Monday 30 November 2015

Rayuela - Rayuela (1978)

The one and only album from this Argentine band.

Rayuela was a five piece band with a lineup of bass, drums, saxophone, flute, keyboards, guitars and Spanish vocals. Which is a pretty usual South-American lineup from those years.

The music is a mix of rock and jazz. Yes, that is called fusion. But in fusion, jazz and rock merges. On this forty minutes long album, jazz and rock is more separated.

Some tracks here are jazzy. That means commercial jazzy. Not avant-garde or overly complicated eclectic jazz. The rock stuff, make that pop at some tracks, has a fine funky rhythm and flavour to them.

The music is decent to good throughout. It is on the more light and fluffy part of the spectrum. It is very much a cosy album, nice for a frosty night like this one. The vocals is also very warm and makes this an even more cosy album. Check it out although I got my reservations.

2.5 points

Sunday 29 November 2015

Rainbow Theatre - Fantasy Of Horses (1976)

The second and final album from this Australian band.

I reviewed their 1975 debut album The Armada back in November 2011 and quite liked that album. It was a mix of opera, jazz and prog rock.

The band still got numerous members with a lineup of keyboards, bass, guitars, drums, violins, operatic vocals and everything of what woodwinds can offer up.

This is indeed a rock opera of some sort. And I mean OPERA. Not one of those overblown pomp rock concept albums. Opera with a lot of classical music, a lot of prog rock and Tijuana Mexican horns. So much that this is very much an avant-garde album. Almost RIO too.

Most of this thirty-five minutes long album works. Some of it does not work at all. There are large pieces of good music intersected with some not so good bridges and melodies connecting all this good music.

Melodic and easy on the ear, this album is not. The opera vocals is of the atonal sort. The horns is weird. Nevertheless, this is a good album and one for those interested in strange music. This is an album for you weirdos.

3 points 

Pearls Before Swine - The Use of Ashes (1970)

The fourth album from this US band.

Pearls Before Swine was Tom Rapp's band and his vocals very much dominate their music. His cool flowery vocals is really good too.

He released ten albums under the Pearls Before Swine and in his own name until year 2000. Ten albums with his personality and special take on folk rock.

This album has a lot of different acoustic instruments in addition to Tom's vocals. The songs here are all pastoral and reminds me a lot about the English folk rock scene. Add some flower power hippie too from San Fransisco and you get this album.

I am by no means a fan of sparsely used instruments folk rock. But Peals Before Swine has probably come up with the best album I have ever heard from this scene on this half an hour long album.

The first half of this album is great with some wonderful melodies and vocals. The final half is not that great. This is nevertheless a very good album which fans of hippie influenced folk rock must check out. It is a true gem and a great album.

4 points 

Ramses - Firewall (2015)

The fifth album from this German band.

Ramses debuted back in 1976 with the La Leyla album. An album I very much liked. I did not much like their second album Eternity Rise. I did not bother about their third and fourth album. This album then came to my attention.

Ramses is a five piece band with a lineup of keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and English vocals.

The music is somewhere between neo-prog and pop-rock. The choruses here tends to be football terraces chants. This as in German heavy metal. And there is a lot of German heavy metal here too.

The music is decent enough with some easy to like songs. Chewing gum music, it feels like. There is not much value here as the music is very commercial and easy on the ears. The longviety is zero hours. In short, this is not for me.

2 points

Saturday 28 November 2015

Iconoclasta - Resurrección (2009)

The tenth album from this Mexican band.

The band has released some good albums through their time, although my last meeting with their music, the Soliloquio album from 1987, was not well received by me. But I was looking forward to this album.

The band was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and female vocals. Operatic vocals.

The music on this album is a bit of a mix between symphonic prog, goth, pop and folk rock. There is a lot of instrumental stuff inbetween the vocals here.

This album is clocking in at exactly one hour divided on ten songs. The songs and the melodies here sounds messy and haphazard. There is a goth vibe here. The sound is a bit dark too.

Most of all, this album does not really have any good songs at all. Some of this album is pretty good. Other parts makes me cringe. The end result is a decent album.... and that is being kind. This is not an album you should have from this band.

2 points

Jethro Tull - Rock Island (1989)

The 18th album from these British masters.

Hot on the heels of their Grammy winning (for hard rock !) Crest Of A Knave album, the band returns with this album.

The band is a four piece band here with a lineup of synths, flutes, guitars, bass, drums and vocals.

The 1987 Crest Of A Knave album was a pretty bad album and I had by now given up any hope. On Rock Island, the band moved more towards Mark Knofler and Dire Straits. More towards their sound. The emphasis is still on folk rock and rock music anno the 1980s.

The life had gone out of Ian Andersson's vocals and his vocals does not sound inspired at all. It feels like the band is just going through the motions here. A couple of songs are good. The title track, most notable. The band still shows flashes of inspirations. But most of this fifty minutes long album sounds sub-standard and nowhere near what Jethro Tull can do on a normal day.

The end result is somewhere between decent and good. It is an improvement on the Crest Of A Knave album, that is.

2.5 points

Wallenstein - Mother Universe (1972)

The second album from this German band.

Wallenstein was a crossover band who visited the symphonic prog, krautrock and other genres on their ten or so albums.

The band was a five piece band here with a lineup of piano, bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, Mellotron and English vocals.

Their 1971 debut album Blitzkrieg was a great album. So I was really looking forward to this album. Mother Nature follows in some of the steps from the debut album. Gone is the souther rock influences and in comes a lot of folk rock influences. Take symphonic prog and merge that with folk rock. That is this album.

The opening track, the title track, is very good. Unfortunate, the standards falls a bit after that song and the album becomes a bit too pedestrian for my liking. I am not sure what the band wanted with this album as it is a bit of a downer and a step in the wrong direction. Nevertheless; it is a good album and it is recommended.

3 points 

Friday 27 November 2015

Tirith. The - Tales from the Tower (2015)

The debut album from this British band.

The band, a trio with a lineup of drums, guitars, bass and vocals, claims to have seen the light in 1971. I guess the band members then found out that life had to take priority and the band were disolved. One of the members here started Band Of Gypsies. Then The Tirith was reformed and the result is this album.

It is claimed that this seventy minutes long album was written back in 1971. Well, the main outlays of these songs, yes. But the sound is very much anno 2015. It is a mix of modern classic rock and prog rock. A mix of Cream, Rush and modern college rock. There are also some British rock anno 1980s here.

The music is pretty typic for a trio. It is not particular complex and it is pretty easy to take out on the roads. There are some good licks and melody lines throughout this album. Most of this album is on the more dull side though and I am not fully a fan of this album. It is somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points

Thursday 26 November 2015

Rachel's Birthday - An Invitation To Rachel's Birthday (1996)

The one and only album from this German band.

Rachel's Birthday...... what a strange band name ! The cover art work too is strange. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to discover that this is not a RIO/avant-garde band....

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. Male English vocals.

Germany has always had a bit of an oddball scene just surfacing next to the more normal prog rock scene. Yes, the krautrock scene. The music on this seventy minutes long album is nominally neo-prog though.... Yet, with some odd curve balls thrown in. The music is odd and a bit avant-garde too. Very German, in fact. German humour. Yes, they do laugh in Germany too. I am not sure if I am really getting the jokes here. Read: I am not getting these jokes.

The music is everywhere and a bit eclectic neo-prog. It is not good either and I am not really enjoying this album at all. There is no good songs here. The album is decent enough though. And that is all I can say about this album.

2 points

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Rag i Ryggen - Rag i Ryggen (1975)

The one and only album from this Swedish band.

This Stockholm based band was a short lived band, forgotten by almost everyone but given a new lease of life through the almighty brilliant ProgArchives and a good writeup in the Heavy Prog genre by them. And rightfully so.

The band was a six piece band on this album with a lineup of drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, Hammond organs and vocals. The vocals is a mix of Swedish and English.

The music is said to be almost a Uriah Heep ripoff. I am not sure about that as I, shamefully, does not know Uriah Heep that much. But the music on this one hour long album is pretty hard rock. Hard rock with a great progressive edge. I like organ a lot. The sound too is great.

The songs are a bit of a mix of cringe worthy and very good. The overall quality is good though and fans of good ole hard rock should check out this band and album. I am enjoying it as it is an unashamed hard rock album.

3 points

Monday 23 November 2015

Wapassou - Wapassou (1974)

The debut album from this rather strange French band.

Wapassou released six albums before they were disbanded sometimes in the late 1980s. It was a band without bass and drums. On this album, the band is a trio with a lineup of guitars, violins, keyboards and female vocals. The vocals is most often than not atonal and by purpose off key.

This band has more often than not been labeled as a RIO/avant-garde band. A label I agree with. This album is very much off the beaten track with a heavy emphasis on avant-garde psychedelic and space rock. The vocals is disturbing and the other instruments also paint a disturbing bleak landscape where nothing really grows and lives.

This is not easy listening and this album is not easy to describe. I quite like this album although it has some pretty big faults. The lack of any really good tracks for example. The trippy space rock is good though. I rate it somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points

Sunday 22 November 2015

Nucleus - Alley Cat (1975)

The tenth album from this British band.

The band had again evolved and was now a seven piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, saxophone, horn, drums, percussions, trumpet and keyboards.

The band had moved on from their early start as a Soft Machine like band. The band now both included woodwinds and guitar solos. Ian Carr was still at the helm and he still sounded like Miles Davis. Ken Shaw's guitar solos was pretty impressive too.

Alley Cat is as charming and playful as a cat.... an alley cat, in fact. Although I would more compare it to a smaller cat, a moggy, than the cat on the artwork. You get my drift.

The music on this forty minutes long album is good enough. I feel that Ian Carr is perhaps running on old fumes here and there is not much developments around. Nevertheless; this is a good album from a band which is starting to show it's old age.

3 points

Anamor - Imaginacje (2003)

The one and only album from this Polish band.

Anamor was a six piece big band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and female vocals. Polish vocals. Jacek Zasada from Quidam contributes with flutes as a guest musician.

The music on this one hour long album is neo-prog. Neo-prog with a lot of art-rock influences and some folk-rock influences. Add some symph prog influences too. The sound is good and the band knows what they are doing.

There is a strong presence of guitars here. In particular a 12 strings guitar. That sets them a bit a part from the rest of the scene. There are the usual cascades of keyboards, piano and guitar solos here. The nine songs are not particular long.

Marta Glowacka's vocals are very good at times. She was a good choice and I hope she is still around in the music business. I also very much like the ambience here.

Although the music is very cosy and nice, it is never really great. I am a bit unsure how to score this album on my awards ladder. But it is a good album which will find a lot more favour among bigger fans of melodic neo-prog than myself. Check it out as it is a good album.

3 points

Quantum Jump - Quantum Jump (1976)

The first of in total two albums from this British band.

The band is most knows as where the famous producer and solo artist Rupert Hine cut his teeth. OK, had released some albums before forming Quantum Jump together with Mark Warner (guitars, vocals), Trevor Morais (drums) and John Perry (bass). Rupert Hine did all the keyboards and lead vocals here.

The end result is this thirty-seven minutes long album. An album which it is not easy to label. ProgArchives has gone with the Canterbury prog label. It is not a bad label and it is not only because John Perry also played in Caravan at that time.

The music is pretty Canterbury style polished here. The music though is a bit Caribeen like jazz and fusion. Add a lot of funk and some mad English pop too.

The end result is a pretty mad and strange album. It is very melodic though. It is also very jazzy. It is pretty obvious Kevin Ayers has been an influence here.

The end result is a good album though and one well worth checking out. Something you should do. The jazzy guitars and keyboards is the best thing here while I have my reservations against some of the overtly pop music themes and melodies here. But check it out.

3 points

Thanatopsis - Requiem (2015)

The fourth album from this US band.

I have next to now clue about this band, but a Wiki feature can be found here.

The band consist of this mythological Buckethead on guitars, Travis Dickerson on keyboards and Ramy Antoun on drums.

The music is a mix of ambient, fusion, funk, metal and rock. This thirty-seven minutes long album is entirely instrumental too.

The driving force here is Buckethead's guitars. Guitars which is not that really interesting. Nothing here is interesting. It is frankly a bit hard to keep awake with this album around. The band really knows their stuff, yes. They are a bit wasting their breath and talents with this poor material. I am a kind person and think this is a decent album. It is not worth checking out, though.

2 points  

Saturday 21 November 2015

Julian Julien - Terre II (2015)

The third album from this French musician.

I very much liked the first installment of this series of Terre albums. That album was released fifteen years ago. He released his second album Strange in 2006. In the meantime, he has been active in other bands and with other things.

Julian has got help from seven other musicians here. Mostly violins, vocals, piano, bass, woodwinds and some percussions.

They are not present on all the thirteen tracks here. This forty-five minutes long album is very much a stripped down RIO album. A stripped down avant-garde album, it is indeed. A couple of instruments drives each tracks on. The emphasis is on mood and ambience. A bit of a mad trumpet and some keyboards with some vocals inbetween.

This is indeed pastoral music and not easy to get into. I have been struggling a lot with this album and I am pretty sure Julian Julien is wondering if I will ever review this album. It has been a struggle indeed....

.... But I quite like this album. It is an album very far from the beaten track. Even far away from what I am used to review. So I have been struggling and I have finally started to like this album in it's own right. There are some very good stuff here and some not so good stuff. The end result is a good album which I recommend to those into RIO and avant-garde music.

3 points

Algaravia - Breve E Interminável (1996)

The one and only album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of keyboards, percussions, guitars, bass, drums and the occasional vocals. Most of this album is totally instrumental.

The album is just over seventy-five minutes long and I guess this is a compilation of everything they have done although it feels like a proper studio album. Well, I guess this is a proper studio album.

The music is a bit strange. Take King Crimson and add a lot of jazz and folk rock to the mix. The music is eclectic to put it mildly. The lenght of the album also makes listening to this album a sweaty experience. It is difficult to fully get all the many twists and turns on this album. Which there is a lot of ! Yes, King Crimson is a good reference.

Algaravia does it their own way, the Brazilian way with a lot of local colours and rhythms. And most of this album is good to very good. It is a good album indeed and one those into more eclectic music/progressive rock should check out. Check it out.

3 points

Agharta - Agharta (1980)

The one and only album from this Canadian band.

Agharta was a five piece band with a lineup of drums, percussions, keyboards, bass and woodwinds. And yes, there is no vocals on this thirty-eight minutes long album.

Canada had a great jazz and fusion scene back in those days. It was based around Quebec and has rightly been labeled as the Quebec scene. I love that scene and bands like Malibran.

That sound was based on a mix of jazz, prog and folk. Aghast is not among the bands who had that sound. Instead, the band's sound is very similar to Weather Report's own sound.

Aghast music is heavy dominated by great keyboards and saxophone duels. It is like hearing Shorter and Zawinul again. The concept is the same and the music is at times riveting.

Aghast is not copying Weather Report as they have their own take on jazz. They are far more keyboards orientated than Weather Report. There are also drums solos here. And their music is not as good either. But this is an enjoyable album who only comes up a bit short on the song writing skills.

Nevertheless; this is a good album well worth checking out.

3 points

Walfad - An Unsung Hero, Salty Rains & Him (2014)

The second and most recent album from this Polish band.

I was not that impressed by their 2013 debut album Ab Novo. A bit too pedestrian neo-prog. So the band tries again to impress/please me.

The band is again a quartet with a lineup of bass, drums, guitars, keyboards and vocals. The usual neo-prog lineup in other words.

The album is forty minutes long and it takes in a lot of symphonic prog and more modern art-rock into it's base of neo-prog. Pretty basic neo-prog based on Marillion.

This album have a few good melodies and a lot of generic music. It is by no means a good album and it is very easy to get bored during these forty minutes times x amount of listening sessions before the listener finally get the feeling there is nothing here to feel great about.

This is not a disaster. But it is a decent album. Don't give up the dayjobs, guys.

2 points

Thursday 19 November 2015

Ricocher - Chains (2004)

The second and final album from this Dutch band.

I was not at all happy with their 2002 debut album Cathedral Of Emotions. So I was not looking forward to this one.

The band is still a five piece band with a lineup of keyboards, piano, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. And we are still talking neo-prog of some sorts.

It is pretty obvious that the Canadian giants Saga has been a heavy inspiration for this album and band. There is a lot of pomp-prog on this album. The album also draws heavily on both Marillion like neo-prog, Pendragon and some prog metal.

The art of good song writing is something this band never really mastered. There is no really good songs here. The ideas is there, but the songs are half-baked at best.

The end result is a decent album but nothing more than that. I am a bit bored by music like this. This album has bored me a lot.

2 points

Pearls Before Swine - One Nation Underground (1967)

The debut album from this US band.

Pearls Before Swine was one of the better folk-rock bands from USA. One of the best ever folk-rock bands from USA, in fact.

This is not Americana or Mexican infused folk-rock. This is folk-rock influenced from the apple orchards filled English folk-rock scene. OK, there are some Bob Dylan here too. But mostly English folk-rock.

The band was a five piece big band on this album with a lineup of guitars, mandoline, bass, drums, woodwinds and vocals. Tom Rapp's vocals. He was the mainman and owner of this band.

This album consists of thirty-five minutes of pretty spacy folk-rock with good melodies and a lot to be cherished for those of us who does not like too primitive folk-rock. This album is both rocking and melodic. And the overall quality is good indeed. I like this album and it comes recommended.

3 points

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Kotebel - Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble (2012)

The sixth and so far latest album from this Spanish band.

Kotebel has always taken symphonic prog and prog rock to it's extremes. Extremes as towards contemporary classical music.

Concerto For Piano And Electric Ensemble is indeed a seventy minutes long symphony. A chamber symphony as it was recorded by only six musicians. The lineup is guitars, bass, drums, percussions, grand piano, keyboards, saxophones.... Yes, only those instruments. There is no vocals here.

There is no rock or pop here. Not even progressive rock. Neither is it particular classic music either. It is contemporary classical music as composed and recorded in this millenium. There is no obvious great melody lines here. This is music based on the principles of complex classical music.

And to a large degree, this album works out fine. There are some very good pieces here and some not so good pieces. It ebbs and flows. It goes high and low.

It is an aqcuired taste though and not an instant piece of music for the restless ones. It takes time, this album. But I still likes it a lot. Check it out.

3 points

Monday 16 November 2015

Piezo - Nova (2015)

The second album from this Canadian band.

I really liked their debut album Scene 1: Harlequin from 2012. Really good prog rock. So I jumped on this album when I got the chance.

The band has developed over the last three years. A lot in fact. They are still a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, piano and vocals. English vocals, that is. Canada is both French and English speaking.

The band has incorporated pretty standard college rock and pop into their version of post rock and a bit prog rock. The songs are both short and a bit trying to be catchy. They don't succeed in that.

The band has embraced the college rock scene on this album and I don't find this seventy minutes long album particular good. It really lacks any good tunes although the arrangements and the sound is really good. This album is a bit of a let down. Mine and Piezo's journeys now ends here and we parts on good terms with this album.

2.5 points

Sunday 15 November 2015

Wara - El Inca (1973)

The debut album and I believe the only album from this band from Bolivia.

Yes, this blog takes me to many different scenes and countries. Music wise, that is. Bolivia is quite an exotic country in South-America.

Wara was a three piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Spanish vocals. Wara should be included in the west coast South-America scene which includes some bands from Equador, Chile and Peru too. They got the same style of music and sound as the other bands from that area and scene.

Take a chunk of folk rock and add a lot of psychedelic and hard rock. There is a lot of hard rocking blues here too on this half an hour long album.

The sound is not particular good and the music sounds a bit generic and dated. This was the music of those times and this was proper rock'n'roll. There is no pampering to the pop and rock crowd on this album. No compromises is the ethos here.

There is not any good songs either. It is not an interesting album either. The band and this album shows some flashes of good things here and there. Hence my rating.

2 points

Sensitive To Light - From The Ancient World (2008)

The second album from this French band.

I did not like their 2006 debut album Almost Human at all. I labeled it as a cure against insomnia in my review from October 2009 in ProgArchives. But I decided to give them another chance.

The band is a six piece band with saxophone, drums, keyboards, bass, guitars and female vocals. English female vocals with some French accents.

The band has latched onto the English female fronted prog rock scene with this album. Touchstone is a band I would compare them with on this album. Lots of female vocals and pretty heavy music too.

The saxophone adds some French avant-garde originality to this album. It is not that much used on this one hour long album though. It adds some colours to the music.

This album is a bit messy. In particular on the final half where the band is trying to be epic. They fails a bit as this half of the album is messy and does not yield any great music. Not even good music.

The end result is a decent to good album. I am not won over by this band but will give the new album a chance too.

2.5 points

Ramses - Eternity Rise (1978)

The second album from this German band.

I liked their debut album La Leyla so much that I were talking about a new find. A forgotten jewel was this band to me. So I was looking forward to this album.

The band is still a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and heavy accented English vocals. They also got help from the string section of the Nurnberger Symphony Orchestra.

The music is again somewhere between symphonic prog and krautrock. There is a strong presence of keyboards and Hammond organs here. The strings also adds dept and colours to the songs.

The songs on this album is not particular great. They are good though and this makes it an enjoyable album and a band well worth checking out. That means through this CD which also includes La Leyla and through their 2014 album. Check out this band if you like German prog rock and symphonic prog.

3 points

Saturday 14 November 2015

Krokofant - Krokofant (2014)

The debut album from this Norwegian band.

Krokofant is a trio with a lineup of saxophone, guitars and drums. A real powertrio.

Powertrio because this music is very powerful. We are somewhere in fusion land. Add some avant-garde and lots of eclectic prog in this fusion soup. Names like King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Kraan springs to mind here. I have also noted that one of the songs here, I believe it is Superman, starts with huge chunk from the Soft Machine classic Facelift.

The music is very intense with a very intense saxophone blowing the earwax out of my ears. The saxophone is at times totally dissonant. The guitars is pretty harsh too and the drums supports all this mayhem. This album is mayhem indeed.

There is method in this mayhem and the music is at times very good. It is not all out jazz and fusion. It is not all out eclectic prog either. Those who loves a blend of those genres would really like this album. I rate it as a good album indeed.

3 points

Korekyojin - Tundra (2011)

The fourth album from this Japanese band.

This band is listed as a RIO/avant-garde band in ProgArchives and I was looking forward to a slab of avant-garde again. The band also consists of Ground Zero, Bondage Fruit and Ruins members. Great names in my world.

This band is a trio with a lineup of guitars, bass and drums. A stripped down band, in other words.

My hopes for some real avant-garde was soon dashed. What I got was some hard fusion. Hard fusion bordering to progressive metal. Take a bit fusion and add power metal to it and you get the picture.

The innovative and melodic nature of fusion and jazz is sorely lacking here. What we get is instrumenal power metal with some hints of fusion. There are also some hints of rockabilly here.

The end result is decent enough. But fifty-five minutes of this...... Well, there are some decent music here and that is what this album is all about. I would not recommend this album to anyone, though. It mostly falls flat on it's face.

1.5 points

Kraan - Diamonds (2010)

The fourteenth album from this German band.

This band debuted back in 1972 with a great debut album and has kept it going on and off since then. I have heard that the standard of their albums have been reasonable good throughout. Their first albums are their best, though.

The band is down to a trio here with vocals, guitars, drums and bass. The music is pretty stripped down here.

Stripped down and very funky. A bit Prince and Stereo MCs at times. Very much stripped down Stereo MCs, though. Thus without any rap.

The guitars are the best thing about this album. They are not full on electric. They are much more half-acoustic and is played in a funky, jazzy way. Almost like keyboards at times.

The music here is pretty good. It is also pretty bland too. Most of the time, I am afraid. There are a couple of good pieces of music here inbetween some rather uninteresting blandness. Hence my verdict. But full credit to this trio for this album.

2.5 points 

Glass Hammer - Cor Cordium (2011)

The thirteenth album from this US band.

Glass Hammer had been keeping it going for many years with mixed success. Their latest albums had been very good though and I had high hopes for this one.

Maybe the introduction of the new vocalist Jon Davison is what this band needed. He is listed among the four Glass Hammer members on this album. An album with the usual lineup of vocals, bass, drums, guitars and tonnes of keyboards.

Jon Davison joined Yes a couple of years ago. I guess this album is one of the reasons why he was invited to join Yes. The band takes a long step towards Yes on this album. And that is not only because of Jon Davison's very Jon Anderson like vocals. The band still have one foot in the Genesis and the ELP camp, though.

This album is one hour long and offers up a lot of classic 1970s like symphonic prog. And the music is very good to great throughout. A couple of rather bland songs leaves me a bit cold though. Jon's vocals is great and the band has really produced one of their best, if not their best, albums with this album. It is a great album which will enthuse fans of symphonic prog.

4 points 

Friday 13 November 2015

Exodus - Nadzieje, Niepokoje (2006)

The third album from this Polish band.

This album was recorded in the dark days of 1977 when Poland was still occupied/"protected" by the Soviet Union. But I don't think that was the reason for the delay of releasing this album.

Exodus was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and Polish vocals. A typical lineup.

The music is a bit difficult to label though. Take a bit hard rocking bluesy prog, add lots of Genesis and some Gentle Giant. This album is both pretty melodic and eclectic at the same time. There is a lot of Italian symphonic prog like music on this album. It is actually as close a Polish band can come to releasing an Italian album.

The music here is symphonic and not particular easy listening. It is also a good album which is sorely lacking a piece of great music or two. That is my only gripe with this album. It comes recommended from me.

3 points

Jethro Tull - Crest Of A Knave (1987)

The seventheenth album from this British band.

This album will forever be remembered as the album who won the first ever hard rock Grammy. A Grammy Metallica's excellent Justice For All album should have won. To everyone's dismay, this Jethro Tull album won it. Noone from the band was present that night and it ended up as a scandal.

I have no idea why this album and this trio version (Barre, Pegg and Anderson) of Jethro Tull was regarded as hard rock. It is a total mystery as this album is anything but hard rock.

What we get here is almost an hour of country and folk rock inspired pop-rock. The songs are pretty standard with some flutes, Ian's vocals, some good guitars, bass, drums and some very nasty synths involved.

The music here is pretty bad though and not worthy of a Jethro Tull album. I can feel the Jethro Tull DNA just wanting to burst out. But it is being kept under lock and key throughout. This is a decent album and just that. And it did not deserve a Grammy.

2 points 

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Wallenstein - Blitzkrieg (1971)

The debut album from this German band.

Wallenstein went on to releasing nine albums. It is only their first four albums who is regarded as being any good. I got all of them.

Wallenstein was a four piece band on this album with a lineup of Mellotron, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals. English vocals.

Wallenstein was covering a lot of ground on this and their other albums. On this album though, they are primarly in the symphonic prog genre. Symphonic prog with some influences from southern rock, fusion and krautrock.

This forty-two minutes long album has four songs. It opens the twelve minutes long Lunatic which is true to the title. A lot of wild guitar solos from Bill Barone over a symphonic prog melody structure. Structure provided by the Mellotron. I really like this a lot. After this wild song, the more pastoral and very beautiful The Theme takes over. Still with some guitar solos and Mellotron. But also with some ethereal vocals and a superb melody.

Unfortunate, the two final tracks Manhatten Project and Audiences is of the same standard. They are still very much symphonic prog tracks and still very good.

In short, this is a great album which has given me a lot. I love the guitars and the Mellotrons on this album and cannot wait until I sink my teeth and reviews the three other albums too.

4 points

Monday 9 November 2015

Komintern - Le Bal du Rat Mort (1971)

The one and only album from this French band.

This band had it's roots in the band Red Noise. They split and this band was one of the bands who then emerged.

The band was a five piece band and they got help from five other guest musicians. The lineup is accordion, woodwinds, bass, drums, guitars, organ, piano and some French vocals.

The band was most definate a RIO/Avant-Garde band. Mostly avant-garde. This is a genre I am writing far too few reviews of in this blog. I like the genre, but is a bit too much of a coward to give it much attention. This is difficult music. Difficult.

There is a lot of very weird happenings on this album. From weird vocals to some tuba and harsh RIO like avant-garde. The final half of this half an hour long album also includes some melodic stuff. More jazzy and straight Ange like prog stuff. The first half is weird avant-garde.

This is indeed a weird album. It is strangely enough a melodic album too. I really like this album and it is a reminder that I should give this genre a lot more space on this blog.

This is a good album and I recommend it.

3 points

Sunday 8 November 2015

Iconoclasta - Soliloquio (1987)

The third album from this Mexican band.

Their first two albums was pretty good. The band is still seeking out a home among the many music styles. That shows.

On this thirty-five minutes long album, the band has hired in two female opera vocalists and they are dominating the music here. Music which is very gothic and darkened. Very gothic indeed.

The sound is pretty poor and the guitars has gone goth metal. The bass is pretty lively while the keyboards is hanging back a bit.

This album never really gets going. When it does, it dips into a lot of cliches. Goth metal cliches. The end result is a pretty poor album. It is decent enough, but not an album I like.

2 points 

Walfad - Ab Ovo (2013)

The debut album from this Polish band.

Walfad is a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and Polish vocals.

It is not really easy to label this band. But take some Radiohead and add Marillion. This forty-two minutes long album consists of eight songs. Eight reasonably short songs.

The songs are quite melodic and laidback. There are the occasional heavy guitars. Most of it is keyboards and light guitars based, supporting the vocals.

This album is a bit on the pedestrian side of the spectrum and is pretty good. Decent to good as there is no really good songs here. Nevertheless, this is something to build on for the band.

2.5 points

Saturday 7 November 2015

Kozmic Muffin - Nautulus (1994)

The debut album from this Spanish band.

Nautilus was the first of in total two albums from this band. Their second album was released in 1997 and named A Space Between Grief And Comfort.

Kozmic Muffin was a no less than a seven members big band. Their lineup was drums, Hammond organ, bass, guitars and vocals. English vocals.

The music is psychedelic space rock. There are some long guitar solos here and a lot of thumping Hammond organs. This album is forty-seven minutes long and contains six more or less spacy tracks.

The music is a mix if Pink Floyd'ish space rock, a bit more melodic psychedelic rock and some pretty hard and heavy space rock workouts. All of this competently played.

There is no real great pieces of music here and that is my main gripe with this album. It is a good album and just that. Check it out.

3 points

Friday 6 November 2015

Jumbo - Vietato ai Minori di 18 Anni (1973)

The third album from this Italian band.

Jumbo is one of those many almost-great bands from the Italian prog rock scene. The band was a six piece on this album with a lineup of keyboards, woodwinds, guitars, bass, drums and some very good Italian vocals.

The music is of the more dark symphonic prog variant. There is a lot of blues here, yes. But not as much as I think other reviewers has made of it. There is some dark guitar solos here. There is also a lot of pretty complex symphonic melody structures here too.

The mood is dark and brooding. The vocals a bit over the top theatrical. This band really had something going and it is a pity they did not really included a couple of great pieces of musich here.

The end result is a good album and just that. Please check it out as you may like it better than I do.

3 points

Thursday 5 November 2015

Nucleus - Snakehips Etcetera (1975)

The ninth album from this English band.

Nucleus had produced some good albums with various personell changes inbetween. Ian Carr was the only original member left and very much the leader of the band. He gets help from five other musicians here. The lineup is trumpet, Moog, percussions, woodwinds, bass, guitars, keyboards and drums.

Ian Carr has often been described as Europe's answer to Miles Davis and that also shines through on this album. The jazz here is very funky with some good trumpets, woodwinds and guitar solos on the top of some really funky beats.

The music is American in it's style and very much from the hoods and ghettos. Dreary English weather, town and villages does not come into it....... The album also got plenty of sun and light.

The music is good throughout without really impressing me. I quite like this album though. It is a good one.

3 points

Ricocher - Cathedral Of Emotions (2002)

The debut album from this Dutch band. The first of in total two albums from this short lived band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of drums, bass, keyboards, guitars and vocals. English, male vocals.

The artwork is a total mismatch taking the music here into account. No, this is not metal. Not even progressive metal. This is neo-prog and off the more kind and rocking poppy kind of neo-prog. Pendragon is a very good reference here.

The music is pretty commercial. The vocalist has his limits although I have heard far worse vocals than this one. The songs are not particular good on this one hour long album. They sounds a bit immature and formula based. They are also too pop orientated for my liking.

I rate this album somewhere between decent and good as I am not convinced this is a good album.

2.5 points

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Exodus - The Most Beautiful Day (1980)

The debut album from this Polish band.

Exodus is reputed to be the best ever prog rock band from Poland. I am not so sure about that....

They were a five piece band on this album with a lineup of keyboards, bass, drums, guitars, synths and Polish vocals. Not an unusual lineup.

We are deep into symph prog land here again. Take early Genesis around Trespass and add some Polish rock and pop from the behind the Iron Curtain era. Some ELP and not at least; Yes can be added too.

The vocals and the language feels a bit unusual as I am not that exposed to Polish. But I have gotten used to it.

The music is very melodic and has some great ideas and details. There is no killer tracks here though and that is a minus in my books. This is very much an enjoyable album which deserve a listen or two.

3 points

Monday 2 November 2015

Kramer - Life Cycle (2007)

The one and only album from this Dutch band.

Kramer was a four piece band with the usual keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and English vocals lineup.

And yes, this is neo-prog. Sort of.

The music is very melodic and at times a bit sickly sweet. There are some strings like keyboards sounds and angelic moods now and then. The vocals is very elegant and restrained. The guitars are not going totally overboard in their guitar solos. The keyboards is very good.

The music is laid-back and mid-tempo. This is not prog metal influenced neo-prog.

The music is good throughout these sixty minutes this one last. It is a bit too middle of the road neo-prog. Nevertheless, this album is recommended to everyone into neo-prog.

3 points

Sunday 1 November 2015

Solaris - Martian Chronicles II (2014)

The fourth studio album from these Hungarian legends.

Legends they are, but I have never really been a fan of their albums. The band is now down to a six piece band with a lineup of flutes, guitars, keyboards, drums, bass and the occasional vocals.

This album is part 2 is supposed to be the follow up to their 1984 debut album Marsbeli Kronikak. The music is brand new as far as I know. Hence, this is not 30 years old music.

The music is in the same vein as their three other studio albums...... with a bit of a change. In short; instrumental symphonic prog.

The band is now much more leaning towards Pink Floyd in their use of wailing female vocals. They are not dominating on this album. They are just on of the tricks used here. Other influences here are again the likes of Camel. The flutes also adds a lot of folk music elements here. The guitar solos adds again a bit of Pink Floyd. The violins reminds me about Hungarian folk music.

The music is good, but it is still lacking the xtra melodic greatness and the details that makes a great album. In this case, a forty-five minutes album. I am yet to be won over by this band.

3 points   

Knight Area - Hyperdrive (2014)

The fifth album from this Dutch band.

Knight Area debuted in 2004 with the The Sun Also Rises album. The band has released albums on a regular basis in addition of their five members being very active in other bands and projects too. Knight Area is a very central piece of the Dutch prog jigsaw puzzle.

The lineup on this album is the usual one. Guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. Arjen Lucassen from Ayreon is guesting here on guitars.

The music on this fifty-two minutes long album is somewhere between prog metal and neo-prog. It is leaning far more towards soft prog metal than neo-prog. Maybe the label "melodic prog metal" would fit them best ?

The music is elegant and not particular hard. Their neo-prog roots is obvious with references to Marillion. The melodies and songs here are good. I am not particular fan of prog metal. It is actually a pet hate I have got, that genre. Nevertheless, this is a good album with a good balance between cascades of guitars and keyboards. The vocals are also very good. I cannot find anything bad to say about this album, besides of it being a bit too formula based. But it is not a great album either. Hence my rating.

3 points