Monday, 30 September 2013

Gran Torino - GrantorinoProg (2011)

The debut album from this Italian band.

Coming from Italy, it is too lazy to simply label this as another Rock Progressivo Italiano band. First of all; their music is instrumental. Instrumental as in a mix of English symph prog and classical music. Although the music has a rock sound with a lot of electric guitars, this music has the same structures as classical composers like Mendelssohn, Debussy and Ravel.

There is also a lot of jazz structures here too. Music like this easily falls into the shopping mall music category. Not a type of music I like. But Gran Torino has managed to stay away from this trap. GrantorinoProg is a very dynamic album with some riveting music. The opening track Sinapsi really grabs the listener and very rarely let loose of the grip.

OK, not everything here is great. But the overall impression I get is that this is a great album which integrates electric guitars, piano, some church organs, bass, drums and keyboards into a powerful unit. It is an album well worth checking out.

3.5 points

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Allomerus - Allomerus (2012)

The debut album from this Australian band.

Allomerus is a band who operates between King Crimson, electronica, post rock and ambient avant garde rock. The song structures is fluid to say at least. The only song of note here is at the end of this one hour long album, well after the listener has given up hope.

The reason for the lack of enthusiasm is the frankly very dull and uninspiring music on this album. Ambient avant garde rock is good when the music has any purpose and is well made. That does not really applies to this album. As this is a debut album, it sounds like the two musicians is still trying to find their way and their purpose. They are seeking high and low on this album without really arriving there. There are some good music here, very sporadic good music. I also like the depressive soundscape on this album which reminds me a lot about the vastness of the Australian landscape. But there is not enough good here to interest me.

Check out the album on the link below and find out if you agrees with me.

2 points

The album 

Ange - Sève Qui Peut (1989)

Their 14th studio album and a concept album about the French revolution in 1789. 1989 was the 200th anniversary of this event.

The lyrics are in French and this is a concept album. I do know the history very well though and it is always great to listen to Francis Descamps vocals. He is in great form here. The music is a mix of their best album and the worst sound of the 1980s. A sound I hate. The sound is not a great sound either and a major let down of a rather fine album.

The songs are at best very good and this is a major improvement on most of their rather poor 1980s output. It is a kind of a comeback album too. The greatness of the once so great band Ange can be heard here. This is a step in the right direction although it is not their finest album.

3 points

Dark Radio - Oakwind (2012)

The debut album from this Portugese band, released on the 12. October 2012.

We are deep into modern prog aka Porcupine Tree and Radiohead here. Add Led Zeppelin, Fates Warning and Pearl Jam to the mix too and you get it. A bit heavy prog in other words with a lot of prog metal fused into the mix too. But it is not traditional prog metal by any means.

The vocalist sounds a bit like Eddie Vedder and the guitars are distorted. The band also uses piano and keyboards too. Spaced out grungy is what it sounds like. The music is tight and the vocals is great.

The result is a good album which is streamed on the link below and well worth checking out. I am by no means a fan of this type of music. But I still like this album.

3 points

The album

Flamborough Head - Defining The Legacy (2000)

The second album from this Dutch neo prog band.

Although neo prog is a slightly misleading label. This band, who has taken it's name from a cliff just north of Hull in Yorkshire, is nicely combining British symph prog, British neo prog and Dutch symph and neo prog. The band is very much Holland meets Great Britain on this album. I am a fan of British symph prog bands like Genesis and Yes. Hence, I really like what I hear from my speakers when this hour long album is spreading good vibrations around my living room.

The great music on this album is performed with piano, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The guitar solos is great and ditto for Mr Siebe-Rein Schaaf's vocals. The sound and music is mostly soaring towards the sky, the open skies above the headland called Flamborough Head. This is majestic stuff which really strikes a chord with me.

Defining The Legacy is a great album with some great epic songs which really needs to be heard. This is my first meeting with this band and I am close to becoming a fan based on this album alone. More of the same band, thank you.

4 points

Monday, 23 September 2013

PBII - 1000 Wishes (2013)

The second album from this band who were previously known as Plackband.

PBII is a Dutch neo prog band. 1000 Wishes is a concept album with narrations and the full concept album package. It is also a very moving concept album about Eric, a nine years old leukemia sufferer and his fight against this horrible, horrible illness. No nine years old boy should have to endure leukemia.

This story is both the biggest strength and weakness of this album. The narrations, lyrics and music is a painful listen because it hits home as straight in my solar plexus. That hurts and makes this album a far from comfortable listen. It is not an everyday album.

It's biggest strength is the music. The music has been created with a full symphony orchestra which is backing up some Genesis and Marillion type neo prog. 1000 Wishes is in my view a symphonic prog album with neo prog vocals and some thin sounding neo prog structures too. The storyline is excellent, in a very disturbing painful way and the music is great too. 1000 Wishes is a great album which has made me donate some more money to my local cancer charity. The album really highlights the issue very few dare to speak about; young children with cancer. The band deserves eternal credit for that alone. But most of all; this is a great album, albeit a painful listening experience which has taken a lot out of myself. And so it should.

4 points

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Farpoint - From Dreaming to Dreaming (2004)

Their third album and my first introduction to their music.

Farpoint is a progressive folk rock band from South Carolina, USA. On From Dreaming to Dreaming, they comes across as a mix of Mostly Autumn and Pink Floyd. That and a solid slant of AOR too. They use both female and male vocals. The music is also very much guitars and keyboards orientated with some Pink Floyd like guitar solos. The bass and drums has a pretty standard sound without really over-working themselves. The sound is therefore pretty OK.

The first songs are pretty poor with some throwaway songs which sounds banal and frankly; cheap. I did not look forward to the final half of the album. The album improves radically from the sixth song Crying In The Rain and it really takes off a bit. Though with some country'n'western influences. Yes, Farpoint is from USA and what would come across as celtic folk music in Mostly Autumn's music comes across as country'n'western in Farpoint's music. That is natural. So my instinctive hatred towards country'n'western (or Americana as it is now officially called) is being subdued. That aside; the final songs are good and the band clearly has something to offer. So much that I will move onto their next albums.

This is a pretty good album who just creeps in to the good category.

3 points

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Kotebel - Ouroboros (2009)

Their fifth album.

I am not sure how to describe this Spanish band and their music. Keith Emerson and Marian Vargas is obvious influences in Kotebel's operatic, symphonic instrumental music. On Ouroboros, they have also incorporated both RIO and jazz. The result is both an intense and dense sound which plays on many different level. It is also music who floats somewhere between jazz, neo-classical music, movie soundtracks and rock music.

It is incredible hard to make good music in this niche of the scene Kotebel occupies. This music is love/hate for the listener. I feel both love and hate for this album.

It is frustrating to listen to an album I should really like, but where I find no real killer tracks which really moves me and makes me stop up and listen. I also loves their devil-may-care attitude and some of this music. It is refreshing to have bands like Kotebel who operates on the extreme fringes of the scene and offers up something entirely different again. And Ouroboros is a good album. It has some really good and great melody lines. But seventy-two minutes is too much for a casual Kotebel listener like myself. It is like I would like to go and hide under the bed when confronted by their music. Anyway, you have been encouraged to check out this album from their Bandcamp site.

3 points

The album (streamed and purchase)

Canvas - Long Way To Mars (2013)

The third album from this US band.

Canvas describe themselves as a mix of Camel and Alan Parsons Project. The latter one seems like a reasonable correct comparison. I am not sure about Camel though. Not at least on this album though. Canvas can best be described as a mix of prog rock, blues, AOR and contemporary rock. The vocals is both female and male. The sound is a mix of americana and indie rock. It is also very much in the 1970s tradition. This album could had been released in 1976.

The result is an engaging, commercial album which is only lacking a killer track or two to really light up the world. I fear this album will not stand out in the crowd of similar sounding albums. Besides of that, this is a good album I find really pleasing. But nothing more than that.

3 points

Coscienza di Zeno. La - Sensitività (2013)

The second album from this Italian band. A band whose self titled debut album created quite a stir in the scene. A great debut album and it would be difficult to better that album.

La Coscienza di Zeno is very much continuing in the same track on Sensitività. That means Italian prog in the epic and melodic Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso vein. They are very much this decade's Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso.

That means long song with a big sound filled with stunning great vocals, vintage keyboards, piano, guitars, bass and drums. That also means fifty-five minutes with long, epic songs with great melody lines and a vintage 1970s sound. The album are very much enhanced with the great vocals here.

The result is an album which continues to give and give. It is an album that grows on the listener, day by day. It is an album I first really liked and then fell in love with. It is as good as Italian prog anno 2013 gets. It is an album I think other bands will have problems better this year. It is an album which will turn non-Italian prog rock lovers into Italian prog too.

It is in short a real masterpiece of our time and it ranks among the best albums from the 1970s. It is an essential purchase.

5 points

Parentin. Andrea - Rock Progressivo Italiano: An introduction to Italian Progressive Rock (2011)

This is a review of a book for a change.

First off all, I have to start this review with a short disclaimer. The author has added me to the thank you list for reasons I do not fully understand. I am massive flattered by this inclusion though. My interest in Italian prog is based on the music alone and I am by no means an expert. The others listed in the thank you list is experts though.

And so is the author himself. A man with a passionate interest in Italian prog rock. That shines through in the book. A book written on a meagre budget. That explains the lack of any illustrations in the book. The lack of album covers and bandlogos is the shortfall of the book.

That aside, the book is as good as it can get. The first part puts the scene into it's right social and political context. A context difficult to understand for those of us who was not there. But the author has put the listener in the picture and I find this part of the book most interesting. I really learned something new.

The author's description of each of the albums he fancies is very interesting too. Again, I learned something new. Most of these albums are from the 1970s though. That decade is supposed to be the golden era of Italian prog rock. That view is disputed taken into the account the release off the new excellent albums from Italy since year 2010 and in particular this year. The final part, 25 % or so of the book is dedicated the new bands and albums. This presentation of the new scene is presented as a road trip. A highly effective way of presenting a scene. The author has very much continued on his blogspot blog Italianprogrockmap which serves as a continuation of this book.

The final overview of the links, Myspace and others, are probably already out of date as Myspace is slowly fading out of the internet and use these days. Use Google instead or the author's blog.

Both that blog and this book is the most complete Italian prog rock lexicon by a mile and the author is the leading authority on this scene. A lexicon I will use for many years until the author or someone else comes up with something better. Something I find highly unlikely.
Everyone who are into the Italian prog rock scene and want to learn more about it should get this book. It is as good as it can get. That is why I give it the full five points.

5 points

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Argos - Cruel Symmetry (2012)

The third album from this German neo prog band.

It is a pretty fair observation that Germany has their own neo prog scene which largely is different from the British neo prog scene. The German sound is darker and much more art rock dominated. Their sound also incorporate a bit avant garde, kraut, eclectic and canterbury. Argos is very much in the forefront of this scene with Cruel Symmetry.

The band has branched out into Canterbury prog on this album. Caravan is an obvious inspiration here in addition to the sound being rooted in the typical neo prog landscape. Add a large dosage of Van Der Graaf Generator too and you get this pretty dark neo prog album. An album where also flutes is incorporated into a landscape filled with synths, guitars, bass, drums and a pretty dark Peter Hammill esque type vocal.

The result is a good to great neo prog album and one of the best I have ever heard from this scene. A very majestic album which soars towards the sky, but never get burned by the sun like Icarus did. The songs are long and symphonic. Fans of symph prog will lap up this album too as much as I do. This is a great neo prog album and band which deserves a lot more credit than it gets. It comes highly recommended.

4 points

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Camelias Garden - You Have a Chance (2013)

Yet another debut album from Italy in the, broadly speaking, prog rock genre.

This time in the more folky pop-rock end of the prog rock genre. Not strictly Italian prog rock. But more like British folk rock. This band sings in English and has musically relocated themselves to England, although they are living in Italy. Fair enough..... although I would prefer Italy if given the chance.

The sound is English and the band has taken a lot from both early Genesis and Magna Charta. There is a lot of pop-rock here too. The vocals is light and airy. The use of organs, flutes and acoustic guitars gives the sound an acoustic feeling. There is a lot of vocal harmonies on this album too. This is indeed a folk rock album.

The wonderful first bars of the opening track Some Stories gives me a lot of Genesis vibes. Unfortunate, those are not representative for this album at all. The music has too much pop-rock vein for my liking although there is also a lot of early Genesis like stuff here too. That said; this is a very good debut album which shows a lot of promise. I hope this is not a one of album from a band who disappears again. Give us some more, please. Count me as one who would like to follow this band with great interest.

3.5 points

Flaming Bess - Tanz Der Götter (1979)

The debut album from this German symph prog band who are still going strong. They released a new album earlier this year. It is about time for me to check them out, then.

Flaming Bess comes across as a mix of Camel and Eloy on this album. No less and no more. Their music is mostly instrumental with a lot of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and some woodwinds. The music is not particular intense. Neither is it lounge music. The krautrock influence is very strong on this album. It is obvious that this album has been released by a German band. But Camel is still also very much present in their sound.

The music is pleasant enough with some long electric guitar and keyboards runs which really pleases me. A couple of great tracks would had been great though as this album lacks a bit bite and substance. It is still a good album and a great album for anyone who really fancy instrumental symph kraut prog. I can understand why this band is popular, yes.

3 points

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Arlon - On The Edge (2013)

A Polish band with their debut album.

They are very much following a well trodden path too. Neo prog mixed with some pop and metal. We even get a (power) ballad here. Some seconds with a saxophone on one of the tracks and some piano on another track breaks up the well used synth, guitars, bass, drums and male vocals formula which the music here is performed with.

This album scores zero points when it comes to originality. The music itself is competently delivered. The sound is good too. The problem is the lack of any great songs and the slickness of it all. Arlon takes no chances and does not deviate from this well used formula. A formula used by countless other bands, releasing albums like this.

On The Edge is a competent decent album which delivers the goods. Lack of originality drags it down to two points.

2 points

Agents Of Mercy - DramaRama (2010)

The second album from this Swedish supergroup.

Agents Of Mercy was setup as a more melodic outlet for Roine Stolt than his regular band The Flower Kings. A bit of that band meets The Beatles. Well, make that ELO. The Flower Kings meets ELO. Add the typical Swedish sound and you get this album.

The music is good without any really great songs. The music is a bit too sugar sweet for my liking. Some more balanced bites would had made the songs better. The band has moved in a slightly more symphonic direction from their debut album and that is welcome. Nad Sylvan's vocals is a matter of hate/love. I am leaning more towards hate than love.

The main impression of this album is that it is non-offensive and pretty bland. It is still a good album though which will find it's fans among diehard Flower Kings and Kaipa fans.

3 points

Fuchs - Leaving Home (2012)

The debut album from the experienced musician and multi-instrumentalist Hans-Juergen Fuchs. A German with some albums with his wife. Fuchs is thankfully a full band effort with lots of other musicians involved, including his wife Ines Fuchs.

We are deep into neo-prog here. Neo-prog with a lot of AOR elements. But still pretty standard neo-prog. The music is performed with tonnes of guitars, synths, drums, bass and both male and female vocals.

The sound is both rich and clear. The songs are all good. Hans-Juergen Fuchs does not bring anything new to the scene. He rather follows the broad well trodden path laid down by other bands. The result is a pleasingly good album which works for those into this type of music. A couple of great songs would had elevated this album to a new level again. This is still a good album.

3 points

Deep Purple - Now What ? (2013)

The brand new Deep Purple album has been both branded as their return to form and a prog rock album too. Hence, I purchased it.

I gave up on this band after the poor House Of Blue Light album. I have never heard a song from the Morse/Airey lineup. Not because I cannot stand them. It is just that I could not be bothered. I am also missing John Lord. The band is touring this planet nonstop and is having a great life. That and success. They fully deserve it. So I have given their albums a wide berth.

Until I heard all the good things about this album, that is. Words which I felt is not justified based on the first half of this album. The first songs is cheeky, typical pop-hard rock Deep Purple. Tiresome in my view. The final half of this album is what really interest me more and which justifies the praise it has got. The music is harder and more elaborate. The compositions is full of flesh. Don Airey and Steve Morse shines a lot on this album and they feels right for Deep Purple. Even Ian Gillan, which voice is reputed to be finished and dead, really comes alive here.

In short; this is an album in two halves. The first half is decent enough. The final half is bordering to being great. It feels like even Deep Purple has woken up again and released their best album in ages. Just like many other dinosaurs has done during the last two years. We are indeed living in the golden age of music. Enjoy.

3.5 points

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Active Heed - Visions From Realities (2013)

The debut album from this Umberto Pagnini lead Italian project. A project which also include Mark Colton from Credo and some others. That include the Norwegian vocalist Mari Borresen.

Umberto Pagnini is using the Active Heed name as his vehicle. The music most of all sounds like a singer-songwriter project and he could have released it under his own name. Neither Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen suffered a career meltdown, using their own name when they released their singer-songwriter albums. But releasing Visions From Realities under the Umberto Pagnini name would had brought clarity to this proceedings. Proceedings which essentially is a pop-rock album with some hints of prog rock.

Umberto's vocals is dominating here, sometimes helped by Mari and Mark. They are backed by guitars, bass, drums and synths. The sound is very much contemporary. Umberto's vocals are great and the music is built around them. Which again makes me wonder why he did not release this album under his own name. I would had done that.

The quality of the songs are good. What makes this album slightly uninteresting is the generic pop-rock sound with generic acoustic guitars sound. It is a sound done by many other singer-songwriters this year. I would rate this album somewhere between decent and good. I would still wish Umberto good luck and note that I am not among his target audience.

2.5 points

Hollow Branches - Okanagana Waves (2012)

The debut album from this USA-Norwegian internet collaboration. A collaboration between Marius Sjolie and Robert Osgood.

Okanagana Waves takes us deep into melancholia, ambient and post rock. Or post prog for that matter. The sound pictures is being painted by guitars, synths, drums, bass, piano, computers and Robert's both very fitting and great melancholic vocals. Not exactly a party in the local community hall, this album.

The sound walls is not particular overpowering, the silent ambient reflections being the tool used by the band. "Less is more" is the motto here. 

The result is an album which slowly creeps up on the listener. But not enough is my view as there is no real great tracks here. I really like what I hear, but I am not overawed by this album. The band has done everything right bar writing great tracks. Those into ambient rock should check out this good album though.

3 points

Space Mirrors - In Darkness They Whisper (2012)

The fourth album from this Russian-Australian internet cooperation band.

Space Mirrors delivers what the label says. Space rock. Well, more than that. I would say space metal instead of space rock. The guitars are chugging away in typical power metal and at times; death metal time signatures and riffs. The vocals is a mix of Depeche Mode and Bolt Thrower. The synths sometimes reminds me about both Nocturnus and Hawkwind. The end result is music somewhere between death metal, goth, power metal and space rock.

Quality wise, this is not bad at all. One of my pet hates is power metal and there is far too much power metal here. The album is too much dominated by power and goth metal. There is not much good music here either. The album also gives me a metallic taste in my mouth. Hence my verdict who is somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points 

Area - Maledetti (1976)

The fourth album from this Italian experimental prog rock/jazz band.

Area under the guiding light of their dominant vocalist Demetrio Stratos was always very experimental and avant garde. Maledetti takes avant garde to a new level again. During this forty-two minutes long album, we get everything from RIO to classical music to space rock and jazz. All of it really out there in the outer space, spaced out and not easy to grasp.

This creates a fragmented piece of music which loosely can be called an album. The music is also very playful without really having much of a purpose. Maybe it does, but it does not feel like it. There are some really great pieces of music here. There are also some pieces of music which leaves me cold too.

Maledetti is very much an album which proves Area's relevance and I am glad I got this album. It is not a great album though. It feels too fragmented and it has some not so good music. It is still a good album though.

3 points

Sombre Reptile - Timeless Island (2012)


The third album from this French fusion band.

Fusion as in a mix of jazz and ambient music in this case. After the very promising electric guitar solos driven opening track Out Of The Jungle, the tempo slackens down a lot with a mix of electric guitars and keyboards. A lot of the music is ambient and rather uninspiring. The melodies is not that good either.

I am most of all missing the type of intensity and drive the really good fusion albums and bands always have. The good melodies..... you don't find them here. Timeless Island is a very laid back album which may work as a relaxation album. But the jazzy interludes will break up any relaxation the listener seeks. I have been listening to this album both at my daily train commute and at home. It is most definate more suitable commuting listening. It is still nothing more than a decent album though. Sorry......

2 points

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Progenesi - Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero (2013)

The debut album from this Italian band.

I am not a big fan of instrumental prog rock. Camel and ELP has done what has to be done in this genre. I am also a fan of Italian vocals as an instrument although I don't understand a word Italian. I find instrumental prog a bit toothless unless strong fusion and King Crimsion elements is included.

Progenesi's debut album has neither. What Ulisse: L'Alfiere Nero has instead is long and soaring melodies in the best of the symphonic prog traditions. Bethoven and Chopin can be heard in their melodies. So can the influences of ELP, The Nice and Genesis too. There is not much Italian prog rock here though. The band is clearly looking more towards England than Italy.

The result is, for a change, a great instrumental prog rock album. An album which stands up there with some of the best Italian prog rock albums this year. And that says a lot. 2013 is no doubts Italy's year and this album is highly recommended.

4 points

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Hax Cel - Zwai (1972)

Another one of German krautrock band.

This band only left a '7 single and this live recording behind them before they disbanded. This was re-released by the German label Garden Of Delights as one CD back in 2001. A label who has done great things for the scene.

It is therefore a pity that I don't find this album particular interesting. Hax Cel's brand of krautrock is a mix of pure classical music and flutes driven folk rock. There is not much synergy between these two extremes either. I get the feeling this is two bands under one name.

Zwai is a highly original album. Originality does not means good though in this case. This is a decent enough album and one for the krautrock purists. But not for the casual krautrock fan.

2 points

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Zao - Kawana (1976)

The fourth album from this French band. A band who started out as a zeuhl band in the shadows of Magma but who very quickly moved to the jazz and fusion genre.

Kawana is very much an album in the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Soft Machine mould. A mix of those two bands in my view. Electric violins are mixed with woodwinds, keyboards and piano. Those carries the music along. And the music is great throughout. I really love this kind of music and have found a new good friend in this album. The solo runs are great and the band is tight. The music is not as jaw dropping intense as the best albums from the two above mentioned bands. It is still a great jazz album though and highly recommended.

4 points

Sphin'x - Sphin'x (2013)

The second album from this French band and my first taste of them.

The album starts out as a mix of Pink Floyd and Rush anno the 1980s. Rush anno Signals to be more precise. Then it moves to a harder edge rock and more art rock like Pink Floyd, Tears For Fears, Porcupine Tree, Rush and Simple Minds.

The result is a good fifty minutes with pretty commercial music which is only lacking one important ingredient: Good to great songs. All other ingredients is there. Long guitar solos, good vocals, some good electronica and samples, thundering bass and drums and some soaring keyboards.

I am not sure if this is a decent or a good album. The sound is good so that puts the album in the good category. If you love mainstream rock, this album is well worth checking out on Youtube. If not; forget it.

3 points

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Runaway Totem - Affreschi E Meditazione (2012)

Their ninth album.

I have followed this Italian band with a great interest over their previous eight albums. All of them reviewed here and other places (I will repost those reviews here in the coming days).

Their 2011 album Le Roi du Monde is a brilliant album and the band were on an upward curve. Then they release this album. An album I first thought was released by a German raga inspired krautrock band. Krautrock with Indian raga rock is what we get here. And not raga krautrock of the highest order too.

Some of this album reminds me about Amon Duul. Other parts of this album has faint traces of the band I once knew as Runaway Totem. The end result is a disappointing album which is only saved from a turkey-status by the closing track Inno a Surya.

But this album is their weakest ever album and one I would not recommend to anyone. I am really sorry.

2 points

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Korai Öröm - 2013 (2013)

The ninth studio album from this Hungarian space rock band.

I have never heard about them before I sunk my teeth into this album. An album which sounds like another space rock band I have been ignoring for too long; Ozric Tentacles. In other words; sparse instrumented organic space rock where the music breathes instead of steamrolling over the listener.

On this album, the bass and the drums plays a central role as they are guiding a single half acoustic guitar helped by some electronica. That on some really great melodies. Melodies which makes me stop up and really listening to this album from the first tone to the final tone of the album.

In short; this is a great album from a band who really deserves more than barely a cult status. They deserve much more than that. Get this album.

4 points

Not A Good Sign - Not A Good Sign (2013)

The debut album from this Yugen, Ske and La Coscienza Di Zeno members band. An album released on the mighty Altrock Records label. So it is avant-garde rock, then.

Nope. This album is by far the most melodic album this label has ever released. It is still by no means a pop-rock or even an AOR album, though. This project places themselves safely between Genesis, Anglagard, Anekdoten and King Crimson. Symphonic eclectic prog is the best label for this music, if you insists.

The music is mainly performed with vintage keyboards and electric guitars. That and bass, drums and some great vocals. The songs are surprisingly short. Average length is around five minutes. They still packs a mighty punch though. Sometimes, less is more. The songs are in the epic, majestic vein. They are all very good to great. This is an album I really enjoys and I am not afraid to be swept up in the hype surrounding this album. Sometimes, a hype is justified. In this case, it is. This is a great album for the fans of melodic, but still eclectic music.

4 points

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Saga - Marathon (2003)

Their album number 15.

It is also a return to their past. The sound is different and a lot more fresh than their 1970s album. Besides of the sound, the material here is much as in the same vein as their first four albums. Even the artwork is pretty much in that style.

The result is an album which reminds me why I liked this band when they broke out of Canada 35 - 40 years ago. OK, the songs here are not particular great. But all Saga trademarks is here and they also sounds heavy for a change. There is plenty of punch in these songs. Not the horrible pop music they did on a couple of albums. Steel Umbrella springs to mind......... My faith in Saga has been restored with this very good album which sadly is lacking a killer track or two. But I am not complaining that much. Saga fans, rejoice.

3.5 points