Monday 29 February 2016

Flame Dream - Elements (1979)

The second album from this Swiss band.

This band released six albums between 1978 and 1986 before they split and gave up. I got two of their albums and is reviewing them. None of their albums has been released on CDs. A bit of digital releases would have been great as this is not a bad band.

The band was a four-piece with a lineup of woodwinds, keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. The vocals are in English.

The album starts out as a mix of ELP and Yes. And yeah, we are in the middle of the symphonic prog country here. In addition to the two abovementioned bands, add Van Der Graaf Generator and Genesis too.

I find it unfair that this album has been described as a Yes copycat album. It is not. Add the darkness of Van Der Graaf Generator to the proceedings too and the most weird moments of Genesis songs and you get this album. That and the flirtation with classical music as ELP stood for.

This album is forty-five minutes long and it is divided on four songs. It is obvious that this band never was the most talented band around. Nevertheless, this is a good album which should interest everyone into symphonic prog.

3 points

Sunday 28 February 2016

First Change - Fairy Dance (1981)

The one and only album from this German band.

I know next to nothing about this band. The only thing I know is that this is a private pressing which is selling for a fortune on various auction websites. I got this as an MP3 file with a wish from the owner for me to review it. I agreed to write a short review.

The band uses both male and female English vocals on the top of bass, drums, guitars and keyboards.

The sound is pretty bad and I have been told that is indeed the case also for the LP. But it is not as bad as bootleg quality and the sound is good enough to make an opinion about the music. 

The music is a mix of psychedelic and folk rock. That with some symphonic prog thrown in too. There is also a hippie and flower power feel over this album. Which is a big surprise for an album released in 1981.

This forty-two minutes long album does not really have any good songs and that is a shame. This band was probably not good enough to get a record label contract and I can understand why.

This album is not quite a turkey. But it is running very close to my turkey yard.

1.5 points

Karfagen - Continium (2006)

The debut album from this Ukraine band.

Karfagen is really the prolific keyboards wizard Antony Kalugin with hired musicians. In this case and on this album; three musicians who does bass, vocals and piano. Antony does the rest.

There is also some female vocals here which is uncredited. The guitars here is samples and programming done by Antony himself.

The music here sounds surprisingly organic and folky. Folky as in folk music. I had expected a mad Ukraine professor and his army of keyboards. Well, I was wrong here and pleasantly surprised.

This is actually the reason why I, with the exception of a review for ProgArchives back in June 2010 of their second album, has ignored this band. I have heard enough mad keyboards professor music to learn from my mistakes.

This album has got some good Ukraine based music and is rooted in this country. Or, this is how I read this music and this album. And Ukraine is a nice country, although war-torn at the moment. I feel Antony has conveyed the beauty of Ukraine here. Or maybe that is my imagination. But that is music for you. It here so we can drift away in our own world.

The nice spell of Ukraine beauty is just broken by the vocals and AOR stuff at the end of this forty minutes long album. Something of a bad ending to this album.

Hence, I am happy with the instrumental bits and not happy at all with the ending and the vocal bits. The end result is a decent to good album. An album well worth checking out.

2.5 points

Saturday 27 February 2016

Kansas - Freaks Of Nature (1995)

The thirteenth album from these US legends.

The last I album I reviewed from them, Power, was a turkey. It was also dull AOR without the classic Kansas sound. So I was pretty happy to hear the violin again.

The band was again a six piece here with violins, keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals.

The same as on their best albums in other words. But they have lost some of their best musicians too. Their replacements is not worthy the Kansas name.

The violins pleases me. That said, the music is still this radio-friendly and uncomplicated music from the 1980s and the 1990s. Much more the 1990s, I hasten to add.

The sound from the 1970s is not back though and the band is sounding rather ordinary. Ordinary as a mix of hard rock and AOR. Or as in classic rock. Yes, classic rock, it is.

The album sounds very american and this is indeed a very typical US album. Big, brash and brave. Brave without much substance to back it up with.

The songs here are pretty dire and not even the violins can save this album. This is not an album I want to remember. Hence my verdict below...

1.5 points

Fem - Sulla Bolla Di Sapone (2014)

The debut album from this Italian band.

The band released an EP in 2012 named Epsilon, but this is their first album. First of many albums, I hope.

The band is a five piece entity with a lineup of keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and Italian male vocals.

And yes, we are deep into Italian progressive rock again. The RPI genre. A bit more of a modern take on RPI than in the 1970s. But it is still RPI.

The vocals are very good and the music is intricate and a bit symphonic. The mood is Italian throughout. The lack of Moogs and Mellotrons are therefore forgiven...... The keyboards sound is great, nevertheless.

The end result is a forty-four minutes long album with some songs and some more instrumental pieces.

There are no great songs here. But the sound and the music is very good throughout and the band can be added to the list of very promising new RPI bands. A great scene at the moment. This is a highly recommended album.

3.5 points

Quiver - Quiver (1971)

The debut album from this English band.

I know next to nothing about them besides of they releasing two albums as Quiver and five or so albums as The Sutherland Brothers & Quiver. I got the two Quiver albums.

Quiver was a trio on this album. The lineup was guitars, bass, drums and vocals.

This version of Quiver should not be confused with a jazz band with the same name. The Quiver reviewed here is a folk rock band.

That means folk rock with a lot of country'n'western and psychedelic rock. Add a lot of racy, hard rock too and you get this album.

This album is forty-three minutes long and it has some decent songs. Some of them are five minutes plus and showcases a rather good band.

Nevertheless, this is a decent album from a band who does not deserve to be forgotten. Their two albums is well worth checking out on Youtube.

2 points 

Medina Azahara - Tierra De Libertad (2001)

The eleventh album from this Spanish band.

Medina Azahara is legends in Spain and almost unknown outside this country. Which is both a pity and understandable as they are doing some very Spanish music. Music which does not translate well into other territories and markets.

The band has released a couple of good albums and some not so good albums. I still like their style and attitude. It is one of my guilty pleasures.

The band is a five piece entity on this album with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and Spanish vocals.

The vocals are performed by Manuel Martinez and they are the best thing about this album. They are very good, in short. A bit too theatrical and over the top. But still very much Made In Spain and contains everything we associates with this country.

The music is not good at all. Take pop and mix it with 1980s heavy metal. Add some local Spanish flavours and you get this album. The music is as relevant today as the T-Ford is relevant in today's range of Ford cars and models. This is a weak decent album which just about avoids the turkey yard.
Get other albums from them than this one.

1.5 points

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Threshold - Extinct Instinct (1997)

The third album from this British band.

Threshold was starting to establish themselves as one of the bigger British prog metal bands at this stage of their career. And that was fully deserved.

Still a bit of a cult band, this six piece band featured Damian Wilson on vocals here in addition to plenty of guitars, bass, drums and keyboards.

The band has still a lot of neo-prog in their prog metal. Or a lot of prog metal in their neo-prog. They very much have their own style.

This is a sixty-seven minutes long album and it has some catchy tunes and some not so catchy tunes. Damian Wilson's vocals is a highlight in addition to the great keyboards and orchestrations. I also like the guitars here a lot.

I like Threshold and their one foot in each of the neo-prog and the prog metal camp. And I am not a fan of prog metal. Not at all. But Threshold has hit the right balance.

This is a good album and that is it. An album well worth checking out.

3 points

Sunday 21 February 2016

Rufus Zuphall - Weiß der Teufel (1970)

The debut album from this German band.

This band from Aachen on the German, Belgium and Dutch border went onto releasing three albums between 1970 and 1999.

The band was a four piece band with a lineup of guitars, flutes, bass and drums. The music here is entirely instrumental.

The band has always been compared with Jethro Tull because of the flutes which is here played as Ian Anderson played his flute in 'Tull. This is a reasonable comparisson. But it is far from being the full story.

Take a chunk of blues and folk rock. Add a very big chunk of krautrock and you get this album. There is a lot of hard krautrock and blues here. There is even a drum solo here.

This is by no means an easy listening album. It is pretty close to being a hard rock album anno 1970s. The music is not as classy and polished as Deep Purple or even Black Sabbath's music at that time. There is something primitive, untamed about this thirty-eight minutes long album. Even the few bars of the jazz standard Summertime is a pretty wild piece of music.

The music is good throughout though. There is a lot of good melody lines and ideas scattered around this album. I would recommend this one to everyone into hard krautrock. You are in for a treat here.

3 points

Alms - An Irosmic Tragedy (2016)

The second album from this Spanish one man band.

Alms is the creative output for mr. Aitor Lucena. He does all the instruments and male vocals here, I gather from ProgArchives. I guess someone else does the female vocals. Preferable a female.

His/Alms 2013 debut album Beyond was a Mike Oldfield inspired album. So I am surprised when the sound of his new album hits my ears. A bit difficult to process, this one.

He has changed Alms around and done a bit of a gothic/folk symphonic prog album. Sort of. Or this probably more a rock opera. It is indeed a rock opera.

There is a lot of violins and keyboards here in addition to the Spanish spoken words, male and female vocals. This gives this album a baroque feeling. Sort of. Add a gothic feeling too and we are there. Something the guitars contributes to a great deal.

This forty-two minutes long album is divided into three long songs. All of them very gothic and not so good. I am by no means a goth fan. The sound is not the best either here. It is a bit of a plastic fantastic sound which sort of reminds me about the 1990s sound.

I am not impressed by this album at all. It is not a good album by any means. It is decent enough and that is it. This is not for me, I am afraid.

2 points   

Utopia - Disco Jets (1976)

The second album from the Todd Rundgren side project.

This band is off course from USA and this is the follow up to their debut album. An album I really liked.  Disco Jets has gone unnoticed in for example ProgArchives where there is no reviews of this album. It soon became clear to me why other reviewers are avoiding this album as if it was the plague....

Utopia was here a quartet with a lineup of guitars, drums, bass and lots of lots of keyboards. Roger Powel is the keyboardist here and he is working himself to the ground on this album.

And yes, there is no coincidence that the album is called Disco Jets. Disco it is throughout these thirty-three minutes. Instrumental disco. This is music for the disco clubs.

The music here is a mix of fusion and what later became disco. Remember the Saturday Night Fever movie soundtrack and the instrumentals on that album ? This is in the same vein.

This is a terrible album with no redeeming features whatsoever. It is indeed a turkey. I hope the Ra album is far better than this album.

1 point

Saturday 20 February 2016

Tangent. The - Le Sacre Du Travail (2013)

The seventh album from this English band.

Or to be more precise; the band is now and has always been a multi-national band as the band leader & owner Andy Tillison has always brought in all available talents. People from The Flower Kings and from other bands.

So we get talents like Theo Travis, Rikard Sjoblom, Guy Manning, Jonas Reingold, Jakko Jakkszyk, Gavin Harrisson and David Longdon in addition to Andy Tillisson on this album. An album with saxophone, keyboards, drums, bass, guitars and Andy's vocals as the sound of The Tangent on this album.

This album is about working. A concept album about the futility of working and life anno these days. Something I can relate too, yes. I often wonder what I am doing.... and Andy Tillison has made an album about his similar thoughts.

This is an electric symphony in five pieces. My digi-pack version bought from Amazon also includes three bonus tracks. But I have omitted them from this review. My review is about this five movements symphony.

The five movements ebbs and flows. Not everything here is superb. The intro and the second movement has some superb stuff. Something of the best Andy Tillisson has ever written and recorded. There are some not so great stuff here too.

Nevertheless; this is a truly great album and one I really love. Maybe it is Andy Tillisson and The Tangent's best ever album. Hence my sprinkling of points.

4 points

Kansas - Power (1986)

The tenth album from this US band.

The band was reduced to a five piece band here with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. That and a symphony orchestra.

Both Steve Walsh and Steve Morse was still here. But the violins was gone.

Kansas was very innovative and great in the 1970s. But the 1980s took all creativity away from most bands and the $$$ signs was etched in the eyes of most bands. This was indeed their paydays.

So out went the prog rock and in comes a mix of pop and AOR. Cheesy pop aka the title track and a couple of ballads. The rest of the album was AOR. It was not good AOR.

To cut this very short as it is both a pain to listen to this album and to write about this turkey. It is indeed a turkey which include all the ills and mistakes from the 1980s. That includes football terrace chants and choirs and cheesy lyrics.

In short; this is a horrible album and I hate every second of these forty minutes.

1 point

Friday 19 February 2016

Far Corner - Far Corner (2004)

The debut album from this US band who has so far released two albums.

The band is a quartet with a lineup of cello, piano, bass, drums, Hammond organs and synths.

This is by no means the usual lineup from a band. And yes, we are now in avant-garde territory. Or RIO territory. The music is of the chamber rock variety.

This album is seventy minutes long and it includes some zeuhl and jazz influences in addition to the obvious chamber rock setup the band has got and which it develops here.

Piano and cello is pretty dominant here in addition to bass. The drums is also pretty evident here.

I chamber rock and avant-garde music. But this album is not really my cup of tea. There is no real mood here and not many good ideas here. Most of these seventy minutes leads nowhere and leaves me wishing for some better structures here.

This is a decent enough album. But I find it a bit too frustrating and "what if" like. Check it out if you want.

2 points

Subsignal - Touchstones (2011)

The second album from this German band.

This band started out as a side-project of Sieges Even before the duo behind Subsignal quit that band and went full time with Subsignal. Which was not a bad choice, I gather. The band released their debut album in 2009. They actually release a new album every second year. Which is not a bad idea.

The band is a five piece with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. English vocals, that is. The album also gets a visit from an unnamed female vocalist on a couple of tracks. 

The band is loosely labeled as a neo-prog band. That does not tell the full story here as there is not much neo-prog on this album.

Take a big chunk of prog metal and add symphonic prog. Then add some neo-prog too. This is where we find this band and this seventy-five minutes long album.

The music is very heavy at times. Crushing heavy with a lot of heavy guitars. On other tracks again, the music is not that heavy.

The music is mostly symphonic and bombastic symphonic. There is also a lot of interesting details here.

I am quite enjoying this album although it does not really have any great tracks. This is a good album though and I have just purchased their last two albums and will review them too. Check out this band.

3 points 

Thursday 18 February 2016

Farflung - A Wound In Eternity (2008)

The sixth album from this US band.

This is my first ever meeting with this band. A trio with a lineup of synths, bass, drums, guitars and vocals.

The artwork does not give anything away. Well, some sort of prog rock, I thought. I was wrong. I does not take many notes and chords to reveal a space rock album. Not only space rock, but outer space rock too.

I was pleased.

The music, make that space rock, is a bit minimalistic. But it still has all the right ingredients. Guitar walls, interesting use of synths which gives the music a cosmic feel and the right growling and whispering vocals. The bass and drums is also thundering away in the background.

The sound is not particular dirty. It very much reveals a lot of interesting details. Not at least, it also adds a lot of brutality and depth to the music. 

It does not hurt this one hour long album that it has a lot of good songs too. Medium long songs, but still good. My only gripe with this album is the lack of a great chord or tune. But I really like this album a lot and regard this as a very good album.

3.5 points

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Arlon - Mimetic Desires (2015)

The second album from this Polish band.

I did not like their 2013 debut album On The Edge at all. Dull, lifeless neo-prog if I remember rightly. So I was not exactly dancing on the roof tops when confronted with the follow up.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals. English vocals as most Polish bands use. A local symphony orchestra is also helping out too.

And we are again in neo-prog land. But with a twist.....

Take a large chunk of symphonic prog and add a symphony orchestra. No, no... It is not toothless symph-meets-classical music. Far from it..... The music is unmistaken neo-prog, but with added textures and colours.

The music has a warm feel too. The sound is excellent and adds a lot to this album. An almost one hour long album. Thankfully, the band has not overly extended themselves and their talents. There is no dead meat here.

The end result is a very good album, indeed. One album I really like. There is no really great or superb song here. But there is enough quality here to make this album a very good company. Check it out !

3.5 points


Tuesday 16 February 2016

Unoma - The Beginning of the End (2007)

The second and so far final album from this Spanish band.

ProgArchives has this band listed as a jazz/fusion band. That because of their debut album which indeed was a jazz/fusion album. I am afraid this is not the case when it comes to this album, though. That is not ProgArchives fault, though.

The owner of the band, Fidel Vazquez, probably found out that the female fronted prog/goth scene was a far more attractive proposition than the jazz/fusion scene. Which indeed it is. So he got four more musicians and Unoma was reborn.

The lineup is guitars, keyboards, loops, programming, drums, bass and female vocals.

Aurora Ferrer's vocals is very good, btw. The music is a mix of prog, goth and pop music. Take the more pomp pop part of the female fronted English scene and you get this album and band.

The result is pretty generic pomp pop/prog with guitars and keyboards backing up the very good vocals. The similar type of vocals I have previously heard on the top of far better music than Unoma has come up with here.

This is by all means a decent album. But this is by no means a good album. The music is simply not good enough for that on this fifty minutes long album.

2 points 

Monday 15 February 2016

Family Free Rock - A Day Of Wrath (2015)

The one and only album from this Brazilian band.

This album was originally released as a strictly limited CD-R album back in 2008. The new label Progshine gave it a Bandcamp release last summer. I therefore put 2015 as the release year. It is also a Name Your Price album so the link above is worthy a visit.

The band was a five piece with a lineup of cello, guitars, bass, drums, percussions, mandolin, keyboards and vocals.

The album is thirty-eight minutes long and it consists of one piece of music. Devil Doll is the big inspiration here and that shows. Fans of this band should now click on the link and download the album. I am not a fan of Devil Dolls.

The music is gothic with some rock, folk, avant-garde and symphonic influences. The music is not as ambient as I first feared. The music is not ambient at all. Neither is it in particular heavy. There is a big gothic feel resting over this album.

The music is pretty good. The sound is not that good and this album feels a bit plastic fantastic. I should have had a more muscular sound. But it does not. This is a decent enough album. But not one I am really enjoying.

2 points

Sunday 14 February 2016

Novalis - Sommerabend (1976)

The third album from this German band.

The band lined up as a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and German vocals.

Novalis was always a special band with their special mix of symphonic prog and krautrock. This is very much in evidence here. It is not only the German vocals who give away the nationality of the band. The music very much does that too.

Clocking in at thirty-eight minutes, this album is divided into three long songs. The first one is clocking in at ten minutes, is named Aufbruch and has a great theme with some very good guitars too. The best song of the album.

The second song Wunderschatze is also a good song with a very good theme. A theme not used to it's full potential.

The title track is much more a krautrock piece than the other two songs. It is also clocking in at eighteen minutes and does not really do that much.

The end result is a very good album in the best German symphonic prog/krautrock tradition. Fans of both genres will really like this album. I am a fan of both genres and find this a very good album and one to really enjoy. Something I do.

3.5 points

Android - Embergép (2016)

The third album from this Hungarian band.

I had never heard about this band before their album bumped into my inbox and I decided to lend it my ears and write a review. This is my only exposure to their music.

Android is a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. Magyar vocals as in their mothetongue.

The band is listed as a neo-prog band in the allmighty ProgArchives. Which is probably true for the their first two albums. It is not hitting bullseye when it comes to this album, though. Although this label is not too far of the mark when it comes to this one hour long album.

Take a lot of pub-rock, some neo-prog, some punk, some folk-rock and normal standard rock. That is where you get this album.

The Magyar vocals are adding a lot of local flavour and there is most certain other local flavours here too. This makes for a bit of an odd album. An album where the keyboards, vocals and guitars are sharing the duties. Add some piano too and you get the flavour and sound.

Unfortunate for me and the band, there is really no good music here. This album is a bit too dull and too grey for me. There is not much I am enjoying here. But check out this album if you want something a bit more than the normal fare.

2 points  

Saturday 13 February 2016

Fang Chia - Everybody For Something (2012)

The debut album from this US band.

The band has only released two albums and their website is down. So I am afraid the band may have split up. The albums was also the place where you could get their albums from.

The band was a seven piece big band with a lineup of sax, guitars, woodwinds, keyboards, glockenspiel, drums, piano, marimba, percussion, bass and some vocals.

Despite of the many instruments, both sound and music is pretty minimalistic. Take jazz and add some pieces of acoustic and post rock to the mix. This is essentially what we get here.

I would not be at all surprised if it turned out that the band met and played music at a college/university. This is exactly the type of music I expect from institutions and environments like that.

The music is minimalistic and slightly avant-garde too. The vocals are a bit weird and so is the rhythm structures. This throughout this one hour long album.

This is indeed a weird album which fans of more weird music than I prefer may even love more than I do. My gripe is the music is weird and pretty interesting, yes.... But there is not much good music here. I like my avant-garde music when it has got some substance and feel. This album has not got that. Nevertheless, this is a decent album and it deserves a lot more exposure than none reviews. Check it out.

2 points

Kin Ping Meh - Kin Ping Meh 3 (1973)

The third album from this German band.

Kin Ping Meh was quite a cult group in the first half of the 1970s. Their four albums made quite an impact.

The band was a six piece on this album with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, drums, bass and English vocals. They indeed had an Englishman on vocals in the form of Geoff Harrisson. A good, raunchy vocalist.

The vocals partly explains the hard rocking, raunchy music on the first half of this album. Hard rock which is dipping into rockabilly and good old 1950s rock'n'roll at times. The first half of this album has got this 1950s feel. Which is funny, but not so good music.

The music changes to a much more psychedelic and prog rock phase on the second half of the album. The side B on this LP. There is some The Beatles over this part of the album too. A pretty good second half of the album. A bit messy, but still pretty good.

Unfortunate, this does not make this a good album. I am not at all happy about this album. It is a decent enough album. But it has not survived the the test of time, I am afraid. Anyway, check out this album. You may disagree with me.

2 points

Friday 12 February 2016

Tulipe Noire. La - Shattered Image (2000)

The third album from this Greece band.

This is also my first meeting with their music having purchased this and some other albums years ago. I have decided to lend them an ear and review these albums.

The band is a six piece with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. Female vocals, that is.

The music is neo-prog and it is fair to say that La Tulipe Noire is the Greek best contribution to the neo-prog scene. It is also one of the best ever contributions to the prog rock scene.

The album was released in 2000 and the music is very much rooted in the 1980s and the 1990s neo-prog scene and sound.

References are Marillion and Genesis. There is a very strong Marillion reference here. That is the Marillion, the Fish era I am referring to. There is also some strong references to other female fronted neo-prog bands.

I cannot really say that the vocalist here, Ima, is a good vocalist. Far too weak and without much of a voice. The sound is also not that good. Neither is the songs to be honest.

This is not an album I am enjoying that much. It is nevertheless a decent album.

2 points

Thursday 11 February 2016

Falling Edge - Convergence at Fossil Falls (2015)

The second album from this Canadian band.

The band debuted in 2013 with their self-titled debut album. A one hour long album which got some good reviews.

The band returned again last year as a four piece with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals.

The end result is a one hour long album. An album a bit difficult to label. Mostly because of the vocals.

The vocals is a bit difficult to like to be honest. I am not a fan of these shrieking male vocals. The guitars too has a shrieking feel and edge. Some of them, at least.

When penetrating the music behind these slightly annoying issues, I would label this as a mix of Rush and Genesis. The songs are really long here. Three of the seven songs are between ten and fifteen minutes long.

I have tried to really get into them for a long time along with the rest of the album. But I am still not convinced that this is really a good album. There is a couple of good songs here. The other ones are decent enough. And that is really it. I really thought this was my cup of tea. I was wrong. Nevertheless; check out this album. You may like it.

2.5 points

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Anacondia - L'Orizzonte Degli Eventi (2015)

The second album from this Italian band.

The band debuted in 2006 with their Due Mondi album. An album who got fairly good critics in ProgArchives.

The band is now a six piece band with a lineup of sax, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, flutes, piano and vocals. Italian male vocals, I am very glad to report.

The album starts with a very heavy song and I am expecting another prog metal album. Something I am not pleased about..... Well, I am thankfully wrong. The band is labeled as an RPI band in ProgArchives.

That normally means something like Le Orme, Banco or New Trolls. That is not what we get here. The RPI label is a bit elastic here. But it is still fitting as the album develops into a much more agreeable melodic prog album after some minutes.

Songs like Come Un Fiume In Piena and Un Foglio Bianco is very good at times. Cosy too with some references to the classic prog bands from Italy.

This album is clearly a hard rocking RPI album with some very evident power metal influences. The vocals is very good and the band does a very good job too.

The end result is an album bordering to being a very good album. The opening track is letting down the album a bit. So I am landing on a good rating. But check out this band and this album. It may become your favourite RPI album of the year......

3 points

Monday 8 February 2016

Utopia - Todd Rundgren's Utopia (1974)

The debut album from this US band.

I have to admit I am not entirely familiar with Todd Rundgren, his career and creative output. What I know is that this band was a side-project from his solo career. It is most definate an artist I would like to explore in the future.

Todd Rundgren did the vocals and the guitars here. He got help from five other musicians with a lineup of cello, synths, keyboards, drums, bass and percussion. 

Utopia was his progressive and psychedelic rock output. I would also say space rock. Something the now iconic artwork alludes too.

The album opens with an absolute epic track in the form of Utopia Theme which sounds like it was recorded live. Some great guitar, vocal and synth works is the recipe here and it is a truly superb fifteen minutes long track.

The two next tracks Freak Parade and Freedom Fighters are not that great. The closening track on this one hour long album is the half an hour long The Ikon. A very good half an hour, it is too.

This is perhaps not a great album. But it is an almost essential album as it has a lot to offer. I rate it as an eyeopener and a very good album. I will check out more albums from this band and the more proggy albums from Todd Rundgren's solo output.

3.5 points


Sunday 7 February 2016

Yuri Gagarin - At The Center Of All Infinity (2015)

The second album from this Swedish band.

Their 2013 self titled debut was a good space rock album, showcasing a promising space rock band. A band now following up that album with their second album.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, synths, bass and drums. There is no vocals on this forty minutes long album.

The music is simply space rock. Space rock with a pretty dirty sound. The band builds up massive walls of sounds on every track. That with the help of rhythm and lead guitars. The bass is thumping around near the bottom of the mix and the drums is underpinning it all. The synths is adding cosmic visions and ambience to the sound.

That is a simple recipe which works well. Add some post rock, guitar solos and a lot of groove. You cannot really loose with that kind of space rock.

There is no doubts the band knows what they are doing. The music is not overly interesting, but it still works. This is a good space rock album which will get this band a lot of fans. I would like some more spice and variations. But I am not a space rock head. Still.......

3 points  

Orion - La Face Visible (2015)

The third album from this French band.

Orion released their debut album in 1979, followed up that one with their second album in 2013 and have released this album. Not bad at all.

The band is a five piece band on this album with a lineup of keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and French vocals.

The music is French symphonic prog with a lot of references to the likes of Mona Lisa and Atoll. Their music is not as theatrical as Ange though.

But their music is still pretty symphonic despite of the pretty short songs and pieces on this forty-five minutes long album. This is not an all out symphonic prog album, in other words.

This album offers up some instrumental pieces in the beginning before the songs comes in. Then we get some instrumentals again before the album closes with some songs. That is the rhythm of this album.

There is a lot of guitars on this album. Good guitar riffs and leads. The vocals is also very good. Despite of that, I am not overly won over by this album. The melodies and songs are a bit samey and a bit dull. There is no big variations and not much surprises here. This album speaks more to the heart than to my head. Nevertheless, this is a good album from a band who deserves a lot more attention.

3 points

FancyFluid - The Sheltering Sea (1995)

The third and final album from this Italian band.

FancyFluid released three albums between 1990 and 1995. They did not get much of a breakthrough and their albums is difficult to find.

On this album, FancyFluid was a five piece band with a lineup of synths, bass, guitars, drums and English vocals. The typical neo-prog lineup and that is exactly what we get here.

Neo-prog in the early 1980s and 1990s vein. Think Marillion here. Think the rest of the 1980s British neo-prog bands too. Add some symphonic prog too. Banco springs to mind here. So does Genesis.

This album clocks in at seventy-two minutes. It has ten songs. The longest one is twelve minutes long. The shortest one is five minutes long.

The sound is very dry and the vocals not particular impressive. The music so generic and so dull that these seventy-two minutes x several times to make a review does not really light up my life. The vocals are pretty annoying and there is not much to make me happy here.

This album is not a turkey. It has a couple of good melodies. Neither is it any good album. Hence my rating. Forget this album.

1.5 points  

Saturday 6 February 2016

Circle - Pharaoh Overlord (2015)

The 27th album from this Finnish band.

That is their 27th album since 1994, btw. This is a productive band indeed. They are also a cult band with an international following which also includes a guy in my daytime-job office. He is always wearing one of their many t-shirts and is going to their UK gigs. So there must be something about them....

And I have indeed reviewed one of their earlier albums. Their 24th album Manner. An album I quite liked. The band is a six piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. A guest musician supplies horns. There is a lot of horns on this album.

Circle is a space rock cult band. Dark space rock is what they do here. The opening track Koitto even takes them into zeuhl and avant-garde territory. Present and Universe Zero springs to mind.

The four other tracks is much more space rock, although greatly influenced by post-rock. There is much more walls of sounds here than intricate details.

The music is also rich on tribal chanting and a lot of krautrock references. In short; this is not a traditional space rock. I am not sure if Circle do traditional space rock at all.

The end result is a good album which is pretty leftfield and far from the well trodden paths. This is an album well worth checking out.

3 points

Flower Kings. The - Stardust We Are (1997)

The third album from this Swedish band.

The Flower Kings is one of the giants of today's progressive rock scene and all their albums is must-haves. Both as reference sources and because of the quality of the music.

Roine Stolt, Hans Froberg and Thomas Bodin is leading this six piece big version of this band on this album. The lineup is the traditional keyboards, guitars, drums, bass and vocals setup.

This is a 2 CD album, lasting over 130 minutes. These 130 minutes is divided between long songs and a lot of shorter pieces of music.

The Flower Kings plays a Swedish folk rock influenced form of symphonic prog. Their sound is very easy to detect. They have indeed got their own sound and one sound a lot of other Swedish bands has both copied and developed. I call it the Swedish symphonic prog sound. 

The album starts brightly enough with some The Flower Kings standards. In The Eyes Of The World. A very good song indeed. Both complex and catchy it is. We soon move on to one of their best ever songs, the very bombastic and majestic Church Of Your Heart. This is close to being a psalm. A Swedish psalm.

The rest of the album continues with a mix of shorter pieces and more rewarding longer song. The 25 minutes long title track is indeed a very good song too.

The end result is a very good album and one to really check out for everyone into symphonic prog. I think that is enough said about an album I have been listening to on and off for the last ten years.

3.5 points

Thursday 4 February 2016

Fabio Celi e Gli Infermieri - Follia (1969)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

The main man in this band was the keyboardist and vocalist Fabio Celi and he hired in four other musicians. The lineup was a drums, bass, mouth harp, keyboards, guitars and vocals. Italian vocals.

This is one of the first bands from the rock and RPI scene in Italy. It is to a large extent the first ever RPI affiliated album.

The music here is a mix of beat music, Italian pop, psychedelic rock and hard rock. And we get forty minutes of this music here.

The sound is reasonable good. The keyboards, make that organs, sounds like Moog at times and gives the sound a bit of a pastoral feeling. There are also a lot of harder edged music here and the band knows how to rock hard.

The music is melodic too with a significant Italian pop feel. So we are getting a lot here. A lot, but not much progressive rock. But there is enough here to interest even the prog rock fans.

The quality of the music is not too bad either. This is by no means a good album. But there are some pieces here which makes this a decent album and one to check out if RPI is your main interest. Don't ignore this album.

2 points

Monday 1 February 2016

Kansas - Vinyl Confessions (1982)

The eight album from this US band.

I think it is fair to say that this band had seen their best days by now. But they were still alive and releasing albums. They were still a six piece band with violin, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and vocals.

Most of all; the band still had most of their classic sound intact. Yes, the band was much more songs orientated now and their edges had gone. Their territory was much more AOR now. Radio friendly music. And the band also employed a guest musician on saxophone. That saxophone is horrible.

The band was in short much more commercial minded than before in these very tough and plastic fantasic 1980s. The decade that gave us very little.

And the band is playing along with this plastic fantasic ethos with some catchy but still facepalm inducing synths and guitars soundbites. The guitars are also meandering into the horrible hair metal territory at times.

What this album has got though is four-five good tracks on this forty-two minutes long album. A typical vinyl lenght album. I also like their sound and their vocals.

So I can live with the really bad stuff here and I regard this as a good album. It is not one of their best. But it is still a good album.... barely.

3 points