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Pendragon - Pure CD (album) cover





3.89 | 604 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Sometimes, the easiest thing in the world to do is to stick to a tried and tested formula, and sort of meander along satisfying a loyal base of fans.

That would have been the easy thing to do for Pendragon, one of the most important bands to come out of the neo prog wave in the UK in the 1980's.

Thankfully, for all of us, and I say this not to decry their earlier efforts, which I love, they have, with this latest release, shown themselves to be a true progressive band, in that they have built upon the already incredible neo foundations, and taken their music to a new level.

The opener, Indigo, is a good case in question. At turns extremely heavy, in line with much of the better heavy prog of recent times such as Riverside, but also fantastically melodic, witness the exceptional guitar work by Barrett, who sounds as if he really means it. This track is, at turns, symphonic, neo, heavy, and melodic. In other words, it has everything, and is a fantastic epic track which makes you know that you are going to enjoy the whole experience.

After this experience, Eraserhead opens in the same mood of intensity, before reverting to more neo type, with some nice Barrett vocals. Very heavy, though, and quite moody.

There is a three part epic, by the name of Comatose. It is supreme, neo prog at its best. The first part, View From The Seashore, is the longest, and I just love the contrast in mood with what went before. Keyboards and vocals create a very satisfying melancholic mood here, prior to returning to the extremely heavy riffs that went before. When the mood changes, it does so with an intensity which is almost too much to bear. It ends with a fantastic violin concerto, which leads nicely into part two of the epic, Space Cadet, which commences with the same level of pace which preceded much of it, but then slows down for the introduction to Home And Dry, the final part of the epic track.

This is, by far, the most recognisable part of the album so far to traditional Pendragon fans. It is wonderfully atmospheric, with some bittersweet vocals and lyrics, accompanied by a band at the top of their game in creating a true symphonic wonder.

The opening of Freak Show takes us back to the almost metallic vibe, but this does, very shortly, lead us into a fantastic melodic guitar solo by Barrett. A track of changing contrasts and moods, very direct, and lyrically, very clever in its nods to musical and personal influences. Nolan's keyboards, by the way, make a welcome return to the fore at the end of the track.

The album closes with It's Only Me. This is a wonderfully atmospheric track, perhaps reminiscent of Porcupine Tree at their best., which deals with childhood. It features quite the most fantastic guitar solo at its heart as the track begins to play to its close.

This is an album of huge contrasts. Heavy, moody, dark, beautiful, it has it all. They are a very good band, who have tried to do something a little bit different, and should be applauded for this.

A 3.5 star album, rounded up to four for the fact that it is showing us a brave new direction.

lazland | 4/5 |


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