Thursday 31 October 2013

Metus - Source Of Life (2012)

The sixth album from the Polish composer and multi-instrumentalist Marek Juza.

I have never heard about him before. Unfortunate, I have to say. Unfortunate, not many others knows about Metus either.

Source Of Life is quite a melodic progressive tinged rock album. Marek's vocals is somewhere between David Bowie and Pete Steele (Type O Negative). But mostly David Bowie. Fans of him should really check out Metus. The lyrics are Christian too and Metus has often been described as a neo-classical Christian project. That is not the label I would use on Source Of Life, though.

The music here is pleasant and melodic rock. There are plenty of guitars and keyboards here. Ditto for piano too. Bass and drums are present too. All of it played by Marek. The music is not particular technical though. There is plenty of light and shade in the music. Not to mention gothic blackness. Type O Negative is a good reference, yes. This is indeed a mellow, melodic album.

The overall quality is good throughout. I really like the vocals and the way Marek paints the dark soundwall on this album. I wish more artists could do the same. Keep an eye on this project.

3 points

Flaming Bess - Verlorene Welt (1980)

The second album from this German symphonic prog band.

On their first two albums, those two I have heard, Flaming Bess comes across as a German's answer to Camel. Quite funky guitar lead symphonic prog.

Instrumental symphonic prog, that is. There are some German narration on this album and some female voices which is used as an instrument. Besides of guitars, plenty of electric guitars and solos, the music is also full of keyboards, bass and drums.

The end result is a pleasing good album which is easy on the ear and not too taxing on the brain. Not particular technical, in other words. I quite like this album and give it a good award.

3 points

Tempio delle Clessidre. Il - alieNatura (2013)

The second album from this band whose self titled debut album was 2010's best album and still one of my alltime favourite albums.

We are deep into Rock Progressivo Italiano again. Since the debut album, the excellent vocalist Stefano Lupo Galifi from Museo Rosenbach has left the band and returned to a revitalised Museo Rosenbach. The place behind the microphone has been taken over by Francesco Ciapica. Nobody can replace Stefano, one of Italy's alltime best vocalists. But Francesco Ciapica is a very inspired choice and he does a superb job on this album.

The music on alieNatura is in the same area as their debut album and bands like Museo Rosenbach. That means theatrical symphonic, complex epic Italian progressive rock with great songs, make that compositions. They sounds a lot more gothic on this album than on their debut album.

alieNatura is not as good as the debut album. But this is still a great album which cement their position as one of the best new Italian bands. If not the best new Italian band.

4 points

Mona Lisa - L'Escapade (1974)

The debut album from this French band whose albums Le Petit Violon de Monsieur Grégoire and Avant Qu'il Ne Soit Trop Tard made them a household name in the French symph prog scene.

Mona Lisa's symphonic prog is very much in the same vein as Ange and Genesis. Very theatrical and symphonic. On this, their debut album, they sets out their stall with this music. The sound is pretty poor and the music is not particular great. Or not even good.

The French vocals is very good here. The Hammond organ is very good too. The sound is not good at all and kind of drowns out this album. A remaster would had improved this album a lot and presented it in all it's well hidden glory.

This is a decent to good album which only fans of French symphonic prog should check out.

2.5 points

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Magrathea - Legends (2004)

The third album from these English symph prog rockers and my first meeting with their music.

This and their last album has been kicking around in my collection for some years without catching my interest. Magrathea is one of the more unknown bands in the scene as they are not exactly shouting from the rooftops. They should !

Their music is good old Genesis from the Peter Gabriel era. The sound, that is. Their sound is more neo prog than moog and melotrons symphonic prog. Their keyboards sound is more contemporary than retro. Ditto for their guitars, bass and drums sound. The vocals are good.

I like the sound a lot and the melodies sometimes kicks in with some great melody lines. Unfortunate, most of the music is good to very good though. Which is a bit frustrating as I would have loved to rate this album higher. The songs are simply not good enough. But fans of Genesis should check out this band and this very good album.

3.5 points

Dr No - El Bufo De La Cort (2003)

A one of album Spanish project with members from Harnakis.

We are in neo prog land again. Just like Harnakis was a neo prog band. No coincidence, btw. The music is heavy laden with keyboards and guitars. The neo prog sound is the English one. The vocals are Spanish. The music sounds as a mix of a lighter version of Marillion, the Fish era, and Genesis, the two first Collins albums.

The album starts out as Marillion light and it is pretty poppy and light on substance. Some Spanish pop music shines through. The final songs are more symphonic and heavy. There are also some long instrumentals in the middle of this album. Another trademark on this album is the long guitar solos. The vocals is not particular good though. They are the weakest point on this album. A more prolific vocal would had done some wonders for this album.

The songs are good though and it is quite an enjoyable album which really never raises it's head over the good status. It is well worth checking out if Harnakis is your thing.

3 points

Mostly Autumn - Music Inspired By The Lord Of The Rings (2001)

Is this a Mostly Autumn album or not ? Anyway, this is their fourth album.

It is also a pretty big diversion from their previous albums. What we get on Music Inspired By The Lord Of The Rings is a lot of instrumentals. All of them classical music inspired. There is not much Heather Findlay here or celtic folk music. The music is mostly orchestral instrumentals with a full orchestral sound. Sometimes with some male and female vocals. A couple of compositions here sounds like Pink Floyd and there is even a couple of hard rocking songs here.

This album sounds like a stop gap album which should not be taken as a serious Mostly Autumn album. I am by no means impressed by this album. It is in my view neither interesting or good. Nevertheless, it is a decent album and barely that. Avoid it if you want a proper Mostly Autumn album.

2 points 

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Laviantica - Clessidra (2013)

The debut album from this Italian prog rock band.

Italy has produced another prog rock band and album this year in the form of this band and album. It is an album which does not follow the formula from the 1970s Rock Progressivo Italiano scene.

How ?

Well, the lyrics are in Italian and most of the music is in the Rock Progressivo Italiano genre. They combine that genre with a lot of Rush associations. That and a lot of art rock and some heavy prog and more contemporary rock. The music sounds really fresh and contemporary. Although the songs are long, the songs are very much in the traditional songs format with verse-chorus-verse. The songs are very melodic and they are performed with piano, keyboards, bass, guitars and drums. That and some male and female vocals. Add a lot of vocal harmonies to the mix too.

My main gripe is the lack of any truly great songs here. That is my only gripe with this album which really sounds fresh and lively. I love the sound and I really like this band. This is another very promising debut album from Italy from a band which I hope will not become one of the many one shots Italian band. I want more from this band.

3.5 points



Elull Noomi - Uleella (2008)

I have been listening to and reviewing a lot of strange music during the last 20 years. From necro-black metal to jazz and zeuhl. This album is among the most strangest experiences I have ever had in the front of my speakers.

Uleella was released by Magma's own label and that should give an indication about what to follow. But where Magma uses full instruments and that lots of them, this band, which I guess is from Montpellier in France, does not use a single instrument. What we get is a six voices big a cappella zeuhl album. Yes, you heard me right. A capella zeuhl. A capella with female and male vocals on a made-up language nobody understand. Music cannot be more eclectic than this. This album and band is one of a kind and do occupy their own music genre. No less; no more.

The result is this one hour long album with some great vocals. It takes time for this music to sink in though as I have not heard anything like this before in my life. The music is zeuhl though and also has a lot of jazz in it. The likes of Flairck and Aranis can also be detected in addition to Magma.

The result is weird, but also a good album which I would recommend to anyone into the bands above and zeuhl. The music is so out there that I find it difficult to label it as a great album though. It is among the top three strangest albums in my collection though. Weird, weird, weird.........

3 points

Eloy - Dawn (1976)

The fifth album from these German space rockers.

Dawn is really a fitting title on this album. This album has the sound of the sun rising up again after a cold night. The rising sun means our bodies is getting warmed up and we all feel the heat spreading around in our bodies. That is the essence of this album in my ears and mind.

In short; this is gentle, slightly ambient space rock with long thematic guitar and keyboards runs. Yes, it sounds like Pink Floyd at times. But Eloy has finally found their own style on this album. A brand of space rock I really like. A brand of space rock with a bite, but still gentle enough for me to float away into the sunrise.

From the first tone of this forty odd minutes long album, we get gentle space rock with vocals. The English vocals comes with a pretty heavy German accent. They are nevertheless great vocals. The bass, drums, strings, guitars and keyboards is great too.

The end result is a great album where Eloy really establish their credentials. My interest in them has been rekindled, it is safe to say.

4 points 

Monday 28 October 2013

Caravan - The Battle Of Hastings (1995)

The eleventh album from these Canterbury legends and their next to final album.

Gone has their jazzy prog and that has been replaced by some pop-rock. The music still has the Caravan sound and you can immediate recognize the music as being theirs. But the music is pop-rock though.

The quality is pretty decent though. This band is still only a shadow of what this band once was. There is few solos here. The songs are verse-chorus-verse. Most of all; Richard Sinclair is missing here. The songs are not particular memorable and the true Caravan only sporadic shows their true colours.

This is just a decent album which only die-hard fans should bother about.

2 points

Zao - Typhareth (1977)

The fifth album from Zao.

Yochk'o Seffer had left the band before they recorded this album and the band settled for a fusion-jazz album instead of a more challenging zeuhl jazz album.

Percussion, drums, bass, keyboards and a lot of woodwinds creates the sound. The bass is pretty much in the forefront at the beginning before the woodwinds and keyboards takes over. Takes over on a pretty cool, laidback jazzy fusion album. More jazz than fusion, though. Actually, forget the fusion bit. This is jazz. Laidback jazz with not that much intensity.

The end result is pretty pleasing though. Pleasing but not that good. My main gripe is that the music is too laidback, too generic and without much personality. The music floats through one ear and leaves the other ear without making much impression on the braincells between the ears. Hence my muted admiration for this album.

2.5 points

Ange - Ange En Concert 1970-71 (1978)

A socalled live album from Ange.

Socalled because the sound quality is bootleg quality. Really bad bootleg quality. The music is also from their period before they had found their voice and sound. From the period they tried to sound like Pink Floyd. This is not Ange as I and the rest of their fans knows them.

The music is bad and so is the sound quality. This album gives me the not so nice feeling of being cheated. It is like ordering a bottle of nice red wine and getting red soda instead. A miserable experience. Avoid.

1 points

Ocean 5 - Return to Mingulay (2013)

Oceans 5 is the Northern Irish (Ballymoney) folk singer Andy John Bradford and friends internet project and this is their first album. It is sad that Oceans 5 is not a real band as their music deserves a live audience. I think the music on Return to Mingulay is far better live than on an album.

But you don't know what I am talking about as I have yet to introduce and review this album.

This album has been described as crossover prog at ProgArchives. I am not so sure as I have been a victim of years of country'n'western abuse. Most of the music on Return to Mingulay is based on a mix of Nashville country'n'western and outlaw country'n'western. That is at least the bass, drums and guitars sound. The album is based on a sea shanty about one of the islands on the remote west coast of Scotland; Mingulay. An island currently occupied by sheep and nothing else. And yes, sea shanties was also the origin of country'n'western.

Return to Mingulay is not purely a Nashville romp. There are a lot of folk rock here too. Parts of this album reminds me about Camel's Harbour Of Tears album and Wally's first two albums. And there are some prog elements here together with some southern rock elements. But Northern Ireland or not; the album is more US than UK folk rock. More Americana than Celtic. Ironic enough; the music reminds me somewhat about the band from one of Mingulay's neigbouring islands; The Vatersay Boys.

Labels or not and my dislike of country'n'western; the music on Return to Mingulay is good throughout. The best song is the very good (sea shanty) Mingulay Boatsong and that is also the promo single from this album. It is also pretty representative for this album. Andy John Bradford has a superb voice and I hope he takes the material from this album on the road with local musicians as the musicians on Oceans 5 is spread around the world.

Return to Mingulay is a warm album who appeals more to the hearts than to the brains. It is a good album. In their genre, I prefer the above mentioned Camel album and Wally's two albums though. I hope we hear far more from Andy John Bradford and Oceans 5 in the future. I have bookmarked both.

3 points 

Sunday 27 October 2013

Iona - The Book Of Kells (1992)

The second album from this Celtic prog folk band.

I have known about this band for a long time but have not bothered to check them out before they released their free download best of album Treasures: The Very Best. I already have their 2011 album and this one. Their free gift to us all prompted me to check out The Book Of Kells. I am glad I did !

I have a soft spot for female fronted Celtic prog rock, I gladly admit. I am even a fan of this genre. Sort of fan, that is. I also like Celtic music a lot. Kind of connects with as I live in Scotland and loves to go to the islands on the wild west coast. I have yet to visit Iona though and I am not so sure if I ever will visit Iona as it is too far off the beaten track in my case. I have been to the neighboring island Mull many times. A great place.

Back to the music and The Book Of Kells. It starts with some smashing songs where Joanna Hogg's vocals hits me in solar plexus from the opening chords of Kells Opening Theme. Does she have the best voice within this genre ? A rather good question !! Her vocals on this album is brilliant to say at least. She is supported by some great musicians too which delivers a great mix of celtic folk music, ambient, a bit jazz and and a great deal of symphonic prog.

The opening song Kells Opening Theme is simply superb. Unfortunate, the album dies a bit in the middle with some ambient Enya/Clannad stuff which does not go down too well with me. It then moves into a much more bombastic, almost Simple Minds like sound from their Belfast Boy era. Joanna Hogg delivers again some superb vocals on the great final songs of this album and this well over an hour long album ends in a very uplifting mode. 

This album has it's weaknesses, yes. I am not totally into this ambient stuff in the middle. The rest of the album is superb and that makes this album a great album in my view. And I agree with those who think Iona is vastly underrated. In truth; they are. But not in my household.

4 points

Saturday 26 October 2013

Panna Fredda - Uno (1971)

Another one album only Italian band. There is a lot of them around from the 1970s.

Uno is a mix of space rock and ELP, to cut a long story short. The keyboards are pretty rampant and reminds me somewhat about Keith Emerson. The guitars and vocals is more in the space rock genre. There are also some hard rock here and some funky bass lines. The drums are also pretty funky.

The sound quality is not the best though. The Italian vocals are good. The music not so good. This is an album let down by the not so good sound quality. This is an album only die-hard fans of RPI will find interesting. But not even I am finding this particular interesting.

2 points

Coto En Pel - Holocaust (1978)

An obscure Spanish band with their one and only album. Nobody has heard anything from this band again.

We are somewhere between symphonic prog, fusion and some folk rock here. The music is performed with female vocals, keyboards, mainly acoustic guitars, cornet, drums and bass. The music is pretty down tuned and acoustic. The female vocals is good.

Having managed to get past the far too long intro, the album really does not open up into a full flower. It feels convoluted and fragmented at the same time. The album consists of four ten minutes long pieces. None of them really leaves a good impression. The problem is simply that the music is not good enough.

This is a decent album from a band who at best is just a footnote in the history of Spanish prog rock, I am sorry to report.

2 points

Rush - Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)

The movie about Rush which I bought three years ago but has not watched before now after I got myself a home cinema.

In my view; popular music has produced three brilliant bands. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Rush. Rush is a mix of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. They are also my all time favorite band. Their music always gives me new inspiration and new life. They have opened my life to new music. Without Rush, I would never have become involved in ProgArchives and met up with good friends like Raffaella Berry, Andrea Parentin, Micky Berry and the many others friends I have got through music. In short; Rush is not only a music band to me. They are a large part of my life and will always remain so.

I kind of feel a kinship with Alex, Geddy and Neil too. They are my kind of people. I am pretty sure I would had struck up a bond with them immediate after meeting them if we ever met (after I had confessed my admiration for them and stopped pinching myself, that is). There is a handful of people I admire. Geddy, Alex and Neil is three of them.

One of the reasons is that I don't think this planet has ever seen a band who are so technically perfect as Rush. Even more technical perfect than Led Zeppelin. But their smartness is also combined with great melodies. Melodies which speaks to me.

Beyond the Lighted Stage is their story as told by the band with music included. We hear about Neil Peart's shyness (and taking part in this movie cannot have been easy for him). We connect with the band. We hear great music; their music. We hear other bands and musicians admire Rush. We feel that we Rush fans are not alone. After all; Rush is a cult band. Out and out a cult band.

Beyond the Lighted Stage is their story and also their way of letting us fans into their world. It is doing that job on their terms. Terms I as a fan agrees with because I feel I have bonded with Rush as a human being since I got my first Rush album almost 25 years ago. I am old and I have grown old with Rush.

I love Beyond the Lighted Stage and it is a great fan memento from a band who are still going strong.

5 points

Crystal Palace - Reset (2010)

The fifth album from this German neo prog band.

German neo prog is not like any other neo prog sound. Reset storms off in an energetic tempo, prog metal tempo before they calm down the music and we get into a more Porcupine Tree atmospheric sound. Crystal Palace is in many ways a mix of that band and RPWL.

The music is performed with a lot of guitars and keyboards, the standard neo prog setup. The guitar solos are rather great and ditto for the vocals. The music is rather standard German neo prog which never becomes either dull or very interesting. I rather like this album and rate it as a good album. But nothing more than that and I am afraid this is one of rather many good neo prog albums.

3 points

Eskaton - Fiction (1983)

The third and final album from this French zeuhl band.

Their 4 Visions album is regarded as their masterpiece and it is indeed one of the masterpieces in the zeuhl genre too. Fiction is a kind of forgotten album.

Eskaton was always very close to Magma in their musical approach. Fiction is a jazzy album with female and male vocals. There is plenty of keyboards here with some zeuhl rhythm figures. The jazzy bits is very Canterbury like.

The end result is a very funky, jazzy zeuhl album with great vocals and melodies. It is a bit zeuhl light and not so brutal straight in the face zeuhl as Magma. Less is more is the motto for Fiction. The music gets a lot of air to breathe in. The landscapes is a lot more open. Fiction is a great album which I really like.

4 points

Thursday 24 October 2013

Tagliapietra. Aldo - L'Angelo Rinchiuso (2013)

The Le Orme vocalist returns again with his fifth solo album.

His previous album Nella pietra e nel vento from 2012 got very good reviews among my friends and I therefore jumped on the chance to review his brand new album.

I don' t really know what he did on his four previous albums or why they are not considered as proper Italian prog rock. I suspect that Aldo has made a big step towards Italian prog rock and symphonic prog on his new album though. Starting out as a more pomp pop/rock album in the beginning with Aldo's voice as the leading instrument, the keyboards and guitars soon takes over and joins Aldo. There is a lot of very good instrumental solos and bridges here. Mostly by keyboards. The final half of this album takes us into solid Genesis territory, their mid era.

Aldo's voice is a joy to behold and I don't mind the first half of the album which is vocals dominated. The final half of the album is more my thing though with majestic and high flying keyboards parts. This album is suffering from the lack of any great tracks. But it is still a very good album which any prog heads should check out.

3.5 points

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Violent Silence - A Broken Truce (2013)

The debut album from this Swedish band.

Four songs and the name of the band meant I expected a prog metal EP. Hence, I was not particular interested and put it aside for later, much later. Then the buzz around this album, for it is an album, reached me and I gave it some spins. I am glad I did !

Violent Silence's music is pure Swedish symphonic prog mixed up with some neo prog. Fifty percent of each, I would say. The average song length, make that epics, is around eleven minutes each. The album clocks in at forty-seven minutes. It goes without saying that this music is elaborate symphonic. The first song Prism Faith is a good example. Some very good vocals and some long and elaborate keyboards runs. Think Kaipa and think Anglagard. That is; without the moogs and melotrons. This band uses more neo prog like keyboards.

The music is great throughout and based on keyboards with some guitars too. The keyboards runs are excellent and gives me a lot of Genesis associations. The music is very melodic at the same time as it is also complex and requires some time to fully get. As a debut album, this is a brilliant album. A killer track would had been nice though. Except from that, this is an almost perfect album and one which surely will figure high on many people's list of best album of the year.

4.5 points

Zaguan - Zaguan (2002)

The debut album from this Spanish band who started out as a Triana tribute band before they released two albums with original material.

We are again talking Spanish folk rock with plenty of local flavour. And yes, Triana is a big influence here. Their music is also looking back at the great albums from the 1970s. This album is a lot more folk and flamenco dominated than rock dominated. It is a lot more vocals dominated than instruments dominated. The music is performed with guitars, Hammond organs, hand clapping, bass and drums.

The result is an arch-typical Spanish album with the whole package. Go figure. The interplay between the electric guitars and the Hammond organ is great and gives the album a retro feel. The songs are not great and the album is lacking a killer track or two. Despite of this shortcoming, this is a good album which should bring the smile to anyone's face. Check it out.

3 points

Ilvcia - In The Nature Of Reason (2013)

The debut album from this Spanish band. A band from Barcelona, no less.

Released as a free download on Bandcamp, I guess the recording costs were not astronomical. Which explains a couple of tracks with bad sound quality. The overall sound quality is very good though and should not deter anyone from downloading this album.

Yes, we are in Spain and the band has a very Spanish folk rock sound in the bottom of their progressive psychedelic rock sound. The folk rock aspect sets the band apart and stamps Spain all over their sound. A very positive thing in my mind as I am a fan of Spanish rock. There is also a lot of indie, post rock and college rock in their music.

The music is performed with Spanish guitars, electric guitars, a very warm keyboards and synth sound, bass, drums and vocals. The vocals is very  good and the musicians really have a blast with adding a lot of intricate and colourful textures to the melodies. Melodies which is not particular great, but still offers a lot of enjoyment for the likes of myself. 

This album is looking back at the great Spanish prog rock albums from the 1970s and have a distinct retro sound. It is also looking forward to the future. The result is a very good album from a band I hope will take heart and continue their good work. I really like this album.

3.5 points

The album

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Zundapp - Sotero (2009)

The second album from this Italian band.

This band is pretty obscure to say at least. Their music is not that obscure, though. Take a large portion of hard rock and another large portion of folk rock. Mix them together with some jazz (Django Reinhardt) and you get this album. An instrumental album, it is.

The music is performed with drums, bass, guitars and flutes. Plenty of flutes, in fact. The music is pretty simple and based a lot on rhythm figures and the flutes floating over them. The guitars also works as a rhythm instrument too. The only solo instrument is the flutes with some guitars added now and then.

The result is both pretty good and charming. It is an album which straddles jazz, heavy rock and folk rock at the same time. The melodies are somewhat lacking in quality so I give it a weak good rating. Mostly due to it being both original, one of a kind, and charming. Check it out.

3 points

Astralis - Fantasia Di Invierno (2013)

The third album from this neo prog band from Chile.

Although the neo prog label does not shine that brightly on this album. This band has it's own style. Most of it due to they adopting folk music from their homeland and their Spanish vocals. There is some tango, folk, fusion and symphonic prog on this album. Genesis and Yes are clear inspirations for their music. So is guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore too.

The result is a very good and almost unique neo prog album which shies well away from the neo prog cliches used by British and Dutch bands. I am not a big neo prog fan. But I like the two (out of total three) albums I have heard by this album. They are well worth checking out.

3.5 points

Monday 21 October 2013

Lugnoro - Tellus (2009)

The debut album from this Swedish band.

Lugnoro, which I believe means "calm" in Swedish, and their music is anything but "lugn". Lugnoro is one of the many Swedish band who has re-visited the 1970s and come back with a hard rocking mix of blues, psychedelic, stoner and prog rock. Not so much prog rock though. But the Hammond organ is pretty progressive.

The band sings in Swedish. Good vocals, btw. The rest of the sound is filled with Hammond organs, guitars, bass and drums. The music is very groovy and stoner at the same time. It is also one heck of a hard rocking racket which will rock your feet of.

The retro sound is excellent and the music is good. There is no killer tracks here, but the album is still good enough to get this band a lot of fans among the retro-hard rock lovers. If this is your music, get this album.
I am merely foot tapping along to the music.

3 points

Saturday 19 October 2013

Kosmoratik - Bridges And Boats (2013)

The first proper album from this Norwegian band whose mini album Gravitation (see my review) gave an indication that something was afoot in Norway again.

Gravitation had a lot of jazz and what I would call college rock/pop. The band has largely ditched the jazz bit and gone for a more folk rock and symphonic classic music sound on Bridges And Boats. The music is sparsely instrumented with guitars, viola, violin, cello, piano, mellotron and numerous other acoustic instruments here. Most of it is backing up Lise Lotte Agedal's and Eivind Johansen's excellent vocals. Yes, that is both female and male vocals. Some of the vocals are done as duets.

There are both a lot of Renaissance and Fairport Convention over this music. Ditto for some nods towards Pink Floyd and The Beatles too. That gives this album a very heart warming sound which goes deep into the listener's hearts and then stays around for a long time. This music is indeed pastoral music and the roots of it can also be found in the first Genesis albums.

So far, so good. This is useless if the songs are not up to it. Well, here this album dishes up a great surprise. The music is not good. It is excellent. Truly excellent in fact. The songs are excellent crafted and comes with superb musicianship. The guitar solo on Anchor And Compass is one of the better guitar solos I have heard for a long time. The single track Strangest Dream and the title track is also excellent with Lise Lotte's truly excellent vocals.

Bridges And Boats is forty minutes of some of the best music I have heard coming out of Norway for a long time. And it is delivered with great conviction and belief. Kosmoratik is a band which I would put in the first long boat of the Norwegian, the Viking invasion of prog rock bands which is sure to hit your shores soon. Bring your family to the beaches and welcome them to your home. This is an album you need.

5 points

Tower Of Electric Onions - Tower Of Electric Onions (1999)

A German band with their debut album. I believe this is their only album too.

The band has described their music as "Afro-psychedelic-jazz-funk-rock". Well, I think krautrock is the term I would use although I do not disagree with the label the band use on their music. Their music is deeply rooted in the 1970s German scene and their brand of krautrock is a mix of fusion and psychedelic.

Bands to compare them with is Eloy, Man, Camel and Nektar. Their music is performed with guitars, long guitar solos it is, keyboards, a rampant jazzy bass, drums and some good vocals. The end result is at times a very funky album which transform any feet into feet tapping, dancing feet. Infectious groovy in other words.

This album is also a good album who sadly is lacking a great song or two. Fans of krautrock should check out this band though and I hope the band will resurface again with a new album.

3 points

Friday 18 October 2013

Gandalf's Project - Insights (2011)

The debut album and so far only album from this Italian band, a duo, released on Mellow Records.

Mellow is the word here. Instrumental mellow symphonic prog bordering to fusion and ambient new age music. The instruments are synth, guitars, bass and drums. That and lot of programming. The music reminds me about both Camel and Pink Floyd as the music is very mellow and filled with synth and guitar solos.

The opening half of this album is very good with some good melodies. The album looses most of it's life halfway through and tails of towards the end of this forty minutes long album. Thankfully a long enough album. The end result is a good album which is failing to enthuse me, but which I still respect as a good album. I have no idea if this album will ever get a follow up or if this band will remain as one of Italy's many one album only bands.

3 points

Torre Dell'Alchimista. La - La Torre Dell'Alchimista (2001)

The debut album from this Italian band.

We are deep into Rock Progressivo Italiano again. The classic form of Rock Progressivo Italiano, that is. The album starts with an ELP hommage and moves onto the likes of Banco, Le Orme and PFM. The classic bands. But they are not copycats, though.

The music is symphonic and melodic. It is performed with flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and some excellent Italian vocals. The sound is lush and warm. It is also contemporary and fresh. The songs sounds original and well thought through.

Oh gosh, these songs are great. So much that they reminds me about Rock Progressivo Italiano heaven. That is why I have wanted to check out this band for a long time, but have not found time and space to do that. Better late than never because this album is like balsam on my tired soul.

My only gripe with this album is the lack of a brilliant song. But the songs are still great and this album should be purchased by anyone into melodic symphonic prog and Rock Progressivo Italiano.

4.5 points

Vermilion Sands - Water Blue (1989)

The debut album from this band.

Vermilion Sands has been described as the Japanese answer to Renaissance. I am not a fan of their (Vermilion Sands) brand new album Spirits Of The Sun and wanted to find out more about this Japanese band. Hence this album.

And yes, they sounds like Renaissance on this album. Most of this album, that is. Some of this album is pure copycat and rip-off. There are a couple of melodies here which is taken from Renaissance and only slightly altered to make it original material. I am as a Renaissance fan not that easily fooled. Other songs are again something Annie Haslam & co would had been happy with if they had composed them.

The main difference here is the vocals though. Yoko Royama is not Annie Haslam and I am pretty sure she is not even trying to be a Haslam copycat. Yoko Royama's vocals stands proud on their own feet. They are the typical Japanese female vocals and not easy to like for a Westerner like myself. But I do like them.
Despite of sailing close to Renaissance throughout, both the band and this album has a distinct Japanese flavour. Thankfully, that is. These are two different bands and I wish we could had heard a lot more from Vermillion Sands.

I like this album a lot. I cannot deny that there is no real great song here and that is a problem for me. But this is still a very good album in the Renaissance mould. I recommend it.

3.5 points

Raminghi. I - Il Lunga Cammino Dei Raminghi (1971)

I Raminghi was one of the many Italian bands who released one album and then disappeared again into the fog of time.

Il Lunga Cammino Dei Raminghi is an album in the beat, blues, space and hard rock scene. Released in 1971, it sounds like a 1966-68 release to me. The sound and music was already out of tune with the time and scene in 1971.

The sound is surprisingly good and the Italian vocals is good. The Hammond organ is great. The guitarist does a great job too. The bassist and drummer does their best too. The songs are decent and the music is not too bad. This album sounds dated and is more a curiosity than a serious album in our day and age.
It is a decent album, nevertheless.

2 points

Thursday 17 October 2013

New Eden Orchestra - Vikings (2012)

The second and so far latest album from this US band. Their debut album was reviewed some time/days ago.

The band has really taken the plunge and gone for a huge piece of music here. Less is more is not what you get here. Tonnes of keyboards, guitars and all kinds of vocals. From male to female vocals. The music has mostly got orchestral arrangements. Big, big and even bigger is the watchwords here. Yes, this is an US band.

What's on offer here varies between light hearted bluesy pop and AOR via normal rock to more classical music types of music. I guess this is a rock opera and this is typical rock opera territory. Everything competent delivered.

Despite of managing to keep this below the one hour mark, the music fails to engage with me. It is too fragmented and do not have that much good music either. This is typical US rock opera. Typical US exuberant music. It sounds like one of their many pageant parades too a large extent. I fail to connect with this type of culture. I am a dull European. For those into Glass Hammer and Kansas, get this album as you will probably love it. I don't.

2 points

Astralis - Bienvenida Al Interior (2006)

The debut album from this Chile based band. The band has just released their new album, their third album, and I thought it was a good idea to check up their debut album before reviewing their new album.

Astralis has heard a lot on Pink Floyd, their more melodic and airy songs. Their roots is in neo prog and they probably fits into that scene. Though at the more epic melodies spectrum of that scene. There are a lot of good guitar solos on this album and the vocalist sings in Spanish, his local language. There is a South-American sound on this album and that makes it a welcome change from the more normal neo prog.

The sound does not let this album down although I am sure the band would like some more cash to re-master this album. The vocals is far too deep in the mix for my liking. The superb vocals, btw.

The two opening tracks Bienvenida Al Interior and Nocturno Urbano is superb with it's long guitar solos (praised be Patricio Vera-Pinto who also does the vocals) and Pink Floyd themed melody lines. The rest of the album is not that great with far too much Marillion adulation and some more English folk rock vibes. But this album never gets really boring and I have found a new very good Chilean band in Astralis. Check them and this album out.

3.5 points

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Osage Tribe - Hypnosis (2013)

The second album from this Italian band, 41 years after the release of their debut album Arrow Head.

I never really liked Arrow Head and I did not have much of an appetite for this album, Hypnosis, either. Osage Tribe is playing bluesy hard rock with influences from Blind Faith and Grand Funk Railroad. Mostly from the US hard rock bands from the 1970s.

Hypnosis is also a half baked album with cover versions and new versions of old tracks. All of them in the US hard rock category. The band is supposed to be writing new material for a new album so it is possible that Hypnosis is just a stop gap and a comeback album before the band release a serious album.

Of the many 1970s bands with comeback albums during the last four years, this album is one of the least interesting. The positives from this album is that the hard rock here is pretty good. But it is not an album that have any appeal to me and I only regard it as a decent album.

2 points

Galliard - New Dawn (1970)

The second album from these English space-folksters.

I really liked their debut album Strange Pleasures. It had two great songs and some other good songs. On New Dawn, the band has largely replaced the woodwinds with sitar and a more Indian twang to their folk rock and jazzy stuff. The space rock element has largely disappeared and we get a folk rock instead. That and normal rock anno 1970s.

The result is decent to good with some great vocals and decent songs. There is no great songs here and the album ticks nicely over, the forty minutes of it. The sound is very good though and so is the ambience. I am not sure what to really think about it. But after some more listening sessions, I have landed on a good reward for their second and final album. Both albums can be found on a 2 for 1 CD and is recommended for those of you into this kind of music.

3 points

Flagship - Maiden Voyage (2005)

The so far only album from this Swedish band.

Described as symphonic prog, I took the plunge and purchased it. What I got was not symphonic prog. The music here is performed with keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. That and angel like male choirs and vocals. This band consists of two members from the Christian power metal band Narnia. Hence the lyrics which is sugary sweet and banal Christianity. Not particular clever vocals and totally over the top.

Both the vocals and the music reminds me more about what you get in a church or on a Christian festival. Despite of Kerry Livgren from Kansas guesting on some of the tracks, the music is banal and easy listening Christian AOR. No less and no more. OK, with some Genesis influences. But not many.

I may be a Christian myself. But I am not buying into the crude, simple and well over the top fifty minutes of music this album offers up. Yes, there are some clever details here. But most of this album is sugar, sugar and nothing but sugar. There is no real musical substance here and I have heard too much of this type of racket in churches and Christian festivals (where a well meaning ex employer sent me to report from). This is barely a decent album.

2 points

Pilgrym - Pilgrimage (2004)

A British band who only released one album and then disbanded. Their impact on the scene was none and I have never heard about them before I got this CD.

We are deep into melodic prog again. Or to be more precise; AOR and neo-prog. Add some symphonic prog in the vein of Genesis and you get this album.

The music is performed with keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and male vocals. The drum sound is a bit annoying bad. The rest is OK.

The band has implemented a lot of different styles on this album. The final songs is also performed live. The music is not too bad at all. It is very generic though and the album brings very little new to the table. A couple of instrumentals seems out of place here. The live tracks is best forgotten. The AOR tracks is very much in the Asia vein. The neo prog tracks is in the Pendragon vein.
This album sounds like a best of compilation from a band who came and then went again. It is a decent album though.

2 points

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Rhun - Fanfare du Chaos (2013)

The debut album from this French zeuhl band.

Singing in kobaian, the band has Magma as a big influence. So much that we are talking about a legitimate child of Magma. Which is a good thing as this planet cannot get enough of good zeuhl. Or in this case; great zeuhl.

Rhun has taken Magma, added some Soft Machine and some Present to the mix to their music. The result is Fanfare du Chaos.

The music is dynamic, heavy and jazzy. The music is not so overwhelming operatic as Magma at their most heavy. Fanfare du Chaos is not like being hit in the teeth as some of the Magma's best albums did to me. The female opera vocals is not as dense as Magma's vocals. That is the difference between these two bands. Rhun most definate have their own style and ideas. They are not Magma copycats.

Fanfare du Chaos has enough great stuff to remind me why I love zeuhl. It is a fully blooded zeuhl album and a very, very welcome addition to my collection of great albums. In short; it is a great album.

4 points

Moon Duo - Circles (2012)

Space rock from USA and the second album from this duo. A duo consisting of Ripley Johnson from Wooden Shjips and Sanae Yamada.

Space rock it is with hypnotic, trippy repetitive melody lines with some vocals and distorted guitars on the top of them. The songs are pretty short and pretty song orientated instead of being long space jams. There is a lot of verse-chorus-verse repetitions here.

The songs are not particular good and I am not getting hypnotized at all by this music. The music falls between two chairs. It is too spacy for the songs crowds and not too spaced out for people like myself. Maybe it is stoner rock instead. OK, but I find this album pretty boring and uninspiring. Nevertheless; this is a decent album.

2 points

Monday 14 October 2013

Sandcastle - And Then We Collide (2013)

Another young band from Italy with their debut album.

Sandcastle is embracing the new Anathema/Porcupine Tree form of progressive music instead of copying the old masters of Italian progressive rock. Add Sigur Ros, Radiohead, King Crimson and Linkin Park to the mix and you get the picture. Very contemporary and very modern. The music is both brutal metal like with chugging guitars and vocals mixed up with some more pastoral, low key post rock themes. The mix of light and darkness is what this album is all about. A concept album, in fact. A concept album about human relationships and it's paradoxes.

Everything is here. Chugging guitars. Long guitar solos. Good keyboard runs. Great English male vocals. Great sound. This one hour long album also have some great melody lines inbetween some more dull melodies too. This is a concept album though with some pretty long songs. One of them eleven minutes long.

The end result is a good album which does not really appeal that much to me. But fans of Porcupine Tree should really check out this album and band. It is nice that the music scene in Italy is in full bloom and produce great bands like this. A band I hope will write better songs next time as the potential for a great album is there. It is a good debut album, a good album.

3 points

Santoni. I - Noi (1972)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

I guess this is an LP I bought from a flea market, kindly donated by one of the many Italians in my area. I have no other explanation why this is in my collection. It has been ripped and transferred to my external hard disk as an MP3 file many months ago.

Anyway, this short lived band were operating in the Italian beat and pop genre. The flutes reminds me a lot about Jethro Tull. The Italian vocals the typical beat vocals. Some of the music reminds me a lot about Joe Cocker and his music. In other words; Italian beat with some saxophones and light hearted music.

The result is a decent album which sounds both aged and contemporary at the same time. Aged in my view, but I am pretty sure this music still have a big audience in Italy. Although I enjoy this album and Italian beat in small dosages, this is not for me though and awards it a decent status.

2 points

Sunday 13 October 2013

Agents Of Mercy - The Black Forest (2011)

The third and so far final AOM album.

This Stolt-Sylvan cooperation expanded their sound greatly on this album after their not so great two previous albums. Gone is the Beatles aspirations and in comes a more Roine Stolt product. That means lots of symphonic prog with melotrons and guitar solos. The same goes for a lot better lyrics. The band became serious.

Yes, they still sounds like The Flower Kings. Roine Stolt has not changed from spots to stripes over night. With several Flower Kings members involved in this album, this sounds like one of their albums. Anyway, the songs are vastly improved and I am now tolerating the vocals too. There are a lot of very tasty guitar solos here too.

The end result is an album with a lot of great melody lines and details. There are not any truly great songs here. But my overall impression is that Agents Of Mercy has finally released a great album. It is highly recommended.

4 points

Amon Düül II - Nada Moonshine # (1995)

Their thirteenth album.

I am reviewing all their albums because of my morbid curiosity. Morbidity the band more than prove with this album. But at least; they have turned away from the song based concepts and more back to krautrock again in a morbid way. Sort of krautrock, that is.

The album opens up with a kind of a Pet Shop Boys song. That is the English electro pop band and not the Beach Boys album, btw. They continues down in an alley populated by INXS, Prince and bands I don't care much about. That and some Gong like songs.

The end result is not too bad. This female vocals dominated album has grown on me. It is only a decent album though which does not play to my heart strings. This is not my cup of tea, though.

2 points

Rush - Vapor Trails Remixed (2013)

The remixed version of an album many, very many people had problems with the sound on the 2002 version. Their comeback album after Neal Peart's known problems caused by events totally out of his control. Events which would had broken other men. But Rush came back and I regard 2002 as a full frontal attack on all the injustices (his daughter and wife's death) Neal Peart faced.

This year's remixed version does not have this raw anger though. Which is probably good as we can now fully concentrate on the songs themselves. The sound is far fuller and more rounded to suit Rush a lot better. It is the traditional Rush sound. Safe and a bit dull.

What did I give the 2002 version again ? Well, I cannot remember. What I get from the 2013 version is an album full of great Rush songs. The songs are still on the heavy side with some grungy guitars, bass and drums. The vocal harmonies are great too. I really find myself liking this album a great deal. I am enjoying listening to an album full of so diverse, cleverly crafted songs. The Rush were back and back with a bang. This is a great album and one who proves why Rush is such a great band. Get both versions as I have done..... and enjoy.

4 points

New Eden Orchestra - AnyMan (2004)

The debut album from this US band. A band with two albums so far.

AnyMan is a typical US neo/symph-prog album. It is highly influenced by the likes of Glass Hammer and Spock's Beard. Mostly Glass Hammer. That means an American version of Yes. And that English band is very much evident here. That with an American contemporary sound.

The music is big, bold and symphonic with a lot of neo-prog attributes. Americans never do modest things. This is not a modest album either. The sound is full of both guitars and various keyboards. The band uses both male and female vocals. Some of the songs has the usual AOR song structure. Others are more symphonic prog orientated.

The end result is a very promising album with good songs and a great sound. A couple of great tracks is missing though. But if you love Glass Hammer and Yes, this band and album is something you ought to check out.

3 points

My Tin Apple - The Crow's Lullaby (2013)

The debut album from this Italian band.

I expected a neo-prog album here. That is not what I got. My Tin Apple (what a band name !) is more down the road which I would call modern metal rock. That means Linkin Park like guitar walls and great, light male vocals. There is a lot of modern pop, or r'n'b as it is called now, in their music. Ditto for metal too. And we also get some emo hearts melting ballads and techno disco stuff here too.

The vocals are in English and the whole concept is both commercial and artistic. It is such a pity that the music is not that good. The art of good songwriting has escaped this album. I can see a big audience for this album and this band. Their website is great. But music wise, this album is merely decent. Neither is this my cup of tea. This type of music/racket is one of the reasons I never listen to radio anymore.

2 points


Saturday 12 October 2013

Ainur - From Ancient Times (2007)

The debut album from this Italian symph prog band.

Ainur is a band which has never really impressed me. From Ancient Times is their first album and it can be best described as a mix of goth and symph prog. The male, female and male opera vocals are in English. Their English is pretty heavy accented and leaves the impression that Ainur is grappling with the art of creating good music.

The music is a mix of goth metal and symph prog. It comes without any surprises or not so much originality. The thin male vocals is a punishment on the ears. They sounds like third rate German power metal vocals. The female vocals is not that great either. The mix of orchestral instruments, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums are not particular interesting either. This album is pretty poor in other words and my first one pointer for a while.

1 point

Falling Edge - Falling Edge (2013)

The debut album from this Canadian symph prog band.

This album is an hour long and has five songs. Three of them are around the fifteen minutes mark. The two others around the five minutes mark. Ambitious in other words and difficult to pull off.

The band has taken a lot from Yes and Genesis. The sound is neo-prog like though with some 1970s symph prog sound bits thrown in. Mostly some old vintage keyboards. And yes, there is a lot of keyboards of all sizes and shapes here. They are supported by guitars, bass, drums and some great vocals.

The end result is an album that does not hit me home as a symph prog fan. The reason is simply the lack of good melodies and songs. The band does everything else right. Well, the cover art work is not particular inspiring and appealing. But the rest is great. But the music here does not hit me at home. Sorry, but this is a decent album and nothing more.

2 points