Monday 30 April 2012

Camembert - Schnoergl Attahk (2011)

The second offering and the first full length album from this French jazz band.

Jazz is though not the correct label on this band and this album. Their music is much more towards eclectic jazz than standard jazz. They mix in bands like King Crimson and the more jazzy bands from the Canterbury scene into their brand of jazz. A large helping of both rio (rock in opposition) and zeuhl is also mixed into their music.

Their brand of music is really great and they are a part of this great new French scene of avant-garde jazz. The material on this album is not really up to what I had expected. I have been listening to this album for a considerable time and it has failed to grow on me. But the music, performed with a wide variety of instruments, really never takes off towards greatness. This band does everything right, besides of writing great material. Hopefully, that will be rectified. This is a good album and one for the Canterbury fans.

3 points

Athelstone - The Quiet Before The Storm (2011)

The debut album from this new UK band. A pay-if-you-like-it album on Bandcamp.

Athelstone has as a mission to play and release playful music. They have succeeded with that on this album. Fifty five minutes divided on three songs. Music which ranges from post rock and shoegaze to jazz and funk. References ? From King Crimson, Gentle Giant to Soft Machine and Sigur Ros. The music is very varied on this album and the listener never get bored. It is not easy listening stuff though.

The music is performed with jazz percussions, walls of post rock sounding guitars, keyboards, jazzy bass, mellotron, drums and half acoustic guitars. There is no spoken vocals here. The instrumentations is like a post rock band moving in with a jazz combo. Very strange. Very progressive. Very much like this day and age.

This makes this a very eclectic album. It is true progressive music too. This is the sound of 2011-12.  There is no great tracks here though. But the overall feeling is great and this is an album not to be missed for those of us into progressive music. I think Athelstone is really onto something here. This is a great album in it's own right.

4 points


Emperor - Emperial Live Ceremony (2000)

The dust has mostly settled over what was the Norwegian black metal scene now and it is time to take stock. The scene produced some great bands and some not so great bands. Emperor was head and shoulders above the rest of the bands though and their final three studio albums are great.

Emperor developed from a pure black metal band to a much more progressive symphonic death/black metal band at the end. That's when they broke up. Their reign ended at the top and it is very few bands who has the wisdom to split up at their creative best.

This live album proves beyond any reasonable doubts why Emperor was such a great band. Almost an hour of top quality metal compositions. From the catchy I Am The Black Wizard to the more multi-layered progressive rock styled An Elegy of Icaros. This album has it all. Yes, the music is brutal as heck. But it is also melodic too. The vocals are a bit of an acquired taste though.

This is one of my alltime favorite live albums and one of the highlights of the Norwegian black metal scene. Not true black metal, but still a great live album. It is a live album everyone into progressive music should have.

4 points

Sunday 29 April 2012

Runaway Totem - Esameron (2007)

Runaway Totem with their sixth album.

This Italian band is a bit of a strange band. Not entirely zeuhl and not entirely rio/avant-garde either. They are somewhere between Univers Zero and Magma. They are building big soundscapes in this landscape. Their music has a lot of the militaristic marches from zeuhl and the harshness from the Belgian avant-garde scene.

The music on Esameron is closer to zeuhl than I am used to from this Italian band. The marching band music runs through the whole of this album. Something I see as an improvement from this band. The music is good throughout. But nothing more than good, I am afraid. This album is still a good listen and I rate this band.

3 points

Saturday 28 April 2012

Dire Straits - Alchemy (1984)

Dire Straits is a pretty controversial band. They personified everything that was wrong with the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. The plastic fantastic society where everything real was replaced with cheap plastic imitations. Watching a live video with this band is not recommended. So I am closing my eyes and is concentrating my mind on their best music. The Making Movies to half of the Brothers In Arms album. Love Over Gold is an excellent album.

Alchemy is a two CDs/LPs live album and it was a recording of the tour following the Love Over Gold album. Thankfully, this live album is based on that album and most of Making Movies. That and the Local Hero soundtrack Mark Knofler did. The light hearted cheesy songs, which marred their later career, is omitted from this album and all cheese haters, myself included, can safely listen to this album without becoming sick.

Mark Knofler's guitar playing is outstanding on this album. The rest of the band is also great. But Mark Knofler is the star here. The sound is great too. This album also include excellent tracks like Tunnel Of Love, Romeo & Juliet, Private Investigations and Telegraph Road. There are also some pretty good songs here too. But I can listen to those above mentioned songs all night.

In my view; this is a great live album and one of the standards in my music collection. One album I really cherish. The last really great Dire Straits output before they were swallowed by an ocean of cheese.

4 points

Bloomer Plateau - Bang Away Your Loneliness (2003)

The second and final album from this four man band. Again, a free download.

I was not happy  at all with the first album. Christain Kolf, the mainman here, did expand the band with three other members and set off in the direction of post rock. The sound is not good though and this recording was never meant to see the light either. But he has made them available through Bandcamp.

The songs sounds unfinished and underdeveloped. The sound is not good at all. Hence, I am not particular happy. But it is a free download and I have not lost anything here. Christain Kolf and his friends has gone onto release a lot better albums than this album. Bloomer Plateau is also a closed chapter in his life. That explains this rather unfinished product.

1.5 points


Yob - The Illusion of Motion (2004)

The third album from this US sludge doom band and my first ever exposure to them.

The guitars are down-tuned and the music is sludge as in a blend of Black Sabbath and hard-core. Mostly Black Sabbath though, but updated to this side of the millenium. The vocals are both distorted and death growls. The guitar riffs are heavy.

This album is suffering from the lack of any really good material. This album are meandering away on it's own without really getting into gear. But there are some sporadic good music here. But not enough for my taste. It is a very decent album though and more for the fans of sludge core.

2.5 points

Friday 27 April 2012

Mostly Autumn - For All We Shared (1999)

The debut album from this UK band who has become pretty popular now.

I purchased their albums one year ago in the middle of a frenzy to get everything. But I only started to listen to this album last week in preparation to review this album. That was my first exposure to their music.

As expected, this band is mixing traditional folk music with rock. I am not a big fan of this scene as the biggest commercial act in this scene is one of my pet hates. Yes, that's The Corrs and I cannot stand them at all. But Mostly Autumn is mostly staying away from those crimes against humanity. There is a lot of substance and classical music like approaches to the music on this album. Most of this album is very good rock in the vein of Pink Floyd. But my overall impression is that the band has not matured in their expression on this album. You get Pink Floyd and Camel like melodies clashing with traditional folk music. It does not sound right and it really ruins this album for me. You cannot ride two horses at the same time. You cannot eat a cod supper with strawberry jam batter.

That is why I am not happy about this album. The band has yet to find their form..... I hope ! I hope this album is not the norm for the rest of their albums too. In that case, I have some unwanted items in my flat.

This is a decent album, but nothing more.

2 points

Eldberg - Eldberg (2011)

Eldberg (also) means "volcanic mountain" in English and that describes the recent geological activities in Iceland, Eldberg's homeland. So much that all airplanes in Europe was grounded two years ago after one of the mountains in Iceland turned into an eldberg.

Iceland's music scene is producing some really great band these days. Eldberg is one of the batch of bands who is getting a lot of fans outside Iceland. Their brand of 1970s rock'n'roll is refreshing, to say at least. References are the likes of Deep Purple, some Genesis, Rainbow, the southern rock scene..... well, 1970s rock scene.
The music is based on a rampant organ throughout. Fans of hard hitting Hammond organ must get this album. The organ sound here is absolute fabelous. The Icelandic vocals too is great. The rest of the band also does a great job and it is obvious that Eldberg is a great band from a to z.

The songs are both epic and catchy. The catchy song here and would had been a top 10 hit single if released in 1975 is the great Sunnan Vis Sol, Austan Vis Mina. A bit of a cheesy children-rhyme like song. But it is still a suberb song. The other outstanding song here is Ég Er Lífsins Brauð with it's excellent hymn theme. The fifteen minutes long Hliðarlif Vor Tíma offers up a cascade of various themes and music styles from the 1970s. This song is some great fifteen minutes in anyone's life. The rest of the album is also great.

In short; this is a great album and I have to my satisfaction noticed that I am not the only one hoping for a lot more from this very promising band. Feel free to go on a viking raid into Europe and USA too, guys.

4.5 points

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Galadriel - Chasing the Dragonfly (1992)

The second album from this Spanish progressive rock band.

For a change, we here got a Spanish album without any folk rock and flamenco. Not too mentioned passionate Spanish vocals. This album is actually the opposite of the usual diet from Spain. Long, lingering and pretty understated melodies. Jon Anderson like vocals. Style wise, they are in the middle of the English neo-prog scene and Genesis around Mama. Bands like Tears For Fears springs to mind too. The vocals are also in English here.

The music is being performed with the usual tangents, guitars, drums and bass setup. The vocals are a bit thin. But they are acceptable for this album. The lack of great songs is my gripe with this album. It meanders away and I like most of it. But it does not really grips me and gives me a great experience. Not even over a long period of time. This is a good album, but nothing more than that.

3 points

Twenty Four Hours - The Smell of the Rainy Air (1991)

The debut album from this Italian band whose albums are all free downloads through Jamendo.

Style wise, this album is what I would label art-rock. There are plenty of English indie scene influences in their music and I guess that would be their main audiency too. There is a lot of ska influences too. The urgency from the ska music. Some funk and jazz can also be found here. I think the right label is art-rock if any label should be applied to their music.

The main instruments are guitars and in particular; guitar harmonies. Bass, drums, tangents and some flutes are also applied to the mix. The vocals are pretty sub-standard. But they works in this music and has been applied with great care and intelligence.

The music is pretty melancholic as most indie rock from the 1990s are. There is no great songs on this album. But the sound is good and the songs ditto good. It is a good debut album from a band who so far has released five albums. I am looking forward to listen to those four other albums too.

3 points

The album

What The Blood Revealed - Harbour Of Devils (2012)

I believe I concluded my review of their last EP with the belief that I thought I would never see an album from this band. Two days later, they proved me wrong.

This is the full debut album from this Scottish band. They have also released two mini albums, years ago. Which perhaps explains the developments from these mini albums to this album.

Harbour Of Devils, a fitting description of Ardrossan in my view, although I doubt they are referring to that harbour, is still following the path set out by the two mini albums. That means pretty symphonic post rock which ebbs and flows like some big waves on the Ayrshire coast. But a pretty large chunk of sludge and funeral doom has also been added to their formula. That is the missing ingredients I have always been missing in their music. The pastoral element in their music has also been broadened and fleshed out. The music is still based on tonnes of guitar harmonies, bass and drums. It is still instrumental. But it now speaks too, despite of the lack of vocals.

Harbour Of Devils is therefore a pretty heavy post rock/shoegaze album which offers a lot of different soundscapes within the post rock/shoegaze genre. It is building moods and has succeeded in that. In this genre, this is as good as it can get. This is a great album and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

4 points 

Spaleny. Jan - Edison (1978)

Jan Spaleny is a Czech composer and multi instrumentalist who are still going strong to my knowledge. Well, according to what I could gather from the Czech wikipedia and his homepage. Not that I understood much from these pages. But there are some universal words there. It also seems like he operates well within the borders of his country. So he is not an international superstar.

That is a pity, really. His music is not bad at all and would really appeal to the world wide jazz scene. Edison is an album with good funky jazz with a lot of  folk rock and rock in opposition influences. This is an album where the vocals dominates and it is a bit difficult to penetrate the music behind the vocals.

There is far too much vocals on this album in my view and it has been pushed to the front of the mix. Which destroys the music in the background. The vocals are good though. Had he been a lot more restrained and given the music a lot more breathing space, this could had been a very good album. But the vocals is all over the album as a sore thumb and that destroys this album for me.

Not bad, but this album could had been a lot better.

2 points

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Glass Hammer - On To Evermore (1998)

The third album by this US band.

The music is symphonic prog/art rock and this is a concept album.

Glass Hammer's first two albums were at best pretty dubious. But they take a lot of steps in the right direction, upwards, with On To Evermore. The tangents and guitars is still the baseline for their sound. So is the pretty good not overpowering vocals too. The music has got a lot more teeth this time and is not mindnumbing dull. There are some really great melody lines and songs here too. A couple of Genesis sounding great songs has also infiltrated this album. This album is therefore a massive improvement on the previous albums. Glass Hammer is still not right there yet. But they are marching towards greatness on this very good album.

3.5 points

Touchstone - Mad Hatters (2006)

The debut release from this English art-rock band.

I really liked their latest album The City Sleeps and I was more than happy when the rest of their albums arrived as promos. For once, I was happy to forego the ban on promo albums. A ban still in place btw.

Touchstone announces themselves in this scene with four well crafted heavy art-rock songs. They can be compared to Asia and some more hard rocking bands. They are most definate a part of the newer art rock scene in England which has made a solid impact on both the charts and in the music press. With good reasons, in my view. Touchstone is a seriously great band.

The longest song, the title track, is clocking in at eight minutes. This band really knows the art of composing intelligent songs. An art that not many bands in the scene master. The sound is excellent. So is both the musicianship and the vocals. The vocals is both male and female. My usual gripe is the lack of a superb song. But that is my only gripe on a twenty minutes long EP that promises a lot. It is most definate worth a purchase. The new remastered 2012 version also comes with some extra live tracks, btw. But I have exluded them from this review.

3.5 points

Monday 23 April 2012

Maneige - Ni Vent... Ni Nouvelle (1977)

The third album from this great Canadian band.

Maneige was a part of the Quebec jazz/fusion scene and perhaps the best band to come out of that scene. But there is a lot of great bands and albums from that scene.

The basis is fusion on this album. More fusion than normal from a band who also combined fusion with a lot of folk and classic music on their other albums. Maneige has added a lot of vaudeville theatre music into their music. That and some elements of pastoral symphonic music too. I find a lot of both Focus and Flairck in this album. Not only because of the flutes which drives the music on this album. But melody wise, there is a lot of both bands in most of this music.

Besides of the flutes, the piano, some woodwinds and the percussions is also dominant in this music. Music which is both playful and dynamic at the same time. The jazz feel is also very good here.

The overall quality is very good. I am missing the dot over the i again which in my view makes a great album. A great melody line or two. But this is another very good album from Maneige, a band I really rate very high.

3.5 points

Notturno Concertante - Erewhon (1993)

A band from Italy with their second album.

Notturno Concertante is listed as a prog rock band and I was looking forward to some Yes/Genesis/ELP kind of music. That is not what I got.
The music here is rooted in the 1990s and is a mix of metal and rock, intervowen with some soundtrack like music and piano interludes. The band has tried to make an art rock album, but has failed. I do not really know  which label I should put on the music on this album. Pseudo-art rock ? That's the label.

The sound is pretty horrible. In particular the guitar sound which sounds very plastic like to me. The vocals is though the worst part of this album. Some of them are pretty much in the back of the sound. It is like the band is trying to hide them, the weakest link on this album. And the vocals are truly awful. The overall quality of the songs are pretty abysmal too. After some listening sessions, I am more annoyed than anything else. This album is that bad.

When music starts to annoys you, you know you got a bad album. And this is a bad album which I have nothing good to say about. Avoid.

1 point

Sunday 22 April 2012

Procol Harum - Shine On Brightly (1968)

Their second album.

Procol Harum is most known for the masterpiece A Whiter Shade Of Pale. A song which really has overshadowed the rest of their outputs and it feels like the band is a one hit wonder. They are not and they have a lot to offer on their many albums. Albums like Shine On Brightly. 

 A Whiter Shade Of Pale was based on a piece of Johan Sebastian Bach and it is obvious that Gary Brooker and the others in this band really like Bach. On the first half of the album, that is. In particular on the title track where Bach is all over the song. I would say Shine On Brightly style wise is a mix of Bach, folk music and the 1960s flower power pop music. The Beatles is also very much an influence. Then again, everyone was influenced by The Beatles and Procol Harum is no exception from this rule.

The title track is superb and so is a couple of other tracks too. But the difference between the really great stuff and the mediocre is pretty big. This album is 50/50 great and mediocre. Hence I am falling down on three points. But this is an interesting album and I really rate this band.

3 point

Saturday 21 April 2012

Gong - About Time (1979)

This version of Gong is sometimes also called New York Gong. But it is rather a Daevid Allen solo album.

It is a bit difficult to follow Gong in this period as both Daevid Allen and Pierre Moerlen called themselves Gong at that time. Both delivered very different kind of music.

This album is a bit of a punkish space rock album, very influenced by both punk and the New York art punk scene. New York Dolls springs to mind. But the space rock side also comes out and Daevid Allen's whimsy personality is very much evident here.

The music is based on Bill Laswell's bass,  Daevid Allen's whimsy vocals & melody lines plus synthesizers. This is Gong, naked. And it really works. Although I was really negative to this album in the beginning, the album opens up after some listening sessions. Sort of...

This is by no means a great album. But it is still a good Gong album and it is nice to hear Daevid Allen's vocals again. But go for other Gong albums than this album.

3 points

Pyrexia - Sermon Of Mockery (1993)

Their debut album, first released on Drowned Production and re-released many times over by other labels.
The band is still active, from what I have heard.

Sermon Of Mockery is a semi-classic album in the death metal scene. The music is brutal death metal too. Crushing brutal, it is too. The vocals is growls and the sound is the typical US death metal sound. Dry and almost dehumanized.

The result is a decent death metal album who does not really wash in today's scene. Or in my own opinion, that is. It is nice for a short period, but I get bored pretty easily by this music.

Brutal death metal without any value added. But still a decent album.

2 points

Friday 20 April 2012

Gentle Giant - In A Glass House (1973)

Without any doubts, Gentle Giant is one of the most interesting bands to ever come out of the progressive rock scene. This album proves my point.

In A Glass House is a journey through a pastoral landscape combined with strange rhythm patterns aka King Crimson. That and some great songs which is both quirky and very catchy. Not everything here is great. But this album is what Gentle Giant is all about. Gentle Giant's music cannot be explained nor described. It can only be understood by listening to it over a period of time. They are essential purchases, although not always excellent. Get this album.

4 points

Thursday 19 April 2012

My Dying Bride - The Light at the End of the World (1999)

Their sixth album and the comeback after the 34.788 % Complete fiasco album where the band tried a new direction which did not work.

The opening song She Is the Dark is proving that the band is going more back to their roots than continuing in the wrong direction. Good, somber doom metal and a superb song. The next songs is also showing a band going back to their roots....... sort of. Aaron Stainthorpe's vocals and the guitar works is also showing signs of wanting to branch into progressive rock. Which they does to a large extent on the final three tracks on this album. This is by no means a standard My Dying Bride slab of doom metal. This album is a very ambitious album.

With the exception of  She Is the Dark, the quality of the tracks is not particular great. There is no weak tracks here. But I find myself wanting less prog and more doom when listening to this album. More violins would also have been great. The songs are a bit anonymous and dreary dull. But this is still a good album, but not one of their best albums.

3 points

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Ix - Ora Pro Nobis (2007)

The solo project from Tempano's keyboardist Giuglio Cesare. He is from Venezuela.

Venezuela has a great music scene which has produced some great albums. Ix is a good addition to this scene. Hopefully, Ora Pro Nobis is not it's only album.

Ora Pro Nobis is a complex album by all means. It is rooted in South American music. Or jazz to be more precise. This album has a great deal of lush female vocal jazz (in Spanish) with a great lounge feel. Other parts of this album contains pretty complex eclectic progressive rock too. There are some good references to Yes here too.

Besides of the vocals, the music is dominated by keyboards, guitars and woodwinds. The sound is both lush and warm.

The music is very good. I am missing a couple of great tracks which could had elevated this album to the next step. But I am really enjoying this album and can recommend it.

3.5 points

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Kansas - Kansas (1974)

I remember I reviewed their Monolith album a year ago and did not like that album at all. So I am starting afresh again with this album, their debut album.

Kansas is an US band which I think is still going strong. They had and still have a loyal fanbase. A fanbase they got from this album and onwards. Kansas is one of the biggest progressive rock bands which has ever come out of USA.

I am not a fan of AOR at all and have been giving Kansas a wide berth due to mistaken them for being very AOR orientated. An impression not dismissed by that Monolith album. But they comes across as something entirely else again on this album.

How can I describe this music ? A mix of English progressive rock aka Yes, a lot of southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd plus some US rock and country. The result is a very warm, cosy album with a typical US sound from the 1970s. You can really feel the US state named Kansas in their sound. It is brash and large as the prairies.

I think the sound is great. The songs are not great though and that is my major gripe with this album. But it is a very good debut album though and it has very much rekindled my interest in this band. I have also got a lot of respect for them. Expect a lot more reviews of their albums this year. This is a nearly there album.

3.5 points

Broken Hope - Swamped In Gore (1991)

Broken Hope was a fairly successful US death metal band who released five albums, but never really had any breakthrough. They were in the second or third class of death metal bands, well behind the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Morbid Angel and Suffocation.

Their debut album Swamped In Gore is mid-paced death metal album with growls vocals. The music is not particular crushing brutal. Neither is it melodic either. It is mired in the middle of the road death metal land. No risks are taken and no great tracks can be found here. The sound is very good though and the musicians does a competent enough job. This is reassuring death metal anno 1991 and that's all, really. A decent album it is.

2 points

Kotebel - Mysticae Visiones (2002)

This Spanish band returns with their second album.

This band is firmly rooted in the landscape between classical music, fusion and progressive rock. The main instruments are keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. Some operatic vocals can be found on this album which contains two long compositions.

The ambitions is without limits. It is very difficult to pull of good albums in this landscape. Not to mention dynamic music. Not to mention good music.

Mysticae Visiones is an album with some good dynamics inbetween a lot of bland melody lines which does not really work. This album does not really work to a large extent. But half of this album is good and the rest is merely decent. Hence my split points.

Kotebel has just released a new album and I will come back to that later this year (I hope).

2.5 points

Monday 16 April 2012

Carmen - Dancing On A Cold Wind (1974)

The second album from this English band who embraced Spanish folk music/flamenco and made three albums.

After the opening minutes with flamenco, the album settles down to a mix of folk and progressive rock. Some eclectic prog like Van Der Graaf Generator is also very much present. Dancing On A Cold Wind is an album really looking at VDGG and copying a lot of their ambience. It is therefore quite a dark album.

Unfortunate, this album is a bit of a step backwards from the great debut album. The songs are simply not good enough. That is this album's shortcoming.

But this is a good album, nevertheless. I really like this band whose embrace of Spanish music really gave the scene something good in the midst of the brutal fascist Franco regime ruling Spain. A regime thankfully no more.

3 points

Saturday 14 April 2012

Cluster - 71 (1971)

The debut album by this German electronica drone krautrock veterans.

Although electronica is technically not a correct description for this drone album. The drone tracks here has been created by cello and guitars. And there are actually some meaning in these drones which hangs around in the room. The music feels infernal like a dehumanized world. That is all this album is about. Industrial drones.

When that is said, this is by no means the type of music I enjoy. This album is widely regarded as a classic album and everyone into drones should freely purchase this album. In my ears, it becomes to claustrophobic and one dimentional. But it is still a decent album and I can hear the band is on to something here. But not something I really like. Decent, but nothing more than that.

2 points

Passover - Sacrifice (2008)

Passover is something as rare as a Jewish religious band who sings about Judaism and their happy gospel. Judaism is not a religion who tries to win new souls (unlike Islam and Christianity) and world dominanse. So this album is by Jews, for Jews. I got it from a Jewish friend a couple of years ago.

The music is about Isac and tales from Judaism. I believe these are also shared by the Christian faith and the crossover appeal is there. The music is religious in the meaning that it is uplifting and a bit sugar sweet. The vocals are both in English and Jiddish. The music is broadly speaking folk rock meets pop. The female vocals and the tangent sound draws some comparissions with Renaissance. Some music is also Jiddish folk music.

My gripe with the music is that it is far too bland for my liking. It it obvious that the music here is just meant to support the texts and the messages. That means the music is suffering and that big time. I am afraid this is not for me. But I guess the religious ones would really enjoy this album. The only religious Jewish album I have ever seen in my life. A new discovery for me and a decent album.

2 points

Friday 13 April 2012

Trettioariga Kriget - Trettioariga Kriget (1974)

The debut album from a Swedish band who are still going strong.

Trettioariga Kriget is a band who operated well within the heavier, proggy part of the Swedish rock scene back in the 1970s. Heavy, but still sophisticated and classy. The logical comparision is Rush and those were the ones I compared them with too when I heard this album for the first time. And for the tenth time too. But there is also a lot of the Italian prog rock scene in their sound. Just listen to Mina Löjen and you get a taste of Italy. But most of all; this album is a Swedish rock album.

The instruments are the typical guitar, bass, drums, great vocals and keyboards. The vintage Mellotron sound on some songs are great. The band does a great job too.

This is the first album I have heard by this band (as a part of me reviewing all their albums...... keep tuned in for the rest of my reviews) and I am pleased with what I hear. Mina Löjen is by far the best song here. The rest of the songs is good too. This is a good debut album from a band I really want to hear more from. Onwards to the rest of their discography, me thinks.

3 points

Thursday 12 April 2012

Le Orme - Collage (1971)

The second album by this Italian band. A band whose music falls well within the Italian progressive rock genre.

It is a very playful Le Orme in action on this album. The music here is somewhere between ELP, Deep Purple, Yes and Genesis. That and Italian folk rock. The music interact between being playful and pastoral. The vocals is excellent. The keyboards sound absolute brilliant and gives me goosebumps. The guitars too is very good.

Collage is in my humble views a classic Italian progressive rock album which has everything but a truly brilliant song. That would had been the crowning glory on this album. But this is still a great album and not to be missed.

4 points

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Gwendel - Irish Jig (1974)

Why did this folk music album end up in my collection ? No idea.

Gwendel was/is from France. I got no idea what they have been up to before and since 1974 either. This album is another French band tapping into the Irish folk music tradition. For some reasons, Irish music is very popular among French folk rock bands and I have seen countless bands with Irish this and that titles.

Irish Jig is half an hour with traditional Irish folk music in an orchestral setting. I guess 4 musicians. Violins, flutes, bass and some other string instruments. That and some sporadic percussions and woodwinds. The music is lively enough. But it is also a bit too bland for my liking. It has nothing to do with rock or jazz music either. Thin Lizzy, one of my all time favorite bands, was tapping into the Irish folk music scene, but Irish Jig is miles away and far too traditional to be compared to anything Thin Lizzy did. Not even that horrible Whisky In A Jar song. Irish Jig is a decent album and that's all.

2 points

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Absenthe H - Vagalume (2011)

A Spanish band who probably has ceased to be by now. The album released on Musea last year. I know nothing about this band.

Vagalume is an album which places itself somewhere between the post millenium AOR and progressive rock sound. Large parts of the sound is based on flutes, Moog/Mellotron, violins and guitars. That and the excellent Spanish vocals. The sound is excellent and it reminds me alot about Italian progressive rock. This album feels more Italian than Spanish to me. But as you can see from my reviews; I have been listening too much to flamenco based Spanish prog during the excistence of this blog. Absenthe H and this album does not fall into the flamenco genre. Far from it.

Everything here is good. What is missing is a great song or two. Or rather three to four great songs. That is my only gripe with this album. But besides of that, my personal opinion, this album has everything going for it. I would recommend checking it out. It is a very pleasant listen, anyway.

3.5 points

Passport - Iguaçu (1977)

Passport is a German jazz/fusion act with countless studio and live albums on their conscience since 1971. This is their seventh studio album.

Iguaçu is very much concentrated on the ethno fusion genre. That means a lot of samba, salsa and South American rhythm patterns and melody lines. The fusion here is both funky and swinging with some good tangent work. The music is very commercial at times and it feels like some of it is a soundtrack for a movie or a TV programme.

This is my first ever meeting with this band so I cannot say if this is a good or a bad Passport album. But I like the music on this album. Yes, the music is not particular great. But it is a good album with both some really good and some fairly decent stuff. On average, this is a good album and I will most certainly get more albums from this band.

3 points

Amon Düül - Paradieswärts Düül (1970)

This German band should not be confused with the British band with the same name or Amon Duul II. This version of Amon Duul was a collective of left-wing hippies who also made music and released albums.

Paradieswärts Düül is their third album if I am not mistaken and the only one I got by them. This is also reputed to be their best album and I think I will let this one be their only album in my collection.

Paradieswärts Düül is an album with understated songs with a substantial Kraut and space rock feeling. Add some blues too. The instrumentation is vocals, guitar, bass and some bongo and African drums. Some flutes are also added here.

The amateurish feeling is dominant here. Which is not a bad thing. But the collective feeling where everyone adds their contributions, good or bad, is dominant here. Some contributions could had been omitted and the sound could had been far better. The vocals are pretty horrible. They are in English and that does not improve the matter at all. German is a good language, btw. Use it.

The result is a decent album which falls way short of what their brethren in Amon Duul II has come up with. Don't confuse these two bands as I did when purchasing this album. Paradieswärts Düül has some good stuff. The hypnotic bass lines on some of the songs, for example. But the rest of this album is pretty much best forgotten.

2 points

Finch - Beyond Expression (1976)

The second album from these highly rated Dutch progsters.

Again, we are being treated to instrumental music which lands somewhere between Camel and Mahavishnu Orchestra. The laidback symphonic prog intertwined by some intense electric guitar run fusion. Keyboards is also an essential part in their sound in addition to long electric guitar solo runs. The drums and bass is also present. Pretty typical, but great sound.

To make a great album with this sound, you need to have some great themes. And this album has plenty of them. Mostly when it goes fusion and leaves symphonic prog behind. Maybe I am more into fusion now than symphonic prog. But I think the fusion bits is far superior to the symph bits on this album.

The result is an album which varies between slightly dull and slightly interesting. Finch does not really quite pull it off with this album and it is not an album that really interest me. It is still a good album though. But I still do not understand why this band is so highly regarded.

3 points

Monday 9 April 2012

Internal Suffering - Supreme Knowledge Domain (2000)

The debut album by this death metal band from Colombia.

There is many ways to play death metal. Internal Suffering has chosen guttural vocals, almost vacuum cleaner like vocals, tonnes of blastbeats and twisted guitars. They do not deviate at all from this formula during this album.

The music is not too bad. I have heard far worse death metal albums than this one. But I cannot really say this not particular technical death metal enthuse me too. It is too one dimensional for my liking. A decent album and nothing more.

2 points

Zettaimu - In The Decadent Times (1998)

The second album from this Japanese band.

The music here is not easy to describe. I have had a substantial fight with this album during the many listening sessions and I am not sure if I have become any wiser during these sessions. OK...... take one dash of bebop, King Crimson, Japanese pop, Japanese folk music, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, children rhymes and some rio chamber orchestra avant-garde.

The result is a strange album. It is an album which leans towards King Crimson's ethos where all genres limitations are scrapped. It is also a pretty fascinating album which has one major flaw: The lack of any great tracks. But the vocals and the musicianship is great though. One or two great tracks would had given this album something special. It is a good album though.

3 points

Arve - Be On A Razor's Edge (2008)

Arve is a project lead by Henny Arve from Madison Dyke and some other more obscure bands. Henny Arve has done a lot of TV work too. Henny Arve has got some help from Eloy members on this album, the second album by Arve.

Be On A Razor's Edge is a stew of a lot of things. All of it with a concept theme. This probably is a concept album with a lot of classical orchestra instruments after a very progressive rock opening with good vocals and a driving melody. The album falls into a bit of a mess halfway through, though. Yeah, this must be a concept album with all it's ills. Very overbloated at times. But at the best, this album is great though. Some really great melodies scattered around the half-decent pling plong stuff.

The progressive rock parts here is what the purists would label neo-prog. The other bits are avant-garde pling plong. The end result of a rather frustrating listen at times is a good album which has high ambitions, but no abilities to fulfill them. I would not write off Arve though. Maybe their first album was a true masterpiece. Maybe a new album will be a masterpiece. I think Henny Arve has the abilities. But a bit stricter quality control would be a good idea next time around.

3 points

Sunday 8 April 2012

King Crimson - Larks' Tongues In Aspic (1973)

This blog is more dedicated to the hidden gems out there than the big ones like King Crimson and this album. But this band really fascinates me and I am dipping into their discography now and then for some short reviews.

I believe this is their fifth album and one that is highly regarded. Easy accessible songs like Easy Money is mixed in with dense, a lot less accessible songs like the title  track and the rest of the songs here. The result is some eclectic, fascinating music that grab the listener. The album is missing a killer track. But that is all it is missing. This is a true great album and one not to be missed from a band I recommend getting everything by.

4 points

Alameda - Alameda (1979)

The debut album from this Spanish progressive rock band.

You simply have to love the Spanish scene for including so much of their local culture and music into modern rock. Alameda is one of these bands who incorporate flamenco and acoustic guitars driven folk music into progressive, long compositions. The Spanish vocals too give this album a typical made in Spain feeling. It is the type of music that melts glaciers. Even when they tries to incorporate elements from Yes and Genesis too.

The sound is very good and so is the vocals. The same goes for the musicians too. My main problem is the lack of any really great songs and compositions here. This album has plenty of heart, but not as much brain as required in a great album. It is a very good album, though.

3.5 points

Saturday 7 April 2012

Aton's - Caccia Grossa (1991)

The third album from this Italian band whose name and music I was not aware of until I accidently stumbled across their album and bought it for a few pennies because I like Italian music.

This band has been lumped into this Italian symphonic prog movement (Banco, PFM etc etc) by many progressive rock resources. With some justification, I have to say. But Aton's very much do their own style. A style that also takes in the likes of Dire Strait, Tears For Fears and some jazz. That in addition to progressive rock. And yes, this album is a progressive rock album and it really looks forward to the next millenium. It is a very refreshing album and I almost burnt my favorite shirt to crumbs when both ironing some shirts and listening to this album for the first time. The opening songs of this album sounds as fresh as freshly delivered vegetables directly from the farm fields. Hence, my favorite shirt had a very lucky escape.

A very fresh and engaging product, that is what I will remember this album for. The guitars are brilliant and so is the keyboards, bass and drums too. But they are all trumped by the excellent vocals.

All the songs are great. Not in top class and a couple of killer tracks would had elevated this album to a greater height. But I really enjoy this album and forgive it for not having the top material. I will surely check out Aton's a lot more after this introduction to their music. I think they released six albums and I will get the albums I am missing. That unless Ebay is charging insane prices for them.

A great album and as fresh as tomatoes directly from the farmer.

4 points

Thursday 5 April 2012

Alchemist - Jar Of Kingdom (1993)

I remember this album from my final months in Norway before I emigrated to Scotland. I liked it a lot back then and woved to get back to it although I had lost my personal copy. I recently got hold of a copy again, the original version from 1993.

This is the debut album by this Australian band who releaesed five-six albums. The band is now in indefinate hibernation. That probably means split-up. But we never know. In sixty years time, a rocking chair version of the band may tour your shores. Make sure you catch these gigs.

Alchemist label themselves progressive metal. At Jar Of Kingdom, they mostly sounds like a deathcore band with some sampling and female vocals which takes them in the direction of avant-garde metal. But I feel the samples and the acoustic guitars does not really add any genuine avant-garde attributions to their sound. But this is not run of the mill deathcore, that's for sure. OK then, it is avant-garde deathcore. That and with some added sludge influences.

The music is based on downtuned guitars and on death growls. The music has this typical 'core sound. That makes this a pretty decent album. I am not entirely won over and this album does not impresses me. But for those of you wanting avant-garde with your deathcore, this is a perfect album for you. But not for me.

2 points

Arena - Immortal ? (2000)

Arena's fourth album follows the Arena recipe set by the predecessors.

The band name really gives the game away. Big sound, big music and everything as big as an arena. Nothing is small or minimalistic here. The guitars and keyboards is big, bombastic like. The same goes for the vocals too.
The sound is also big. The same goes for the songs.

Sublety is what I am missing in Arena's songs. That and a bit understated richness of details. Instead, their music is very much straight forward big and the songs is pretty predictable.

When that is said, the songs are great. Commercial and easy accessible, but still great. I feel I am both repulsed and attracted to this album at the same time. This album is too straight forward for my taste and I doubt it will stand the test of time when/it I start to give it more airplay than the ususal ten times.

But the album has great melodies, great musicianship and some really great hooks too. I am missing some good details, but that is all I am missing in this album. A great album in my books despite of my misgivings.

4 points

Zao - Osiris (1975)

A French band who came out of the zeuhl scene in the shadows of Magma. Osiris is their second album and I vaguely remember I liked their first album. I went ahead and purchased all their albums though.

Although Zao is nominally a zeuhl band, they are far more jazz rock on this album though. The final Soft Machine album, Weather Report and other jazz rock bands is what I compare this album with. But there is still a lot of zeuhl in their sound though. A lot of Magma references.

The music is good throughout without really neither impressing or engaging me. I happens to like their kind of music by default. But the music on this album is suffering from being too anonymous. The only thing that really engages me is the use of violin and woodwinds. The melodies is a bit one dimentional.

This is a good album though which tries to reach my heart. But it barely gets under my skin and then full stop.

3 points

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso (1972)

The debut album from this highly influential Italian prog rock band.

In many ways, this album defines Italian symphonic prog. Bombastic symph prog like ELP, Genesis like pastoral prog (see their Trespass album), Italian beat music, pop, folk music and some hard rock. All with an Italian flavour and I am not only referring to the Italian vocals.

The opera like vocals is excellent. The same goes for the keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.

The result is in this case an album with a mix of church music like hymns combined with some more hard rocking melodies and classical music. This takes the music style invented in England to a new height again and I believe this was one of the first albums to do so.

The result is a great debut album that really sets the benchmark for Italian progressive rock. Great songs, great musicianship and an ideal album for fans of this genre. Enough said.

4 points

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Candy Apple Red - The Drowning Moon (2012)

A new name and band to me. There is even conflicting views on where this band is from. UK or USA. They have a website with no details and not much info about themselves. That is either done by intent or just by sheer lazyness. This album is available through Amazon though. 

Listed as a progressive/art rock band, the music on this album is a variation over the theme post rock/shoegaze. Their sound is a lot more organic than what I am used to from *insert a post rock band here*. Most of all; this album is all out instrumental.
The instruments are guitars, percussions, drums, keyboards and bass. The sound is excellent.

The music is between art and post rock with some space rock and symphonic prog influences. The music does not ebb and flows as a normal post rock album. It much more plays on moods and slow build ups. It also reminds me a lot about jazz in it's compositions.

This album takes a long time to sink in and I have had my struggles with it. Most of all trying to make up my mind about it. It is one of these albums wobbling between decent and good. But I found it a good companion on a brisk walk with a MP3 player on my ears so that, stop laughing, gives it some added value. I will give it a weak three points. Will we ever hear anything more from this band ? I am not putting any money on it.

3 points

Fiori Séguin - Deux Cents Nuits à l'Heure (1978)

Harmonium was a pretty big Canadian prog rock band who operated somewhere between Genesis, folk rock and west coast rock. One of the mainmen in Harmonium was Serge Fiori. After the breakup of Harmonium after some great albums, he teamed up with another Canadian named Richard Séguin from the band Les Seguin. The result was this album which is said to be the best selling French-Canadian album of all times.

I do not know Les Seguin. But I know Harmonium and I see Deux Cents Nuits à l'Heure as a continuation of Harmonium and as their unofficial fourth studio album. That is my view on an album which is very similar in style to the Harmonium albums. In other words, the music here is pastoral symphonic folk rock with a lot of pop added to the mix too. It meanders nicely along the pastoral path without really impressing me. Some wailing choirs and saxophone is added to the pretty static guitar and keyboards sound. The vocals is great. But the songs are a bit disappointing.

This album does not really have any great songs and that is a pity. It is not on par with the Harmonium albums, quality wise. It is a bit light weight and commercial without coming up with great songs. But this is a good album and the sound alone makes it a great addition. But it is not really quite a great album. Check it out.

3.5 points

Monday 2 April 2012

Jethro Tull - A Passion Play (1973)

The follow up to Thick As A Brick.

Thick As A Brick is rightly regarded as a classic. That one song album was transferred over to A Passion Play too and with both good reasons and same result.

Jon Andersson's vocals tells the story on the top of a great fusion of folk rock and symphonic rock. Jethro Tull was and probably still is the masters (= I have yet to hear Thick As A Brick # 2, just released) of this genre. The music on A Passion Play takes some time to really sink in. But when it does, it really stays with the listener and that probably for the rest of a lifespan.

A Passion Play takes Jethro Tull more into the classical music territory than on Thick As A Brick. The instrumentation is big, eloborate and clever. The feeling is still pastoral and we are not talking bombastic ELP here. By no means.  A Passion Play does not speak in big fonts and through bombastic language. It is a silent masterpiece.

And indeed, this album is another masterpiece from Jethro Tull and a joy to behold. I love this album. As simple as that.

5 points

Carnage/Cadaver split CD (1990)

This is the split CD on Necrosis Records with Carnage and Cadaver which contains Carnage's Dark Recollections cassette album and Cadaver's Hallucinating Anxiety cassette album.

Split CDs has a bit of a reputation and is not the best way of presenting bands. But this split CD on the other hand is one of the classic split CDs. I would also argue; one of the most significant split CDs of all time too and a must have for all death metal fans.

Carnage is first out with a sound that was a forewarning of both Entombed's and Dismember's debut album. Carnage was by all intents Dismember. To a large extent, Dark Recollections is Dismember's debut album. This is a great album in it's own right and the best of the two albums on this split CD. Really great grinding Swedish death metal.

Cadaver from Norway delivers some really good traditional death metal on their  Hallucinating Anxiety album. But they are very much second best here.

I really likes this split CD. Death metal though is no longer my favorite music and the points awarded reflects that. This is still an enjoyable listen although the sound is a bit substandard.

3 points