Saturday 31 March 2012

Thought Machine - Maiden Voyage (2010)

If I am not much mistaken, this is a band from Nova Scotia, Canada and this is their debut album. As far as I know, their only album too. I do not know their current status.

Their music is a mix of heavy and progressive rock. The music is guitars based and the band sounds like a freshened up version of Rush. It is in the Rush landscape they operate. A landscape with a lot of noise and energy.

The sound is excellent. The songs are good without really rising like the cream to the top of the milk bottle. This album has a lot of nifty, great details though and Rush fans, and the band itself, will really enjoy this album more than I do. But I still rate this album as very good. Hopefully, we will hear a lot more from this band in the future.

3.5 points

Alamaailman Vasarat - Vasaraasia (2000)

The debut album from this Finnish avant-garde band. Most of the band members played in the legendary Hoyre Kone band before setting up this band.

Their music is performed with a lot of woodwinds, some heavy guitars, drums and bass. The music  is a mix  of RIO, metal, Karelian folk music, jazz and zeuhl. Very weird for an untrained ear. But I am starting to know the RIO scene now and the music on this album does not really comes as a surprise.

The sound is good and so is  the music. The music does not really grab my attention. But it is still a good album and I am really looking forward to listen to their other albums too.

3 points

Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado (1974)

ELO is a band I have been following with some interest. Their mix of Beatles, classical music and more contemporary 1970s feel is an interesting combination.

Eldorado is their fourth or so album. It is an album with strong Beatles influences. ELO also hired a symphony orchestra for this album, ELO's first concept album.

The mix of a symhony orchestra, elaborate song structures and some really good melodies makes this album a special one. The hit single Can't Get It Out of My Head is a great start. The two Boy songs are also great. The very Beatles influenced Mister Kingdom is a superb song. The best track on this album is the equally superb Eldorado.

In short, this is a great album where I feel ELO has really come out in full bloom. It is a recommended album.

4 points

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Medina Azahara - Caravana Española (1985)

I purchased the discography of this band some time ago out of curiosity. There are some good albums and not so good albums in their discography. Their first two albums is good. This, their fourth album is different kettle altogether.

Medina Azahara went mainstream on Caravana Española with the typical AOR sound with a distinct Spanish flavour. Vocals, that is. Besides of that, this album has this very annoying 1980s sound and feel. A decade where music in general got lost in plastic fantastic and by sniffing hair spray. It feels like Medina Azahara were sniffing hair spray too on this album. This album does not have a single good song or anything good going for it. It is full of cliches and attempts to sound like Mister Mister or any of those AOR bands from that time. Avoid, avoid, avoid.........

1 point

Bloomer Plateau - How I Became A Traveller (2002)

One of Christan Kolf's first albums...... if not the first.

Bloomer Plateau was his vehicle for melancholic acoustic music with only his voice and a guitar. That is this thirty-eight minutes album described.

The sound is excellent. The music is dire and more on the pre-production stage than finished articles. They are not ready to be released. Unfortunate; they have been released as this free download album. The free bit here is the only positive aspect of this album. The music is dire. Hence my verdict.

1 point

Free download

Cannibal Corpse - Live Cannibalism (2000)

Cannibal Corpse is one of  the most controversial bands outside the death metal scene and one of the most derided bands inside the death metal scene. Their star has waned lately and they find themselves playing support for deathcore bands. Which is a great shame. I have always rated Cannibal Corpse. Well, not their debut album Eaten Back To Life which by all standards is an abysmal bad album. But they really delivered high quality from the Tomb Of The Mutilated album and onwards. My favorite album is Gallery Of Suicide though.

Live Cannibalism was released in year 2000 and is a great live album by all standards. It starts with the weird riffs of Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead and continues through their albums up to the Bloodthirst album. The sound is excellent and showcases a band who really can play death metal. Yes, their music is standard death metal. But it is also at times very varied and almost melodic. The best song is the abovementioned Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead, Gallery Of Suicide and Hammer Smashed Face on a live album I rate as one of the alltime metal live album greats. A live album proving that Cannibal Corpse really deserve all the respect they can get.

4 points

Rak - The Book of Flight (2012)

A Swiss band with two albums under their belt.

Their music is a blend of prog metal and neo-prog. The first three songs on this album is neo-prog before the album goes prog metal at the final part of the album. The album is very ambitious and has a big sound with cascades of guitars and keyboards. The vocals is pretty good too.

The lack of any great songs to back up the ambitions is a major problem though. The songs weaves itself through the hour it last without really impressing me that much. It is almost a run of the mill album. It is actually a run of the mill album where the band want a lot, but cannot deliver. But it is still a good album which should hit it's target audience with some good marketing.

3 points

Fromuz - Overlook (2008)

Uzbekistan has a surprisingly good music scene. Fromuz is perhaps the best band from this country.

Overlook is their debut album. It is entirely an instrumental album and it is obvious that all of Dream Theater's albums has found their way to Uzbekistan. Overlook is a collage of various Dream Theater riffs plus a lot of jazz and fusion riffs intertwined with the Dream Theater riffs. A mix of fusion and metal, in other words.

This does not make this the most exciting album around though. But the musicianship is very good and the band showcases their talents on this good album. But exciting ? No. It is nevertheless an album worth checking out.

3 points

Monday 26 March 2012

Gong - Downwind (1979)

According to the many online resources, this is the first Pierre Moerlen run Gong album. I thought he had taken over Gong on Expresso II though. But anyway, this is Pierre Moerlen's album.

Downwind offers up a mix of funk, jazz and some pretty commercial songs in the form of What You Know and Emotions. The rest is a jazzy funkfest with a lot of well crafted songs. The album is dominated by vocals, violins, keyboards, bass and a lot of percussion based instruments. Gong on this album included well known names as Hansford Rowe, Didier Malherbe, Mike Oldfield, Steve Winwood and the ex Rolling Stones member Mick Taylor.

The result is a playfull party filled album full of clever interplays and songs. An album which is far from what Daevid Allen once did and I am not so sure if this band has the moral right to call themselves Gong on this album. But there is no denying that this is a great album and one I really like. Gong or no Gong. Then again, I really like what  Pierre Moerlen is doing and all his Gong albums is highly rated by myself. And so is Downwind too. It is a great album.

4 points

Spiral - The Capital In Ruins (2011)

A new band to me, but this US duo has released six albums through Bandcamp since 2010.

Nominally a space rock band, they have taken a lot of their sound from the black metal and the Swedish folk rock scene. At least on this album, the only album by them I have heard so far. The music is guitars based.  As for a space rock band, they are flying pretty close to mother earth. Their music could pass as avant garde metal if they had said so too.

The guitars and the vocals are good. The same goes for the material here. It does not really enthuse me as much as it has enthused others. But it is a through and through good album from a band I hope will get the attention it deserves. Their modestly priced albums is most definate bargains noone should pass up. I give it the good grade and thumbs up.

3 points 

Saturday 24 March 2012

Suppuration - Pain And Suffering (2005)

There are some death metal/grind core so bereft of any qualities that it only survives on the shock factor. This album is one of them.

The song titles and album cover is a nice way to cover up ineptitude. The production is really horrible with the guitars too far back in the mix and the highly annoying drums, which sounds like heavy rain hitting the windshield of a car, is too much in the front. The vocals too is buried in the mix and I have no idea where the bass is.

The music is more towards grindcore than death metal from this Colombian band. This album is very short, clocking in at just over twenty minutes. It is a rip-off in my view, unless you are a diehard grindcore fan.

Avoid this album at all cost.

1 point

Cruciferius - A nice way of life (1970)

It is claimed that this band was Christian Vander's (Magma) first ever band and album. That may be true.

The drumming on this album is excellent though and has the hallmarks of Christian Vander. The music is much more rock'n'roll and space rock than we are used to from Christian Vander. I guess this is not an album he is too proud of. Well, he should be.

The music is blues rock'n'roll space rock. It has this very typical 1970's sound and music. Both hard rocking and some spacy. It though has some very strange rhythm, melody and vocal patterns. This "strange" thing is pretty easy to detect as zeuhl. Is this the first ever zeuhl album ?  Some blogs does rate this as a zeuhl album, but I disagree. Yes, there are some zeuhl here, but not enough to label this album as zeuhl.

The quality of the music is very good throughout. It has some good melodies and musicianship. It also has a lot of great details to keep the listener interested. And it is an album fans of Christian Vander should purchase. This album is indeed one of the hidden gems in the scene and it deserve a lot more attention. It is hereby given.

3.5 points

Thursday 22 March 2012

Guess Who. The - Live at the Paramount (1972)

I do not know much about this Canadian band or this live album. But I have noticed that Randy Bachman from Bachman Turner Overdrive and Burton Cummings were involved in this band, who started up in 1958 and reunited in 2008. Well done !! They are an institution in Canada and well deserved too.

Music wise, they offers up good old hard rocking rock'n'roll with a lot of blues and folk rock influences. This is so basis rock music as it can get. And it works too. Mostly because this band are both great musicians and great entertainers. And the audience really get value for money on this live album. Great tracks are the hard rocking Runnin' Back to Saskatoon and their expanded into a long jam session hit single American Woman. The rest of this album is not that great and the music is too standard rock for my liking. But I would not deny that this is one of the great live albums from the 1970s and one of the best ones I have ever heard from that era. Hence my four points which is a great reflection of my grinning face. Get a grinning face yourself by purchasing this live album.

4 points

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Episode - Into The Epicenter (1989)

An US band who released two albums and then disappeared again. This is their debut album.

I do not know much about this band so let's move straight to the music. A type of symphonic, flowery almost hippie like folk rock influenced prog. The main vocals are female vocals and her name is Roe Tyler. Although she is not hitting the high notes, her vocals is superb and efficient for the music Episode is churning out here.

The music is at times very soft and elegant. There are also some slight avant-garde stuff here which is breaking up an album that would had been too toothless without these interventions. There are also some Kansas like symphonic prog here too. The main instruments are keyboards/synths, guitars, drums and bass.

Into The Epicenter is an album that has really grown on me. It has also really impressed me. The sound is too much 1980s for my liking and there is no really killer tracks here although the opening track Riding the Falls is a superb track. The rest of the tracks is great though and I am really impressed by this album. Check out this obscure gemstone in a scene full of gravel.

4 points

Skyclad - The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth (1991)

Our generation's answer to Jethro Tull and Thin Lizzy.

A very significant album as this is probably the first ever folk-metal album to ever be released. Hundreds of more or less great folk  metal albums has followed in it's wake and this is one of the biggest metal sub genres now.

Skyclad was ex-Sabbat vocalist Martin Walkyier's new band after he split with Sabbat. The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth is the debut album by Skyclad. It hit the metal scene like a bomb. Sensational is the word I would put on this album.

The music on The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth is still based on thrash/heavy metal with chugging riffs and a heavy sound. But the folk rock, represented by fiddles and folk rock melody structures, is also very much present and is dominating this album. Add some great tracks to this mix and you have a truly great album that has survived the test of time. I still really like this  album, 21 years after I heard it for the first time.

4 points

Syn - Cast The First Stone (1980)

Syn was one of those bands who released one album and then disappeared without a trace. They were labeled as USA's answer to Renaissance. A label pretty much justified, based on this album. The female vocals is at times an Annie Haslam copycat. But where Annie Haslam had and still has the full range of tones, Syn's vocalist is a bit limited. Something she understand, because she is not trying to pull off anything she is incapable of doing. Hence, the vocals here are very good.

The similarities with Renaissance is obvious. But there are also some obvious differences too. Syn drops Renaissance's folk rock influences and goes for a much more pop orientated sound. That also includes a lot of funk/disco and some jazz influences too. Syn sounds very much like a party band from the 1970s. A type of music that must have gone down well on stage in USA. The lyrics are also very contemporary, dealing with love and nuclear holocaust. Very 1970s, in other words.

Both the sound and the quality of the songs are good. I guess Renaissance fans will really rate this album too as a good ersatz for the real thing. But in it's own right, this is a good album who stands on it's own two feet without any problems. I would recommend it.

3 points

Aethellis - Aethellis (2003)

The debut album from this one man US neo-prog band. Aethellis is the vehicle for Ellsworth Hall.

Six songs, forty-seven minutes is what we get here. The music is keyboards dominated and the sound is the typical British neo-prog sound from the 1990s. The vocals reminds me a lot about Neil Tennant from Pet Shop Boys. The main difference is the accent. The vocals are sufficient for this music.

The music is a bit light weight with emphasis on hooks. But hidden behind these hooks, the Ellsworth Hall seems to have aspirations of going down a more symphonic prog route. Listen to the final track Final Affinity and you will get what I mean. But before that final track, we are treated to some hooks based music in Saint Augustus and the overly sentimental piano ballad Portal. The rest is a mix of ballads, hooks and some symph prog like workouts.

The quality is good throughout. It is obvious that  Ellsworth Hall has ambitions with this band. Ambitions not fully played out on this album. A new Aethellis album was released a while ago and I hope these ambitions has been played out there. I have just purchased this album and I live in hope. But this, the 2003 album, is a good album.

3 points

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Goblin - Roller (1976)

The second album from these Italian sound track producers.

Roller is one of their non sound track albums. The opening title track is excellent instrumental fusion of the more elegant, driving kind. They have a huge winner in this track and I get the impression from fansites that this is one of their alltime best tracks. The two following tracks Aquaman and Snip Snap is also superb.

The rest of the album contains more pastoral, piano based music. The eleven minutes long Goblin being the prime example.

In short; the first half is driving good fusion and the last half is pastoral, symphonic prog melancholic with a lot of jazz musings on electric guitars. The overall quality is great though and this half an hour long album is most definate worth purchasing. Of all the Goblin albums I have heard so far, Roller is the best Goblin album.

4 points

Maneige - Libre Service Self Service (1978)

The fourth album by this Canadian fusion band.

The emphasis is on a mix of fusion and folk rock here. Some of the melancholic folk rock tinged fusion that made Les Porches such a great album can also be found on Libre Service. The main reason for the folk rock influences is the flute which is dominant on some of the tracks here. As per usual from Maneige, all their music is instrumental.

The problem with this album and the reason why it does not score high here is the lack of any really great tracks. The album plods away without really making any impact. The sound is great, the songs are pretty anonymous. But this is still a good album from a band I really like. But a bit more teeth and better melodies would not had gone amiss here.

3 points

Monday 19 March 2012

Lagartija - Particelle (2011)

RPI can mean a lot and the genre offers a wide variety of musical expressions.

Lagartija comes in from the cool lounge jazz scene and take a nibble at the left fringes of the RPI scene. Their music means a coctails bar, cigarettes, cool women with red lipsticks, piano, cold war spies and a big sofa. Lagartija really means business on their long lingering saxophone solo on the opening track Idiosincrasia. A saxophone solo interluded with some heavy guitars. This is cool music, man. One of the few RPI albums you can play with a lady in your arms.

If Particelle was a whisky, I would describe it as very smoky and peaty. That is what this album is. Very smoky. The use of saxophone is mentioned. The guitars is both heavy and half-acoustic too. Sara Aliani's vocals is excellent and really fitting for the cool jazz music on this album. Some of the music on this album reminds me about the Norwegian band The Third And The Mortal. The same mix of jazz and doom metal. And yes, Lagartija has some subtle influences from doom metal in their sound. That's what makes this album so peaty, smokefilled cool.

All songs here are great. I regard this album as one piece of music and do not want to single out a single track here. Although this album is nowhere near being a traditional RPI album, the RPI genre has finally given us an album you can play in the background while exploring the charms of your partner on a sofa. This album is spelled "make love to me".

4 points

Vazimba - Vazimba (2011)

Madagascar is an big island just east of Africa with it's very own wildlife and fauna. Many of the animals and fauna there cannot be found anywhere else on this planet. Madagascar is an own planet on it's own.

That too can be said about Vazimba. The band is listed in the Tech Metal category. But they are only 51 % Tech Metal. The remaining 49 % is pure jazz. Jazz as in Mahavishnu Orchestra. Take their album The Inner Mounting Flame and their live album Between Nothingness and Eternity and add an ounce of metal aka Nocturnus to the stew = Vazimba. To label Vazimba as a blend of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Nocturnus is a very good description of the fifty-three minutes of the music coming out of the speakers here.

Eclectic is the word which also describes this music. The music is both dense and very intense. The sound is excellent and the musicians know their instruments inside out.

The lack of some truly superb songs are my only gripe with this album. But it has a heck of a lot originality and it is really outstanding in that respect. I think it is only a matter of time before this band is being signed by one of the great labels in the scene on the basis of this album alone. It is that great and it showcases one of the most talented bands out there.

If you love Mahavishnu Orchestra; you cannot go wrong with this album.

4 stars

Love History - Desires (1995)

One of the many debuting goth/doom metal bands from the Eastern Europe that year. 1995 was indeed the year of the flood.

In a review I did for a magazine that year, I branded this band one of the best Eastern European doom metal bands on the basis of this MCD. A lot of water has passed under the bridges of Babylon since then and this MCD does not sound that fresh and vital anylonger.

Love History, the band name is very original, delivers dark goth metal with death grunts and downtuned guitars. The sound is not particular good. The music is fairly decent and nothing more. The big plus here is the use of piano which was pretty original back then. There are also some saxophones here.

This MCD is a relic from the times where dark goth metal was all the rage and MCDs like this pushed the envelope. But I still find this MCD pretty pleasant. The very effective use of saxophone and piano adds an extra dimension to this album which swings it up to a good MCD. But it is still a relic. I will though purchase their two other albums to see how this band, which I rated very highly back in 1995 and almost signed to my record label, developed.

3 stars

Raven Sad - Layers Of Stratosphere (2011)

The third album by these Italians.

Somewhat unfairly listed as a Psychedelic/Space Rock band, Raven Sad stretch both their wings and legs on this album. The sound is excellent. The music is what we in the good old days called soft rock. That is ultra melodic soft rock as in long and lingering guitar solos with an ambient feel. The music both reminds me about Pink Floyd's final two albums and the new ambient art rock scene which counts bands like Airbag and Gazpacho. Uber-technical, this album is not. It is rather soaring like a raven heading for the stratosphere. Which is exactly what Raven Sad tries to do on this album.

The overall quality of the music is very good throughout. It is somewhat great too. My gripes is the lack of any really superb songs which would had added the dot over the i here. The lack of variation and the feeling that this album is a bit too slick and like an eel in a barrel of oil is also my gripes here. But this is an overall great album with a lot of great guitar solos and plenty of airguitar material (don't forget to order your special prog rock air guitar from our shop. All credit cards and Paypal accepted). The use of Hammond organs is also very tasty.

Flipping a coin between three and four, the coin ends on a four star. But a weak one.

4 points

Camembert - Clacosmique (2009)

The debut release from this French band and a forewarning of what to hit the scene on their 2011 album.

Camembert's statement of intent is to blow down the barriers between the genres. Perhaps that is so. But Clacosmique is a blend of trad jazz and Canterbury scene jazz like for example Pierre Moerlen's Gong. That and a great deal of funk. In this respect, they are pretty similar to their fellow countrymen Abus Dangereux. The use of untraditional instruments like vibraphone and xylophone gives me Abus Dangereux vibes aplenty. The use of harp as a solo instrument is also something I have never heard before. An experiement they pulls off. The music is also driven by a bass too which churn out most of the comp. Woodwinds, harp, guitars and other instruments floats on the top of the bass and the percussion. But the bass is the basis here from where all life is created.

The quality of the stuff is really good throughout. The music is a bit one dimensional though with not much breathing spaces inbetween the chunks of funky jazz thrown at us. But it is a very good debut from a band I hope will get a good long career. Bands like Camembert is very much needed in today's scene.

3.5 points

Comity - The Catharsis Syntax Project (2000)

Comity from France is a breath of fresh air in the metal scene. Well, those traditionalists would not know about Comity, I take it. But the rest of us should check them out.

This is their debut release and showcases a band who operates somewhere between grindcore, goregrind, hard core and avant-garde metal. Mostly grindcore though. Comity really blasts away on The Catharsis Syntax Project.

The music is still interesting though and the quality of the band shines through. The quality is a bit patchy though. But there are flickers of light throughout The Catharsis Syntax Project. The final song acoustic song Acoustic being a waste of space though. The rest is good.

This is a free download and by no means a waste of hard drive place.

3 points

The albums

Oneira. The - Natural Prestige (2011)

The debut album from this multi national band.

The Oneira has their basis in modern art rock. Their music is a bit difficult to pinpoint, but Tears For Fears second album is a good starting point. Art rock, but not quite progressive rock. The instrumentation is a mix of heavy guitars, funky bass, flowing drum beats and keyboards. All of them plus the vocalist delivers excellent work. The music has an emphasis on good melodies. But there is also a lot of interesting details on this album. Given a good marketing budget, this album will sell like hot cakes. The phrase "given a good marketing budget" is the sticking point here in a very overcrowded scene. Natural Prestige would not really appeal to the snobby prog rock fan and the music is too complicated and sophisticated for the casual rock fan who regard Rolling Stones as the best band this planet has ever seen. That sums up the music on this album.

There is nothing wrong with the quality of this album though. The melodies is very intelligent, cleverly crafted. Some good vocals is interwoven between long, lingering instrumental passages. Unfortunate, this album also includes a couple of very commercial pop like tunes too. Well, they sounds like throw away Rush tunes. My second gripe is the lack of any really superb songs here. There are some great melody lines scattered around Natural Prestige. But none of them has been combined into one great song which would have elevated this album to a new level again.

But this is a very good debut album and the band should be happy about it. Art rock fans should wave their credit cards, hareem and camels towards Musea and their online shop.

3.5 stars

Medina Azahara - Andalucia (1982)

The third album by this Spanish band. Their first album was really good. Their second album not that great and the slide to the bottom of the sea is completed on this album.

Medina Azahara has always fused rock, pop, prog rock and folk music into one musical expression. On this album, prog rock aka Genesis has been dropped altogether. What remains is a mix of commercial pop rock and folk music. The type of music that makes the dance floors in the rural areas fill up with more or less sober men and women. Every country has scenes like this and Medina Azahara has made a stab at this scene with this album.

The music here is not particular interesting. The rhythm section is laying down a four by four pattern and never deviates from that. Playing drums and bass on this album is as interesting as watching paint dry. Not that the guitarist have a much better job either. The vocalist is laying down his soul ikn the vocals and I do not think he sings about splitting atoms and the latest innovations in how to predict weather forecasts. My guess is that the vocals is about love in all it's variations. Love hurts, love is complicated, love makes you happy. These subjects which no members of ProgArchives even have the faintest ideas about (sorry guys, but Wikipedia is down today).

The quality of the music is not too shabby. Well, it is by no means good. But this album is not a turkey, although it makes the same kind of noises. It is Spanish pop/rock, no less and no more. A very weak two pointer it is.

2 points

Ainigma - Diluvium (1973)

Listed as a Krautrock band, their only album is essentially a Psychedelic/Space Rock album with a 1960s sound.

That means hard Psychedelic/Space Rock with a lot of aggression and melody. The Hammond organ and the guitars is sharing the spotlight with the vocalist. The vocalist is pretty OK. The Hammond organ is great. The overall sound is not too bad. The whole album has this 1960s sound and feels 40 years old.

The songs are, very surprisingly, good. The band knew how to write good songs. No great songs did manage to infiltrate this album. But this is a good album for those who loves hard psych from that era. This album is almost converting me to become a fan of hard psych and that says a lot.

3 points

Carmen - Fandangos In Space (1973)

The debut album from this Anglo-American band.

Carmen is an unique band as their music was the usual British prog rock sound with a very strong Spanish influence. Not as strong as the more folk rock based Spanish bands though. But strong enough to really create an impact in the scene.

The British prog rock sound is the dominant force in the sound though. That and some really superb songs like Sailor Song and the title track. The music is performed with some great vocal harmonies, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. Style wise, they are somewhere between symp prog and folk music. Although using male vocals, the band can be compared to the more soft vocal based British bands like Renaissance before Annie Haslam (Ilusion, in other words). There are not any great instrumental workouts here. But that does not matter. The many superb vocal harmonies more than make up for that. That and the Spanish influences.

In my humble views, this is a great album from a great band. An album best enjoyed as the 2 for 1 CD package with their second album. I recommend this album.

4 points

What the Blood Revealed - What the Blood Revealed II (2009)

The second EP from this Scottish post rock band.

What the Blood Revealed is slightly more melodic this time around than on their 2007 EP. But they still goes down this ebbs and flows post rock avenue. The music is still instrumental and shoegaze like.

The music is guitars based with some hard, crass guitars crescendos following some more emo mood music.

Their music is very effective and pushes the right buttons. Is it exciting ? It follows the post rock formula too much in my view. The band does not take many chances here. But I still think this is a good EP and worth checking out.

3 points

Metabolisme - Tempus Fugit (1977)

A one off French band.

The excellent French vocals and the long songs would always make a comparisson with Ange a certainty. But that is not a just comparrison. I would rather compare them to Harmonium from the Quebec scene from across the water. The emphasis is one symphonic folk rock with a lot of hippie and space rock elements. The sound is very good and the album very much survives the test of time.

The music here is not brilliant. The opening track Apotres et Martyrs is very haunting hymn like with emphasis on keyboards and vocals. That is the best track of this album. The rest of the album is rather good too. But this is by no means an album worth two wives and a caravan on the second hand market. But it is still an enjoyable experience.

3 points

Beatles. The - Yellow Submarine Songtrack (1999)

Not to be confused with the 1969 album of the same name.

This album is the collection of songs from the Yellow Submarine flick. This is a songbook, more or less.

Half of this album is a kind of a best off compilation. The other half has some of the songs from the original 1969 album. Those songs are pretty awful. The best off part is off course superb. Songs like Eleanor Rigby; one of the best songs ever written.

Compared to the Red and in particular; the Blue double album (yes, you all know what I am talking about...... the 1962-66 and the 1966-70 albums), this is a pretty unneccesary. But if this flick is something you like, this album is essential. This is by no means a bad album and it is for me a reminder how brilliant The Beatles was and why I am slowly but surely turning into a big admirerer of them. Actually, I am a big admirer of The Beatles. And any excuse to listen to this band is a good excuse I grab with both hands. But it is still a three stars album, I am afraid.

3 points

Rush - Different Stages Live (1998)

I have just re-found a review I did of this album in a web fanzine I ran 8- 10 years ago. I am including that review and hundreds of other reviews on my homepage. So I better listen to it again. I was full of praise of this live album when it was released. I loved it and gave it full score. It is still a superb live album. But it's main problem is the other live albums which followed after the comeback of Rush. In particular the superb Rush In Rio. These albums are so much fresh and livelier than this one. I get the feeling that Rush is a bit standoffish, laid-back and tired on the first two discs of Different Stages.

Don't misunderstand me; Different Stages is in it's own right superb. In particular the third disc with the concert from Hammersmith from 1978. The songs are great, Rush are as usual superb. But that little x-factor which both Rush In Rio and S & A Live has, is missing from Different Stages. But Rush never ever release bad live albums. But I still prefer all their other live albums to this one.

4 points

Gentle Giant - Playing The Fool The Official Live (1977)

Somehow, I have always regarded Gentle Giant as the progressive rock's answer to a chamber orchestra, playing baroque music. And that is the best description I can find of this truly unique band. This also explains why I have always kept their music on an arm-length distance. Too weirdo, in my view. But my views has changed over the last year. Black is no longer black and I am on a journey to somewhere. Maybe to the land of the gentle giant ?

Gentle Giant uses more or less the same instruments as a chamber orchestra + electric guitars, bass and drums. The vocals too has a classical feel. This album is their only official live album and an excellent starting point for those who want to find out more about Gentle Giant. The music is very complex at times. Mostly due to Gentle Giant being different from the rest of the music scene. The music is very catchy at times. The melodies are very strong. The live version of Funny Ways on this album being one of the best progressive rock songs ever as far as I am concerned. I play it over and over again. What I like about this album and Gentle Giant is their special sound. It is organic and warm. It is unique. I can understand why this band has some fanatical fans. It is pretty much them against the world because the rest of us do not understand much of what this band is doing.

But I have been listening to this double CD for some months and I discover new layers all the time. Gentle Giant has never been a favorite of mine, but I guess it is about time for me to raise the white flag and give this band the recognition it deserve. This live album is absolute superb and essential. It is also one of the best progressive rock live albums of all time.

4.5 points

Caravan - In The Land Of Grey And Pink (1971)

This album is supposed to be one of the best albums from the Canterbury scene. I agree. It is most certainly Caravan's finest hour. This album also got me into the Canterbury scene so I owe it a lot. I also owe my bank a lot of money due my discovery of this album. It is a costly business of getting a more or less complete collection of Canterbury albums.

But moving on from my personal credit crunch to the music again.

In The Land Of Grey And Pink is both melodic, jazzy, spacy and pretty eccentric prog in the more melodic vein. An jazzy spaced out organ and some pretty good acoustic guitars are the main things I note here, besides of the good melodies. I also note that the album has a madcap English eccentricity around it. It has a flavour of cricket, garden shows, dull men and warm beer if you get my drift. It is an arch-typical product of England. The music is brilliant throughout. It is also an essential album for every prog-head. It is a masterpiece and I could go on and on. But never mind. Listen to the album instead of reading my ramblings about English eccentricity. Put the album on and start listening.

5 points

Captain Beyond - Sufficiently Breathless (1973)

Rod Evans was the vocalist on the first three Deep Purple albums. He started up this band which basically continued along the lines of those three albums. This, their second album out of in total three albums, is a lot more progressive than the two other albums. Unfortunate, without the big ideas and good music.

The only good stuff here is actually in the Canterbury vein with some good groovy jazz melody lines. But the rest of the album is not enough of these to keep my interest throughout the thirty-six minutes. This is not my type of biscuit. But I am sure fans of heavy prog and pre In Rock era Deep Purple will love this album. Those into the Canterbury scene should also check out this album.

2 points

Hillage. Steve - Live Herald (1978)

One of these unknown, but essential live albums from the prog rock scene.

Steve Hillage was a part of the Canterbury Scene and the former guitarist in Gong, a weirdo space rock outfit and the pretty superb Khan. This live album is full of spaced out jazz improvisations in addition to some pretty hard rock and symphonic prog. But all music is very melodic too. The music is guitar driven (this being Steve Hillage's instrument.....shock !) with some moogs thrown in. The music is very good and rapidly imprison the listener into Steve Hillage's world. I really love this album and recommend it to everyone. This album being a hybrid between all prog rock styles; it is a very good prog rock beginners album. The sound is good too so this is a must-have.

4 points

Supersister - Supersisterous (2001)

It is a shame that this double live album is out of print. I got their pretty hard to find first two albums and I moved heaven and hell to get this album. Which was a wise move from my part.

Most of the stuff is taken from their first two albums. Both of them are pretty much regarded as classics. That alone makes this a good live album. But Supersister also adds plenty of whimsy eccentricity and life into the live versions of these songs.

The music is very much in the Canterbury scene vein, not millions of miles away from Caravan (add Focus into the mix too). Supersister is certainly more structured melody orientated than the more jazzy bands from this scene (Gong, National Health). It is ironic that one of the best, if not the best Canterbury scene bands are Dutch. I am even not sure if the guys in Supersister has ever visited Canterbury. Who cares ? They are great !

Not all the music on this two hours long album is fantastic. There are some talking and funny German bierkeller pieces of music. The band obviously enjoys and indulge themselves on the scene and that is very evident. But most of the music is jaw-dropping superb. This being a live album, I would also recommend the studio albums. But this is indeed a fantastic live album. It is an essential Canterbury scene album. I just hope it could be more available because everyone into the Canterbury scene should own a copy of it.

4.5 points

Ekseption - 5 (1972)

Symphonic prog without rock from Holland. An album where some cries masterpiece !! and other cries poor !. It is a love/hate record. It is probably a love/hate band too.

The beef: The nearest reference to this album and Ekseption is Sky, The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. But where these three bands is edgy, creative and innovative; Ekseption just add rock and jazz to the classic pieces they use here. There is no synergy between these three music styles. There is not much rock either. There is not much there at all.

The use of saxophone is pretty horrendous and destroys any hope of a good record. The result is also too much muzak and the likes of music you hear in the shops around Christmas time. Is shoptoyoudrop music in the shopping mall the same as good progressive rock ? Not in my view. This album is plain boring and nothing more. Ekseption fails miserable where Keith Emerson succeed with The Nice and ELP. It's a shame, but I choose The Nice and ELP any day instead of Ekseption. What a shame.

2 points

Tangent. The - Not As Good As The Book (2008)

(published in 2008 at ProgArchives)

Until three months ago, I had never heard about this band. Yes, I am a prog-newbie with both my eyes firmly rooted on the big albums from 1968 - 1980. What an ignorant ***** I am....... !! Somehow; I believe this album will also shift a lot of albums from The Tangent's back-catalogue.......... Today, I ordered the first two The Tangent albums and I am already the owner of A Place In The Que and Going Off On One. Both of them are great albums. The reason is that Not As Good As The Book is simply a masterpiece. It is probably this century's The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Why ? In my view because this album is epic and with a wide diversities of styles. From the wimsy Canterbury prog to symphonic prog and the 1970's eclectic prog scene. I find a lot of references to bands like Caravan, King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Hatfield & The North and even Van Der Graaf Generator. This album is like taking all the great british prog rock bands and merge them into one unity; this album. It is that diverse. This album is therefore very interesting with twists and turns who glue me as a listener to every tone of this album. Most of all; it also have some great songs and fantastic musicianship. Some of the music here is the best prog rock I have ever heard in my life. As simple as that. I do not think everything on this album is fantastic. Neither do I think The Lamb is fantastic throughout. But I will still regard both albums as masterpieces with long lives in my music collection. I am absolute convinced that Not As Good As The Book will establish itself as a pillar in progressive rock. An album which we will talk about for the next 30-40 years. It is our century's The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

5 points, no doubt.

Saga - Saga (1978)

Music has the unique ability to bring back memories, good or bad, from your childhood. In my case; this album takes me back 25-30 years and 1500 miles north-east from where I am now to a small house in a small valley in Norway when I heard this album for the very first time. It struck me like a bolt from the blue. The guy who lent me this album, a cassette no less, offered it to me for what is now £ 5/$ 10. I did not have any money so I asked my parents. They refused because they did not understand music and viewed it as satanic noise. But I still loved it and in particular Climbing The Ladder track. That was the end of that matter and the beginning of my lifelong interest in epic, symphonic music like for example metal and progressive rock. We sold the house ten years ago to that young guy who had taken over a farm nearby. That farm went bankrupt, we lost touch and I moved to Scotland. My parents are still alive, but I have not visited that small valley, which once was my paradise on earth, for over fifteen years. ...........And two years ago, I finally bought this album. Was it as I remembered it ?

I have grown older and a lot of wiser, I would like to think. I now acknowledge that this album has it's flaws. But it is still a great album, although it has borrowed a lot of stuff from the likes of Human League and other nasty synth-pomp-pop bands. I still like Climbing The Ladder, although that too has lost it's shine during the last decades. I now like the sublime good Perfectionist and the closing track Tired World best. That is one superb track. There are also bits and bobs of other tracks I really likes a lot. But this album has not aged gracefully, I am afraid. Too much one-dimensional for my liking. The same can be said about Saga as a band. Their sound is too one-dimensional for my liking. Too much pop-music. Which is my major problem with this album.

But I still listen to this album a lot. Despite of this; it is only a three star for me. Beware of the memories....

3 points

Oldfield. Mike - Tubular Bells (1973)

This album's reputation is far bigger than the album. We are talking about one of the icons of the history of British recording industry. Last year, it was even been included as a free CD with one of the big newspapers here in the UK. So how do you approach an icon ? Walk around it and marvel at it's reputation ? Grind it down just to show that you are not in awe of this icon ? Or just take it for what it is; the debut album from Mike Oldfield ?

The opening minutes of this album, Part 1, is almost as iconic as a play by William Shakespeare. The music then settles into an acoustic bit with heavy use of mandolin. This part and most of this album has a New Age, medieval feel and some long stares back into the history of Great Britain. Well, that's the vibe I get. The music is good, although not superb. The track then ends with a variation of the opening minutes of this track. I rate the 25 five minutes long Part 1. I think it is good, although it sometimes loose it's way.

Part 2 is not as good as Part 1. The music tends to be forgettable and the introduction of electric guitars does not feel as good as the pretty acoustic part 1. The use of voices here does not particular please me either. It feels like another album than part 1.

When I do up the sums; I feel that the status of this album is far bigger than it's musical value. For me; it is only a 3 points album.

3 points

Grace - The Poet, The Piper And The Fool (1992)

A strange mix of neo-prog, Genesis like prog, Marillion, celtic folk and the worst excesses from the 1980s pop music scene.

The opening song is the highlight of the album. A good symphonic prog epic with a lot of influences from neo-prog and celtic folk. Good stuff. After a couple of songs, the album looses it's focus and becomes more like a pop album with some celtic connections. The fourth track, called "Success" is a pure pop track in the vein of Duran Duran. Only a lot worse. I would not be surprised if this track was released as a single to attract the teeny-bopper girls or the disco crowd. This horror is followed by a love ballad of some sort. Again, pure horror. Then somebody suddenly remembers that this maybe a neo-prog rock album after all and tries to get the album back on track. For the last eight minutes of the track, somebody is trying to unlock the door to prog rock land again. The result is some neo-prog with uptempo pop and a celtic sound. The Marillion influences kicks in like a lion with a sore head and we get a mess as a result. I have really spent time with this album and I wished I liked it. Besides of the opening track; I don't.

2 points

Disen Gage - The Screw-Loose Entertainment (2004)

Vow. A forty minutes long album now available as a free download and a good one too.

This Russian bands looks like some mad professors from a university in Moscow. Their biography confirms my "worst" fears too. Their music is instrumental eclectic prog with one foot firmly rooted in fusion-rock and jazz. The other foot is firmly grounded in King Crimson land. The first ten minutes of this album are really infectious groovy and makes my feet tap the floor in an indecent manner. The rest of the album is pretty good too.

The album also has this Russian feeling with myriads of other cultures thrown in. It is a true melting pot of everything. The main instrument are guitars, but they also use a myriad of instruments and that to good effect. I am not a fan of instrumental music, but this one is a good one. As this album is for free; grab and enjoy. I guess I need to get their second album too and I will gladly pay for that one.

3.5 points

Anti-Depressive Delivery - Chain Of Food (2007)

This is their second album, now released as a free download. I think it is very sad that the band did not find a record label willing to release it. Which is our gain.

First of all; forget the label "Tech/Extreme Prog Metal" on this album. The correct label for this album is probably Eclectic Prog. When I say probably, I refer to the wide varieties of music styles this album runs through on it's way to the end. The sound is firmly rooted in the 1970s, though, but as an entity, it is almost impossible to review it because of it's a smorgasboard of musical genres. From jazz and funk, via Canterbury prog and through rock to hard rock. The style-changes happens almost every half a minute.

Let's take the opening track Starchaser. It starts like a fresh piece of big band jazz before it touches into rock and then goes into a wild goose-chase into big band jazz and funk before it leaps back into rock again. The tone is set for the rest of the album. Some of the other songs has some clear references to the Canterbury scene (the seven minutes long Blood Is Blood being the best example). Bad Company and hard rock bands like early Rainbow and Whitesnake also has made an impact on this album. The main instruments on this album is organs and guitars, with some clever bass and drums in the bottom of the mix. The vocals are in the David Coverdale and Graham Bonnet mould. On some of the tracks, the references to the 1970s funk scene are pretty strong.

This album is so multilayered and varied that it is almost impossible to make any sense out of it and then put it down on paper. But when it comes to liking or disliking it, I fall firmly down on liking it. It has a charm of a newborn polar bear cub and the punch of it's mother. This album should appeal to everyone into the Canterbury scene, Eclectic Prog and Heavy Prog. This album should also appeal to those who want some good music for a party with friends and family.

Although not a classic, it is a good album and a definite download and this year's Christmas come early.

4 points

National Health - Dreams Wide Awake (2005)

Oh dear.

The artwork/cover is very bad. Marine blue with white print......... give me strength !! The 8 page booklet is not as bad as expected. Page 2- 3 lists the musicians on every track. Page 4 - 7 contains a good National Health biography, signed by Alan White. Page 8 contains the track list. What the booklet or the J-card does not include, and this is major flaw with this release, is the useful fact that all the tracks on this double CD has been taken from both National Health and Of Queues and Cures. There is no mentioning of these two albums whatsoever. This glaring omission is........ what can I say, like throwing sand in the eyes of the buyer. This is why I feel slightly ripped off by this album. Because there is nothing on this album you cannot find on the two above mentioned albums.

Another sore point of this album is the fact they have taken out all the tracks from National Health and Of Queues and Cures and just mixed the track listings together to create this album. The album starts with the fourth track from Of Queues and Cures (Dreams Wide Awake), followed by the fourth track from National Health (Borogroves, part 1). I can go on and on, but I guess you get my drift here. The music itself is not bad at all. Both National Health and Of Queues and Cures are expensive and difficult to find these days so I may suggest this album may solve a problem if you are desperate to get hold of these albums, like I was with Of Queues and Cures.

The music itself is superb and I cannot fault it whatsoever. I guess it has been taken from the original albums without any more treatment whatsoever. The sound is good. But I do not like the presentation of the music on this album. That's why I dish out two points.

2 points

Risotragia - Risotragia (2011)

The debut album from this band from Argentina and a free download too.

Labelled as a Crossover band, this album is taking a lot from Gentle Giant and King Crimson as from modern US bands like Advent. But there is also a lot of folk music here as in Jethro Tull and some Italian influences in addition to a lot of jazz. In truth, this is crossover, but not as in a crossover between prog and rock. The music is very complex throughout and a bit difficult to really grasp and get a take on.

The music is based on some rampant Hammond like organs, bass, drums and some guitars. The vocals are great and I have no complaints about the musicianship. The music is pretty understated and the bands gets their music across with a minimum of instruments.

The overall quality is good. I am missing some truly great songs here though. The band have their own identity, but has not really managed to get into full bloom on this album. But the band has a lot of potential and this is their debut album. Do expect a lot of great things from this band.

3.5 points

Special Providence - Soul Alert (2011)

Is this a metal or a jazz album ?

Honestly, I cannot answer that question. Special Providence took a very long step towards jazz on their previous album Labyrinth. And I do not know what they were on their debut album though. But on Soul Alert, or should that be Jazz Alert ?...... Special Providence has at least one leg in the fusion landscape. And we are talking Mahavishnu Orchestra here. Big time. Then some very strong Dream Theater influences comes smashing through this party. Not to make my job any easier, but there is also a very strong electronica element on Soul Alert. That also stirrs things up too.

Most of the music is instrumental and driven by both keyboards and guitars. No issues there.

This album, which I have been listening to for a while, is really interesting. It combines my strong interest for fusion and my admiration for Dream Theater. This album leaves a happy chappy in me. The quality is also very good throughout. I am most happy about the fusion stuff and is not sure of the band still should have a foot in the metal camp. I normally hate electronica. But this is cleverly applied to this album and has made it stronger. Strong enough to elevate it up from three and three quarters to a fully blown four stars album. I only wish we had more bands like Special Providence. Their concept is really great and will unite the Dream Theater and the Mahavishnu Orchestra fans under one roof. And as this album prove: What is the difference between these two bands ? Well, find out yourself by purchasing this album.

4 points

Different Strings - The Sounds of Silence Part 1: The Counterparts (2011)

Different Strings is a band from Malta. The name of the band seems to be a nod towards Rush. The music is not. The music is art rock, some sort of. Art rock of the more symphonic kind. There is also a lot of Italian type pop music here and some jazz. Some prog metal influences is also detectable.

The vocals here is an aquired taste. It does feels like the music has been composed on a piano. There is a lot of nods towards the great piano men on this album. The instrumentation is pretty standard though with a wide variety of tangents, some guitars, some sampled violins, bass and drums.

The ambitions behind this album is huge. Just look at the artwork to get my drift. An half an hour long song also speaks volumes. There are also some really great stuff on this album. But there is also some merely half decent stuff here too. I don't feel the result is as good as the ambitions behind this album and that is the downfall of it. It is still a good album well worth checking out. But it falls a bit short in my view.

3 points

Mekong Delta - The Principle Of Doubt (1989)

A bit of a return to basic thrash metal.

Mekong Delta is normally a very left field band with tonnes of strange beyond belief rhythm structures and melodies. That is not commercial music though and I suspect the band wanted more than admiration from the music scene. Money in the piggy bank, for example.

That would explain this album which is a pretty standard thrash metal album. The first half at least. And I believe the band succeeded because this album sold very well. The music though is still slightly left field avant garde at times. The Mekong Delta signature weirdness is still present here.

This album is not turkey yard material. It has some good stuff. But it is not particular good either. I guess thrash metal fans would like this album better than I do. Half decent is what this album is.

2 points