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WAR AND PEACE

Pandora Snail

Eclectic Prog


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Pandora Snail War and Peace album cover
3.96 | 109 ratings | 22 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dilemma (5:52)
2. By The Mountain River (3:48)
3. To Catch The Wind (3:53)
4. Submarine (5:21)
5. James Pont (16:36)
6. Mother's Tears (4:22)
7. Red Rivers (2:08)
8. Stones' Names (3:57)
9. Dance Under The Bullets (3:08)
10. After The War (4:51)
11. Satori (8:05)

Total time 62:01

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Ulyana Gor / keyboards, composer, vocals
- Oleg Gorgadze / guitar, electric guitar, conposer, vocals
- Kirill Klyushin / bass guitar, contrabass
- Artem Gareev / violin
- Igor Cheridnik / drums, percussion

Releases information

Recorded at the studio "Interzvouk", 2010.
Sound Engineer: Sergey Navetnyi
Mixing: Alexey Topolov
Mastering: Sergey Bolshakov
Art: Konstantin Nagishkin
Design: Alexander Medvedev
Executive Producer: Nikolay "BigNick" Bogaychuk

Thanks to Epignosis for the addition
and to LearsFool for the last updates
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PANDORA SNAIL War and Peace ratings distribution


3.96
(109 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
19%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
39%
Good, but non-essential (35%)
35%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

PANDORA SNAIL War and Peace reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by LearsFool
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars This is an album that gives new meaning to the term "eclectic". A long time coming, Pandora Snail's debut manages to wonderfully blend stylings that include modernesque heavy prog and power prog, retro style organ, and variously neotraditional, neoclassical, and prog violin. It works better than that combination might suggest, fitting together without obvious stitches and creating a diverse and generally upbeat whole. Tracks like the almost epic length "James Pont" really bring the heavy, rock-out side to fruition, while "Dilemma" and its ilk put the organ often centre stage to maximum effect, and from there the violin shows its full worth on cuts including the concluding combo of the title track and "Satori", with the former showing for a moment the more dour yet beautiful and midbeat side of the optimistic band's repertoire. The band set out to loosely bring to mind distant and general images of war through instrumentals that don't so much pout or rage, and if it doesn't do that for you it probably will instead by turns relax and induce you to headbang; if it does, a whole unique thematic landscape should open up in your mind. A spectacular piece of work.
Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars From Russia, the music is instrumental with violin as the lead instrument, there is some intriguing rhythm patterns and some funky bass is heard in the songs ; "To Catch the Wind" and "Submarine". Like the title of the album, there is two different moods from some peacefully melancholic parts to some more frenetic and heavy parts. It's jazz fusion and rock music that is very dynamic in the instrumentation with impressive interplay between violin and percussion and with the guitars that could be quiet rock at times, if not heavy. And also the soaring keyboards of Ulyana Gor in some songs like "Dilemma" and the big epic of 16 minutes "James Pont" are shining. This epic song brings some King Crimson influence and many tempo changes. "Mother's Tears" starts as a melancholic ballad with piano/guitar/violin but the pace of the music evolve gradually to end up quiet nicely on a heavier note. "After the War" is heavy and dark with some chaotic passages at the end. There is some songs that are mostly fusion jazz that will remind you of previous bands of that genre, but the songwriting is so good here that you don't get bored for the whole sixty minutes. 4 stars
Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars The first album from this instrumental group based in Russia. They formed in 2008 and besides the usual guitars/drums/keyboards there is a lot of violin as well. The music here can generally be described as a mix of fusion and symph prog with some prog folk and heavy prog/prog metal influences. "Dilemma" is some kind of folky symph fusion. Things get interesting when the crunchier guitar and synth solo shows up. Overall flows really well between the different parts. "To Catch The Wind" has a sound that can be described as 'symphonic prog-folk metal'. They even get funky for a bit.

"James Pont" is a 16 1/2 minute epic and also the centerpiece of the album. Starts off heavy edged fusion. Different instruments trade solos at one point. There are parts that are very symphonic sounding with the violin standing out. In the middle gets very classical sounding with the piano and violin. Overall a well-done epic which moves smoothly among the different sections. "Dance Under The Bullets" is some upbeat funky fusion. "After The War" is another highlight. Sounds almost industrial at the beginning with the distorted bass and tom-tom pounding.

Settles into symphonic fusion which changes tempo. Gets close to prog metal in the middle. Ends in an almost noisy avant-garde way. In contrast to that ending, the beginning of last track "Satori" is very warm and atmospheric. A very melodic and almost mainstream track. Proceeds to get very jazzy before morphing into more symphonic rock. Interesting symph fusion in the middle. A bit of wordless vocals towards the end. In conclusion, a very good album. The playing and production is top notch. I particularly like the tone the bass has a lot of the time. My only major complaint would be consistency and tracklisting; some tracks are much stronger than others and the flow of the album can be up and down. I'll give this a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Like the better known "War and Peace" author, PANDORA SNAIL hails from Russia, which has lately proved to be a competent prog country. This Fusion-esque instrumental album -- there are vocals on the credits but they are almost non-existent -- was actually recorded already in 2010. The compositions are credited to the keyboardist and the guitarist (whether separately or in collaboration, I don't know), but neither of them is guilty for exaggerating his own part. Instead it's often the violin that gets the lead role.

The playing of this quintet is full of dynamics, jazzy energy and stylistic flexibility, more than an average band would achieve in a decade. Also the music writing is so mature that it's very hard to guess who could be their prog influences. They might have listened to e.g. Mahavishnu Orchestra, Canterbury bands, King Crimson, Curved Air and Pekka Pohjola, and surely a myriad of other artists. Their style is definitely their own, even if it's not radically new and unheard before. And what's best, there's a genuine joy of playing to be heard. Hence the rather dystopic cover art is in slight contrast to the music, but we can always think that the gigantic sbail looming behind the window represents the playfulness on this 62-minute album. Warmly recommended.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "War And Peace" is the debut full-length studio album by Russian, St.Petersburg based progressive rock act Pandora Snail. The album was released through the Moscow based label Artbeat in March 2015. Pandora Snail was formed in 2008 and went through quite a few lineup changes in the first couple of years. The lineup who recorded "War And Peace" are Ulyana Gor (keyboards, composer, vocals), Oleg Gorgadze (guitar, electric guitar, conposer, vocals), Kirill Klyushin (bass guitar, contrabass), Artem Gareev (violin), and Igor Cheridnik (drums, percussion).

Stylistically the music on the 11 track, 62:01 minutes long album is an eclectic type of progressive rock drawing influences from not only the classic 70s prog rock artists, but also from jazz rock/fusion, classical music (the band mentions Sergej Rahmaninov as an influence), and folk (among other things). There is even an occasional use of heavy distorted guitars featured on some sections of the album, so it is definitely a type of music featuring influences from many genres and musical styles. "War And Peace" is still a stylistically very consistent album though, and there is a good flow throughout the playing time. And putting this many elements into a cohesive sounding musical style is not easy, which serves as a testimony to how skilled Pandora Snail are as composers.

The music is predominantly instrumental with an organic yet tight playing rhythm section, atmospheric keyboards, guitars, and a very dominant use of violin as the lead instrument. The compositions are for the most part quite catchy, although some tracks are structurally relatively complex. Except for the 16:36 minutes long "James Pont" and the 8:05 minutes long closing track "Satori", the tracks generally arenīt that long though. Itīs not music that is hard to get into, although itīs certainly not easy listening either. Itīs just that some of those violin melodies are spot on and nicely hook laden. Because he is so dominant in the soundscape itīs hard not to mention Artem Gareevīs performance on the album as something special, but the rest of the musicians performing on the album are equally as skilled. The high level playing is definitely one of the great assets of "War And Peace".

The compositions are strong too though, and itīs all packed in a powerful, organic, and overall well sounding production, which helps bring the best out in the music. This is generally a very interesting album, and considering that itīs a debut album its a very strong one too. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

Review by VianaProghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Review Nš 23

Surprisingly, a few days ago I received a PM in my Inbox of Progarchives from an unknown band, Pandora Snail, asking me to review their debut studio album, 'War And Peace', which was released few months ago. I must confess that I was taken by surprise by that request. However, I accepted and here I am trying to do my best despite the risks.

Pandora Snail is a Russian band native based in St. Petersburg and that was founded in 2008, but only became a solid band in 2010. The group had a settlement process of stability a bit long, but finally they managed to make their first work, in 2015. However, according to their official page, their debut album was recorded already back in 2010, but has only now seen the light of the day by the hand of the Moscow based record label ArtBeat.

The musical influences are mainly the progressive rock of 70's. We can see also influences from the classical music. The band's sound is heavily based on piano and keyboard skills of Gor, although the other musicians also leave a deep impact in the music, especially their violinist Gareev. However, the performances of the other musicians leave a deep impact too, like the guitar work of Gorgadze which is very nice and the bass lines of Klyushin are also great.

Pandora Snail is composed by five professional musicians. Their music is based on compositions by Ulyana Gor, a classical trained pianist, and by their guitarist Oleg Gorgadze. The line up on the album is Ulyana Gor (keyboards and vocals), Oleg Gorgadze (guitar, electric guitar, noises and vocals), Artem Gareev (violin), Kirill Klyushin (bass guitar and contrabass) and Igor Cheridnik (drums and percussion).

'War And Peace' has eleven tracks and is an instrumental album. The first track 'Dilemma' shows right away of what the band is all about. This is a song with great melodic lines, sweet melancholic folk parts and a nice symphonic splendour. The second track 'By The Mountain River' follows the same melancholic path. Some new nuances emerge when the piano plays some interludes in the jazz/rock style. It's also notable the guitar and the violin works on it. The third track 'To Catch The Wind' is a heavier track in the King Crimson's vein of the 80',s with a funk touch. It shows another side of the band, a livelier side where once again we have the usual duel between keyboards and violin. The fourth track 'Submarine' is a track with a typical symphonic melodic sophistication beginning in a relaxed way and turn into a vibrant song. It's a track also with a jazz/rock tune and where all the band's members give their best. The fifth track 'James Pont' is the lengthiest track on the album. It was put in the middle of the album to show us that it's the centrepiece of it. This track clearly shows their best prog side. Things on the track carry us to the early 70's in the most progressive style. This is a very ambitious track with many tempo changes that also reminds me King Crimson. The sixth track 'Mother's Tears' starts as another melancholic track that gradually evolves nicely until the end of it. This is a track with a mix of simple symphonic melodies, and on this song the band returned to the land of the serene lyrical music. The seventh track 'Red Rivers' is the smallest track on the album. This is another very enjoyable track in the vein of the progressive symphonic style. Despite being very short, it's very impressive the good skills of all band members. The eighth track 'Stones' Names' is another very impressive track. This is a song that develops in the same joyful musical spirit, of the all album. It's one of the most beautiful songs on the album, beautifully driven by drums and percussion. The ninth track 'Dance Under The Bullets' is a track in the jazz/rock style with a touch of funk in the progressive vein. This is another track full of quick musical passages and where the support rhythm section, shines. The tenth track 'After The War' sounds a little bit a chaotic track because it seems to have some improvised parts. It's a dark and heavy track with some great creative moments. This is a very progressive track with some beautiful time changes. The eleventh track 'Satori' is a very beautiful and incredible voyage on the album. The song closes the album with a feel of happiness, probably because it represents after the war. This is an incredible track that despite be the second lengthiest, we never get bored with it. This is really a great and perfect end to this surprisingly good work.

Conclusion: 'War And Peace' is a very nice surprise. It's an album with the presence of groomed and complex arrangements despite the great range of style influences treated. Those influences go from symphonic, folk, jazz/rock, funk, classical even to heavy rock. Theirs influences are from many, diverse and great bands of the 70's, such as Yes, King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Curved Air, for instance. However, what impresses me most is that they have a very own style, probably given by the traditional Russian melancholy. If it's true that five years have passed since their original recordings, I'm very curious to see how the band developed, waiting anxiously for their next work.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Like other reviewers in "Prog Archives", I was recently asked by this band to listen to this album and to write a review about it.

PANDORA SNAIL is a band from Russia. For this album the line-up of the band is: Ulyana Gor ( keyboards, composer, vocals ), Oleg Gorgadze (guitar, electric guitar, composer, vocals ), Kirill Klyushin (bass guitar, contrabass ), Artem Gareev (violin ) and Igor Cheridnik (drums, percussion).

This, their first album, is a conceptual album which only has instrumental music , trying to describe war and peace, musically, but without becoming "dark". I think that maybe it is a bit difficult to try to represent both things only with music and without lyrics. But it is an interesting album, with good recording and mixing, without saturation, with every member of the band leaving space to the other musicians. I think that it is really an eclectic album, taking influences from several musical styles: Classical Music, Heavy rock, Jazz-Rock fusion, Folk, etc. It seems that all the members are Classically trained musicians, and all are very good.

Track by track:

"Dilemma": with some very good melodies played by the violin, interesting drums, and with maybe some influences from EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER with the use of an organ sound and an analog sound synthesizer. It has some changes in the rhythm done by the bass and the drums. A very varied song which also has some Classical Music influences and a bit of distorted guitars.

"By the Mountain River": with acoustic guitars at the start of the song, and with some "Latin" percussion playing. Again, the violin plays the main melodies. A good piano solo part and also some good backing keyboards.

"To Catch the Wind": a more fast and heavy piece of music with the use of some distorted lead guitars. Again, the violin takes the central place in the sound, with good bass and drums and good backing keyboards.

"Submarine": a bit of Jazz-Rock influences in this song which makes me remember a bit JEAN-LUC PONTY's style with the use of the violin.

"James Pont": the longest and most progressive song in the album. With some heavy distorted guitars, and good drums and bass. Again, I can listen to some Jazz-Rock music influences with a bit of use of percussion in some parts. Good organ and guitar solos. Maybe this long piece of music better represents the war part of the concept of the album. There is even a brief but more "quiet" part with the use of piano and violin, which also gives way to other faster section of the song. Some sections of this long piece of music make me remember RUSH a bit. It also has some humor with the use of a "military fanfare" played with an organ at the end of the song.

"Mother's Tears": played at the start with acoustic piano and violin accompanied by the rest of the band, with the violin again taking the central role, and with a good use of a bit of backing keyboards. Again, some Jazz-Rock influences in some parts of this song. Some harpsichord sounds in some places.

"Red Rivers": a fast musical piece, with again the violin taking the central role, and with good drums and percussion playing.

"Stone's Names": another fast song. with again very good drums and percussion. Good keyboards atmospheres.

"Dance Under the Bullets": another fast song, again influenced by Jazz-Rock. The violin takes the main role. Also, with some humor, with some "screams" that sound to me a bit like taken from a PEREZ PRADO's Mambo(!), but I could be wrong.

"After the War": another piece of music which has some Jazz-Rock and even Heavy Metal influences, with distorted guitars (even with some feedback) and fast rhythms.

"Satori": a long musical piece that closes the album, with some bass guitar solos. Very Progressive, and again some distorted guitars which sound a bit influenced maybe by some Gothic artists, but without being "dark". A last section which is started by a piano brings a sense of final hope, at least for me. It also has some vocals singing without lyrics. The song is finished with some piano playing.

In conclusion: this is a very good album, very melodic, with a lot of influences from several musical styles, as I wrote above, but tending more to the Jazz-Rock Fusion style, with the violin talking the central role in most places. I think that it really is a band which is very well categorized in Prog Archives as being an eclectic band. I like the cover art, which looks like someone watching to some of the effects of war from a window.

Review by Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars So now there are three Russian artists that I really like and have in my collection - Modest Mussorgsky, The Gorishankar, and now Pandora Snail. While I know there are other decomposing composers out there and probably other artists that I would enjoy, I haven't really taken an interest in the former and remain ignorant of the latter.

When these folks invited me to try out and review their new album, I happened to be in a receptive mood for new music. I think it wouldn't have mattered if I wasn't in a receptive mood as when I started the first track I was immediately blown away. It isn't often music gives me goosebumps, but when it does, I become hooked for life.

I'd love to know who actually influenced them. I am detecting some heavy Jean-Luc Ponty, Darryl Way, Dixie Dregs without the bluegrass, even a touch of Stereolab (no violin there) thrown in.

If you haven't checked them out, there is a lot of concert material available on youtube. And after all, a good live video is worth at least a thousand words.

(Tip: use Chrome and allow it to translate the text when you pull up the videos, unless you can read Cyrillic.)

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I heard a lot about this Russian band recently and I was wondering how to get their debut CD when I was asked to review War and Peace around the same time. Lucky me! When I heard their music I was quite surprised: first because of their stunning musicianship. all members of Pandora Snail are extremely skillful musicians who are masters of their instruments. Second: the songwriting is very mature for a debut and third: the arrangements and the performances aim towards the music, not showing off. Those two last points surprised the most. Usually instrumental music played by virtuosos sounds more like an exercise of technique to impress other musicians than to please the ears of music lovers. Pandora Snail is a clear case of team work. And I like it!

Their music is hard to describe: there are several obvious influences (classical music, jazz, fusion, symphonic rock, heavy prog, folk, even some avant guard bits), but the mix is quite different, producing a very fine sound that defies categories and show theyÂīre already developing a unique style. Most of the songs are led by violinist Artem Gareev, who reminds of Curved AirÂīs Darryl Way, but there is room for all others to show their incredible talents. I found myself looking over and over the credits to see how many players there were around: itÂīs hard to believe there are only five musicians. Igor Cheridnik, for instance, proves he is more than an excellent drummer, making good use of several percussion instruments along the record. Guitarist Oleg Gorgadze has a subtle and delicate way of playing that is as smooth and efficient as it is beautiful. Kirill Klyushin will delight anyone who enjoys creative bassists that knows how to fill up all the holes with his fluid and tasteful bass runs. Last but not least we have the vintage sounding keyboards of Ulyana Gor, a fantastic composer. She knows how to put her keys at the right moments with a discreet, but very good, touch. All in all the performances are impeccable.

As for the songs themselves: varied, eclectic and very good. this is the kind of CD you can hear from start to finish without having a single boring moment. it is ok that is not perfect. The 16 minute suite James Pont does not work as a coherent whole, it sounds like three very different songs put together rather disjointed. Still, those 3 parts separately are very good. Personally I also found the sudden tempo and mood changes a bit too much for just one record. Some of the slower stuff would benefit from a more "straight" approach and should explore more of their beautiful melodies. But this is just my personal opinion. Overall there is no way to deny that 90% of the time the music is perfectly built and there are sublime moments all over the CD. My personal favorites are By The Mountain River, Submarine, Mothers Tears and the eight minute Satori, all of them with some of the best instrumental music I have heard in many years. But if you want to know what they are capable of doing in terms of putting pure beauty into a song just listen to Stones Names and try not have goose bumps in you throat!

Conclusion: helped by an excellent production and mixing, this is surely one of the best releases of 2015. I have been listening to War and Peace for about two weeks and itÂīs one of those albums that will probably get you on the first listen, but it also grows with every time you hear it. Definitely a must have for anyone who likes great music. Pandora Snail is the nicest surprise I had this year so far.

Rating: between 4 and 4.5 stars. Highly recommended!

Review by FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Pandora Snail kept showing up on the PA homepage, and I figured it was time to listen to something new so I tried to see if I could order their album from somewhere. I couldn't find it on Amazon in any of the four countries where I have an account, so I left it. Only a couple of days later, I received a PM from the band asking me to review their album. I downloaded the music and I was able to play it on my computer but for some reason it wouldn't go into my iPhone. So I just ordered the album from the band for $20 including international shipping. It was one of the best deals I ever got on a CD.

This is an album that is an easy joy to listen to with skilled composers and talented musicians. 'War and Peace' is an apt title as the music has both a heavy aggressive side and pastoral side, albeit often a busy one. During the first listen I felt that the music embodies aspects of higher level seventies prog a la Gryphon without the krum horns, The Enid without the orchestra, and a bit of Camel without the strong jazz leanings, and without sounding recycled adds a freshness and rejuvenation to classic prog. However, more than the above- mentioned bands, Pandora Snail combines traditional folk, modern prog folk, heavy prog / heavy progressive guitar rock, classical piano and violin, a fingerprint of jazz, and a reoccurring almost boogie disco beat with skillful slap bass. At one point I almost expected to hear Boney M's 'Rasputin' begin! Dance beats aside, fans of Wobbler's first two albums, some of White Willow's more prog folk rock, or the Japanese prog band Outer Limits will easily find this instrumental album a delight.

The opening track 'Dilemma' introduces what Pandora Snail are going to be about. With many styles and rhythms and motifs coming at you in just under six minutes, it's a very busy number that plays like a medley. It reminds me of Wobbler from 'Hinterland' or 'Afterglow'. The violin is not just for colour but a lead instrument that shines with diversity sometimes accompanying classical piano or sometimes heavy guitar.

Although there is a unified style and sound to the album, Pandora Snail smoothly and expertly shift meter and rhythm changes, change melodies and motifs, and shoot from style to style within the same track as though it were second nature. To be sure, the heavy guitar sound is not a passing experiment but rears its massive head frequently. Just as often though, you can expect beautiful piano and acoustic guitar, searing violin solos, in- your-face drum rhythms, and some clever bass breaks. Pandora Snail does seem to tread all over its map, but the music does so without sounding lost and meandering. The band has a direction to follow for each track.

The sound is wonderfully captured and produced; very clear with all instruments easy to discern even when the band is going full tilt. The digipak is beautiful. At only $20 U.S. for international delivery and limited numbered edition it is an excellent value! I'm most grateful to the band for contacting me. I might have given up trying to acquire it through the usual channels and missed out.

An album that I find easy to go back and play through again, there are also some stand out tracks for me, including "Stones' Names", "By the Mountain River", and "Satori". But so far there are no tracks that have lost my attention. If you can't find a copy of the CD, PM the band from PA directly and ask. I recommend it.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars PANDORA SNAIL is an eclectic progressive rock band from St Petersburg, Russia and in case you're wondering, the name is a combo derivation from two novels by the Soviet era Russian science fiction writers the Strugatsky brothers (Arkady and Boris) in which the PANDORA part of the name comes from the 1990 (written in 1965) novel "Беспокойство (Anxiety)" which took place on the planet PANDORA whereas the second part comes from the 1966 novel "Улитка на склоне (SNAIL on the slope)".

The album title WAR AND PEACE automatically conjures up assumptions that this is a concept album about Leo Tolstoy's epic novel of the same name but this is progressive rock music here and to assume anything will lead you far astray! While this album is indeed a concept album, it has absolutely nothing to do with the novel other than the vague similarities that any comparison of two opposing forces could bring.

The dualistic nature of the concept begins right on the album cover itself. On the front side we see a young girl looking out of her house viewing the devastation of the tumult, unrest and dispute. On the reverse we see the same house from the outside looking in and displaying the same girl as an old woman peering out into the placidity of less violent times. The tracks supposedly represent different aspects of these two extremes but personally i can't tell one from another as far as any sort of theme is concerned. The music has slow parts, fast parts, sad parts, happy parts etc. so i don't think the album is very successful in conveying this, but it matters not though because this is quite the fun ride here!

The music is an interesting mix of ideas and is all instrumental. The dominant instrument is the violin which Artem Gareev passionately delivers and adds a nice unique gypsy feel all the while giving the overall effect a melancholy that disappears once the instrument drops out of the scene. The tracks were constructed mostly on piano with all the parts worked out on keyboards and then transmogrified into further sonic explorations. This method of musical composition lends an interesting sound to the mix. With a gazillion and one plus bands out these days pumping out progressive music it is rare indeed to find a band that has mustered up their own sound on their debut album. PANDORA SNAIL has done just that.

In addition to violin, Oleg Gorgadze plays some very adept King Crimson-esque guitar riffing that can sound like full-on heavy metal and then toned down completely into angular rhythmic acoustic passages that have playful interactions with Kirill Klyushin's powerful bass and contrabass lines as well as with the percussive prowess of Igor Cheridnik. Although the album was primarily composed on keyboards, Ulyana Gor's keyboard contributions are mostly subdued for most of the album playing the atmospheric generator role rather than leader of the pack, however there are some pure piano runs that lift the veil and point to Sergei Rachmaninoff as a major inspiration and the fact that classical music in general has played just as much a role in their music as have countless 70s prog rock bands.

This one was a grower that sounds better every time. Don't even think of listening to this without fully focused attention on board for you will lose a lot. This is one of those highly complex albums that has instant hooks and patterns but provides more depth as continued listens ensue. The careful attention paid to detail is admirable. The trade-offs between the musicians, the skillful arrangements and the pacing of the tempos, tones and time signatures is quite the musical bliss! In the tidal wave of new progressive rock bands from all over the world coming to shore, there are only a few that are surfing at the top and PANDORA SNAIL with their unique and captivating sound is surely one of them pounding out some impressive chops on their very first release. Great job!

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team
3 stars Nice music from very competent musicians but the compositional style is a bit simplistic for me with many themes and steps in song development being quite formulaic and mathematical. I love the violin play and the keyboards and other instruments show flashes of brilliance yet I feel there could be more of all of this happening concurrently (not to be flashy but to display the instrumental prowess in a more Bach-like way: all together and throughout the course of each entire song). Melodies are simple and chord progressions seem rather basic. I await this band's maturity--especially in the compositional realm.

3.5 stars rated down for a "room to grow" factor.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars From Russia with love comes this interesting release, Pandora Snail's "War and Peace". I always wondered why the prog world has not yet yielded more acts from the land of the big bear. After all progressive rock in Poland and Hungary certainly bloomed and there were always some kind of activity in neighbouring lands, so why not Moscow or St-Petersburg? Outside of very recent productions (I am the Morning, The Gourishankar, Roz Vitalis), there has been preciously little to amaze. This from a land that brought you Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich. Perhaps the notion of 'market' was something hard to comprehend after decades of tyrannical control by the CPSU, after all it was considered to be taboo and worse, a capitalist adventurist disease, as jazz was once described by a party official. No shortage of talented musicians either, so the mystery remains.

The title may seem vaguely familiar, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, a cornerstone not only of Russian literature but an outright global classic, 'Newsweek' magazine in 2009 ranked it first in its list of the Top 100 Books, so the prog premise is certainly intact though there does not seem to be any direct correlation to the famous novel (slick western style marketing?). The band members are from St-Petersburg and all are exhilarating musicians with both style and technique, led by keyboardist Ulyana Gor's rather unselfish style on elegant piano, harpsichord, organ and synths. The overall style is certainly quite eclectic, a heady concoction of classical (the violin is the main soloing instrument here and played skillfully by Artem Gareev), progressive rock in the structure as well as obvious jazz influences, namely from the slippery slick drum work of Igor Cheridnik. The guitars of Oleg Gorgadze are both acoustic and heavy buzz saw electric and show off both Georgian influences as well as some nods at Robert Fripp. The main focus for me remains on Kyril Klushin's sensational bass guitar, an incredible onslaught of buzzed sound and deep foundation. There are also gritty characteristics that are particular to the Russian character, each track has plenty of melancholia, tons of drama, shifting emotions that can turn on a dime, a certain sense of fatalism and yet unending drive.

On the opener "Dilemna", I could not help referencing "the Endless Enigma" by ELP for whatever reason. It just overcame my thoughts as I was grooving to the music. On the swervy "Submarine", the mood felt more like some obscure Jean-Luc Ponty tune that had been reworked by some modern musicians. Russian music can be crushingly sad at times, as expressed on "Mother's Tears", a moving violin-led lament with sleek piano and tic-toc percussion in accompaniment. The all too brief harpsichord solo is utterly gorgeous, as the gritty guitar kicks in its barely contained pain. All the tracks are instrumental and serve the purpose with both undisputed variety and sharp vision but the highlight must be the 16 minute+ "James Pont", a clever little innuendo on the 007 theme, a highly cinematographic chase scene that would fit quite well on a Bond film actually, a bit like Pierce driving a T-55 down a Moscow boulevard in "Golden Eye" (though it was actually filmed in the UK). There are unending swerves and loops, veering, careening and screeching to go around the block a few times.

A sublime track like "Stone Names" evoke a heady mixture of folk, classical and baroque, while the snoring bass ruffles along, just precious, something Curved Air would come up with. "After the War" has all kinds of sombre sparks emanating from the grooves, the violin mournful and almost morose, the overall impression is more cautious than euphoric. Again, a trait that remains very ingrained in the Russian spirit. A friend of mine who travelled to St-Petersburg said that the famed city was unbelievably beautiful but that he did not see many people laugh or even smile. "Satori" is an 8 minute long piece led by a romantic and rolling bass line straight out of dreamland, a sultry violin playing classical paradigms and then suddenly, jaunty piano poundings that are straight out free jazz, fueled by a blistering guitar solo. The complex tempo vacillates between 'war and peace' (lol) quite stupendously, offering up a series of musical cavalcades that keep the heart racing and the mind busy.

Hopefully, this debut will be just the beginning of a great and long career and many more albums will appear in the future. The children can listen to this comfortably as there is no Sax but a lot of Violins, befitting a war epic. The cover art is evocative and my gold coloured CD is impressive.

Спасибо

4 conflict reconciliations

Review by GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Sometimes you just know it. What you are about to hear is so great that it you feel in the very fibre of your being. And the funny thing is that you feel it after just a few seconds. What is it, with some albums, that gives you this impression? After all, there are only so many notes to play with. Could it be that some notes, played in a certain order and in just the right way, is the key? I suppose so. Still, it is curious to feel the music and knowing you are about to witness something extraordinary. That feeling, that stems from somewhere metaphysical and is nigh on impossible to translate into words, that feeling is what I perceived when I put this album on.

The sound of Pandora Snail is tricky to pinpoint. Often enough, I suppose too often, contemporary bands are likened to the very greats of the 70's and that is a shame. I'm sorry to say but that will be the case in this review. Mainly because I can only hear one band that I immediately am able to link to Pandora Snail. That band is Gentle Giant and only by way of the violin, that is a very present instrument. Maybe there are some Emerson-ish piano. But for the most part I think that Pandora Snail really have been able to construct a sound of their own. Maybe other reviewers are able to hear influences from other bands, supposedly more contemporary, but I can't. That is, to me, one fine thing about this band.

The thing that impresses me the most is really the concoction of sounds. To say it is eclectic is putting it mildly. There are melodic sections, heavy outbursts, classical elements and something that I would like to refer to as the soundtrack to a visit in a smoky restaurant in the 1930's. That to me is a blend I have never heard before. The music as a whole evokes images and emotions quite extraordinary. The opening track, for instance, begins ever so gently with violin and a sombre melody that transforms into something very beautiful. And just when you think you know just what the song is all about it launches into this great, driving section with heavy guitar and drums and then back again. Simply amazing and done without the slightest of effort. At least it feels that way. The musicianship is impeccable.

The track 'Dance under the bullets' is yet another of those great tracks, evoking imagery and action. The music is aptly named and one can almost see someone dodging the flying bullets and debris, in almost a classical ballet kind of dance. Brilliant.

I have spent quite some time listening to this almost completely instrumental album. Every time I do I find myself nodding and feeling very at ease. Pandora Snail have produced an album which appears to be a conceptual piece and as such it segues into every segment without losing sight of what's the main idea. It holds together very well indeed. I spoke of understatement when describing the eclectic nature of the music and it is an understatement to say that the band is brilliant. I am actually in awe. I can only imagine that they are all classically trained in some way or other but sensitive enough to branch out into whatever genre or sound that is needed. Now, I try very hard to keep away from giving the rating five stars. It should only be applied when absolutely necessary and to be fair, it takes quite a lot to hit that spot. Not many bands do. However, I feel it would be unjust of me to deny Pandora Snail that rating, since this album really brings me an experience that is quite out of the ordinary. The songs are all brilliant and the eclectic sound, the imagery, the gentleness, the vision, it is all, without a doubt, genius. There is, actually, no weak spot to be found. I do hope that Pandora Snail will return with more music and that my review will bring more listeners to them. A terrific album by a very talented band.

Review by admireArt
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Progressive Rock musical idioms seem to have been stuck somewhere along the million productions this whole world of music has released. People seem to care more for impeccable reproductions of the same old trips, rather than on the look out for ground breaking new prog music proposals.

Pandora Snail's "War and Peace",2015, owes more than a lot to very loved prog bands and some not that appreciated or known non-prog musicians. A certain closeness with Jethro Tull or PFM or Jean Luc Ponty or Fripp's "League of Gentlemen" or other Prog related influences will certainly make lot of proggers happy, seasoned with the retro Jazz standards of Django Reinhardt's "Quintette du Hot Club de France" and of course and mostly Django's all time violin accomplice Stéphane Grappelli, seems nice if you listen to them for the first time.

"War and Peace" is very well structured full of impeccable performances, with no real NEW music directions or proposals besides being top performers playing along the lines. So no matter how much I PAID or would have loved loving this happily rated work, I've heard better things, sorry me.

By the way drums are recorded too loud obstructing more than once the rest of the instruments.

***3.5 PA stars. Expecting their second release for now.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams
4 stars It's probably time to create a subgenre specific for Russian prog artists and their contaminations with classical music, or at least for the use of classical instruments. Even an avant band like ROZ VITALIS has those elements, but how not to think to IAMTHEMORNING and the solo work of the two band members?

Now PANDORA SNAIL appear suddenly and add another chapter to this great Russian season. This debut album is totally instrumental, with the violin playing the main role. The tracks go from the beautyful lazyness of "Dilemma" and "The Mountain River" to the uptime funky of "Catch The Wind" with an impressive bass riff, on which every instrument has its moment. Then comes "Submarine" on which those different moments are fused in a single track.

But it's the epic "James Pont" the very highlight. In some moments it has made me remind the CARAVAN of the first three albums, but in the most rhytmic moments driven by the keys, also NIACIN come to mind. Sixteen minutes of beauty.

The classical mood is back with "Tears" followed by the excellent "Rivers". "Names" has some folky accents. The first notes are probably the only clue of the fact that this is a band from Russia. So to dissimulate they switch to a reggae rhythm for few beats.

"Under The Bullets" is another track reminding to NIACIN (or similar artists). The passages are never trivial and if strange signatures are a distinctive sign for progressive music, well, this is full of signature changes. "The War" proceeds in this vein, including also a small taste of heavy metal with uptime bass and drums plus highly distorted guitar, all totally mitigated by the violin which leads to a psychedelic section. I think that the word "Eclectic" describes them well.

The closer "Satori" starts very melodic. The chords are almost the same of Pachelbel's Canon, which I don't think is copyrighted anyway. But suddenly it enters a section which is very 70s. It reminded me to Prokov'ev, therefore to RENAISSANCE. But in this case it's like a medley of many short pieces, all good. The piano part after 4 minutes sounds very Emersonian.

A remark: the album title doesn't have anything to do withthe famous novel by Lev Tolstoj. It's the band itself who says so.

A very good album. A true surprise in a 2015 which in my opinion hasn't seen too many good ones. Not at this level, at least

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What an amazing album!

I want to tell you that Pandora Snail was one of my favorite discovering of last year, so thank you very much Nikolaj for introducing me to the band. Naturally, this debut album entitled War and Peace stays in my personal top 10 of 2015, because of the magic it brings while the seconds pass. I remember I was positively surprised since I first listened to it due to its variety of sounds that take vintage progressive rock, jazz fusion and of course that special modern touch. So if you want to experience a great musical journey, please go and listen to this 11-song album.

The 62 minutes of this release have a wonderful start. It is "Dilemma", a song that in my opinion was the best choice to open this debut album. There is a very good vibe on the music, the atmosphere is great and seems that the musicians are greatly connected to each other, so the music perfectly flows. In moments, violin is the instrument that leads, but I like that it is not always, I mean, sometimes keyboards take the leadership, always complemented by great drums, wonderful bass lines and great guitars. This song is amazing, it has several changes that touch rock, jazz fusion, and symphonic music, so with this song is enough to realize that Pandora Snail's music has no boundaries.

"By The Mountain River" is a shorter track that shares sweetness and tenderness created by violin and piano, mainly. The sound is soft so anyone can easily enjoy it, even those who are not into progressive rock. "To Catch The Wind" has a relaxing sound, the wind actually chimes in the first seconds, then they vanish and all of a sudden an explosive song begins to be built up. Virtuoso violin guiding us through atmospheres, nuances and textures. Later the bass creates nice repetitive figures that are complemented by a guitar solo and by those constant drums. People's voices and joy can be heard, so I imagine a kind of feats of friends with people applauding and dancing; of course it brings a smile on my face. It is great how they manage to create a lot of changes and to blend different styles without harming the music, I mean, no matter the direction, what they offer is truly enjoyable.

With "Submarine" the cadency returns for the first two minutes. Later it changes, the bass marks the rhythm and the tendency and then the other instruments add their grain of sand and together create an interesting salad of sounds and images. Pandora Snail, confident of their talent, dared to create a magnificent 17-minute epic that wow, left me speechless. If they make lots of changes in short songs, now imagine how many changes you will find on this long track, a well-crafted song that does not have weak moments, I realized about it when I suddenly found that the song had already finished. Loony moments, hard rock passages, symphonic slices, jazzy moods, my god, a lot of things can be found in this endless world of deep colors. It is incredible to be delighted with so many high- quality passages, which means of course, that they are truly talented musicians, great composers and performers. This is "James Pont", an impressive song, you must listen to it!

"Mother's Tears" is a very melancholic piece, disarming violin guides us through different passages of life. Actually the whole album is a journey through life, through moments of war and peace, this can be felt without a doubt. "Red Rivers" is the shortest piece but probably the most vibrant due to its fast rhythm full of vertigo, carefully contrasted by soft piano notes and led of course, by that representative violin sound. "Stones' Names" has a great blend of jazzy tunes, kind of oriental sounds, Spanish guitar in a brief moment and even some kind of new-age atmospheres created by keyboards. Wow, while writing the review I feel excited once again, I must say that their compositional skills impress me. "Dance Under The Bullets" continues with a style alike to the previous track, however here they add heavier and rockier moments in which you can bang your head a little bit, and even dance.

"After The War" has a darker atmosphere at first, later it changes (as usual) and the joy appears. But well, emotions and sounds bring us a great time. The last song is "Satori", whose first minute is totally peaceful, relaxing, zen; but later it becomes fast and fabulous, dynamic and extraordinary for another minute, because as you can imagine, later changes and changes again, always bringing interesting and quite enjoyable passages.

Congratulations Pandora Snail for releasing such a wonderful album, which of course, I highly recommend to all my readers and fans of progressive rock.

Enjoy it!

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Forming back in 2008, Russian band Pandora Snail released one of 2015's best instrumental albums with their debut `War and Peace', a work greatly received by fans and a wide range of progressive music followers. Comprised of a mix of male and female members, the group deliver an eclectic collection of pieces that cross many prog-related styles including symphonic, jazz- fusion, classical and folk, especially standing out due to the music being constantly driven by violin. Progressive rock has a small but special tradition of artists that prominently feature violin, so Pandora Snail join the ranks of vintage bands like French symphonic romantic group Terpandre and the British female-fronted band Curved Air, and they also fit in nicely alongside modern acts that highlight the instrument such as Japanese fusion band PTF and Italian RPI'ers Progenesi amongst others.

Artem Gareev's sweeping violin weaves a memorable romantic theme in and out of opener `Dilemna', which bristles with Igor Cheridnik's skittering drumming, Kirill Klyushin's percolating bass, Oleg Gorgadze spirited acoustic guitar duels with heavier electric guitar growls, and Ulyana Gor's keyboards moving between ethereal strains and colourful energetic spirals. `By The Mountain River' is predominantly a medieval-flavoured swoon with boisterous bursts of piano and electric guitar leaping out, `To Catch the Wind' a dirty and aggressive up-tempo race with runaway piano, the thickest of puncturing bass and playful ragged electric-guitar (and even the obligatory drum solo!), and the violin throughout the jazzy `Submarine' takes on a classical dramatic stirring elegance not far from Jean-Luc Ponty.

The centrepiece of the album sure enough falls right in the middle of the disc, the almost seventeen-minute (and amusingly and not-so-subtly titled!) `James Pont'. It's a constant musical showcase for the skill of the musicians here, all given plentiful solo showcase moments whilst also revealing just how well they gel together as a group. A range of tempo and time changes smash back and forth throughout the epic, forceful and spiked with danger one moment, reflective and calming the next (and it's also frequently grooving and funky!), but it always retains a sense of flow and cohesion. Never-ending fiery electric guitar runs, buoyant bass that swallows and lunges, cooking Hammond organ and a range of keyboard colour, restrained but effective use of percussion in fleeting moments between the insanely busy drumwork, and there's even a delightful little break in the middle that strips back to just moving cascading piano and careful violin that could have been expanded even further. Perhaps little reigned-in passages that don't dart around in endless directions like this could be looked into further by the band on future albums?

`Mother's Tears' begins as a melancholic piano and violin-led reflection that turns more joyous as the rest of the band carefully joins in, `Red Rivers' is a frantic and furious Curved Air/Ponty-esque short interlude, and `Stone's Names' mixes folk thoughtfulness conveyed by soaring keyboard- driven symphonic themes (and the foot-tapping light reggae-break in the middle is just lovely!), making it one of the highlights of the album. `Dance Under The Bullets' wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Mahavishnu Orchestra album with its nimble-fingered jazz/fusion electric guitar runs, busy percussion/drumming and sprinklings of electric piano, and parts of `After The War' brood with a murky danger due to latter King Crimson-like chiming guitars and electronic drums. `Satori' is a genuinely emotional piece with warm symphonic themes constantly attacked by dominating classical piano, scratchy violin danger, imposing organ blasts, aggressive guitar and bass assaults and truly maddening drumming. The sense of expertly building atmosphere with sudden energetic diversions displayed by all the musicians on this album closer is first rate, revealing a musical maturity far beyond their young years.

If there's one slight problem with the album, it's that it is way too long (sixty-two minutes), which means re-listening to the CD in whole may become difficult. While there's nothing even close to bad on the entire disc, a few spots of sameness creep in, so perhaps a punchier vinyl length product (ie 45-50 minutes) in the future might be preferable? But there is no denying whatsoever the exceptional instrumental skill, sophisticated compositional strength and endlessly melodic ear displayed by the band on `War and Peace', made even fancier by the warm production that allows all the instruments ample room to shine. It's even more staggering to think this is Pandora Snail's first album, and it absolutely ranks as one of the best progressive-rock debut albums of the last several years, an essential purchase for fans of instrumental discs and lovers of violin-led progressive music. Well done to this talented young band with a bright future!

Five stars.

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars In this increasingly fragmented digital world we share, it's reassuring to see how the Web has allowed Progressive Rock to rediscover its original grass-roots appeal, with small bands from unlikely corners of the globe now promoting their music over the world-wide aether, often (though not in this case) without even a physical CD to vend. A case in point is Pandora Snail: a (relatively) new group from northwest Russia aggressively marketing its debut album in these Archives: not a bad strategy with music that doesn't sit comfortably in a pre-fab cubbyhole.

Eclectic is the perfect word to describe their style: a relaxed but dynamic blend of instrumental, quasi-symphonic rock combining light fusion ā la JEAN-LUC PONTY with moments of heavy guitar machismo and rhythmic GENTLE GIANT counterpoint. Listen closely and you might also detect a strain of native folk music, buried deep within the mix of other influences.

What you won't hear, to their credit, is the sort of self-conscious, retro-'70s artifice that defines so much of what passes for Progressive Rock these days. The band is simply playing what comes naturally to them, and making it sound easier than it actually is.

The group is a true ensemble too, with each member supporting the others and no single instrument hogging the spotlight. The electric violin of Artem Gareev is the obvious focal point, but Kirill Klyushin's nimble bass guitarmanship deserves a shout-out: check out his funky Chris Squire vs. Les Claypool break in 'To Catch the Wind'.

Other Archive reviewers, solicited as I was for an opinion but quicker on the uptake (the album was released over eight months ago, at this belated writing), have already described each track in detail. I would just add that the longest selection ('James Pont', at 16+ minutes) is also the album's weakest link, perhaps as a result of the quintet trying too hard and overreaching its grasp, always a worthwhile risk when attempting music of any real scope.

I applaud their ambition: the long suite gives the band an opportunity to show its collective chops. But the album works better when the band is indulging its natural melodic instincts (in the lovely 'By the Mountain River', and elsewhere), instead of straining toward the virtuoso complexity of RUSH or KING CRIMSON...laudable aims to be sure, but a difficult plateau to reach without a Neil Peart or Bill Bruford setting the tempo.

A nitpicker might, as a constructive criticism, also say the album was arguably too smoothly produced, to a point where even the noisy free-form coda ending 'After the War' sounds over-rehearsed. This is music calling out for a little raw energy, but the arrangements lean more toward the latter half of its Tolstoyan title: constructive peacekeeping over compelling warfare.

Excusable growing pains, maybe, for a debut recording. Otherwise, Pandora Snail (an unfortunate name by the way, possibly improved when rendered in Cyrillic hieroglyphs) is a band worth nurturing.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Very worth while album. Every now and then you can find a new group which happens to play the music you like and in this case they do it very professionally. I happen to like quite a main stream neo-prog. On that frontier you do not come across bands that steal your attention easily. Pandora Sna ... (read more)

Report this review (#1491624) | Posted by 302 | Tuesday, November 24, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As far as ecletic prog are going, I see light at the end of the tunel! (we're in a tunel?... oh well...). PANDORA SNAIL firts album are a completly delight to people who likes ecletic prog, with some heavy leanings and plenty of violin. The first track already bring you everything what this alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#1461222) | Posted by GKR | Wednesday, September 9, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars PANDORA SNAIL, a fairly new Russian prog band, was recently added to the "Eclectic Prog" sub genre of Prog Archives. The group, after numerous personnel changes, currently consists of Ulyana Gor (keyboards, composer) , Oleg Gorgadze (guitar, composer), Vsevolod Shuvalov (drums), K ... (read more)

Report this review (#1460953) | Posted by presdoug | Tuesday, September 8, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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