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    Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
    PROG ARCHIVES intends to be the most complete and powerful progressive rock resource. You can find the progressive rock music discographies from 11,162 bands & artists, 62,026 albums (LP, CD and DVD), 1,695,532 ratings and reviews from 63,119 members who also participate in our active forum. You can also read the new visitors guide (forum page).

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     Where Owls Know my Name by RIVERS OF NIHIL album cover Studio Album, 2018
    3.60 | 25 ratings

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    Where Owls Know my Name
    Rivers of Nihil Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

    Review by ssmarcus

    4 stars Where Owls Know My Name is the prog rock fan's death metal record. In fact, lead guitarist and founding member Brody Utley has stated that this record was an attempt to pay tribute to the prog tradition his father had imparted to him growing up. No, the album's prog elements are not some cheap gimmick. And neither are they jarring stylistic detours in the vein of Between the Buried and Me. Rather, Rivers of Nihil have expertly threaded wind instruments, synths, and mellotron generated ambiance into uncompromisingly heavy death metal compositions.

    Rivers of Nihil have noticeably simplified their riffs on this record. But by doing so, the band has, perhaps paradoxically, made room for more complexity through layering and interesting arrangements. Unfortunately, the mixing on the album is very dense and some of those interesting layers get lost as a result.

    Emotionally, this album has the same effect as a cathartic nightmare: disturbing but with a purpose that leaves the listener/dreamer in a better position to handle life's uncertainty.

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     The Fading Thought by JARGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
    4.00 | 1 ratings

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    The Fading Thought
    Jargon Crossover Prog

    Review by aapatsos
    Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

    — First review of this album —
    4 stars a glimmer of hope

    During these dark times, this album comes as a lifeline. Deeply personal, extremely well-crafted, cathartic and adequately bizarre to cause prog excitement. Jargon retains the goth/dark-wave aura of Verbal Delirium's sound in his personal debut and does away with most of the heaviness and guitar distortion. Interestingly, there is a glimmer of hope and optimism coming out of an abundance of minor chord progressions.

    Jargon creates on piano, mostly modern classical/cinematic music, which filters influences from 70's Genesis (Time is Running Out) and sounds resembling great (but disparate) classic and more modern composers - Greek Manos Hatzidakis and Russian Gleb Kolyadin come to mind. Marillion and Saviour Machine hints can be heard in the dystopic ''How Can I?'', Jargon's soft spot for Muse is revealed in (perhaps the least impressive number) ''Window to the World'' while the aura of Peter Hammill is - as expected - more than evident.

    The three instrumentals are stunning pieces of self-expression with impressive buildups and the violin literally and metaphorically striking some sensitive chords to the point where I am brought to tears in the opening ''The Film'' and ''Light'' (feels like Rock Progressivo Italiano has managed to creep in the latter - reminds me of Gnu Quartet's recent work). The bombastic ''Dance of the Framed Words'' makes me smile and wander back to Gryphon's ''Red Queen to Gryphon Three''.

    It is unlikely that you will find this album any less than intriguing. A highlight for 2020 with thanks owed to the composer for sharing his inner, fading, thoughts...

    4+

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     Moon Tango by ABSCHAUM album cover Studio Album, 2017
    3.00 | 1 ratings

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    Moon Tango
    Abschaum Krautrock

    Review by The Anders

    — First review of this album —
    3 stars [Re-uploaded for technical reasons]

    I noticed no one had written a review of this album, so I decided to give it a try and write one. Hopefully I will be able to say something relatively intelligent about it, but the following lines should answer that question.

    Moon Tango contains a sticker on the album cover which describes the music as "Cosmic French krautrock music by a mysterious band from Lyon called Abschaum". Personally I don't really know where the mystery lies, but maybe it is just a marketing strategy from the record company. The inspiration from pioneers like As Ra Tempel, Can and Neu! is clear - it can be heard for instance in some of the long drone-like songs with only one chord, and in the many repeated guitar and keyboard figures. But I also sense an inspiration from new wave in some of the songs. Also, unlike the German pioneers who often sang in English (or made instrumental music), Abschaum's lyrics are in French. Unfortunately I am not familiar with that language, so I can't comment on the lyrics. But I can comment on the music.

    The album consists of six tracks, three of which are bound together on side 1, and the other three ditto on side 2. The first track, "La t阾e vide", begins with some electronic sounds. After that, the track evolves into a hypnotic one-chord song with a lower range melody that mostly consists of one note. To be precise it's rather a no-chord song as most instruments stick to the main note which is E, however, a keyboard towards the end adds some harmonizing. The track reminds me a bit of Neu!'s "Hallogallo", but the sound here is darker, leaning more towards minor, and contains vocals (which of course "Hallogallo" doesn't). There are also some sound elements containing natural overtones (such as the "false" lower 7th). The effect is somewhat uncanny and claustrophobic.

    "La t阾e vide" leads directly to the slower "Le chemin des ombres" which is also i E and begins with many of the same sound elements. There is more dynamic variation here though, and after the first couple of minutes the track evolves into an intriguing instrumental piece built around a synthesizer arpeggio. My favourite part here is probably the introduction of the bass with its characteristic glissando notes that add a lot of energy to the otherwise more sterile synth sound. Harmonically we are now clearly in E-Dorian now with a lower 3rd, higher 6th and lower 7th. At the same time the music becomes less drone-like, f.e. with the bass plaing other notes than the base note.

    The guitar feedback from "Le chemin des ombres" crossfades into "Amour liquide", and here comes the first change of key, to D, but like in the previous songs there are no real chord changes. This time, however, it is more 'major-like' with a higher 3rd. The lower 7th is still used which makes the song essentially Mixolydian. We are back to the drone-like aesthetics here with one bass note and the drums only playing the rhythm without any fills. However, the song feels less claustrophobic than "La t阾e vide", one of the reasons possibly being that the melody doesn't stick to mainly one note in the same way. The overall feeling here is more that of resignation.

    Side 2 begins with the title track. Its intro has an Arabic flavour due to the lead guitar playing the notes I, bII and III. After a couple of minutes, the rhythm section is faded in during a dark synth drone. As with track 3, we are in a Dorian/Mixolydian universe (there are elements of both Mixolydian and Dorian as the vocals in the beginning contains the higher 3rd whereas the leard guitar later contains the lower), but this time the key is A. There's another one-note melody, and the overall feel resembles that of the first track with a "Hallogallo"-like groove. The repeated keyboard riff in the left channel however adds a flavour of new wave. As the song evolves, the riff is changing its sound and is subsequently then faded out, just for a variation of it to be introduced shortly afterwards.

    The drums are faded out towards the end, and the synths take over the soundscape. By means of an air alarm like synth sound, the track transforms into "Dans tes pas" which is in G. This is by all means the most "song-like" track on the album, even containing something of a verse/chorus structure. Moreover, it is based on two chords: G major and C major (the latter sometimes with a G in the bass, thus keeping the drone feel from the other tracks). Once again there is a new wave flavour about it, especially courtesey of the keyboard. The song also has a lighter tone, adding a welcome contrast to an otherwise very gloomy album. The drum pattern makes me think of the Velvet Underground, and indeed a song like "Heroin" has a similar harmonic structure. "Dans tes pas" is a really good song, and probably it's also the most accessible track on the album.

    The final song, "Temp阾e" is a bit of an anticlimax. It starts as a sort of 90's like rock song, then comes an early 80's like keyboard riff. Unfortunately, here the characteristic one-note singing doesn't entirely fit, neither does the drone sounds. Or rather it's the other way around. It's a bit of a mismatch, but perhaps there is a thought behind it. Luckily it doesn't take away the enjoyment of the rest of the album

    It takes some listenings to really appreciate Moon Tango which is of course a positive thing. By containing few chord changes (if any) and melodies that mostly stick to one note througout most of the song, the music is indeed very minimalistic. You have to be really good to make minimalist music that engages the listener throughout a whole album, and Abschaum actually manages to do that - that is, if you give the music a chance. Of course the music does evolve, but usually so by adding instruments at crucial points, fading sounds in and out, adding an increasing amount of reverb and so on.

    Does Moon Tango bring something new and groundbreaking to the music scene? I don't really know. Indeed the band is described as "vintage krautrock" in their Progarchives page, and it mostly consists of elements I have heard before in other contexts. On the other hand a lot of creativity often lies in the way you actually use the musical elements and combine them. But innovative or not, it is still an intriguing listening experience, probably with "Le chemin des ombres" and "Dans tes pas" as the strongest tracks.

    If there is an overall weakness on the album, it is probably the vocals, especially as the low-pitched one-note singing can get a bit boring in the long run. At times a more varied vocal might actually be a welcome contrast to the otherwise very monotonous music.

    I personally think 3,5 stars would be the most appropriate rating. It is by no means a masterpiece, but it is still an engaging listening. Unfortunately it is not possible to give half stars.

    [Re-upload edit: I changed my mind about the rating and decided on 3 stars rather than 4, on the grounds that it's a really good album without necessarily being excellent. I stil want to give it 3,5.]

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     Crosscut Saw by GROUNDHOGS album cover Studio Album, 1976
    3.15 | 14 ratings

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    Crosscut Saw
    Groundhogs Prog Related

    Review by Sagichim
    Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

    4 stars Crosscut Saw is the 9th album by the Groundhogs, it was released in February 1976, and marked quite a big change from their early 70's stuff in style but especially in production. Long time band mates Pete Cruikshank on bass and drummers Ken Pustelnik and Clive Brooks are not here anymore, they are replaced by Martin kent and Mick Cook respectively. I'm not sure why Tony Mcphee felt the need to recruite another guitarist but Dave Wellbelove is here to accompany Mcphee, although I'm not sure what's his contribution. Unfortunately just when it seemed the band were onto a new road with a fresh new sound and approach, Mcphee decided to put the band on hold in the end of the year after Black Diamond was released, that will last for almost a decade until their next release in 1985.

    This is the least blues influenced album they've released in the 70's, it is much more rock oriented than before. Of course the blues is always there under the surface throughout the album and in 2 or 3 songs is much more evident, but clearly reduced to a minimum on a Groundhogs scale. Another big change is the production, this album (and its follow up) sounds very different than previous albums, out goes that dry, rough, muddy sound of Split and Who Will Save The World? not that it was bad in any way but now it's clearly improved, the album sounds brighter and fresh and everything is well balanced. Being a more produced album Tony uses more layers of guitars than before, his guitar tone is different now, taking in all kinds of varied and other colorful sounds, I especially love that furious high voltage sound that he brought.

    Although for some reason I've seen both those 1976 albums especially Crosscut Saw are considered to be inferior to other works, I don't agree with that at all. The songwriting is really good, inspired and sometimes very adventurous, for example take the main piece here which is Groundhogs most progressive song Fulfilment and you'll know what I mean. Starting nicely with a phased acoustic guitar strumming it then aligns to a steady rhythm with vocals and electric guitar on top, beautiful. It gets more intense later when drums join in and you kinda get the feeling you're walking on top of a volcano and it's true, the band goes into a long intense crescendo when Tony unleashes one of his most ferocious solos ever. Synth is added to help and create this climax while Tony's guitar seem to be caught fighting an inner demon, it gradually gets more intense as it goes along with a relentless synth lead and an anguished guitar sounding like a cat choking on a fur ball, it fades out slowly when the demon has got the upper hand, outstanding! The band's blues attempts are also good, Boogie Withus is a nice rocker, Mean Mistreater shows Mcphee's love for those old acoustic delta blues songs and Promiscuity is another strong highlight, love that merge of acoustic and ripping electric guitar sounds. Three Way Split is another interesting track when it changes half way to this cool instrumental where Tony is exploring the art of noise and sound effects.

    This is another undeniably good album by the band, I don't see Mcphee having a hard time coming up with original new material in spite of being surrounded with all new musicians. This will of course change later in the 70's when Tony struggled to come up with sufficient good material. But here even the less attractive songs on the album all enjoy Mcphee's fiery and energized guitar playing. 3.5 stars rounded up.

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     Kojiki: A Story in Concert by KITARO album cover DVD/Video, 1999
    4.09 | 3 ratings

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    Kojiki: A Story in Concert
    Kitaro Progressive Electronic

    Review by Matti
    Prog Reviewer

    4 stars It's roughly three years since the Japanese artist Kitaro was added to PA, but very few reviews have been written. Maybe he's just too New Age-y to gain much interest among prog community. I really don't know how well he is known or appreciated today. For my generation, in the early 80's Kitaro became known mostly due to his contribution to the historical Silk Road documentary series. His career continued strongly at least through the 90's; by many he is probably seen as an artist of a bygone era. I admit I haven't kept my eye on his more recent discography very closely.

    Are music DVD's also "so last season" nowadays, in the age of internet? Well, I am a keen collector of them, and this one I found on a record fair last autumn -- I have no idea how much Kitaro stuff is available in the net.

    Kojiki: A Story in Concert is a 55-minute concert film from his 1990 world tour. It seems the show is built on a conceptual suite (Kojiki being an ancient chronicle about the creation of Japan), not a broader selection of Kitaro's output. That results as a slightly distanced relation to the audience. Not a single word is said. But the music is genuine Kitaro, in all its grandiosity and passion. The way Kitaro conducts the ensemble (which is in the beginning not even seen from the shadows) with larger-than-life gestures and spiritual facial expression is almost awkward. Fortunately the less than excellent camera work starts to show the other musicians too as the concert progresses. There are two keyboardists in addition to the man himself, making the overall sound very orchestral with the central role of violinist Charlie Bisharat.

    The two first pieces are romantically symphonic, the third piece has more emphasis on percussion -- even Kitaro and Bisharat climb to the upper levels of the stage to beat the big drums for a while. The electric guitar has no big role most of the time, except for some passionate soloing on some of the last pieces. If the listener already likes Kitaro, this concert won't be a disappointment. But maybe also those who are skeptical of his music will be convinced that it's much more than New Age pathos. Worth checking out for fans of e. g. The Enid and Vangelis appreciating the orchestral grandiosity and deep emotion in music.

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     Deep Purple by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1969
    3.61 | 612 ratings

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    Deep Purple
    Deep Purple Proto-Prog

    Review by NickCrimsonII

    3 stars Deep Purple III, the third album by the rock legends, released in June 1969 in the US and in September in the UK on Harvest Records. Of course, by the time the band was fairly new and gaining momentum, creating a mix of psychedelic rock with elements of prog and hints of hard rock (that they will entirely embrace exactly on their next album).

    This album is not too different from the couple that came before it, and I must say that these first three DP albums are definitely my go-to Purple records. Yes, they are good for what they are, they are important in the evolution and the history of the band, they are also quite fun to listen to but compared to everything else that came out in that same period, especially in the psychedelic and prog rock realm, the first three Deep Purple albums are average psych-prog records.

    It was undoubtedly the right decision to change Rod Evans with Gillan, as the former would not have fit the band's new sound (from 1970 onwards), he is a great pop and psychedelic singer, though. However, nothing comes close to the banshee screaming of Gillan that really changed the hard rock game at the time.

    As for the album, I don't feel like going through a song dissection. I must say there are some really enjoyable and surprising tracks ' Chasing Shadows with its catchy melody and tribal drumming, Lalena is a pleasant psych-ballad, The Painter is more energetic, Bird Has Flown has grown to be one of the more popular songs from this album, also quite enjoyable and rocky, and April being the big surprise, and more of a Jon Lord piece than a Deep Purple one. It's good however, that he was able to fully explore his classical influences on a DP album.

    Overall, a good album, that finishes the psychedelic trilogy. I wouldn't call this album an excellent addition to any prog rock collection, though. At the same time, it doesn't hurt to have it.

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     1/2: Thought And Matter by MIND PORTAL album cover Studio Album, 2014
    3.95 | 9 ratings

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    1/2: Thought And Matter
    Mind Portal Progressive Metal

    Review by b_olariu
    Prog Reviewer

    4 stars Mind Portal is an excellent prog rock/prog metal band from Russia with 2 albums in their pockets so far. To tell the truth both albums are more then awesome, really solid releases, little known in prog circles. The second release from 2014 named 1/2: Thought And Matter is another top instrumental prog metal album with fusion elements added in the mix.

    Here are 6 pieces, very lenghty with exception of one piece, the rest are above 8 min, very solid musicianship I heare here, realy some fantastic parts on opening title track Though and matter, realy great tune with fantastic ideas and great interplays between guitar and keys. In fact all pieces are great, not a weak moment here, I was kinda surprise to see how unknown they are to prog public, is a good record that is needing to be heared and appreciat at true value. Maybe I'm little biased because I've descovered latley some fantastic bands from Russia playing intristing progressive rock, even better then bands with big names, one of them is Mind Portal. Pleasent compostions quite complex, the band knew how to give to the listner something worth investigated. For me the Vyacheslav Bessonov keyboards are killer and in duelings with Grigory Kurnosov guitar make an intresting album to have always changing in mood and tempo.

    So, 4 stars for this album, fans of the genre need to discover this band, in my opinion better then the debut who was already a solid one.

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     The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out! by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 1966
    3.92 | 649 ratings

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    The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out!
    Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

    Review by The Anders

    5 stars [Re-uploaded for technical reasons]

    Along with the compilation The Lost Episodes which consists of mostly previously unreleased recordings, Freak Out was my introduction to the world of Frank Zappa (I copied it from CD to a cassette tape and bought The Lost Episodes on CD in 1997 when I was 13 years old).

    I tend to favour the 1960's Mothers of Invention over Zappa's later work. I do like some of his later work which, by the way, seems to be more well known and appreciated by more people. Still, his early music, though musically elaborate, often has an anarchistic mood that is somehow missing in his later, more jazzy and more technically perfect productions with cream-of-the-crop musicians. His early creations sound more causal and spontanous to me, almost a bit punky, not to mention that they have it all: pop, rock, elaborate compositions with advanced harmonics and elements of both jazz and contemporary classical music, doo wop, avant-garde, musique concrete, weird sonic freak shows and witty satire. And they are funny as hell.

    The good thing is, it is not just weird and funny for the sake of cheap laughs. There is a lot of seriousness behind it all: rebelliousness, criticism of society, and especially great compositional craftsmanship. You can be humorous and dead serious at the same time, and Frank Zappa is an obvious example of that.

    The tone of Freak Out is set already in the first number, "Hungry Freaks Daddy". The verse is based on a groove which perhaps resembles the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" a bit too much, but it is quickly clear that it has much more to offer. Apart from unusual instruments such as marimba and kazoo there's a surprising change of harmonic mode with the title phrase: From a mostly bluesy verse, the title phrase surprises with the non-functional iii-ii-V-ii progression, and a melody line paralleling the bass note at a fifth. Not exactly a usual musical pattern to the average pop listener. Similar patterns can be found in songs such as "Ain't Got No Heart", "I'm Not Satisfied" and "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here" (the latter contains an especially hilarious use of the kazoo).

    Then there is the harsh society criticism in songs like "Hungry Freaks Daddy": "Mister America walk on by / the schools that do not teach / Mister Amercia walk on by / the minds that won't be reached". The tone is equally direct in "Trouble Every Day" which - on a musical level - is more traditionally bluesy. I don't really know why that had to be the lead single from the album. The most radical song is perhaps "Who Are the Brain Police" with its sinister, unstable harmonic structure and especially the instrumental middle section after the second verse.

    At other times the album is using pop banality but deconstructing it. "Wowie Zowie" could have been a simple love song, but then there are lyrics such as "I don't even care if you brush your teeth". "Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder" is a break up song to a traditional vamp progression (I-vi-IV-V), but with a grotesque doo-wop choir in the background and a remarkably unsentimental lyric. "Motherly Love" turns out to be about groupies whereas "Amyway the Wind Blows" is perhaps the most conventional song on the album. Zappa sarcastically writes in the cover notes: "If I hadn't got divorced, this trivial piece of nonsense would never have been recorded. It is included in this collection because, in a nutshell, kids, it is... how shall I say it?... it is intellectually and emotionally accessible for you".

    The tracks where Freak Out lives up to its name the most are the last two, "Help I'm a Rock" (the last part is sometimes listed as a separate track, "It Can't Happen Here") and "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet". While I really enjoy these tracks for their complete craziness, it is harder to describe them from a musical point of view. In any case, the "It can't happen here" section is extremely funny ("Whoooo... could imagine... that they would freak out in Minnesota.... Mi-mi-mi-mi-minesota" etc.).

    The best part of the album is however the... if I may say so... "real songs" which make up the first two sides and the beginning of side three. The compositional qualities are astonishing. It is never just weird, there is a lot of beauty in even the most elaborate chords and melody lines, and there is often a pop sensibility to it. Also the production deserves praise. It clearly goes further than most pop/rock had done up to this point with orchestral arrangements and unusual instruments. This high level of professionalism is however counterpointed by the anarchistic and sometimes purposely off-key singing, mostly by lead singer Ray Collins and with Zappa often singing backing vocals (perhaps most striking in the intro of "Who Are the Brain Police"). But once again the balance between humour and seriousness is a big attraction of the album.

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     The Madness Of Many by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2016
    3.48 | 45 ratings

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    The Madness Of Many
    Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    3 stars As some may know, I have a love for instrumental prog rock. This album is totally instrumental, immaculately played, and unbelievably well produced. Tosin Abasi is an absolute beast when it comes down to playing guitar, he is a living legend, and a innovative guitarist as well. Matthew Garstka is also a total beast, his technical abilities behind the drum kit are mindboggling. Travis Stewart isn't an exactly important person on this album even though his atmospheres and sound effects are through the roof. Unfortunately, as well played and well crafted this album is, there is no emotion behind it all. That's my biggest complaint, Tosin Abasi a living guitar legend, he can play impossible riffs, and impossible solos, but he doesn't have soul in his music. His writes totally technical pieces, but nothing that grabs the listeners ear, it's all technique and no emotion. Music is a way to get out emotions, by pouring feelings and soul into your craft, you are able to make beautiful music. This has one of two important factors in prog, ability to play, but no feeling.

    This album is impressive to listen to, but I will not be putting on to fit the mood I'm in, unless that mood is me wanting to be impressed by immaculate playing.

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     Quest for the Stones by YAK album cover Studio Album, 2015
    3.90 | 99 ratings

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    Quest for the Stones
    Yak Neo-Prog

    Review by Agnenrecords

    4 stars I was one of those who put in a pre-order for Quest for the Stones, Yak's 2015 follow-up to the sublime Journey of the Yak and, despite a last minute hold-up from the CD manufacturer that delayed its delivery to Martin Morgan, keyboard player and keeper of the Yak flame, it duly arrived in the same week as promised. How could I not like Yak? This is keyboard-led instrumental progressive rock par excellence that references Tolkien and CS Lewis and has been endorsed by Steve Hackett. I first saw adverts for Journey of the Yak in early editions of Prog magazine and ordered my copy after hearing portions of a couple of selections from the yaksongs.com website, donating '10 to the Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary in return for the CD (a second pressing dated November 2009) and then spreading the word as best I could, buying a copy for one of my brothers and encouraging friends to give them a listen.

    The trio of Morgan, Dave Speight (drums) and Gary Bennett (bass) produce a melodic blend of prog that occupies the same territory as Steve Hackett, Genesis just before the departure of Hackett, Camel and Danger Money conformation UK. To anyone who hasn't heard any Yak, suggesting that a keyboard trio sounds like Steve Hackett may appear far-fetched but Morgan employs a synthesizer patch that genuinely sounds like Hackett's portamento guitar.

    Quest for the Stones carries on where Journey of the Yak left off though the six longish tracks that featured on Journey have been replaced by two long-form compositions, Quest for the Stones at a couple of seconds short of 24 minutes and Veil of Aeternum which lasts over 19 minutes. Veil of Aeternum is a play on words on Aeternum vale (Latin: farewell forever) and there is a very strong stylistic link between the two albums. The music on Quest is instantly recognisable as being Yak. The blend of old and new keyboard technology gives some haunting Mellotron sounds and some classic synth and organ tones; there's slightly less organ on the new album but the technique and attack still remind me of Eddie Jobson. The inclusion of more piano, together with the cover artwork gives an overall feel of a piece of late 19th Century or early 20th Century Romantic music, quintessentially English, where melodic motifs line up in succession and the pastoral impression is further bolstered by natural sounds at the end of the title track.

    Although there aren't many quiet interludes, variation comes through multiple changes of tempo and there are even a couple of passages in 7/4 time. Morgan adds keyboard saxophone to his sonic armoury and Gary Bennett, who is solid and mostly understated throughout, adds some funky bass lines. It goes without saying that the drumming of Dave Speight, former band mate of Enid alumnus Nick May in symphonic prog outfit Whimwise, is absolutely perfect so it comes across as a bit of a surprise that the three musicians only get together for a few days once every six years or so to record an album.

    The title track on the new release revisits another familiar Yak theme, another reason why they're my kind of band: ley lines. (There's another Yak release from October 2005, a live jam called Does Your Yak Bite? which includes the piece Leylines of Yak. The sleeve notes for the new album refer to finding a significant monolith, the Easedale Yakstone in Langdale - This all sounds good to me because I'm a native of Cumbria from just outside the Lake District National Park.)

    There's yet another association between the live jam CD and Quest for the Stones that relates to the rather exquisite pre-Raphaelite style cover painting by Laura Knight that depicts an Arthurian hero on a quest for The Stones astride his trusty yak but close by, hiding behind a tree, there's a strange, stripy rabbit-like creature, Tog, from the BBC children's series Pogles' Wood made by Oliver Postgate's Smallfilms between 1966 and 1968. Tog, formerly a stuffed toy brought to life by magic in a battle to defeat the Witch (a character who appears in series forerunner The Pogles), is given a credit on the back of the CD for co-owning the copyright to the recording; Does Your Yak Bite? includes a track called The Battle of Pogles Wood.

    The sense of humour displayed in the sleeve notes has historic precedence. Prog bands may have been derided for being serious about their music but Pythonesque absurdity made its way onto releases by bands like Hatfield and the North and Michael Palin actually wrote the back sleeve notes for Do They Hurt? by Brand X. Take note, NME, humour and serious musicianship are not mutually exclusive.

    The excellent, bucolic Quest for the Stones can be obtained from the Yak website www.yaksongs.com and, like that for its predecessor (which can still be bought from the website) the purchase is actually a donation to the Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary. If you love melodic, instrumental prog featuring lots of keyboards, I'd recommend you make that donation: you get a brilliant album in return.

    I think this is an excellent addition to any prog collection and easily deserves four and a half stars

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     Cult鰏aurus Erectus by BLUE 諽STER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1980
    3.51 | 139 ratings

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    Cult鰏aurus Erectus
    Blue 謞ster Cult Prog Related

    Review by sgtpepper

    3 stars The band return to a good and convincing shape after two below average efforts. This album is a best marriage between older hard rock/rock, adventurous trips to prog-rock/jazz-rock and radio friendly AOR. The band delivers no fillers, decent compositions and seems to be getting the creative peak again. Songs are not only well composed but also thoroughly developed to admire arrangements and finesse that BOC got so renowned for.

    "Back blade" is a strong opener with Hammond and hard rock guitars. The chorus is a bit cheasy but the middle section with organ sounds mysterious and perfectly recreates the spirit of BOC. Using vocoders spoils the good feeling a bit. "Monsters" is a monster track and total highlight with hard-rock riffs followed by jazz saxophone moments which is very progressive. These two breathtaking tracks by followed by bluesy and ominous "Divine wind". "Deadline" has a futuristic bass line and 80's synth texture, a nicely updated sound. "Hungry boys" is a radio-friendly new wave song that still manages to feature a fast guitar solo. "Fallen angel" captures my attention by shouting vocal and ARP accolades. The last two tracks return to the 70's BOC territory: from hard rock to a lighter rock'n'roll. A fresh breeze of music and one of the band peaks.

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     Some Enchanted Evening by BLUE 諽STER CULT album cover Live, 1978
    3.46 | 72 ratings

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    Some Enchanted Evening
    Blue 謞ster Cult Prog Related

    Review by sgtpepper

    3 stars The band confirms their instrumental and live quality without sacrificing the sophistication of their studio work. Guitar playing and drumming stands out in particular. You can see a couple of tracks as videos on Youtube which will only support the positive and professional live impression.

    Those who bought the CD without bonus tracks like me will be complaining for having only 37 minutes of playing time which does not suffice to include major tracks from studio albums. Moreover, the time is marred by addition of cover track like "Kick out the jam" that leaves fans willing for more own material. For more casual listeners of BOC, both greatest hits are included on the CD. I am fan of their more progressive cuts so I feel happy about "Astronomy" at its 8 minutes. A good but non-essential album. Their previous live album from 1975 is rawer and importantly, longer.

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     Spectres by BLUE 諽STER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1977
    3.37 | 137 ratings

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    Spectres
    Blue 謞ster Cult Prog Related

    Review by sgtpepper

    3 stars Godzilla is a trademark song full of catchy riffs and easily readable note, far from the usual complexity of BOC. Fortunately, not too much is sacrificed to give away this radio-friendly song. Guys have matured significantly with their vocal harmonies and that is one of the highlights. I prefer other songs on this album that have a bit more substance which are still up to BOC standards. "Golden age of leather" has excellent vocal harmonies and good drum fills, a good energetic song. "Death valley nights" reminds us of a harder edge that BOC previously had but "R U Ready 2 Rock" still beats it with simple but effective riffs and elaborate vocals. "Fireworks" has focus on well matching vocals and catchy melody - remotely the chords remind of "Don't fear the reaper". "Goin' through motions" could be attributed to a R&B/Soul artist and BOC did a great job by arranging it in the way. "Nosferatu" is the only song that has hints of prog-rock ambitions due to its guitar/drum complexity and multiple changes in the song. Let's also mention mellotron. All elements brought to the BOC perfection, a track to get addicted to.

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     Blood and Gold by IVANHOE album cover Studio Album, 2020
    3.92 | 4 ratings

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    Blood and Gold
    Ivanhoe Progressive Metal

    Review by ssmarcus

    4 stars As the apex of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic seems to be behind us and we attempt, however feebly, to restore normalcy to our lives, a healthy dose of immediate and passionate old-school progressive heavy metal, the kind served up on this record, can really go a long way in setting the mood.

    The music on Blood and Gold is driven forward by melodic guitar leads and Bruce Dickenson-like vocals backed by your usual arsenal of prog-metal keyboard synths and harmonies. While this description applies to literally hundreds of modern prog metal acts, Ivanhoe manages to set themselves apart through tight song writing. At a lean 38 minutes and 37 seconds, the record has no time for filler. Blood and Gold comes out swinging on the first four tracks and closes it out with elegance. Ivanhoe are confident enough in their sound that they don't feel the need to prove their prog chops with unnecessary meandering.

    Ivanhoe have been around 80's. Ostensibly, their long career has not materialized much in the way of fame or wide-scale recognition, even by the modest standards set by progressive music. And yet their passion for music keeps them going. On Blood and Gold, we all get to enjoy that passion right along with them.

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     Boat On The River by STYX album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1979
    2.00 | 2 ratings

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    Boat On The River
    Styx Prog Related

    Review by Matti
    Prog Reviewer

    2 stars Styx has never really been among my favourite bands, but I have known (and to some extent, listened to) them since my teen years. Since no one has yet said anything about this single, here I go. 'Boat on the River' is one of the best known Styx songs, and it's on the 1979 album Cornerstone. It's a folky ballad written and sung by Tommy Shaw, whom I consider much better singer than Dennis de Young.

    Especially for Finnish people this is a very familiar song: in 1993, a highly popular singer Riki Sorsa had a big hit with the Finnish language cover 'Joki' (= River) which is still occasionally played on the radio, sadly more so than the Styx original. But fewer Finns remember that Taiska, a popular female singer of the late 70's - early 80's schlager scene, made a cover already in 1980, called 'Aamulla yksin' (= Alone in the morning). It's no wonder the song was "adopted" to Finland, since its very accessible, melancholic and nature-loving mood somehow fits the Finnish personality like a glove to hand.

    The B side has a shortened version of Dennis de Young's rock ballad 'Come Sail Away', originating from Grand Illusion (1977). I don't much like his tight and slightly syrupy voice in this song which isn't so great as a composition either, but it has a nice synth-centred instrumental section.

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     Genesis Revisited by HACKETT, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1996
    3.44 | 328 ratings

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    Genesis Revisited
    Steve Hackett Eclectic Prog

    Review by VianaProghead
    Prog Reviewer

    4 stars Review N?337

    "Genesis Revisited" is the twelfth studio album of Steve Hackett and was released in 1996. It's a very different studio album because basically it has new versions of original songs of Genesis and isn't made of new compositions of him.

    "Genesis Revisited" has eleven tracks. The first track "Watcher Of The Skies" was a song originally released on "Foxtrot". Despite be relatively close to the original version, it's more majestic, energetic and powerful than the original. That reminds me the live version performed on his live album "The Tokyo Tapes". It's worth mention the great performance of John Wetton on vocals. He has one of my favourite voices. This is a great version, as good as, or even better, than the original version. It represents one of the highest moments on the album. The second track "Dance On A Volcano" was a song originally released on "A Trick Of The Tail". It's different from the original version with a beginning completely different. The vocals on the song are performed by Steve Hackett with a distorted voice. Steve Hackett's option of using his voice on the song isn't consensual, because we all know that he hasn't a good voice. However, I personally like of the two versions of the song. The third track "Valley Of The Kings" isn't a Genesis' song. This is a song of Steve Hackett's catalogue. Personally, this is one of my favourite songs of Steve Hackett and the rearrangement of this song is fantastic. This track represents also one of the highest moments on the album. The fourth track "D閖a Vu" isn't also a Genesis' song. It's a song originally started by Peter Gabriel and finished by Steve Hackett. It's a beautiful ballad sung by Paul Carrack, with a nice guitar solo and it's well played. However, this isn't for sure one of the highest moments on the album. The fifth track "Firth Of Fifth" was a song originally released on "Selling England By The Pound". But, this is a version completely transformed. The rearrangements are very deep and have been done to create alternative ways of performing each segment differently on the song, for example, the replace of the flute on the interlude part, by acoustic guitar. Once more we have the fantastic voice of John Wetton and an orchestration absolutely irreproachable. This represents also one of the highest moments on the album. The sixth track "For Absent Friends" was a song originally released on "Nursery Cryme". As I wrote before, when I reviewed "Nursery Cryme", this is, in my opinion, the weakest song on that album, but it seems that Steve Hackett hasn't the same opinion. This song is fortunately and substantially modified and it's better than the original version. It sounds very Baroque, which make this song very nice and enjoyable to hear. The seventh track "Your Own Special Way" was a song originally released on "Wind And Wuthering". Once more, I have the same opinion of "For Absent Friends". As also I wrote before, when I reviewed "Wind And Wuthering", it's the weakest song on that album and despite be written by Mike Rutherford, looks like more a song of Phil Collins. Despite be better than the original version, it isn't for sure one of the highest moments on this album too. The eighth track "Fountain Of Salmacis" was a song originally released on "Nursery Cryme". This always was one of my favourite Genesis' songs and represents another highest moment on this album. It's also rearranged differently from its original form but once more we are in presence of a great version of the original song. Again we have Steve Hackett singing on the album and once more, the option of use his voice isn't consensual, but on this case it fits very well. The ninth track "Waiting Room Only" was a song originally released on "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway". However, this is a completely different piece, in its form. Sincerely, I don't like this version of the song, and for my taste, it doesn't works truly very well. The tenth track "I Know What I Like" was a song originally released on "Selling England By The Pound". This is another song completely modified and also sung by Steve Hackett. Personally, I don't dislike of this version of this song, but sincerely I prefer the original version, despite I consider it too much commercial and the weakest song on "Selling England By The Pound". The eleventh track "Los Endos" was a song originally released on "A Trick Of The Tail". It's also a magnificent version of the original song, substantially modified by him and superiorly performed by all musicians who participated on the song. This is another highest moment on the album that closes fantastically this very special album, which is also usual for Genesis to close their usual live shows.

    Conclusion: "Genesis Revisited" is a very personal work of Steve Hackett. We can question the need of revisit some of the old Genesis' songs, the choice of the songs chosen by him and even the changes made by him. However, I think an artist must be free to do what he wants, especially Steve Hackett which is one of the writers of the songs and he was also, in my humble opinion, aware of the risks he was running. Globally and despite some controversial options made by him, I think he made a fantastic job and "Genesis Revisited" deserves to be rated with 4 stars and be considered an excellent addition for Genesis/Hackett's fans. It's always a pleasure to me revisit Genesis through the eyes of Hackett.

    Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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     Disco Dooro by FEAT. ESSEREL?album cover Studio Album, 2019
    4.04 | 7 ratings

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    Disco Dooro
    Feat. Esserel?/a> Jazz Rock/Fusion

    Review by andrea
    Prog Reviewer

    4 stars "Disco Dooro" is the second album by Bolognese band Feat. Esserel? It was released in 2019 on the independent label Joe Frassino Records and distributed in collaboration with Lizard Records. The line up is the same of the debut album and features Francesco Ciampolini (keyboards, fretless bass), Renato Minguzzi (guitars) and Lorenzo Muggia (drums) but during the recording sessions this time they were helped by some guests such as Lorenzo Musca (sax), Dario Nipoti (trumpet) and Michele Tamburini (sax) who contributed to enrich the sound. The final result is a fresh mix of vintage sounds, progressive rock, jazz, fusion, funk and classical music confirming all the good qualities of their previous work. According to the liner notes, on this album you can find sources of inspiration ranging from Koji Kondo (a Japanese music composer, pianist, and sound director who works for the video game company Nintendo, best known for his involvement in numerous contributions in the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series of video games) to a Bulgarian anonymous, from Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Zappa to Gioacchino Rossini but there's many more and all the musician involved showcase great musicianship. As for the cover and booklet, the band asked the visual artist Vanni Venturini to draw some pictures of bizarre, colourful and extravagant characters to represent their music and he did a really beautiful job...

    The short opener 'Lauto grill' is just a funny intro a cappella in the vein of the hidden track that ends "Tuorl", the band's debut album, a kind of subliminal and reassuring message of continuity. The first real piece, 'Kajitemeco', starts by frenzied keyboard rustic(an) rides and rhythm pyrotechnics but at some point it veers into another musical direction taking synthetic, hallucinated paths and a slower pace. The following track, 'Servi della klepa', is an excellent mix of classical influences and jazz rock with a perfect interaction between piano and guitar. Then it's the turn of 'Sahara...' and '...svegliati ' primavehera' that are linked together: the titles seem to hint that here we are in front of the parody of a famous song by Italian cantautore Antonello Venditti ("Sara") but luckily it's just a false clue and the music flows away like an apple riding a leaf, sailing toward the waters of the Black Sea for the pleasure of Area's fans.

    To describe 'La nascita di Lodovico Svarchi' (a very short track that sounds like the fragment of a cartoon score) and 'Lodovico Svarchi' I think that there is no better way than to look at the central picture in the booklet that portrays a strange zombie in a surreal world. The music starts softly with a dreamy atmosphere and a soaring sax solo, then the rhythm rises while raw electric guitar riffs sweep the dreams away. Who's Lodovico Svarchi? Maybe he's just a commuter crushed down by the daily grind, slowly waking up and going to work leaving his dreams behind...

    Next comes 'Popoloto', an interesting blend of jazz rock and Mediterranean influences, while the following 'La fine di Lodovico Svarchi...' is just a kind of conceptual joke: the shortest song (1,17 seconds) with longest title (888 characters) in the world! Then the nervous virtuosic rides of '(') aio' and the joyful 'Intro (by Intronyo)' end an album that it's really worth listening to.

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     Equal Unequals To Equal by TFVSJS album cover Studio Album, 2013
    3.00 | 1 ratings

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    Equal Unequals To Equal
    tfvsjs Post Rock/Math rock

    Review by siLLy puPPy
    Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

    — First review of this album —
    3 stars I'm not sure what it is about post-rock and math rock bands that makes them want to be so cryptic but as time presses on many of these acts just get weirder with their band names and grammar bending album titles. TFVSJS is a 5-piece all instrumental band from Hong Kong that sits somewhere between the world of cyclical post-rock and the choppier hyperactivity of math rock. Having started out as a post-hardcore band with elements of screamo, this mathier-than-thou outfit has matured into a bizarre mix of Mogwai inspired post-rock hypnotic melodic cycles peppered with crazy complex rhythms that belie the fact they have emerged from the Far East.

    Sounding more like some nerdy band from Chicago or anywhere within a 100 mile radius, TFVSJS tackles this American style of instrumental dynamics quite well and has established itself as one of Hong Kong's best kept secrets. The band has been around for about a decade and released its debut "equal unequals to equal" back in 2013 which featured a unique style of technical math rock that showcases the twin guitar deliveries of Adonian Chan and Milk Tsang along with Sean Pang on bass and the doubling drumming prowess of Chapman So and Antonio Fung. This is a noisier style of math / post-rock than the usual contenders with not only those lush clean guitar driven passages but plenty of angsty distorted grit holdover from the days of hardcore.

    "equal unequals to equal" surreptitiously sucks you in with its classic post-rock goods that includes a simple rhythmic drive and catchy easily recognizable melody that repeats to infinity but then adds the usual touches of ratcheting up to clamoring crescendoes however on the way there are plenty of nerdy freak-outs that include jittery time signature bombast as well as deafening tones and timbres at war with each other like a Jackie Chan movie being playing at a demolition site. The musicians excel at alternating between soft seductive passages and then pulling the rug out from under your feet and hammering you with unrelenting dissonance and drama.

    This is the type of music that i swear is inspired by reading computer programming codes as even the titles alternative between Chinese and English with the fifth track featuring both languages: "之 /between/間." While i wouldn't consider TFVSJS's debut to be anything amazingly groundbreaking, it sure is a more pleasant listen than many average post-rock albums as it understands the need to fortify the repetitive grooves with some sort of contrast to avoid an impending snoozeville. The highlight of this band is the precision that is involved in the math rock aspects although the musicians only implement such attacks in context of the post-rock fluidity. Overall a pretty decent listen although not as brilliant as some of the more accomplished bands in the genre.

    3.5 but can't quite pull the 4 star roundup trigger

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     Tom's Story by TOM'S STORY album cover Studio Album, 2016
    3.00 | 1 ratings

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    Tom's Story
    Tom's Story Post Rock/Math rock

    Review by siLLy puPPy
    Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

    — First review of this album —
    3 stars Both math rock and post-rock have gone global at this point but these styles of music are still primarily associated with the middle section of the USA and Canada with a few outliers like the UK's Bark Psychosis and Mogwai and Iceland's Sigur R's. The Philippines is not what comes to mind when thinking of this musical style though but that's exactly where this band comes from. TOM'S STORY is an instrumental rock trio based in Manila and consists of Tom Naval on bass, Gabba Santiago on guitars, and Christer "Degs" de Guia on drums. The three have been high school friends since 2010 when they unofficially formed this band but as the years went by the love of music grew and they began to take it more seriously.

    After playing live shows for years this trio opened for band's like Silent Scenery from Malaysia and then released a few tracks on split EPs with Legarda and Monochrome. While starting out more in the realms of punk rock, the trio toned down its rowdy rock ethos into a more placid style of post-rock with a few math rock sprinklings on its eponymously titled debut album which came out in 2016. This is one of those bands that relishes in the simplicity of it all much like Australia's Dirty Three this outfit keeps the cyclical melodic loops humming along for an album's run with subtle variations oozing out of every cadence. The guitar tones are warm and inviting as are the bass counterpoints. The drums are on the mellower side and the music never really heats up past simmer.

    Sounding most like Mogwai this band tends to get stuck in a repertoire that is a bit predictable with each of the ten tracks pretty much sounding like the next but with a crisp clean production and nice movements from semi-upbeat rhythms to softer passages, the guitar arpeggiated rich processions are quite pleasant however this is the kind of music that makes decent background noise while doing other things but doesn't quite muster up enough creative content to sustain my interest for an album's run of material. TOM'S STORY is more noted for its energetic live performances where they have mastered the art of audience interaction but as far as a studio album's worth of material they haven't quite mastered the art of keeping things diverse enough to make the album a fun active experience. Only the first album so who knows what the future will bring but as far as this one goes, it's OK and not much more.

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     Agents Of Fortune by BLUE 諽STER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1976
    3.21 | 187 ratings

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    Agents Of Fortune
    Blue 謞ster Cult Prog Related

    Review by sgtpepper

    3 stars Agents of Fortune was quite a departure from bold, ambitious, authentic and adventurous previous records. The band was maybe trying to get higher financial return while not losing their credibility. Guitars are still main element in the sound but better balanced by keyboards, which is not necessarily a bad thing. More polished sound is not only due to array of keyboards but also less pondering and less busy drumming. Vocals and compositional qualities remain high; progressive tendencies are almost gone but let's acknowledge small addition trumpet and saxophone. Instrumental parts in songs are still very pleasant. "Don't fear the reaper" is the most famous cut due to its easy going melody and catchiness but miles away from being their best song, I found the main section even a bit boring and simplistic but the middle section with keyboards and wailing guitar save the day. "E.T.I" finally brings some heavy riffing inside, it's a relatively slow song but thankfully enough for a great guitar solo. "Sinful love" is a prime example of band's updated sound with funkier more commercial appeal and more polished guitars. "Tatoo vampire" is a high-quality punk infected song and as heavy as it could get in 1976. "Tenderloin" is one of few songs where keyboards and bass dominate over guitars. "Debbie Denise" sounds like a love song and has a great melody including acoustic guitars, too. A nice addition to BOC discography.

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     Splendido Hotel by DIMEOLA, AL album cover Studio Album, 1980
    2.99 | 94 ratings

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    Splendido Hotel
    Al DiMeola Jazz Rock/Fusion

    Review by Mark-P

    3 stars Back to 90's, this album was for me an introduction to the music of Al di Meola. After hearing more of his albums, I know this one is not his masterpiece, but still it is very memorable to me. Al uses a lot of acoustics guitar in this album, and most of the songs have a good theme. Those are among best parts of this album.

    At least there are two tracks that in my opinion should be listed among Al di Meola's best songs. The first is 'Alien Chase on Arabian Desert'. This nearly 9-minute composition with Latin rock flavor, some progressive elements and mood changes. Al uses both acoustics and electric guitars.

    The second is Al duet with Chick Corea in 'Two for Tango'. I really love the chemistry between them. This song has a nice theme, which is played in several different keys and paces. Al uses a lot of fast-picked muted notes and overdubbed counterpoint with lovely piano arrangement by Chick Corea.

    There are other memorable tracks like 'Silent Story in Her Eyes', 'Isfahan', 'Splendido Sundace' and lovely 'Bianca's Midnight Lullaby'.

    Good album with at least two brilliant songs (.. and three stars).

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     Love You To Bits by NO-MAN album cover Studio Album, 2019
    2.82 | 37 ratings

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    Love You To Bits
    No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

    Review by russellk
    Prog Reviewer

    3 stars The unexpected revival of the dormant WILSON-BOWNESS collaboration isn't quite the gem people were hoping for. Rather than a complex, multilayered album, or a minimalist set of introspective songs such as NO-MAN have given us before, this is more akin to ten house remixes of the one song. Fun, clever, even poignant in that self-revelatory way TIM BOWNESS has. But it's telling that this was turned out in a mutual break in their schedules, rather than being part of their schedule.

    Is it any good? It's OK, but not essential by any means. Is it prog? Not really. It's a curio, rather out of place in the NO- MAN catalogue, but not surprising given WILSON'S chameleon-like tastes. If anything it harks back in form, if not quite in substance, to NO-MAN's earliest efforts. An interesting record by two professionals not trying very hard.

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     L Anno del Contatto by MODIUM, I album cover Studio Album, 2019
    3.00 | 2 ratings

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    L Anno del Contatto
    I Modium Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by b_olariu
    Prog Reviewer

    3 stars I Modium from Italy is a young band who love the sound of italian old school prog, being influenced by bands such as PFM, Le Orme, Banco, etc. In 2019 was born their first baby L'anno del contatto. A perfect album for italian prog sound in our time, being highly melodic and romantic in aproach but aswell has plenty of complicated twists for such music. With pieces like PFM (Per Favore Musica) or Sorona dove sei are clearly with direction towards PFM and Le Orme musical past and present. The band has excellent guitar player Elvio Tavian from Quasar Lux Symphoniae who done a grerat job here, like the rest of the musicians aof course.

    All in all a fairly strong debut, nothing special or never heared before music, but well played and pleasent from start to finish.

    I Modium is another good RPI band that brings the spirit of the ;70s in today progressive rock realm. Well worth to be heared and a far better recognition then has here.

    From me , easy 3.5 stars

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     Secret Treaties by BLUE 諽STER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1974
    4.18 | 274 ratings

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    Secret Treaties
    Blue 謞ster Cult Prog Related

    Review by sgtpepper

    4 stars One of BOC masterpieces where their talent and skills soar to the sky. Compositionally, these folks are miles ahead many other hard rock bands. Finesse in arrangements and music palette are astonishing. For prog-based fans, this is the album to dig into even though only remotely related to pure prog-rock, ambitions, sound and concept following point to some prog-rock influence in this album. The album is lighter than two previous albums. The first track is one of the most known BOC songs with melodic guitar lines, organ and killing melody. The second track is surprisingly light but there are other things to compensate: I like the part where the singer sings like Dylan and drums become more dynamic. Extensive guitar duett paired with electric piano are appeal to me. "Dominance and submission" sounds more like being from the first heavier albums with simple chords, it is as close to traditional hard rock as it can get. The song to hear when driving. Give nod to the drummer and his often changing rhythmics. "ME 262" is a straightforward rocker with metallic riffs while "Cagey Cretins" is notable for its vocals, shouting and multilayered but also harmonies. The end is marked by two highlights that have progressive hints. "Flaming telepaths" features background harmonies and a synth solo but equally good piano licks! "Astronomy" is one of the most ambitious song by BOC, the sound reminds me of acoustic Led Zeppelin or Uriah Heep. Keyboards. Killer riffs and melodies with ample guitar soloing provide enough fun until the end. Mellow parts with organ/piano give additional complexity.

    A great album and the only pure excellent addition to prog rock music collection by BOC.

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     Tyranny And Mutation by BLUE 諽STER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1973
    3.47 | 180 ratings

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    Tyranny And Mutation
    Blue 謞ster Cult Prog Related

    Review by sgtpepper

    3 stars The first concept album by Blue Oyster Cult of two dipols, as evidenced by colour side names, album name but less in its music. Playing got more refined, the sound developed - can you notice traces of punk that would emerge in a few years and slightly jazzy chord sequences that the band ventured in occasionally? Good old ingredients such as American late 60's spirit and creative arrangements remained in place. The first song is quite pondering, heavy; although chords may be simplistic, bass guitar playing and guitar duels are pleasant. The second song shows that harmonies are not a strange word in band's vocals. "Hot rails to hell" has an ominous riff and plenty of great guitar arrangements be it soloing, colouring or psychedelic textures. "7 screaming diz-busters" is an excellent progressive hard rock epic with jazzy introduction a la "Made in Sweden" and folky parts combined with rawer rocking ferocious playing. Apart from usual guitar tandem, advanced psychedelic organ pyrotechnics comes in. "Wings wetted down" has a great melody and slightly doomy riff. "Teen archer" is another classic metal sounding BOC track that still manages to sound warm thanks to vocals. The last track has an anthemic chorus and slight experimentation with guitar riffs. Highly recommended for all rock fans that like ambitious records.

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     Blue 謞ster Cult by BLUE 諽STER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1972
    3.41 | 183 ratings

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    Blue 謞ster Cult
    Blue 謞ster Cult Prog Related

    Review by sgtpepper

    2 stars The debut album is a very impressive one and shows the playing and especially compositional maturity by all band members. You hear clever late 60's influence from both England and US, folk music, hard rock. Guitar playing is most memorable of all but vocals are also quite advanced. Well, what else could you expect from 3 guitars in the mix? Songs are memorable with good twists and hooks but do not reveal as much depth as on later albums. There is little for a progressive rock fans to get hooked to since it is a very good rock records without high sophistication. Recommended to band fans and rock admirers with open mindset.

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     Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
    4.35 | 1059 ratings

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    Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    The Beatles Proto-Prog

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    5 stars The Beatles were always a hard band for me to get into, I had listened to Norwegian Wood (Rubber Soul), but it was covered by Allan Holdsworth on None To Soon. Abbey Road was never an album I was crazy about but this album is. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a phenomenal album by The Bealtes. The hit songs are very complimenting to the entire album as a whole, the stand alone (AOT [Album Oriented Tracks]) are also very unique and are quite mature sounding Beatles songs. I really think that this is The Beatles best record, it's got amazing vocal melodies, the catchy tunes, great harmonies, and very well written tracks as a whole. Both sections of the title track are very catchy, and they have great harmonies. With A Little Help From My Friend is a great hit track, I've heard this one played on the radio and I've always loved it. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is probably one of (if not) the most well known tracks by the band. The catchy harmonies and chords, it's a great song for an even better album. Getting Better is another hit sounding track, it's a very interesting song with good lyrics, great vocal melodies, and most importantly, grabbing chord progressions. Fixing A Hole has another really cool hit feel to it with more grabbing chord progressions, and soft vocal melodies. She's Leaving Home, Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!, Within You Without You are all equally great tracks, everything here is well written yadda yadda. When I'm Sixty-Four is quite a jazz influenced piece, I love Paul's vocals here, his voice really fits the slow feel of this piece. Lovely Rita has more of Paul's best vocals in The Beatles. I love the chord and song structures, melodies, etc. Good Morning Good Morning is a very good piece sung by John, but the real amazing piece is A Day In The Life. It's the perfect ending track to this amazing album, the lyrics are unbelievable, the vocals and orchestration are fantastic, and finally it's just a huge mess but... it's a cleverly written huge mess. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a brilliant Beatles album and a fantastic Proto-Prog album. Need I say more? No.. I won't.

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     Big Daddy by STOLT, ROINE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1988
    3.00 | 1 ratings

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    Big Daddy
    Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    — First review of this album —
    3 stars One is a borderline synth pop song and the other is a borderline jazz piece. This single is back and forth, it's hard to keep track of where we are going with this listen. Thankfully both of these songs are on an easier to understand studio album titled 'The Lonely Heartbeat'. I can see what Roine was trying to do here but nothing really adds up, Big Daddy isn't a song I'm too fond of, it has the feel of a typical synth pop beat from the 80s that I'm not crazy about on here. White Men of NYC is a confusing track, it's slow and jazzy and just... kind of works? I can't understand this too much either, I do enjoy this track but it's very confusing. So, one song, I'm not a fan of, and the second one, I am. This is the most confusing single I've listened to. I'm not sure whether it's good or bad, but its definitely not great, or a masterpiece.

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     Utopia by STOLT, ROINE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1990
    3.00 | 1 ratings

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    Utopia
    Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    — First review of this album —
    3 stars Utopia is a great EP by Roine Stolt of 'The Flower King's'. Both tracks have Roine's unmistakable voice, guitar playing, and writing style. Thankfully we are saved by Tomas Bodin's keyboard playing, his solos are great and so are Roine's. The writing style is kind of like Yes, Genesis, and some soft Rock bands thrown in the mix (such as; Toto, Tears For Fears, etc.). This is a very good EP, and it does show where Roine Stolt was going to end up. The feel and structure of both songs are nice, but are both songs incredible? No, they are good but nothing special. Overall the EP might have good songwriting and a very prog nature, but it isn't very well recorded. It could've been slightly better recorded even for the time it was released, but Roine wasn't under InsideOut or any real record label to help push this along. Either way, this is a good EP but its nothing to get too excited about.

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     The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! by HOLDSWORTH, ALLAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
    5.00 | 1 ratings

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    The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!
    Allan Holdsworth Jazz Rock/Fusion

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    — First review of this album —
    5 stars For everything Allan Holdsworth did for prog, jazz fusion, and guitar in general, this collection of beautiful remasters is an essential piece in anyone's Holdsworth collection. All the remasters of all the albums in this boxset are amazing, nice and clean sounding, not muddy, and very well restored to fit today's standard. Unfortunately, I cannot review the albums in the boxset here, I will be reviewing each and every album here on ProgArchives. For what this was meant to be (a boxset full of remasters of studio and live cds), this is amazing. This is just as good as the Genesis 2007 remaster boxsets. Except that this boxset has all of Holdsworth's glory, exceptional guitar playing, unbelievable emotion, and a hard hitting listen from each piece found in here. Allan was an inspiration to guitar and prog, and this is the best gift we got from him. Thanks Allan, you inspired me to make beautiful music like you did.

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     Emerger by CARPTREE album cover Studio Album, 2017
    3.73 | 72 ratings

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    Emerger
    Carptree Neo-Prog

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    4 stars If Seals and Crofts were singers for a prog band, and they were trying to sound like a metal version of Genesis, that would be Carptree. I do like the formula of this album, the songs that seem to impress me most are "The Fleeting Deep", "The River", "Porous", and "Immersive Attention". The loud mellotrons, a bunch of really well produced and well engineered guitars. Everything on this album is very well mixed and well produced, the only problem is that half of the material found on the album isn't very compelling. The vocals have a clashing issue with the keyboards, I think it's the nasally tone of the vocals that cut through the keys which can make the sound quality degrade just a tiny bit. It is just a minor mixing issue in "Immersive Attention", other than that the album sounds very well recorded. "Ultimately Lifeless" is kind of a typical prog song, typical chord structure, typical song structure, and the lyrics aren't exactly unique. I do like the song but overall it's not great. "Between Extremes" is a great song as well, it's not among the best on the album. I think that the mix is great, the production is good here too. The songwriting is pretty good here, and the chord progression is grabbing to the ear. So I do think that this album is pretty good, but it's no masterpiece. Carptree is a good band but they are yet to release an album that I can give a 5 star review.

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     Destinazioni by MELTING CLOCK album cover Studio Album, 2019
    4.33 | 8 ratings

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    Destinazioni
    Melting Clock Rock Progressivo Italiano

    Review by Agnenrecords

    5 stars Melting Clock guitarist Stefano Amadei explained the band's moniker, commencing the tale in the Department of Physics at university in Genoa in 2001: the original objectives of a small group of friends was to have fun making music, describing the attempts of the fledgling group to play covers from the bands they loved as being 'so bad that we were off beat on the various section of the songs'. This prompted bassist Alessandro Bosca to apply the Italian slang 'ci sciogliamo il tempo' ('we are melting our time'), meaning 'we are forgetting/loosing the rhythm/beat' and sparking the connection with the melting clocks in Salvador Dali's 1931 masterpiece The Persistence of Memory that some have suggested was inspired by Einstein's theory of General Relativity. According to Stefano they adopted the band name Melting Clock as a private joke: a comment on their musical skills and a pretentious link to their academic background.

    Four of the original line-up remain: brothers Sandro and Stefano Amadei (keyboards and voice, and guitars respectively); Alessandro Bosca (bass); and Francesco Fiorito (drums), while the current sextet is completed by Simone Caff?(guitars) and Emanuela Vedana (vocals.). It surprised me that their coherent, largely symphonic style should result from a wide range of influences because Francesco and Stefano are metal-heads, Simone is a David Gilmour fan, and Sandro listens to Scandinavian jazz, though he has played with Daedalus, a Genoese prog-metal band alongside Fabio Gremo of Il Tempio delle Clessidre, and was a huge fan of Jordan Rudess, lending Rudess his Kurzweil K2600 when the Dream Theater keyboard player was on holiday in Italy and agreed to perform for the Italian Dreamers. The influence of contemporary acts like Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Opeth and Ayreon that the band say have shaped the direction of their sound is tempered by a critical understanding of the cultural significance of the music that came out of Italy in the 70s along with an appreciation of classic UK progressive rock; accompanying them to a gig reveals the depth of their knowledge of Italian prog, and each time they play live, they've included a classic prog cover in the set.

    An indication that their music has the potential for broad appeal was the decision of Black Widow Records to allow the band to produce a limited 2LP edition of their debut album DESTINAZIONI. Black Widow co-owner Massimo Gasperini may have thought long and hard about the vinyl release when the band had enough material for three sides of an LP but a cover medley of King Crimson tracks 21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN, IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING and STARLESS, first aired to great response during a gig at Genoa's L'Angelo Azzurro club in March 2019, would provide the material for side four, renamed ALLA CORTE DEL RE CRIMISI for the album, artfully segued together and enhanced by violin from Hanako Tsushima.

    There's a huge debate about the merits of singing in your own language or writing lyrics in English to broaden your appeal and though some might think it a brave choice for a band producing their first album, the band were adamant that the right choice for them was to sing in Italian. As a compromise they include English translations of the Italian lyrics on both CD and vinyl editions of DESTINAZIONI, provided by Emanuela and Stefano as an interpretation for non-Italian speakers. The singing is expressive, poetic and at times almost operatic; the translations reveal an impressionistic flair that reminds me of Peter Sinfield's best work ? much of it for PFM. There can't be many better voices than Emanuela's in any form of rock.

    The album artwork was painted by their friend Matteo Anselmo, depicting a young woman at a bus stop waiting for a boat. This is a conceptual link to Genoa, especially the tracks ANTARES and title track DESTINAZIONI to Genoa. The compositions are thematically linked by the representation of different aspects of a journey. Though the music is largely credited to Simone and Sandro, with a good proportion of the lyrics provided by Emanuela, the process of structuring each piece is dependent on rhythmic arrangement by Francesco and Alessandro and colour and mood supplied by Stefano. Having originally begun recording the album in November 2018, the time spent in Studio MAIA under the direction of Andrea Torretta was used wisely, settling on the most satisfying arrangements that capture the drama of each individual story. Stefano explains that he wasn't interested in music that he found unchallenging, describing their style as being characterised by evocative and engaging sounds which belie the compositional complexity, drawing in the listener.

    Album opener CALEIDOSCOPIO was an excellent choice as a first single because it's archetypal, condensing Melting Clock into a shade less than eight and a half minutes. It's incredibly well-structured, built up from short phrases emphasised with distorted guitar yet despite its intricacy, the multiple instrumental layers are all clear and distinct and floating above is Emanuela's gorgeous vocal melody. There are tempo and metrical changes and a fast organ solo but generally the lyrics express reflection, representing an inner journey. BANALMENTE is a political song, played in a recognisable Melting Clock idiom attacking those who don't question, preferring not to know or hold any responsibility for any atrocity carried out on the orders of others, along the lines of John Stuart Mill's 'Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.' The references to 'sand covered in blood where corpses are lying in the sun' followed by 'digging our trench to defend the high season party' bring to mind the fate of refugees who have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean and landed on Italian territory, a journey of desperation and hope that sadly too often ends in tragedy. There's poignancy in Sandro's particularly effective baritone during this piece.

    Like a number of rock progressivo bands celebrating their Mediterranean roots before them, Melting Clock employ Middle Eastern scales and rhythm patterns on a couple of sections of VETRO which enhance the feeling of imprisonment and suffocation spelled out by the lyrics inspired by Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian classic We. A song of different moods, the brief cinematic opening is followed by bright acoustic guitar which gives way to the eastern Mediterranean flavour and the start of the vocals. During the singing, which has a story-telling quality Emanuela holds the melody while the instrumental backing is largely rhythmical (guest percussion is provided by Fabrizio Salvini) though there's quite a lot going on with guitar and keyboards adding splashes of colour in the background. Following the last verse there's a bright synthesizer line before a reprise of the acoustic guitar and eastern theme which precedes a piano flourish ending. I was present when this was first aired at a gig ? it was one of the last compositions written for the album - where Sandro said he had been concerned about both the technical requirements of performing the piece (the verse is in 19/16 time) and its reception. I can report that not only did the music flow well but that it was really appreciated by the audience.

    STRADE AFFOLLATE was brought to the band by Simone. The acoustic guitar takes something of a lead but it's obviously gone through the Melting Clock arranging machine. The understated piano that enters during the second verse and the Hammond-like organ arising during the middle eight enhance the melody as the layers build up, with restrained distorted guitar appearing in the third verse. This is a song of hope after the confinement of VETRO and partly because of its message and partly from the way it's structured, it's probably the most accessible track on the album, capable of bridging into more mainstream genres. L'OCCHIO DELLO SCIACALLO is another political song written by Sandro. Lasting less than three minutes and translating as The Jackal's Eye it's a short exhortation decrying corporate culture. The abrasive guitar introduction actually gives away to a pleasant melody where Emanuela and Sandro sing call-and response vocals. The drudgery is represented by drumming on the lower kit (though Francesco does use a limited amount of cymbal) and there's an excellently executed cello solo provided by Stefano Cabrera. The band is particularly proud of ANTARES, the first song they wrote for Melting Clock. It also happens to be a personal favourite of mine because it's structured like a classic early Camel song, with amazing melodies and contrapuntal keyboard and guitar lines. This is another track that links to Genoa and the sea, so it's not surprising that it begins with sea sound effects. Another composition that relies on building upon short phrases (c.f. LUNAR SEA by Camel), it's enhanced by Mellotron-like washes and contrapuntal synthesizer lines and some excellent twin lead guitar work, plus flute played by Fabrizio Salvini and cello played by Stefano Cabrera. Sandro shares some of the vocal duties but its Emanuela's wordless vocals leading up to the dramatic denouement that steal the show, generating the physical signs of frisson, the pilomotor reflex and goosebumps.

    SONO LUCE has a lengthy instrumental introduction, arranged differently from the first time I heard it though the bass work still catches my attention. Even though there's a Gilmour inspired guitar solo (it was written by Simone) the overall sound is less classic prog and more neo-prog with a delicacy to the piano and brightness to the guitars, giving a feeling of hope. The title (Made of Light) and lyrics are suggestive of a journey towards enlightenment but they still reference the sea and the shore.

    The title track is something of a departure from the other melodic-symphonic tracks and it's cleverly presaged by the short late-Floydian or early Marillion-sounding instrumental QUELLO CHE RIMANE. It's here that we get a better feel for individual influences in what is a notch or two up on the challenging stakes, both for the performers and the listener on the longest track on the album. DESTINAZIONI is substantially heavier than anything else the band has done and begins with a nod to King Crimson and Dream Theater prog-metal while managing to stay adventurous throughout. Less reliant on stand-out melodies, it involves a lot of changes of style without breaks or segues, from fast and heavy to stately, from reflective to angular and aggressive, providing a metaphor for the cyclical nature of time. It conforms more to a classic prog template with accurate patches of analogue keyboards sitting well with the updated sound, exemplified by another fast organ run from Sandro but perhaps best illustrated with a few bars of guitar and keyboards that sound like Gabriel-era Genesis which appear toward the conclusion of the song, the most obvious incorporation of a classic prog influence.

    The medley ALLA CORTE DEL RE CRIMISI utilises pretty faithful recreations of the original King Crimson material, down to the Wetton bass trills on STARLESS and with the role of David Cross covered brilliantly by Hanako on 21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN. Massimo Gasperini has overseen some of the brightest names in contemporary Italian prog and hints at great things for Melting Clock, saying that he enjoys seeing the band's excitement about their own music. I also think they have a bright future, provided what is really a quite stunning debut gets attention beyond Genoa and Croydon.

    I can't imagine too many debuts are worth five stars ? but DESTINAZIONI is

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     Lambertland by TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI album cover Studio Album, 1972
    4.25 | 99 ratings

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    Lambertland
    Tasavallan Presidentti Jazz Rock/Fusion

    Review by friso
    Prog Reviewer

    5 stars Tasavallan Presidentti from Finland impressed me with their charming prog-infused song-based bluesrock second record (1971). A year later the band would release 'Lambertland' with a different singer and quite frankly; a totally different type of band. This is pure eclectic prog. Take some early Zappa ('King Kong' was mentioned earlier), add some Soft Machine, Fairport Convention, some Jan Akkerman style guitar (of Focus) and most importantly some Sammy Davis Junior (yes that jazz singer who sang 'Mr. Bojangles'). The combination of folk & jazz-rock with the beautiful artwork and title 'Lamberland' creates a unique journey through the imagination. Light-hearted, charming and full of positive creative energy. The quirkiness of the melodies and the way the rhythms are gently pumping are quite unique. The band uses interesting harmonies and finds original folky melodies. Pekka P鰕ry plays both saxes and flutes and is great in always finding a suitable place in the music. Jukka Tolonen, a guitarist of some fame in Finland, mostly excels at finding nice quirky jazz riffs. The vocals of Eero Raittinen have fueled some debate and on the opining song he does in fact sings way out of tune. Since I do like the tone of his voice and his different way of singing (more like vocal jazz) I can actually appreciate his performances quite a lot. The album has a few very strong moments and no weak spots and I really like the totality of it. The Svart label has released a stunning vinyl reprint. 'Lambertland' may have its shortcomings, but it does deliver that truly original one-of-a-kind early seventies progressive rock experience like all too few album do. It's the kind of album you'd like to see in the PA top 100.

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     Prehensile Tales by PATTERN-SEEKING ANIMALS album cover Studio Album, 2020
    3.78 | 30 ratings

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    Prehensile Tales
    Pattern-Seeking Animals Crossover Prog

    Review by NickCrimsonII

    3 stars The second album from Pattern-Seeking Animals is now available for people to enjoy! Turns out the band's promise to release an album a year might be kept, as this is the members' side project. I must say that I was disappointed by the first album - it didn't feel quite complete and I did not spend too much time with it, just to revise it again upon the release of 'Prehensile Tales', and to discover that I still do not enjoy it that much.

    Now, about this album: Raining Hard In Heaven opens up with this groovy and super catchy bass line, and continues to unfold in a very poppy way, which is obviously what the band's trying to achieve - to mix accessible sounds with more adventurous song structures. Not sure if I enjoy the chorus as much as the verse. The song goes through an instrumental mid-section that is quite reminiscent of the Spock's Beard releases from the last decade, and this is bot bad at all!

    Next up on the track list is Here In My Autumn. Which is almost like a logical continuation of the previous track, pretty similar song structure, even the lengths are almost the same. Not a bad track, as well, I must say. The third song is probably my favorite on this album - and so far, my favorite song from the band's catalogue. It is the track that best encapsulates the philosophy and the main idea of P-SA: to write prog-pop numbers with adventurous instrumentation and catchy hooks.

    Elegant Vampires is undoubtedly the most memorable and enjoyable track for me. Also, so far the first three tracks were all released as singles which is a bit strange given that the album is just 6 tracks. It is kind of disappointing to know what half of the record sounds like before being released. However, Elegant Vampires - fantastic track!

    Next up is another shorter song - Why Don't We Run. It sets an interesting mood although it is a bit different from what came before it and from what will come after it. Not too much to say about it, upon several listenings, it is my least favorite song. Then it comes - the 17-minute Lifeboat - the song that should be teasing prog fans and scaring the ones who turn to P-SA for more accessible songs. Usually, the first question I ask myself when listening to such a large chunk of music is - is it worth the time? Does the song provide the epic feel, the dynamics, the pay-off that one expects from a seventeen-minute piece. Well, in this case, the band really managed to make a really enjoyable song with a couple of surprises throughout, the best of which is the sax that really elevated the song's experience for me. A chunky guitar solo from Leonard was also lovely to hear, a bit of mellotron and violin, too. Great chorus, and intelligent lyrics. Definitely beautiful track that I feel would also fit perfectly in an SB album, if they were to release one this year!

    Finally, we arrive at the 12-minute Soon But Not Today, the album closer. This song continues the spirit of all the rest that came before it, combining the playful tones of the first three songs in the first six minutes and some 70s symphonic rock melodies in its second half.Another enjoyable one and a proper finish that also leaves an open end for the band to continue.

    Great vocal performance by Leonard throughout this whole thing, his voice really seems to get better with age, and also really strong backing vocals from Keegan, and a super tasty bass tone of Meros! What is there to say about the instrumentation? The band members are well-known and experienced masters of their instruments, maybe Boegehold's abilities were more unknown but are no less great than the other members'.

    'Prehensile Tales' is a much more sonically organised and concentrated album than its predecessor. This time the band manages to create a sonic experince that is captivating but also enjoyable throughout the whole time.

    3.5/5 stars seems like a reasonable rating of this record, leaving myself a curiosity and a wish that the band can top it, continuing the positive progression of their releases!

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     Invisible Din by ESP album cover Studio Album, 2016
    4.03 | 32 ratings

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    Invisible Din
    ESP Crossover Prog

    Review by Agnenrecords

    4 stars ESP is basically a two-man band comprised of guitarist/producer/multi-instrumentalist Tony Lowe and drummer Mark Brzezicki, ably supported with a stellar cast of collaborators. Lowe first came to my attention as the guitarist for the live launch of the 2015 David Cross and Robert Fripp CD Starless Starlight (which Lowe produced) where his understanding and appreciation of one of the most classic and memorable progressive rock melody lines was on display. Along with Cheryl Stringall he's also the co-founder of Sunn Creative, their socially aware record label (it operates on ethical business principles which include a commitment to environmental and social issues.)

    Brzezicki is best known for his work with Big Country, though prog fans will associate him with Procol Harum; he's well regarded in drum circles and boasts an impressive session CV. These two musicians assembled some great names from the prog scene to play on the album including early exponents and more recent practitioners; they all made guest appearances at the live launch gig in London in a line-up enhanced by keyboard player Mickey Simmonds because Lowe, who played keyboards on the recording, confined himself to guitar.

    Simmonds cites some classic prog influences and I recognised his name from Camel's Harbour of Tears album (1996). Also on stage were bassists Steve Gee and Phil Spalding, each performing roughly half the set; vocalist John Beagley; David Jackson on saxes and flute; Yumi Hara on harp; and David Cross on violin.

    Lowe explained that the concept behind Invisible Din was that "the songs evoke a man's childhood memory of illness and a ghostly, healing presence of beauty as he ventures into the realms of the astral world. The music and lyrics encompass the yearning we have for that elusive other, the dream partner, crossing the line between reality and fantasy as he ventures into the unknown." On repeated listening it's obvious the concept stands up really well. There's a Floydian feel to some of the material, partly down to the exacting production values but also because the work is remarkably melodic; something that was less noticeable during the live performance.

    It's evident that the band is a really tight-knit outfit, with densely layered lines of largely instrumental prog of the highest order. There are three lead instruments available at any one time playing over a solid, busy rhythm section. The lyrics are concise but well constructed and the vocal delivery, by Lowe, Brzezicki and Beagley is sympathetic to the storyline and pitched to convey appropriate emotions: reflection; elation; longing. The keyboard patches are accurate reproductions of 70s analogue sounds and I can detect influences as varied as early Genesis, post-Gabriel Genesis, UK, a little Pawn Hearts-era Van der Graaf Generator and maybe some 10cc art-rock. I'm not suggesting the sound is derivative in any way and if I were to suggest a sonic comparison, I'd plump for one of the modern Italian symphonic prog acts because of the use of the flute.

    With the launch of Invisible Din in 2016, I thought that ESP represented a new standard-bearer for symphonic progressive rock. Subsequent releases have veered more into post- or alt-rock territory though they have maintained good-sized chunks of symphonic prog, the content perhaps reflecting the changing line-ups; all are worth adding to the collection though Invisible Din is the one any symphonic progressive rock fan would enjoy.

    Four and a half stars

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     Tales From Topographic Oceans by YES album cover Studio Album, 1973
    3.89 | 2390 ratings

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    Tales From Topographic Oceans
    Yes Symphonic Prog

    Review by Agnenrecords

    5 stars Tales from Topographic Oceans was released on December 14th 1973 and my brother introduced it into our household the next day. Tales would divide opinion amongst fans and critics alike: overblown and pretentious or symphonic prog masterpiece.

    The presentation of the album is quite special. It's less ostentatious than the preceding Yes offering, the triple live set Yessongs in a triple gatefold, but more elaborate than Close to the Edge which, perhaps more than any other album, was responsible for creating a link between the sonic vision of a band and a visual representation of the music. The imagery used on Tales took in some obscure iconography and utilised ideas put forward by the band themselves, such that it could have been a bit of a dog's breakfast. But somehow, it all hangs together. I was more worried that the four words of the album title featured three basic colours. Both the front cover and the open gatefold work as complete images, as the eye finds different focal points for the two potential presentations: the Mayan temple on the front cover; the waterfall for the open gatefold. I used to try to ascribe meaning to the position of the photographs within the song words but I no longer believe there is any association other than they are literal illustrations of Anderson and Howe's use of 'green language' in their lyrics.

    This cover is wrapped around roughly 80 minutes of music which, though it can be plotted on a line of general progression between Close to the Edge and Relayer, there has been nothing like it in terms of ambition and scope either before or since. The original release was of course on four sides of vinyl and though I also own a remastered and expanded edition on CD, I retain a vinyl copy and that's how I prefer to refer to and listen to the album.

    80 minutes of complex and challenging music makes Tales a fairly difficult listen. With each side acting as a suite in its own right it's quite easy to see why the casual listener might have difficulty understanding why Yes should record such an album. There are a bare minimum of passages where there is a straightforward rhythm defined by bass drum and snare and, with its lofty, philosophical concept, this could be the reason why most critics were so averse to the album as it moved ever further from the narrow confines of rock 'n' roll.

    I personally love the album though I believe side 2 (The Remembering/High the Memory) is comparatively weak. Side 1 (The Revealing Science of God/Dance of the Dawn) is relatively accessible because it does seem a natural progression from Close to the Edge but that's not the reason it's my favourite track. There's a good deal of sonic variety and what comes across as shared input. I particularly like that around the same point on Close to the Edge where there's a Wakeman organ solo, there's a synthesizer solo on side 1 of Tales, and I love that particular sound of the Moog. As an atheist, the title of the track did use to cause me some concern with its reference to 'God' and there's also the line 'Young Christians see it from the beginning' but my apprehension was reconciled when I placed the album in the context of a quest for enlightenment that doesn't necessarily require a specific deity.

    Side 2 comes across as having most of what Wakeman has described as padding. Though it's necessary to regard this movement as part of the whole, I still find that the relatively slow pace of the piece tends to drag and, whereas Close to the Edge and to a lesser extent The Revealing Science of God are densely packed with sound, The Remembering (forgive the allusion) has space between the notes. What's more, this side contains music with the least contrast.

    Side 3 (The Ancients/Giants under the Sun) comes across as almost pagan. From the different languages used to name the Sun to the percussive sections and the 'leaves of green' denouement which, though by no means folk music, does call to mind a plainer, less advanced or mechanised way of life. It's no surprise that the band should use The Firebird Suite as opening music for their live shows. I think that stretching the possibilities of rock music by incorporating some of the ideas of Stravinsky was brave but also something that perhaps only Yes could have done and, if you'll let me draw another parallel, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring not also caused something of a stir when it was first performed in Paris in May 1913, dividing critics and the ballet audience with its deviation from the accepted form. I think that The Ancients and Ritual are the best illustrations of the influence of Stravinsky on Yes music.

    Side 4 (Ritual/Nous Sommes du Soleil) is something of a cross between the more straightforward prog of The Revealing Science of God and the percussion movement on The Ancients. It may be that Wakeman also thought that this was an unnecessary inclusion but again, in the context of what Anderson and Howe had envisaged, it's actually stunningly dynamic, especially when performed live. The resolution of the track into the Nous Sommes du Soleil is a powerful piece of musical drama, drawing threads from the other three sides together into what always feels to me like a very satisfactory conclusion; you have to have listened to the other three sides before this to get it to work. It's uplifting and very positive and ultimately very satisfying. When I first used to listen to the album I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more overt keyboard work but I've since realised that the subtle Mellotron that pervades the entire album is a vital part of the overall orchestration. I believe it's important to see the work as 'orchestrated' because of what Anderson and Howe had originally conceived. Equally, the percussion (and Alan White was something of an unknown to me) should not be regarded as rock drumming because it's often used as musical colour around guitar lines, rather than the other way round.

    As a fourteen year old, listening to the album and poring over the lyrics (and I used to be able to recite all of them) this was a natural successor to Close to the Edge. It's only since then that I've read how it divided fans in a manner similar to the schism caused by the release of 90125, but I do understand why. I accepted Tales because I believed that Yes music had the power to transform; the music and the concept of Tales may be challenging but they are ultimately rewarding, so it's hardly surprising that the further they deviated from the idea that rock 'n' roll is an expression of simple rebellion, the more chance there was of losing fans.

    It's a symphonic prog masterpiece. Five stars

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     Black Diamond by GROUNDHOGS album cover Studio Album, 1976
    3.73 | 11 ratings

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    Black Diamond
    Groundhogs Prog Related

    Review by Sagichim
    Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

    4 stars This is the 10th album by the legendary blues rock band Groundhogs, released in october 1976. While the band became moderately familiar in rock circles at the early 70's thanks to albums such as Split, Thank Christ For The Bomb and Hogwash, they never really managed to break through that glass ceiling. I believe this has to do a lot with the band lacking a charismatic singer, although I do enjoy Tony Mcphee's unmelodic and dry vocals which I always thought was a rougher version of Mark Knopfler, he wasn't exactly FM material to say the least. More over their sound had always been a bit muddy and rough around the edges for it to be accessible. Unfortunately the mid 70's brought even less interest in the band, 1976 was the year of their last recordings until they came back in 1985, they've released two albums, Black Diamond and Crosscut Saw before calling it quits. That was a real shame since those albums saw them take an even more mature, adventurous approach and a fresh new sound. In the early 70's their style was rooted heavily in blues rock, but after a while the band gradually began spicing things up with a mild psychedelic hazy kind of rock. Mcphee's guitar sound also started to change and by the mid 70's became monstrous, adding more sound effects and a brighter tone. The line up is pretty much the same as in previous Crosscut Saw, except for Rick Adams replacing Dave Wellbelove on guitar, again I'm not sure why Mcphee felt the need to include another guitarist. Like previous album, Groundhogs updated production is far superior to their early 70's albums, I must admit with Martin Kent and Mick Cook on bass and drums the band sounds tighter than before, they are doing a great job throughout the album.

    From the first notes of the jubilant opener Body Talk you know you're into something bigger, Cook's drums are in your face, and the balance between everyone is just perfect. Mcphee's guitar is more present than before, he uses more layers to enrich the sound, and it does sound fuller unlike previous albums on which the guitar parts were a bit more modest like it is customary in old blues records. I love what he's done with the effects, I don't know what he's using but his spine tingling guitars sounds brighter and fresher but also raw and fuzzy like a steamroller chasing you. While the band never tried to go for prog rock at all, this might appeal to fans since the arrangements while still confined in basic structures are still interesting on their own. The songwriting is really good, his updated mix of blues and rocky guitars has come to perfection here, all songs are propelled by a strong riff or idea and perfectly executed. Tony of course is the main man here especially when he lets loose and goes out on his killer solo parts. The super groovy Live Right, Country Blues, Body Talk, well everything actually has some kind of a wild exhilarating twisted solo.

    As I mentioned before their material has a more rocky approach, their blues influences are toned down a bit, it is always there to some extent and in some cases are more evident. Check out Fantasy Partner which is one of the best songs on the album, with its infectious groovy blues lead, Tony's vocals are great as well especially in that beautiful chorus. There are all kinds of different guitar parts flying around boasting with distortion backed up with a synthesizer for a good measure, great piece. Friendzy enjoys a shift of gears in the middle and goes into another boogy blues tinged riff which slides into the beautiful short instrumental of Pastoral Future, fantastic really. The closing piece Black Diamond sums up the album nicely with Tony sounding as most melodic as he can get, the song of course wouldn't be perfect without another mesmerizing solo.

    So this is a different Groundhogs album if you're looking to try something fresh from the band, it is a personal favorite of mine although other albums are just as good as this one. I'd say It's a good album to start with and definitely worth your while if you're already a fan. Rounded up a bit to a well deserved 4 stars.

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     The Alchemist by HOME album cover Studio Album, 1973
    3.68 | 59 ratings

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    The Alchemist
    Home Eclectic Prog

    Review by Psychedelic Paul

    4 stars HOME is where the heart is and HOME is where the prog is for this long-forgotten five-piece band from London. They released three albums in the early 1970's:- "Pause for a Hoarse Horse" (1971); "Home" (1972); & "The Alchemist" (1973). The band never managed to achieve the big breakthrough success they so desperately needed, despite being signed to the major CBS record label. A fourth untitled album was recorded but never released and the band packed their bags and went back home in 1974. It's their third and final legendary album "The Alchemist" that was sprinkled with gold dust and contained all of the magical ingredients required to conjure up a classic prog album, so let's give it a spin.

    School's Out for Summer, School's Out Forever, or seemingly forever anyway during the stringent coronavirus lockdown of 2020. We're heading back to school now though for "Schooldays", the first song on the album. The band have managed to purify some melodic prog gold with this first tempting nugget of old school prog. This delightful nostalgic tune is a world apart from the "Skool-Dazed" crashing guitar sound of overgrown schoolboy Angus Young of AC/DC fame. No, this charming song is as gentle as the sweet summer air on a Sunday morning with the birds singing and the church bells ringing. The music features the gentlest of guitar melodies combined with a honey-toned singer and with the percussionist firmly establishing his proggy credentials here with a tricky offbeat time signature. "Schooldays" may not necessarily be the best days of our lives, but this pleasurable opening number will conjure up fond 1970's memories of flowers and flares and birds and beads. It's time now to wallow in some more nostalgia for the gently acoustic mournful opening to Song No. 2: "The Old Man Dying", which might sound as peaceful and relaxed as a couple of dozen pensioners on a restful Saga holiday in Torquay, at least to begin with, but there's life in the Old Man yet, as the deceptively quiet opening serves as a prelude for a bunch of party-going Club 18-30 lager louts to come noisily gatecrashing onto the scene with some heavy slammin' electric guitar chords and pounding percussion, before a return back to a Sea of Tranquility for the conclusion. This stunning four-part piece of music also features a surprising classical Bach-style piano interlude for good measure too, but then again, the wondrous worlds of classical music and prog have always been closely intertwined, ably demonstrated by such classical Wizards of the Keys as Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord & Keith Emerson. If piano maestro J. S. Bach were alive today, he could probably earn a good living as a classically-inspired, Prog-Rock keyboard player. A Krautrock trio of Bach-man Turner Uberdrive perhaps? B-b-b-baby, You ain't heard nothing yet! Anyway, moving swiftly on, there's no better way to pass the time than with our third song, "Time Passes By", a short instrumental interlude which sounds as cool and laid-back as Detective Captain Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) turning up at a murder suspect's address in a Hawaiian shirt and saying, "Book him, Danno, Murder one!", before heading down to Waikiki Beach with a surf board tucked under his arm. Onto Song No. 4 now with "The Old Man Calling (Save the People)", which sounds like a curious combination of off-kilter Canterbury Scene music mixed in with the Southern Rock guitar sound of the Allman Brothers Band, so you can expect the unexpected with this intriguing jazzy piece of music. Who knows what unusual time signature this offbeat tune is played in, but it's definitely not regular 4/4 time. Get ready to hunker down now and prepare for an all-out Sonic Attack for "The Disaster", a crashing discordant dissonance of sounds that hits the listener like a storming salvo of Katyusha rockets. This crazy Bats in the Belfry bedlam is all-fired-up with the maniacal intensity of an open day at a lunatic asylum. It's madder than an albino in a white suit hitch-hiking in a snowstorm. There's a return to some kind of sanity now for "The Sun's Revenge", a two-part piece, opening as an uptempo syncopated Funk-Rock groove about the ravages of time wreaked by the Sun on unprotected skin, which might serve as a timely reminder for us all to slap on some suntan lotion or wear a hat the next time we're out in the summer sunshine. The mellower second part of "The Sun's Revenge" features a moody and magnificent acoustic jamboree of tinkling keyboards and jangling acoustic guitars, which sounds as gentle as a ballerina gracefully extending one slender leg en-pointe behind her, a bit like a dog at a fire hydrant. The music's great, but you may struggle to understand the lyrics in the first part of this song, where the vocabulary sounds as bad as, like, whatever...

    We're back in Allman Brothers territory again (in the style of "Jessica" - the Top Gear theme) for "A Secret to Keep", which captures the American Southern Rock sound perfectly, only without the steamy oppressive heat, the alligator infested swamps and the pesky mosquitoes down in the bayou. The singer barely has time to catch his breath in this brief fast-paced number before we're into Song No. 8: "The Brass Band Played". This is a fun piece where the band members sound like they're having a right old knees-up with lots of cheering and clapping in the background as a hearty brass band beats out a typical marching rhythm, as brass bands up and down the land are wont to do. The Salvation Army will be "Coming 'round the Mountain" with a collection plate any time soon. We're in celebratory mood now for "Rejoicing", a Funk Rock groove that's flying high on adrenalin like Tom "Maverick" Cruise lighting up his afterburners with a burst of testosterone in a twin-jet F-14 Tom-Cat. The next song "The Disaster Returns (Devastation)" continues where "The Disaster" of Side One left off, so you can expect more Looney Tunes madness and mayhem to ensue in a non-stop fusillade of machine-gun percussion and lightning- strike electric power chords from the crazy fired-up guitarist. This manic song barrels along relentlessly for eight minutes with all the power of a runaway diesel locomotive thundering down the tracks, but be prepared for a major derailment at the end. Onto the penultimate song now with "The Death of the Alchemist", a suitably haunting and mournful refrain featuring shimmering sound effects in the spooky opening. Hang on a minute though... What's this!?? It's not all doom and gloom as the song emerges like a beautiful butterfly from a chrysalis into a rousing and anthemic prog classic in all of its glorious majesty and magnificence. The Prog Gods will be graciously appeased. The third and final part of this four and a half minute epic features a cascading cacophony with the sound of echoing church bells in the background adding an extra touch of drama to the grand occasion. Time marches on as the tale of "The Alchemist" draws gently to a close now with the title track. This is prog gold! The song opens as a deceptively gentle acoustic Folk-Rock ditty, but this first impression is soon shattered by a storming gale-force blast of heavy keyboard prog in the style of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer at their very best. This powerful soaring album highlight reaches Force 9 on the Beaufort Scale and has all of the surging symphonic splendour of "The Court of the Crimson King". In fact, the closing song is as pleasantly surprising and uplifting as walking straight into a supermarket during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, without having to queue for ages outside, and then finding all of the shelves are fully stocked once you get inside the store. Improbable, but not impossible.

    "The Alchemist" will make you feel right at Home with this solid helping of pure prog gold, hammered out and fashioned on the anvil of Eclectic Prog. This terrific long-lost album would make a welcome addition to your treasured Prog-Rock collection, but the chances of actually finding this rare album in the record stores are about as remote as winning a medal in a Communist marathon. On your Marx...

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     The Secret of Our Time by SIENA ROOT album cover Studio Album, 2020
    2.82 | 11 ratings

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    The Secret of Our Time
    Siena Root Heavy Prog

    Review by ssmarcus

    2 stars You've heard the story before: a group of continental Europeans, overly nostalgic for that Anglo-American psychedelic and hard rock sound of the late 60's through early 70's, form a band and relentlessly pursue that highest form of flattery that is imitation. And boy do Siena Root excel at such flattery. On The Secret of Our Time, Siena have crafted an album nearly indifferentiable from Deep Purple's In Rock save for having swapped the rock god shrills of Ian Gillian for a female lead.

    The artistic and entertainment value of successfully replicating something so nostalgic is not lost on me. I'm certain that fans of Siena of Root who have had the privilege of seeing their live shows or various equipment and production afficionados can afford themselves more affection towards this record. But for the rest of us who, despite holding no small amount of affection for that time period in music, would like to see music introduce novelty and progression, this record has little to offer.

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     European Impressions by CORYELL, LARRY album cover Studio Album, 1978
    3.63 | 5 ratings

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    European Impressions
    Larry Coryell Jazz Rock/Fusion

    Review by Mark-P

    4 stars Larry Coryell is one of my guitar heroes, and I like him best on steel string acoustic guitar. The European Impression album is to me one of his best acoustic works.

    This album consists of 7 tracks. The first three tracks were recorded from 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival, and the rest were recorded on studio. The Montreux Jazz Festival tracks are all fantastic.

    First track 'Toronto Under the Sign of Capricorn' is my favourite track. This composition shows Coryell's inspiring guitar techniques: the fast picking, beautiful use of harmonics, and fierce blues strumming. The mood changes several times, make this nearly-9-minute composition enjoyable from the beginning to end. The sound is very natural, when listen carefully, we can capture the sound of plectrum stroking the steel string ' and it sound great for me.

    'For Philip and Django' is another great track, with chords composition that reminds me to Villa-Lobos works (e.g. Choro No.1), but in jazzy way.

    'Rodrigo Reflections' is kind of Coryell's homage to Joaquin Rodrigo, and yes ' there are few bits of Concierto de Aranjuez, a mix of jazz and flamenco flavor and hilariously take a part of traditional song Yankee Doodle. The version is different (or maybe expanded) from its release on 1976 'The Eleventh House: Aspects'. I like this version better, a lot of fun and passions.

    The rest of tracks were recorded at NYC later in the same year. All are as well great tracks. 'April Seventh' is a nice (mainly in major scale) slower composition. 'The Silver Medley: Song for My Father / Sister Sadie' is a bluesy tune, with some rock'n'roll progression and licks. 'Copenhagen Impressions' has a lot of arpeggios, harmonic notes and unique bending. 'Variations On A Theme' is a short last piece, it's unique feature is the use of palm-muted notes.

    Wonderful record! One of reference in steel-string acoustics fusion performance. It is kind of pure Coryell at his peak, summarising many of his great guitar playing technique.

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     Karmatrain by OUTSIDE IN album cover Studio Album, 2019
    3.50 | 2 ratings

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    Karmatrain
    Outside In Crossover Prog

    Review by Rivertree
    Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

    3 stars I came across them in a relatively common manner. Like most of the bands, quasi as an appetizer, they had offered song excerpts from their new album beforehand. Works well in most cases, almost always. OUTSIDE IN are from New Zealand, not a big prog scene there, as for that you have to look over at Australia, the neighbourhood. Okay, I know, not seriously comparable. Stylistically seen close to the likes of Entransient, Ossicles, A Liquid Landscape, Anubis they are not defining something eternally new, this should be said. That's not the case here. Anyhow, there's something regrowing again and again. Hence I'm thrilled that still new entertaining compositions and even real pearls are deriving from this meadows on and off.

    The OUTSIDE IN crew is capable of serving sensitive and emotive ballads, that's assured. Trips to melt away, one can say. Well, Mikey Brown has a big share, his voice is rather charming. 'Everything Must Change' - due to this context Blue Dragon then evolves into a heavier direction with more expressive vocals. This so far describes it in general, here we have more than 60 minutes of material showing a unique balance of ballad-esque and heavier rocking moments. Hereby a few songs are average, too polished according to my taste. Though generally seen I find this a quite impressing album regardless. Hence, consequently, finally just let me emphasize one of their highlights, The Garden Of Light, a real masterpiece. Aah, I can't release, burnt into my mind somehow, I'm open to listen to this track again and again. 3.5 stars.

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     The Way Forward by INTERVALS album cover Studio Album, 2017
    4.32 | 10 ratings

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    The Way Forward
    Intervals Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    5 stars Intervals went from a new djent band to an instrumental prog band with Allan Holdsworth inspiration. This is my favourite instrumental album, it has feeling, its warm, its well produced, it has everything a jazz inspired instrumental prog album should have. It has complex chord structures, odd times, polyrhythms, expanded instrumental passage (guitar, keyboard, drum and bass solos), and many more. I'm actually glad they moved on from the djent approach, their first album 'A Voice Within' wasn't exactly good for them, the vocals didn't work for their sound very much.

    Touch and Go | The powerful opener with intricate guitar parts, great Instrumentation, yes I'm going to make these same points a bunch.

    Impulsively Responsible | The second track follows the same formula but with a slower and slightly different mood. It's more of an instrumental prog rock song rather than a borderline jazz fusion bit. It's a bit slower but it hits just as hard as the opener.

    A Different Light | A Different Light is definitely a more traditional jazz feel but it has the arrangement of ... well... an instrumental prog band. It's a bit of a weaker track but it's still quite the well written track.

    By Far and Away | This is the best song on the album by a long shot. The instrumentation, the songwriting, and solos are all unbelievable. Owane is a great keyboard player, and his skills show on this song. I mean... Aaron Marshall is a great guitarist but his skills showed from the first 5 seconds of this album.

    Belvedere | Belvedere is one hell of a track, this has a bunch of those more instrumental prog songs. It's a great track that's very well written. Is it bad that I'm very impressed by this spectacular album?

    Rubicon Artist | This song kind of brings back the djent aspects. I do love this song but it has its rough edges. I find that for fans of the more jazz oriented instrumental prog, this is going to be the hardest song to get into. It has all the things we can appreciate like alternating patterns between the guitar and drums, but overall, this song is going to be harder to get into for jazz fans.

    The Waterfront | I felt that this song was meant to be more of a chord based piece rather than a playing based piece. The chords have this very soft ambiance that fits the feel of this song. It has a very hard hitting emotion to it, this has Holdsworth touch in it, it sounds like Aaron was listening to Metal Fatigue when he wrote this song.

    Leave No Stone | This has all the elements of all the other pieces on the album, it has the softer djent elements, it's got its slower and more melodic parts, and lastly its busy and more well played parts. It's a very cool way to end off this warm and emotional album.

    I think that this album shows that you don't need a singer to be a great band. The instrumentation, the chord progressions, and feel is the what makes a band good, all three elements in unison is what makes a band great. This album has all of the above, so therefore: this album is fantastic.

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     Face The Music by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1975
    3.38 | 248 ratings

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    Face The Music
    Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

    Review by iluvmarillion

    4 stars As another reviewer says, ELO got better as they shed their progressive roots. That's opposite to what people on a prog rock site expect to hear and consequently the ratings go down as you chronologically move through the ELO discography. If you seek lengthy compositions, unusual time signatures, flashy musical technique and multiple styles within a song, you won't find it on Face The Music, nor any subsequent album. However, in terms of song writing craft Jeff Lynne hits his strides in a trio of albums beginning with this one. The result is eight superbly written pop songs performed by a multi-instrumental rock band. The value you attach to song writing craft and arrangement over musical technique and style determines your rating score. Any star rating between one and five is equally valid here, as this is an instance where bad prog rock doesn't align with bad album.

    Jeff Lynne hasn't shaken off all the influences that went to making Eldorado. We still get the heavy choruses, spoken word and strings that go into the instrumental opener, Fire On Water. However, this time the writing is much tighter. After the classical intro it moves into a fast rock beat with synthesizers and guitars and finishes with choir voices and flash of acoustic guitars.

    Waterfall is a great song, one of Jeff Lynne's best, with great lyrics. This is a slower track with Beatles like harmonies and better use of the chorus. Evil Woman is another great song with a dance like beat with a catchy chorus and piano and clavinet riff. Would have sounded even better without the kitchen sink approach of adding too many strings and too many female voices.

    Nightrider starts with synthesizer, then comes the ubiquitous strings and choruses as it develops into a very strong vocal line before the quiet piano finish. Again, great lyrics. Poker gives Bev Bevan something to do on drums and the song goes through a few time changes in a fast-paced guitar rocker with lots of synthesizer and drum fills. Strange Magic is another impressive song from Jeff Lynne. The orchestral intro is great but the strings in the middle spoil it a bit. It has breezy guitar at the start before it moves into piano and this time the female chorus really complements the song. Down Home Town is a play on Land Of Dixie with a catchy beat and chorus.

    The final track, the acoustic ballad called One Summer Dream, is I think the best thing Jeff Lynne ever wrote. It could do without the orchestra and even the choruses because it works brilliantly purely as a guitar piece. You feel as if you're floating off into the sunset as you listen to it.

    My major complaint with Face The Music is there are too many string arrangements on the album. I also think it could have done without all the choruses featuring on every track. You can achieve great harmonies with just a few voices. You don't need massive choirs. Sometimes less means more. But I'm quibbling here. The other instruments are fine with clever use of guitars, synthesizers, voices and piano. These songs are so strong they would survive any format. Jeff Lynne has peeled off some of his best songs, many of which were deserved single hits. He would outdo himself on his next album, A New World Discovery.

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     Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Studio Album, 2011
    3.49 | 45 ratings

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    Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison
    Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

    Review by TCat
    Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

    4 stars This album, which is #90 in the list of official Zappa releases, was released (posthumously, of course) by the Zappa Family Trust. However, it was recorded by Zappa around 1986 and was meant to be a 3-track vinyl album released at that time, but never was. The music is all performed by Frank on his synclavier, which he used more and more extensively in his later years. The instrument provided Frank a way to hear the 'impossible music' that resided in his head, music that he deemed impossible to play by a human-based orchestra/band. It was also an instrument that was becoming more and more complex and useful, allowing him to record longer and more complex compositions as its memory capacity grew larger through the years and its sound became better.

    In the case of this album, Gail Zappa and Joe Travers decided to finally release this album in 2011 much to the joy of Zappa- aficionados everywhere. Imagine how happy they were to get new music from their hero. Gail and Joe decided to add two more tracks to the album (the last two on the track listing for the CD), thus actually making the album a 'compilation' in their reckoning. Since Frank planned on releasing this as an original album, I think it is best to consider it an original recording, however, and just think of the last two tracks as bonus tracks. Either way, all 5 tracks are performed on the synclavier (with a guest appearance from Moon Unit).

    The first track, the 20-minute title track, is original to this album and hasn't appeared in any form any where else prior to its release. Trying to describe this music is a bit tough as it is very complex. This (and pretty much everything on the album) is quite avant-garde and dense with no real traditional melody as you might expect in some of Zappa's more rock or jazz influenced tracks. This one is considered the more 'classical-influenced' style of music, with what might seem like random, orchestrated sounds to the untrained Zappa-listener, but in reality, it is all structured usually by certain sets of rules that are not easily apparent. If you like the music from albums like 'Jazz from Hell' or 'Civilization Phaze III', then you will like this. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you might want to approach this with caution. It does take some time to adjust your 'ear' to this style of music.

    Speaking of 'Civilization Phaze III', the next 2 tracks, 'Buffalo Voice' and 'Secular Humanism' originally appeared on that album. However, they were both edited for that album. Now, for the first time, you get to hear the complete versions of these tracks, the former runs over 11 minutes, the latter is over 6 minutes. They both have some interesting vocalizations with Frank's vocalist of choice, Moon Unit Zappa. I'm pretty certain he must add some of his own vocalizations in the later one, which also seems to have more of a humorous edge to it. With all of the vocal manipulations, you will be reminded of something Mike Patton would do.

    The last two tracks are the 'bonus tracks' that were added by Gail and Joe. It starts with the shortest track on the album, 'Worms From Hell'. Most of this one is exclusive to this album, but about 30 seconds of it was used for the introduction to the video release 'Video From Hell' released in 1987. Since the track is over 5 minutes, most of it is original to this album. This one is a little more traditionally structured than the previous tracks with some repeating riffs, but really not by much. It also seems to be more lighthearted, but it's still quite complex. The last track is the 2nd fully original track on the album, the 11 minute 'Samba Funk', a track the mixes bizarre complexity with some off-beat percussion.

    Strangely enough, I find this music quite intriguing. It did take me some time to get to that point though, I will admit. It's not something that I tend to listen to a lot as I have to be in the right mood for it, but when I am, I find it full of color and moods. I can even make sense out of it which makes it even more interesting. One thing for sure, the sound of this and some of the latter synclavier albums is much better than those that came earlier, and that also helps. The sound is more dynamic and realistic, not as choppy as the albums produced that way from earlier years.

    This is definitely not for everyone. As I said earlier, I have to be in the right mood to listen to this, and it's much more complex that 'Jazz From Hell', but more along the lines of 'Civilization Phaze III', but without the intelligible spoken word sections. This is definitely not one for first-time Zappa listeners, and probably even for many Zappa fans, but it is intriguing nonetheless, and it is well constructed and produced. I can easily give it 4 stars for its complexity, but I know there will be many out there that won't be able to listen to it at all, so I think 4 stars is fair enough.

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     Truth Inside The Shades by PERSEFONE album cover Studio Album, 2004
    3.12 | 20 ratings

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    Truth Inside The Shades
    Persefone Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

    Review by siLLy puPPy
    Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

    3 stars When it comes to nations of the world that have produced some great metal bands, the tiny little nation of Andorra sandwiched between Spain and France doesn't exactly come to mind but as the odometer moved on to the 21st century, this tiny forgotten principality high up in the Pyrenees Mountains finally got a bit of attention in 2001 when one of its best musical exports hit the scene. Named after the daughter of the mythological Greek goddess Demeter, PERSEFONE expanded past its origins in this nation's capital city Andorra la Vella and took the international metal world by storm.

    While this band has gone through a few lineup changes over the years, it all began with the founding members of Carlos Lozano (guitar), Jordi Gorgues (guitar), Toni Mestre (bass) and Xavi P閞ez (drums) who started as a cover band and slowly gained the confidence to craft their own musical visions. The four members worked hard and long on this first album TRUTH INSIDE THE SHADES and after adding two more members, Aleix Dorca (Drums) and Marc Martins (lead vocals), found the perfect chemistry to finish off this debut album and unleash it on an unsuspecting planet. The band experienced instant feedback as the album was a surprise hit at least in terms of the metal underground which has led to a two decade career that has found many slots at various festivals across the European continent.

    TRUTH INSIDE THE SHADES actually started off as a demo but after months of crafting new tunes, PERSEFONE found it had enough decent material for a bonafide official full-length release. The style of PERSEFONE is quite diverse and is usually described as a progressive death metal band but those tags only take you so far. It is indeed a progressive metal band that stitches together myriad elements including Chopin-esque piano rolls, symphonic touches, complex Opeth inspired compositional flow and a plethora of time signature deviations, tempo changes and abrupt hairpin turns from aggressive brutality to placid atmospheric contemplation. While guitar riffs rampage, symphonic prog inspired keyboard runs are just as prevalent. Neo-classical guitar shredding sits side by side with black metal screams and death metal growls.

    While considered the most underdeveloped of the PERSEFONE canon, TRUTH INSIDE THE SHADES certainly debuted with a bang. While the tracks often begin with classical piano and keyboard melodies, the musical procession offers twists and turns that fuse the elements of power metal, death metal, neoclassical shredding and even elements of black metal in the vein of Cradle of Filth. There are the expected blastbeats, double bass banging and chugging riffage of metal madness but there are also clean melodic moments with clean vocals that offer a glimpse of a true progressive metal album delving into the mellower aspects of progressive rock. The tracks come off as epic with lengthy journeys of musical processions that take on disparate characteristics that at times even mimic operas especially with some of the brief choral vocal moments.

    PERSEFONE would go on to craft even more adventurous albums with the following "Core" sending shockwaves into the prog metal community but for a first time effort this debut is not slouch however some of the keyboards do come off as a bit cheesy and there is something missing to the overall effect that really makes this a top notch release but after all is said and done, TRUTH INSIDE THE SHADES delivers an excellent mix of stylistic approaches coupled with outstanding instrumental interplay. The guitar playing is particularly impressive with Jordi Gorgues Mateu displaying some impressively rapid fire shots of shredding. The musical flow runs the gamut of soft and heavenly to hellish and chaotic. Andorra is one of the oldest nations in Europe having been formed in 1278 but finally in the 21st century the tiny microstate at long last had produced a musical artist that put it on the map!

    3.5 but rounded down

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     Refugee by REFUGEE album cover Studio Album, 1974
    4.13 | 229 ratings

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    Refugee
    Refugee Symphonic Prog

    Review by Agnenrecords

    5 stars Sometime in late 1973 a small Xeroxed poster appeared in Kelly's record store in Barrow-in-Furness advertising an upcoming gig at Lancaster University. This was for Refugee, featuring the former rhythm section of The Nice, Lee Jackson on bass and Brian Davison on drums, with the then unknown keyboard player Patrick Moraz. I was only 14 and didn't manage to go but my older brother went with a couple of his school friends and came home with a tale of an amazing concert (and of missing the last train home and wandering around Lancaster looking for somewhere to spend the night.) It was fairly obvious that the band would attract Nice comparisons (I believe this was part of the wording in the advert for the concert) but even if Nice connections were used to lure potential fans, the old material aired at the gig (Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon, She Belongs to Me and Rondo) was supplementary to the new Refugee compositions.

    The one and only Refugee studio album was released by Charisma on April 19th 1974 and this was acquired for '2 from a short-lived record store in Barrow indoor market that fronted onto Duke Street. I bought a second-hand copy to fill an important gap in my record collection when I moved to London the late 70s, but the inner sleeve on my LP was missing the lyrics and other pertinent information present on my brother's original. It's incredible to think that it took until 2006 before it was committed to CD (Voiceprint IDVP002CD), carefully remastered by Moraz and his former band mate from Mainhorse, Jean Ristori; this is why I'd class Refugee as a forgotten classic.

    At the time of its release, Refugee gained some highly positive critical attention. The keyboard-led trio formula may have been borrowed from The Nice but the music, almost exclusively written by Moraz, was a very different prospect. This was much more symphonic in style and scale and on the two long-form compositions on the album the structure and instrumentation was far more in keeping with the style that would become synonymous with The Enid. Patrick Moraz's earlier song writing, highlighted on the Mainhorse album from 1971 (re-released in 2006 on CD by Voiceprint IDVP001CD) is much more proto-progressive, more blues-based with a narrower sonic palette. Though Moraz had worked with Jackson in the post-Nice, pre-Refugee Jackson Heights, it may have been the chemistry between the members of the new band that allowed Moraz to express himself in this symphonic prog style, where the music was quite unlike either The Nice or Mainhorse.

    Despite the large number of keyboard tracks on Refugee the sound, even on the original vinyl release with potential compression problems from sides of 26 minutes and 24 minutes long, was clear and well balanced. Lee Jackson's vocals were also much improved since his Nice days. Patrick Moraz simply transposed keys to fit with Jackson's vocal range, with astonishing results. From the deeply personal Someday and sections of Credo to the more straightforward narrative of Grand Canyon Suite (which appears on the vinyl version as Canyon Suite), the vocal delivery is laden with a befitting emotion that is always well-controlled and in-tune. The production brings out the bass much more than on Nice albums and Brian Davison's drumming seems better suited to the Refugee compositions. In The Nice, Jackson and Davison were always in the background, simply providing a driving rhythm for Emerson to solo over; in Refugee, despite Moraz playing the lead, the band seems more egalitarian, with a shared input and output. There were some sonic innovations, too. Moraz erected a set of slinkies (the coiled spring child's toy) on a metal clothes frame with a set of contact mics which he played with a feather duster; he also used an Alpine horn (being from Switzerland) on Grand Canyon Suite.

    The suit that Jackson is wearing on the cover photo of the album was also his choice of outfit for the Lancaster gig, and there is YouTube live footage of Jackson in these clothes. According to my brother, Jackson also pranced around stage with a butterfly net during Papillon. After their demise, there were rumours of unreleased material and in due course, when Martyn Hanson was researching his book Hang on to a Dream - The Story of The Nice, he asked Brian Davison if he had any Nice bootlegs. The answer was no, but he did have a mixing desk recording of Refugee from Newcastle City Hall, prior to the release of the studio album. This was eventually released on CD by Voiceprint in 2007 (VP421CD) and does indeed contain some previously unrecorded material, destined for a never-to-appear second studio album, entitled One Left Handed Peter Pan. Musically, this is more in the vein of existing Refugee material (and a vehicle for a Brian Davison drum solo) but lyrically it is reminiscent of Jackson's Nice days, relating a tale of Jackson's experience in the music industry.

    I was reluctantly drawn into easy audio portability and bought myself a Sony Walkman mp3 player, but I found the files ripped from my 2006 Refugee CD rather annoying because the two multi-part suites appear as separate tracks on the CD, producing intrusive pauses when played back on my Walkman. As a solution for when I'm physically separated from my vinyl, I've pasted the subsections together using NCH WavePad software and removed the gaps to recreate the original album experience. The short-lived nature of the band (their first gig being in December 1973 and their last in August 1974) meant that though they had released a mature prog album that has to be regarded as one of the genre's best, they were destined to be forgotten. Moraz went on to further success with Yes and the Moody Blues but Jackson gave up a front-line musician's life for some considerable time afterwards and Davison, after a short spell in Gong, did likewise.

    A forgotten masterpiece that's one of my top five albums of all time. Five stars

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     The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
    4.14 | 417 ratings

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    The Polite Force
    Egg Canterbury Scene

    Review by friso
    Prog Reviewer

    3 stars Egg is a Canterbury group that is basically a trio (bass, drums, keyboards) that was left when Steve Hillage moved on after their sole Arzachel album - which some consider to be an early Canterbury and space rock classic. Keyboardist Dave Stewart would also play with Steve Hillage on Kahn's 'Space Shanty' album (a favorite of mine) and is one of the better keyboardist of the genre. On this album we get to hear two great psychedelic and jazzy Canterbury songs that are instantly enjoyable and recognizable as top notch genre classics. Mont Campbell's vocals (who also plays bass) don't stand out, but its clearly enough to cast that dopey English vocal jazz sound that fits the music so well. 'A Visit To Newport Hospital' is a jazzy hardrock song with distorted organs and some strong instrumental sections. 'Contrasong' with its amazing rhythms and wind-sections is another bright and energetic high-light. After that Egg goes fully avant-prog on the listener with the plain boring soundscape 'Boilk' and the formless summation of ideas called 'Long Piece No. 3' (which fills the second side). Perhaps without the nine useless minutes of 'Boilk' this would have still been a worthy addition to most prog collections, but as it is; this record sounds way too unfinished and random to be considered that worthwhile. I actually wanted to like this much more than I do because of the fantastic recording sound and the love I hold for 'Space Shanty'. Do add the first two songs to your digital playlist though!

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     Argus by WISHBONE ASH album cover Studio Album, 1972
    4.22 | 685 ratings

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    Argus
    Wishbone Ash Prog Related

    Review by ken_scrbrgh

    5 stars From the early 1970's through the early 1980's, New Orleans was home to a singular musical venue, the Warehouse. On Tchoupitoulas St. not too far upriver from Downtown New Orleans, this 'converted' old railroad warehouse witnessed legendary New Year's Eve performances by the Allman Brothers and early in their career performances by Yes, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, and Elton John. Wishbone Ash was also a regular performing group.

    Indeed, Wishbone Ash had a particular affinity for New Orleans and the Warehouse. However, it is ironic that, by the time I first saw them in early 1975, Laurie Wisefield had already replaced the departed Ted Turner and the performance occurred at the old University of New Orleans Field House. Touring their recently released, There's the Rub; the back-up band was Camel. If only I appreciated Camel at that time! Andy, Martin, Laurie, and Steve were certainly convincing, especially with FUBB.

    When I finally saw Wishbone Ash at the Warehouse in early 1976, they were touring their unfortunate Locked In album. To make matters worse, our heroes were upstaged by some new back-up band known as Styx . . . . Mercifully, by the end of 1976 Wishbone Ash 'redeemed' themselves with New England In a sense, though, 1972's Argus has abided through these years as the band's iconic statement.

    It would appear to me that the harmony, dual lead guitar efforts of Andy Powell/ Ted Turner on Argus 'set the stage' for, as a primary example, Boston's first album in 1976. For high school, quasi-performers, 'Blowin' Free,' 'Warrior,' and 'Throw Down the Sword' became intense pieces for study and emulation. With his Gibson Flying V guitar, Andy Powell was the ostensible dominant lead in the band. However, Ted Turner demonstrated his 'chops' in a noteworthy way through his solo on 'The King Will Come.' On bass and drums, Martin Turner and Steve Upton comprised an effective rhythm section with Martin's bass lines in 'Time Was' and 'Sometime World' standing out. Yes, I was in a 'garage band' in the mid-seventies in which we butchered not only the music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix, but also Wishbone Ash.

    To this day, Argus produces an almost ineffable reaction in me. The musicality of this album is legendary. But there is something truly mythic, atavistic, and archetypal to Argus. The enduring legacies of Glastonbury and Arthur, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien are 'introduced' to us by a 'gatekeeper' we know as Argus. I believe we followers of progressive rock recognize certain years that are watersheds in development. In 1972, we were given Close to the Edge, Thick as a Brick, Foxtrot, Can't Buy a Thrill, Trilogy, and Argus. In 'Time Flies,' on Porcupine Tree's The Incident, Steven Wilson reminds us of his year of birth, 1967, also the year of the releases of Sgt. Pepper and Are You Experienced? What more pertinent question could a 'gatekeeper' album pose than, 'Are you experienced; not necessarily stoned, but beautiful?'

    Time truly flies.

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     The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
    3.40 | 690 ratings

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    The Astonishing
    Dream Theater Progressive Metal

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    1 stars Turns out John Petrucci's passion project known as Dream Theater goes one step further from Prog Metal to bland Rock Opera. Of course what can I say about this album? Its astonishingly bad... ok I really just wanted the pun.

    But in all seriousness, this album, as good as... well... one song is, the rest of fairly boring, overblown, and way over the top. I've been a fan of the bands double albums for a while, Metropolis Part 2 and Six Degrees, but this is completely over the top and way too long (and that's coming from a Flower Kings fan). Unlike TFK, this album has barely any good songwriting and just comes off bland and uninspiring. The instrumentation is still good but Mike's drums here just don't sound right. I do like the large concept idea of this album, and there are a few songs on this album that I can say "hey, that wasn't too bad", but for the most part this is just way too much. Petrucci should've listened to Mike Portnoy, they should've went on a hiatus and come back with new ideas. Unfortunately for the band, Petrucci works like a machine (which is a blessing and a curse), he likes to keep pushing out albums whether the albums are not of top quality.

    Without Portnoy, this band has gone from great to merely mediocre. This is one example as to why the band should've went on a hiatus, to avoid something like this. If you want hard hitting Dream Theater of the now, go elsewhere, give this album a shot in case you like it though. I wasn't a fan of this album but give it a shot either way, but I would suggest 'Distance Over Time', it is much better than this album, and it has a more retro Dream Theater writing style. Unfortunately, this wasn't my thing, the rock opera elements just don't work for me, if I want to listen to Rock opera I'll listen to Queen.

    Either way, my final words are: This could've been better, but overall, this just didn't have anything that intrigued me. The only song I enjoyed was 'A New Beginning', but even that song was a bit of a pill. Anyways, if you want Dream Theater at their best, I'd go elsewhere, because this album is just really long and it can be hard to get through.

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     Story Tellers - Part Two by TIGER MOTH TALES album cover Studio Album, 2018
    3.89 | 69 ratings

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    Story Tellers - Part Two
    Tiger Moth Tales Neo-Prog

    Review by huge

    4 stars Apart from the whimsical nature (following on from Story Tellers Part One), this does appear to have matured (if you can take the story of the 'Three Little Pigs' into context - which is hilarious by the way). The Palace; is it plagiarism, downright copying, or very clever use of influence from Steve Hackett? (Which I suppose is hardly surprising as Pete Jones used the moniker Tiger Moth from none other than - Steve Hackett. It certainly is the stand out track on the album.

    'Kai' is perhaps the most progressive fare to be found on the album. 'The Match Girl' shows Pete Jones in nostalgic mood using clever chording and the duet on 'Eternity' is equally as good.

    It is almost as though the whimsy separates these stand out tracks.

    It is immediately obvious that although Pete Jones is an immensely talented musician, there is possible a lack of depth that could perhaps be resolved by introducing a 'real' drummer into the equation.

    However, this is an improvement on the first part of Story Tellers. Will there be a Part Three??

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