Friday 30 November 2012

Reasoning. The - Dark Angel (2008)

The second album from this English band.

The Reasoning is to a large degree what we called supergroup in the good old days. Members who comes from other bands. The Reasoning is a permanent band though and the fulltime job for all it's members.

Yes, The Reasoning is a female fronted neo prog/art rock band. References in their case are Magenta and Mostly Autumn. The Reasoning though is one of the best female fronted bands. Dark Angel really established them in the elite division of bands. It opens with the excellent title track and Rachel Cohen's excellent vocals. She and Dylan Thompson's vocals and vocal harmonies is this band's trademark. That and the great songs they comes up with. They also has a lot of great guitar solos, harmonies and riffs.

Not everything here is great. But Dark Angel is one of the better albums in this genre and a great album in my estimation. I thoroughly enjoys it and hereby recommends it.

4 points   

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Aquarium - Days Of Joy (2010)

A live album by a band who deserve a lot of praise for just being here. A band who fought an oppressive regime and won. A band who was banned for a long time and so was their music. A band who released their first album in 1981 and has gone on to release 20+ albums.

Aquarium is from Russia, ex Soviet Union. They are rightly one of the national treasures in Russia today. Day Of Joy is their second live album and it is a glimpse into their music. I got it from a Russian friend as a trade with an unwanted Dream Theater CD.

Aquarium plays folk rock, greatly influenced by keltic folk rock. The vocals are in Russian and that is the difference between this album and any Irish or even English folk rock album. The flutes brings me to Dublin, the vocals to Moscow. Day Of Joy is a very commercial album. It is also a very warm, intimate portrait of a band who I think deserve a lot of attention also west of St. Petersburgh.

I am by no means a fan of this commercial type of folk rock. But this band has some good songs and sounds. Unfortunate, the kyrillic letters on the CD inlays does not make any sense to me. Seventy minutes spent with this band has defrosted my soul and made my living room quite cosy. The good sound has been an important factor in this. The audience also takes part here and this live album is a good live album. I would recommend it to all folk rock fans out there.

3 points

Vaudeville - Vendetta (2012)

The second album from this US band. Or to be precise, this band from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Their first album Dismantle The Sky from 2009 has evaded my attention. Vendetta caught my attention because of the artwork and then the blurb. So I went for it.

Vaudeville is one of these bands who are looking forward instead of staring back to the likes of Yes, Genesis etc etc. Their sound and music is somewhere between Muse, Marillion and modern rock. They are perhaps more an art rock band than a prog rock band although they very much fits the prog rock label too. Their sound is very big and monuments like. The music is based on the verse-chorus-verse formula. No foreign planets hopping on this album. No space walks. The sound is very much made in USA and has also been greatly influenced by the English art rock scene.

The sound is dominated by walls of guitars and keyboards. The Matthew Bellamy sounding vocals is also very much present. So are the thundering bass and drums too. They creates elleven very good songs. A killer track is sorely missing though. That would had elevated this album to another level again. The standard is on that level. It is obvious that this is a good live band and they are probably far better on stage than on an album. This album is still a very good investment though and is highly recommended.

3.5 points

The bandpage

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Bible Black - Bible Black (2012)

This is the Japanese band which should not confused with other bands with the same name. The US bands, to be more specific.

I don't know if this their debut album or not. I found a Youtube movie from 2009 with one of their tracks. The band name also gives associations to King Crimson. Bible Black is not Fripp'ing out on this album though. This album is filled with a mix of symphonic prog and prog metal. All of it is instrumental and guitar driven. One guitar solo follows another guitar solo. Those into both shredding and more gentle guitar solos may find this album interesting. I don't.

This album is decent enough. The sound is pretty dull and so is the music. A sound which also includes some Hammond organs and moog in addition to guitars, bass and drums. The music has no orginality and no real good songs either. This album is at best background music. At worst; pretty annoying. It is a decent album though which does not much favour in my home.

2 points

Shtgn - Shtgn (2012)

Time for a change - A line from Eyjafjallajokull, the third song on this album.

The debut from this band from Belgium. A side project of the jazz/fusion band The Wrong Object. This album has been released on Moonjune Records.

When listening to this album, the first thought that enters my head is that this band is very far from safe Moonjune Records territory. The label has pushed the boat out on this album and has ended up in an unfamiliar river. Then again, maybe not. There is no denying that this album makes a heck of a lot noise. The band bombards the listener with a type of music which is well into both metal.... and jazz. The use of vibraphone anchors the album to the jazz genre. And what is jazz again ? Well, many will argue that what this band is doing is jazz. Then again, this album makes a lot of noise with it's hardcore and at times; the rumblings of death metal. How do I label this album ? Death metal meets jazz ? Grindcore meets jazz ? Sludgecore meets jazz ?Yes, sludgecore meets jazz.

Knock me over with a feather, but the result is a great album. The use of vibraphone is great and adds pure quality to this album. Thank you, Wim Segers. The hardcore/grindcore vocals too works. Ditto for the at times distorted grindcore sounding guitars. The keyboards adds some melodies to the mix. The bass and drums churns out some thunder and lightening. The songs slowly creeps in after some listening sessions and particular after overcoming the shock. Sludgecore meets jazz....... Yes, this mix actually works. This album proves it. An album which also includes some great Black Sabbath'ish riffs too.

I really applaud Leonardo and Moonjune Records for pushing the boat out on this album. An album which may be genre creating. I don't know about that. This album is a great addition to my record collection though and a great album in it's own respect.

4 points

Monday 26 November 2012

2112 - El Maravilloso Circo De Los Hermanos Lombardi (2012)

The fourth album from this Argentine band.

I apparantly hated their second album Intro, according to a review I wrote many years ago. Maybe I should give that album a second chance. Or maybe this band has moved on since 1994 and become a lot better. This album, with a tasty artwork, has made a far better impression in my office and house than Intro.

The band name gives more than one hint that the band is influenced by Rush. Not by the album of the same name, though. We are talking progressive hard rock and that Rush anno their two first albums. The Spanish & far better vocals than Geddy Lee's vocals kind of mask the similarities. The rest of the band is very tight and powerful. 2112 consists of bass, guitars and drums. No synths. Just a lot of clever use of power in the songs. The guitar riffs is very clever though and in the Alex Lifeson vein. This and the drums most of all brings Rush into the picture. The sound too is great.

There is no really great songs here. But I really like this album which has given me a lot of pleasure during the last two weeks or so. I think this is a very good album from a band who tours a lot, I have been told. If they are playing anywhere near you, make sure you catch them. Let's hope the rest of us gets more albums from this band. A very good album indeed.

3.5 points

Galahad - Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria (2012)

Their second album this year. An album which confirms my suspicions from the first album.

Galahad are veterans in the neo-prog genre and this is their tenth studio album. Galahad has never really had a commercial break like Marillion got. Their albums has always been good neo prog albums. So Galahad has had a look at what Muse has been doing. Not at least their sales figures. They must also have had a look at the techno scene. The result is this and the first album this year.

Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria is an integration of techno and Muse type stadium rock into their own sound. The sound has been radically altered and sounds very 2012 like with tonnes of techno rhythm structures. Unfortunate, the art of writing great songs had been forgotten in this process. This is by all means a good album. But there is no real great songs here. In this respect, their first album of the year, Battle Scars, is a much better album than this album. Neither is their integration of techno and stadium rock to my liking.

Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria is a good album and just that. I doubt I will ever play it again.

3 points

Sunday 25 November 2012

Arti e Mestieri - Quinto Stato (1979)

The third album from this Italian fusion band.

After two great fusion/RPI albums, Arti e Mestieri goes a bit commercial with a mix of light hearted fusion and pop. The synth sound is pretty bad and the song material not that good. The band tries to compensate for the quality shortcomings with a couple of Italo pop songs. Two big failures. The rest of the music is in the lounge jazz genre. The woodwinds sounds both light and fluffy. Ditto for the vocals and the rest of the musicians. There is no real bite in the music. No real substance.

The quality is pretty poor throughout and Quinto Stato is in my view a pretty big failure of an album. I hope it is the only failure in their discography as I have invested pretty heavy in it. This album is merely a decent album.

2 points 

Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock (2012)

The third album from this French band.

Aluk Todolo is a three piece band with members from two black metal bands. I have a record from one of them; Tumult and know the second one; Paragon International. Both of them pretty run of the mill black metal bands. They joined forces in Aluk Todolo and took a slight left turn towards krautrock and minimalism.

Occult Rock is a double CD lasting 85 minutes altogether. The album opens as a freight train in the direction of Mayhem's genre defining Mysteries Dom Sathanas from 1994. A lot of electronica and space rock then enters the fray and we get krautrock. A very brutal, heavy opening of this album. The album then become a lot more affable with long post rock like krautrock pieces. The instruments are bass, drums and a wall of guitars. The guitars sometimes gets into distortion territory. This is desolate minimalism and it really works on this album. 85 minutes is a large chunk to take swallow in one meal. Thank you for the two discs which means a pause halfway through is a good idea.

Occult rock is a very good album and perhaps a genre defining album too. The border landscapes between krautrock and black metal is a landscape which needs exploring. I would recommend this album to anyone interested in both either music styles and space rock. You may find yourself a great album.

3.5 points

Saturday 24 November 2012

Autumn Whispers - Cry of Dereliction Vol. I (2012)

The debut album from this Norway based band.

The band operates with a lot of musicians. But the music is very laidback acoustic, somber and ballad folk rock dominated. It is also a bit symphonic. The music is mostly performed with one to three instruments. Acoustic guitars with flutes, violins, cello, bass, drums and electric guitars. That and a mix of female and male vocals. The style is minimalism and less is more.

That would had worked great if the songs were of a good standard. They are not. The standards is decent enough, but nothing more. The tin promise a lot more than what I get when sinking my teeth into the meat here. Or in this case; a pretty thin watery soup. What this band need is good songs. Steal, pillage, plunder or write some good songs for vol 2, please. All the other right ingredients are already there for this band to work.

2 points


Earth And Fire - To the World of the Future (1975)

Their fourth album and one I have been grappling with for a while.

The year is 1975 and Earth And Fire is getting rid of the symphonic prog and Renaissance type sound & music they had on their previous albums. They are branching out into disco and pop. The disco parts is pretty strong here.

Jerney Kaagman's vocals is still very good. But she is breaking into disco vocals a lot here. The melody lines are pretty simple and the sound reminds me a lot about the disco king Dan Hartman's sound. There is also a lot of Euro pop on this album and some lounge jazz. That in addition to occasional flashes of the old Earth And Fire.

The songs are really not that good either. The same goes for the melody lines. This is a very decent album, but nothing more.

2.5 points

Friday 23 November 2012

Alphataurus - Attosecondo (2012)

Their second real studio album after their great 1973 self titled debut and a half baked very poor demo album (Dietro l'Uragano) released the same year. That and a live album released earlier this year. Alphataurus is back again and has played a lot of gigs and is planning to do even more gigs. This for the sheer fun of it. Something I really applaud !

There is nothing half baked and half-hearted about this album though. I forgot to mention that this band is from Italy and RPI is their music. Good Italian symphonic prog. This album is a typical Italian symphonic prog album. An album that goes to the heart of this genre. Very passionate Italian vocals. Plenty of excellent keyboards. A great Italian feel. A lot of ELP and Johan Sebastian Bach adulations, a lot of harder rock, a lot of Italian pop and folk music influences. A lot of great melodies. A lot of human warmth. A lot of high quality playing. This album really goes to the heart of the RPI, or to use the long name, the Rock Progressivo Italiano genre. And it proves the point that this genre really is worth lending your ears to.

I am sure the band has had a lot of great fun and a spring in their steps when recording this album. The fun aside, this is a great album too. All songs are really great and proves that there is life yet in the old bands too. The Rock Progressivo Italiano genre and it's fans very much welcome back Alphataurus. It very much welcome this album, one of this year's better albums in this genre. Listen to it in awe.

4 points

Aquarelle - Aquarelle (1978)

Aquarelle was a Quebec, Canada jazz/fusion band who released this and a live album before they disappeared without a trace again. A one off band.

The music is pretty pedestrian jazz/fusion. Far more jazz though than fusion. The music is not particular intense. I get some Soft Machine vibes now and then throughout this album. The music is mainly performed with flutes, violin, bass, guitars, keyboards, saxophone and drums. A couple of the tracks has vocals too.

The album is forty minutes long and is a pleasant experience throughout. It is a bit lounge jazz though and it does not tax the listener's brain cells that much. I quite like this album so I rate it as a good experience. I have heard a lot better jazz albums though. But I am not complaining.

3 points

Thursday 22 November 2012

Alquilbencil - From Serengethi To Taklamakan (2001)

The second and final album by this Spanish band. This band released their first album in 1998 and followed up with this live album. I guess live versions of brand new songs. The sound is great throughout so no complaints from me. Their music is pretty lively too.

It is not easy to label this band and their music. Throughout the first half of this album, they sounds like King Crimson. On the second part of this album, they sounds like a blend of Area, King Crimson and Picchio Dal Pozzo. In particular the latter one. The music is performed by both woodwinds, guitars, flutes, keyboards, bass and drums. That and some sporadic Spanish vocals. The end result is one hour of pretty strange music. Strange, but also very good.

There is no killer blow-me-away tracks here. But the standard is very good throughout and I really enjoys this album. In particular the more jazzy bits. File this band under great Spanish bands and this album as one well worth checking out.

3.5 points

Traumatosis - Cold Reading (2012)

The debut album from Damon Martin's solo project. He and the band is from the north-east of Scotland. That normally means Aberdeen, btw.

I suspect that Damon Martin is carrying a Steven Wilson jr in his tummy. The Traumatosis image and philosophy is very Steven Wilson. Cold Reading is a lot less defined than Steven Wilson's projects. It is also a lot more 2012 like too. It is very difficult to describe the music on Cold Reading. A mix of minimalism, post rock, My Dying Bride, art rock, experiemental metal, hard core, death metal and some space rock. Post rock is the best label though. The very good vocals is both singing and spoken. The instrumentation is guitars, keyboards, bass and drums.

The ideas is good and Traumatosis has a lot going for it. It is lacking a lot in the quality stake though on this album. It feels like ideas has been laid out on a table without really being worked on. There are some good stuff here. But most of the stuff here is falling a bit short. It is a decent debut album well worth checking out. Link below.

2.5 points

The album

Atoll - Rock Puzzle (1979)

Their fourth album hides behind some horrible cover art work.

Atoll changed style from each album and Rock Puzzle is another style change again. Atoll has now chosen the safe, wide road of the rock genre. Straight rock with French vocals. That means a mix of some pretty raunchy rockers, mid tempo rock and a couple of ballads. The music is performed with plenty of acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. The sound is pretty good and slick.

The songs is a also pretty slick and with one eye on the bank balance. Atoll goes commercial as most other bands at that time did in the search of an audience. The songs here are not that good so I guess this album did not bother the hit lists. It is a lively album and a hit into empty air, I am afraid. This is not for me.

2.5 points

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Ananta - Night and Daydream (1978)

A band setup by Venezuelan imigrants in London, England. Ilan Chester is the most famous one of them and he is a kind of a national treasure in Venezuela now. He started his career with this band and this album though. This album is their debut album and the first of two albums altogether.

The music is a mix of Queen like pomp prog, Barclay James Harvest, pomp rock, euro pop and some Latin bossa nova. The main instruments are piano, keyboards, moog, flutes, guitars, bass, woodwinds and drums. There is a heck of a lot different instruments here. But Ilan Chester's excellent English vocals and some background female vocals (choir) is the dominant instruments here.

Night and Daydream kind of fails on all accounts. It has no identity and is meandering around in the pomp rock/pop land. The songs are decent enough without really impressing. This album has not survived the test of time either. This is a weak decent album which does not really impresses me at all. Avoid.

2 points

Focus - Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer (1985)

A strange album title for their eight album.

Jan Akkerman and Thijs Van Leer were back in the band again after their rather unsuccesful stint with PJ Proby. This Focus setup is an all out jazz and new age workout. Jan's guitars is dominant and Thijs keyboards & flute is there in the background with some bass and drums. Any remnants of the good old Focus sound has totally gone.

Why did they put the Focus name on this album ? Why not add it to Jan Akkerman's solo albums ? This album is pretty confusing and is watering down the Focus brand. It is one dimensional. It is just a pure jazz album with some new age stuff also thrown in. 

The music is not that good either. It is not good jazz and it feels uninspired and stucked in a time warp. It is an unfocused album in more than one meaning of this word. It is a decent album and nothing more.

2 points

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Galgano. John - Real Life Is Meeting (2012)

John Galgano is the second Izz affiliated member who steps out with a debut album this year. This in addition to this year's Izz album.

Real Life Is Meeting is a much more art rock orientated album than what we get from Izz. It is still close enough to Izz to be an obligatory purchase for all Izz fans and anyone else interested in this band. John Galgano has added Laura Meade on female vocals (in addition to his own vocals) and she gives the album an extra americana dimension. The music also lurks from art rock to americana, some eclectic and some symph prog (Spock's Beard & Neal Morse). The music is performed with piano, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.

The sound is good. The music is good and I got nothing bad to say about this album. It does not really hit me home though as I am missing some great songs which could had added extra value to this album. This is a good debut album from a vastly experienced musician. It is a good platform for more solo albums in addition to the daytime job in Izz. Keep them coming.

3 points

Angipatch - Delirium (1982)

The second and final album from this French band.

Angipatch is a curious case of a band coming in as an Ange copycat and then adopting to the new sound and sights of the 1980s. Their sound is good and the music is performed with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and French vocals.

Ange like symph prog is the basis of this album. The band has added some pop-rock and techno from the 1980s to the sound too. The keyboards sound is mostly the plastic fantastic 1980s sound. Ditto for the vocals. The vocals are good though, but still in the 1980s delivery style. The result is a pretty strange album with some good songs and a couple of nasty forays into pop-rock in their attempt to get a following. They failed in that and split up. This is a good album though which is well worth checking out for those into French symph prog.

3 points

Monday 19 November 2012

Annexus Quam - Beziehungen (1972)

The second album from this German krautrock band.

The band name is far more exciting and lively than their music. Music which is bordering to being a cure against insomnia. It is pretty difficult to follow the music here. Not at least; staying awake. But two coffee mugs into this album reveals a bit more than the very boring first impressions.

The music is very pedestrian and is performed with some woodwinds and guitars. They sporadic makes some noise in a pattern which reminds me about music. The far too exciting named first track Trobluhs el E Isch actually has a good melody line performed by woodwinds. The second track Leyenburg 1 has some good acoustic guitars over a good melody. The final two songs is filed under undefined noise.

In short; a very unimpressive album and a mistaken purchase. OK, it was purchased in a big box with a lot of other far more interesting albums. This is a decent album which may win favour among the most eager avant-garde fans who regards the invention of music as an atrocity.

2 points

Neom - Arkana Temporis (2009)

The debut album from this French band.

Neom is heavy influenced by the likes of Magma and a very welcome addition to the small zeuhl scene/genre. The smallest music genre in today's world. But there is quality here instead of qauntity.

Arkana Temporis is in the more jazzy end of the Magma spectrum. The music here is not hardcore orchestral zeuhl. The instrumentation is slightly softer and less than the full infernal wall to wall sound. The most important zeuhl ingredients is still here, though. The Rhodes bass and keyboards, the female and male chanting vocals, the woodwinds, the frantic drums, the guitars.... everything that makes zeuhl great. All this on the jazzy side which creates a great synergy.

The overall quality is very good to great. No really great songs here. But as an unrepentant zeuhl fan, I like what I hear. This is my food and Arkana Temporis is a great album. I am not sure if Neom is still alive. If they are, please give us another album like this.

4 points

Tusmørke - Underjordisk Tusmørke (2012)

The debut album from this White Willow and Wobbler affiliated Norwegian band.

We are however not in symph prog land. Instead, this band has taken a journey on the time machine back to the Norwegian folk rock scene. A scene ruled by Folque and Prudence among others. It was a very big scene back then. Some of it extreme left wing (politics) affiliated though. But it still produced some good albums. Underjordisk Tusmørke follows in that tradition. Add Jethro Tull too and you get the picture.

The music is dominated by flute, bass, drums, some guitars, some keyboards and male English vocals by Wobbler's vocalist. The music is very dynamic and we are talking folk-rock throughout. There is no metal here at all and that is a relief.

The music is very good throughout. Ditto for the sound which has this nice 1970s folk rock sound. My main gripe is the lack of one or more great songs. But the overall quality is very good throughout and this is an album well worth checking out. In particular if folk rock is your cup of tea.

3.5 points

Renaissance - Novella (1977)

Their seventh album and the follow up to the excellent Scheherazade And Other Stories album.

Novella is perhaps the final classic Renaissance album and barely that. The setup is the same as on Scheherazade And Other Stories. That was a sparkling, fizzy album. The fizz and the sparkle has gone on Novella though.

The songs on Novella feels flat and uninspired to me. A lot of the focus has been moved from the instruments to Annie Haslam who is really carrying Novella on her shoulders. The 50/50 mix between Annie's excellent vocals (the best in the scene by far) and the instrumental parts is what makes this band such a great band and on my top 5 list of alltime best bands. That balance is not present here. There is two very good songs on Novella in the form of Midas Man and Can You Hear Me. Those two songs are far better when delivered live than on this album. The rest of the songs are good.

I feel let down by this album after the excellent Scheherazade And Other Stories. But the band still rates this album (see their last live album and gig tour) a lot so I guess I am in the minority of one here. Then again; it is impossible to live up to the standards set by Scheherazade And Other Stories. Novella is a good album and just that.

3 points    

Sunday 18 November 2012

Sithonia - Confine (1995)

The third album from this Italian symph prog band.

After their two first albums, which were ELP (1. album) and a bit avant-garde (2. album), Sithonia went for a less complex and a much more rounded approach on this album. There is a lot of both Italian rock, RPI and some fusion on this album. Most of all, there is a lot of symphonic prog here. The songs are really catchy, driven by guitar solos, keyboards and some good vocals. The end result is by far the best album of  the three they had released up to then. What is missing is a great song or two. But this is still a very good album which has given me a lot of joy.

3.5 points

Former Life. The - Electric Stillness (2012)

Another new Italian band & debut album in the prog rock genre.

The songs are medium long without any of them going past the ten minutes mark. The sound is based on keyboards, piano, guitars, bass and drums. The (male) vocals are in English. The sound is typical American.
The music reminds me a lot about the first Spock's Beard album. Fans of this band should check out this album. The same song structures and sound. The Former Life is by no means 'Beard copycats. I would label them a keyboards/piano based neo/symph prog band.

The musicians knows what they are doing. The vocals are great. The music is like balsam to my ears. It is a nice album which is missing a great track or two to really get me dipping into my archive of superlatives. The songs are all good though. This is by all means a very good debut album from a band I hope will not be a one off album band. This album should be added to the list of good Italian debut albums from this year.

3 points

Saturday 17 November 2012

Black Widow - IV (1997)

Their fourth album. An album lost, found and released many years after the band had split up.

Black Widow had abandoned the hard rock and all black stuff on this album. The first bars of this album is a Christmas carol theme. How things had changed in the Black Widow stuff since the satanic chants at their debut album. Father Christmas replaces satan on this song, aptly titled Sleighride. A nine minutes long song and the best song on this album.

Satan is out and in comes some cosy, 1970s rock. The California sound is evident here. Surf, sun and campfires. The sound and the music here is very cosy. The band as dangerous as a sleepy, castrated moggy. The flutes and the vocals floats somewhere midair over some pretty dull bass and drums. The material does not sound inspiring to me.

It is something pretty wrong when the best song is a Christmas carol'ish song (Sleighride). The rest of the album is not too bad though. The music is decent throughout and never rises above that level. I find this album pretty dull and insomnia killing. It is not a total disaster though. But it is not an album I want to spin again. Nuff said. Hail Father Christmas.

2 points

Abiotic - Symbiosis (2012)

For some reason of stupidity, I volunteered to review this debut album from this new bright hope in the Florida death metal scene.

It soon dawned on my why I find death metal dead boring. Abiotic though have added a lot of power metal structures into their brand of death metal. The vocals are ultra-brutal death grunts. The solo guitarist lives his own life under and above the song structures. The bass and drums are on the grindcore end of the death metal spectrum. This is not the type of death metal I would label Florida death metal. This is more a mix of nu-metal and death metal.

I have to admit I find this album not to my liking and find it almost impossible to add any points. If you are twenty years younger than me and has not got an overdose on death metal as I have, you may love this album. I don't and find this a waste of my time. Two points because this music is not horrible and the band knows their stuff.

2 points

Ananke - Shangri La (2012)

The second album from this Polish band.

Ananke is being labelled as a neo-prog band in most music magazines. Which is a pretty good label. The music is melodic rock with some Marillion influences. The setup is the typical keyboards, guitars, bass and drums formula. That and male vocals. Polish vocals.

The music is pretty melodic with the catchy title track as the best song here. The music is also medium hard with some prog metal influences. The music is though not that interesting and the band does not really have their own identity. The music is decent, but nothing more. I am struggling to find much good to write here. The band is really good and that is all. The vocals are also very good. Besides of that, there is nothing in this album which deviates from countless other melodic rock albums. There is nothing here that really interest me. Hence my verdict.

2.5 points

Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day (2012)

Led Zeppelin finally celebrated the end of the road with the legendary O2 gig on the 10. December 2007. A gig where Jason replaced his late father John on the drums. Countless bootlegs of various qaulity has been circulating after that heady night. Here is the gig, officially released as a movie and a double live album.

Led Zeppelin went out with much fanfare and hype. The gig though was a very fitting end to their career. Robert, John and Jimmy is undeniable older than they were in the 1970s when Led Zeppelin gigs crushed everything in their path. The Song Remains The Same and the How The West Was Won is some goose bumbs inducing live albums from that time. Led Zeppelin was head and shoulders above the rest of their peers at that time and is without any doubts the best ever rock act to have hit this planet.

Robert, John and Jimmy is not young anylonger and Jason is not his father. John Bonham's loose and wild drumming is sorely missed as Jason is much more a traditional drummer than his father. That is very noticeable on this live album. Nobody can replace John Bonham. But Jason does a great job nevertheless. Jimmy Page is doing a brilliant job. So is Robert Plant and John Paul Jones too. The new version of No Quarter is brilliant.

It must have been a very scary experience for these guys to try to live up to the Led Zeppelin name in this gig. At least Jason must had been under a lot of preasure. Living up to his father's legacy is impossible. But these four guys really pulled it off and delivered one heck of a gig. This gig is indeed what it says on the tin; a celebration day. A celebration of Led Zeppelin. Most of their best songs are here. I am only missing Immigrant Song and Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, the Sandy Denny duet. Both are probably impossible to play live for the band now. A major thumbs up to the version of No Quarter with the piano and guitar solos.

In short; this album is not as good as How The West Was Won or even The Song Remains The Same. But it is still a very charming live album, a great live album in it's own right and the best possible end to Led Zeppelin. John, Robert and Jimmy should be very proud of Celebration Day.

4.5 points 

Friday 16 November 2012

After Crying - Creatura (2011)

The seventh album from this Hungarian band.

After Crying operates somewhere between rock, new age, classical music and symph prog on this album. The music is performed with a long list of symphonic and electric instruments. The vocals are both female and male. All of it in the magyar language.

I am spent a lot of time on this album without really getting it. This album is pretty messy which spans a lot of genres without really fusing them. The music is not that good either. The material pretty weak and full of cliches. I also get the feeling of having heard everything before. The album has some good stuff. But not enough to really get me interested. I guess I am no fan of this band and this album. Sorry.

2 points

Thursday 15 November 2012

Ex Vagus - Ames Vagabondes (2006)

A new name to me although I got their two albums some time ago in an online auction, bundled together with some Mona Lisa albums. A review in ProgArchives alerted me to these two albums and I have been spinning this album today. I am glad I did.

This French band has taken up the baton left by Ange (although Ange is alive and well these days with a new album). Same type of theatrical symphonic prog. The vocals are in French. The sound is great. I am a fan of French symphonic prog and I have had some good days with this album. It really speaks to my heart.

The music has both big dramatic orchestral bits and more pastoral bits. Eric Vedovati's vocals is great and makes me purr with delight. Xavier Le-Loupp has some great guitar solos and Dominique Barboyon's keyboards is a delight. My only gripe is the lack of any really great songs here. Besides of that, this album is hitting all the right notes. Despite of this pretty big flaw, I still think it is a very good album from a band everyone into the likes of Ange, Magnesis and Mona Lisa should check out.

3.5 points

Focus - Focus Con Proby (1978)

Seven albums into their career and Jan Akkerman had left the band. The pretty well known pop singer PJ Proby had joined the band. Hence the title of this album as PJ Proby probably also came with a pretty big ego too. In all fairness, he was probably a bigger name than Focus back in 1978.

Focus Con Proby is a strange album. It is a mix of instrumental fusion with some old Focus (the flutes) thrown in. Then we get PJ Proby on his own where Focus is his backing band. The Focus backs Proby result Tokyo Rose is pretty horrible lightweight pop which has no right to be on a Focus album. On the other hand, the eight minutes Proby-free Maximum is a good fusion workout where also the good old Focus comes to the forefront.

It is a bit difficult to give this album a point score. PJ Proby is a pretty average vocalist which not always seems to be in tune with the songs. The other stuff is good though. I am landing somewhere between decent and good on this one. Those who want to discover this great band should give this album a wide berth.

2.5 points

Galahad - Battle Scars (2012)

I was listening a lot to their 2007 epos Empires Never Last when it was released but never got around to review it. So Battle Scars is my first ever review of a Galahad album. I will go back to their other albums too and review them in the coming months and years.

Battle Scars is the first of their two 2012 albums. It is supposed to be the bleak one this year and the black/white cover art work alludes to that. The music is not that bleak though. It is neo-prog with a modern, techno upgrade. The music is very commercial and catchy. It is also an album with a longviety. It is an album which engage and gets the blood pumping to and from the listener's heart. The modern techno bits will enrage some who believes in the purity of progressive rock. Purity from the commercial Rihanna like music scene these days. And yes, I am provoked by parts of this album. The closing track Seize The Day is a two fingers salute or even a one fingers eff off signal to the prog rock purists. The two fingers salute is used pretty regular throughout this album. This is an album which reaches out to the Muse and the commercial rock audience. Add a one million dollars marketing budget and Battle Scars would be a platinum selling album.

The music is hard and the rhythms is being thumped out as in a Rihanna gig. Or make that; a Muse gig. Inbetween these unfamiliar rhythm patterns, there are some very good songs here too. Singularity sounds like the good old Galahad and is a very good song. The title track is also a very good song. The offending song Seize The Day is.....ehem.... well, offensive. Let me put it like that.

Battle Scars is an engaging album and I feel my heart has done a good job by pumping around all this blood to and from my face. Battle Scars is a very good album though from a band who has taken a big risk and almost pulled it off. I will give the rest of their discography a spin later on.

3.5 points   

Andwellas Dream – Love And Poetry (1969)

An unknown band from Northern Ireland with their one and only album.

Andwellas Dream operated in the Belfast scene at the same time as Them, Van Morrisson's first band. It was fronted by Dave Lewis, a highly talented young man. He released a solo album and wrote the Happy to Be an Island in the Sun hit song for Demis Roussos. That was the last sign of life from  Dave Lewis. Which is a great shame because this album showcases a very big talent.

The year was 1969 and the music world is still reeling from the shock Sgt Peppers gave it. Love And Poetry is very much in the blues and psychedelia. Some would even call the music on this album for proto-prog. It certainly has a lot of progressive elements. It is also very swinging with the rampant John Lord like keyboard which leads the way. That and the excellent vocals. But psychedelia is most definate the label this album should get. The music is still loosely based on verse-chorus-verse. The average song lenght is around the four minutes mark.

There is one great song on this album and it is the hymn like Lost A Number Found A King. The rest of this album is also very good. Not everything here is great or even good. But it is still a very good album. This is an album which is impossible to get these days but which is overdue a CD or a digital copy release. It will surely be a hit if re-released as it sold next to nothing when it was released back in 1969. All the songs on this album can be found on Youtube though. Love And Poetry is a true hidden gem which deserve a second chance.

3.5 points    

Monday 12 November 2012

Alux Nahual - Alux Nahual (1981)

The debut album from this band from Guatemala, America. The country has a good scene and Alux Nahual released seven albums before they were disbanded.

The music on this album is a blend of folk music and classic rock. The more acoustic instruments like violins and guitars is pretty dominant here. That and bass, drums, electric guitars and some keyboards. The vocalist Álvaro Aguilar does a great job and the vocals are thankfully in Spanish. The sound is excellent and lush.

The music is full of intricate details and it has a very distinct Latin-American feel. Flamenco and Spanish guitars is not far away in this sound. This album is in need of some good to great songs. But the sound and the vocals ensure a good time with this album and a real good warmer during this cold evening. I feel a lot better now, thank you guys. This is a good album and I would not mind purchasing some more albums from this band.

3 points

Camel - A Live Record (1978)

Their first live album. One of many live albums.

It is hard to argue against a live album with their best stuff. 100 minutes with their best stuff from their four first albums. The sound is excellent too and the band does a brilliant job too. Richard Sinclair sings like the god he is. Andrew Latimer's guitars are excellent. Ditto for Peter Bardens on keyboards, Andy Ward on drums, percussion, Mel Collins on saxophones & flute plus Doug Ferguson on bass. The result is a stunning live album which capture Camel as I want to remember them. I am not a fan of their jazz/fusion stuff. That stuff is not on this album. Instead, we get their symphonic prog stuff and it really rips through the speakers.

Do I have any gripes with this album at all ? No. Do I love it ? Oh, yes. This is one of the best ever live albums to see the light of the day and an essential live album.

5 points

Ahvak - Ahvak (2004)

The so far only album from this Israeli band.

RIO albums is a bit hit and miss. This genre has had a good progression since the start of this millenium with some great albums. Ahvak can be added to that list. Their brand of RIO is in the vein of Present and Thinking Plague. The drummer in both bands actually plays on this album so no wonder. I am more familiar with Present than Thinking Plague and would compare this album to the first two Present albums. The bombastic pieces of music is present here. The chamber orchestra feel is also present here. The whole RIO vibe is very much present here. This is not avant-garde. This is RIO.

The result is a great album which kicks off from the first tone. The instrumentations is a mix of electric and acoustic. The best parts here is dominated by harsh electric guitars. The feeling of doomday is pretty strong. Doomsday from the holy land. That should had been the album title. There are also some more pastoral and some more playful parts on this album.

The overall quality is great and this makes this a worthwhile purchase for all RIO fans.

4 points

Ange - Vu d'un Chien (1980)

Their seventh album.

Ange has arrived in the 1980s and released a typical 1980s album with the plastic fantastic sound and lots of Inxs like guitars. The woodwinds is also typical 1980s.... well, everything here is 1980s. Their symphonic prog sound has largely been ditched and so has the music too. What we get is a mix of pop, funk and rock.

The band is not too bad. The music is fairly decent too. The sound is horrible. A couple of good songs saves this album from a total disaster. But Vu d'un Chien is their worst album by far and only for those who want a complete Ange collection. Unfortunate, that makes me a silly man.

2 points

Anglagard - Viljans Oga (2012)

The return of these masters of Scandinavian melancholy.

Four tracks, averaging thirteen minutes each. Four compositions. Four instrumental compositions. No vocals. Just a lot of moog, flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The result is a melancholic, pastoral album with a lot of melancholy and power.

The best label is symphonic prog. Melancholic symphonic prog. Music with dramatic guitar and melody lines. This is not easy access music. This album creeps up on the listener over several listening sessions. The music slowly creeps up on the listener and stays there. The end result is a great album which may end up as the album of the year in many's estimation. It is in my top ten. It is not a masterpiece though. But it is running close to that status. It is highly recommended.

4.5 points

Saga - Full Circle (1999)

Saga is back to their good old form with this, their thirteenth album.

The previous album The Pleasure & The Pain from 1997 was far more pain than pleasure. Thankfully, they are back in the pleasure business again with Full Circle. That means the usual Saga sound and the usual song structures. Saga has always been on the slightly cheesy side and that's where they are on this album too. The use of children choirs is very cheesy.

On the positive side, the band also comes up with some really good stuff on this album too.  Michael Sadler's vocals are really good and the rest of the band delivers the goods too. The best song is Night To Remember. One of their better songs from their long career. Full Circle is a welcome return to form from this band which I have a soft spot for.

3 points

Saturday 10 November 2012

Alcatraz - Vampire State Building (1971)

The debut album from this German band.

Vampire State Building has got a legend status in the krautrock scene. It is far more famous than their five other studio albums. Where other krautrock bands either went electronica (Can, Kraftwerk) or into space rock (Amon Duul etc etc), Alcatraz stood by their roots in a blues-jazz landscape. They added a bit of their own German identity and some avant-garde prog to this album. The result is heard on Vampire State Building.

The music is performed by bass, guitars, woodwinds, flutes and drums. The vocals is in the blues tradition. The bass and drums is very jazzy. The music is a layer on the top of that again.

The result is a good album which does not really impresses me. It is a debut album and I would be very interested in purchasing their five other albums too. There is an ambience in their music which tells me that this is a good band. I am not sure why this album has got this legend status, though. Maybe because of the art-work. Vampire State Building is not one of the better krautrock albums out there. But it is still a good album.

3 points

Sunchild - Isolation (2012)

The fifth album from this band from Ukraina, lead by Antony Kalugin. He is known from Karfagen and a pretty substantial name in the European prog rock scene.

I reviewed their third album The Wrap back in October, one month ago. That was an OK album which had both it's two feet in the neo and symph prog camp. Sunchild has moved on from that album and developed into a much more mainstream rock band. That is what we get here. Mainstream rock with some grunge connotations.

The (male) vocals are pretty decent. The rest of the musicians does a pretty good job. The sound also has some electronica elements in it. The music is decent to good throughout. The title track is divided into four songs, lasting altogether twenty-seven minutes. That, the final half of this album, is the best four tracks here. The rest of the album is sometimes bordering to cringe worthy and I regard this album as a step back from The Wrap. I have not got their fourth album though. Isolation is a weak good status in my view.

3 points   

Friday 9 November 2012

Akineton Retard - Cadencia Urmana (2006)

The fourth and so far final studio album from this RIO/Avant-Garde band from Chile.

I am pretty unfamiliar with their previous albums. I liked their debut album, but it never really left an impression on me. Their blend of jazz, Univers Zero and King Crimson is a great blend/sound. The music is only pretty good, though.

The band goes through the motions on this album. The music is pretty good throughout. Piel Estática is a seriously great track and the only track where I sit up and takes notice. The rest of the album is good, but not impressive. Their use of woodwinds is pretty unimaginative compared to other bands in the RIO/Avant-Garde genre.

The result is a middle of the road good RIO album which neither impress or unimpress me. It seems like other bands has overtaken this band by this stage. This is a good album and not one I will dwell too much on.

3 points

Acid Mothers Temple - The Ripper at the Heaven's Gates of Dark (2011)

Their 50th or so album since 1997. I am not joking. This band release numerous albums every year.

The reason for this creativity is that all their recordings is unstructured jams over some themes. This album starts with some Rolling Stones like riffs before the album goes into a looooooooong jam. A 70 minutes outer space rock jam follows before this album is being wrapped up and added to their other albums. Then the band goes out on tours in Europe, their homecountry Japan and the rest of the world.

I have to say I also admire this band a lot because of their musical concept and attitude. This and other albums is not worth paying for though. The £ 14 they charge for this album is a rip-off. If they had released their albums for free, I would had been more impressed. The quality of the music and the fact that the band has released over 50 albums since 1997 gives the game away.

This album is one long jam with not much quality in it. The sound is also poor throughout and the £ 14 they charge for this album through Amazon is a rip off. Hence my verdict.

1 point  

Thursday 8 November 2012

Cirrus Bay - Whimsical Weather (2012)

Hmm..... This band has inadvertently delivered the best judgement on this year's weather.

This is their third album after a pretty poor debut (disowned by the band) and a very good second album. It's about time to deliver a great album now.

The band keeps the flowery sound from their 2009 album A Step Into Elsewhere and develops it on this album. That is a floating, flowery symph prog sound with female vocals. Sharra Acle's vocals. She is one of the two founding members of this band and she does a brilliant job here. The prominent other instruments here are keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. Some mandolins can also be heard.

Good references and comparissons to this album is neo prog with female vocals, lush hippie rock and bands like Renaissance and Marillion. Add Genesis too. Add Kate Bush too minus her vocals.

This album starts with Sharra Acle's excellent vocals on Circles and Seasons. An elleven minutes epic she dominates. The band sets out their stall with this flowery, lush song. Not all music is great on this album. But most of the music is really great. It is obvious that the band has arrived at the sound and place they want to be. A place which is taking up the challenge left by the likes of Renaissance. Whimsical Weather is a very good to great album in my estimation. I push it up to a four pointer. The cover art work also deserves that.
Check out this album.

4 points 

Uovo Di Colombo. L - L'Uovo Di Colombo (1973)

Another Italian symph prog band with one album only and then decades of obscurity. Not much is known about this band.

It is fair to claim that this band had been listening to the first three ELP albums before they recorded this album. The music is keyboards driven. The keyboards sounds like Keith Emersons. The sound is good. They have added a large lump of Italian flavour to this music though. That include Italian vocals and some Italian hard rock. There are also surprisingly a lot of guitars on this album too. That makes this album a very dynamic album and a very Italian album.

The quality is good throughout. Good as in pleasing for ELP and symph prog fans. It is a great shame that this is their only album. I would had loved to hear more of the same, please.

3 points

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Rahmann - Rahmann (1980)

The one and only album from this Algerian-French band.

Rahmann gives us a very eclectic blend of jazz, African-Arabic ethno music and zeuhl. The album starts out as a zeuhl album and then moves into jazz and ethno music from there on. It still has strong zeuhl vibes throughout. They sounds like a mix of Zao and Mahavishnu Orchestra. It also reminds me a lot about the Before A Word Is Said album by Gowen, Miller, Sinclair & Tomkins. The final album by Alan Gowen before he passed away. The Rahmann album has a gloomy darkness. 

The music is being performed with guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. It is instrumental. The bass is excellent. The keyboards sounds like Alan Gowan on his best.

The quality is great throughout. It is not an immediate hit for the listener. But the music slowly sinks in and makes this album well worth the effort. I award it a weak great status as I also finds some less satisfactory music here. My overall impression is very positive, though.

4 points

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Black Widow - III (1972)

The third album from this British cult band. A band who could had been one of the greats, but fell by the wayside just when they were about to conquer the world.

III is showcasing a more melodic and proggy side of the band than their more hard rocking first two album.
The music is being performed with flute, sax, guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. The vocals are great.

Black Widow has slowed down on this album. At times, this album is even catchy. A song like Lonely Man is catchy pop. The band is almost into symph prog on both Old Man and The Battle. The Sun is almost west coast rock. King Of Hearts is approaching Focus territory. The rest of the songs are pretty good rock too.

This is a very charming album which does not scare the pets out of the living room. The quality is good throughout and the band proves that it is not a one dimentional hard rocking band on this album. They have more strings to play on than hard rock. Those into 1970s rock and Uriah Heep will really like this album. Me too likes this album despite of my usual gripe; the lack of some killer or even great tracks.

3 points

Anvision - Astral Phase (2012)

To my knowledge, this is the debut album by this Polish band.

AnVision is going down this well throdden prog metal path. They are an inkling more heavy metal than progressive, though. They use plenty of chugging guitars, keyboards, some sampled symphony orchestra instruments, bass and drums. That and vocals. The vocals is OK. The same goes for the band's musical abilities too.

AnVision does not bring anything new to the table with this album. Traditional heavy/prog metal is what we get here. The music is by all means decent enough. It will interest all fans of this genre. I am not so this album is in that respect missing it's target. This is a decent album though with no real good songs. Try some originality next time.

2 points