Monday, 30 January 2017

Opeth - Blackwater Park (2001)

The fifth album from this Swedish band.

The band was a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Both death growls and clear vocals.

Mikael Akerfeldt has got company of another living legend on this album. Steven Wilson, it is. Both on vocals, guitars and as a producer.

I have lost my interest in death and black metal long time ago. Ten years or so ago. The four first Opeth albums has not got good reviews from me as I find this mix of black metal and acoustic pieces pretty cheap and nasty. Hence the bad reviews.

Opeth has changed a bit on this album. There are more melodic death metal here than the melodic black metal we found on the first four albums. The Dissection inspirations and vibes has gone. And that is a very good thing.

I very much prefer the death metal on this album. In addition, we also get a lot of more fleshed out prog rock and clear vocals here. Yes, this is progressive rock in the Porcupine Tree vein.

Hiring Steven Wilson here was a very inspired choice as this is their so far best album. Even the death metal sounds pretty good here too.

The result is a good album indeed. I like this album a lot more than I thought I would. I am surprised.

3 points


Sunday, 29 January 2017

Altavia - Kreosote (2016)

The second album from this Italian band.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals. That is both female and male English vocals.

I very much liked their 2011 debut album Girt Dog. I gave it a Great Album award. I also noted it was very symphonic at times.

The band is still a neo-prog band. They are one of a quite considerable amount of Italian neo-prog bands you cannot label as RPI bands. The reason is that they have taken a lot from the British neo-prog scene and almost nothing from the Italian prog rock scene (RPI).

That goes for this album which have only a faint hint of RPI. It is a very faint hint, though. Mostly a the end of this one hour long album.

Most of this album has even left the traditional British neo-prog scene. Although the female vocals is not a dominating factor here, the band has moved towards female fronted crossover prog on this album. The one scene with mostly British bands like Magenta and Touchstone.

The female vocals is not dominating here. But there is a lot of long instrumental parts here. Pretty dynamic instrumental stuff. But not that interesting.

Most of this album is rather flat and does not sound that inspiring. There is no sweat and not much life here. The songs are not that good either. This is not a bad album. But it is letdown from Girt Dog. I am not bowled over by this album and rate it somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points

Styx - The Serpent Is Rising (1973)

The third album from this US band.

Styx were a five piece band on this album with a lineup of drums, bass, percussions, guitars, keyboards, Moog, piano, organ and vocals.

I have yet to become impressed by this band's outputs. They have been decent enough, but nothing more. My recent reviews of their albums can be found here and here.

The band is yet to blossom into full bloom from what I have heard from ProgArchives and other sources.

The band is still close to their blues and hard rock roots on this album. But there is also some pop and country here. Not to mention a weirdo song like the six minutes long As Bad As This. A total joke of a song. At least, I am laughing. But I don't know why they have included it on this album.

At times, the band tries to sound like Kansas. Other times, they are just totally lost. The end result is a forty minutes long and very diverse album. The ten songs are a bit all over the place. But mostly rooted in hard rock, the US way. Something the album title and the art work alludes to. Serpents are a signal of danger in both folklore and the Christian faith.

The music is pretty poor here and the band is not firing on all their cylinders. This is not really a good album. It is decent enough, though.

2 points


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Apocalypse - Perto Do Amanhecer (1995)

The second album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of synths, guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ and male Portoguese vocals.

I pretty much liked their debut album, reviewed earlier this month (January 2017). So I was looking forward to this album too. I am reviewing/have reviewed all their albums and am looking/was looking forward to this.

Perto Do Amanhecer is said to be one of their best albums, according to ProgArchives. And the album is starting really positive with the two opening tracks Ao Cair No Espaco and Terra Azul. Good South-American symphonic prog with two really strong melodies.

Then something really strange is happening. The album falls down to a lot of neo-classical guitar solos and a lot of pointless plodding. Some of this is really appaling bad. So bad that I really want to turn of this album and put on some good music instead.... by other bands.

It has taken me three weeks to really come around to review this album and give it a lot of more chances. So appaled was I. But thankfully, the band pulls this album together again with the rather good Lagrimas and Corta. Both are good neo-prog songs. Very much Fish era Marillion here.

The rest of the album is rather good too and I am getting a lot more friendly with this album.

The end result is an appaling bad to a very good album.

But I cannot overlook the terrible middle section on this almost seventy minutes long album. Hence my rating.

2.5 points

Gargamel - Watch For The Umbles (2006)

The debut album from this Norwegian band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of clavinet, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes, synths, bass, guitars, flutes, drums and male English vocals. A guest musican contributes to this party with a cello.

The band has now split up after releasing two albums between 2006 and 2009. Both reviewed here/to be reviewed here. The band also played live many times. Mostly in Norway.

"That's nerdy !!", my girlfriend shouted out after the first ten minutes of this album. She is not a great fan of progressive rock and treat this blog, my most beloved hobby, with a great suspision.

Gargamel's brand of progressive rock is indeed very nerdy. Take King Crimson and merge it with Peter Hammill and Van Der Graaf Generator. Some of the vocals is very Peter Hammill like. The added cello creates a lot of darkness to their sound.

Most of the album is indeed very playful. Krautrock and bands from the Italian avant-garde scene springs to mind. I have seen others mention Amon Duul II and Anekdoten too. I agree with the Anekdoten reference. But King Crimson is the strongest reference here.

The vocals are pretty poor. Strained and not exactly in tune. The music itself is better. Much better. The musicians knows their stuff and the flute adds a lot to the music. Ditto for the cello.

The album is one hour long and the songs, make that tracks, is around the ten minutes mark.

There is no great tracks here and some of the tracks is a bit lacking in quality. So it is barely a weak Good rating here. It is still an album well worth checking out for those of you who are nerds and/or like King Crimson and eclectic progressive rock.

3 points



Cast - Com.Union (2007)

The 15th album from this Mexican band.

The band was a seven piece band on this album with a lineup of bagpipe, saxophone, flute, guitars, bass, drums, organ, mellotron, piano, synths, percussions and Spanish vocals.

I have done a lot of reviews of their, so far nineteen albums, as I really like this band. See my other reviews of their albums.

Cast is nominally somewhere between symphonic prog and neo-prog........ nominally. They have gone in many directions on their various albums.

Cast is going into many different directions and territories on this album. It is one of their most diverse albums as far as I gather (I have not had the pleasure of listening to all their albums).

There is faint hints of neo-prog here. But the symphonic prog part of this band is pretty much in command. From symphonic prog, they have moved into pop music, rock, prog metal, folk rock, cinematic music and some jazz.

There is a lot of things going on here. From female vocals and choirs to more instrumental ambient pieces. There is a lot of instrumental ambient pieces here.That makes this album a pretty ambient album with not many heavy pieces and songs.

This album is one of those long Cast albums. It is another seventy minutes long Cast album. Which means a lot of value for money and a lot of dead weight songs and pieces of music. There is not that many of these seventy minutes which constitutes a great symphonic prog album. Let alone a good symphonic prog album. The standards is slipping on this album.

The standards is so low that this album is only somewhere between decent and good. It is too long and carries too much dead weight. Check out this album if you want softly spoken music from a great band.

2.5 points

Friday, 27 January 2017

Deus Ex Machina - Devoto (2016)

The seventh album from this Italian band.

The band is a six piece band with a lineup of guitars, drums, bass, violin, organ, piano, synth and Italian male vocals.

This is really a band which I should have checked out much earlier. Many years ago in fact. But for some reasons, I have not done that. I got absolute no idea why.

Deus Ex Machina has always been in the fusion/jazz genre. See their profile at ProgArchives. But much more in the eclectic end of this spectrum than in the easy listening part of this genre.

I have heard from ProgArchives that Devoto is a much more easier on the ears than previous albums. I wonder what their other, far more eclectic albums has been compared to Devoto.....

Devoto is still far from being an easy-listening middle of the road fusion/jazz album. This album is still eclectic and is leaning very much towards the likes of Area and Picchio Dal Pozzo. I find a lot of Picchio Dal Pozzo in this album.

The vocals here are good enough and is in the good Italian tradition. I also very much like what the other musicians is doing. The violin adds a lot of xtra cream to this creamcake. A lot of style and flair.

The music on this one hour long album is eclectic and very much leaning on the avant-garde genre too. Eclectic prog is what I would label this album.

And it is a very good album too. I really like this album and I should really check out their other albums too. It is on my to-do list. Check out this album.

3.5 points

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Audite - Rocklieder (1983)

The one and only album from this German band.

Audite was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, flute, keyboards, bass, drums and German male vocals.

This album is a private press LP only and it fetches big prices on various auction places. Thankfully, it is also available through Youtube too.

The band is listed in ProgArchives as a neo-prog band. I am not sure although I will not argue with ProgArchives on this matter.

ProgArchives also sold this album (OK...... I used Youtube) to me as a Genesis copy. Well, they must mean Genesis the Phil Collins era. From their self titled album era.

What I get here is a forty-six minutes long album with some pretty long songs around the eight minutes mark. The music is much more AOR and German rock than neo-prog. OK, Genesis from their self-titled album era is a good reference too. That is far from being my favorite Genesis album and era.

There are some piano, keyboards and guitars here. The drums and bass does not account to much. The horrible vocals is also pretty much everywhere. The music is far from being expansive and an adventure. It is in fact very safe music which does not raise much interest here.

It is in my view an abysmal bad album which does nothing for me. This album just annoys me. Purely annoys me. The cliches are coming too fast for my liking. The feeling of having endured these riffs and melodies before is pretty overwhelming.

This album is simply an album to avoid. Avoid it at all cost.

1 point


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Headspace - All That You Fear Is Gone (2016)

The second album from this English band.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of chapman stick, guitars, keyboards, piano, bass, drums and vocals.

Adam Wakeman is on keyboards and Damien Wilson can be found behind the microphone. The lineup is the same as on their 2012 debut album I Am Anonymous. An album I liked a lot.

Not much has changed in Headspace. A little less djent and a lot more melodies. The music is still pretty much hard and heavy progressive rock. A lot of hard and heavy neo-prog too.

Damien Lewis makes a lot of this seventy-two minutes long album sound like Threshold. Fans of that band will lap up this album as a cat laps up a bowl with fat milk.

... But there is also other dimentions to this album than just hard and heavy neo-prog. Large chunks of this album is rather pastoral with either vocals supported by keyboards or vocals supported by acoustic guitars.

I welcome the variations here and the branching out to another horizont. I just wish these forays into unknown territory was a lot better than it is.

The hard stuff is good though and so is this album. It is a good album from a very good band. A band yet to reach their potential. But they are working on it, I hope. Check out this album.

3 points


Atria - Boulevard of Broken Dreams (1992)

The debut album from this French band.

Atria was a six piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and English vocals.

I reviewed their second album, the 1996 album Hide back in May 2010 for ProgArchives. I noted that it was a good album and the band was very similar to Pendragon.

That too also goes for their debut album. Both their albums are pretty similar, in fact.

In 2017, this is very much retro neo-prog. In 1992, it was very much the current sound. Take Pendragon with some Eloy mixed in and you get this album.

There is a subtle but still a very much noted difference. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams is a pretty heavy album. Far heavier than both Pendragon and Eloy has ever been. So you can add some progressive metal, make that, a substantial amount of progressive metal into the mix.

The songs are pretty long here. Long as in just short of ten minutes long. That on this sixty minutes long album.

The vocals is pretty good. The guitars are very good. The music a bit too standard run of the mill neo-prog for my liking. I still regard this album and this band as one of the more hidden gems in the neo-prog scene. Check them out.

This album though is somewhere between decent and good.

2.5 points

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Casa Das Máquinas - Casa de Rock (1976)

The third and final album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, percussions, minimoog, piano and male Portoguese vocals.

I pretty much liked their 1974 self-titled debut album and their second album, the 1975 opus Lar De Maravilhas. The latter one is regarded a classic in Brazilian and South American progressive rock.

The band returned again the year after with a stripped down version of themselves.

Gone is progressive rock from last year's Lar De Maravilhas. Gone is their charming folky hard rock from their self-titled debut album. Casa De Rock is a much harder album. It is more or less a heavy metal album.

The genre Heavy Metal was not properly created until 1980 in my view. I am referring to Iron Maiden's debut album which was a mix of punk and 1970s heavy metal. But Casa De Rock is a very hard album. It is also a bit cynical album.

Inbetween this heavy metal, there is also some very soft psychedelic stuff here. I would not call this ballads. I would label it as pop music.

This album sounds like the band's final throw of the dice. And the band broke up after that. The reason is in my view the lack of quality of this album. This album is not a turkey. But it is not even a decent album. Only some of the heavy metal and some of the psychedelic pop stuff saves it's bacon. I am not impressed by this album, by far their weakest album.

1.5 points

Monday, 23 January 2017

Atomic Ape - Swarm (2014)

The one and only album from this US band.

Atomic Ape is really only Jason Schimmel (Estradasphere, Orange Tulip Conspiracy, Secret Chiefs 3) and lots of other musicians. The lineup is drums, bass, strings, synths and woodwinds. 25 different instruments or so. The music is instrumental.

This is a scene I am familiar with as I am not spending as much time on avant-garde and RIO as I should be doing. I should really dedicate myself more to this genre.

Atomic Ape has produced a forty-four minutes long piece of soundtrack for a quirky movie which nobody has filmed/made. This is officially not a soundtrack. But it feels like it.

The music is pretty jazzy klezmer. The music also has this folk rock and RIO feel too. The music is at times pretty much chamber music.  

The music is mostly acoustic with a wide variety of instruments. Most of them very exotic and exciting for an ear who is most used to rock'n'roll instruments. This is a bit alien, but still a very good experience to me.

The music is much more electric towards the end of this album with some electric guitars chiming in with some harsh riffs. Not too bad, that too.

The music is pretty melodic throughout without loosing the complexity and the avant-garde feel. All in all, this is a good album which I have really enjoyed. But the quality is also here and this is an album well worth checking out.

3 points

Sunday, 22 January 2017

This Winter Machine - The Man Who Never Was (2016)

The debut album from this Yorkshire, English band.

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

I have never heard about this band before. A band where the average age of the band members must be around 45 years, based on the picture on their homepage. You can also get this album from their homepage, Amazon and Discogs.

The bandmembers may be middle-aged men. Their sound and music is pretty youthful. We are in the middle of the neo-prog scene here. Pendragon and Arena is good references.

The songs are pretty epic without sounding particular symphonic. The sound is too thin for that. The title track is sixteen minutes long and there are two other songs which passes the ten minutes mark. The two final songs are nine and a half minutes long while the shortest song is seven and a half minutes long. No radio hits among these five songs.

The songs are pretty complex and based on keyboards and guitars. The vocals is also playing a big role here. There is a lot of breaks and epic themes here. 

The vocals are pretty good and is suiting this music. Music which is unashamed neo-prog. I also wish the sound was a bit fatter. But that is neo-prog for you. Neo-prog from the 1990s.

There are no great tracks here. But neo-prog fans and (perhaps) symphonic prog fans will lap up this album. It is a good debut album and I hope we will hear a lot more from this band.

3 points

Hoelderlin - Hölderlins Traum (1972)

The debut album from this German band.

The band was a six piece band on this album with a lineup of Mellotron, tabla, strings, guitars, flutes, piano, bass, drums, percussions and female German vocals. Guest musicians also supplied sitar.

This band was a pretty big band, commercially and artistic speaking, in the 1970s. I got their first four albums and will review them in the coming weeks/has reviewed them.

Hoelderlin was a part of the folk rock scene in Germany. A scene and a country (make that West Germany) giving us a lot of bands.

Hoelderlin was a lot more spacy and psychelic than most other folk rock bands from their generation. There is indeed a lot of psychedelic rock and krautrock here.

Nanny DeRuig's vocals is both tender and powerful. Her vocals is being supported by many different types of strings, acoustic guitar, flute, piano and Mellotron. The music though is not that complex and epic. It is a lot more complex than standard folk rock. But we are not talking epic music here.

Pretty large parts of this album is also acoustic with sparse instrumentations. The electric parts of this album is full of violins too on some pretty spaced out music.

The end result is a good album which fails to come up with great music. It is still a good album and I am looking forward to hear and review more albums from this band.

3 points

Atlas Volt - Memento Mori (2015)

The debut album from this Swedish band.

Atlas Volt is a duo with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. Some guest musicians provides this album with cello and vocals.

The band released two EPs before they released this album. EPs well received.

The band's basis is the heavy progressiv rock genre. That is where you find the likes of Tool, Rush and Porcupine Tree.

This album is quite an ambitious album which also incorporates a lot of space rock, alternative metal, post rock, classic rock, progressive metal, krautrock, stoner rock and even some death metal. You can even find some avant-garde rock here.

There is a fine mix of traditional hard rock from the 1970s and much more innovative and even avant-garde rock from year 2000 and to this day....... well, to the day this album was recorded.

This seventy-two minutes long album is not a one trick pony. That's for sure.

Most of the stuff here are interesting too. References are Tool and Porcupine Tree. But there is also some of Indian and Middle-East music here too.

The songs are not great and these seventy-two minutes is one heck of a mouthful. But this is not a bad album at all. I am not entirely won over and this is not really my cup of tea. But I like what I hear on this good album. More people should check out this album.

3 points

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Return To Forever - Music Magic (1977)

The seventh and final album from this US band.

Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke was left of the brilliant quartet who released the fantastic Romantic Warrior the year before, in 1976. Al Di Meola and Lenny White was replaced by a lot of woodwind players, Gary Brown on drums and Gayle Moran on vocals.

Guitars has gone out and female vocals is back in again. Stanley Clarke is also helping out on vocals.

Gone is the magic and fast music from Romantic Warrior. Return To Forever anno Music Magic is a totally different entity again.

Laidback and kind of Broadway like jazz. There are still some jazz here. But it is almost lounge jazz throughout.

There is a lot of vocals and a lot of honey like sounds and sweetness here. It is also some sounds best left to musicals and elevator/shopping mall music tapes. Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and the other musicians is on a rare occasion given space to branch out here. But not often. The vocals and the lounge jazz tunes here kills of everything.

This is not the Return To Forever I want to remember. I want to remember them as Clarke/Corea/Meola/White. Not as a lounge jazz band.

This is not a good album at all. Hence my rating.

2 points


Atmosphera - Fogo E Ar (1998)

The one and only album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and Portoguese vocals. A guest musician provided flute.

Atmosphera was one of those few Brazilian symphonic prog bands who were just bubbling under the surface, not getting much attention. The year was 1998 and progressive rock was not that popular. That changed some years later with the emergence of ProgArchives and some other prog rock blogs and websites.

But Atmosphera was before their time and died before they had the chance to really shine. Which is a great shame...

Fogo E Ar is mostly an instrumental album. The very few vocals here are very good. But most of the music on this one hour long album is instrumental.

Genre wise, they are most certainly Brazilian. Rousseau and Tempus Fugit is two good references. And so is Camel too. The guitar runs reminds me a lot about Camel. So does the music too. But their Brazilian heritage shines through and there is also a lot of Brazilian folk rock here.

Most of this album is very pastoral and softly spoken with plenty of acoustic guitars and soft keyboards. There is a lot of Brazilian ambience here. A lot of Brazilian culture.

The end result is an interesting, good album which makes me wish for more from this band. But that will never happen. But the band has left a good legacy. Check it out.

3 points

Friday, 20 January 2017

High Tide - Interesting Times (1989)

The fourth album from this British band.

Twenty years after their debut album Sea Shanties, the band was reduced to a duo. Simon House and Tony Hill.

The two previous albums had not been particular good from what I hear and the duo tried to bring life into the name and logo again. A logo used for the final time.

The music here is a mix of folk rock, space rock and some progressive rock. There are bass, violins, keyboards, drums, guitars and vocals present here.

I am not sure if the duo really knew what they were doing here as the material is both diverse and based on a bit copying other songs and bands. What was meant to be is spoiled by the bad production and mix.

This album is really unhinged and is lacking everything a great album should have. Originality is one of those things. The instruments are played pretty poorly too and the producer must have been in coma during the production of this album.

I would not even recommend anyone to check out this album as it is really, really poor throughout. It is an annoying album too. It is as a great feathery turkey. Kvapp kvapp kvapp is the last thing I hear from this album before I dispatch it over to the other turkeys in my turkey yard.

1 point

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Cyril - Paralyzed (2016)

The second album from this German band.

Cyril is a six piece band with a lineup of mandolin, guitars, clarinet, saxophone, percussions, drums, keyboards and English vocals.

Guy Manning has been credited with the lyrics and the band has members from other German bands like Toxic Smile, Flaming Row and Seven Steps To The Green Door. I believe I have reviewed their albums somewhere else in this blog.

Cyril's debut album Gone Through Years was released back in 2013. The band was a more hard edged hard rock band back then, the reviews in ProgArchives tells me. 

The music on Paralyzed is a much more neo-prog orientated. Cyril is another German neo-prog band. But Cyril is doing something very unusual which sets them apart from the rest of the scene. They are using mandolin, clarinet and saxophone.

That gives their music an extra dimention. An xtra edge.

The vocals here is leaning towards Peter Gabriel in Genesis. But their music is much more straight than Genesis.

Most of the music is straight neo-prog. The final song Secret Place pt1 is a nineteen minutes long epic with some instrumental and ambient parts. This epic is not particular good.

The end result is an hour long album which falls short on quality and good songs. It is a decent to good album. But check it out.

2.5 points 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

It - Over and Out (2002)

The third album from this UK band.

It was a quartet on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Guest musicians provided female vocals and wailing, samples, percussions and keyboards.

The band is run by Nick Jackson who is their guitarist and vocalist. I have reviewed their debut album The Stranger Inside The Self here and their second album Two Worlds here.

It is.... well, was a neo-prog band on their first two albums. Neo-prog leaning towards Pink Floyd, the David Gilmour era on the debut album and leaning a lot more towards Pink Floyd on their second album.

Over And Out sees the band completing this journey from neo-prog towards totally adopting Pink Floyd, the David Gilmour era.

When that is said, there is also a lot of The Wall (yes, still Pink Floyd) too. There is a lot of the same concept and the same type of samples. There is also some space rock here.

But the main body of this album is the latter days Pink Floyd. Division Bell and A Momentary Laps Of Reason. The songs are different though and the music has not been copied over from Pink Floyd. But you get their package with wailing female vocals and some distorted male vocals.

The samples takes too much of the opening minutes and the listener soon loses interest. The final half is a lot better.

The songs are not too bad. But they are still not great. Most of them are not even that good. Or good at all. The Pink Floyd references comes thick and fast.

The result is somewhere between decent and good. Pink Floyd fans will lap up this album, though. Check it out if you can.

2.5 points

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Casa das Máquinas - Lar de Maravilhas (1975)

The second album from this Brazilian band.

Casa Das Maquinas was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of guitars, minimoog, synths, piano, drums, percussions, bass and Portuguese vocals.

I was not a big fan of their self-titled 1974 debut album. I did find it a pretty charming album, though. But still lacking a lot in quality.

Lar de Maravilhas is rightly or wrongly regarded as a classic South American progressive rock album. One that set some standards other bands aspired to.

And I can understand why. The band has kept most of their charming sound from their debut album and slowed down a lot. Gone is their hard rock. In comes music that reminds me a lot about Genesis and Yes. Genesis and Yes but still with the Casa Das Maquinas take on symphonic prog.

The music is mostly, with one exception, very gentle and pastoral. But there is also some more Yes dynamics here.

The very good vocals sets this band a part. But their use of minimoog is also very good. They use minimoog a lot here.

There is no great or even very good tracks on this forty-four minutes long album. But the music is ticking over very nicely and this is a good album indeed. It sounds dated and it is perhaps not the standard bearer as it once was. But this album is very much worth checking out.

3 points


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Medina Azahara - Paraiso Prohibido (2016)

The 18th album from these Spanish legends.

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

Medina Azahara is legends and a national institution in Spain. Their first album, a self titled album, was released back in 1979. The vocalist Manuel Martinez has been the vocalist on every album if I am not much mistaken.

They are listed as a symphonic prog band in ProgArchives. That is not a correct label although the band started out as a symphonic prog band on their first album. Medina Azahara has mostly been a hard rock band, touching over to heavy metal on several albums.

The band is most of all a Spanish band who carries the Spanish soul with them. A soul incorporating the various nations which is Spain, a confederation of various nations.

Manuel Martinez gives Medina Azahara their soul and identity. The music is hard rock with some Arabian, Spanish folk music and Spanish pop influences.

The music is being lead by Manuel Martinez vocals with a lot of chugging guitars and keyboards too. The bass and drums is pretty sharp too. But Manuel Martinez is the star here. And his, very untraditional vocals, is a joy to behold. 

And the music is pretty commercial too and is not the type of music I should like. But I find this band and their music very charming. My, by default, grumpiness towards this type of music is being disarmed.

There is a lot of quality in this album too and it should be checked out although this album is as cheesy as a dairy farm. I give it a good rating.

3 points

Hackett. Steve - Genesis Revisited (1996)

The twelfth album from this British artist.

Steve Hackett is on guitars and some vocals here. He has got help from numerous guest musicians including Paul Carrack, Bill Bruford, Tony Levin, his brother John Hackett, Nick Magnus, Chester Thomson, The Royal Philarmonic Orchestra and John Wetton.

A big production on an album with old Genesis songs. Genesis songs Steve Hackett himself played on.

This is not a rehash of those songs. This is not a safe, money grabbing album. This is a complete rework of these old songs with new arrangements and all.

These are also some of my alltime favourite songs with new arrangements and totally reworked.

And frankly, these new arrangements and reworked versions is not for the faint-hearted. I was looking forward to a Genesis hit parade and got some strange distortions instead. Strange distortions who reminded me about these Genesis songs.

It is a brave Steve Hackett who has done this. "Heresy !!!", I was crying after the first listening session. Then again, Steve Hackett is in his full right to do whatever he has done. The greatest track of them all, Firth Of Fifth, has been totally reworked. And it is not even close to be as excellent as the original version. I can continue with the other tracks here too.

I admire Steve Hackett for this album although I don't really like most of what he has done here. He is right when he said these reworked versions shines a new light on these classic songs. But I prefer the old versions......

Nevertheless, this is a good album and one every fan of Genesis should check out.

3 points

Giant Hogweed Orchestra. The - The Giant Hogweed Orchestra (2004)

The one and only album from this Finnish band.

The Giant Hogweed Orchestra is/was a five piece band with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums, percussions and flutes. Three guest musicians added didgeridoo, Moog and trumpet.

For some reasons, I expected a Genesis like tribute band when I put this album on for the first listening session. I was wrong. Very wrong. Genesis is nowhere to be found here.

What we get here is some instrumental jazzy psychedelic space prog. There is also a lot of post rock in their music.

There is no wild space rock excursion into outer space here. The music is very pastoral.... most of the times. Sometimes, this album also explodes like a Porcupine Tree track. The music here can be very heavy at times. But it is mostly very pastoral as in Pink Floyd.

There is also some symphonic prog on this album. Mostly on the nineteen minutes long Halogen. A good track which opens with some flutes. The flutes are in general very good here.

The guitars, both the electric guitars and the half-acoustic guitars are the stars here. They are really driving the music forward. The occasional moog and trumpet is also adding a lot of quality here. The rhythm section is also delivering the goods.

The end result is a good album which has a lot to offer to symphonic prog, space rock and post rock fans. I really hope we will hear more from this band.

3 points

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Return To Forever - No Mystery (1975)

The fifth album from this US band.

Return To Forever was a super-band with Stanley Clarke on bass, Chick Corea on synths, Al Di Meola on guitars and Lenny White on drums.

This is perhaps the strongest lineup we have ever seen from a fusion and jazz band. Maybe in any forms of music. And this lineup later went on to release the wonderful Romantic Warrior........

Their first ever album together was the 1974 album Where Have I Known You Before. A great album.

No Mystery is the follow up to that album. And it is also a bit different from Where Have I Known You Before.

The four band members is much more soloing and creating their own space on this album. That over some pretty basic melodies and ideas. Four different members trying to solidify their own contributions into a coherent band and output is never really going to work.

The melodies and the nine tracks on this forty-two minutes long album is not really that great. The musicians is great and they are delivering some really great solo stuff......... but together ?

The end result is great musicianship and some not so great melodies. I am hard pressed to label this a very good album. But this album is growing on me and some of the Chick Corea solos are great. Hence.......

3.5 points

Giles Giles & Fripp - The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp (1968)

The one and only studio album from this British band.

Giles Giles & Fripp is Michael Giles, Pete Giles and Robert Fripp. Their lineup is Pete on vocals and bass, Michael on drums and Robert Fripp on guitars. There are some guest musicians on this album too who provides various instruments on this rather stripped down production.

And yes, this band later became King Crimson. And yes, Robert Fripp is a genious.

The year was 1968 and a lot of weird, wonderful and very weird things happened in the music world. That was when these three musicians arrived and made their version of the weirdness.

The album title is most fitting and spot on. Take The Beatles at their most silly, Daevid Allen and Gong. Also take some good old working men clubs variety artists and you get this album. Well, add Monty Python too and you really get this album.

The vocals and the narration is well into the la-la land and silliness. But behind this silliness and cheerful insanity, there are really some good music too. Not at least; innovative music. Music who later formed King Crimson.

Michael Giles is a great drummer here. Pete Giles a great vocalist and bassist. But Robert Fripp really impresses me most on his guitar.

The result is, shock horror shock, a good album who really have something to offer behind the lyrics and narrations. Lyrics and narrations who is not bad either. But the music is really good. Hence my rating.

3 points

Friday, 13 January 2017

Marbin - Goat Man & The House Of The Dead (2016)

The fifth album from this US band.

The band is a quartet with a lineup of guitars, saxophone, bass and drums.

The band has released five studio albums and one live album through MoonJune Records, the groundbreaking jazz/fusion/ethno label. And most of you would by now understand that Marbin is a jazz band. One of the hardest working jazz bands in the scene, according to MoonJune Records. I believe them.

I have reviewed their second album, the 2011 album Breaking The Cycle, their third album, the 2013 album Last Chapter Of Dreaming and their 2014 live album The Third Set.

All of them given good to very good ratings.

Marbin has always done very intense jazz/fusion. Probably more fusion than jazz. There is a lot of Jewish and the Middle-East ethno in their cascades of saxophones and guitars. The music has indeed a very ethno feel and sound.

That sets Marbin apart from the rest of the scene and gives them their own identity.

At the same time, I have noted that the music has a very harsh guitar sound on this album. In general too. That is contrasting and balancing up the rather ethno and almost Balkan folk like saxophone.

There are no really great tracks here. The music is another demonstration of their technical abilities. Where there are some strong melodies, the melodies are rather banal and simple. A bit more clever melodies would not been misplaced on their albums.

This is a good album from a band who really impresses me on their instruments but not really with their songwriting skills.

3 points

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Osanna - L'Uomo (1971)

The debut album from this Italian band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of organ, keyboards, flute, woodwinds, drums, percussions, bass, guitars, synths and vocals. The vocals is a mix of English and Italian vocals.

I have always wanted to review the full Osanna discography for this blog. I have indeed been collecting their albums for a long time. So this is now the time and place to do a full review of their albums........... starting with this, their debut album.

Debut albums is always the place to check out if things works or not. Lead by Lino Vairetti, the band get stucked in. But not the way I expected.

L'Uomo is a very wild, raw and untamed album indeed.

That means forty minutes of raw hard rock, blues, space rock, psychedelia and jazz. There are not many good songs here as this album is much more based on hard edged music than melodies.

The sound is pretty good and the flutes does a good job. Ditto for the pretty raw vocals. Most of the songs are very wild and heavy. There are a couple of pastoral pieces inbetween these hard rock songs. 

The use of English vocals is a minus. The songs with Italian vocals is far better. Some of the songs here are good. Others are merely decent. I am not really falling for this album as most others are. I am in a minority as I do not rate this as a good or even a great album. It is still well worth checking out.

2.5 points

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Cast - Mosaïque (2006)

The 14th album from this Mexican band.

The band was a twelve piece band here, including some guest musicians. The lineup was most instruments you can think off. That includes strings and woodwinds. There is also some male and female vocals here.

Eighty minutes. A double CD. The usual fare from a band like Cast. And Cast is one of the best symphonic prog bands, post the 1970s.

Wikipedia has described mosaic as "A mosaic is a piece of art or image made from the assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials."

In the case of this album, that is true too.

The album starts out as a good symphonic prog album with a lot of neo-prog influences. That is before the album moves into a vast jungle of pop music, folk-rock, jazz, latin rock, rock, prog metal, fusion, opera, avant-garde and classical music.

The vocals are all in Spanish and that is good. The music has a solid grounding in the Mexican scene too.

Nevertheless, the result is some disjointed eighty minutes. The quality is not the best either. I am all for variations and taking chances. And Cast is taking some gambles here. But I am all for gambling if the quality is there. And the quality is an issue here. The lack of it, that is.

There are some good stuff here and some decent stuff here. Hence my rating for an album I don't think we should remember Cast for.

2.5 points

Kansas - The Prelude Implicit (2016)

The 21st album from this US band.

The band is a seven-members big band here with a lineup of violin, guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, piano, organ and vocals.

This is the first Kansas album since the 2000 album Somewhere To Elsewhere. Steve Walsh departed the band and joined Deep Purple long time ago. Kerry Livgren has got a stroke and is no longer able to play keyboards. He too is gone from Kansas.

Billy Greer and Phil Ehart is still with Kansas though. This album is really a Kansas album by all means and all purposes.

I was not happy about the last Kansas albums and did not have any hope about this one either. That was before I heard the rumours about this album...... O' boy.

Kansas has ditched all attempts of being something else than they were on their first three albums. On The Prelude Implicit, the band goes back to the beginning.

That means a mix of americana, AOR, hard rock and symphonic progressive rock.

The violins, done by David Ragsdale, fires on all cylinders. He is superb on this album. Ronnie Platt does an excellent job on vocals. Ditto for the other guys too.

There is a lot of great tracks on this album. But most of all; the sound is really great. Superb in fact. This is very much a Kansas album. This album IS Kansas.

Maybe not all of the tracks are great. But the overall impressions of this album is "Hallelujah !! Kansas is back !".

I am not going to rate any of the 2016 albums up against each other. But this album is a great album and a very much welcome album. It is surely one of the best albums from 2016.
This album is also one of the best ever Kansas albums and one heck of a triumph. Check out this album !!

4 points


Monday, 9 January 2017

Emerald Dawn. The - Searching for the Lost Key (2014)

The debut album from this English band.

The band is a trio with a lineup of flute, keyboards, saxophones, piano, guitars, bass, percussions, drums, male and female vocals.

The two mainmen here was born in Edinburgh, set up the band up there and then relocated down to Devon in England. A county which has always had a big progressive rock scene.

And progressive rock is what we get here. The band has said they love the good old 1970s prog. And that is what they are offering up here on this forty-four minutes long album.

Take a chunk of Pink Floyd and add much bigger chunk of Steve Hackett. Then you get this album...

.... And also add some more modern rock and pop into the mix.

The mix of female and male vocals adds a lot of texture to the music too. Music very much in the Steve Hackett way of thinking and playing.

That means a lot of long and soaring guitar solos where the keyboards and other instruments is supporting the long and short guitar solos and riffs. Hence; Steve Hackett fans will lap up this album.

The music is safe enough on this, their debut album. There is nothing that really puts it's head over the parapet. Nothing really good or great. This is an OK album and nothing more than that.

2.5 points

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Holy Lamb - Gyrosophy (2015)

The fifth album from this Latvian band.

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

I have previously reviewed their second album, the 1999 Salt Of The Earth opus. I have also reviewed their fourth album, the 2002 Beneath The Skin opus.

The band started out as a thrash metal band many years ago before they could release an album. Their first album was a neo-prog album and the band has followed that path throughout.

That too goes on Gyrosophy. The album is forty-seven minutes long and has eight songs. The longest one is around eight minutes and there is no short songs here. They are all around the five and a half minutes mark.

Holy Lamb is still a pretty different band than most neo-prog bands. They are far more technical than most other neo-prog bands. They are very much dipping into eclectic prog at times. But on this album, they are also taking a long look back to their thrash metal days and has included some thrash metal methods and ways of thinking.

There are a few seconds and a whole minute of dark thrash metal growls on this album. There are also some thrash metal songs structures. Actually, the band has taken thrash metal song structures and copied them over to melodic neo-prog.

This album is very melodic, most of the times. Melodic with thrash metal structures. That sets Holy Lamb apart from their peers and offers the scene something special again.

Unfortunate without really adding the quality required. The songs are really good and this is perhaps Holy Lamb's finest hour. This is a band I am keeping an eye on, obviously. Check them out if you don't know them.

3 points

High Tide - Sea Shanties (1969)

The debut album from this British band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of piano, guitars, bass, drums, violin and vocals.

High Tide is one of those largely ignored hard rock bands in the British scene. They were never a fancy, popular band who appealed to the masses. One of many bands in that scene. They managed to released seven albums between 1969 and 1992 before they gave up the ghost.

If the artwork and gothic logo and letters forewarns us that we are in for a heavy album, the artwork is spot on. This album is hard rocking. The kind of letters and logo in the artwork has been copied and used by numerous heavy, speed, thrash, black and death metal bands.  

The music here is really hard rocking and not so much sea shanties. The two first songs, Futilist's Lament and Death Warmed Up, is as heavy as I have ever heard from any albums anno 1969. Far heavier than Black Sabbath. Heavy, hard..... but not doomy and cataclysmic as the Black Sabbath's debut album.

The album becomes a bit more melodic after this. The violin is everywhere and adds a lot to the sound and songs. Even at it's most heavy, the violin adds a lot of extra value and quality.

The vocals and the guitars is the main positives here. Both done by Tony Hill.

In the middle of this forty minutes long album, we also get some baroque'esque music. This is not only a hard album. It also have some good pastoral harmonies although most of this album is really hard rocking.

The end result is a decent to good album. A bit too hard for most people. But still pretty interesting and well worth checking out.

2.5 points


Eldberg - Þar Er Heimur Hugans (2015)

The second album from this Icelandic band.

The band is a five piece band with a lineup of Hammond organs, keyboards, guitars, bass, percussions, drums and vocals. Icelandic vocals, that is.

If I am not much mistaken, their two albums has been released on Myloden Records in Chile. A great label. But an Icelandic album released on a label in Chile says a lot about how great our progressive rock scene is. It is hard to find any more contrasting countries than Chile and Iceland...... But this is great and both thumbs up to both Eldberg and Myloden !!

I really liked their self-titled 2011 debut album. A great album in my books. So I was really looking forward to this album.

The band is continuing as a retro-prog and rock band. Thankfully still with male Icelandic vocals. Something that sets this band a part and gives them a big identity.

That is good on an album which is not big on identity.... Not on the surface, anyway.

Take a lot of Icelandic melancholy and weirdness. Add a lot of Hammond organs and Eipor Ingi Gunnlaugson's great voice. A melodic, but still very melancholic voice. Add some guitars and some of the x-factor like golden dust from the likes of Sigur Ros. Then add some classic rock from the 1970s.

This album is softly spoken without the big melodies which is immediate "hits". But this album really creeps up on the listener and it requires a lot of time.

After a while, you will discover a very good forty minutes long album. You will discover a friend. I very much like this band and I hope to hear a lot more from them in the future. Check out both their albums.

3.5 points

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Napier's Bones - Hell and High Water (2016)

The third album from this English band.

Napier's Bones is Gordon Midgley who does all music and Nathan Jon Tillett on vocals.

They have so far released three albums with a fourth one coming up sometimes soon. The albums are available from their Bandcamp website.

I have reviewed their 2014 album The Wistman Tales here and the 2015 follow up album Tregeagles Choice here.

Their albums is as much about story telling from the ancient England than music. The music is in the symphonic and folk prog vein. The music is not based on cascades of keyboards or symphonic instruments.

The fifty-five minutes long Hell And High Water is a rather stripped down musical landscape with some folk music instruments, keyboards, guitars, mellotron, moog, bass and drums. Nathan's very good vocals is also very much present here.

Napier's Bones has always had this classic 1970s progressive rock sound and feel. But they have moved slightly more towards folk rock on this album. Which is not a bad thing.

The result is another good album from this duo. It is not a remarkable good album. But they are delivering a very solid album which should appeal to everyone into progressive rock. Check it out. I am looking forward to their next album.

3 points


Elephant9 - Walk The Nile (2010)

The second album from this Norwegian trio.

The band's lineup is keyboards, bass and drums.

Elephant9 was a offshot of the Norwegian bands Shining and Supersilent. Both of them pretty jazzy. Shining plays blackjazz. A sort of a fusion between black metal and jazz. I should really review their albums one day. I am not so sure about Supersilent, though.... But there is a lot of really great music coming out of Norway.

Elephant9 is most known for their two albums with the Swedish guitarhero Reine Fiske. I reviewed their first coop album Atlantis here. A great album. I also reviewed the first ever Elephant9 album DodoVoodoo here. A very good album.

We are in the middle of the jazz and fusion land here. Very avant-garde at times. But still pretty melodic. Walk The Nile starts out almost as a RIO album with lots of desperate dark and black keyboards infused walls of sound. Very claustrophobic and inhostipable. Very good too.

The album opens up a bit after a while and the rest of this forty minutes long album is pretty open and not so dark. But this walk down the Nile is not a walk in the sun. There is a lot of darkness and dangers during this walk, figuratively speaking.

I would not rate this album as good as their debut album DodoVoodoo as the quality is not that great here. But there is a lot to take from this album. Elephant9 is for me a great discovery and one band to follow. I really like what they are doing although I would only rate this as a good album.

3 points

It - Two Worlds (1995)

The second album from this British band.

The band was a trio on this album with a lineup of bass, guitars and vocals. Two guest musicians adds female vocals and keyboards. But no drummer.

This is Nick Jackson's band and they have just released their fifth album. I was not a fan of their 1994 debut album The Stranger Inside The Self. So I did not have many hopes for this album.

It plays pretty much middle of the road British neo-prog. Both melodic and epic.

This is indeed both a melodic and an epic album. It also reminds me a lot about the Pink Floyd album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. It is very much sailing very close to that album. Both with the instruments and the wailing female vocals delivered by Jane Jelinek.

Some of the melodies here is so much in the A Momentary Lapse Of Reason vein that it is very noticable. Some of the samples here is also in the Division Bell territory.

Hence, this album is very much in the Pink Floyd vein.

The music is decent to good throughout. But the Pink Floyd references are so obvious that it impacts on the listening experience. The music is also pretty bland and not so exciting.

A decent to good album is my verdict. It is still an improvement on the debut album.

2.5 points


Friday, 6 January 2017

Casa Das Máquinas - Casa Das Máquinas (1974)

The debut album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a five-piece band on this album with a lineup of percussions, drums, guitars, piano, minimoog, bass and vocals. Portuguese vocals, that is.

The band, which means engine room in English, was a pretty short lived band who released three studio albums between 1974 and 1976. I believe they are all available at Youtube so check them out and find out if you agree with this and the upcoming reviews of their two other albums.

The band is regarded as an important band in the history of Brazilian and South American rock and prog rock scene. I do not know why as I am no expert in these matters.

This album is a pretty much straight forward hard rock album. Hard rock whose not too hard and not too heavy. We are not talking Black Sabbath here. We are more talking gentle hard rock. Hard rock in the southern rock vein. Or in the RPI vein.

But their brand of hard rock is pretty unique. Or perhaps this is South America's take on hard rock. Twenty years later, the likes of Sepultura turned that scene upside down.

I have to admit I have more a soft spot for Casa Das Maquinas these days than Sepultura. The music on this thirty-two minutes long album is pretty folky and jazzy gentle with some sporadic hard rocking guitars. I am charmed by this album.

That said, this sugary album is only a decent album as it falls a bit flat on it's face anno 2017. It is still an album well worth checking out. With or without a cheeky grin.

2 points

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Empire - Back to Knowledge (1994)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

Empire was a trio with a keyboardist, drummer and a vocalist. Female vocalist and all the vocals are in English.

Empire was Edo Rogani and Paolo Sburlati from Syndone with Rosanna De Luca on vocals. The reason why this album was released was due to Syndone splitting up due to musical differences. They later (thankfully !!) reformed again. But during the split, this album was spawned.

The band is included in ProgArchives RPI genre. And with good reason due to their connections with Syndone. The music is not in the same league as Syndone.....

The year was 1994 and everything was so slick and sleazy. The sound was also very plastic fantastic. Ditto for this album.

Empire tries to sound like most other keyboards focused rock bands from that era. The songs are pretty commercial minded. These songs are interupted by some keyboards pieces. Some are ambient and mindless. Others sounds like Keith Emerson. 

And we get fifty-five minutes of this. Almost an hour with commercial songs who fall flats on their face because the vocalist cannot do this type of rock and because the songs are simply not good enough. The drums sounds flat because they are not organic. The bass is hardly audable and the keyboards does not sound good at all.

The only saving grace here is the few ELP sounding keyboards pieces. That and only that saves this album from my infamous turkey yard.

In short; avoid !

1.5 points

Opeth - Still Life (1999)

The fourth album from this Swedish band.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of guitars, bass, drums and vocals. English vocals.

Once upon a time, ten years ago, I still liked death metal, black metal and their vocals. But I kind of got tired of them after I started to really explore fusion, jazz, folk prog, zeuhl, avant-garde/RIO and symphonic prog. All these eclectic types of music.

When I started to listen to death and black metal again, I could only take small mouthful of this stuff before I got tired of it. An hour and I was fed up.

Now, I have to review Opeth's earlier albums before I hopefully comes to the meatier stuff where we get clear vocals and much more developed songs.

What we get here is death metal with some much praised acoustic interludes. Just the type of stuff we got from the mid-era black metal bands who thought it was clever to include acoustic interludes inbetween their chainsaw sounding onslaughts of black metal. Back then, this sounded clever.

Opeth has a bit more acoustic stuff than just the acoustic interludes here. They even have songs which is not death metal. This is still not particular the most clever stuff around. Not in 2017, anyway.

This album is a clear improvement on their first three albums. But it is still not a good album. I am yet to be won over by Opeth. Yet.

2.5 points

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Styx - Styx II (1973)

The second album from this US band.

The band was a five piece band on this album with a lineup of synth, piano, organ, bass, drums, guitars, drums and vocals.

I was not that impressed by their self titled debut album from 1972. My first ever meeting with this band and their music. Read the review above for my impressions of that album.

The band returned the year after with an album which Styx fans does not rate highly. It is among their more forgotten and ignored albums.

I can understand why.

The music here is a mix of psychedelic, blues, hard rock and pop music. The music sounds a bit wild and raunchy with several full on guitar attacks too.

Styx got a hit in the three minutes long ballad Lady. A pretty good song. My favourite song here is the seven minutes long Father O.S.A.  A good song with a good theme.

The rest of this thirty-five minutes long album is rather second rate and throw-away stuff. The band did not really know what they were going on this album and that shows. I can agree with their fans here.

This is another decent album and nothing but that, I am afraid.

2 points

Monday, 2 January 2017

Gryphon - Treason (1977)

The fifth and final studio album from this British band.

The band was a six-piece band on their final album with a lineup of horn, sax, guitars, bass, drums, percussions, bassoon, piano, keyboards and vocals.

The band has changed a lot from their 1973 self-titled debut album. Back then, they were an eclectic medieval chamber folk rock band. They developed quite considerable between the albums, style wise. Their masterpiece was the 1974 album Red Queen To Gryphon Three. That album is a standard in British prog rock. But the band was never really boring or uninteresting.

Treason is an album which also demands your full attention and respect. The band has made a complete U-turn from their debut album and has become very melodic.

That new melodic approach is marked by one of their best ever songs, the ten minutes opening song called Spring Song. A great epic song with a magic theme.

But this is not an all out melodic album. There is also some medieval folk music here and some more intricate, introvert melodies who only open itself into full bloom for the dedicated listener after some listening sessions.

Gryphon really delivers a melodic, but still magical sounding album on this, their final album. All forty minutes of it. This is not a great album and there is things here I do not rate highly. But as with their four other albums, it leaves an impression.

Gryphon has through my reviews of their five albums left an impression on me and I can only thank them for their music. Thanx for making me happy.

3 points

Macroscream - Macroscream (2016)

The second album from this Italian band.

The band is a six piece band with a lineup of drums, violin, guitars, mandolin, keyboards, mellotron, piano, organ, moog, bass, piano and English vocals. Macroscream has also got help from numerous woodwinds, strings and guest vocalists.

I quite liked their 2012 debut album Sisyphus and was really looking forward to this album.

The many guest musicians means this album has got a very big production and that may explain why they chose to release this album as a self-titled album. But I don't know for sure because this is a very strange band.

And so is their music too.

The music is clearly in the Italian progressive rock genre. More in the free-flowing part of this genre.Take some Area, some Le Orme, PFM, Banco, Picchio Del Pozzo and numerous other rather strange bands. Then you get this album.

Not necessary everything mixed together, though. There is songs and melodies here in the Le Orme, Banco and PFM mould. Other songs are in the Picchio Del Pozzo and Area mould.

This one hour long album is hugely varied, genre wise. Which is both a blessing and the curse. The curse and the blessings goes in all directions here. Some like predictable albums. This album is not predictable at all. Some like unpredictable albums. This album is very unpredictable.

The end result is a very good album with a lot really great stuff. It is an album which requires a lot of hours from the listener. Easy listening, it is not. But check it out and you may find a treasure trove here. Your personal treasure trove. ......I still think the band should have had Italian vocals, though....

3.5 points

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Apocalypse - Apocalypse (1991)

The debut album from this Brazilian band.

The band was a trio on this album with a lineup of guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and Portuguese vocals.

I got all their seven albums and will review them, one by one, this winter. I believe it will be an interesting journey through this symphonic prog band's discography. A band formed in 1983 and who is still with us (I hope).

Their first attempt to record music is a somewhat interesting journey through a landscape of British neo-prog. It is by no means a coincidence that they have chosen to cover Marillion's classic song Lavender. The band sounds like a Brazilian version of Marillion, the Fish era.

More or less sounds like Marillion, I have to hastily add. There is a lot of local colours and music scene on this forty minutes long album. A lot of Latin-American progressive rock.

Their version of Lavender sounds like the odd one out here. It is not in line with the rest of the album. The reason is that Lavender is a ballad or even a lament. The rest of the album is uptempo with a lot of lots of keyboards.

The keyboards sound is a bit strange. The vocals are good. The sound not the best one. It is a product of the 1980s and 1990s.

The end result is an album somewhere between decent and good. A debut album where lessons is to be learnt. Check it out.

2.5 points

Return To Forever - Where Have I Known You Before (1974)

The fourth album from this US band.

The band was a quartet on this album. Probably one of the most impressive quartets of all time when it comes to ability. Stanley Clarke on bass, Lenny White on drums, Al Di Meola on guitars and Chick Corea on keyboards. The classic Return To Forever lineup.

The result is four absolute wonderful first class musicians outdoing each other on their instruments. But in a coherent way.

This is also the follow up to their great Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy album which I very much liked.

What this album, Where Have I Known You Before, offers up is a bit different to what I expected. I find this album a lot more mellow and pastoral than I expected. I thought it was going to be forty-six minutes of fireworks. It is not.

Parts of this album is solo piano from Chick Corea.

There is a lot of uptempo stuff here too. The final track, the fifteen minutes long Song To The Pharaoh King offers up a wide world of rhythms and great playing from all four band members. And it an absolute sensational experience, listening to the musicianship on that track.

The melodies and songs is not great on this album. So I am a bit restrictive in my praise of this album. It is still a great album though..... a weak great award. But this album has a lot of barely hidden great details. The greatness is hidden in the details on this album.... and on the final track.

4 points