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PROG ARCHIVES intends to be the most complete and powerful progressive rock resource. You can find the progressive rock music discographies from 10,054 bands & artists, 54,041 albums (LP, CD and DVD), 1,447,716 ratings and reviews from 58,989 members who also participate in our active forum. You can also read the new visitors guide (forum page).
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Last 50 reviews
 Inside Out by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.57 | 195 ratings

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Inside Out
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 141

When progressive rock appeared during the early of the 70's, it contained elements of hard rock, but few bands crossed the line into heavy metal. This all changed during the 80's, when bands such as Queensryche, Dream Theater, Crimson Glory, Watchtower and Fates Warning merged their love for Yes and Rush and with a great admiration for Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. These bands were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing the progressive metal genre.

This Fates Warning's 1994 release continues the style of their previous studio album 'Parallels', which made the group more known to audience all over, getting radio plays and appearing as their most commercially successful album to date. With 'Inside Out' they tried to continue this road, but the album never achieved the same attention as its predecessor had. It combines the heaviness of traditional heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden with some lush, heavy rock melodies and a constant flow of progressive ideas. 'Inside Out' displays the band's mid-period style. It's often linked to their classic 'Parallels' album. Even Matheos sustained that idea in an interview. He said that all Fates Warning albums are somehow different and that 'Inside Out' is the only who followed the same steps of 'Parallels'.

'Inside Out' is the seventh studio album of Fates Warning and was released in 1994. The line up on the album is Ray Alder (vocals), Jim Matheos (guitar), Frank Aresti (guitar), Joe DiBiase (bass) and Mark Zonder (drums and percussion).

'Inside Out' has ten tracks. All tracks were composed by Matheos, except 'The Strand' composed by Aresti and Matheos and 'Down To The Wire' composed by Alder and Matheos. The first track 'Outside Looking It' involves sad, sailing melodies and a similar rhythmic mechanism to the verse of the previous album's opener. It's a solid track with enough variety in the drumming and riffs to please. The second track 'Pale Fire' is another of those single worthy tracks very similar to 'Through Different Eyes' from 'Perfect Symmetry'. Lyrically, 'Pale Fire' is quite a success, for the chorus evokes a pretty powerful image that haunts long beyond the closure of the music. The pretty mesmerizing words and maybe an unintentional soliloquy show maybe the band's direction in the future, in the 90's. The third track 'The Strand' creates an almost folkish platitude through in its sombre, bluesy rock verse. But I like the bouncing bass rhythm and it builds to another great chorus part, which simply rages into existence like many of the better moments of 'Perfect Symmetry'. The fourth track 'Shelter Me' feels very similar to 'Pale Fire', but it lacks to it the staying power of that track and the title and chorus feel perhaps a little too accessible. Anyway, the music is pleasing enough for my ears. The fifth track 'Island In The Stream' is a big rock ballad that has much in common with 'The Road Goes On Forever' from 'Parallels'. It's immersive and pretty for its acoustics, piano and atmosphere. It starts out perfectly calm and relaxing, and progresses beautifully into a chillingly heavy latter half of the song. It has a perfect performance of Alder, he sings with a lot of passion, the guitars are breathtaking and tug at your heart and the keyboards add a final perfect atmosphere. The sixth track 'Down To The Wire' develops through the verse, though the chorus reminds me of a more rocked out spin on 'We Only Say Goodbye' of 'Parallels'. The seventh track 'Face The Fear' is an awesome track with great passages throughout of the song and is especially emotional. It begins with a flow of shining melodies that transform into a pretty complex pattern, with acoustic cleans and a beautiful melody under Alder's vocals. The chorus is likewise interesting. The eighth track 'Inward Bound' is a brief, bluesy atmospheric instrumental. It's almost a linking track between the previous and the following track. The ninth track 'Monument' is the best track on the latter half of the album, cautiously escalating into an insanely catchy hook after 2:00, which rekindles the atmosphere of 'Perfect Symmetry'. It's a classic that seems to be a crowd favourite for their live shows. It's the heaviest and progressive song on the album. The tenth track 'Afterglow' is a nice closing for the album. It's a brooding acoustic piece laden in slim electric melodies and an eerie narrative, interspersed with happier bits and a quiet momentum.

Conclusion: Basically, this is another solid release by Fates Warning. Overall, it's not Fates Warning best album but there are a bunch of tracks which could easily hold their own in a 'Best Off...' collection from the band. But, the fact that it's one of the less celebrated Fates Warning albums only underscores the band's enduring legacy. It's maybe the less complex album of their progressive career but it still is a great work. There are too many songs here I just can't do without. Fates Warning here invested on a heavily and accessible sound. So, I'll end my review by saying that this is an album that falls between the progressive and the mainstream rock category. For some it's confusing but for others it can be interesting for the very same reason. But, if one thing we can't deny, is that 'Inside Out' is a professional and mature work from a very strong and important progressive rock/metal band. This album comes highly recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 The Eternal Reign by BORN OF OSIRIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
2.00 | 1 ratings

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The Eternal Reign
Born Of Osiris Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

— First review of this album —
2 stars After their short EP debut studio release "The New Reign" which appeared in 2007, BORN OF OSIRIS roughly released a new album every two years but somewhere along the way the band decided that they just weren't happy with their debut EP and it desperately needed to be re-recorded and repackaged, retitled and released once again. Come ten years later and the newly named THE ETERNAL REIGN accomplishes this goal by taking all eight tracks back to the studio and polishing them into deathcore perfection with even a bonus track in the form of "Glorious Day" to finish it off with bringing the new playing time to a whopping 23 minutes and 50 seconds.

Well, what can someone exactly say about a brutal deathcore band trying to re-record and album. How about?. REALLY? Ok, first of all, i'm rarely a fan of any band re-recording an album because of nitpicky imperfections no matter how legit they may be due to the fact that for every inch of error is erased, so too is a pound of passion that made the album stand out in the first place. However in the case of BORN OF OSIRIS who utilize a brutal deathened core sound designed to bang your head and make your ears bleed with slight touches of sugary atmospheric keyboards to make the bitter just a little sweet, i have to shake my head and ask the obvious question: WHY BOTHER?

To the casual listener this won't sound a bit different as all the growly screams, all the distorted guitar riffs, solos, drum blasts and metal accoutrements are pretty much following down the same path. Where this second rendition of the EP does differ is in the "extras" department namely in the ambience and keyboard effects that add new riffs here and there and stand out as more prominent features of the band sprinkled across the album but nothing added makes this a substantially better album where it counts, namely in the songwriting department where all the tracks sound just as average as they did the first time around. I have to admit that the percussion has improved over the original.

Perhaps it would've been a better idea to focus on new music instead. The only redeeming aspect of this album is that there is one new track titled "Glorious Day" which is the best track on the EP which only serves the purpose of showing how far the band has come in its technical prowess and ability to make tracks more interesting. Hmmm, maybe that's the point? I dunno but this track shows a more adept ability of blending all the core elements with more classic metal sounds, more sophisticated atmospheric embellishments and even the drum parts are more diverse than elsewhere. Unfortunately it lasts a mere two and a half minutes so hardly worth tracking this down for a mere bonus track which is good but not outstanding. Nah, this is mostly a waste of time.

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 The New Reign by BORN OF OSIRIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
2.65 | 10 ratings

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The New Reign
Born Of Osiris Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars The Chicago based deathcore band BORN OF OSIRIS had quite the difficult time choosing a name as in a mere short period from 2003- 07 they chose and rejected the names Diminished, Your Heart Engraved and Rosecrance before finally settling on the Egyptian deity who was the Egyptian god of the afterlife. During that time they produced a few demos under all those names but wouldn't release their debut studio EP - THE NEW REIGN until 2007 as BORN OF OSIRIS. Although the band started out more as a metalcore outfit they began adding more death metal elements such as the abrasive growled vocals as well as the expected rhythmic breakdowns more suited to the death metal scene however all those core elements are retained. This band somehow latched onto the progressive world as it seems to pop up as such although the progressive touches take a back seat to the brutal metal aspects in the forefront.

BORN OF OSIRIS deliver a typical death metal meets metal ore = deathcore sound with the expected death metal riffs and blast beats while retaining all those core breakdowns with all the hardcore punk infused energy and brutality, however what sets this band apart from the rest of the pack is that it utilizes atmospheric keyboards to create a backdrop of ambience and also throws in a few unorthodox sound effects on the side. Ronnie Canizaro's vocals are nothing out of the ordinary nor are the staccato riffs of Lee McKinney however Matthew Pantelis dishes out some melodic lead guitar parts along with squeals and little tricks and trinkets to add a sprinkling of more class metal to the mix including a few solos here and there.

The percussion seems to be the weakest part as i'm not hearing the OMG drum abuse i would expect for a deathcore band, or at least not to the extend that i would prefer. Yeah, there are blast beats now and again but generally the percussive parts are fairly by the books and not overly exciting. Overall the tracks are all fairly similar with only the keyboards and lead guitar differentiating them in any significant ways. Deathcore is certainly not my favorite subgenre in the metal universe and BORN OF OSIRIS doesn't dish out a whole lot of originality to make me change my mind on that one. This debut is a nicely delivered near 22 minute display of metal energy with some atmospheric elements thrown in but in the end it's all fairly predictable and doesn't even come close to blowing me away.

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 Warrior On The Edge Of Time by HAWKWIND album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.10 | 583 ratings

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Warrior On The Edge Of Time
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

3 stars The Warrior In The Threshold Of Time

Hawkwind was a kind of precursor to what we call now Space Rock. The band was not the creator of the sound, but definitely the one that carried the flag the most.

On their fifth album, 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time', still with Lemmy (future Mot'rhead) on bass, the band goes on with their - at that time - already traditional sound. Mixing ambient and space sounds with saxophone and flute (thanks to the excellent Nik Turner) and a vigorous kitchen that had two drummers - Simon King and Alan Powell - and the already mentioned Lemmy on bass (this would be his last album with the band before being summarily fired), and unlike what he would show with his Mot'rhead later in 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time' Lemmy shows a more melodic side, even if he uses chords in his bass several times.

Hawkwind, for me, has always been a little complicated, musically speaking, the records I've heard from the band so far (the records that precede this one), did not make anything for me, really. The records are good, they have great moments, but they usually fall into the common abyss of records of this genre, especially those of the first half of the 1970s: 'infinite-improvisations-that-never-end-and-ended-up-being-very-boring '.

When Hawkwind bets on more concrete songs like "Assault & Battery Part I", "The Demented Man" and "Magnu" 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time' is great. However, when the band goes on with their mad endless improvisations the record just get lost on me. Maybe it's the fact that I don~t do drugs and Hawkwind's music is highly 'drugged', I do not know. The fact is that I do not get this side of their music.

Overall a good record, but that does not go beyond the average. However, let's give Hawkwind the credit they deserve. The band has recorded incessantly since 1970, and in 2017 the band released their album number 37! Band leader Dave Brock, at the height of his 76 years, continues to release music that is not commercial and without fear of becoming successful or not. Impressive!

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 Cosmogenesis by OBSCURA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.96 | 48 ratings

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Cosmogenesis
Obscura Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Brain knot music. The term just popped into my head as I was reading reviews of this album. I have listened to it a few times plus given randomly picked songs extra play time and although I am of the sound and sure opinion that I like it (enough to consider buying another album by Obscura), I am finding it very difficult to stride into a review.

As anyone will tell you, this album, as well as Obscura's style, is very technical metal. There seems to be something going on constantly and the band are rarely prepared to ease back and let something playout for a bit. I admit to having a certain fondness and admiration for technical bands like Decrepit Birth, Augury, and now Obscura too, but there is that challenge to make sense out of the music of each track and, for that matter, to learn to distinguish one song from another. All instruments are moving often at great speeds and sometimes in seemingly disparate directions except that you understand that the music is actually quite coherent and the instruments intelligently integrated.

What makes Obscura and this album stand apart from much of my previous technical metal listening experiences are a couple of things and that would be the use of slower tempos and even clean and beautiful parts with acoustic guitar or a kind of Steve Vai-like soloing style and the delightful use of bass guitar as an instrument that can hold its own and even stand out in the music. I have a great appreciation for metal and prog music that gives the bass a lead melody or frequently casts the spotlight on that wonderful instrument (which I don't play, in case you were wondering).

Because of the attention served to these aspects of the music writing, it becomes rather easy to begin to remember tracks for their standout parts rather than be doomed to be remembered as an intriguing and exciting tangle of rapid-fire, aggressive drumming, multi-single-note convoluted guitar riffs, and tangles of shredded solos with pinch harmonic wails that seem to drive through the music like hailstones in a thundershower during a baseball match. No, Obscura make it a little easier to say, "I really like the lead guitar melody here," or "Good use of clean guitar here to add something to the song," or "This acoustic passage is very pleasant and unexpected." Interestingly for me, shortly after acquiring "Cosmogenesis" I got "Focus" by Cynic and I could see the possible influences this older album had on Obscura's musical style. There is even a bit of vocoder vocals on "Cosmogenesis" as if in salute to "Focus".

The production is very clear and that is something I appreciate for such complex and often speedy music. My one criticism might be that the growls and sore-throat screams strike me as not being necessary throughout the whole album. It's not the first time that I was very impressed with the music but felt something more could have been done with the vocals in that the brutal style doesn't always seem to be the best approach.

And now it looks like I have managed to write just over a page-worth of words in review of this album. Technical. Highly-skilled. Creative. Effective. Challenging.

Delightful brain knot music!

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 Vagabond by SUBTERRANEAN MASQUERADE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.93 | 5 ratings

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Vagabond
Subterranean Masquerade Experimental/Post Metal

Review by The Jester

4 stars The multinational / Israel based band Subterranean Masquerade with its rather unique sound is back with a brand new album! I learned about them with the release of their previous work The Great Bazaar (2015). It was an album I really liked, listened to it a lot, and played lots of its songs on my radio show. And finally, I included The Great Bazaar in my annual Top-10 albums list of 2015. Almost 2 weeks ago I learned about Vagabond, and having in mind how much I loved the previous album, I added it in my music collection without a second thought. Vagabond continues where The Grand Bazaar stopped. Everything is present again; the beautiful melodies, the strong Mediterranean and Middle Eastern 'essences', the sudden changes of music styles and even the growls from time to time. Although the sound and style is almost the same, the major change is the addition of Brass instruments which makes their sound even richer. I will not get into details this time, because the album is still fresh, and I haven't listened to it as much as I would like; because I believe that this is an album that requires lots of listenings in order to be appreciated. But based on the first 3-4 listens, I have to say that it is a very good work, with strong and very interesting compositions. Subterranean Masquerade are inviting us in a "Mediterranean Feast" of sounds and colours once more, and it's up to you to accept the invitation. I did, and haven't regretted it. This is a 3.5 (out of 5.0) star album for me, but I will add half star more, for the excellent and unexpected cover version of Space Oddity, that closes the album in the best way possible! 4.0 stars from me!

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 Waves by RYPDAL, TERJE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.69 | 27 ratings

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Waves
Terje Rypdal Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Terje Rypdal is a notable long-term musician in Norway's fusion scene. This seventh album contains six tracks and features Rypdal on electric guitar and synths, Palle Mikkelborg on trumpet, flugelhorn and synths plus the rhythm section of Sveinung Hovensjo and Jon Christensen.

'Per Ulv' is groovy with busy constant percussion, while guitar and trumpet make the composition airy. (BTW, on Rypdal's 1995 album If Mountains Could Sing is a track called 'The Return of Per Ulv' which is fantastic. Compared to that, this one was slightly disappointing.) On a blindfold test it would be fairly easy to place the music on the late seventies, even though the thick use of synths brings some 80's flavour as well. There's some resemblance to the late 70's or the 80's PEKKA POHJOLA, except that Pekka's music would probably have more emotion.

'Karusell', unlike one would expect from such title, is a slow-paced, ethereal, ambient piece starring trumpet in a lead role, at first almost free of percussion (mostly just some light cymbals). Might be a bit sleepy for an average fusion listener, but it is fairly pleasant for a patient, ambient-minded listener. 'Stenskoven' is the shortest track and composed by Mikkelborg whereas all the others are written by Rypdal. Curiously this one has a carousel-like feel, not 'Karusell'. Again, it reminds me of some lighter 80's tracks of Pekka Pohjola, on the Space Waltz album for example.

'Waves' is the highlight, very atmospheric and spacey. Here you get a lot of the meditative electric guitar sound so distinctively Rypdal's. 'The Dain Curse' is, like 'Per Ulv', a mixture of steady funkiness and ambientish soloing especially for the trumpet. Hmm, nice, but there could be more musical progression for nearly nine minutes. 'Charisma' is the other highlight (I'm backing Mellotron Storm in this opinion), a slow, cinematic epic of delicate atmosphere. The dialogue-like contributions of electric guitar and trumpet make the piece beautiful.

My rating is 3½ stars, and in theory it could have been rounded up to four. I haven't heard very many Rypdal albums (for years I haven't been listening to him altogether), and this one might very well be on the better side of the scale. But for leaving me slightly cold right now, three stars will do. My favourite Norwegian is still Jan Garbarek. Nevertheless, warmly recommended to those who are into ambient-oriented modern fusion.

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 Spot the pigeon by GENESIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1977
2.99 | 136 ratings

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Spot the pigeon
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by FalconBleck

3 stars #4 Review

Spot the Pigeon, the mini album that came after Wind & Wuthering and that signed Hacket's departure... it featured songs that didn't make it into Wind & Wuthering and we all know that there where much more than just 3 songs, but still nice to have atleast those.

As usual, i'll be scoring every song separately.

1.- Match of the Day 7/10 A song made to promote the game played on the cover, it's not bad but i find it a little repetitive and it doesn't have very interesting or "Genesis-like" lyrics. It's generic and falls on the short side, but it's still catchy.

2.- Pigeons 6/10 I find this song even more repetitive than the previous song, this also falls on the short side, but atleast it has better lyrics than the previous one, but the instruments get boring quickly.

3.- Inside and Out 9/10 The best song in this mini album, this should've been added to Wind & Wuthering, it's that good. It starts pretty melancholic and the lyrics make me cry a little, really pretty, but at half it changes into a really cheerful solo, the song feels pretty complex and full of life, and the piano solo in the second part sound like a violin for a moment, it's amazing.

All in all, this mini album gets a 73/100, wich is almost 4 stars, but i'll give it only 3, the first 2 songs are really not that worthy, but the last it's a must listen.

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 Echoes in the Vacuum by ALPHA WAVE MOVEMENT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Echoes in the Vacuum
Alpha Wave Movement Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars Alpha Wave Movement is the project alias for American artist Gregory Kyryluk, and the composer has been offering a wide range of discs in Progressive-Electronic and related styles for over two decades now, some of which can even be regarded as classics of the modern era. The deeply atmospheric and highly immersive `Cerulean Skies' from earlier this year could also be included in the list, and now Gregory takes a different approach for `Echoes in the Vacuum', a fully instrumental vibrant and eclectic collection of mostly shorter and somewhat lighter pieces, that still show great colour and variety, with a balance of anchored rhythmic and pure-ambient drifts, whilst also achieving a near-perfect unison of melodic approachability and entrancing atmospheres.

Opener ` Herzchlag des Universums' could very well be an outtake from Alpha Wave Movement's 2016 album `Kinetic' with its upbeat mood, infectious repeating themes and slinking dance beats. `Other Worlds' is a mysterious and gurgling deep- space ambient rumination, and then, quite unexpectedly, `Luna Lamentabilis' takes on a loved-up whimsy much closer to the swooning romance of something like Vangelis' `Ballad' off his much-loved 1977 LP `Spiral', or even the kitsch playfulness of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and the piece frequently radiates sweet love and embracing positivity.

The opening moments of `Akasha' hint at one of those grooving pop-rockers that the Alan Parsons Project used to deliver, but instead it quickly turns into a sitar-laced groaning drift backed by a relentless lurching percussive beat, managing to nail that grounded earthiness and those floating cosmic reaches that often twist together on Alpha Wave Movement discs. `Solina Spaceways', sometimes reminding of French band Air in little moments, is mellow and laid-back without lacking momentum, softly jazzy electric piano soloing weaving in and out of confident lead synth themes, and comforting lovely closer `Safe Journey' brings restrained organ and approaching/retreating whirring washes teeming with the most precious of life lapping at spacey shivers and weeping electronic tendrils.

But especially memorable is the fifth track `Garden of Memories', where the most subtle of low-key reprising themes are repeated on fragile piano and shimmering harp (or a best synth impression of one!) piercing through lightly cinematic washing caresses of synths, slithering background bass and the gentlest of chill-out beats flitting in and out. It shows impeccable subtlety and restraint, is achingly beautiful and full of dreamy mystery and deep serenity.

`Echoes...' is melodic and accessible without lacking intelligence, offers countless cleverly memorable themes that inch their way into your brain after several spins, and can be enjoyed as a background listen without the deeper immersion required to appreciate the more complex and subtle AWM discs. It holds a strong crossover quality of related electronic styles that showcases Gregory's distinctive musical personality, one that's a world away from the endless Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre and Klaus Schulze clones, and it would make for a perfect introduction to the music of Alpha Wave Movement for newcomers. You know you have a special artist when even the (so-called) `less essential' releases are of such a high standard, and it means that `Echoes in the Vacuum' comes highly recommended.

Four stars.

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 This One's for England by DISCIPLINE album cover Live, 2014
4.74 | 45 ratings

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This One's for England
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars This is freaking awesome!

It is incredible what Discipline has done to me, I already loved them when I discovered their Unfolded Like Staircase, and then in 2011 with the release of To Shatter All Accord, they became one of my favorite US bands, actually that release was my top 2011 prog album. Since then, I've been crossing my fingers hoping to see them on stage once, and seems that life has treated me well because I will be able to experience it really soon when they play at Progotoberfest, which really excites me.

In 2014 they released a two-cd live album which was recorded at the RoS Fest in 2012, an album that in my opinion is flawless, showing the incredible potential the band has on stage, with that evident VdGG feeling, the theatrical spirit of Parmenter and the amazing musicianship of Dzendzel, Kennedy and Bouda. These four musicians managed to transmit the countless stories and emotions their albums share, with that vivid and human touch concerts give, so the audience could get immersed into a sometimes dark, sometimes touchy, sometimes disarming atmosphere Discipline produce.

The song selection was perfect, only eight but making a running time of almost 100 minutes. At that time, they were promoting To Shatter All Accord, so it was pretty obvious they would open with "Circuitry", a wonderful track that shows the power of this band, which in my opinion has to be one of the best US prog bands since the 90s, sadly not so many people concur with me, but who agree, won't let me lie. A jump to the past comes next with "Before the Storm" with its two parts performed, and then with the nice "Blueprint" from their 1994 record Push & Profit.

Matthew Parmenter's voices is simply amazing, no matter if he reminds us of Peter Hammill, he has a very own sound produced by that theatrical and emotional tune he implements. From the 2011 they played then "Blueprint" first and then "When She Dreams, She Dreams In Color", the last song of the first CD, and a personal favorite of mine, I truly love that song and its final hypnotic instrumental part. I am really looking forward to witness this one soon.

You might ask why keeping only 3 tracks for a CD, but well, two out of them are magnificent epics. The first one is their famous "Canto IV", a true masterpiece released in 1997 that stays as one of my Discipline favorite compositions ever, it is wonderful to listen to its changes in mood in a live version. After the final epic the band performed "The Reasoning Wall", which might be my least favorite track, which doesn't mean it is bad or something related, not at all; and then, the concert finishes with the super 24-minute suite "Rogue", which is the one that also closes their 2011 album. Man, hope to be lucky enough to witness Rogue, it is incredible how those 24 minutes pass so fast, taking us into a true progressive rock bliss where the mind flies and is fed by countless colors and textures.

This album is of my recent favorite live releases, without a doubt. I'll tell you later how happy will I be after seeing Discipline on stage, I am sure it will be unforgettable!

Enjoy it!

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 Syndenes Magi by ARABS IN ASPIC  album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.41 | 18 ratings

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Syndenes Magi
Arabs in Aspic Heavy Prog

Review by proghaven

5 stars A 'hello-how-are-you' from Aradabia. Or, if you prefer, back to Aradabia. Aradabia rules OK! From Aradabia with love. After two song-oriented albums reminding Cressida's debut, the band returned to their early heavier sound more or less in the vein of Atomic Rooster. Some reviewers also compared early Arabs In Aspic to early King Crimson, Bodkin, Northwinds, Wicked Minds and even Black Sabbath. This all is more or less true. But most of all, the music of Arabs In Aspic reminds Arabs In Aspic. Surely their music has sources and predecessors, but first of all it's original and distinctive.

Their new one, Syndenes Magi, is even more 'aradabian' than Aradabia itself. While the band's second studio release included five songs and one suite, their fifth full-length album consists of three long and complex epic suites. Each of them is heavy enough to be compared to early Arabs and therefore (following the existing cliche) to Atomic Rooster, and - on the other hand - refined enough to be compared to no one else. This is nothing but Arabs In Aspic who found a new source for their inspiration and started to explore it. And the result is more than impressive. A month ago I would say that their best album IMHO is still Strange Frame Of Mind. Now I'm ready to modify my personal mind frame: Syndenes Magi is undoubtedly their best at the moment. And there's a great chance that their next will be even better.

Apart from the amazing music, a nota bene is that the album is their first ever sung in Norwegian. This is an important moment deserving a huge comment.

Since 1970s, many non-UK/US/Canadian/Australian prog bands sought to sing in English. Yes it allowed almost everyone around the Globe to understand what they sang about, but also led to confusions. Just remember the debut album from Novalis which had all chances to become a worldwide recognized masterpiece but was killed by English lyrics with grammatical errors. After that, Novalis started to sing in German, and we must thank them for that. Remember the only album from Tale Cue, Voices Beyond My Curtain, from 1991. Musically, it was one of the most important events of 1990s and will remain an incomparable chef d'euvre until music exists. But the erratic English lyrics irrevocably stripped the album of the status it musically deserves. Enfin, remember the splendid Italian 1990s keyboard-dominated prog metal band Presence with their absolutely stunning female vocalist... who sang in English with errors. That's the only reason why Presence will never be rated as high as (for example) Dream Theater in the coordinate system of prog metal.

No need to prove that the best way to write good lyrics is to write in your native language, even if you think that you speak English quite well. But it automatically reduces the number of listeners who would be able to understand and appreciate your lyrics. On the other hand, current online translators are enough to help you to understand what the lyrics are about. Of course an auto translation soft does not allow appreciating the lyrics as a work of poetry. But is this really necessary? Even a good lyricist/songwriter is not a guaranteed poet. At least I know just a few genuine poets among the rockers and progsters. Neil Peart, Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Gillan, Ian Anderson, Steven Wilson, Syd Barrett, Marc Bolan... who else? I am even not sure that Jon Anderson, Peter Sinfield, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters are instant poets, perhaps they are rather excellent lyricists... By the way, I know at least two non-English speaking but English writing genuine poets in prog rock, Jerker Rellmark (Masque, Sweden) and Herbert von Ruppik (Rousseau, Germany).

But even this is not the main thing. I've no idea if the English lyrics from Arabs In Aspic (on their previous albums) are good or... hmmm... or very good. I don't know if they could be considered a poetry or not. On the other hand, I do know what the Norwegian lyrics from Arabs In Aspic (on their latest album) are about, I did read reviews. They sing about instability of our current world (right?). But anyway, should they sing in Norwegian or English, they are a purely Norwegian band. I mean the spirit of their music. Hope you all agree that in fact we deal not with abstract 'progressive rock in toto' but with national prog scenes/schools. Yes they form a whole, but each of them has strongly expressed features of a given national culture, though they are often difficult to verbalize and there may be no loan elements from the traditional music. I cannot say why Kalinov Most is a Russian band, their music is not similar to Russian folk songs - but it's very Russian nevertheless. I cannot say why Topos Uranos is a common example of Brazilian prog, I even vaguely imagine what Brazilian traditional music really is, but Topos Uranos is very Brazilian. I cannot say what exactly Norwegian may be found in the music of Arabs In Aspic, all the more that they are often compared to non- Norwegian Atomic Rooster, - but their music is distinctively Norwegian. Not in the same sense as (for example) Kerrs Pink or even Wobbler, but very Norwegian. (I am not sure that you all do understand me, but I'm 100% sure that Edvard Grieg or Rikard Nordraak would.)

And that's the main reason why a band who represents a national prog scene should better sing in their native language than in 'international' English. Strangely enough, none of us is surprised when we listen to an Argentinean, or Finnish, or Spanish, or Turkish... or Russian prog band diligently singing in English - while we wouldn't even believe our ears if we heard Maria Mordasova singing Russian chastushkas in (for example) French, it would seem an Alptraum. In other words, we used to link traditional music to the native language, but we still consider prog music 'international' or, if you like, 'supranational'. Meanwhile, just listen to the music and you'll hear that prog is first a part of national culture, and only secondly a part of global music market. And I think it's correct if a prog band proudly emphasizes what national culture they represent. Arabs In Aspic sang in English for fifteen years. Now they've switched to their native Norwegian. What to say? THEY ARE RIGHT.

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 E by ENSLAVED album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.04 | 4 ratings

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E
Enslaved Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars It's always an exciting day when one of your favorite and most consistent metal bands releases an album and continues that exciting thrill of anticipation of whether they will continue their lengthy run as ambassadors of the extreme metal scene after more than two decades on the scene or the unthinkable of botching their rein and utterly teeter off that precarious precipice that they ride like a skateboarder sliding down a staircase railing. As the decade runs closer to its end Norway's ENSLAVED took only two years to craft yet another installment into their progressive black metal universe after the release of 2015's 'In Times' which left more than a few loyal fans divided over exactly where they saw the band was heading next. While true that the album continued down the path of the expected quality material, there was still that lurking nagging feeling that perhaps ENSLAVED is just one tiny step away from completely derailing into pools of stagnation and ultimately becoming the feared and dreaded parodies of themselves. In 2017 the band emerge from their cocoon of secrecy and let loose their 14th full-length studio album E.

With an album title so truncated to one mere letter, it automatically triggers that WTF response and thankfully Ivar Bj'rnson has explained this nebulous concept to smother any possible misconceptions in their nascency. E apparently has a dualistic meaning, firstly being a letter of the Latin alphabet but is also a reference to the rune Ehwaz which is depicted as our letter M (note both letters on album cover painted by long time associate Truis Espedal.) Ehwaz simply means horse and the relationship with humankind's most endearing animal friend that celebrates one of our longest cross-species collaborations. Once you get past all the horse symbology, the title and tracks included expand further into the symbolisms of the duality of humankind and nature as well as fear and subconscious drive all wrapped up in the expected Viking imagery constructed through poetic prose in both gurgling raspy utterances as well as clean Gregorian chant inspired harmonies that exude a beauty and beast combo effect only this is bro style.

As evidenced from the sneak peak video for the first track 'Storm Son,' ENSLAVED have entered new sonic arenas indeed and have once again taken all the different styles they've accumulated over their vast career and simply expanded them into new territory as if they take their Viking expansionist roots and simply apply those principles to conquering new musical territory. As E begins, i was expecting the immediate bombast of heaviness before meandering into softer passages of folky and ambience atmospheric touches but E takes a totally different approach than past offerings. This one begins with the sensual sounds of birds and the blowing of a gjallarhorn before horses whinny and clomp along insinuating a battle scene to come, however the track unexpectedly delivers a clean dreamy guitar riff that delivers the ultimate head scratcher making me wonder if these guys have pulled an Ulver on us and went post-rock or some non-metal direction as the repetitive riffs churn on augmented by an atmospheric ambience swirling around every arpeggiated note. Goodbye black metal ENSLAVED, hello progressive rockers who have always lurked beneath the noisefest.

Oh, wait there's those raspy vocals on top of the clean angelic choral. (then once again the riff ratchets up in intensity but this isn't quite the metal i was expecting) as Grutle Kjellson takes the lead with his raspy evil-as-[%*!#] vocal style. As the synthesizers swirl around and the staccato guitar riffs pound on like Teutonic marches on Prussian plains it seems that ENSLAVED has gone Opeth on us and finally divorced the black metal aspects that have carried them this far into the 21st century minus those raspy vocals of course. But wait! This is progressive black metal and nothing happens too quickly in this world. Finally at seven minutes in the black metal guitars and bass kick in with synchronized drums and yeah baby! Oops, i jumped to conclusions. This is black metal for PATIENT fans :p After a rough start things seem on track once again although the atmospheric synths and staccato guitar riffs are totally uncharacteristic of the ENSLAVED sound. This band has decided to carry on into new even more progressive arenas. Will the fickle black metal fans like this? Probably not. As 'The River's Mouth' takes the baton, the black metal groove is back at first but alternates substantially with the progressive metal segments that sound more like something out of a post-metal sludge band's canon than anything ENSLAVED has tackled. It doesn't take long to figure out that this is a band always looking for parameters to overstep while breaking rules and worshipping runes and on E the floodgates have opened.

Many surprises lurk on E which is of course the key ingredient (surprise that is) to keep things spiced up. For example, 'Sacred Horse' begins like a hippie dippy folk track for a few seconds but then bursts into the more familiar extreme metal sound of past glories. 'Axis Of The Worlds' has a very different sort of groove than the band is used to with a much more sophisticated labyrinthine and circuitous riffing methodology that ratchets up their progressive rock aspects even further and with the mellotron organ sounds that accompany may raise the red flag for a progressive pollen attack for those allergic to the world of progressive rock but somehow once again the band walks that thin line between the black and prog worlds all the while including some bizarre electronica sputtering in the background reminiscent of electropop bands like R'yksopp whose cover they tackle with the rhetorical self-directed question 'What Else Is There?' 'Fathers Of Eolh' is probably the most un-ENSLAVED sounding track on E with its heightened 5/4 timing sludgy riffs, ambient shoegaze backdrop and liturgical proggy vocal styles mostly delivered in a clean, clear yet turgid display of interweaving compositional parts that are laced together in various alternating ways. 'Hiindslight' is yet another progressive metal behemoth that tackles hitherto unexplored arenas as it churns out complex guitar riffs that range from brutal to sensual and graced by the raspy vocals of Kjellson. This is the track that will for sure act as the sunlight that scares the black metal vampires into their coffins as it incorporates a whirlwind of progressive features including the unthinkable use of flute and saxophone. 'Djupet' is another more traditional track tacked on to appease the hardcores.

You may be wondering just how progressive can they possible get. Well before you get your knickers in a twist and cry out that they've totally gone Opeth on us, it should never be forgotten that ENSLAVED was always a progressive black metal band which began with their debut album 'Vikingligr Veldi' and despite tamping down the progressive qualities on their next three albums, 'Frost,' 'Eld' and 'Blodhemn' they nevertheless persisted under the surface before finally erupting once again in full pent-up fury on 2000's 'Mardraum: Beyond The Within' only to have the progressive aspects outweigh the black metal from 'Monumension' and the albums that followed. The fact is that unlike Opeth who utterly abandoned their extreme metal roots to focus exclusively on progressive rock, ENSLAVED never for even a single album smothered the black metal out of their overall sound. While it's true the black metal has taken a back seat to the progressive side of the coin, it's more akin to the band having a new lover move in while banishing the ex to the basement only to be chained up but kept around because she's still useful for all those chores around the house. Yeah, the black metal may be the ugly ex-wife who is forced to perform as an indentured servant but she still has a role to play while ENSLAVED's promiscuous Hugh Hefner tendencies take on a musical libido all their own. Keep in mind that the band's name is ENSLAVED and not 'Emancipated.' Set free the black metal and we're left with an Age of Aquarius la-la-la singalong feel good album. Now that wouldn't be very metal now would it? While ENSLAVED has not gone Opeth on it can be argued they've followed in the same footsteps another fellow Norwegian and gone Ihsahn on us instead. You don't believe me? For anyone who has kept up with Emperor's frantic frontman as a solo artist, you will hear lots of parallels with albums ranging from 'The Adversary' to 'Arktis' not only in the highly complex time signature rich riffing styles but in the addition of unorthodox metal instruments with the inclusion of flautist Daniel Mage and sax blower Kjetil M'ster on the tracks 'Hindsight' and 'Feathers Of Eolh' and also the inclusion of fellow Norwegian Einar Kvitrafn from the Nordic dark folk outfit Wardruna. OK, i lied. There is one moment of going Opeth and that is the short use of mellotron style keyboard sounds at the end of 'Sacred Horse.' This is probably one of the parts of the album that doesn't exactly sound like it's at home here.

Ultimately i'm finding E is about contrast and tension. There are simple clean parts that are unlike anything the band has done but somehow after slow developments the band always resolves itself with heavier and more frantic dynamics delivering fairly balanced compositions that may carry on a wee bit too long at points but never entering the uncomfortableness zone. It goes without saying that ENSLAVED alienated the one-dimensional kvlter-than-thou crowds long ago when the scales tipped in the progressive metal direction and with E, the band challenges their fans once again and therefore the close-minded, musically illiterate and those who simply get complacent in a particular phase will probably piss all over this one, however if dissected like a laboratory rat in order to scrutinize the inner parts, E is actually the logical next frontier for ENSLAVED to venture into. As the band continues to mature it would be pathetic for them to linger in pastures already explored and personally i much prefer a band to delve into new arenas despite less than perfect results than stagnate in festering doldrums of inertness. E may not constitute the absolute pinnacle of the career of ENSLAVED but i'm finding this to have much more of a return value than 'In Times' and offers yet another creative and excellent rung in their long ladder of musical development since their humble beginnings during the second wave of early black metal.

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 Adonia  by OSE album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.00 | 21 ratings

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Adonia
Ose Progressive Electronic

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

4 stars Another French electronika I've stumbled upon a while before is one of excellent gems created by our electronic heroes - two Herdoners (Richard PINHAS and François AUGER) and Hervé PICART. The three talented electro-vanguards would have tried to represent another spacey world through the one-off project named OSE and a musical phenotype titled "Adonia". What a quiet, sedative, and addictive resonance the first long trip "Approche Sur A" is, melodically leaning towards "Crazy Diamonds" or "Echoes" by Pink Floyd, and seasoned with spacey, dreamy, but dry-fruity electronic spice. And repetitive, convoluted sound development should be in the similar vein of Heldon, Patrick Vian, Tangerine Dream (not in the debut days) or Yellow Magic Orchestra. Anyway they cannot exert weirdness upon their sound identity ... also as for the second shot "Orgasmachine", sounds like they would have pursued sorta musical narcissism in a good sense. Surrealistic and comfortable, immersive, impressive. Dedicated to spacey Pink Floyd, gorgeous gracious surrealism should have been their goal. We must be immersed in such a fantastic adonic dream. Recommended for every Space Rock / Electronic fan.

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 Kingtime by KINGSTON WALL album cover DVD/Video, 2015
4.20 | 6 ratings

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Kingtime
Kingston Wall Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by tigerfeet

4 stars I received my Kingston Wall, Kingtime DVD order from Svart Records, Finland last Christmas, and it is indeed a must watch/listen for any Kingston Wall fans out there.

Disc 1 - if you pop it in the DVD player and just press INTRO when the menu system appears, it starts out very well with a live version of 'With My Mind' playing in the inset as you also get to read about the early days and early evolution of the band. This version of With My Mind is one of the best they played and really captures the bands very essence. At this point i was extremely excited for what the rest of disc 1 held in store.

I then went back to main menu, and pressed PLAY ALL. It started a little on the messy side, and if i have been new to Kingston Wall i would have been a little put off at this point as basically, they just split the play list of the band up into sections of live performances year by year and it felt like a little bit confusing.

After a couple of songs I eagerly ejected disc 1 and put in disc 2 and boy, was i glad i did !! (but i will come back to disc 1 in a moment ;-)

Disc 2 seemed to me like the obvious place to start IMO for a any newcomer or indeed longtime KW fan. I pressed the first item on the dvd menu - 'Petri Walli in Memoriam' and was immediately engaged by the way it was presented and edited. It gave me a sense of getting to know Petri and the band through footage from the band live and studio versions of songs. I even felt my eyes welling up when a segment played one of their best known songs, ISTWAN.

I then went back to the menu and watched some of the interview sections, which were very nice and made me feel closer to the band members.

I then watched the Freakout Club sections of KW and pre-KW- Basically what the band really were about, just playing music, and not caring what others thought. They were all musical technicians but had flaws, which made them special.

I then finished up the the EXTRAS section and felt in the mood to go back to disc 1.

Now i was prepared for disc 1 mentally, and watched the entire disc in one sitting. It was excellent and i thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Overall, Kingtime is very well presented and a nice glossy feel to the presentation. The DVDs are well made and labels look as good as anything out there. It came with pull out insert/booklet and they threw in a few small KW mementos in the package.

The 2 DVDs are extensive and time consuming and that makes for a good re-visit from time to time wherein i always seem to find something new or enlightening.

5 stars from me, even though the flow of the content could have been reorganized - but the actual content was amazing. A fun DVD to watch all in all.

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 Where We Stood by PINEAPPLE THIEF album cover Live, 2017
4.04 | 9 ratings

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Where We Stood
Pineapple Thief Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. It's pretty funny that every track from the previous studio album "Your Wilderness" is on here except for "Where We Stood" which of course is the name of this live recording. I have to say that "Your Wilderness" continues to blow me away to this day. I rated it as the second best studio album of 2016 but man one day it might get bumped up to number one. My favourite PINEAPPLE THIEF album for sure and it sure didn't hurt having Gavin Harrison(PORCUPINE TREE, KING CRIMSON) playing drums on it. Thankfully he's playing on this live album, it was one of the first things I checked out before spinning it. Darran Charles(GODSTICKS) adds extra guitar as he did on "Your Wilderness".

This was recorded live at the London Islington Assembly Hall on February 11/17. It was interesting to hear the three tracks off of "Magnolia" because it's the only studio album from this band I don't own, although the only two tracks that didn't do much for me are from that particular record. My top four tracks are from "Your Wilderness" and I have to say that a few times I kept this in my stereo instead of moving on to the other two cds I was listening to last week simply because I couldn't get enough. So much emotion on this album for me and take away the two tracks from "Magnolia" that don't do much for me then this is a five star album.

I'm not going to go track by track since I've reviewed all these songs except for the three from "Magnolia". By the way the one song from that album I did like on here was "The One You Left To Die". By the way Gavin is his usual brilliant self on the kit here, I can't get over the difference he makes to the PINEAPPLE THEIF sound. So lets look at my top four songs.

"Tear You Up" is a fantastic opener. The emotion and the heaviness makes this a great opener to the live set. I can't get enough of this song. "I cannot tear you up, I cannot tear you up." No I can't get rid of you like tearing up a picture and throwing it out. Before I get to the next top four tune I must say that "The One You Left To Die" sounds amazing live. It's that rhythm section really.

"No Man's Land" is an emotional piece that is ballad-like. Picked guitar and vocals much of the time. Bruce sounds incredible vocally on this live recording including the wonderful vocal melodies that are featured prominently on the "Your Wilderness" songs. How good is this 2 1/2 minutes in when it turns more intense and the vocal melodies are beyond fantastic. Check out Gavin during this section. Not worthy! It then kicks into gear. Oh my!

"That Shore" is another laid back beauty filled with emotion and atmosphere. Again I'm sooo moved here. "I throw you a rope and you do what you want with it, cause your face is leaving me. You should never have left this soon, this soon. And I can never forget you washed upon that shore. Just pull up that rope, and that's all that I beg from you." Bruce I hear you man. Been there not so long ago.

"The Final Thing On My Mind" is the longest track at around 10 minutes. Guitar and drums to begin with as it starts to build. Vocals just before a minute. Check out those vocal melodies before 3 minutes that continue and intensify. How many times I've sung these wordless melodies at work and other places. When he stops singing before 4 minutes the crowd cheers. It feels like this song has to breakout soon, so much tension. And instead he starts to sing the lyrics which are causing the water to rise in my eyes. Sometimes words seem so useless. "How did we get to be so cold, how did I let you get so far from me, we got it so wrong, so wrong. How did we get this cold". Then back to those vocal melodies. "Everything you did is a part of me, ripped apart from me" and more wordless melodies. Check out Gavin after 8 minutes. Amazing guitar solo late. Man the crowd absolutely roars when this one ends.

I love this band and have for many years, even when all I could see on this site was negative reviews back in the day. If I could take three studio albums from this band it would be "Your Wilderness", "Someone Here Is Missing" and "Little Man". So yeah they just keep getting better.

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 New World Live by KERZNER, DAVE album cover Live, 2016
4.08 | 5 ratings

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New World Live
Dave Kerzner Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Wonderful!

Dave Kerzner is a prolific musician that has been into the prog scene for several years, and in this decade he entered with his solo project, creating an amazing debut album entitled New World, a solid example of modern progressive rock with an obvious Floydian feeling. In the album, several wonderful musicians were invited to participate, such as Steve Hackett, Simon Phillips or the unique Keith Emerson, among others, an album that received positive critics since it guarantees over an hour of great music.

This great studio music was shared live and played in its entirety during different shows, leaving intact the order, so the band respected the concept . So "New World Live" is the result of those live shows, it is actually a blend of two different concerts with two different lineups, one from Europe and one from America, both showing high quality and confirming how good Kerzner is as composer, performer, and how well accompanied he is by the other musicians.

A thing I liked is that despite it is a performance of the studio album, it is not a full copy of it, I mean, the live vibes produce different sounds and even feelings, so the experience is not the same in any way. Kerzner's voice is wonderful and sounds clean, there are some parts in which the musicians put new elements, the McBroom girls produce goosebumps with their voices, and the keyboards also play a main role. As I mentioned above, there is an obvious Pink Floyd feeling here, Gilmour-ish vocals and guitar, but in the end the sound of the music is very personal from Kerzner's signature.

The whole album is very solid, not really weak moments, and some songs I totally adore such as "Into the Sun", the instrumental "Crossing of Fates" and of course, the amazing final epic "Redention" which closes the album in a magnificent way. I've been listening to this live album recently becaude I will be lucky enough to see Dave's band performing at ProgtoberFest, which really excites me, because it is evident their live performances give the audience priceless moments.

Of course, my invitation is to first listen to the studio version (if you haven't discovered it yet), and then listen to its live representation in this great record. Enjoy it!

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 A Perfect Forever by ANUBIS GATE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.25 | 27 ratings

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A Perfect Forever
Anubis Gate Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars With their second opus, Denmark's eclectic prog metallers Anubis Gate haven't yet settled into their more familiar sound. A Perfect Forever features a different vocal style and has more prominent power metal (of its darker and slower type somewhat akin to early Queensryche) influences than its successors, but it was already clear that they were aiming at something proggy, with the Eastern motifs, six-minutes songs, frequent shifts in tempo and mood, alteration between crunchy and clean guitars and catchy vocal hooks that would become their staples. Best songs probably the shape- shifting Sanctified and Future Without Past and the more laid-back Curfew, with others catchy enough but being more of an epic power metal type.

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 One More Red Night: Live In Chicago (with John Wetton) by DISTRICT 97 album cover Live, 2014
3.10 | 14 ratings

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One More Red Night: Live In Chicago (with John Wetton)
District 97 Crossover Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A nice live album for melancholic moments.

In the early years of the current decade I was introduced to District 97's music, a band of young and great US musicians that make great progressive rock in the symphonic vein, since then, I've been following their releases and wishing to see them on stage sometime, fortunately to me, I will be able to see them live really soon when I fly to Chicago for the Progtober Fest in its 3rd edition.

It was also in Chicago where the band recorded this live album, in which the amazing John Wetton was invited to play. As the title suggests (One More Red Night), the concert was a kind of tribute to King Crimson, playing songs in which Wetton participated and we all remember well, just one out of the 9 songs is not from the Wetton-KC era.

Listening now to this live album creates two different nostalgias, one is the natural one of listening to him singing his memorable KC songs, and the other is simply listening to him, because he passed away this current 2017. It is also great to see such a legend sharing the stage with younger and talented musicians such as District 97, so together created a nice album and gave a cool live experience.

The versions here are of course a bit different, the band kept the spirit of the original tracks, but naturally, they put their own sound on them. Leslie Hunt helped with some vocals, we are used to listen to her as the main District 97 singer, but this time she nicely gave way to John's voice, which by the way had not the potential of his early years, which is something we can understand.

My favorite songs here are: "Lament", "The Night Watch", "Book of Saturday" and "Easy Money". I wanted to write this review because I am excited to see the band live, playing of course their original music, but they are also playing a special tribute to John Wetton, so I guess some of the songs featured here will be played.

Si in the end this is a good live album that will make you jump to the past with a smile on your face. Enjoy it!

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 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.51 | 61 ratings

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Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With the departure of founder member and long-serving lead guitar player Jon Preston Bouda, it's no surprise that Captives of the Wine Dark Sea represents something of a sonic shift for Discipline. With Chris Herin from Tiles stepping in on guitars, the sound of the album feels like an exploration of a path less taken - like the sort of material you'd get if, after the neo-prog-ish Push and Profit, the band had taken their sound in a more art rock direction instead of the symphonic prog-oriented sound of Unfolded Like Staircase or To Shatter All Accord.

That isn't to say that this is a simple or straightforward release, mind; in terms of the overall attitude, I'm reminded of the warped pop music sensibilities of Slapp Happy or late Art Bears running head-first into the dark energy of Discipline's big inspiration, Peter Hammill and VdGG. At point's there's a sort of prog cocktail jazz sound to proceedings, but whilst the album reaches a quasi-mainstream peak in the middle (Love Songs, in particular, comes across like a parody on the subject), it concludes with a two-set of songs which will doubtless please prog fans with their extended instrumental breaks, even if they aren't quite in the mode we are used to Discipline working in.

I get the feeling that this is a bit of a transitional release - at points it sounds more like one of Matthew Parmenter's solo releases, particularly given the extensive multi-instrumentalist duties he takes on here and the generally more conventional song structures he tends to go for on those - but Discipline are good enough that even their transitional works are worth paying attention to. Approach with an open mind and don't hold your hopes out for Unfolded Like Staircase 2: Unravelled Like Escalator and you'll probably get the best results.

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 Albatross by ALBATROSS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.12 | 42 ratings

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Albatross
Albatross Symphonic Prog

Review by tlehman

4 stars This is a bit of personal insight to the Albatross LP. I am Tom Lehman, one of the credited engineers (and the voice of Mr. Natural :-) on the album. I also ran the boards for Albatross' live gigs from 1974 to 1977.

This is a rehash of a review I did in 2011 (as tlehma) with a few corrections and updates for you completion-ists out there.

This album is certainly a rarity as there were only 2000 albums pressed. Given that the bulk of the albums was never distributed, or were trashed, makes it even more of a rarity! Add that to the fact that we never really expected it to find its way out of the Rockford area it is truly astounding that the LP has shown up in even international locations! I am truly amazed and gratified that there is still talk (good or bad!) of the album after all these years.

I have read the reviews here and on some of the other Prog websites and do not intend to challenge any of the reviewers or defend any part of the album. I would only like to offer a possibly different perspective on the music and the challenge of making an album of this type at that point in time.

Over the years I have lost contact with all of the band members except Joe Guarino (Bass)... Joe and I remain the best of friends.

Ah?. Before it fades into the mysts (sic) of memory here is what and how I remember it?.

Albatross - The Band

Mark Dahlgren Keys-Classically trained musician.

Mark was a classically, college trained, musician (Masters of Music Degree) and a monster talent. He composed all of the bands tunes. That, of course, is not to say that all of the other band members didn't contribute, they did! Mark's biggest fault (if it can be considered a fault) was a lack of consistency. When I first joined the band as the sound guy I was amazed at the technical prowess of Mark's playing. But, what I also discovered was that he had the nasty habit, at least to me, of rearranging on the fly! No two performances were the same! The rest of the band did an admirable job of adapting but things tended to occasionally go wrong. As soon as we had a PA that allowed talk-back through the monitors from the boards I would admonish Dahlgren with the words: "Consistency, Dahlgren, Consistency!" To Mark's credit he saw the value of a consistent group effort to the performance and reigned himself in (somewhat anyway :-).

Equipment included: two Mellotrons, two Mini-Moog Synthesizers, Arp Odyssey Synthesizer (note: I could have sworn he used two of these as well!), Hammond B-3 (note: I was talking to Joe recently and he remembers that he cut the organ down and put it into a road case for portability), two modified Leslies (we tossed iron filings down the horns to give them that "Keith Emerson sound"!), Fender Rhodes Piano that was later replaced with a Yamaha CP-70 Portable Grand Piano. Two Tapco Mixers dedicated to the keyboards and to sub-mix to his stage amp and monitors. Mark later picked up a guitar! I have no idea what the equipment was other than I believe the guitar was a Fender Stratocaster.

Joe Guarino Self-taught Bassist and Guitarist

I saw Joe's bass playing described as "plodding" in another review. I always thought of it as "Solid". Joe was a technically proficient and very solid player. His bass lines drove the band and provided the stabilizing foundation the band needed. And, although not utilized as a lead vocalist he had a pleasant enough voice and harmonized well when called upon to do so. As a bassist myself I was in awe of Joe's technical precision.

Joe is a very detail driven sort of person with a great ear for what is right. This attribute would serve him well in the studio and later in his sound company business ventures. Without doubt Joe was the most sensible and practical member of Albatross.

Equipment: Fender Precision Bass, Ampeg SVT head, Ampeg 8x10 cabinet (mic'ed), direct box to PA

Mike Novak Vocals-professional vocal coaching

Mike's singing was usually spot-on as far as pitch (after some voice lessons). He also wrote the lyrics for the tunes. The timbre of his voice was however? unusual. He always sang in an open voice and I can't remember him ever singing in a falsetto or anything but his own natural voice. Equipment: Shure Mics, for live sound equipment see below. Mike had a great out-going personality and was great fun to be around.

Dana Williams Percussion High School Band Self-Taught

Dana was a percussion gadget freak! If something came along that he thought he could insert tonally into the mix he bought it! As I recall he had a full time job just to support his percussion Jones. He and Joe went to Chicago and bought, literally, a van FULL of drum set , traps and cases. After a day of negotiating a decent price they stopped at restaurant in Chicago to celebrate. They parked in the restaurant parking lot (it was clearly marked) and went inside. After lunch they came out to discover the van was GONE! Panicking they went back into the restaurant and called the police. The police determined the van was towed. When Joe and Dana contacted the towing company they claimed Joe was parked illegally in the parking lot. Even though Joe had his receipt from the restaurant they would not release the truck without paying a $250 "fine". I remember Dana as a quiet, humble sort of guy, always a pleasure to work with and talk to.

Equipment: Dana was a percussion whiz with a passion for unusual drum sounds. I THINK his main kit was made by Pearl but I can't be sure. What I do know is that his kit consisted of (at a minimum) double-Bass Drums, double toms up top, double Roto-Toms up top, two Timbales, three floor toms, snare, tubular bells, a bell tree, at least three cowbells, and triangle tree, blocks, and an extended range of cymbals.

Paul Roe Guitar Professionally Trained

I didn't have much interaction with Paul but remember him as a quiet, serious sort. He was a guitarist in search of his sound. Age-wise he was the youngest of the bunch and I think he felt a little behind the rest. Technically he was a good, solid player but still somewhat immature. He just got better and better!

Equipment: As I recall, and seeing as that was a long time ago :-). Paul played a Gibson Les Paul and used Orange Amps and Cabinets (Mic'ed). I know he occasionally used a couple of pedals but I am not sure what.

Live Sound

Albatross had a very good live sound. As the complexity of the music increased, the need for a more sophisticated system also increased. When I started with Albatross in 1974 they were equipped with a loud but totally inadequate system that consisted of eight Altec Voice of the Theater Speakers, some sort of six channel powered mixer and no monitoring. We eventually went to an Altec 1220 twelve channel mixer and BGW amps in order to increase the flexibility and clarity of the system. It worked but was far from ideal.

When it started to get serious the band purchased an all JBL speaker system that consisted of (as I remember it):

4 - 18" subs

6 - dual 12" cabinets

4 - Mid-range horns

4 - horn tweeters

6 - JBL wedge monitors

2 - Electronic crossovers (4 way)

Amplification BGW (Monsters!) - At least 10 BGW amps of various sizes to power all of the cabinets.

- Mics We stuck with all Shure mics for vocals and on the Bass/Guitar cabinets and with a variety of mics on the drums.

The console was still the Altec 1220 but with four Tapco mixers added for additional inputs and for monitors and sub mixes. That actually worked very well and provided for a wonderful tight and full range sound, plus it was just as loud as we wanted it to be? i.e. terrific dynamic range.

The Story?

Ah, the 70's.... Live music was still king with Disco yet to be seen (but hiding in the wings creeping into the mid-70's from the sides, ready to rear its ugly head). Rock and roll was a broad and diverse genre of the musical universe. Prog rock was dominated by, as is mentioned in most of the reviews, by Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and their contemporaries.

Oddly enough when associated with Albatross I never considered them to be a "Yes Clone". I considered the music fresh and new. Mark Dahlgren, the keyboardist, was the primary composer of the group with Mike Novac the principle lyricist but with all members contributing heavily.

Were there traces and influences of Yes in the music?... CERTAINLY! We were all great fans of Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, the Dixie Dregs, Genesis, et al. Some of the music recorded on the album was written and being performed by Albatross as early as 1971. But, much as musicians throughout history have named certain composers and musicians as their "influences", we did the same with the big names of the genre and the time. As I listen today I can certainly identify with the critics who labeled Albatross as "Yes Clones". At the time we thought new ground was being broken. Keep in mind that the Albatross album preceded the Starcastle release by a full year. (Note: Joe and I saw Starcastle live in 1976 at Rockvalley College... and yes they were a carbon copy of YES. On the other hand... they did sound good live and if you closed your eyes you could swear YES was on the stage during certain tunes!

The ALBATROSS album was produced in an effort to be noticed and to promote the band. It was done as an independent effort (something not easily done at the time) in a studio that was owned by three partners, Joe Guarino, Jim Guarino, and me. We built the studio (Audio-Trak) in 1974 in an effort to bring professional recording to Rockford, Illinois. Rockford was the second largest city in Illinois at the time.... Unfortunately Chicago was sitting only 70 miles away. Living in the shadow of Chicago it was difficult for bands and studios to compete within that market. So with a great deal of effort, not much in the way of market research, and a tremendous amount of hope (and being very naïve) we invested in the studio.

The studio was a piece of art (to us) and we had some of the best equipment of the time:

- Auditronics Son of Thirty-Six Grand Console (24 inputs and outputs!!!) I know that doesn't sound like much by todays high channel count but we were impressed :-)

- MCI (later bought by Sony) 16 track 2" analog recorder (we bought it from Milam Audio in Pekin, Ill. It was the very same recorder, we were told, that Styx had laid the basic tracks for "Lady"!)

- MCI, Scully and Revox two tracks

- DBX and Dolby A noise reduction

- EV Sentry III monitors

- Phase Linear Amps

- UREI compressors

- Allison Research Gates, Compressors and Expanders

- Nakamichi cassette

- Neuman U87 and U47 Mics, Sony C500 Mics, EV Mics, Shure Mics, Byer Ribbons, AKG Mics

- Atlas stands

- AKG Pro Spring Reverb (the thing stood about five feet tall and two feet on each side!)

- Pearl studio drum kit (I think it was Pearl)

- Mason and Hamlin grand piano Note: We modified the piano by filing the hammer pads and soaking them in lacquer to make the sound "brighter" and more defined.

- We even had one of the first digital delay lines. I don't remember the maker of the unit but had an orange face, patch cords to set the delays, a very artificial sound and was VERY EASY to overload (no headroom). It was pretty much useless by today's standards but was fun to play with back in the day?.

- JBL 4311 monitors in the studio for talk-back and playback.

We had everything except customers!

Side Note: The studio was later upgraded to 24 tracks (MCI), a 32 input MCI 532 console and Eventide digital reverb and delay, UREI Monitors (using Altec 501 speakers), BGW amplification, Yamaha mini monitors, and a lot of new outboard gear not to mention a Steinway Grand. Joe and Jim also switched locations two times after I left with each location growing progressively bigger and better! The bigger locations even allowed for natual reverb chambers.

When we brought Albatross into the studio we had only gone through three projects!

The Album - Track-By-Track - Keep in mind this was 38+ years ago and is to the best of my recollection! Any one of the band members may have a completely different take on things.

Side 1:

1. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

Yes, this was the big one! Because of the length and complexity we had spent the most time putting this together. It was it turned out to be the most interesting and dynamic piece on the album. It was called the Four Horsemen because there were four distinct movements in the tune. Because of the many layered keyboards and the guitar/keyboard synchronization it took many takes and overdubs. The end featured a huge Chinese gong. The gong sound was from one of Mark's Mellotrons! Live this song was a little less cluttered but actually sounded great!

2. Mr. Natural (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

OK?. Somebody called this a "throw-away"?. To me Mr. Natural was a fun song. It always went over well in concert because it was an up tempo tune that the crowds liked. A lot of that had to do with Mark Dahlgren's crazy antics with an old man mask and a long extension cable on his ARP pedal. He would don the mask and run into the audience, frightening the girls (truly!) and acting outrageous. When Mr. Natural was recorded some of the live feel and performance antics, of course, were lost. The recording was fairly straight forward with few overdubs.

I was the voice of Mr. Natural. As I remember Mike Novak was in the studio trying voice after voice and not quite getting where we wanted to go. I finally told Joe, "Let me try it!" I went in the vocal booth and laid down about four takes and then when back to the console where Joe and I took the different takes and bumped them over to one of the two track recorders then started layering them on the multi-track at different speeds added reverb and delay and loops until we got the craziness we were looking for. We played a cassette dub of it before any live performance of Mr. Natural thereafter.

Side 2:

1. The Devil's Strumpet (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

Well, I hated this tune?. To me it was just a hot mess! After a long involved intro using a real pipe organ intro recorded at a local church it just jumped into these strange time signatures and tempos. No matter how many times we tried to record this it always seemed too fast and jerky (to me) with Mike always seeming to race and then lagging on the lyrics. Paul had the same issues with the guitar parts. The band had other tunes that, to me would have worked better here. It took almost as long to record this song as the Four Horsemen.

It was the same in concert and was never well received. As with Mr. Natural we played the pipe organ intro from tape with Dahlgren coming in toward the end with Mellotron Pipe Organ live. I finally got the guys to cut the pipe organ intro down quite a bit and to slow the tempo and it sounded better and played better.

2. Cannot Be Found (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

Another choice of material I did not understand. Certainly it showcased Mark's piano skills but also showed Mike's less-than-delicate ballad voice and dissed the rest of the band. It was irritating to me but there it stayed! It was easier to record as we recorded Mark's piano then later came back to Mike at a different time. We used our 7' Mason and Hamlin grand studio piano. I keep hearing occasional plays of this on internet stations like Delicious Agony and YouTube. I was talking to Joe just the other day and he did not even remember this tune as being on the album even though he was the only other instrument playing on the tune!

3. Humpback Whales (Mark Dahlgren, Mike Novak)

I really liked this song played live. I was less happy with the studio version. In concert the opening with the synths was essentially the same but Dana would take the lead in with a snare intro. The studio version with the tubular bells and triangle intro was difficult to record (the triangle kept overloading the freaking preamp in the console and we just didn't catch it!) and it seemed rather dis-jointed. At the end the "SAILING!" ending was at my insistence. They had made the decision to take out that live element and use some synth montage thing at the end. When I heard that I just freaked. The continuity of the song was ruined. I raised such a fuss they went back to the in-concert ending but kept the crappy beginning.

While the album was being recorded the band hired a local artist for the jacket art. We formed the independent label, Anvil Records, and registered everything with ASCAP. The tapes were delivered to a mastering facility and then on to the pressing plant.

We were in business!!! The records were carried to every major record store in the Rockford area and passed out to every local record station. As I recall three stores agreed to sell the record and one radio station actually played the album in its entirety.

We always carried a few LP's with us and offered them at gigs. Unfortunately we didn't sell too many.

Albatross went through some changes shortly after the album. They tried costumes (ala Jethro Tull)?. They tried free concerts and the live sound equipment was updated to an incredible array (at the time) of JBL speakers, Altec and Tapco mixers and BGW amps. The lighting system was expanded to professional level; anything to draw some positive attention to themselves.

Meanwhile... The album was not selling. Disco was becoming more popular and live progressive music less popular. And, they were totally overshadowed in the Rockford market by Cheap Trick. (Sidebar - Bun E. Carlos happened to be Mark Dahlgren's cousin) Note: even before the release of their first album Cheap Trick dominated the area club scene through a combination of solid management, an incredible live sound and an absolutely incredible stage presence.

The band was getting absolutely clobbered, ignored and pushed aside.

In an effort to become commercially viable the band went into hiding for eight weeks to re-tool. Even the live sound guy (me) was not allowed in the practice sessions. Coming out of isolation for a gig in Rockford I was informed that they had an entirely new set. They still refused to even give me a song list telling me only that they would start with an original that had been in the line-up since the beginning of the group, a song called "Saturday". "Saturday" was an original rocker that usually worked well with all types of audiences.

To my astonishment the band appeared on stage sans costumes (something that had been poorly implemented anyway!) and proceeded to play. After "Saturday" I was given the play list. I was flabbergasted! There were songs from a variety of artists that included Bob Seger, Queen, the Beatles, other rock acts of the time. Even Gino Vannelli!!! (Note: I have to blame myself for the last?. I had introduced the band to Gino! At least the tunes they played were "Mama Coco" and "Son of a New York Gun"!)

I could not believe my eyes or ears! Mark Dahlgren had even picked up and played a GUITAR! It seemed that the world had turned on end! That dogs and cats would soon be mating and that the lions would lie with the lambs! The only other original song they played that night was "Mr. Natural". To best of my knowledge they never played "The Four Horsemen" again! The only other Prog tune they would still hang on to was "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson.

I have to admit this sort of format change did bring more gigs and a little more visibility to the band but would also end up being the death of the band as well. This format would continue to be the norm until Albatross disbanded about 18 months after the album was released.

Most of the band members would go on with a band called Blitzen and after a year of so go their separate ways.

Mark (Keys) Would go on to other musical ventures like Puppet. You can actually find a video clip from a Rockford news station posted on YouTube about Puppet :-)

The only other references I could find of Mark were as a sort of community activist still in the Rockford area.

Joe (Bass) Would go on with the studio and then on to establish a very successful live sound touring and sales company. Today, he still resides in the Rockford area and still owns Audio-Trak, runs live sound, and specializes in sales, installation and service of REALLY BIG AV systems. He has expanded into high end home theater design, sales and installation. There are lots of references to Audio-Trak on the web. Dana (Percussion) Would go on to manage a cafeteria. Sorry Dana I lost track after that!

Mike (Vocals) Would go on to other bands, suffer an aneurism, recover and work with a band called the Blues Hawks. Sorry Mike! I lost track after that! There is a picture of Mike on the Blueshawks website.

Paul (Guitar) Sorry Paul! I lost track after the band broke up. I was able to track down at least one pic of Paul performing as a guest with the Blues Hawks. Check the Blueshawks website under "guests" for pictures of Paul.

Me (live sound) I left the band about three months before the reformation into Blitzen for personal reasons. I also had to sell my part of the studio to Joe and Jim because of an ugly divorce. I did stay associated with the studio until 1980 when I moved to Dallas, Texas and returned to my interrupted career in the electronics industry. Over the years I stayed in that industry as a technician or manager of technicians, as a videographer and video editor and IT support and eventually ended up at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as co-director of a disaster medicine/response training program. ( www.ndls.us ). Update: 2016 I retired from UT but continue to manage the disaster medicine gig and well as manage websites for two programs.

Well I know that this was certainly long winded and way more than any of you probably wanted to know! But there it is! Albatross was a great bunch of people and players and had a very good live sound. Each and every one of us, band and grunts alike, wanted it to work. Unfortunately we all had far more optimism and hope than experience or know-how.

If anyone is interested I think Joe still has a few unopened LP's left :-).... (UPDATE! All the albums are gone. I still have my personal beat up copy and Joe still has one of the original master proofs left. It's all out there so if you want a copy you'll have to find it "In The Wild" !

Still Loving the Music,

Tom Lehman

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 Distant is the Sun by VANISHING POINT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.64 | 17 ratings

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Distant is the Sun
Vanishing Point Progressive Metal

Review by demolition man

3 stars A fast paced album from start to finish. It lasts a good distance, running in at 64minutes.

Very strong drumming, guitars and vocals dominate this album. The orchestration interplays are also very good. The result is that I can't help but to make a comparison to the heavier side of Dream Theater; which can't a bad thing!!

All the tracks are classic power progressive metal with only the exception of; "Handful of Hope" which drifts nicely to a more mellow affair, and the finale track entitled "April" which closes the album with a reflective acoustic theme.

Without having heard the previous albums at the time of writing I would say that this is a band with intensity and skill. Time to review and research their back catalogue . A solid 3+ stars for Vanishing Point.

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 Decameron. Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part II by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.05 | 47 ratings

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Decameron. Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part II
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Despite the Colossus Projects beginning their ambitious projects in 2001 to promote the outstanding accomplishments of Finnish progressive rock (which there have been many), the whole thing kinda took on a life of its own as the collaboration with Musea Records created a synergistic effect that guaranteed an exposure to a worldwide network of tuned in prog aficionados salivating for something both creative, traditional and, of course, entertaining! After a diverse eclectic palette paving the way for even more sophisticated projects, in 2011 Musea Records released "Decameron - Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part I" which isn't remotely Finnish but rather a collection of Italian tales excavated from the 14th century. The word DECAMERON is a neologism of the Greek words deca (ten) and mera (days) and THE DECAMERON which is subtitled Prince Galehaut is a collection of novellas written by the author Giovanni Baccaccio (1313-1375) and is structured as a frame story that contains 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men who were sheltered in a secluded villa outside of Firenze (Florence), Italy in order to escape the black death plague that was rampant at the time. Well, three years after the first installment of this series comes DECAMERON - TEN DAYS IN 100 NOVELLAS - PART II which continues the themes in musical form with some artists making a reprise and yet others entering the Musea equation for the very first time.

Once again, this collection also consists of 4 compact disc each clocking in over an hour's length, holds a whopping 35 tracks beautifully played out by 34 exquisite artists. Only Robert Webb who provides the "Intro" and the "Outro" is represented twice. Once again most of these tracks are instrumental but many are not and exist in the realms of the world of classic 70s symphonic prog only with the most updated production values and interesting and compelling creativity attached to the sense of traditional prog values. Several artists like The Samarai Of Prog, Nexus, Karda Estra, Jinetes Negros and Ars Ephemera seem to owe their career to the Colossus Projects utilizing their prog talents on seemingly every album but there are many other newbies fully represented here as well with an equal variation of styles that despite being limited to the subject matter at hand with a stylistic approach to boot, all seem to rise to the occasion to unify under one thematic flag and produce some of the best that melodic symphonic prog has to offer in the 21st century.

Because of the retro nostalgic nature of these albums, DECAMERON - TEN DAYS IN 100 NOVELLAS - PART II also exudes a prog-by- the-numbers check list approach as it basically takes the playbook of the 70s bigwigs such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis and Pink Floyd amongst others and takes excruciatingly detailed notes and then constructs their compositional prowess accordingly. While that may sound like a turn off from the get go, it is anything but as these artists under the confines of the musical limitations of the thematic structure are forced to exude their creative forces in limited yet seemingly unfettered ways. In that regard, all tracks are very much connected in not only theme but musically as well and the creative outlet comes in finding new ways of extending these limitations in various methodologies. The results are similar to the first installment of this sequel and utterly stunning in scope and delivery. Overall i would say that this 2nd edition is a bit more sensual than #1 with bands finding it in them to exude a slightly folkier take on the symphonic prog of the first edition.

Four discs of material at FOUR hours THIRTY-SIX minutes and THIRTY-THREE seconds is a whole lotta music to digest and despite the sense of overwhelming proportions is reigned in by one addictive take on symphonic prog after another with all bands rising to the occasion of producing incredibly melodic hooks that exude the truest sense of traditional prog elements but not over exaggerated nor overly sentimental as to sound like mere ripoffs of the greats of the past. While the influences are clearly worn on drooping sleeves, enough reverence for the past greats detracts from any disrespectful treading on sacred territories. This reverence is felt in full effect on the entire album as bands steer their influences into fresh new territories that sufficiently distance themselves from the past masters.

Some of my favorite tracks on this one include: the prog Italian funk of Intarsia on "9th Tale," the exquisite folky rock "First Tale (V, 1)" of The Samarai of Prog which even has sort of a Steely Dan jazz-rock vibe with its symphonic keyboards antics. Good guitar soloing as well, Steve Unruh's "Second Tale (V, 2) with its classical guitar meets Tullish folk flute escapades that take off into way cool heights, the tango turned synthpop symphonic prog track "Third Tale (V, 3)" by Ars Ephemera, the intriguing "Senogul - Ninth Tale (V, 9) which starts out sounding like an Indian raga but turns into the ever so rare mix of prog rock with traditional African tribal music, the synth rich riffs of the Italian "Camelias Garden - Tenth Tale (V, 10), the multi-themed 20 minute "Ninth Tale (VI , 9) by Unitopia, Karda Estra's "First Tale (VII, 2) with its tasty piano, chime action and cool progressive epic feel and D'AccorD's Bowie-esque "Third Tale (VII , 3).

This is yet another outstanding collection of prog tracks in the Colossus Project collection. I have to admit overall i prefer "Decameron - Ten days in 100 novellas - Part I" over this PART II ever so slightly as the tracks on here are just a tad below that high quality mark but there are no bad tracks here and so many great ones that i could write a review for each and every one. The packaging is off the charts beautiful with not only colorfully painted CDs but also contains a big fat booklet with not only gorgeously illustrated artwork but is also chock full of liner notes, lyrics and philosophical mythology all coming to gather in one sanctified place. Once again this is a whopping 4 disc album clocking in at over 4 and 1/2 hours and not even one track is worthy of skipping. I cannot recommend these Colossus Projects more for those who love the zeitgeist of 70s melodic symphonic prog with modern day spins and production value. It certainly doesn't get any more diverse or divine than this.

In case you're wondering here is the whole list of Colossus Projects released so far:

Tuonen Tytar: A Tribute To Finnish Progressive (2000)

Kalevala - Finnish Progressive Rock Epic (2003)

The Spaghetti Epic - Six Modern Prog Bands For Six Seventies Prog Suites (2004)

Odyssey - The Greatest Tale (2005)

The Colossus of Rhodes (2006)

The 7 Samurai - The Ultimate Epic (2006)

The Spaghetti Epic 2 - The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (2007)

Treasure Island (2007)

Giallo! One Suite for the Murderer (2008)

The Empire and The Rebellion (2008)

Dante's Divine Comedy Part I - Dante's Inferno (2009)

Dante's Divine Comedy Part II ? Purgatorio (2009)

Rökstenen - a Tribute to Swedish Progressive Rock of the 70's (2009)

The Spaghetti Epic 3 - The Great Silence (2009)

Tuonen Tytar-A Tribute To Finnish Progressive Rock Of The Seventies - Volume Two (2009)

Iliad: A Grand Piano Extravaganza (2010)

The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe: A SyNphonic Collection (2010)

Decameron - Ten days in 100 novellas - Part I (2011)

The Stories Of H.P. Lovecraft: A SyNphonic Collection (2012)

DECAMERON - TEN DAYS IN 100 NOVELLAS - PART II (2014)

Decameron - Ten Days In 100 Novellas - Part III (2016)

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 In The Passing Light Of Day by PAIN OF SALVATION album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.87 | 242 ratings

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In The Passing Light Of Day
Pain Of Salvation Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I didn't keep following PAIN OF SALVATION's career after "Be" other than hearing of the controversy of the albums that followed like "Scarsick' and the "Road Salt" recordings. I haven't heard the ones between "Be" and this latest offering called "The Passing Light Of Day" but I want to check them out down the road. So I can't say that this is a return to form but other reviewers have said this. Please check out jjlehto's review for some great information about this. This is a return to the heaviness of their classic period and an album that many feel sits proudly with those albums. I know this record impressed me in a big way and I wasn't expecting that.

This album seems to deal with one's mortality which isn't surprising given Gildenlow almost died to the flesh eating disease. That will have an impact on your thought process obviously. This is a fantastic album and it was the heaviness that surprised me initially, especially that opening number. We get some different instruments like accordion, mellotron, lute, zither and so on while electric piano is prominent along of course with the guitar, drums and bass. The vocals are quite varied and there's a lot of emotion on this album.

"On A Tuesday" opens with crushing riffs that get even heavier as the guitar starts to play over top. A calm with spoken words and atmosphere before 1 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in with vocals this time a minute later. We get a beautiful section after 4 1/2 minutes with strings, piano and high pitched vocals. It kicks back in a minute later and ground shaking riffs will follow. Another calm with piano only arrives 7 minutes in as fragile vocals join the piano then we get this majestic vibe before 8 minutes. It's building until it kicks in with emotion around 9 minutes.

"Tongue Of God" opens with piano only as bass and I believe lute join in before it kicks in hard a minute in. Heavy stuff as reserved vocals join in. Soon he's singing with passion. A calm arrives before 4 1/2 minutes with spoken words to end it. "Meaningless" is heavy to begin with and I'm digging this a lot. It settles back as almost spoken vocals arrive. It turns melodic with atmosphere then heavy again with passionate vocals this time. Contrasts continue. I think that's zither that comes and goes. Lots of emotion as he speaks the lyrics with passion after 4 minutes.

"Silent Gold" opens with piano only as reserved vocals join in. When it turns brighter after a minute I feel emotion. Drums before 2 minutes as it starts to pick up slightly. There's that emotional section repeated later. Nice. "Full Throttle Tribe" opens with a sample of someone walking and people talking as drums arrive and build. This sounds like classic POS right here. Vocals just before a minute and it kicks into gear a minute later with passionate vocals. Contrasts continue. Man it's heavy before 4 minutes as the vocals step aside. Just killing it then another calm arrives before it turns heavy again late with samples of distressed sounding people amongst the heaviness.

"Reasons" is different with that brief section of GENTLE GIANT-like vocal arrangements. This is a stuttering and heavy tune that is quite interesting to listen to. Lots of explicits as well plus he sings an answer back to the sung questions as it were. Like I said this is different and interesting. "Angels Of Broken Things" opens with picked guitar I think, atmosphere and more. Vocals just before a minute and a catchy beat. It kicks in at 4 minutes with some ripping guitar over top. It ends with a sample of people talking. Another interesting song.

"The Taming Of A Beast" is catchy with piano and a beat. Vocals before a minute then it kicks in hard with emotional vocals 2 minutes in as contrasts continue. "If This Is The End" is ballad-like to start with relaxed guitar and fragile vocals. Accordion after a minute. Drums kick in before 3 minutes with heaviness and passionate vocals. He starts to speak the lyrics before 4 minutes including lines from the opening track. The heaviness is back! So good! Might have been a great closer here but that honour is for the 15 1/2 minute title track.

"The Passing Light Of Day" is mellow to start. We get relaxed guitar, bass and reserved vocals at first. How good is this before 6 1/2 minutes as it starts to build with vocal melodies but then it settles right back. It's building again after 7 1/2 minutes. Heavy stuff is the result 9 1/2 minutes in until a calm arrives 12 1/2 minutes in and mellotron and reserved vocals will help out here. It becomes majestic sounding as vocals continue.

A very solid 4 stars in my opinion and a reminder why I used to like this band so much.

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 My Arms, Your Hearse by OPETH album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.94 | 706 ratings

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My Arms, Your Hearse
Opeth Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars Fluid stories of an undead: 9/10

This is it, this is where it all began. From here onwards, OPETH would only mature the innovations they decided to adopt in their musical style. Vivid, lush and seamlessly fluid storytelling is the band's paramount (and most noteworthy) achievement, fueled by their usage of everything - vocals, instruments, atmosphere - to make its narration credible.

Lyrically, OPETH uses a complicated language which, nonetheless, suffices to understand the story's unfolding. They mix introspection and actual events and it gets rather confusing to define when is something is objectively happening and when it is the character's perception of the world, but that's not an issue; in fact, its one of the narration's charms. MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE tells the tale of a man who dies but, for some reason, returns to life and bitterly turn against the woman who pretended to love him during his time alive. In this way, the album's title is fitting: the embrace of a dead vengeful spirit is the demise and grief of a guilty living person.

Akerfeldt's growl is styled to sound demonic and ferocious (listen to Karma's outro - insane roar!) as his character is a spiteful entity but there are times the singer uses clear vocals - the moments the undead remembers of his earthly memories and gets in touch with his smoldering, long forgotten humanity. Also, from their very second album OPETH's un-metal tendencies began to crystallize: there are lots of acoustic passages permeated in the songs, and three tracks features features solemnly their black, folksy acoustic guitars. But when the metal riffs kick in, when the Demon of the Fall is awake and enraged, boy, you better be ready (highlight to The Amen Corner's monstrously headbanging intro).

After listening to MY ARMS YOUR HEARSE, I could understand a little better the reason behind OPETH's hype; now I can't help but to think that, assuming this isn't their best effort yet still manages to pose as terrific, the band's acclaim is more than deserved.

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 8 by UFOMAMMUT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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8
Ufomammut Experimental/Post Metal

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

4 stars First of all let me say thanks to my progmate Eetu for notifying me of such a fantastic combo. UFOMAMMUT are one of experimental acts in the Sludge Metal scene (that I'm not familiar with, actually). Their distorted, roughly dissected sounds remind me of the similarity to Ministry ('Psalm 88' is one of my faves), but their texture characteristic is not simple at all. Some complex rhythmic bases, weird electronic waves, and comfortable chorus and harmony amongst deep, harsh phrases should add glamour to their style itself. Very innovative are these addictive charms and vibes, which we might get easily immersed in. Imagine the audience and they both should be synchronized and well-unified on and in front of stage at a gig, too.

They have grabbed and digested completely various elements - doom, death, psychedelic, stoner, electronic, and so on. Crazy impressive are also melodic / rhythmic variations - convoluted melodic quirkiness, horrible quiet moments, or electronic solvent, based upon massive deformation of soundgarden. Musically offensive attitude against (for?) the audience might be heard in general really, but their colourful play / sound essence can be blended with experimental sludge metal style, and needless to say, be well- matured. Flowery flavour here and there in a strong heavy vision ' it's not bad.

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 OV by ORTHRELM album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.13 | 15 ratings

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OV
Orthrelm Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars The metal universe has always been about borrowing disparate ideas and methodologies from other varied musical genres from all around the world. After all, the whole genre began by taking the psych laden blues rock of the 60s and dragging it down into the darker recesses of the sound spectrum to conjure up some of the most gloomy and sombre human emotions to emerge in its wake and simply cranking up the distortion level with darker lyrics. So it's really no surprise that as the simple blues inspirations became exhausted in the 70s that new fuel needed to be consumed for the metal machine to take musical inspiration and ignite so it will burn like a forest fire unleashing new hitherto unthinkable possibilities. ORTHRELM, the avant-garde music duo of Mick Barr on guitar and Josh Blair on drums had been leading up to this triumph of sonic glory called OV since their debut in 2001. While the metal world cross-pollinated like a lava flow smothering the fertile lands below a volcano it continued to ratchet up its complexity level and as it began to reach the unthinkable heights of the pinnacle of progressive rock, it was beginning to seem like there was nowhere left to go.

That's where forward thinkers like Mick Barr come in. On ORTHRELM's 2005 landmark album OV, the duo exponentially lifted themselves above the sheer math rock wankery that their earlier albums are known for. While classical music has certainly been a major part of the hard rock and heavy metal universe ever since Ritchie Blackmore incorporated it into Mark II period of Deep Purple, never before have the two extremes of virtuoso guitar shredding and the classical minimalism of artists like Steve Reich and Philip Glass ever come together until Barr and Blair released this album of polarizing extremes in the form of the OV album in 2005. Never before has an album of incredibly virtuoso shredding of guitar with the bombast of unthinkable drum abuse coalesced into a minimalistic music form that could result in a meditative practice if consumed correctly. As wild as it sounds, this album is in effect a wild ride into two musical extremes which incorporate guitar shredding with extreme minimalism simultaneously.

Despite being limited to a mere guitar and drums, Barr and Blair are veritable beasts on their instruments of choice doing unthinkable things at a million miles per second throughout pretty much the entirety of the 45 minute and 43 second single track that makes up the album OV. After several albums of pluming their feathers and ruffling them up to impress the music fans, on OV, the duo known as ORTHRELM finally delivers the promise they had been hinting at without sacrificing the intensity that they had been implementing all along. What's cool about OV is that it goes through a series of passages that begin with a minimalistic chord progression to wail on for several minutes and seduce you into the feel of the composition and going though various changes before finally letting loose towards the end with a series of intense riffs, shredding bombast and excruciating deciblage. This is metal unlike any other and only continues the duo's unique musical language that only they alone truly understand.

OV is a trumph in many ways. Not only does it undoubtedly indoctrinate Mick Barr into the world of fastest shredders which should not leave Josh Blair off the hook for some of the sickest drum abuse in the entire music history books but also proves that creating unthinkable speeds is not tantamount to a lack of regard for sensuality. While on previous albums ORTHRELM did seem to generate random patterns of musical intensity, on OV everything seems like the perfect cross-pollination of the most intense musical shredding session one can think of in the context of a relaxing vipassana retreat. As the single track rolls by it is engaged in a very mindful interaction between the two instruments that change up the parts ever so slightly but then without warning they divert to some new arena of musicality but always mindful of each other's role in the overall scheme of things. OV successfully ratchets up the tension to a fulfilling climax by the end of the album where the guitar and the drums practically become one with another and take on enough roles to simulate the intensity of a full band. OV is one of those albums that must be heard to be understood. It's simply too far removed from the context of any possible labeling.

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 Grimspound by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.06 | 291 ratings

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Grimspound
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After losing my long review once again on this site I'll try again with a short one. I'm pretty big on the middle period of BIG BIG TRAIN's discography from the 2007 "The Difference Machine", 2009's "The Underfall Yard", 2010's "Far Skies Deep Time" and 2012's "English Electric(Part One)". I couldn't get into "Folklore" or this one, although I do feel this is a little better than "Folklore".

Songs like "Experimental Gentlemen" and "The Ivy Gate" just don't do anything for me while the opener "Brave Captain" is my favourite. I'm not big on the strings here because they are so safe sounding but most of the album is safe sounding. I like the sections where they amp it up or do something adventerous, but there's way too few of those to make me consider anything more than 3 stars.

Hopefully this works as I press "save" but it's getting to the point on here that I'm having difficulty caring one way or the other. BIG BIG TRAIN is such a talented band who play mature music with meaningful lyrics, but i'll stick to the ones I mentioned in the intro thanks.

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 II / II by ORTHRELM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.10 | 2 ratings

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II / II
Orthrelm Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars ORTHRELM made quite the debut in 2001 by not only releasing their first EP but also three albums as well. While the lengths may make one consider EP status, considering how technically crazed the music is makes it quite acceptable that they didn't churn out over lengthy album. After two albums titled ORTHRELM I and ORTHRELM II comes the third installment with a brown-hued cover un- intuitively titled ORTHRELM II / II which like the second edition consists of 48 short tracks with most not even reaching the minute mark with only one clocking in at over two. The duo of Mick Barr on guitar and Josh Blair on drums continues to crank out some of the most aggressive combo of guitar shredding meets proggy math rock.

ORTHRELM II / II continues to follow the trajectory of the previous releases and like the No. II continues the punk-infused energy concentrated into short tracks but on II / II the duo branch out in the dynamics significantly more but not playing at the speed of light all the time. Untitled track #12, for example, is actually mostly slow and focuses on nerdy math rock time signatures for the first minute before exploding in pyroclastic math rock flows all over the place. While Barr and Blair began this project merely imitating each other on their respective instruments, at this point they've taken their roles by the horns and actually create separate but equal parts although they tend to remain in sync in regards to tempo. Track #21 kinda sounds like an atonal attempt at the classical artist Rimsky Korsakov's 'Flight Of The Bumblebee'

On this one they begin sounding more like the Japanese band Ruins as Barr tones down his incessant shredding and actually engages in more punk chord energy and more bass oriented riffing. In some ways they remind me of a stripped down Psyopus or Behold'. The Arctopus as the math metal elements are more prevalent. Personally i think this is the best they put out in the year as it contains all the shredding you could ask for and more, all the snazzy jazzy drumming possible and also more variety in not just compositional structure but how different segments flow within a track. While still very much only the interest of extreme music lover craving punky metal elements married with nerdy math rock, this one offers a bit more outside of the chaotic speedfest that ORTHRELM has made their own by developing their own musical paradigm. While this is much better in variety it still sounds limited due to only the guitar and drums as the sole instruments.

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 Spektra by KARFAGEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.17 | 53 ratings

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Spektra
Karfagen Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars Ukranian multi-instrumentalist Antony Kalugin is one of the proud modern flagbearers of the symphonic prog sound, and his Karfagen project has delivered a string of eclectic and colourful works in that style that mix vocals and luxurious instrumentation for many years now. But every once in a while, Antony and his musical collaborators deliver a purely instrumental grand work, with 2011's `Lost Symphony' being particularly special, and 2014's `Magician's Theater' a heavier one, but here he returns to that initial approach for late 2016's `Spektra', and it is without question their most wondrous artistic achievement under the Karfagen banner to date.

`Spektra' is keyboard-dominated symphonic music often accompanied by exotic instruments such as accordion, flute and violin, and it calls to mind everything from The Enid, `Snow Goose'-era Camel, the early Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips solo albums, Gryphon and Pink Floyd, as well as modern influences like the Flower Kings and the Ayreon project in its occasional heavier bursts. Running just over an hour, the album is split into three multi-part suites each running between fourteen and twenty-four minutes, the whole resembling a continuous concept piece, although the sparse CD packaging doesn't state implicitly that it is (and there's no CD booklet either) in this instance.

The opening title track of `Phase 1' introduces the disc with a massive fanfare of alternating guitar and keyboard grand themes - some mysterious, some darker and dramatic, but all truly magical. It's peppered with David Gilmour-esque guitar strains, a touch of E.L.P-like vigour, sparkling piano and some drowsy guitar strums in the opening minutes that almost sound like they're right off Porcupine Tree's `Sky Moves Sideways'. The suite proceeds to dash through a series of shorter interludes, which finds `Troy' starting as a warmer acoustic reflection flecked with the lightest of unease before rising in power with some snarling bluster, and `Transaleatorica II' adds a touch of classical piano, spooky Mellotron choirs and Moog bubbliness that could have popped up on Bo Hansson's `Lord of the Rings' album alongside some dashing harpsichord. The closest the album comes to a vocal piece is the booming Latin choir around swooning violins of `Terra Incognita', `Celebration' is a victorious electric guitar and shimmering Hammond organ theme, `Homonymous (Part 1)' offers Genesis/Steve Hackett-like classical guitar prettiness, and `Angel Tears' closes the first set on a spooky Mellotron lament.

`Phase 2' encompasses the four part, twenty-one minute `Olympia' movement. `Zeus' is a brash, up-tempo and bombastic heavy symphonic blast frequently in the E.L.P tradition with plentiful aggressive keyboard soloing, while the quirky and gently dangerous `Dionis' lovingly recaptures that breezy and rollicking seafaring sound that permeated Roine Stolt's underappreciated water-themed `Hydrophonia' solo disc from 1998 in between bouts of electronic weirdness. `Poseidon' brings relentless guitar bursts, fluid bass leaps and bashing drums, `Aurora' offers plenty of reprising electric guitar themes, sighing female wordless harmonies and some Flower Kings-like unexpected psychedelic touches, and the section closes on a delicate Steve Hackett-like acoustic reprise of `Homonymous' from earlier in the disc.

`Dios Pyros' opens the third `Phase' as a whirring accordion and synth fanfare, then `Natural Charm' is a classy symphonic piece highlighted by lightly jazzy and beautifully romantic piano runs and gorgeous flute playing in the winning Camel tradition. `Eye Witness' is a wistful and ghostly interlude, and the contemplative and deeply moving album closer `Juggler And The Cloud' (which the CD proudly boasts as being recorded in the studio live!) casually comes to life with swooning prettiness yet great dignified restraint, and it might be one of the most truly beautiful moments to ever appear on a Karfagen disc - what a way to end such a wonderful disc!

So there you go, folks - modern symphonic prog works don't get much more exquisite, rich and impeccably performed than `Spektra', a disc that would make for the perfect introduction to Antony Kalugin's works for newcomers to look into. It sits alongside Monarch Trail's `Sand', Cellar Noise's `Alight' and Barock Project's `Detachment' as one of the finest symphonic works of the last twelve months, and also serves as one of the greatest discs under the Karfagen name to date.

Five stars - symphonic listeners are in for a real treat!

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 II by ORTHRELM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.10 | 2 ratings

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II
Orthrelm Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars On ORTHRELM II, Mick Barr and Jason Blair focus more on 48 extremely short tracks with most not even hitting the minute mark but at least one over the unthinkable two. The punk influence is strong on this one because instead of Barr shredding like a crazed madman nonstop for every track all the time with Blair's bombastic percussion along for the ride, these tracks are actually less frenetic (relatively speaking) to the previous releases however the technicalities of the math rock are more prevalent with more attention shown on the mindful meandering of the sonic storm into more patterned dynamics with Barr's guitar parts used for special effects rather than simply shredding like it's the end of the world.

One of the most noticeable developments from ORTHRELM I to ORTHRELM II is that Barr isn't afraid to riff on the bass notes of his guitar and actually utilizes punkish power chords instead of incessant tinny treble shredding all the time. Likewise Blair has pushed his technicalities into more focused arenas that find more diverse colors in his percussive playing abilities. Perhaps the brevity of the tracks allows the speed to develop tracks more efficiently so that the members don't feel they have to linger on in robotic monotony for too long and likewise when they are on fully fueled spastic mode where everything is whizzing around at a million miles per second, the tracks tend to be very short some with some lasting less than ten seconds. The 2 minute and 34 second 24th track stands out the most because it contains little frenetic chunks of chaos punctuated with silence before turning into the seemingly formless pummeling parts.

This is hardly the stuff of most music lovers' dreams. This is reserved for only the most adventurous musical techies out there who crave the most extreme cross-pollinating features of brutal extreme metal with punishing prog math rock. I wouldn't go as far as many in saying that this is void of all emotional content. That is never true of music. This is definitely not warm, fuzzy feel good music in any way and reflects a sense of bleakness and helplessness as if highly advanced technologies have suddenly taken over the planet. This is in the realms of the surreal where Barr and Blair have virtually created their own musical lexicon with a syntax spoken by no other therefore the music will come across like listening to poetry in an obscure indigenous language that has never been heard before. For those into divorcing everything familiar, this is an interesting ride indeed but at the same time the monotony of only two instruments is what keeps this from being totally exciting in my book.

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 I by ORTHRELM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.10 | 2 ratings

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I
Orthrelm Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars ORTHRELM I picks up after the debut and develops the song structures significantly. Whereas "Iorxhscimtor" focused primarily on Mick Barr's extraordinary shredding skills and Jason Blair's bombastic drumming style, little emphasis was placed on the math rock infused compositions. While that EP debuted the duo's idiosyncratic musical language that will remind you of no other, ORTHRELM I creates a more varied palette of musical madness despite everything being on extreme hyperactivity mode with ceaseless shredding and skin pounding. The production is also of better value with less of a harsh noise intensity and a somewhat more smoothed out veneer.

Barr has stated in an interview that this music reflects the chaoticness of infinitely small and represents the quantum jumps of molecules at the most fundamental level of the construction of the physical universe. If there were to be any comparison at all it would have to be with the Japanese band Ruins who for the most part are also a noisy duo trying to create some of the harshest and unorthodox music chaos possible. ORTHRELM simply takes this same approach and injects it with steroids, cocaine, crystal meth and gallons of caffeine. This music is a nonstop math rock shredfest that is totally designed for the most unnerving reactions and a display case for the inhuman physical prowess of the two members hammering out some of the most intense sonic destruction possible.

While the magnitude of these two playing this stuff is thoroughly impressive, i can only feel that it sounds incomplete with only two band members. I would prefer to hear other instruments whizzing about creating unthinkable counterpoints that take the music to another level since only two instruments whizzing about at full speed becomes a bit monotonous. Yes, i'm a lover of extreme music of all forms and virtuosity is a sign of high art. ORTHRELM succeeds in creating high art at a low level meaning they opt for an intentional lo-fi DIY operation that takes some of the most disciplined skills in the musical kingdom and divert them into a form of controlled chaos. Extremely impressive but not something that beckons a return listen often.

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 Iorxhscimtor by ORTHRELM album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.04 | 4 ratings

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Iorxhscimtor
Orthrelm Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars ORTHRELM is one of the many side projects of Mick Barr who is probably best known for his work with the avant-black metal band Krallice but has a rather prolific output under different band names including Crom-Tech, M.N.D.L.B.L.S.T.N.G, Mossenek, Quix*o*tic and The Flying Luttenbachers just to know a few. ORTHRELM is basically a mere duo with Barr on guitar and Josh Blair on drums. The not so easy to pronounce debut IORXHSCIMTOR was their debut EP that showcased their most unorthodox avant-garde metal sound which not only displays Barr's uncanny ability to shred up a storm on the guitar but also the highly experimental compositional styles that show no relationship to any form of classified musical style. This sonic assault seems to exist in its very own universe.

IORXHSCIMTOR is a short EP only lasting 16 minutes 28 seconds but packs in enough energy for 100 brutal death metal albums and a few hardcore punk albums on the side. While the shredding of guitars is incessant and every single note whizzes by at a million miles per second, the compositions are actually rooted in a very nerdy technical form of math rock with bizarre time signature changes and atonal chordal progressions. While Barr performs unthinkable guitar gymnastics on the guitar, Blair blows the roof off the house with his virtuoso percussive performances as well more than keeping up with Barr. In fact the duo pretty much play in sync with one another no matter how chaotic the noisefest becomes.

Despite the music being turned up to 11 almost all the time, there are moments of just plain math rock that do little dances in bizarre time sigs with peculiarly arranged notes juxtaposed next to one another. This is the epitome of extreme avant-garde metal as the tempo is about as quickly played as humanly possible while the noise factor is ratcheted up to extreme irritation mode. This will definitely bug your parents and it's unlikely that anyone except the most hardcore adventurous music lovers who crave every aspect of the disparate strains of extreme music all in an orgy together will even remotely like this. Personally i am a glutton for punishment and find this appealing but fully admit that this is indeed extreme for the sake of extreme without much thought put into diversity amongst tracks.

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 Creeping Death by METALLICA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.56 | 22 ratings

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Creeping Death
Metallica Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

2 stars Metallica's 'Creeping Death/Jump in the Fire' EP, combining two singles/EP's on one disk, is a nice little collectable for die-hard Metallica fans, although being difficult to find nowadays. it's not really worth the effort, especially since the bulk of the songs (or should that be "the most important ones") are more easily available elsewhere.

The title track is arguably one of the best tracks from the 'Ride the Lightning' album, and the two accompanying covers are good, but again, are easier to obtain on other releases, namely, the 1998 album 'Garage Inc.', which collects every cover Metallica had recorded up to that point along with new ones recorded specifically for that album. The two songs in question are 'Blitzkrieg', originally by the band Blitzkrieg (who?) and 'Am I Evil', by Diamond Head (who... ah, never mind), a song Metallica have covered so well and so often that it has more-or-less become their own.

Unfortunately it's the "second half" of this EP that ruins it for me, the 'Jump in the Fire' section, which consists of the aforementioned song and two live cuts.

Whilst I like the album 'Kill 'Em All', I don't consider 'Jump in the Fire' to be an overly memorable song, and the two "live tracks" (rumoured to be normal tracks with crowd noises dubbed in) sound awful by the standards of todays live albums, whether the dubbed-in crowd story is true or not.

Overall this is a cool addition to the collection if you love Metallica and look to own everything, but since this can be pretty tricky to find anyway, it's really not worth the effort.

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 Concrete Hearts by SILVER HUNTER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Concrete Hearts
Silver Hunter Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars This is the latest EP from the Anglo/French partnership of Tim Hunter (guitars, synthesizer, keyboards, sequencing, drums, lead vocals (4)) and Thierry Sportouche (lead vocals (1-3), flute (3)). On this four-track EP they have also been joined by Jasmine Isa Butterworth (backing vocals) and Phil Jackson (keyboards). I am a little confused with this release in a few ways, as it is named after the song that appears third, and the lead off number is a cover of 'Avalon'. The issue with taking on a song that is as well-known as this, is that it is bound to be compared with the original. Now, I believe that Roxy Music released far better material than this during their existence, but this is the song that was played to death on the radio back in the Eighties so I, and many others, are incredibly familiar with it. While musically it isn't a bad take, Thierry's vocals don't work with this. The trace of accent, along with production that is too dry, means that one must wonder why it was undertaken. Ferry's vocals were given a great deal of reverb and this should have also been the case here.

The second song, 'Ode a Emile', which was originally by Ange, also doesn't work as well as it could for some reason, as it jars, but the third song (which is the title track of the EP) is quite the opposite with some strong guitar and delicate flute and the vocals definitely stronger, and a strong melody. 'Ys ' The Lost City of Brittany' is the longest song of the four, and in some ways, is the most reminiscent of the album, but also isn't as structured and well-arranged as I would expect. While Silver Hunter should be commended for releasing physical product, and none of the songs on this EP are currently available elsewhere, I would have preferred it if they either hadn't covered 'Avalon' or had different production, and they should have actually led with the title song as that is the strongest of the four.

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 Second Home - Live At Prog Dreams V by MYSTERY album cover Live, 2017
4.79 | 9 ratings

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Second Home - Live At Prog Dreams V
Mystery Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars

Some 19 years ago I had my first ever email conversation with someone outside the company I was working for, and that someone was Michel St-P're, guitarist and leader of Canadian band Mystery and the label Unicorn Digital. They have had some interesting times since then, including engaging and then losing Beno't David (with Mystery from 1999 to 2013, as well as being in some band called Yes from 2008 to 2012). The person undertaking that role now is Jean Pageau, and if he has any nerves of following in those shoes, then he certainly isn't showing it on this live album, which was recorded at Progdreams V Festival, Zoetermeer, Netherlands, April 3rd, 2016.

Mystery released this album in August, and they did release their other live album 'Tales From The Netherlands' only three years ago, but that was with Beno't, and in between they released the mighty 'Delusion Rain'. Five of the songs are featured on the audio version of 'Second Home' (it is also available on Blu-ray/DVD), and he shows that he has just as much power in concert as he does in the studio. But, what makes this band so very special indeed is that they really are an incredibly strong group of musicians who function together as a very strong unit. Michel is a great guitarist, and he is often at the forefront of the arrangements, while in Sylvain Moineau he has a sparring partner who can provide power chords or additional widdly as the need requires. In Beno't Dupuis they have a keyboard player who instinctively knows not only what style but what sounds he needs to be using, while in bassist Fran'ois Fournier they have someone who wants to follow the melody either directly or as a counterpoint: he certainly doesn't want to just provide foundation but add to the symphonic sound. Then, to top it all, at the back there is Jean-S'bastien Goyette who obviously doesn't know he is in a progressive band, or at the very least thinks he is in a prog metal outfit. He is a driving force of nature, hitting the skins as if they have offended him, and ensuring that the complete kit is getting the workout it deserves.

This is a monstrous live album, one that all progheads should have in their collection. It is a great introduction to the band if you've never come across them before, and while many of us were sad to see Beno't David leave, the future for Mystery looks very bright indeed

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 Chaptersend by MOGADOR album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.29 | 12 ratings

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Chaptersend
Mogador Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars

When I first started playing the fourth album from Italian band Mogador I was struck by just how similar they were to Kansas, but it is possible that I was influenced by guest Ida Di Vita who provides violin on that song, but sadly not on any of the others. But, although there is a strong use of Hammond organ on this album, it is more influenced by British and American bands than it has by many of the prog acts from Italy. I have seen some criticisms of Marco Terzaghi's vocals, but those reviewers must have been listening to a different album from me as he is in fine voice, more of a classic Wetton or Lake style singer than those who want to hit the high notes. For that they have brought in Jon Davidson (Yes, Glass Hammer) who guests on 'Josephine's Regrets' which is one of the highlights of the album. Here we have controlled picked acoustic guitar combining with delicate piano, but I did wonder if the use of Jon was just to get more people to write about the album as he is singing in a lower register than many would expect from him, and I am sure that Mogador could have done it quite well without him.

The more recognisable influences on Mogador are bands such as Gentle Giant, the aforementioned Kansas (even without a violin) and John Wetton, and manages to keep on the more progressive side of melodic rock so much so that it is wonderfully enjoyable the first time it is played, and that feeling doesn't diminish with repeated plays.

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 Zoo by ZOO album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.28 | 6 ratings

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Zoo
Zoo Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars The Dutch band ZOO was a reconfigured version of an earlier group called SPRING, with apparently no familial relation to the British SPRING that unleashed a self titled mellotron-a-saurus in the early 1970s. That said, this sometimes sounds like a caged barely legitimate child of that minor classic. Only the first few tracks are promising, while hardly distinctive, like a cross between ARGENT and the aforementioned, and the rest is, at its best, utterly forgettable blues influenced rock for its time, with occasional prog instrumentation, chiefly the aforementioned 'tron.

At its worst, ZOO subjects us to a pointless drum solo and lyrics that reach for contemporaneous themes as though a record exec told them exactly what they needed to do to be cool, and they didn't realize they should do the exact opposite. The nadir is in the form of a idolatrous BEATLES' medley for which I can only offer the kindly anachronistic "too soon". They also fancy themselves quite the Acapella maestros, but GRACIOUS they aren't, pun intended. Another odd comparison I could make is to the late 1970s release by GALAXY, "Nature's Clear Well", but that's more a case of that album being behind the times than this one being ahead of anything other than its own flat front feet.

I can't recommend this to anyone except the prog fan equivalent of the tourists who have to go to the zoo in every foreign city they visit, no matter how poorly fed and kept its reluctant inhabitants. Oh yes, and blind followers of the Fab Four. Is there such a beast? Nah. 1.5 stars.

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 Gentle Knife by GENTLE KNIFE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.72 | 43 ratings

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Gentle Knife
Gentle Knife Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

After I had reviewed their most recent album, 'Clock Unwound' the band kindly sent me a copy of their self-titled debut, which was released in 2015. They were only a ten-piece at the time, comprising Astraea Antal (flute, winds and visuals), Pål Bjørseth (keyboards, vocals, trumpet), Odd Grønvold (basses), Thomas Hylland Eriksen (sax and woodwinds), Håkon Kavli (vocals, accoustic guitar), Eivind Lorentzen (guitars and synths), Melina Oz (vocals), Ove Christian Owe (guitars), Ole Martin Svendsen (drums, percussion) and Brian M. Talgo (samples, words and visions. I said "only", as for the next release they had gone to 11 (cue Spinal Tap jokes).

As with their most recent album, I am just amazed at how intricate this music is, and how they bring everyone together in a way that makes complete sense without the senses being overwhelmed by the amount of instrumentation involved. Of course, electric guitars and sax should combine repeating the same melody, it provides more force and presence, and allows the keyboards to get on with the job of playing over the top. The arrangements are superb, and somewhat surprisingly, given the number of people in the band, there is a strong sense of space and the need for dynamics. They can be peaceful and laid back, with just rippling keyboards and gentle flute, or they can be doing their level best to blow the woofer out of the speakers. They mix full-blown progressive rock in its truest traditional sense with some psychedelic tendencies to create an album that is immediate, impressive, over the top and that delivers even more each time it is played. Superb.

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 Live in Budapest Hungary 2010 (Official Bootleg Volume II) by URIAH HEEP album cover Live, 2010
2.16 | 9 ratings

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Live in Budapest Hungary 2010 (Official Bootleg Volume II)
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by tvtennis

2 stars I hate to be the barer of bad news, but I really wanted to like this release. I am a longtime UH fan, ever since my early childhood, discovering rock bands, they were always on the top of my list, and to some degree, they still are. Another reason is that I originate from that part of the world, so there is the sentimental part of the connection w/this live recording. Now the disappointment; the sound quality! I am fully aware of the title "... Official Bootleg Vol....", I was expecting a decent soundboard recording quality, as an "official" release that is authorized by the band management. I would say it is somewhere about 4-5 / 10! Even some of my unofficial live, (truly bootleg) recordings of UH are far superior to this one. It sounds like a spectator recording by simply holding up a small recording device in the middle of the crowd. Occasionally you can clearly hear people talking amongst themselves. On top of it, it is in mono. This release most likely has some value to someone that was present that evening, and would like to have a document of that performance. It is a shame, since it seems to include the entire show (2 CD's). Having said this, I must mention that in the UH "Bootleg series" there are some releases with much better results that would qualify for 7-8 /10, which I feel is acceptable for an official bootleg (raw) recording. None the less, this one is a disappointment.

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 Wonderland (as TNNE) by NO NAME / THE NO NAME EXPERIENCE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.61 | 11 ratings

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Wonderland (as TNNE)
No Name / The No Name Experience Neo-Prog

Review by proghaven

5 stars The Secret Garden returns, hurrah! Surely 4 and The Clock... are both excellent albums (no matter if marked No Name or The No Name Experience), but they could be released also by IQ, or Jadis, or Sinister Street, or Sylvan. Well, I'm just trying to say that the two previous releases from Rukavina - Kiefer tandem and Co. lack some peculiarity/originality that made the early No Name's music distinctive. But Wonderland seems as diagnostic for the band as The Secret Garden or The Other Side. I remember effulgent 1990s when - while most of Russian prog fans of old generation were still sure that all the good music was definitively gone with the 1970s era, - a new era began. Some new vinyls and CDs came to the new- born Russian music market from Europe, US, Japan and South Korea, and many of us started to recognize a new stream in prog rock, but we associated the idea of 1990s prog mostly with Anglagard, Halloween, Anekdoten, Thule, Landberk, Malombra, Tale Cue, Devil Doll, Hecenia, Sagrado Coracao Da Terra, Men Of Lake etc. The branch of 1990s prog usually called neo-prog sensu stricto (Pendragon, IQ, Jadis etc) seemed to be more or less uniform, lightminded and having just limited capacities for growth and development. No Name was among the bands (along with Ziff, Last Turion, Sylvan and Final Conflict) who disproved that concept and clearly showed that Pendragon/IQ-type neo-prog may be as diverse and profound as, for example, 1990s Scandinavian or Italian dark progressive. And now, with Wonderland, I'm happy to see how No Name returns to their best. Not to their roots (because the album has a number of innovative moments) but to their best. To the instant complexity, inventiveness and refinement, as in beatific 1990s. The only feature of their early releases sadly missing on Wonderland is track(s) sung in Luxembourgish. Eng Oppen Dir, De Verstand (from The Secret Garden) and Mat Enger Train (from Zodiac) sound extraordinary... But I do realize that it's nothing but a fault-finding. You see I just like to listen to every prog band singing in their native language. I'm an epicure of various languages' sound. I enjoy Szallj Most Fel much more than Fly Away, you see. My apologies. It's difficult to cure, I do realize.

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 Hunt by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.05 | 28 ratings

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Hunt
Amarok Crossover Prog

Review by demolition man

4 stars This is a very fine album, oozing with melody and beautiful musicianship. The vocals are perfect from Michał Wojtas, but the overall sound of this project is clearly defined with consistency throughout. An album that transcends excellency in all departments. There's room for guests Mariusz Duda (Riverside and Lunatic Soul) and Colin Bass (Camel) who clearly enjoys guesting in various Polish bands. Naturally there is a feel of Lunatic Soul and Camel in parts; but lovers of Moonrise will adore this too. Sublime keys and guitar. Take a break for an hour and immerse yourself. Another gem from Poland; a minimum 4 stars well deserved.

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 Lighthouse by IAMTHEMORNING album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.01 | 268 ratings

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Lighthouse
iamthemorning Crossover Prog

Review by rogerthat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Of late, I have been listening to the Scottish band Frontierer. It's mathcore and mathcore so heavy that even us metalheads joke that this is pretty much straight up noise, ha! It's tons of fun...if it's your kind of thing. But as non mainstream music in general heads in the direction of louder and weirder, I have wondered whether new bands would continue to experiment in settings drenched in conventional melody. I don't insist that all music should be beautiful in the conventional sense of the word but at least some of it should be, if I may say so. And it's no good if the only melodic music that remains is that which nostalgically imitates the old with no original voice of its own.

Fortunately, Iamthemorning's music seems tailor-made to address all such misgivings and misplaced apprehensions. You couldn't get too many outfits this square, this antiquated if you scourged every nook and cranny of the planet. Driven primarily by soft mezzo female vocals and piano with an assortment of string and wind instruments. Guitar, drums and bass (indeed the rhythm team of Porcupine Tree itself) exist only to carefully inject occasional doses of power, not to dominate the proceedings as they usually do in rock.

Perhaps, though, there is something bold about this antiquity. What kind of band boldly steps forth to release music made with such a vintage ensemble in the 2010s? The answer: obviously a band that bloody well know what they are doing. Specifically the pianist Gleb Kolyadin. His touch on the instrument is absolutely silken and together with the ultra thin voiced Marjana Semkina he proceeds to explore shades of soft, softer and softest. You had better crank up the music a little. You have to reach out and get to the music a bit rather than it coming to you loud and clear as modern music tends to. Another defiant note of antiquity, preferring to make a soft and (ultra) dynamic album rather than a loud and compressed one. A shout out to the mighty Gavin Harrison. How, just how, does he go from the muscular prog metallish expeditions of Porcupine Tree to this?

Take a listen to their debut album, though, and you realise it isn't really about Harrison or the plethora of musicians they have assembled for this project. And this is not to say that the musicians haven't, to a man, done a fabulous job here. But the debut is pretty much equally enchanting, equally beautiful. So this singer-keyboardist duo have hit upon a niche that they could milk for another half a dozen albums without boring their fans to death. As long as Kolyadin is able to come up with chord progressions that you could swear you have heard before and yet sound uncanny and fresh (that's songwriting magic right there for you), he can go on writing these songs that are neither ambitious enough to be full fledged prog epics but are still mostly a bit too complex to be straight up pop.

And once in a while, he can decide to flex his muscles and reveal those chops that he chooses to use very sparingly. Check out Chalk and Coal, the piano break at around 3:40 in said track where in 20 seconds of calculated frenzy he sweeps you off the floor. Certainly my favourite track of the album but the title track, Too Many Years, Harmony are all well worth your time. The whole album, really. Not one false note on this amazingly consistent, cohesive compilation of tracks.

I am not quite as dazzled by Marjana Semkina's vocals but she is pleasant, more than capable and most importantly emotes aptly for the mood of these songs. Coming to the mood, this is decidedly less sunny than the debut. More Iamtheevening than Iamthemorning. But that's alright; variety is the spice of life. If anything, it shows the band has deceptive range, adapting to these sometimes gothic moods as easily as say the bright sounds of Weather Changing off the debut.

There isn't much to add except to say that I love this album to pieces and look forward to plenty more music from this band.

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 Legends Of The Shires by THRESHOLD album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.19 | 94 ratings

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Legends Of The Shires
Threshold Progressive Metal

Review by borussia

5 stars I knew Threshold in 1995 thanks to a review of Livedelica on Metal Shock, an Italian magazine of Heavy Metal: the Ep had the highest rate. I bought it soon and shortly afterwards I also bought the first two albums: I preferred Wounded Land to Pschychedelicatessen, but for me the three songs of Woundend Land sung on Livedelica by Glynn Morgan are better than the studio version After Glynn leaved the group I continued to follow Threshold, but no album excited me like the first two. .I found interesting only March of Progress , but the next For the Journey was a real disappointment. I knew in 2017 they release a new concept album, but my interest grew very much whenI knew that Glynn Morgan returned to the microphone. I bought Legends of the Shire as relaesed and I have to say it's definitely the best in the group career. Even if the songs were written for Damian, Glynn's interpretation is great, both in heavy song as Small Dark Lines and Trust the Process, as well as in the more progressive like the two beautiful suites and Snowblind. Richard and Karl were really inspired when composing the album. in the next tour they will not play in Italy. So I hope that a double live cd will be released and old tracks like Sanity's End, Into the Light, Devoted and Innocent will be played again. then I expect a new cd written for Glynn Morgan's voice

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 Parallels by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.13 | 348 ratings

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Parallels
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 140

"Parallels" is the sixth studio album of Fates Warning and was released in 1991. The line up on the album is Ray Alder (lead vocals), Jim Matheos (guitar), Frank Aresti (guitar), Joe DiBiase (bass) and Mark Zonder (drums and percussion). The album had also the participation of James Labrie (backing vocals) and John Bailey (computer sequencing).

Fates Warning is probably the earliest example of the merging of the Progressive musical approaches of bands such as Rush and the heavy metal genre as pioneered by some other bands. They have had sort of an unofficial rivalry with another pioneering band of the progressive metal genre, Queensryche. However and according to the critics, their music is actually about as comparable as night and day. While the Seattle based quintet was mixing keyboards in and delving into political concepts, this group of musicians from Connecticut dealt mostly with mystical themes. Anyway, this album is somehow a bit of a departure from that approach in favor of a more philosophical approach.

When in 1991 Fates Warning created "Parallels", we can say they created one of their best, most important and coherent albums. Their sound keeps evolving through time, providing the progressive metal field with unique and astonishing moments. "Parallels" is, in my humble opinion, a great place to start with Fates Warning, especially if you've never heard them before. I feel that "Parallels" marks their perfect transition from their old school roots to their more atmospheric experimental progressive phase. This album lies somewhere in between with guitarist Matheos focusing his attention and power on more concise songs, developed melodies and mapped out compositions.

"Parallels" has eight tracks. All tracks were written by Matheos. The first track "Leave The Past Behind" is a very Rush like piece, with sparkling acoustics that slowly build into a steady, captivating bass and the mechanical guitar chords of the prior album. The chorus is fairly obvious, but certainly a winner if you are a fan of "Perfect Symmetry". It's an effective opening track and very comfortable too. The second track "Life In Still Water" seems anything but still, as the volley of lush chords and Zonder's electronic drum fills splash about the surface. The latter half of the verse is great, for the ringing guitars that sear over the shaking bass, and it builds to an appropriate chorus climax. The third track "Eye To Eye" forges a resonant intro with more of the brazen acoustics and calm but hooky metal rhythm ensues, a precursor to the tranquil lament of the verse. Again, the chorus feels predictable and subdued, and there is simply nothing else here of note except a very safe lead. The fourth track "The Eleventh Hour" is the lengthiest track on the album and arguably one of the best. The curtains part for a lurid dreamscape of sombre, shining cleans and effects, while Alder embarks on a journey of escalating isolation. Just before the 3:00, the hard chords arrive and herald an epic stream of melody. But the best moment of the song is beyond 6:00, with an excellent guitar pattern that plays off the central rhythm. The fifth track "Point Of View" represents a familiar pattern with the melodic, urgent chords over the potent, but understated rock beat. It's a decent tune, and in particular I enjoy Alder's performance in the chorus, an edgy banshee keening its message through a still night. The sixth track "We Only Say Goodbye" is another excellent track and it's almost embarrassing to say it because it sounds a bit pop. It's a super calming and catchy song. It seems to be a song made to some sort of massive US radio presence. I can almost picture that all Fates Warning fans being sick to death of hearing it on every classic rock radio station in their region. However, it remains a great track. The seventh track "Don't Follow Me" puts us back on the path to the band's previous album, with a huge, forward melody recalling "Through Different Eyes" or "Static Acts", parting for another of the band's safe, moody verses before a decent chorus and great spry lead guitar. The eighth track "The Road Goes Forever" concludes the album with an opening that is filled with guitar fills produced from two guitars plus voice line. It's the wonderful combination of guitar sounds that helps enrich this song. This is almost a track in the feel of a power ballad. It's a great ending for the album.

Conclusion: "Parallels" is an album highly accessible to fans of metal outside of progressive circles. Some fans of progressive metal might be a bit disappointed with this one, but it has a lot of the same strengths that "Perfect Symmetry" has, just in a set of songs with simpler structures and less odd time references. This is where people no longer ignored the fact that an album could be both progressive and melodic at the same time. "Parallels" is a good album to get into Fates Warning. If you like this, you'll love their 1994 release "Inside Out" as well. If you, however, want something heavier, all you need is to go backwards and pick up "Perfect Symmetry". That should give you some idea of this amazing band's growth and metamorphosis. Then you can concentrate on their earlier 80's releases and late 90's greatest masterpiece, "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray". Anyway, there are no bad albums of Fates Warning, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 The Polydor Legacy by SAGA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
2.00 | 1 ratings

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The Polydor Legacy
Saga Crossover Prog

Review by Kingsnake

— First review of this album —
2 stars This is not really a good compilation album. The title says it focusses on the Polydor years of Saga, but I really wonder who put this albums together.

Wildest Dreams and The Beginner's Guide to Throwing Shapes were not released by Polydor but by Atlantic and Bonaire.

Apart from that; Security of Illusion, Steel Umbrellas, Generation 13 and Pleasure and the Pain were al released through Polydor, and these songs are missing here.

A good thing about this compilation is that it focusses on the really early years of the band, wich is the most popular, and it features the band's greatest hits. So that's what you get, all the hits, up to 1989, and nothing more.

Better compilations are The Works (1991), wich has 3 unreleased tracks and Best of Now/Now and Then (2015), wich focusses on something more than just the mere hitsingles.

Saga is a difficult band to catch in a compilation album, and most of the times it's a grand failure. So I cannot recommend this one to anyone.

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 Four Of A Kind by GOBLIN album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.85 | 39 ratings

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Four Of A Kind
Goblin Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Goblin is among the great Italian classic prog bands from the seventies, and perhaps the greatest of the instrumentally oriented ones. Often they have made music for films, especially for Italian horror flicks. In recent years there have been more than one Goblin-related line-ups around, but I'm not going into those details here. Former review of Kev Rowland already speculates also about the slight uncertainty on the band name (Goblin or 4Goblin?) I'll put all that rather frustrating mess aside and try to share my reception on this album alone. My Goblin listening history isn't very big: I have the classic non-soundtrack album Roller (1976) and the recent live double disc by Goblin Rebirth.

Four of a Kind saw a re-release this year from Black Widow, and it contains 'Goblin' (Recorded Live in Austin, April 29, 2014) as a bonus track. By the way, I threw the four miniature playing cards away as totally valueless to me... OK, onto the music, which is completely instrumental. The strong and intensive opener 'Uneven Times', featuring the guest appearance of saxophonist Antonio Marangolo, adjusts the level very high. This is truly the same group (give or take one member) that recorded all those classic albums in the 70's. The sound is tight, clear and extremely dynamic. Especially a large variety of synthesizers are used a lot. There certainly are no weak links in this seasoned quartet of keyboardist, guitarist, bassist and drummer. More or less each track is graced with sonic richness and emotional power. Personally, I'm very pleased to hear prog music that is "powerful" without being metal-ish. It does approach "heaviness" here and there, but quite free of Heavy/Metal mannerism. For example the electric guitar completely avoids the metal edginess.

The entire album is pretty even and strong, which means it's not so easy to spot clear highlights. 'Dark Blue(s)' sticks out stylistically, being bluesy, but I'm not convinced by the Gothic male choir addition. 'Love & Hate' contains the most delicate moments, without losing any of the dynamics. '008' that ends the studio album is probably my least fave, and it's not bad at all. Tszirmay's theory of the title referring to the next secret agent after James Bond is right on the spot without any doubt.

The 12-minute live version of 'Goblin' (originally from Roller) is a nice extra, a reminder of how tight this group is also on stage. Five stars wouldn't be totally out of question for this release, but in the end it may be too "even" (in the lack of a better word) for being a timeless masterpiece. But yes, if you're a fan of Goblin, you simply have to have this album.

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 Sandrose by SANDROSE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.52 | 86 ratings

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Sandrose
Sandrose Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars I finally got an old Musea CD reissue of this. Well, better late than never, given I've heard of this group for literally years and heard of their reputation. One of those albums I should have owned in my early days of collecting prog rarities and obscurities (but around 1993-94 I never heard of them, not until around 1999). It's apparently one of the first titles Musea ever reissued back in 1988 (it's not the first release on the label, as they released stuff as far back as 1986). It seems Sandrose was already a rarity and collectible even back in 1988. I don't have the money on me to get an original LP copy to begin with. First released in France in 1972 on Polydor, it received a UK release the following year, but the French original does feature the gatefold the UK pressing lacks. Whatever the case it seems Sandrose has been a Musea best seller.

OK, the one band frequently brought up is Earth & Fire. Certainly, like the Dutch band in question, a female-lead band with Mellotron. But Earth & Fire had pop sensibilities that made them big in their home country. Sandrose didn't. If you replace Rose Podwojny with a male vocalist, it's not too terribly different from early UK prog found on Vertigo and Neon, like Spring, Gracious, Cressida, and Beggars Opera (particularly Waters of Change). A lot of French prog bands I've heard tended to be spacy with a King Crimson or Pink Floyd influence (Pulsar, Carpe Diem, Arachnoid and Artcane comes to mind), but clearly Sandrose follows the early UK prog template of those bands mentioned. So in that case, if you like those UK bands mentioned, you'll have no problem adapting to this. The only trouble may be Rose Podwojny. While she's quite accomplished for an 18 year old, she sometimes had trouble controlling her voice when hitting loud or high notes, so it ends up a bit shrilly. But like those UK bands, Henri Garella packs it with lots of Hammond organ and Mellotron, Mellotron fans certainly need this album as its packed with it. "Vision", while I love the mood and vibe shows some of Rose's disadvantages with her singing as she sounds a bit strained in places. I still love this piece. "Never Good at Sayin' Good Bye" sounds very much like Cressida with a female vocalist. "Underground Session (Chorea)" sounds like it should be a bunch of nonsense, but actually it's just a wonderful extended piece with some nice jazzy parts. "Old Dom is Dead" was actually released as a single, again showing that UK influence. "Summer is Yonder" is a cover, but I can't seem to pinpoint who did it, other than J. Cockenpot is credited. "Metakara" is clearly different, this is a Henri Garella instrumental where he cuts loose on clavinet and Hammond organ. I gather this was towards the end of recording as he never used a clavinet elsewhere. Reminds me of Brian Auger's "Ellis Island" from Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger & the Trinity's Streetnoise from 1969. The last one features a German title "Fraulein Kommen Sie Schalaffen Mit Mir". It's a real short piece, just a bunch of goofing about. I'm glad they didn't try polka here. While the focus seems to be on Rose's singing and Henri's keyboard playing, it seems the mastermind of Sandrose is guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen. The only flaw may be Rose Podwojny, as her voice can be a little hard to take in, but the music is very much the classic it is. Worth your time.

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 Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot by GONG album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.93 | 484 ratings

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Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot
Gong Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Although he can take credit for founding Soft Machine and pretty much kickstarting the whole Canterbury Scene of progressive rock only to leave that very band before the debut recording emerged AND a lengthy career to follow as a solo artist and beyond, Daevid Allen aka Divided Alien would best be remembered for the three albums that make up the RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy which began with VOL 1 - FLYING TEAPOT released on 23 May 1973 and was quickly followed up by "Angel's Egg" released on 7 December 1973 and "You" in October 1974. After three albums of pretty much leading his infamous GONG which juxtaposed his beat inspired pixie poetry with the radical free spirit psychedelic swing, Allen pretty much shook the GONG tree only to watch old members fall as totally new ones joined the ranks.

FLYING TEAPOT was the first incarnation of the much larger "classic" GONG era which would only grow larger for the following albums that concluded the trilogy. The first thing that is evident is that FLYING TEAPOT greatly expands the overarching sound of the GONG universe not only conceptually but in the lineup expanding from a mere five band members to a whopping nine which would include newbie Steve Hillage on guitar and ex-Magma bassist Francis Moze (who also contributes piano). The zany antics of Daevid Allen with his psychedelic swing band of the early 70s GONG found their greatest success and legendary status with their RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE series which initiates the great GONG mythology and is about, and i have to quote here since i could not make this up any better:

"The story begins on the album Flying Teapot (1973) when a pig-farming Egyptologist called Mista T Being is sold a 'magick ear ring' by an 'antique teapot street vendor & tea label collector' called Fred the Fish. The ear ring is capable of receiving messages from the Planet Gong via a pirate radio station called Radio Gnome Invisible. Being and Fish head off to the hymnalayas of Tibet (sic) where they meet the 'great beer yogi' Banana Ananda in a cave. Ananda tends to chant 'Banana Nirvana Mañana' a lot and gets drunk on Foster's Australian Lager."

Carrying on with the Canterbury whimsical jazz-rock of his earlier albums, the new GONG becomes laced with more surreal bouts incorporating sudden diversions into serpentine psychedelic meanderings that add enough humor to swear you really did drink too much of the magic tea and went on a Monty Python binge watch. The album begins the trilogy with an instant dip into the devilishly deviated tripper's paradise of the track "Radio Gnome Invisible" which not only includes Allen's happy hippie-go-lucky jittery jaunts into frenetic little time signature freak outs but offers a true glimpse into the entire career of the Cardiacs with this one song. Yeah, the jazzy trade offs with the freak fueled vocal capers just reek of the 80s zolo merry pronk-sters who simply added a little punk, Cockney accented attitude and an upped appreciation for the frenzied off-kilter zaniness of it all.

"Flying Teapot" the track, takes a different approach and debuts the psychedelic spaced detached segments that would become a staple on the following "Angel's Egg" and "You" with Hillage and newbie synthesist Tim Blake cranking out some of the meanest free form space jazz augmented by the sax and flute flexibilities of Didier Malherbe who stuck around for the wild ride. Allen also displays some of his most adept vocal skills as he basically raps while the bass slowly descends into a funky groove that emerges from the formless spaciness that preceded. As the longest track on the album (12.5 min) this one offers the most variety of little silly scenarios and the most adept track of blending Allen's silly psych swing jazz-rock with the synthesized space wind sounds. This one actually has GONG (the instrument) sounds in it!!!

"The Pot Head Pixies" is a pure Allen concoction most like his former albums offering a glimpse of how the stoner beatnik existed before the transition into the higher realms of the FLYING TEAPOT universe which is followed by the short "The Octave Doctors And The Crystal Machine" which contrasts by going purely space synth. The true treat of the album comes at the end with the one / two punch of "Zero The Hero And The Witch's Spell" immediately followed by the behexing charm of "Witch's Song / I Am Your Pussy" which together display the most sophisticated songwriting chops of the new band that show the evolution from the actors playing their respective parts to coming full force into a bona fide tour de force of a band sound that is the perfect teaser for the album's that follow. The former actually sounds more like a Pink Floyd track before it totally morphs into some fantastical tribal pixie world accompanied by some of the silkiest and smoothest sax blowing sessions on the album.

Gilli Smyth finally gets her day in the sun after being hidden behind the scenes for too long as she totally takes the bull by the horns and offers some of the swankiest poetic prowess permissible by law climaxing with orgasmic gleeful giggling as she narrates her promiscuous escapades with the sultry psychedelic swing jazz accompanying her seductive space whispers. FLYING TEAPOT is amazing! I totally concur that this is the weakest of the RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE trilogy but the first installment is never supposed to be that highlight or that would defeat the purpose! This one is totally satisfying and the absolute perfect album to whet the old appetite for the much grander and more sophisticated following albums that push the story and sound of GONG to higher dimensions. If this had been as good as those albums, the band would have blown their wad on this one album. Personally this one has been the hardest to get into mostly due to its poorer production compared to the next two, however this is one helluva fun album that is absolutely brilliant. If this didn't click the first time, do try again for it is one amazingly unique album even within the GONG universe itself.

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 Detachment by BAROCK PROJECT album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.04 | 215 ratings

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Detachment
Barock Project Neo-Prog

Review by omphaloskepsis

5 stars 94/100 When I heard Barock Project's Luca Zabbini keyboardist/Composer replaced lead vocalist Luca Pancaldi, who quit the band for family reasons...I abandoned my plan to preorder Detachment. Pancaldi's vocals was one of the reasons I fell in love with Barock Project's album Skyline. How could they replace Pancaldi's pretty tonsils with a backup singer? Could Barock Project pull off a Genesis?

But after hearing Detachment on a prog stream service, I fell head over heels and immediately ordered Barock Project's new album. Now, I listen to Detachment more than Skyline! And, I like Skyline a lot. Skyline and Detachment are very different albums with all the right things in common.

In the last two years, Luca Zabbini has become my favorite modern keyboardist. Why? Zabbini's Bach flavored compositions are complex yet extremely melodic, hook filled ear candy. If you swooned over the sweeping melodic originality of Bach, Rick Wakeman, and Keith Emerson's keyboard styles you must give Barock Project a listen. Don't worry, Zabbini isn't derivative. Zabbini writes catchy proggy melodies that you can hum and bang your head to. And to my surprise, there isn't a drop off from Pancaldi's vocals to Zabbini's. As an added bonus Pete Jones of Tiger Moth Tails sings lead on two wonderful tunes. One upbeat song and one heartbreaking dirge. In my mind Barock Project/Zabbini's strength is composition. Like Steven Wilson and Big Big Train, Luca Zabbini writes gorgeous songs! Songs you can sing to. Shiver up your backbone songs. It's hard to write complex yet catchy prog.

Ironically, I can share Detachment with my wife as it's her favorite album since IQ's Road of Bones. I'm crossing my fingers Barock Project rereleases their back catalog as they continue to forge forward creating consistently resplendent music. I won't hesitate on the next preorder. My bad is Barock Project's good!

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 Frammenti Notturni by UNREAL CITY album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.98 | 72 ratings

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Frammenti Notturni
Unreal City Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by omphaloskepsis

5 stars 93/100 At first I thought "Fammenti Notturni" translated to " Night Families". However Francesca Zanetta (Unreal City's guitarist) corrected my faux pas and provided an explanation for the title Fammenti Notturni,

"Night Fragments. This is not a concept album, so there not a common theme for the entire album but every song is a sort of fleeting glimpse whose object is the darkness, the nocturnal darkness which lives in men, relationships, societies and cities."

Dark shadows abound down the wet unlit backstreets of Unreal City. Unreal City must have made a deal with the devil to deliver this beauty. Hope it's a 10 album deal. Unreal City pushed previous boundaries, evolved, and basically did what all great prog bands do. They moved on. Unwilling to sit upon their laurels, Unreal City progressed, delved far, deep and wide, fermenting into a fine vintage wine.

"Fammenti Notturni finds Unreal City charting virgin territory while retaining the signature sound which originally attracted me to Unreal City's world. "One for all and all for one" rings pure and drives the Unreal City train. The musician set an Italian table of delights for lead vocalist Emanuele Tarasconi passionate romantic vocals. Eamanuele also contributes piano, synth, Mellotron, clavinet, theremin, acoustatic guitar. Dario Pessina bass and backing vocals are as crucial to the Unreal City sound as the Mike Mill's bass and harmonies to REM'.

I wish I could describe "Frammenti Notturni" as well as Progachive Collaborator "Aussie-Byrd-Brother's" prose poem review of "Frammenti Notturni" fleshes out each section with razor sharp incites revealing vivid cathedral aural frescos plastered across the album that is "Frmmenti Notturni". I'll stick to my stick figure cave drawn review. I recommend you peruse Aussie-Byrd-Brothers most illuminating resplendent descriptions, historical background, and insightful observations on Unreal City and "Fammenti Notturni."

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. In the best of times we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a golden era of modern prog. Admit it! We're living thru a glorious prog revival! For sure the subgenre of RPI is experiencing a lovely renaissance. Led by three bands of youngsters... Unreal City, Ingranaggi Della Valle, and IL Tempio Delle Clessidre. Three ambitious Italian bands like Jason and the Argonauts before them, slay the hydra, fleece the golden fleece and tame the three headed hell hound of Hades, as Cyerbus nuzzles Persephone's pomegranate cheeks and lips. Inspired, Pluto's concubine composes epic poetry and the members of Unreal City snatch out of the ether. It's magic! "Fammenti Notturni" bubbles and boils melodic riffs, proggy woodpecker reincarnated into powerful percussion , snappy bass basted in velvety vestal vocal sause. So happy to taste the newest addition to mega talented RPI bands leading the electric charge into a breathtaking Italian renaissance Shangri-La .

Someday, many years from now, music critics will point to this vintage Italian revival and Unreal City as the "good old days." On a more personal note, my wife and I are obsessive RPI buffs. Guided by progachive reviews, we've purchased over 70 RPI albums in the last 8 years. I may not be an expert, however fancy myself as a RPI connoisseur, I can claim with confidence the Italian renaissance is upon us. Enjoy it while you can! Smoke 'em while you got 'em!

Since the postman delivered my copy of "Fammenti Notturni" I've spun the vinyl at least 15 times. It's a rare prog album I immediately liked and yet "Fammenti Notturni" grows on me too. Like all primo prog albums, each listen reveals secret treaties, deeper depth, hidden jewels, shivers down the spine, and "Ah-ha" epiphanies missed the first time around.

I rank "Fammenti Notturni" as Unreal Cities 2nd best album, barely behind their debut Masterpiece- "La Crudelta Di Arprile" However, all three Unreal City albums weave intricate dazzling tapestries threading the needle, splintering the sweet spot, mysterious luxurious keyboards, juicy yet eclectic drumming of Marco Garbin. Marco adds tone and groovy flourishes that surprise and make me smile. Francesca Zanetta's guitar licks adorn songs beauteously without overpowering the core composition and I got to say- Francesca is my new mellotron muse! Emanuele Tarasconi's vocals are romantically divine and to die for. The members of Unreal City are an aural stream of consciousness that seeps, runs, finally rapidly bursts into brooks and silvery streams feeding a riotous river of red wine and honey. Speaking of red wine music...

I'm tempted to splurge on a bottles of deep dry red vintage Italian vinos, when immersing myself into "Fammenti Notturni". Pardon my boldness but may I take the liberty to recommend 5 delicious Italian Vino Rossos corresponding to "Fammenti Notturni's" 5 compositions? In order: Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Gattinara, and Brunello.

Women? My wife and other women friends find themselves swooning into Francesca's licks and Unreal City's melodic, hypnotic romanticism. Not something you see often in prog circles.

In my opinion "Fammenti Notturni" = Best RPI album of 2017 ...so far! Don't be surprised if Unreal City continues to top themselves album after album after album. 5 out of 5 spicy, wooden, oaken vintage Italian Profundo Rosso Vinos. Essential addition to Italian Prog Collectors!

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