the instrumentals or any of the performances.

The album is made up of a bunch of catchy songs. I was really surprised at this. Consequently, I find most of them disappointing, unsatisfying, and downright abrasive. "Control Freak" and "Edge of Oblivion" come to mind here, as they are big, pounding, shallow affairs. There are some good songs on here, but almost no great or excellent songs. I really like the track "Alien Frequency" with its interesting keys and its more complex structure. The rest of the songs? They're okay. Most of the tracks on "Into the Maelstrom" sound much the same, as I even kept checking because I thought that I might have hit the "repeat" button or something.

Is this a terrible album? No. Not really. It's just so darn irritating and boring. It sounds like an Ozzy Osbourne record sometimes. If that sounds good to you, then you'll enjoy this. If not, then stay far away from it.

 Hex by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.68 | 93 ratings

Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Memo_anathemo

4 stars BigElf or Black Sabbath revival. I knew a couple of songs of Bigelf and thought they were good. As it usually happens with a prog rock album, it is necessary to listen to it completely to understand the essence of a band. It happened to me and I got the album Hex and wow, impressive way of playing. The sound is very retro, simulating the heavy riffs of heavy rock of the seventies, especially Black Sabbath, but personally I would say Bigelf surpasses much their possible idols. The style of playing is, as I mentioned, pretty similar to those heavy riffs, but the musical arrangements and especially the use of mellotron makes it different and of course really high quality, now I'm craving to hear the first and the third album, but Hex is widely recommended!
Thanks to Atkingani for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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