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SYMPHONIC PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Symphonic Prog definition

Symphonic is without doubt the sub-genre that includes†the most bands in Progressive Rock because for many people it's almost synonymous classic Prog, something†easy to understand being that†most of the†classic and/or †pioneer†bands†released music that could be included in this sub-genre, except JETHRO TULL and PINK FLOYD (who still blended some symphonic elements), even KING CRIMSON who very soon expanded their horizons to more experimental music, made their debut with a Symphonic album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" which is a cornerstone in the development of the genre.

The main characteristics of Symphonic are the ones that defined all Progressive Rock: (There's nothing 100% new under the sun) which among others are:
  • Mixture of elements from different genres.
  • Complex time signatures.
  • Lush keyboards.
  • Explorative and intelligent lyrics, in some cases close to fantasy literature, Sci Fi and even political issues.
  • Non commercial approach
  • Longer format of songs

In this specific case the main characteristic is the influence of Classical music (understood as Orchestral works created from the late Gothic to Modern Classical) using normally more complex structure than other related sub-genres like Neo Progressive (That's why sometimes the borderline that divides Symphonic from Neo is so unclear being that is based mostly in a degree of complexity rather than in an evident structural difference)..It is easy to find long keyboard solos reminiscent of Johan Sebastian Bach or melodic works that could have been written by†Handel.

As in any other genre, different Symphonic bands had different approaches to Classical music, for example YES and GENESIS are mainly influenced by the Baroque and Classical periods, while EMERSON LAKE & PALMER has a predilection for post Romantic and modern authors like Mussorgsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Bartok or Ginastera, being†that†their sound†is less melodic and more aggressive.

The peak of the genre starts in 1969 and lasts until the mid/late 70's† (more precisely until the release of A Trick of the Tail), when the genre begins to† blend more mainstream influences that took to the birth of Neo Progressive (a new approach for a new decade).


It†is important to remember that even though the creative peak of Symphonic Progressive†ended before the 80's,†we can find†a†second birth†in the 90's coming from the Scandinavian countries (specially Sweden with ANGLAGARD or PAR LINDH PROJECT) and even bands that still in the 21st Century recreate music from this period like SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN.

Before ending this short description I feel necessary to say (In order to be strictly accurate) that the term Symphonic is not 100% exact, because†these†bands†very rarely†played symphonies and was†probably used because the music that influenced the genre was†performed by Symphony Orchestras, but†it is†so†widely accepted†by the Progressive Rock community that†would be absurd and futile for†anybody to†attempt a change after so much time.

IvŠn Melgar Morey, Peru 2006



Symphonic Team

Current Team as at 09/07/17

IvŠn Melgar Morey (IvŠn_Melgar_M)
Anton Fritz (SouthSideoftheSky)
RdtProg (Louis)

Symphonic Prog Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Symphonic Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.66 | 4111 ratings
CLOSE TO THE EDGE
Yes
4.63 | 3836 ratings
SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND
Genesis
4.60 | 3331 ratings
FOXTROT
Genesis
4.44 | 3242 ratings
FRAGILE
Yes
4.42 | 2903 ratings
NURSERY CRYME
Genesis
4.40 | 2441 ratings
MIRAGE
Camel
4.38 | 2087 ratings
MOONMADNESS
Camel
4.36 | 2800 ratings
RELAYER
Yes
4.37 | 1586 ratings
HYBRIS
ńnglagŚrd
4.35 | 1193 ratings
SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUI»ME SAISON
Harmonium
4.29 | 2736 ratings
THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY
Genesis
4.29 | 2622 ratings
THE YES ALBUM
Yes
4.29 | 2108 ratings
THE SNOW GOOSE
Camel
4.28 | 2370 ratings
A TRICK OF THE TAIL
Genesis
4.31 | 1080 ratings
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES
Renaissance
4.48 | 342 ratings
FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE
Wobbler
4.24 | 1914 ratings
EMERSON LAKE & PALMER
Emerson Lake & Palmer
4.31 | 796 ratings
DEPOIS DO FIM
Bacamarte
4.25 | 992 ratings
VILJANS ÷GA
ńnglagŚrd
4.25 | 947 ratings
HAMBURGER CONCERTO
Focus

Symphonic Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Symphonic Prog experts team

TALES FROM AN ISLAND - IMPRESSIONS FROM RAPA NUI
Blank Manuskript
ET APR»S
Memoriance
HIJOS DEL AGOBIO
Triana
BOOK OF HOURS
Willowglass

Latest Symphonic Prog Music Reviews


 Dream Object 5 by EX-VAGUS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.61 | 10 ratings

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Dream Object 5
Ex-Vagus Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Ex-Vagus is a Swiss five-piece formation rooted in 1996, their musical goal was to blend progressive rock and French vocals. The information about Ex-Vagus mentions : "the band joins together five authors and creators in a permanent creativity, having for 'Leitmotiv' the systematic association of the visual world with the auditive world, from where principal will to dramatize their music". Ex-Vagus concretized this artistic line by creating two rock opera's (Par Dela Les Legendes from 2000 and Seconde LumiŤre from 2000) calling upon original lights creations, a particular scenography and external actors. Ex-Vagus produced an EP, a demo CD, 3 studio albums, a live CD and was the support-act for progrock bands Ange, Barclay James Harvest, Focus, The Watch and Ars Nova.

Well, I can write the same about their fourth album Dream Object (2009) but there's one big difference: the vocals are in English, pretty good but you can hear the accent. In my opinion the reason to change from French to the English language is a better understanding of the interesting lyrics: about dark subjects like the sea pollution, the corrupted power and the native indian genocide, the band welcomes us on their musical trip. During that trip we can enjoy seven compositions that deliver a lot of tension and compelling atmospheres, topped by inspired vocals that give an extra dimension to the often dramatic music. In fact Ex-Vagus their music sounds as a dark modern rock-opera with many inventive musical ideas and excellent work on keyboards and guitars.

Exciting interplay between a distorted electric guitar and organ in Trash Vortex.

A strong build-up from dreamy with acoustic guitar and soaring keyboards to a compelling climate with tight drums and a powerful guitar solo in Lostaway.

An ominous atmosphere with an aggressive undertone in The Conqueror's Weapons.

From mellow to a slow rhythm with a fiery guitar solo and slow synthesizer runs in Some Fallen Dust.

Great dynamics and a sensational break with heavy guitar riffs and exciting sumptuous keyboards in Stravinsky's Gondola.

And cascades of shifting moods in the very dramatic and cynical One Upon A Dime.

The long final composition is in the great tradition of the epic early Marillion songs featuring a lot of tension between the dreamy and bombastic parts, moving electric guitar, lush keyboards and dramatic vocals and a compelling conclusion delivering emotional vocals and howling guitar runs, goose bumps!

I conclude that this second Ex-Vagus is superior to their previous efforts, but you have to be up to the very special, slightly theatrical vocals (with an obvious accent).

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Home by FOREVER TWELVE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.84 | 13 ratings

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Home
Forever Twelve Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was 2012 before I really discovered progressive rock. Prior to that, I always liked bands that made the effort to create longer compositions or try unusual rhythms and technical playing. Bands that mixed jazz, or folk, or classical into their sound thrilled me. But I had no idea that there was a subgenre of popular music called 'progressive rock'. By 2012 however, I had embraced prog fully and went on a journey to discover as much as I could handle of this deep and broad music category. That led me to Syzygy, a band whose album impressed me so much that for the first couple of weeks I felt this was what symphonic prog, if not prog rock itself, should sound like. Of course, as my explorations continued, my exalted view of Syzygy's music became less lofty with many other new discoveries.

Skip ahead to the present, and a promo copy of Forever Twelve's 'Home' (2017, Melodic Revolution Records) lands in my mailbox. Upon first listen I was hit with mixed feelings. It was the Syzygy response for a moment certainly but for the second time, and with the law of diminishing returns, I was less excited this time. Adding a big 'HOWEVER!' here, I will go on to say that this band really cooks and knows what they are doing with the skill of seasoned veterans bearing youth's ambition.

Forever Twelve open their album with the 16:06-running 'The Seven Seas'. It begins with a showcase of guitar and keyboard solos ' synthesizer and organ blazing away ' before slowing down into the song-proper's intro vocal bit. Like many classic prog mini-epics (or is over 16 minutes an epic?), the music is a journey itself, weaving slow and melodic parts with faster instrumental showcases, and a grand build up to the climax. Right from track one, Forever Twelve have proven their roots are firmly implanted in traditional symphonic prog.

The following four tracks range between five and nine minutes and maintain this combination of remarkable and spot-on technical playing ability and the capacity for striking up strong melodic passages. John Baker's vocals are at first a bit of a sore thumb; his timbre a tad unusual for prog. But it soon becomes apparent that his voice gives Forever Twelve a quality to their sound that makes them recognizable from their peers.

Personal favourites of mine are 'Daisy Chain' and 'Karmageddon' for their incredible use of dexterity and speed and flexibility with time signatures. Very exciting music bursts out all over the place. Recently 'Home' has also begun to stand out for me. 'Acoustic Rose' is an interesting track with a beautiful if not brief a cappella conclusion. It's too bad the track is only 2:57!

The album closes with 'Fate is in Our Hands' and introduces some more traditional guitar rock music which is then given a Forever Twelve treatment. The vocals are different here, and as Tom Graham is credited with guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, I am going to assume he takes the mic for this track.

After my initial, 'Oh, another deftly talented prog rock band that remind me of Syzygy' reaction, I began listening more for the purpose of simply enjoying the music, and the album has grown on me. At least three of the tracks now get added regularly to mixed playlists and have become familiar and something to look forward to when I play the whole album. The only criticism that I have is that the production is a slight bit dull and thick. Just listening to the album is fine, but when it plays after other recent releases with really bright and clear production, 'Home' seems to favour bass over treble.

Forever Twelve don't bring anything new to the table, but they do play with great skill and talent. My personal opinion is 3.75 stars (partly due to the production), but their skill is surely to be acknowledged, so I'll round up this time. Recommended for people who love technical and crafty symphonic prog with a strong slant toward the technical side.

 After The Ball - The Collection by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
5.00 | 1 ratings

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After The Ball - The Collection
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

— First review of this album —
5 stars "THE ULTIMATE VINTAGE KEYBOARD EXTRAVAGANZA!"

For me the colouring with vintage keyboards is an essential part of the Classic Prog era: Mike Pinder's Mellotron in The Moody Blues, the soaring Hammond organ in Procol Harum their sound, early King Crimson with legendary use of the Mellotron, Rick Wright and his Farfisa organ in the psychedelic Pink Floyd era, Keith Emerson with his sensational Moog modular synthesizer sound, Tony Banks and his ARP Pro Solist synthesizer flights in 73-77 Genesis. And, last but not least, Rick Wakeman , he epitomizes the ultimate vintage keyboard sound in the Seventies, from the Moog, Mellotron and Hammond to the Hohner clavinet, Steinway Grand piano and Fender Rhodes electric piano, it's on his awesome list! I am a huge fan of his work with Yes in the Seventies (except the boring TFTO) and his early solo work, layered with varied vintage keyboards and showcasing his jawdropping skills. I consider this this comprehensive compilation CD as an excellent start to discover the exciting world of Rick Wakeman solo in the Seventies.

It spans the era from his outstanding and highly acclaimed first studio-album The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973) until his seventh effort, the disappointing Rhapsodies (1979). On this CD compilation Rick Wakeman not only shines with his keyboard wizardy, but also as a composer: he writes very melodic and harmonic music with flowing shifting moods, embellished with his wide range of keyboards. The one moment dreamy atmospheres with tender Grand piano or soaring Mellotron (wonderful interlude with violins section in Catherine Howard). The other moment swinging rhythms with Hammond and clavinet or sumptuous eruptions with sensational work on the Minimoog (in Anna Boleyn). A strong element is the contrast between the sparkling Grand piano runs and the fat Minimoog synthesizer flights (in Catherine Of Aragon), emphasizing the happy marriage between classical and symphonic rock in his music.

We can also enjoy work from his legendary and commercially very succesful album Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, featuring two live tracks.

Medley: The Journey / Recollection : the atmospheres are between bombastic with a choir and dreamy with warm vocals, the spectacular Minimoog sound is omnipresent).

The Battle : this song delivers a swinging rhythm, a choir singing "crocodile teeth, lizard head", duo-vocals and the distinctive Hohner clavinet, a captivating blend of classic and symphonic rock. To be honest, I miss the rest of the album, it's an 'incomplete musical experience' to listen to only a part of that exciting concept album.

A 'trademark Rick Wakeman Seventies solo album composition' is Arthur: an orchestra with a strong brass sound, a propulsive and fluent rhythm-section and strong interplay between the orchestra, a choir and Wakeman (with spectacular work on the Minimoog).

In Merlin The Magician our Caped Crusader delivers his most fat sounding Minimoog flights I have ever heard, how exciting, in a swinging rhythm and duelling with the cheerful honky-tonk piano. The climate ranges from dreamy with a female choir to bombastic, this is top notch Rick Wakeman solo!

One of the few songs with vocals is the alternating Prisoner, wonderfully coloured with Mellotron flute and violins, electric harpsichord and a church organ, the slightly raw vocals match good with the varied music.

One of my favourite Rick Wakeman solo tracks is the swinging White Rock featuring dazzling Minimoog runs, I love the bombastic atmosphere and Wakeman his virtuosic and sensational Minimoog play.

Between all the bombastic and swinging tracks After The Ball is an oasis of silence, with its romantic climate: tender classical piano, soft Minimoog flights and soaring Mellotron violins, wonderful!

Remarkable in the three tracks from his masterpiece Criminal Record (1977) is the awesome rhythm-section, this is the duo Chris Squire and Alan White (in that time Wakeman had rejoined Yes and everybody was happy and enthusiastic about the triumphant return with GFTO). We can enjoy Emersonian Grand piano runs and great work on the Moog and Hammond in Statue Of Justice, a captivating tension between the tender Grand piano and bombastic Hammond and Moog in the varied Crimes Of Passion and sensational Minimoog flights in Chamber Of Horrors.

The final track on this compilation is a beauty, the dreamy The Palais featuring a solo piece on the Grand piano, from tender to sparkling, Rick Wakeman in his full splendor as a classically trained musician!

This is the best you can get if you like Old School keyboard driven prog, "no fillers, all killers!"

 Brain Salad Surgery by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.14 | 1718 ratings

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Brain Salad Surgery
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars Does the world really need another review of Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake and Palmer? Of course not, but a look back at this album, 45 years after it's debut, seems warranted. Often held up as the poster boy of everything bad associated with prog, BBS has a hell of a reputation.

To start off, let's look at the oft maligned lyrics to Greg Lake's lovely ballad "Still You Turn Me On". The cringe worthy plea of Greg's of "Someone get me a ladder" after declaring how sad and mad the world has become, as if Lake had lifted nonsense lyrics from an epic song by Spinal Tap. Clumsy perhaps, but not even close to absurd. The song is probably Lake's second best after "From The Beginning" with Emerson's accordion-like keys wonderfully melancholy and restrained, and without any input from Carl Palmer to break the song's magical spell.

The lead off track "Jerusalem" still sounds as awkward as the day it was recorded but it's still hard to find a similar opening album track in all of progdom, so it's charm remains. "Toccota", Keith Emerson's arrangement of the 4th movement of Alberto Ginastera's "1st Piano Concert" is still absolutely magnificent with it's tight as a glove playing and excellent tympani and drum work by Palmer . "Tocotta" really put ELP on to a plane almost above progressive rock, so outrageous and spell binding is the song's ability to captivate the listener no matter how complex and complicated the group's playing.

The throw away song "Benny The Bouncer" probably appeals to those who cherish "Jerusalem", but I wouldn't know about that. What I do know is that I'm still floored and intrigued by the fact that the title track "Karn Evil 9's" oft played on radio (Ist Impression part 2) in no way resembles the organ drenched opening of the song's (Ist Impression part 1) until some 3 minutes into the song proper. The familiar radio riff is no more than a tease until it's fully developed and played almost a minute later. Indeed, where Emerson's bank of Moog synths blast their way into the song's mix and into one's brain.

It's easy to see where the acoustic piano of Karn Evil 9's (2nd Impression) caused many to point out that the song was stitched together from disparate parts, regardless of how wonderful Emerson's playing is. The fact is that "Karn Evil 9" is no more or less disjointed than any other 20 minute prog epic with Jethro Tull's "Thick As a Brick" as a prime example and the group's "Baker Street Muse" as a secondary example. The closing of the epic's (3rd Impression) with it's spacy synths and modulated robotic vocal's signaled to all mainstream music reviewers the "Karn Evil 9" was preachy and pretentious while AOR hacks like Styx "artfully" decreed the same about Mr. Roboto in song just a few years later.

Brain Salad Surgery is still worthy of 4 stars in my book. It does have it faults, but much less than the ones that the chroniclers of music history have cast upon it. So, thanks to all the gods for the show that never ends.

 Hollowscene (as Hollowscene) by BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.12 | 6 ratings

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Hollowscene (as Hollowscene)
Banaau / Hollowscene Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Metal / Heavy / RPI / Symph Prog Team

4 stars The band has a new name and a new line-up but continue to make concept albums, this time about Shakespeare's tragedy "Coriolanus". The band added to their line-up Demetra Fogazza who plays an important role on this album with the flute, but was already working as a session musician in 2017. The music of Hollowscene is inspired by the 70's symphonic Progressive rock, mostly Genesis and Steve Hackett, but the influences of Versus-X, the singer and leader of this band Arne ShaŽfer is even more obvious. The songs have that dramatic beauty of the symphonic prog rock music that is based on extended passages, where every instrument shine through some sumptuous melodies. The atmosphere of the music covers different tempos and moods rarely boring. The playing of two members on the guitar, two others members on the keyboards and the addition of plenty of flutes gives to the music that rich sound. Some of the guitar and keyboards parts are breathtaking in some long instrumental break. The album ends with a cover of Gentle Giant, a little surprise here! Recommended to your Prog collection...
 La MosaÔque De La RÍverie by PAGEANT album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.76 | 50 ratings

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La MosaÔque De La RÍverie
Pageant Symphonic Prog

Review by Cleansoul

5 stars It is a masterpiece, it is so good that I am sad that I don't speak Japanese and can't understand the lyrics. Progressive music is emotion and this album is emotion, makes one sing along (even though I probably get over 50% pronounced wrong and would be laughed at from a Japanese - even if I had a good voice). I know there is a video from the 80's with Pageant, Mugen and Outer Limits playing at the Silver Elephant (I believe in Tokyo), and from the video I (and many other fans) digged the album. It should be a DVD from this video on the market, I never found a original one. Does anyone has the lyrics translated to english or portuguese? Thank you for the music.
 Brain Salad Surgery by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.14 | 1718 ratings

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Brain Salad Surgery
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by SonomaComa1999

5 stars REVIEW #8 - "Brain Salad Surgery" by Emerson, Lake, & Palmer (1973). 06/12/2018

Prog's most illustrious super-group ELP had an insane run from 1971 to 1973. Made up of the Nice keyboardist Keith Emerson, King Crimson bassist/vocalist Greg Lake, and Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer, the band's first four albums are considered seminal works of progressive music. This period is considered to be the band's heyday, as all of their subsequent releases either fell flat or were miserable flops. Their final great offering is considered to be 1973's "Brain Salad Surgery", released on the band's own record label Manticore, although others have pointed to albums such as their eponymous debut, "Trilogy", or "Tarkus" as their finest album.

With all of their albums having charted, ELP was at the top of their game going into the recording of this album. There is no argument as to whether the trio were talented musicians; Emerson is considered to be the greatest keyboardist in the genre's history, Lake's impeccable and dynamic voice made up for his uninspiring bass work, and Palmer's voracious drumming style provided an edge to the group's music. Even without a guitarist, ELP managed to captivate rock fans around the world, going as far as to headline the 1974 California Jam which featured some of the most successful and mainstream rock bands that music had to offer at the time. Using top of the line recording techniques, the production of ELP albums such as "Brain Salad Surgery" is wonderful, allowing the listener to truly indulge in the band's oft-pretentious expanded instrumentals and epics. Similar to Yes's "Tales of Topographic Oceans" album released the same year, "Brain Salad Surgery" is considered to be the epitome of progressive elitism, even though this album definitely wears better on the ears than "Tales" mainly because it isn't a double LP.

ELP opens up the album with a thunderous reworking of Hubert Perry's "Jerusalem", which is a musical arrangement around William Blake's 1804 poem "And did those feet in ancient time" that is considered to be an unofficial anthem of England. With Emerson utilizing the brand new Moog Apollo synthesizer, the end result is a glorious opening to the album. It was released as a single in the band's native UK, which was promptly banned by the British government from being played on the radio and therefore did not chart. "Jerusalem" was not banned or looked upon negatively by the British at the time, but since it was a hymn and a rock band had covered it, the British public immediately assumed that ELP had "bastardized" the tune. Carl Palmer lamented on the censorship by proclaiming that the English had not listened to the tune, and simply had banned it out of spite. Nevertheless this is a really unique and grandiose cover which in my opinion gives the hymn justice, but I'm not English so maybe I'm missing something here. This is followed up by another cover, this time a reworking of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement arranged by both Emerson and Palmer. Unlike the Hymn, Ginastera praised the band's cover of his work, titled "Toccata", hardly ten seconds after Emerson had presented the song to him for his approval. This is a much more abstract and experimental piece, and has warranted a bit of criticism from the prog community. Surely this is not as commercially viable or lyrical as "Jerusalem" but the band really flexes their muscle on this one, most notably working across a dynamic range to produce a rather dark sounding piece of music which fools around with range similar to Crimson's "Devil's Triangle" suite. I immediately noticed the harsh effect of Palmer's drums to back up the hyperactive keyboard virtuosity by Emerson; this song really serves as a solo piece for both men. While I would normally discredit a song like this as being boring or uninspiring, there really is a lot of music to soak up here for a listener who listens critically. The percussion knocks your socks off throughout the tune, and Emerson's heroics with the Moog brings this all together to provide a very satisfying coda for what is a rather long song at just over seven minutes. Fortunately this is evened out by the presence of two shorter tunes that follow it up, the first being Lake's "Still... You Turn Me On" which is an easily accessible love ballad and one of the group's most memorable songs. For the casual listeners, this is a much- needed reprieve from the experimental "Toccata". It is the album's "From the Beginning" or even a "Lucky Man", with Lake starting off with an intimate acoustic performance which is ultimately backed up by Emerson's synth and concludes with a synth solo. All in all it sounds very nostalgic to me; it has that emotional quality which a ballad altogether needs to gel with the listener. What really doesn't gel with me is the subsequent track, the tongue-in- cheek "Benny the Bouncer." It is co-written by ex-King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield, whose sole 1973 solo album released on Manticore was featured in my last review. ELP made it a necessity to include a humorous throwaway piece on their albums, and here they fail to disappoint, with some funky synth and Greg Lake speaking in a stereotypically British voice about stereotypically British pub behavior. While the song's chorus is tolerable, I just cannot resist trashing this tune, as it really takes away from the so-far exceptional nature of this album. Fortunately, the song barely breaks two minutes, and is over very quick. As for Sinfield, this would not be the only song that he would provide lyrics for on this album...

And for the moment we've all been waiting for, we reach the final song of the album, a leviathan thirty-minute epic titled "Karn Evil 9". While many progressive rock bands were limited by the physical constraints of vinyl to twenty- minute epics, ELP would break the barrier by simply putting part of the epic on the first side, with the entire second side being occupied as well. Considered to be ELP's finest moment in terms of musical virtuosity, "Karn" is split into "impressions", and has a dystopian theme to it similar to that of 1971's "Tarkus". To put it plain, this is one of the most intense epics ever conceived in prog, with the trio throwing everything they could possibly conceive at the listener. With only Lake's voice, some bass, Emerson's organs, and Palmer's drum kit, ELP creates a cacophony of futuristic noises and intense instrumental passages which draw influence from classical and modern rock movements while still retaining an element of conventionality and listenability. The first impression not only lays out the setting of the song, but provides some epic Greg Lake vocals in the first half on masterful lyrics written by Sinfield, and then some great synth solos in the second half. Emerson plays his keyboards and formulates his music as to compete with even the greatest guitar solos. You simply do not see this level of keyboard showmanship in rock anymore, which while it may seem dated to some, is rather unfortunate. The mere fact that this group did not need a guitarist shows how progressive they could truly get, and "Karn Evil 9" is the magnum opus of their contributions to prog. Thanks to the LP, the first impression is furthermore split into two parts, with the second part continuing on the second side and beginning with Lake's proclamation of "Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!" whose effect is largely lost in CD remasters. This second part is considered to be the most famous part of the epic, going as far to even be cut out of the overall song to be viable for radio airplay - and boy does it work given the monstrous and grandious Emerson keyboard solos which are pure money. I feel that this album is best listened to with a dynamic stereo system, as to capture the intense rhythm section of Lake and Palmer which contrasts with the treble of Emerson's keyboards very well similar to how the drums and synth fused on "Toccata" earlier in the album. Altogether the First Impression lasts for a whole thirteen minutes, giving away to the entirely instrumental Second Impression that features Emerson dominating with the piano and Palmer taking a new approach by introducing a Caribbean steel drum - in other reviews I noticed that this choice of instrumentation led to some criticism which I feel is unwarranted. This impression has a much different feel than the first, with a more classical approach largely in part to the warm piano that is overly prominent - the drums on the other hand are not as obvious, being largely present through the middle portion of the movement, and therefore I didn't feel that they had much of a negative impact on my listening experience. While there is a brief moment of musical reprieve that tested my attention span, the second impression is only seven minutes, and is concluded by the Third Impression, which is largely a reprise of the First to close things out in a grand finale. Retaining similar musical themes yet with much more elaborate lyrics - in the liner notes Sinfield is credited with the lyrics here - All in all I'm not paying as much attention to the lyrics as I am the music per the case of Sinfield; his diction alone makes the vocals flow off Lake's tongue in a way that most cannot simply stimulate. Thematically, we learn of a war between man and machine, with a rather ambiguous resolution. Sinfield later revealed the intended ending, where the machines win after "helping" man win its own war. While not as resonant as the First Impression, the Third provides proper closure while giving us prog fans another SciFi epic that we can add to the ranks of unique themes that only prog has really had the nerve to experiment with.

While ELP has left a remarkable impact on the world of prog, interestingly enough their albums seem to pale in comparison to those of Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, or even Rush. While the group achieved tremendous mainstream fame bringing progressive rock to millions of new listeners, most of their albums simply were not very good. Even their first four albums only barely crack the 4-star range, and while they fluctuate around the top 100, it is a rather lukewarm showing by such an influential band. That being said I consider "Brain Salad Surgery" to be the band's best album at the moment - this is largely in part thanks to "Karn Evil 9" as a prog powerhouse that counters the less-advanced stuff on the flip side of the LP. Maybe in a way to keep mainstream success, the group included the ballads and humorous pieces which may garner less awe from the prog community. "Brain" is arguably the most seminal ELP album, and is well worth a listen thanks to its historical value on the genre, which urged me to give this album a five-star (91% A-) rating. There's lots of progressive stuff here, and even some more accessible music for the more casual listener. Only one filler track, and some parts of the epic can get a bit tiresome. "Toccata" is very inaccessible, and will only be appreciated by hardcore prog listeners.

 The Magic Shop by LITTLE TRAGEDIES album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.15 | 48 ratings

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The Magic Shop
Little Tragedies Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars This Russian formation was founded in the late Eighties by composer/keyboard player Gennady Lliyn, he is the brainchild of Little Tragedies. My first musical encounter with Little Tragedies was shortly after the release of their fourth studio album entitled Return (2005). From the very first moment I was very impressed by their often bombastic sound with awesome interplay, the Russian vocals add an extra dimension to the music. Meanwhile Little Tragedies have released 13 studio-albums, At Nights is their latest, from 2014. This review is about their 11th album entitled Magic Shop, unfortunately it lacks those special sounding native vocals. Magic Shop is a concept with a Christmas fairy tale as the subject, in the information booklet you can read about that.

The CD Magic Shop contains 20 tracks that sound melodic and varied with again impressive interplay, especially between the powerful and harder-edged guitar and the flashy keyboard runs. In my opinion this is Little Tragedies their trademark, along with the classical overtones (you can hear that Gennady is classically trained). The cheerful lyrics of the songs are perfectly translated into the atmospheres, especially in Shepherd Boys (halfway the climate changes into heavy with dazzling work on guitar, keyboards and drums), Malvina & Piero (with saxophone and a xylophone sound), The Sheriff (in the vein of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson with a surprising bluesy conclusion) and Matryoshka (pleasant interplay between guitar and saxophone).

We can enjoy Little Tragedies their usual ultimate bombastic sound in the tracks Overture (amazing interplay and virtuosic soli), Little Cooks (wonderful build-up and delicate organ work), Tango (flashy synthesizer flights and swinging piano) and Moraziana (mid-tempo with a fat rock guitar, virtuosic keyboard runs and a propulsive rhythm-section). I am also very pleased with the beautiful, mellower compositions Pathway To The Magic Shop (warm combination of classical guitar and dreamy keyboards), The Minstrel (harpsichord and sensitive electric guitar) and the final track Epilogue (dreamy with again sensitive electric guitar runs).

Along with Return (2005) and the 2-CD Faust (2006), this album is part of Little Tragedies their best work, this Russian formation sounds inspired and creative.

 Breathless by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.14 | 722 ratings

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Breathless
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by TheDapperFactor

4 stars The most solid "weak" album I've heard

A lot of people like to hate on this album, claiming it is "too poppy" or "not real Camel" and I'll admit I felt the same for quite some time. But over the countless listens to this album i've grown to like it. In fact, I recommend it highly for fans of Camel and others alike.

Breathless| 7.5/10 Pretty standard pop here, and I can't help but think that my liking of this song is mostly influenced by Sinclair's voice. Overall, there's not much to be said about the song.

Echoes| 9.5/10 Absolutely brilliant song. It's often said to be one of the finest they've ever recorded, and I couldn't agree more. For me, this song is a solid example of conservative vocalizing. Now, I am not a huge fan of Latimer's voice (that is until Rajaz), but this is a perfect song for him to sing. The real shining star of this song is Andy Ward. I've always loved Ward's approach to drumming, and this song is no exception. The instrumental parts are simply incredible.

Wing and a Prayer| 6.5/10 Since I began my Camel listening with the classics (Moonmadness, Mirage, Camel), I can't help but dislike this song for one plain reason: Peter Barden's vocals. I love Barden's vocals, but this is not the song for them. The vocals come off rough and I cringe every time I hear the line "The pavement sticks like glue". Now that isn't to say that the song is not good. The instrumentation is pretty good, but the vocals ruin it for me.

Down on the Farm| 7/10 Unlike the last song, the merit in this song is (mostly) vocals, but for very different reasons than most other vocally superior songs. Richard Sinclair wrote this song, and it comes off as a slightly rougher Caravan song. And it most certainly is. The lyrics are clever and Sinclair's delivery of them makes them even more worth listening to. Aside from the whirring flute throughout the duration of the song, there's not much to be said for the instrumentation.

Starlight Ride| 4/10 Remember when I said I don't care for Latimer's vocals? Here is one example. The song is quite good in the context of the album. After the "pseudo-rocker" of "Down on the Farm" comes this song; calming and serene. Latimer's vocals are simply at their worst here. They aren't necessarily bad, just misplaced.

Summer Lightning |8.5/10 Is disco bad? Absolutely. Does it have any musical merit? Yes. Case in point: Summer Lightning (and Another Brick in the Wall, Part II). I actually believe this song, with its similarities to Another Brick in the Wall, Part II (sorry). The main difference is that ABITW is woefully overrated and considered to be one of Gilmour's finest solos, whereas this song is highly underrated (god forbid Camel try and do something different) and Latimer's 3-minute closing solo is simply amazing. The vocals are delivered by the master Mr. Sinclair very delicately and effectively.

You Make Me Smile| 3/10 This song is simply uninteresting and it certainly does not make me smile.

The Sleeper| 8/10 This is Lunar Sea part deux, I don't care what anybody says. Lunar Sea was an amazing song, and this is it's jazzier cousin. It has the benefit of being accompanied by Collins' fantatic sax and really delivers a nice sound, but overall it misses the mark set by Lunar Sea (which is not something to be ashamed of).

Rainbow's End| 5.5/10 Again, not a good piece for Latimer to sing. His falsettos (if they are indeed his) bother the hell out of me. However, the song itself brings the album to a close very effectively, and the instrumentation is crucial in this.

Average: 6.6/10

Weighted Average: 7.1

 The Correlated ABC by PYTHAGORAS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.62 | 14 ratings

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The Correlated ABC
Pythagoras Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Legendary Dutch record shop Moonlight Records was owned by the late drummer Bob De Jong. Here he started a conversation with a frequent visitor, 19 years old Ren√??√?¬© De Haan (keyboards), they exchanged musical ideas and in the end founded Pythagoras. This duo released two albums, the cosmic Journey To The Vast Unknown from 1981 (it sold 5000 copies, thank to radio airplay) and After The Silence in 1982 (featuring Arjen Lucassen from Ayreon and Michel Van Wassem from Plackband, with the Mellotron M400). After a serie of concerts between 1983 and 1985 with keyboard player Pieter Courtens, there was an option for a third album but this didn't work out and Pythagoras disbanded.

Well, in 2011 Dutch label Correlated Music decided to release 1983-1985 Pythagoras music in a 'vinyl collector's wet dream': on a fold out double LP size, including 7, 10 and 12 inch vinyl and 2 CD's, this is the 500 copies Dutch limited edition , French progrocklabel Musea released it as a double CD I read. I got this Dutch vinyl version personally from Ren√??√?¬© De Haan when I visited him a few years ago at his home/atelier (he is a designer) in the center of The Hague, for an interview with a Dutch progrock magazine. We knew each other because I had visited him in the early Eighties at the home of his parents (only a few kilometers from my home in The Hague) when he was 19. This in order to get a demonstration on his keyboards in his small boys room (Crumar Trilogy, Kawai 100F, Korg MS20, Roland VP330), unforgettable.

Back to the music, there is a difference between the cosmic first album and the more symphonic rock inspired second album. The difference between this third effort and the other two is even more obvious, what a lot of variety and how adventurous and experimental. Like Jingle Jangle Jungle and All Of The Answers featuring lots of sound effects. And in Sonic Mayhem Sucker Punch and A Notion Of Motion (Rollercoaster Daydream) the drum beat is tight and the keyboard sound pretty overwhelming. Many short tracks deliver sound collages. Remarkable is the fiery guitar work in songs of the final part of CD 2 (in my opinion live recorded).

For Pythagoras fans of the first two albums the most interesting compositions are Drama Queens For Teenage Idols (dreamy with an accordeon sound, soaring strings, fluent drums and a final part with organ), Floating Angel Blues For You (compelling Pink Floyd sounding symphonic rock featuring lush synthesizers), Start Here, Or, I Will Try To Explain (Gilmourian guitar runs) and the final track To Put Some Things In Practice (wonderful keyboards in the vein of Vangelis).

For die hard vinly collector's who are into prog, this is a must, the lay-out is also very special because Ren√??√?¬© De Haan has designed it himself. About the music, "read my words", that is my conclusion about the music on this daring musical project and the stunning lay-out.

My rating: 3,5 star.

In case PA keep on mentioning zero social comments, this review has 2 social comments.

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Symphonic Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
21. PERON Turkey
5BRIDGES Netherlands
7 OCEAN Belarus
ABBHAMA Indonesia
ABSTRACTION LAYER Brazil
ACCENT Romania
ACHE Denmark
ACUITY United States
AD ASTRA United States
ADVENTURE Norway
AETHER Brazil
AFTER CRYING Hungary
AFTER THE FIRE United Kingdom
AGNUS Argentina
AGNUS GRAAL Brazil
AIRLORD New Zealand
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ALAMEDA Spain
ALASKA United States
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ALMS Spain
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LEON ALVARADO United States
SERGIO ALVAREZ Argentina
AMAGRAMA Argentina
AMENOPHIS Germany
AMOS KEY Germany
ANABIS Germany
ANCIENT VISION United States
ANDERSON / STOLT Multi-National
ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE United Kingdom
ANGE France
ANGIPATCH France
ńNGLAGŇRD Sweden
ANIMA Argentina
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ANIMA MORTE Sweden
ANIMA MUNDI Cuba
ANOXIE France
ANTARES Germany
ANYONE'S DAUGHTER Germany
APH…LANDRA France
APHRODITE'S CHILD Greece
APOCALYPSE Brazil
AQUAPLANAGE United Kingdom
ARABESQUE United States
ARACHNOID France
ARCABUZ Spain
ARION Brazil
ARS NOVA (JAP) Japan
ARS PRO VITA Brazil
ART IN AMERICA United States
ASA DE LUZ Brazil
XAVIER ASALI Mexico
ASIA MINOR Turkey
ASTRň United States
ASTURCON Spain
ATILA Spain
ATLANTIS PHILHARMONIC United States
ATLAS Sweden
ATMOSPHERA Israel
ATOLL France
AUTUMN United Kingdom
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AVIVA (AVIVA OMNIBUS) Russia
AXCRAFT United States
AZABACHE Spain
BABYLON United States
BACAMARTE Brazil
BANAAU / HOLLOWSCENE Italy
BANANA Argentina
BANZAI Belgium
ZELJKO BEBEK AND PODIUM Yugoslavia
BEGGARS OPERA United Kingdom
ROBERT BERIAU Canada
ED BERNARD Canada
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BUSKER Canada
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CAST Mexico
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JOS… CID Portugal
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THE CIRCLE PROJECT Spain
CIRKUS Canada
CITIZEN CAIN United Kingdom
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COLLEGIUM MUSICUM Slovakia
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…TERNIT… Canada
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THE FOUNDATION Sweden
FRŃGIL Peru
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GALIE Mexico
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HORIZONT Russia
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III MIL NIO Brazil
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IN SPE Estonia
INDEX Brazil
INFINITY United States
THE INNER ROAD United Kingdom
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INVISIBLE Argentina
IRON DUKE Denmark
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ISOPODA Belgium
IZZ United States
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JORDSJō Norway
KAIPA Sweden
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KAIZEN Brazil
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KALO Japan
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KING EIDER Netherlands
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TIM MORSE United States
MOSAIK Sweden
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MUGEN Japan
JESŕS MU—OZ FERNŃNDEZ Spain
NAUTILUS Switzerland
IAN NEAL United Kingdom
NEGASPHERE Japan
NESSIE Belgium
NETHERWORLD United States
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NEVERNESS Spain
THE NEW GROVE PROJECT Sweden
NEXUS Argentina
THE NICE United Kingdom
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ONE Argentina
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ORION France
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PENTACLE France
OTA PETRINA Czech Republic
PETRUS CASTRUS Portugal
ANTHONY PHILLIPS United Kingdom
PHYLTER Belgium
PI2 Spain
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THE PINK MICE Germany
MICHAEL PINNELLA United States
PO«OS & NUVENS Brazil
POLLEN Canada
PRE United States
PRISMA Netherlands
PROGRESSION BY FAILURE France
PROJECT (ALSO KNOWN AS PPRY) Finland
PROTO-KAW United States
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PUPPET SHOW United States
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QUILL United States
R-U KAISER Chile
RAIN United Kingdom
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RAK Switzerland
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REFUGEE United Kingdom
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RING OF MYTH United States
ROCKAPHONICA Argentina
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ROUSSEAU Germany
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RUMPLE STILTZKEN COMUNE Switzerland
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SAENA Mexico
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SEVEN REIZH France
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ROINE STOLT Sweden
STONEHENGE France
SUBLIMINAL Argentina
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SYNOPSIS France
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TARKUS Brazil
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TESIS ARSIS Brazil
THETA Japan
THIRTEEN OF EVERYTHING United States
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ARMANDO TIRELLI Uruguay
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TOCCATA Mexico
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TRACE Netherlands
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TRY Germany
‹NDER LINDEN Argentina
UNIFAUN Sweden
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VERTICAL ALIGNMENT United States
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THE VOYAGER France
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WHITE WILLOW Norway
WILLIAM GRAY Argentina
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X RELIGION Uzbekistan
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YES United Kingdom
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ZARAGON Denmark
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