Wednesday 31 October 2012

Caught In The Wake Forever - Against A Simple Wooden Cross (2012)

This type of albums is an oddity even for this blog. But it is a local project and it deserve some attention.

Caught In The Wake Forever is the project of Fraser McGowan and this album has been recorded in his home. I have accidently walked through his street many times to and from a Tesco supermarket without knowing that one of the houses contained a good home studio or a good computer. The sound is actually excellent and gives home recording a new meaning.

We are not talking 110 piece symphony orchestra here though. The music is shoegaze, ambient and with Fraser's vocals coming out of the speakers as if he was sitting inside them. He is not. I have made sure of that (it carries a life sentence in this country to keep someone hostage inside a speaker cabinet). The sound is that good. The music is very personal. The album starts with a pretty untypical track for this album; Scottish Grief. A distorted samples filled doomy track. From there on in, Fraser's voice, piano and guitar takes over. That with some slightly distorted keyboards in the background.

The music is somber, shoegazing and very personal. For good and/or worse; you feel you get his soul spilled out from the speakers. It is full frontal attack personal and somber, this album.

Strangely enough, I like this album. I like the barren desolation it carries. Scottish Grief is a great track. The rest too is very good. My only gripe is the lack of some more great tracks and my unfamiliarity with this type of music. I have always been a fan of somber music though. I have always loved desolate landscapes more than typical rich in life landscapes. This album works on both those levels. It resonates with me.
This is a very good album which I recommend. Check it out on the link below. 

3.5 points

The album (Bandcamp)

Quasar Lux Symphoniae - The Dead Dream (1977)

This album was originally released in 1977 and re-released earlier this year (2012) on Lizard Records.

Quasar Lux Symphoniae, or QLS as they prefer to call themselves now, has been around since 1975 and released their so far latest albums Synopsis in 2009. That as their sixth album. Six albums in 32 years is not particular productive, though.

Quasar Lux Symphoniae/QLS are from Italy and is widely regarded as a symphonic prog band. The Dead Dream is a bit everywhere, even dabbling into heavy rock, space rock and Italo pop. The vocals are in English and their sound is the US symph prog sound. There are plenty of keyboards and guitars here in addition to bass and drums. The sound is a bit sterile and not as flowery as we are used to from the Italian scene. I would not label this as an Italian scene album at all. If my memories serves me right, ditto for their other albums too. I need to get around to review my other Quasar Lux Symphoniae albums too.

This is not a bad album at all. It feels like a debut album where the band is a bit all over the place. Mostly in the symph prog genre though. My main gripe with this album is the lack of quality. The songs are simply not good enough and the screamo vocals pretty annoying. It is a very decent album though and I need to get around to their other albums too. I hope this re-release is the sign of life from this band.

2.5 points 

Idiot Saint Crazy - 12.12.12 (2012)

This is the first sign of life from Idiot Saint Crazy, Valentin Carette's side project. His daytime job is the French avant-garde band Yolk.

12.12.12 has a lot of personalities and voices. From post-rock, industrial metal to jazz, prog metal, guitar shredding, shoegaze and some more atmospheric rock. All of it is instrumental and you get 80 minutes of this not particular good music. The quality is only half decent throughout. The album is (not officially) divided into segments with one kind of music in each segment. That is how it feels to me.

It is almost impossible to review an album as diverse as this. 80 minutes is far too much for an album like this. The method of lumping it all together into one album is the curse of Bandcamp and digital albums. I have received a lot of them lately and most of them is suffering from the lack of editing and self control. This album is a prime example of this. This album is not an album. It is a collection of unrelated songs from various projects lumped together under the moniker Idiot Saint Crazy. This project and this album need edit and tight control. Full stop. If edited, a listeneable product could had been delivered to the marketplace and being enjoyed by others. That is not the case for this album. I am really sorry as I got it from Valentin. But that is my view. Edit.

1 point 

Bandcamp album

Fruitcake - Room For Surprise (1996)

The third album from this Norwegian band. A band who inspired many musicians in Oslo to take up prog rock. The drummer Paal Soby was pretty central in the prog scene in Norway when I lived there. He also ran his own record label. This album though was released on Cyclops Records.

Fruitcake's music was pretty much middle of the road neo prog. Pendragon is a good reference. The music performed with synths, guitars, bass and drums. That and some less than satisfactory vocals. The vocals is the achilles heel of this album. Ditto for the sound which does feel too cold and not particular organic. I get a Depeche Mode feel throughout this album because of the sound. The music is in the Pendragon mode, though. In short; medium long songs in the symph prog mould.

The songs are pretty good. They are let down by the sound and the vocals. Fruitcake's music is pretty generic neo prog though and I don't feel they really added anything to the genre. Neither is this album. That is the problem with this album and that is reflected in my rating of it.

2.5 points 

Winter Tree. The - Guardians (2012)

This band is not resting on their laurels and has released their second album under their new name The Winter Tree. They released five albums under the name Magus.

Andrew Laitres is still at the helm here as he was on the first album (see review). The music is still song orientated neo prog, bordering to pop rock, AOR and folk rock. The sound is light and flowery. Ditto for the music. The tracks here are a mix of mediation instrumentals and verse-chorus-verse songs. The music is performed with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The vocals are great.

Guardians is a pretty enjoyable album. It is also very much in the middle of the road, music wise. No offensive or tricky music can be found on this album. The music is still interesting enough to give this album a long longviety. This is by all means a good album too and one I enjoys. There is no great songs here though and that is a problem with this album. It is still well worth checking out though. Do it.

3 points

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Spirits Burning - Alien Injection (2008)

Spirits Burning is Don Falcone's project and it has released ten albums so far. Alien Injection is the fourth album. A lot of musicians has taken part in this project. The likes of Steve Wilson and Daevid Allen. But not on this album.

Spirits Burning and Don Falcone operates within the confines of the space rock genre. Not so tight confines, though. Alien Injection is as much a krautrock album as a space rock album. It meanders it's way from some bars of Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby to some weirdo pop and outright space rock trips. The music is not hardcore space rock. Neither is it commercial space rock. This is reasonable proper space rock.
References are Gong, Can and numerous space rock bands.

The music is performed with guitars, keyboards, tonnes of samples, a thumping rampant bass and drums. A few of the tracks has vocals. The sound is good.

The music is good throughout. I find it very eccentric and funny at times. The weirdo pop moments are fun. The rest of the album is a bit too orthodox space rock too really hold down my interest. This is a good album though. Get it from Black Widow records.

3 points

Ocean Architecture - Animus (2012)

Ocean Architecture takes a stab at everything on this, their debut album. A Name Your Price album.

Ocean Architecture is a band set up by at least one Until Sunrise (a post rock band, if not mistaken) member and some others who wants to broaden their horizons. Which it is fair to say they have achieved on this album.

Take some hardcore with ditto vocals, some folk rock, prog metal, some jazz, some melodic AOR, some post rock and some classical music. Mix it together on one album. Yes, it sounds like confusion and some of this album is a bit too many styles converging on one plate. It is progressive music though.

The end result is a good album which will please people more young at heart and in their birth certificate than myself. I find the band guilty in trying out too much and being very progressive in their philosophy and music. Some of the music here is very good though. But the hardcore vocals is not to my liking and scares me off a bit. I awards it a weak three pointer and suggest the band should continue their good work. But not in my retirement home where their music has an unsettling effect on my rocking chair.

3 points

Download the album

Cirrus Bay - A Step Into Elsewhere (2009)

The second album from this band who has disowned their first album The Slipping of a Day and regard this as their real debut album. Something I can understand as The Slipping of a Day was a pretty bad album.

A Step Into Elsewhere showcases a band fronted by a female vocalist. Her vocals is in the Kari Rueslaatten delivery and the music reminds me a lot about Genesis, Marillion and Renaissance. It is being performed with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The sound is great. The music very lush.

I am really surprised by this album as I expected an aural assault of neo prog. It is not. The sound and music is an upgraded version of the 1970s symph prog. Which for some means neo prog. But A Step Into Elsewhere does not have that dry neo prog sound at all. It is a lush, sometimes pastoral album.

Not all songs here are great. But Sharra Acle's vocals is brilliant and the sound too is great. I reward it a weak great award and is really looking forward to some listening sessions with their new album. Cirrus Bay should be added to the list of great female fronted prog bands.

4 points

Pi2 - Dema sera un altre dia (2000)

The second album from this Spanish band. It has also been titled Tomorrow's Another Day.

I reviewed their first album Retorn back in 2009 and was not particular impressed. So I put their remaining three albums back into their box and forgot about this band. That until I dug them out again in my quest for more Spanish bands.

Pi2 plays symphonic prog in the vein of the big British bands in the scene. Retorn was an instrumental album. Dema sera un altre dia is also largely an instrumental album. But it starts with a Lionel Ritchie opening of their twenty five minutes long Tomorrow's Another Day, the title track of this album. The vocals is slick and very American like. The song goes more into a mix of Camel and Genesis from there on and out. The same goes for the rest of this album too. A mix of Camel and Genesis. Mostly Camel. That and some slick piano pop in the vein of Lionel Ritchie and Billy Joel.

This makes Dema sera un altre dia a good album and a vast improvement on Retorn. The keyboards and guitars are really good. Ditto for the vocals, bass and drums. This is not a particular exciting album which will enthuse anyone. But it ticks nicely over and makes the listener really listen to the album instead of treating it as a nice background ambience. This album is recommended.

3 points

Monday 29 October 2012

Codice - Alba Y Ocaso (1999)

The so far one and only album from this Mexican band. A 2 CDs album, no less.

A 2 CDs album lasting 106 minutes, that is one and a three quarter of an hour, is a very ambitious thing to do. The first disc is the proper album and the second disc is some more bonus and an EP like disc.

We are talking symphonic prog here. Very pedestrian and pastoral with church organs and some low in the mix vocals. The sound is pretty dire throughout. The music is bordering to new age. It is difficult to really get my head around this music as it is pretty dull at times. The second disc is much more lively though with some neo prog thrown in. The guitars and keyboards is lively too. The music is much more fluid and I find a lot of interesting details on this disc.

In short; this is a big mouthful of an album and only for the very dedicated symph prog fans. It is a good album though which has it's Jekyll and Hyde qualities.

3 points

Reasoning. The - Awakening (2007)

I discovered this English band through their And Another Thing EP released earlier this year and I went forthwith and purchased the rest of their albums. That includes their new album.

Awakening is their debut album. The Reasoning was formed by ex Magenta and Karnataka members. They falls into this British female vocals lead prog/art rock bands category. A category with a lot of fans and support from Prog Magazine and the rest of the rock media. With good reason, I have to admit. I have previously slagged off Prog Magazine for supporting these bands. When facing up to albums like this album, the medias who hypes this genre has a good cause.

The Reasoning is one of the better bands in this genre and proves that on Awakening. Very intelligent neo prog/art rock with both some folk rock and prog metal influences. All songs are good. The use of both male and female vocals is great. Both Rachel Jones and Dylan Thompson deserve praise for their vocals on this album. Vocals which reminds med a lot about Touchstones, the first band from this scene I really got into. No wonder these two bands are touring together with sponsorship from Prog Magazine.

The best song is the Mostly Autumn like closing song With Cold Glass. The other songs are also very good and that makes Awakening an impressive debut album. I am intrigued.

3.5 points

Sunday 28 October 2012

Ave Tierra - Elefantes Negros (2012)

The debut album from this Argentine band. They released the Fuegos EP back in 2010 though.

Ave Tierra is situated in the hard rock/hard prog landscape. Take a lot of blues, some jazz, some latin rock, raspy Spanish vocals, some King Crimson and some Led Zeppelin and you get this album. This album is very much a return back to hard rock anno 1970-71. Elefantes Negros is not an all out hard rock attack, though. There are also some acoustic and more pastoral pieces here.

The music is performed with plenty of guitars, bass, drums and some keyboards. That and some very good vocals. The result is an album in the South American prog/hard rock tradition. Not to mention the Spanish tradition with Medina Azahara. The ethnic flavours are strong.

I am not entirely won over by this album. The lack of any great or even good songs are a bit of a problem for me. This album is bubbling just below the surface for me as South American hard rock is not really my cup of tea. For those into this kind of music, this is very much a worthy download from a band I hope we will hear a lot more from.

2.5 points

The album

Corima - Quetzalcoatl (2012)

The second album from this US zeuhl band. I have not heard their first album yet and that one is on the top of my shopping list. If I can get it, it is.

Zeuhl is going through a renaissance now and Corima is one of the bands keeping this very small scene alive. Quetzalcoatl draws as much from the likes of Aranis and Univers Zero as from the likes of Magma and Koenjihyakkei though. This heady brew of RIO and zeuhl is very lively and humourous.

Quetzalcoatl is very much a party zeuhl album with it's many funny details and melody lines. The use of female vocals is great. Ditto for the woodwinds and jazzy parts. The album is a rhythm fest with a lot of weird things going on. The repetetive vocal lines is what we know from the Japanese scene and Magma. Their music is not as dark as Magma's music. That is why I label Quetzalcoatl as a party zeuhl album. An album you can play to your normal friends and have a party around. A good party, that is. Not a wake.

Quetzalcoatl is also a great album with it's many nods and winks towards the Japanese zeuhl scene. The art work is also a wink and a nod towards that scene. The result is an album which proves that the zeuhl scene anno 2012 has a lot to offer. It is an album everyone into zeuhl should purchase. I am really enjoying this album and has done that for many weeks.

4 points

The album (Bandcamp)

Pez - El sol detrás del sol (2002)

The sixth album from this Argentine band.

Pez has been in transformation over the last couple of albums from a garage punk rock band to a much more sophisticated latin rock band. A transformation which has taken them to this album.

The sound is good. The music is pretty much jazzy latin rock with Spanish vocals. The old garage punk rock feel is still present here as the band's playing is a bit unhinged and not particular tight throughout this album. Hammond organs and woodwinds has mostly taken over from the cascades of heavy guitars.

The result is a good album and their best so far. It is a charming album too with a lot of zest and personality. This is a free download and a worthy one too. It comes highly recommended on a freezing Sunday. It is bound to warm you up a bit.

3 points

Free download 

Saturday 27 October 2012

Annexus Quam - Osmose (1970)

The debut album and the first of two albums from this German band.

The band name and album title very much hint towards krautrock. Which is the correct answer. Recorded in 1970, that also hints towards a pretty poor sound quality. Again, the right answer.

The sound is pretty poor and the music is in the cosmic jam area with some guitars chiming in over some woodwinds, flutes, bass and drums. That and various percussions and some very sparse vocals.

The result is an aimless meandering album which does not really do much for me. It is not as disasterous bad as some other albums in this genre (Amon Duul, raise your hands now). There are some sporadic good stuff here. Most of this album is pretty poor, though. Hence my not so generous sprinkling of points.

2 points

Twenty Four Hours - Intolerance (1994)

Their second album. I reviewed their first album back in April this year.

Twenty Four Hours is a bit of a strange Italian band who has been operating well below the surface. Their sound is a mix of English indie rock, space rock and Italian prog. That and some folk rock too. Their music is strange with piano, accordion, synths, bass, drums and vocals as the main ingredients. It gives their music a pretty strong gypsy flavour. The music also has some country flavour.

The sound is not bad at all, this being an album from the 1990s. The music on this album is follows up from their debut album, the pretty good The Smell of the Rainy Air album from 1991. Intolerance follows in the same path. Good melodic music with good vocals and a lot of interesting details to keep the listener interested. This is not a great album though. Some great songs is missing. But this is still a good album and a more than good free download from an intriguing band.

3 points

The album

Giardino Onirico. Il – Perigeo (2012)

The first album from this Italian band after the release of an EP in 2010.

Il Giardino Onirico is a band who perform their music with guitars, plenty of keyboards, bass, drums and some spoken vocals.

When researching this band, I was referred to The Metal Archives and other metal places. The opening minutes of this album also starts with some pretty typical prog metal guitar riffs. Then the album takes some strange turns. Some pretty long ambient keyboard runs takes over and the album moves more into an atmospheric area. There are also a lot of symph prog on this album. Pink Floyd is a good reference. So is Goth Rock too. The same goes for experimental metal.

The music is mostly instrumental with some spoken narrative included. The melodies are drawn out and dream like. Almost ambient. I think the metal crowd will find this too ambient and melodic. The prog crowd will find too much metal here. I find this album plainly too confusing. I like the ambient stuff. But I am not sure where the band are going and what they are doing. This album feels like some of the earlier Tiamat albums. I am referring to their 1994 album Wildhoney.

Strange album, Perigeo. I like most of it and rate it as a good album. A bit more action would had been good, though. It is a good album and check it out on Youtube.

3 points

Friday 26 October 2012

Teoremi. I - I Teoremi (1972)

One of the many one album wonders Italian bands from the 1970s. Nothing has ever been heard about this band again after they disbanded.

I Teoremi was making music somewhere in the border area between Led Zeppelin and the Italian prog rock scene. The music is Led Zeppelin like with Italian lyrics and flavour. The music is pretty intricate though with rampant bass, guitars and drums. The vocals too is pretty rampant. Very good vocals, though.

The result is a pretty decent to good album without the really good songs, but still with some good stuff on it. Mostly the rhythm figures the band comes up with and the very good vocals. I would not really label this as a good album though. But those interested in hard psych and hard rock from Italy should really check out this album.

2.5 points

Thursday 25 October 2012

Winter Tree. The - The Winter Tree (2011)

A kind of a new start from this band who previously called themselves Magus. They released five albums under that name. I am not sure why they changed name. But I guess a new lineup is the reason. I also believe they have changed musical direction. Magus was often mentioned as a Porcupine Tree copycat. That is not the case with this album.

Andrew Laitres is still the driving force in The Winter Tree as he was in Magus. The music is a mix of AOR, neo prog and folk rock. Very melodic and very pop-rock at times. The lyrics is also down to earth with love and hate as themes. No outer space experiences on this album.

The music is pretty much drenched in keyboards with guitars playing supporting role. The vocals are good. The sound is good and so is the melodies here. That makes some pretty enjoyable listening sessions and I find a lot of small details I appreciate. The keyboards are pretty rampant and threads where few keyboards dare to thread.

In short, this is a good new start for this band and I am looking forward to listen to their brand new album.

3 points

Consorzio Acqua Potabile - Nei Gorghi del Tempo (1992)

The debut album from one of the better Italian symph prog bands from the 1990s.

Consorzio Acqua Potabile's history goes back to the 1970s though. Which may explain the rich, classic Rock Progressivo Italiano sound on this album. Think Banco and think PFM here. Also think Le Orme. The holy trinity of Rock Progressivo Italiano, in other words. Consorzio Acqua Potabile has taken up their sound and style.

That means a lot of intricate melodies with flowery, strong Italian vocals. Excellent vocals, to be more precise. They are supported by keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and some violins. The sound is a bit dry, though. A bit warmer sound would had been a good thing. 

The album is great from start to finish. The songs are rather long. The mighty thirteen minutes long In un Vecchio Castello is a superb song which takes in the best of the  Rock Progressivo Italiano genre.

This is in short a great  Rock Progressivo Italiano album which is a must have for fans of this genre.

4 points 

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Guru Guru - Don't Call Us We Call You (1973)

The fifth album by this German band.

Guru Guru was a member of the space and krautrock scene in Germany. They are one of the pioneers in that scene. They always had a lot of other influences too on their albums. On this album, they have gone a bit off tangents into rockabilly, rock, fusion and Indian music. Not to mention; into the Hare Krishna music. The result is a pretty disjointed affair with no real good songs and a lot of various genres sitting side by side on this album. At times, they sounds like Gong. That is Daevid Allen's Gong, btw. They does not pull that copycat off, though.

In short, this album is barely a decent album and not one I really enjoy. A weak decent rating is awarded.

2 points 

Van Der Graaf Generator - H To He, Who Am The Only One (1970)


Their third album. Their darkened eclectic prog style has been set in stone. Ditto for their classic lineup. The band are in full flow on this album.

This album starts with the classic Killers. A superb song and some strange lyrics. So far, so great. The next songs are a big let down, though. Neither Lost, House With No Door and The Emperor In His War-Room resonates with me. The majority of the final song Pioneers Over C is very good though.

I am not a big fan of this album. It has one superb song and that's it. It is nowhere as good as the follow up to this album; Pawn Heart. This album is still a good album though and well worth checking out.

3 points

Corvus Stone - Corvus Stone (2012)

The debut album from an online band with members from BunChakeze, Road to Avalon, Raven and a couple of other bands. Corvus Stone is therefore more a project than a band. To my knowledge, the bandmembers has never met each other, face to face. There is no plans to do gigs.
Welcome to the prog world anno 2012. The world of broadband and gigabytes.

I was mentioning this because this album is influenced by the wonders of long distance writing and recording of an album. That means an eighty minutes long album like this.

The instruments used here is guitars, keyboards, bass and drums and some vocals. The sound is OK, digital and not organic. The music here is very much a digital band release with a lot of ideas spread over eighty minutes. Good ideas which could and should have been distilled/edited down to much more suitable lenght. There is a lot of aimless wandering around on this album. It feels like waiting around in a living room for your woman to get dressed up for a night out. Not the most sparkling passionate time in a relationship.
The aimless wandering around is mainly done in a landscape between fusion and symphonic prog. The album is sailing very close to being a bit lounge music at times. And that is not a compliment.

The best song on this album is the Black Widow cover You’re So Wrong. That song feels a bit misplaced on this album which seriously drifts a bit rudderless on an open ocean. Get a producer or a serious editing programme next time.

In short; a lot of good ideas spread too thin throughout eighty minutes. A good attempt and something to build on.

3 points

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Mangala Vallis - Microsolco (2012)

The third album from this American sounding Italian symph prog band.

Mangala Vallis does not sound like an Italian band at all. They very much sounds like a mix of Genesis @ Wind & Wuthering and in particular; Spock's Beard throughout their career. Their sound is based on multiple layers of keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. That and some vocals.

The music is intelligent, symphonic and very well crafted. Roberto Tiranti's excellent vocals sounds like he has lived in New York all his life. Heavy metal vocals, they are too. The rest of Mangala Vallis is like a supergroup with members from various bands and projects. That explains the very professional sounding album.

Professional sounding it is. Short on that extra spark and surprise, it is too. The title track is a great track. The rest is well crafted symph prog, and only that. This album does not have this x-factor and life. But it is still a very good symph prog album which should be an automatic purchase for fans of Spock's Beard and other symph prog fans.

3.5 points

Mr. So & So - Compendium (1994)

The second album from this British neo prog band. A band still gigging hard around the UK and Europe. A new album has just been released.

Great Britain and the rest of Europe had a lot of pretty dodgy neo prog bands and their releases in the 1990s. Mr. So & So is not one of those bands. They are one of the better neo prog bands.

Their setup is the normal guitars, keyboards, bass, vocals and drums setup. The sound on this album is the typical 1980s to 1990s sound. The vocals pretty laboured and stressed out. The songs are pretty good though. There is a nice, naive freshness in their songs. There are also some really interesting details here. I am by no means won over by this album. But it still have some qualities I appreciate. Check it out.

3 points

Monday 22 October 2012

Focus - Ship Of Memories (1973)

A compilation of unreleased songs from their whole career dressed up as a studio album. A pitiful way of treating the Focus brand, really.

The first songs are pretty much fusion orientated and seems like leftovers from their previous album Mother Focus. The second half of this album sounds like good old Focus from their first albums. It is still leftovers and it is pretty obvious why this material did not make it into one of their albums.

This album feels like a bit of a rip off and undeserving both Focus and their fans. Fans like myself. This is a decent album, but nothing more than that.

2 points

Thumpermonkey Lives - Chap With The Wings, Five Rounds Rapid (2006)

The second album from this English band.

Thumpermonkey Lives style is a stew of everything from Napalm Death to David Bowie. Art music with some grindcore elements. Post punk, post grindcore, post rock, post jazz, post art, post music, post everything, post that package. This band is everything above.

Chap With The Wings, Five Rounds Rapid is not as hard and grindcore focused as their first album Pigheart. It is a much more ambient and refined album. It is not as much in my face as Pigheart. Unfortunate, the cascades of guitars and vocals is not as interesting as Pigheart was. Neither is it particular original either. Their adoptation of post rock has killed of their freshness.

This is by all means a decent album and worthy the download. I am not that impressed although Memory Fat is a good song.

2.5 points

Thumpermonkey Lives Bandcamp 

Sunday 21 October 2012

Lacrimosa - Revolution (2012)

Lacrimosa is still alive and this is their eleventh studio album, I believe. I was a big fan of them around their 1995 album Inferno. That album is still their best album by miles.

Lacrimosa is the brainchild of Tilo Wolff from Germany and the first Lacrimosa album was released twenty years ago. They are rightly regarded as a cult band in the Goth Rock/Metal scene and one of the originators in this scene. They have more or less kept to their original formula throughout. The Lacrimosa formula is tonnes of sampled symphonic instruments, a plastic fantastic sound, Tino's rasping vocals and Anne Nurmi's female vocals. That and the black and white cover art paintings.

I have to admit I have grown tired of Lacrimosa's formula many years ago. Revolution is as much revolution as status quo can ever be. Fans of Lacrimosa can safely purchase this album. An album with the usual stuff. There is no great songs here and nothing that really interest me. This is a decent album, but nothing more.

2 points

Heptagram - Lucidity (2012)

The debut album from this project from Bulgaria. A project lead by Daniel Ivanov. I feel that I am on a bit thin ice when I am reviewing albums like that. Albums with the new prog rock sound.

The basis of this album is the sounds of Porcupine Tree. Then you can add some electronica, post rock, indie, space and folk rock. The basis is half acoustic guitars and vocals. They are helped out by drums and bass. The music is dreamy, ambient and flowery. It is flower power anno 2012. Flower power with totally different instruments than in the 1960s. But still post rock flower power. Very much contemporary with a modern sound.

Daniel's vocals and guitars are really good. In particular the guitars which is more like wall of sound than guitar solos. That is a great sound. My gripe is the lack of great songs. As a debut album, this is a great effort. I am though missing some great songs.

This album is a free download and almost an obligatory download too. See link below.

3.5 points

The album 

Grobschnitt - Fantasten (1987)

The ninth and final album from this rather strange German band who operated somewhere between kraut, symph and eclectic prog.

On this album though, they went down the German pop-rock music route with the usual 1980s sound. That and German vocals. I got no issue with the German vocals which is the best about this album. The music is horrible, light heart pop music with some horrible synths and child rhymes like melodies. This album is a reason why I detest that pop-rock genre with a burning passion.

Grobschnitt also fails to make it big in this genre as the songs are pretty poor and fails to hit the Mr Mister and Simple Minds market by many miles. This album is horrible and a terrible way for Grobschnitt to leave this planet. They are still gigging, I have heard. But probably not on this album.

1 point

Moody Blues. The - In Search of the Lost Chord (1968)

The Moody Blues is back to a more pop-rock themed landscape after exploring the symphonic orchestras on the previous year's Days Of Future Passed. It is obvious that they have moved away from the beat music on their 1966 album The Magnificent Moodies. They have become the famous band The Moody Blues.

In Search of the Lost Chord is heavy based on what The Beatles did. Even the sitar are included here. Justin Hayward's vocals is miles better than anything John and Paul did. The emphasis is still on orchestral arrangements. Clever orchestral arrangements with mellotron, keyboards and flutes. The Moody Blues was still sowing the seeds of progressive rock on this album as they started with on Days Of Future Passed.

The result is a very good flowery album which is very pleasing to the ears. The arrangements are excellent. The songs really not that great. The sound is very good too. Justin Hayward's vocals is brilliant. Ditto for the flutes. In Search of the Lost Chord is still a step backwards from Days Of Future Passed. But it is still a very good album from a band I am getting more and more into in my journey through their discography. A very pleasant journey and one I recommend.

3.5 points     

Saturday 20 October 2012

Anglagard - Buried Alive (1996)

Their live album which followed their first two albums. The band had split up by then and Musea released this album as their farewell. Anglagard reformed though for this year's Viljans Oga album and triumphant return at a big US prog fest.

Buried Alive is a good run through their first two albums. The sound is pretty poor though and destroy what could had been a great album. Their best song Jordrok starts the proceedings and one hour of Anglagard at their best and worst follows. I am a big fan of their scene defining first album, but not such a great fan of their second album. The poor sound also does not help this album. The music looses a lot of it's dynamics due to the poor sound.

If you can find this good album somewhere for a reasonable price, purchase it. If not, you are not loosing out on something great. This is a good album, period.

3 points 

Treni All'Alba. I - Folk Destroyer (2008)

The debut album from one of the oddities from the Italian prog rock scene. This album is indeed an oddity in itself.

I Treni All 'Alba has chosen to go down the folk music route on this album. Mostly instrumental folk rock based on acoustic guitars and piano. There are also some violins and bass here. Not to mention; tijuana trumpets as in Mexican and Spanish folk music. The music on this album most definate has a Spanish flavour. It also has a RIO flavour with good references to the likes of Aranis. There are also some jazz and Italian prog rock influences here. In particular in the piano playing. In short, this album is everywhere.

I don't find many good melodies or much of what I find interesting on this album. I feel it operates slightly in cliches and takes music and ideas from various sources, mixes it together and presents it as this album. This album is highly regarded but I simply don't get it. The music is half baked in most regards. It tries to much and fails.

This album is a decent album, but nothing more. It is not in my taste, though.

2 points

Desert Wizards - Desert Wizards (2011)

Desert Wizards is an Italian band who released their debut album Dos in 2009 on their own record label and re-released it through Black Widow two years later as this album.

Desert Wizards plays psychedelic rock. Not as in hard  psychedelic rock though. Their music is.... eeh.... as cold as a sunset in the desert. Cool  psychedelic rock in other words. The music is performed with guitars, keyboards, drums and bass. That and both female and male vocals. The sound is early 1970s and most definate retro with the Hammond organ taking us decades back in time. Ditto for the rather downtunes sound too. Not a bad sound, but a retro sound fitting their music.

The music is decent enough. I am not won over by the vocals and the quality of the music. There simply enough not much good music on this album. These fifty minutes are decent enough though and fans of  psychedelic rock should check out this album.

2 points

Friday 19 October 2012

Mangala Vallis - Lycanthrope (2005)

The second album from this Italian symph/neo prog band.

Their first album The Book of Dreams from 2002 was a very promising album. A promise they almost delivers on this album. Their basis is still US and British symph prog. The best reference is Spock's Beard. The vocals, sung by Bernardo Lanzetti from the 1970s great band PFM, sounds a bit like Tina Turner.  Sorry, Bernando.....  His vocals is also in English, btw. David Jackson from VdGG also helps out on saxophone. The main instruments though is keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and melotron. The result is a very good, lush sound. Sometimes, this album almost breaks into soul. Just like Spock's Beard sometimes also does.

The music is the typical neo & symph prog with a lot of dramatic vocals and music. That and some pastoral parts which is supported by a generous helping of melotrons. Mangala Vallis hits all the right notes. That also includes a couple of long guitar solos. They are not scoring high in the originality stakes, though. The music is very good though and I really enjoy parts of this album. It is a recommended album.

3.5 points

Springsteen. Bruce - Born In The USA (1984)

Bruce Springsteen..... Born In The USA..... That is a quandary for me. I was a big fan of Mr. Springsteen for a long time until I started to find his music and rock'n'roll in general too simple and too boring for my tastes. There is nothing here to inspire and stimulate me. Melody and music wise, that is. I strongly sympatize and agrees with his lyrics. The poor working class man trying to get a decent living against all odds. The outsider trying to earn a decent living and to get accepted. That is my own life in short and Bruce Springsteen has mostly always been my voice. Lyrics wise, that is.

Born In The USA was his biggest commercial success. It was also claimed as their own by the people this album was against. Which is ironic. But when you put the name, Born In The USA on an album or any products, it will attract the morons. Bruce Springsteen learnt that lesson on this album. He has not repeated this mistake.

Born In The USA is also an oddity in his discography. The title track is against the Vietnam war which was still in the forefront of people's minds, ten years or so after USA had left Saigon. The rest of the songs are about broken dreams and lost illusions. Still, it sold tonnes of albums and this was regarded as an uplifting album. Strangely enough, it was an uplifting party music album. It is also the uplifting oddity in Springsteen's pretty dark discography. Born In The USA was the follow up to the very darkened acoustic Nebraska album.

Born In The USA is also an icon of the 1980s. It has not particular survived the test of time like his best albums The River and the iconic Born To Run has. Born In The USA is much more commercial and slick. It is an album which floats on the surface and hardly ever goes deeper than that. Only the title track, Darlington County and My Hometown has really survived the test of time. The other songs are not that interesting. This album is by all means an enjoyable listen and a good album. But I much prefer the real Bruce Springsteen albums to this album which I feel was and is too slick. It is an oddity. I give it......

2.5 points 

Mogador - All I Am Is Of My Own Making (2010)

The second album from this Italian symph prog band who has chosen to sing in English instead of their mother tongue.

Their sound and music too is in the US & British vein. Tonnes of keyboards supported by guitars, bass, drums and some very good vocals. That and some sporadic flutes, glockenspiel and alt saxophone. Style wise, this album comes across as somewhere between neo prog and symph prog. An area occupied by a lot of bands. The sound is excellent and I got no complaints. Comparrissons are numerous. Pallas, Genesis, Pendragon....... the list is long.

The music is very pleasant and this is an album I mostly enjoys. The quality is very good. The music is a bit too slick for my liking as I prefer some teeth. This album is all about elegance and style. There is no great songs here though and this album blends in nicely with the many albums I got with this blend of neo and symph. Fans of both genres should really check out this very good album.

3.5 points

Acid Mothers Temple - Pataphisical Freak Out MU!! (1999)

The second album from this Japanese space rock band. The second album in around 52 studio albums. Which says a lot about this band. 52 albums and the band even charges money for their albums. They also tours a lot.

This album is a 70 minutes long jam where we find a lot of distorted guitars and not much else. The distorted guitars is supported by some sort of drumming and bass. Both all over the place and not much thinking has been put into this. My guess is plug in, run the tape and release the result. No second takes and no structure.

I got their latest album Son Of A Bitches Brew and I get the feeling that this is the same album. There are some pieces of corn among the sand during this 70 minutes long album. But not many enough to feel that I have been a bit cheated. Unless space jams from outer space with distorted guitars is your thing; avoid this album.

1 point

Thursday 18 October 2012

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Dont Hear It…Fear It!! (2012)

Gosh, this retro wave is throwing up some funny albums. Funny as in gritty, name this band games.

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell is an UK band signed on Rise Above Records (run by Lee Dorian from Cathedral and ex Napalm Death) which seems to be playing gigs around UK. Just like the two bands they sounds like. Budgie and Black Sabbath. Even their image, clothes and hairstyles is a throwback to 1970s. Ditto for their sound too. Not the cleanest sound I have heard. But that too is a part of this package. The band name, taken from an English admiral with the same name. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell is a great package and a very welcome addition to the music scene.

Their music is as stated above, a mix of Black Sabbath and Budgie. Add a large dosage of space rock (Hawkwind) to the sound and you get this album. The sound is dirty as mud. The vocals distorted. The drums and bass is rampant. The guitars very dirty. In short; a thoroughly well done retro package.

The music is good too. No great songs has made it onto this album though. But still a very enjoyable album which should get fans of the above mentioned bands and their scene a lot of joy. If this trio ever visit your town, their gig should be a highly enjoyable experience. I hope we will hear more from them in the future.

3 points

Magnolia - La Zona D'Ombra (2012)

The flow of new Italian art/prog bands with their debut album is very impressive. Pasta on my plate, but I think this is the fifteenth or so debut album from Italy this year. That is impressive !

Magnolia is from the eternal city Rome. The music is dominated by Chiara Gironi great, sometimes jazzy female vocals. She adds a lot of soul and colours to a pretty standard folksy jazzy art rock sound. Music performed with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and piano. The music almost have a chamber orchestra feel.

There is no denying that the music is dominated by the vocals and that the other instruments are nicely providing the ambience for the vocals. If this was her solo album, I would not has been surprised. The songs are rather somber too and downcast. I don't speak or understand a word of Italian so I may be totally wrong here. But this sounds somber to me.

The end result is another good debut album from Italy. There is no real great songs here. Neither does this album have anything I find disagreeable. Magnolia is a band I have put on my talents list and I will follow their development with great interest. The album is streamed on Progstreaming now and make sure you check it out.

3 points

King Crimson - Live at Jacksonville 1972 (1998)

This is one of the many fan club live albums King Crimson has released. A very interesting series of live album. They are off course essential for any KC fan. For the rest of us... well. Anyway, I got a lot of them as I consider KC as one of the most important bands of all time. Reviews to follow during the next years.

This album was recorded during the Islands tour. The sound quality is pretty poor. It is passable, though. The line up was Robert Fripp, Mel Collins, Boz Burrell and Ian Wallace. The band loosely delivers the songs according to how they were released on their respective albums. There are a very good guitar solo and some good saxophone playing here. The rather poor sound quality destroys the rest of the enjoyment.

This is a decent to good live album though which should be checked out. Also by others than KC fans, that is.

2.5 points

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Montefeltro - Il Tempo di Far la Fantasia (1992)

The Italian symph prog rock scene is alive and well. Montefeltro is one of those bands who proves this point with this, their debut album.

Their name is taken from an Italian duke from the renaissance era and the cover art itself alludes to this era. One of the better cover art works from the Italian scene and a painting I would love to own. A replica, that is. The original would probably set me back some millions of euros. A bit outside my redecoration budget.

The music too alludes to the past. Not by hundreds of years, though. More like a couple of decades, or four decades anno 2012. The music is a throwback to Le Orme, Banco, PFM and those bands. The music also has some very strong Genesis influences. The instrumentation is the Genesis setup with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals is their weakest point, though. A bit more forceful vocals would had been better than the ones here.

The album opens with the very ambitious twenty two minutes long Canto No. 1. An epic they just about manage to pull off. It has some good melody lines and the greatness of Genesis. The rest of the album is not as good, though. There are sporadic greatness throughout this album. That makes this album well worth the purchase. It is a good album and a good excuse to get their second album too. In particular if you love Genesis and Italian symphonic prog.

3 points

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Simple Minds - Once Upon a Time (1985)

Oh gosh. Simple Minds seventh album is a brash, yuppie album with a massive sound produced by the 1980s most used and now much maligned star producers Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain. The list of albums they produced back in the 1980s are very long. I blame them for the plastic fantastic sound from that decade. A sound I am no fan off.

Simple Minds was a Scottish band who was born only a few miles away from where I write these lines. Most of the members still live in my local area, I have been told. Which off course has nothing to do with this review. I discovered them through their live rendition of Don't You Forget About Me on Live Aid in 1984. A # 1 US hit single, their only # 1 US hit single which strangely enough is not included on this album. Something I to my dismay discovered when purchasing a cassette version of this album. Something which still angers me a bit, more than 25 years later.

Disappointment over, I soon discovered an album with a very big sound. A sound based on those days keyboards and synths. The guitars was mostly absent here. The bass and drums sounds plastic like. Jim Kerr's vocals sounds real though and is the human touch on this album. This album has a very Let's-Break-USA sound and this ex new-wave and art rock band duly broke USA with this album which spawned some MTV videos and hit singles. Just to fill up the bank account and drive home the sale, they released a double live album

When it comes to surviving the test of time, the title track is still a great track. Alive & Kicking, much used by BBC even today, has also survived the test of time. Wish You Were Here, Jungleland and Sanctify Yourself sounds a bit lame today. The sound is also great. This is one of the few  Jimmy Iovine and Bob Clearmountain albums which has survived the test of time.

I still like this album a lot and think it is a very good album. But I am still mad at the non inclusion of  Don't You Forget About Me though.

3.5 points  

Beak - Beak>> (2012)

Their second album and the follow up to their debut album from 2009. An album I have yet to hear.

Beak is a krautrock band from Bristol, England. Beak consists of one or more Portishead members. I got no idea who Portishead is, though. I don't have a finger on today's pop/rock scene pulse.

Beak does a minimalistic form of krautrock which can be compared to Can, Kraftwerk and Neu. I would also add; Churn Milk Joan. Minimalistic rhythmic krautrock, in other words. The indie rock and electronica elements is also very much present in their music. There is also a couple of more pastoral tracks on this album. But minimalistic krautrock with understated vocals, bass, drums and keyboards is the sound devices Beak use to create their music.

The result is surprisingly good. To my surprise, this is a good album and I really enjoy it. Well, in rather small dosages, though. I am much more drawn towards much more lush music than what Beak comes up with. The track (and single) Wulfstan II is a very good track though with some hypnotic rhythms and vocals.
Those into krautrock should and must keep an eye on Beak.

3 points

Beak on Bandcamp 

Eulenspygel - 2 (1971)

Their debut album under the name Eulenspygel. The band had released their debut album under another name.

Eulenspygel was an interesting German band who released four studio albums and one live album. Their music is pretty much krautrock with a blend of space rock and blues. That and some German humour. Krautrock in other words.

The music has this classic krautrock sound with hammond organs, electric guitars, some sporadic flutes, bass, drums and German vocals. The flutes makes them sound like Jethro Tull on some songs. The basis is blues rock, though. The music is pretty meandering along during the fifty minutes this album lasts.

The quality is pretty decent throughout. I cannot say I am impressed by this album though. The songs are pretty mediocre. This album does not speak to my legs and my brain. I am afraid this album is not for me.

2 points

William Gray - Silentio (2012)

The second album from this Argentine band.

Their 2006 debut album Living Fossils was universally acclaimed and the band is hoping to follow up that with Silentio. This is a very ambitious album which ranges from Beatles like pop via symph prog and AOR to Dream Theater like prog metal. The instrumentation is the usual keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals are both in Spanish and English.

This album is trying to cover all bases. It does indeed cover all bases. It is a very melodic album and it has a concept album and musical feel. The music is good and the band knows their stuff. But I am having problems really getting into this album. The two opening tracks Prelude and Crisis is really good. The rest is pretty average stuff.

William Gray is a very ambitious band and Silentio is a very ambitious album. It is a bit a hit or miss album. But it is a good album though which does not moves me in either direction.

3 points

Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record (1976)

Their sixth studio album.

John Lennon famously branded Electric Light Orchestra as the sons of Beatles in a radio interview. A view I would not disagree with. Neither me or John means that as an insult. Far from it. Electric Light Orchestra is very much continuing on the same path as before. That is intelligent art rock songs with cello and the Beatles sound. The songs are verse-chorus-verse. Jeff Lynne's vocals are as good as ever. The music is sometimes helped out with a symphony orchestra sound. Other songs are as simple and naive as early Beatles songs, pre Revolver.

The music is pretty commercially orientated on this album. There is no real great songs here though. The sound is great though and I am really getting more and more into Electric Light Orchestra. This album cement their status as a good band in my view. It is not a great Electric Light Orchestra album though and I don't have any favorite songs from this album. It is ticking over nicely. A good album.

3 points

Sunday 14 October 2012

Lest - Odysseus (2011)

The debut album from this French power trio who is currently working hard on the follow up to this album. This according to their Facebook page.

Some excellent artwork is enveloping this album. A nice introduction to their music. Music they claims is a throwback to the good old days of progressive rock. That is where I am not entirely in agreement with them.

Lest and their music most of all sounds like a rocked up version of Gazpacho and Marillion. From that platform, they have gone back in time and picked the brains of Rush, Genesis and Yes. Their sound is very much anno 2011 though. That with some added vintage sound like mellotrons, moog and other vintage keyboards. But this album still has a very contemporary sound (most notably the guitars) and Lest has sound wise hit the right balance. The music is very much epic and sometimes very heavy too. The bass, drums, keyboards, guitars and vocals sometimes kicks like an angry horse. The good vocals are in the Gazpacho/Marillion vein.

Odysseus is somewhat lacking in the songs department though. Their material is a bit short on goodies. Their sound more than makes up for this shortcoming. This is indeed a good debut album and I am looking forward to their new album too. If the band can reproduce their sound on stage too, the festival promoters around Europe should take note.

3 points

Budgie - Budgie (1971)

Budgie is a legendary heavy rock band from Wales which is claimed to have had a very big influence on the development of heavy metal. They were mentioned in the same breath as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in a two hours long BBC documentaries about heavy metal. That made me invest in some Budgie albums.

Budgie has always been a cult band I have heard about since Metallica did some covers of them on their first EP with Jason Newsted. The legendary $ 5.95 EP. But I have ignored this bird until now.

Budgie has a reputation of doing intelligent hard rock. On this, their debut album, this clearly comes through. It is full of hard blues rock as per usual at that time. The music also boogies a lot. The vocals is a bit Rush like. The music entirely bass, guitars, drums and vocals based. The music is very cleverly crafted though with some great bass and drums. Best of all; Tony Bourge's guitar licks. Very smart guitar licks which gives the normally pretty stale blues rock new life. This is his album and the reason why this album is a good album. It has also survived the test of time.

This is quite a good and charming album in the Led Zeppelin and Rush mould. It is well worth checking out.

3 points

Maschera Di Cera. La - Il Grande Labirinto (2003)

The second album from this Italian band.

La Maschera Di Cera is another one of Fabio Zuffanti's bands. Or rather, a band he plays bass and guitars in. I believe he also does most of the songwriting here.

I am a fan of the 1970s Italian symphonic prog scene and sound. No wonder that my grin almost went 360 degrees when I heard the opening minutes of this album. This album is a throwback to 1972 or there about. It has this rich, lush sound you get from moogs and mellotrons. The vocalist Alessandro Corvaglia does a great job in the vintage Italian symph prog vein. He delivers the words with passion, passion, passion and passion. Passion as in Italian lyrics and vocals. The flutes is in the right place. Ditto for the bass, piano, drums and guitars too. This album is one heck of a journey and I really enjoy what I hear.

Not everything here is brilliant. But both part 1 and 2 of Il Viaggio Nell' Oceano Capovolto is superb. The title track too is superb. The rest of the album makes me lean back in my chair while I enjoy my life and this album.

Il Grande Labirinto lacks a trademark brilliant track or two. It is not a masterpiece. But it is still a great album which is full of class, passion and Italian symph prog. Enough said.

4 points