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The Samurai of Prog - The Imperial Hotel CD (album) cover

THE IMPERIAL HOTEL

The Samurai of Prog

 

Crossover Prog

3.98 | 161 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Matti
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 107 ratings but only four reviews for this excellent third album of this Finland-based, multi-national band! The preceding works included covers of classic prog, and they truly are good in that field, but this five-track album consists of new material. Like before, the core trio of Marco Bernard (b), Kimmo Pörsti (dr) and Steve Unruh (voc, v, fl, ac-g) are accompanied by a wide cast of guest appearances. The music is written by the four different keyboardists who naturally also play on the album.

'After the Echoes' is a complex song composed by Octavio Stampalia (JINETES NEGROS). Each musician gives his best in this highly progressive tune. The vocal harmonies of Unruh and Stampalia add to the YES-like atmosphere. 'Limoncello', a song originally from a Various Artists 4-CD project Decameron Part II (2014), catches Robert Webb (ENGLAND) singing in a slightly humorous semi-falsetto about a chance meeting of Giovanni Boccaccio. Very interesting 8-minute prog tune spinning around a violin-centred melodic pattern.

David Myers, who offered beautiful piano introductions for 'The Lamia' and 'Dancing With the Moonlit Knight' on TSOP's earlier albums, is soloing on his romantic, three-minute 'Victoria's Summer Home', bridged by Unruh's natural effects into the majestic title track (28:09). 'The Imperial Hotel', with its Victorian-ish ghost story contents, was brought to the band from the ENGLAND archives by Robert Webb who again is the lead vocalist too. What a gorgeous prog epic bowing deep for the classic side-long prog epics of bands such as Genesis, Yes and Jethro Tull -- nearly rivalling them, without stealing direct ideas from any of them. The final track 'into the Lake' is by the Swedish keyboardist-vocalist Linus Kåse (BRIGHTEYE BRISON). Not quite as impressive to my ears as the rest of the album, it nevertheless operates very skillfully in the GENTLE GIANT -like rhythmic complexity.

My hesitation between 4 and 5 stars is solved by the superb visual design of the fold-out covers and the 40-page booklet. The term "masterpiece" suits at least to the title track, but as a whole this is a (surprisingly, considering the varied composers) coherent and extremely ambitious piece of progressive rock that hits the goal perfectly.

Matti | 5/5 |

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