Thursday, 22 April 2021

Toboggan - Première Descente (2021)

The debut album from this French band.

The band is a trio with a lineup of drums, bass, guitars and synths.

It was with trepidation I decided to review this album. Their Bandcamp page speaks about some dense avant-garde music. It is the type of music I find difficult to review.

But the music is not that hard to describe and review. So I did not have that much reasons to fear this album and the task of reviewing it.

Parts of this album is indeed avant-garde prog with some hints of zeuhl and Canterbury prog too.

There is also some jazz here in the vein of Michel Delville and Mark Wingfield. Toboggan would feel themselves at home on a record label like Moonjune Records. 

The jazz is dense and unrelenting brutal in parts. 

This one hour long album visits some diverse soundscapes. None of them are easy listening. But the music is not very avant-garde. There is melodies and methods in the avant-garde and jazz music. 

I am not sure if Toboggan will ever decide if they will be a jazz or an avant-garde prog band. Or maybe they will be a crossover band. Premiere Descente is 50 % jazz and 50 % avant-garde prog.

And that makes this album rather good. 

Or decent to good. I am not entirely won over by this band and album. Nevertheless, check out this album.

2.5 points

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Crystalwood - Solaire (2014)

The one and only album from this US band.

The band is a duo with a lineup of drums, bass, guitars, synths and vocals.

My reference bible ProgArchives gave this album a high rating.... but it has no reviews there. So I thought this crossover prog album may be something for me and this blog.

The album is also clocking in at well over one and a half hour. A digital download in other words.

Crossover prog can mean a lot. In this case, it is not good news at all.

We get over ninety minutes with a lot of soppy pop music from the 1960s... And I do not mean pop music as in The Beatles. I mean pop music from the time before The Beatles shook up that scene and made pop music a credible form of music. 

Take some soppy pop music from the 1970s and add some rock to the proceedings.

A large part of this album makes me cringe. Really cringe and make we want this album to go away.

This is another turkey in my collection of turkeys and well worth avoiding.  

1 points


Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Crystal Phoenix - Crystal Phoenix (1989)

The debut album from this Italian band.

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

The band released two albums between 1989 and 2003 through Black Widow Records before they called it a day.

I reviewed their second album back in October 2010 and it has taken me more than ten years to revisit the band for a review of their debut album. Hmmm......

Their main force was ms. Myriam Saglimbeni on vocals and guitars. Her vocals is not good at all. Her vocals are in heavy accented English.

The music is a mix of metal, prog and folk rock. Mostly metal.

The music sounds as cheap as the front cover art-work. The sound is thin. The cliches comes thick and fast.

There is no quality in the music and this album is fully fat turkey. Avoid.

1 points


Lucifer Was - Morning Star (2017)

The seventh album from this Norwegian band.

The band was Thore Engen on guitars and vocals plus eight other musicians who provided drums, percussion, bass, guitars, zither, organ, piano, harpsicord, mellotron, flute and vocals.

This is so far the latest Lucifer Was album and I have had the pleasure of listening to all their albums. 

Lucifer Was is without doubts one of the gems from the Norwegian scene. Their 1970s sound mix of Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull really hits the right tones for most of us.

Their albums is a bit hit and miss through. Five of them are really good. The two remaining is somewhere between decent and good.

Morning Star sees the band shed most of the Jethro Tull and early Black Sabbath sound. If anything, they now sounds like Black Sabbath, the Tony Martin era.

This album sounds a bit blander than the normal fare from Lucifer Was. It still has most of their trademark sound, but it seems like the band has moved more towards mainstream.

The quality of the songs are not their normal good either. 

The quality is somewhere between decent and good. And this is one of the two albums I feel is letting down their good name and standards. Nevertheless, check out this album.

2.5 points

Monday, 19 April 2021

Crystals - Crystals (1992)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

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

This album was recorded in 1974 but only released through Mellow Records in 1992. 

This is actually an RPI super-group with members from Area, Samadhi, PFM, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and Raccomandata Ricevuta Di Ritorno. 

So what could go wrong ?

The genre to start with. The music is not RPI at all. 

Take Led Zeppelin's debut album and add some more rock'n'roll to that album. Then you can add an Italian pop song too. Then you get this album.

The vocals are in English and the vocalist sounds a great deal like Robert Plant. But nowhere near as good. The rest of Crystals is nowhere near as good as Bonham, Jones and Page either. 

This super-group has still tried the same path as them and the result is not too bad.

The music is fairly decent and ditto for the sound. It is still a waste of talent and I am not sure why this album was recorded at all. An album written and composed by an Area member, btw.

Nevertheless, it is a decent album.

2 points

Caligonaut - Magnified As Giants (2021)

The debut album from this Norwegian band.

The band is Ole Michael Bjorndal's solo project. He is member of Oak and Airbag and does the guitars and vocals on this album.

He got help from members of bands like Pymlico, Wobbler, White Willow and Airbag. They contribute with drums, bass, violin, guitars, church organ, mellotron, synths, keyboards and vocals.

A bit of a super group in other words. But that does not necessary means a good product.

Magnified As Giants gives us fifty minutes divided on four songs... four compositions. 

References are Pink Floyd, Wobbler, King Crimson, Yes and Genesis. And you can also add the Norwegian symphonic prog scene as a whole as references. 

This is indeed a symphonic prog album. The music is a bit eclectic and more than most symphonic prog albums. But that is Norwegian symphonic prog for you and it's sound and style. 

The vocals is very good and the same can also be said for the music here. It is shading greatness, this album and the many great details elevates this album to greatness. 

This will surely be rated as one of the best albums of the year come next winter. Get this album.

4 points


Sunday, 18 April 2021

Bacio Della Medusa. Il - Discesa Agl'Inferi D'Un Giovane Amante (2008)

The second album from this Italian band.

The band was a sextet on this album with a lineup of drums, percussion, bass, guitars, vibraphone, viola, violin, saxophone, flute, keyboards, organ, piano and vocals.

This band broke through as a breathe of fresh air in the RPI scene earlier this century. They has so far released four albums and I am reviewing them.

I really liked their 2004 self-titled debut album. A great piece of RPI - Rock Progressive Italiano. 

The follow up album, the one I am reviewing here, takes us into some pretty hard RPI. There is also a lot of folk rock here in addition to some hard blues too.

One part of the RPI scene is the hard rocking scene and this band is firmly in that end of the scene. Hard rocking but never heavy metal. 

The music is also very complex indeed. 

There are also some very good melodies here and some really cool vocals. The musicians is also delivering some very good details too.

This one hour long album is indeed a very good album and takes it's place among some of the better new RPI albums. Check out this band and album.

3.5 points



Thursday, 15 April 2021

Arco Iris - Agitor Lucens V (1975)

The sixth album from this band from Argentina.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of drums, percussion, bass, quarango, guitars, saxophones, flute, quenas, clarion, organ, piano and vocals.

A guest artist added church organ to the album.

The band returned again after their fifth album, full of confidence after they had established themselves as one of the leading bands in Argentina.

Arco Iris released two double albums in the 1970s. Sudamerica in 1972 (see review) and this album... Agitor Lucens V. Both albums is regarded as semi-classic albums.

Well, classic albums in the history of South American progressive rock. A pretty undervalued scene who deserve a lot more attention. Attention I am trying to give it in my blog.

As with Sudamerica, we get almost ninety minutes here with a mix of pastoral symphonic prog, folk rock, psych rock and a lot of fusion. There is also some avant-garde rock here.

This album is almost like one piece of music as it takes us through some lunar landscapes. That with an Andean/South American flavour.

The melodies is very good throughout this album.

This is indeed a very intriguing album which some captivating parts. Not all of them are great. But the overall quality is very good. 

This albums lives up to it's reputation and is a well worth checking out.

3.5 points


Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Crucible - Tall Tales (1997)

The debut album from this US band.

The band was a quintet with a lineup of drums, percussion, flute, keyboards, organ, piano, bass, guitars and vocals.

Crucible was a short lived band who released two albums before they split up. Their second and final album Curtains was released in 2001.

Tell Tales gives us one hour of melodic symphonic prog. References are Kansas, Genesis and a bit of Jethro Tull too. 

There is also AOR influences here. Their sound is typical US sound. US symphonic prog.

The vocals are good and the organ adds a lot of 1970s feel to this album. This album has indeed a 1970s feel and sound.

There is a lot to enjoy on this album. In particular the sound.

The album is lacking a bit in the song quality. But the sound with the occasional mellotron and organ is making up for the lack of quality songs.

This is another forgotten gem from the US symphonic prog scene and it deserve a lot more attention.

Check it out.

3 points



Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Crucis - Los Delirios Del Mariscal (1976)

The second and final album from this band from Argentina.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of bass, guitars, drums, percussion, moog, arp, grand piano, organ, keyboards and vocals.

Crucis is one of the most legendary bands from South America. They only released two albums but their sound and influences can be felt even today. There is a lot of bands who has Crucis as one of their main inspirations. 

A lot of bands from Argentina, that is. Crucis is still criminally underrated outside South America.

I reviewed their debut album eleven years ago for ProgArchives and liked that album a lot. 

Los Delirios Del Mariscal gives us thirty-five minutes of lush symphonic prog. References are Nice, Focus and fusion.

There is indeed a lot of fusion on this album and the album has a very good mix of symphonic prog and fusion. Add in South American local music and Spanish vocals and you get the picture.

The organ and moog is very lush indeed. Ditto for the guitar sound. 

The songs are also great with some very memorable hooks and a sound which sets this album a part from most albums.

This is indeed a classic album and one of the best albums ever to come out of Argentina and South America. It is a must have album and one not to miss.

4 points


Cronico - Delirium Room (2007)

The one and only album from this band from Mexico.

The band was a quintet with a lineup of drums, bass, guitars, synths, keyboards and vocals.

It is nice to hear symphonic prog from other countries than the usual countries. Something we get on this album.

Female Spanish vocals. Lots of lush soundscapes. 

There is indeed a lot of Latin-American and South-American sound on this album.

The music is on the melodic end of symphonic prog. It is bordering to neo-prog and eclectic prog too. It is sometimes a bit poppy.

The female vocals is really good. The same goes for the guitars. The organs too is very good and add a great deal of 1970s feel to this album.

The end result is an one hour long album which will please most people. There is no really great songs here but the album is nicely ticking over and is a pleasant album indeed.

Check out this album if you can find it.

3 points


Monday, 12 April 2021

Apogee - Conspiracy Of Fools (2018)


The ninth album from this one-man German band.

Arne Schafer does the programming, guitars, keyboards and vocals himself.

He is helped by Eberhard Graef on drums.

Arne Schafer has carved out an own niche for Apogee in the German neo-prog scene. 

All the previous eight albums has been pretty good too. Arne is a good composer and there is no doubts about that.

We get seventy minutes here and all song/compositions is more than ten minutes each. There is one short song here and that is all.

The music is pretty epic too. Epic but still very melodic and very much in the neo-prog genre.

The sound is a bit thin this time and not all the songs are good. But a couple of very good details and melodies saves this album's bacon.

It is not his best album but it is still well worth checking out.

3 points

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Cria. La - Taiga (2011)

The one and only album from this band from Argentina.

The band was a quartet with a lineup of drums, percussion, bass, guitars and synths.

I picked up this very obscure album from somewhere and decided to give it a review as it is listed as progressive rock.

The music is instrumental prog. 

...some sort of....

The band also packs in some djent, some avant-garde and some neo-classical music here too.

The problem here is that the music is pretty dull and lacks a lot of focus.

Instrumental prog requires a lot of good tunes and there is none here.

This album falls therefore flat on it's face and ends up as a turkey. Something this album is.

1 point

Shem - Shem II (2021)

The second album from this German band.

The band is a quintet with a lineup of drums, bass, guitars and synths.

I reviewed their 2018 debut album The Hill AC some time ago and was not won over. Their take on spaced out krautrock did not win me over.

We are still in the space rock universe.

The music is pretty noisy with lots of guitars. A lot of distorted guitars too. 

There is some ebbs and flows here. There is some post-metal influences in this respect.

The album has three songs and the full play length is forty minutes. Which is about right for an album with this kind of music.

The music is still not really up to standard. The music is still not good enough to be called good.

This album just falls short but it is still an album well worth checking out.

2.5 points

Mekong Delta - Kaleidoscope (1992)

The fifth album from this German band.

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

I started on the review of their discography back in 2010 for ProgArchives before my last review, of their fourth album Dances Of Death, was posted in July 2011. 

It was always my intention to complete the review of all their albums and that is my plan for the next months. 

I am by no means a fan of thrash metal. I liked it in my youth. But that was before death metal arrived and I have always preferred death and doom metal to thrash metal.

Mekong Delta is a left-field progressive thrash metal band though. And by that, I do not mean their inclusion of Genesis Dance On A Volcano. A version Mekong Delta does OK.

Mekong Delta's thrash metal is at times pretty weird and quirky. It is speed with a lot of good details.

Kaleidoscope offers up some quirky thrash metal, a version of Sabres Dance and the Genesis cover.

This is not a bad album at all. I quite like it and I rate it somewhere between decent and good.

Check it out.

2.5 points

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Anathema - A Natural Disaster (2003)

The seventh album from this British band.

The band was a quintet with a lineup of drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, vocoder, programming and vocals.

A female and a male vocalist added their voices too on a couple of songs.

Anathema has by this album carved themselves a niche somewhere between metal and progressive rock. Add post rock too and you get my drift.

A Natural Disaster gives us a much more livelier album than before.

The band has returned to their metal roots, picked the best bits from their past and then added a lot of post rock and progressive rock (Pink Floyd, Marillion) to the mix.

The result is quite a challenging album.

The challenge is the big jump from almost djent to the pastoral prog. That is a big contrast.

When the dust has settled, what remains is a good album with some really good songs and details. It is an album well worth checking out, indeed.

3 points


Friday, 9 April 2021

Crayon Phase - Two Hundred Pages (2019)

The second album from this German band.

The band is a quintet with a lineup of drums, percussion, bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals.

This is a new band in the German prog rock scene. 

I have not had the pleasure of listening to their 2012 debut album Within My Recollection. Which is a shame and I may get that album too.

Two Hundred Pages gives us seventy-five minutes of epic neo-prog.

The vocals is good and the sound too is good. The musicians does their best in a rather sterile sound. I would not call the sound for organic.

There is a lot of synths in other words.

The music is times heavy and trespassing into progressive metal. Some may label  this as a progressive metal album and that with some justifications. 

The music here is good and well worth checking out. There is no outstanding tracks but the music is still solid and good.

Check out this album.

3 points

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Craft - Craft (1984)

The one and only album from this British band.

The band was a trio with a lineup of drums, bass, guitars and keyboards.

This band is a splinter band from The Enid. Two of their member left The Enid and formed Craft. 

Not with much success, it has to be said. This album sunk without a trace and the band folded.

The music is instrumental symphonic prog. References are The Enid and ELP.

The music is pretty epic throughout these thirty-five minutes this album last.

The music is decent enough without never being good. A couple of details are good. But this album never really hits the right notes.

Fans of symphonic prog should check out and perhaps get this album. I have my reservations.

2 points

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Fuchs - The Unity Of Two (2014)

The second album from this German band.

Fuchs is Hans-Jurgen Fuchs on guitars, bass, keyboards and backing vocals.

He got help from seven other musicians providing drums, keyboards, cello, violin, guitars and vocals.

I reviewed their third album Station Songs (2018) some time ago and liked that album a lot. Good German neo-prog.

The band's started out in that genre too on their 2012 debut album Leaving Home and continues in the same genre on The Unity Of Two.

I guess this is a sort of concept album as there is some hints of Cain and Abel from the Bible throughout the album.

The music here is very much in the vein of Steve Hogarth era Marillion. There is a lot of art rock here in addition to the normal neo-prog the band always offers up.

Marillion is a good reference, but Fuchs has their own style.

The overall quality is good throughout and there is nothing I can fault this album on. Some better songs, though.......

Check out this album if Marillion floats your boat.

3 points

Autumn Electric - Star Being Earth Child (2015)

The fifth and so far last album from this US band.

The band is a quintet with a lineup of drums, bass, guitars, saxophones, melodica, flute, keyboards, piano and vocals.

The band had by now established themselves in the more poppy progressive and art rock genre. There is also a lot of youthful college rock in their music.

Star Being Earth Child sees the band take a slightly new direction. Slightly is the word here. There is no evolution and no revolution here.

The band has moved towards symphonic prog influenced neo-prog. Something that surprised me a lot during the first listening sessions of this album.

The music is still pretty pastoral and acoustic. But a lot of early to mid era Genesis comes up on this album.

There is also some Edit Piaff and chanson here too.

The result is a good one hour long album where the musicians and the vocalist is delivering a good job.

Check out this album.

3 points



Sunday, 4 April 2021

Frontecielo - Nights (2017)

The one and only album from this Italian band.

The band is actually a duo of Donatelli Basilico (percussion, drums, keyboards, vocals) and Piero Caniparo (guitars, bass, backing vocals).

This album was released through Bandcamp where it is now a free download. A worthy download too.

The music is some sort of neo-prog with a lot of RPI influences and rock/pop influences.

Most of the vocals are female and the music is not overly complex.

It is in fact pretty melodic.

There is some dark vibes throughout this album and there is even some arabic music here.

This album is pretty much a good album and I would rate it as a good album. It is most certainly a worthy download and a keeper too.

I hope this band will return one day. But this album need a lot more attention and play before that happens, I fear.

Check it out.

3 points


Saturday, 3 April 2021

Ars Pro Vita - Cords (2020)

The third album from this band from Brazil.

The band is now reduced to Paolo Venegas on all instruments. That means synths, keyboards, piano, programming, samples and vocals.

Two sopranos added their voices to this album too.

I really liked their debut 2017 album Minor and you can find my review of that album somewhere else in this blog.

That album gave us some really pastoral symphonic prog.

Cords sees Paola Venegas take on the art of concept albums. Two concepts on one album, no less. 

There is a lot of narrations and spoken words here. There is not that much interesting music on this seventy-four minutes long album. 

The music is fragmented and it only reasonable good when the band enter Genesis like symphonic prog. A couple of the female vocals songs are also pretty good.

I find it hard to say many good things about this album. The sound is good and I have mentioned a couple of good things above.

This is a decent album and barely that.

Check it out if this sounds like your cup of tea.

2 points

Marillion - Somewhere Else (2007)

The fourteenth album from this British band.

The band was a quintet with a lineup of percussion, drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, piano and vocals.

This is their follow up album to the very good Marbles album from 2004. An album hard to follow up.

The band has carved out their own style and genre within the art rock and neo-prog landscape. 

Their own genre is a mix of those two genres.

The music sounds grown up and is underpinned by some great vocals from a great vocalist... Steve Hogarth. The rest of the band also does an admirable job.

This genre lives on good songs and this album has plenty of those.

There is no songs that jumps out on the listener. But the songs and the details are all good.

It a solid but slightly dull album. It is not one of their best albums.

3 points




Friday, 2 April 2021

Pohjola. Pekka - Kätkävaaran Lohikäärme (1980)


The fifth album from this Finnish artist.

The bassist had now got a quartet together with a lineup of keyboards, bass, drums and guitars.

The last couple of albums from Pekka had been really good. They had been him as a composer and artist + numerous other guest musicians.

Pekka now goes back to the band format. No more woodwinds and strings.

The music is still a mix of symphonic prog and fusion. Add some eclectic prog too in the case of this album.

There are far more symphonic prog around this time than on any of the four previous albums. The music is really epic at times.

Some of the music really reminds me about Jan Hammer's music on the 1980s hit TV series Miami Vice. There is some cinematic and TV series over the music. There is a lot of the 1980s culture over this album.

The bass shines on this album. The rest does a good job too.

This three quarters of an hour long album is really good. It is indeed a very good album with a lot of very good hooks and melodies.

Check it out.

3.5 points