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 12,217 bands & artists, 71,190 albums (LP, CD and DVD), 1,963,464 ratings and reviews from 67,566 members who also participate in our active forum. You can also read the new visitors guide (forum page).

Latest Progressive Rock Music Reviews


Last 50 reviews
 Not of This World by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.90 | 568 ratings

BUY
Not of This World
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nş 631

"Not Of This World" is the sixth studio album of Pendragon that was released in 2001. After five years of inactivity, in terms of studio albums, Pendragon released this studio album in the same vein of their last three studio albums. While some may say that the band, especially at the time, never really progressed and that each album was a continuation of the last, the band still puts out well produced and expertly played albums. And "Not Of This World" is no exception too.

The line up on the album is the same of their four previous studio albums "Kowtow" of 1988, "The World" of 1991, "The Window Of Life" of 1993, and "The Masquerade Overture" of 1996, their second, third, fourth and fifth studio albums, respectively. So, the line up on "Not Of This World" is Nick Barrett (vocals and guitars), Clive Nolan (keyboards), Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums). The album has also the participation on the backing vocals of Tina Riley.

"Not Of This World" has five tracks. All tracks were written by Nick Barrett. The first track "If I Were The Wind (And You Were The Rain)" shows an initial very Floydian instrumental part, which makes clear that Nick Barrett remains loyal to one of his main sources of musical inspiration. The song sets the tone for the album with long and great instrumental musical passages, very emotional lyrics and a fantastic symphonic musical composition. The music of this track could hardly be more majestic and warm that it is, and it has also fine backing vocals by Tina Riley. This is the song that opens the album with a spacey musical atmosphere and excellent musical performances by all band's members, turning it on a true classic Pendragon's song. The second track "Dance Of The Seven Veils" is divided into two different parts, "Faithless" and "All Over Now". It's really a gorgeous song divided into two musical parts. The gentle tinkling tones of the part one brings to my mind "Paintbox" from their previous fifth studio album "The Masquerade Overture". Indeed, this song would have fitted perfectly well on that album too. It features a spacey musical atmosphere with great keyboards, sparse guitar work and a nice bass line. The second part has a very nice and captivating choral work and a lovely acoustic middle musical part. This is, without any doubt, a great piece of music, one of my personal favourites of the album. The third track "Not Of This World" is divided into three different parts "Not Of This World", "Give It To Me" and "Green Eyed Angel". However, despite be presented as a three part song, the long instrumental introduction might be counted as a separated part itself. It kicks in with four minutes of lovely keyboard solos and fantastic guitar playing. This is a very typical neo-prog song that shows the musical transition from up tempo music to delicate and sorrowful composition, with some Spanish guitar in the latter musical segment. It flows very naturally to the second part of the song that culminates on the third part, a much slower part with a typical romantic musical atmosphere that delights me. The fourth track "A Man Of Nomadic Traits" is a song with an acoustic musical introduction with some nice vocals, build in the same vein of those typical Pendragon's choruses. It opens with an acoustic guitar musical atmosphere where bass and drums then joined to the backing vocals. This is another great song with a nice keyboard work and a passionate vocal performance. The long instrumental section, driven by acoustic and electric guitar, sounds quite good to me, especially the keyboard solo by Clive Nolan, which is very tasteful, followed by another of those excellent guitar solos, so typical of Nick Barrett. The fifth track "World's End" is divided into two different parts "The Lost Children" and "And Finally?". It's another very atmospheric and spacey lengthy song with another two part track that opens with acoustic guitar. It starts as a very sensitive track with a lovely electric guitar on top of it. After some time, the full band bursts out majestic, with keyboards taking over the guitar theme. In the second part Nick Barrett sings accompanied by piano. This provides a very emotional and intense musical moment until the grand finale that features a very long guitar solo by him. This track closes perfectly this incredible and fantastic album without any kind of musical weaknesses.

My version has two bonus tracks "Paintbox" and "King Of The Castle". Both are featured here as acoustic versions.

Conclusion: "Not Of This World" is perhaps my favourite Pendragon's studio album. It concludes brilliantly the quartet of studio albums "The World", "The Window Of Life", "The Masquerade Overture" and "Not Of This World". I know that, in general, "The Masquerade Overture" is considered their best and most fine studio work. However, I haven't the same opinion. In my opinion, "Not Of This World" is more cohesive and well balanced than "The Masquerade Overture" is. By the other hand, it hasn't any weak points, such as "The Pursuit Of Excellence" of "The Masquerade Overture". Possibly with "The Masquerade Overture" and "Not Of This World" Pendragon reached the highest point on their musical career. In reality, it will happen with all the bands sooner or later. But, not all of them will be able to produce two great masterpieces throughout their career, as Pendragon did. So, "Not Of This World" is an album not to be missed, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Trench of Loneliness by ITERUM NATA album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.00 | 2 ratings

BUY
Trench of Loneliness
Iterum Nata Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Here's the first review for this Finnish artist. An excellent bio by Gordy, by the way. Behind this Latin moniker is Jesse Heikkinen, probably best known as the guitarist in Hexvessel which is also in ProgArchives. Trench of Loneliness is already the fourth release -- the first two were only roughly 29 minutes long -- but the first one to enter my radar. All ten tracks here are of regular length between 3 and 5 minutes, and performed entirely by Heikkinen (apart from tin whistle on the last song).

This music is generally very gloomy and melancholic neo/psych/dark folk. The opening song 'My Name Is Sorrow' sets the tone for the most of the other pieces to follow. The arrangements are rooted on acoustic guitar and ghostly hovering synths. For starters, think of the late sixties Pink Floyd song 'Julia Dream'. The vocals however come closer to e.g. Nick Cave. Another modern day artist used as a reference is the American psych folk band Espers, but in comparison Iterum Nata is, fairly understandably as a one-man effort, sonically narrower.

The tempo is mostly kept rather slow. For the overall mood the album tends to appear as a bit monotonous and tiresome in a casual listening, but the closer you listen to it, the more you notice how melodic it is in the end, and that several songs do have their own personal charm. Perhaps the first four songs or so, none of them bad per se, are most alike in their dark and melancholic "dwelling in solitude" nature. 'The Feather' sticks positively out as an instrumental with a Post-Rock flavour. 'The Mountain' has a faster tempo and a more vital musical performance, including nice percussion.

'Losing Connection', despite continuing the general gloominess, somehow sounds more empowering than the first third of the album, and the slightly country-ish 'I Only Sing With the Dead' even seems to have a tongue-in-cheek attitude, as if the artist looks into his morbid themes with a light-hearted irony. I'm thinking of the Finnish cult band Leningrad Cowboys. The biggest surprise comes in the end: 'Comedy of Humanity' is a relaxed, melodic poprock anthem that makes me think of Traveling Wilburys (Lynne, Orbison etc), and also the arrangement is much wider and more dynamic than on the album in general. This song really stays in your mind afterwards, whether a good or a bad thing. Heikkinen could have attempted to reach more of this variety in moods, and undoubtedly collaborating with fellow musicians or producers would have done good. Solid three stars earned nevertheless.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Asia by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.20 | 579 ratings

BUY
Asia
Asia Prog Related

Review by Progmin23

5 stars It's quite disappointing how much hate this album receives. Is it progressive rock? Not really, but that doesn't mean it deserve all the negativity. This album is good AOR and deserves a nice spot alongside 80s arena rockers like Survivor and Triumph. You probably heard it many times already: quartet known for their respective progressive works are expected to write a great prog album, but they had other plans. Owned it on cassette first, and had bought it on a whim. I knew "Heat Of The Moment", but hadn't heard the other stuff before. It's a very nice 80s rock album that has very melodic passages, some small, yet clever nods to their progressive roots.

"Heat of The Moment" is on Top 40 radio. Sounds like a hard rock version of "Video Killed The Radio Star" in terms of chord structure and such (ironically, Geoff Downes is a Buggle). Still sounds good nonetheless.

"Only Time Will Tell" One my favorites, it is very melodic and is littered with great synth work and great Howe shreds. The group brings it home with the nice sound of this song.

"Sole Survivor" Starts out with heavy guitar, and devolves back to an upbeat rocker. Guitar and synth duet here and there.

"One Step Closer" another of my favorites. Very upbeat, and not too heavy, the synth work here is almost New-Wave. Vocal work is not too harsh, and the chorus is very mellow.

"Time Again" starts out very proggish with Howe's ominous guitar before the song really starts revealing a song that (to me) sounds like a battle of some sorts. There are some odd pauses where the guitar and keys do some call/response avant stabs to each other.

"Wildest Dreams" is another melodic number. Funnily enough, this song is actually about war. A mix between the upbeat rocking energy of "Heat Of The Moment" and also melodic chords of "Only Time Will Tell". During the chorus, you can hear Howe feeding his guitar through either chorus or a leslie speaker. There is a really nice guitar/synth duet in the middle of the song. Really The songs ending is very nice and ends in a Gmaj7.

"Without You" is the most progressive offering for those who got this far. The song starts as a ballad, but turns into an upbeat song that changes quite a bit. Howe comes in on Acoustic guitar when the song goes back into ballad mode, and I thought it was very cool.

"Cutting Fine" speaking of acoustic guitar, this upbeat number starts with acoustic guitar before going full electric and the synth strings swell into place. This is one is kind of cheesy because of the vocoder that comes in near halfway. The ending of the song turns into a piano/synth/organ ballad and to me that was also quite progressive.

"Here Comes The Feeling" Is an upbeat finisher that starts symphonic, and has piano (both acoustic and electric) littered throughout. Howe comes in on acoustics again which is cool.

In all, this album is not going to please progressive purists, but for those who enjoy 80s rock music, this is a definite addition to your collection. It's arena AOR with some symphonic and progressive flavorings.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The ?  Book by SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.77 | 96 ratings

BUY
The ? Book
Seven Steps To The Green Door Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars There are certain bands that just aren't my thing including this German band listed under Neo Prog here but really variety is their thing and this is all over the place. A concept album that is as vague as they could make it so as not to be controversial. I read a interview with one of the band members who said a "known" singer agreed to be on here but backed out last minute because of the controversial subject matter. A six piece here but we get a male and female who sing only plus nine guests and six of them use their voice. Yes concept albums are all about the story generally to a fault.

The only other album I own by this band is "Fetish" a 3.5 star record and better than this one. The variety is just too much here, I mean extreme vocals growling away one minute then sugar the next. Speaking of sugar someone mentioned MAGIC PIE as a reference to this band and that's another band I have difficulty with. So of course a very talented group of singers and performers showing off their skills in many different styles is impressive but I just can't get into it. But taking the high road with a 3 star snappy rating.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Endless River by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.27 | 949 ratings

BUY
The Endless River
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

1 stars In 2014, Pink Floyd announced The Endless River, composed primarily of instrumental outtakes and experiments recorded during the Division Bell sessions. A small number of additions were made in 2013 to complete the album.

When this was announced, I set my expectations low. Gilmour had proven himself to be an inconsistent songwriter, and the prospect of something stitched together from leftover bits did not leave me optimistic.  

My initial reaction to The Endless River was, "Wow, this is surprisingly not-[&*!#]ty!" I then proceeded to not listen to it again until writing this essay six years later. That should tell you all you really need to know. It's passable instrumental space rock in small doses, but nothing makes this record noteworthy or worth revisiting. The ungainly length of this record is a hindrance, and it truly lives up to the endlessness promised in its name.

"Things Left Unsaid" is emblematic of many of the sins of this era of Pink Floyd. A dull synth drone acts as the backdrop to a slow, languid guitar line for four-and-a-half minutes. It's "Cluster One" trying to be the closing moments of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond". "It's What We Do" is an improvement, insofar as it has a pulse. This again feels like a weak, sterile attempt to recreate moments off "Shine on You Crazy Diamond". With this being an instrumental album, Roger Waters's presence isn't missed. He was never a standout bassist, as I've mentioned previously, and his playing almost always bled into the background as Wright and Gilmour took the lead. This album's flaccid opening movement closes with the brief "Ebb and Flow", which is all ebb and no flow.

"Sum" is the first place where the album does anything interesting. Wright's organ stutters in a way which evokes many of Floyd's best songs, including "Astronomy Domine". It's too long and lacks direction, but I'll take aimless jamming over aimless airiness. "Skins" is a callback to early cuts like "A Saucerful of Secrets" and "Up the Khyber" with Nick Mason's distinct, tom-heavy drumming style taking the lead. When a drum solo is the strongest cut on an album so far, that's usually not a good sign. "Anisina" is too sweet, and it feels like generic background music to be used in a heartwarming scene on a made-for-TV movie. I also hate the tone of the saxophone on this song.

Another brief, ambient piece?"The Lost Art of Conversation"?doesn't do much beyond occupy two minutes of time, but "On Noodle Street" is one of the better tracks on The Endless River. It's not particularly good in absolute terms, mind you, but enough happens on this brief cut to keep me interested. It's mellow and jazzy, but my ultimate assessment is simply "inoffensive."

"Night Light" harbors some darker, minor-key tones, and "Allons-y" finally gets something going with its bouncing rhythm and a guitar line that could have been one of the better songs on The Wall. "Autumn '68" is a pointless mini-fugue which leads back into the second half of "Allons-y". "Talkin' Hawkin'" features more vocal snippets from Stephen Hawking, and it's nice that this song has enough percussion to maintain an identifiable beat.

"Calling", which opens side 4 of this album, is an interesting collection of moody synthesizers. This one could have been workshopped into something better, but there are nuggets of good ideas here. "Eyes to Pearls" stays in the same neighborhood but with a bit more muscle, and "Surfacing" is one of the rare cuts to feel like a real song.

The one song with vocals?"Louder Than Words"?closes out The Endless River. It's a pretty typical Gilmour-era ballad. Soulful background singers in the chorus feel like a crutch, and the instrumentation doesn't do much to grab the listener. Giving credit where credit is due, the closing guitar solo is quite good.

Looking on this record with relatively fresh eyes, I find its immense bloat and frequent aimlessness hobble any other redeeming qualities. It isn't actively bad in most cases, but it's frequently downright anodyne. Oftentimes, boring is worse than bad. Ummagumma's studio disc is an ungodly, unfocused morass, but they at least were trying weird and different things. The Endless River is endlessly safe. It was a disappointing, unnecessary way for Pink Floyd to wrap up their career.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Division Bell by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.74 | 2196 ratings

BUY
The Division Bell
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars The Division Bell was released in 1994 and is unquestionably the strongest of Floyd's three post-Waters albums. Rick Wright rejoined the band as a full member, and his contributions are both noticeable and appreciated.

The Division Bell, though, like many albums from the 1990s, is way, way too long. No longer constrained by the roughly 45 minutes you could comfortably fit on an LP, many bands of that era seemed to have been compelled to pump out hour-plus releases simply because they could. Just because a CD can hold 80 minutes, that doesn't mean you need to put 80 minutes of music on a CD.

This is immediately evident with the opener, "Cluster One". I get what they were going for, but this five-minute piece could have easily been shortened to one minute.

"What Do You Want from Me" is passable, kinda funkyish, and sorta-prog. (Look, prog was not in good shape in 1994.) The soulful background singers and over-the-top guitar flourishes sound a bit silly now, but in context, it's not bad.

"Poles Apart" is delightfully varied. The folkiness of the guitar is a nice change of pace, and the lyrics are some of Gilmour's better work. Bits could be seen as addressing either Roger Waters or Syd Barrett.

"Marooned" won Pink Floyd a Grammy for the first (and only) time, but Rush really should have won that year. The Simpsons was correct in its Grammy commentary. It's a strong, melodic instrumental, but it suffers from being culturally overhyped. Gilmour's guitarwork is overdone, and Mason's drumming is too restrained. The keyboard playing feels just (w)right, though.

Let's skip "A Great Day for Freedom". That song sucks. "Wearing the Inside Out" isn't amazing. It's a bit slow, and the saxophone is a bit much. However, it's Rick Wright's last lead vocal performance, and his first since "Stay" on Obscured by Clouds. (He shared vocal duties on "Time" and provided backing vocals on multiple songs on Wish You Were Here.) All things considered, this bit of melodrama is one of the better cuts on this record.

"Take It Back" should have been taken back, and "Coming Back to Life" should never have been given life in the first place. Both suffer from many late-'80s/early-'90s pop-rock ills and offer nothing new or interesting.

"Keep Talking" is pretty cool, and it features a fitting guest bit from Stephen Hawking's vocal synthesizer. It's jazzy yet spacy, but the soulful backup singers come off as something of a gimmick. "Lost for Words" isn't very strong, so let's skip that as well.

The Division Bell closes on "High Hopes", which was recorded after the rest of the album was completed. It's an overwrought but enjoyable cut. It makes multiple, conscious allusions to past Pink Floyd songs and albums. I can't denounce this song, but I can't fully endorse it either. I like this song, but it feels like it's trying too hard, it's too clever for its own good, and it's too self-aware.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 A Momentary Lapse of Reason by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.07 | 1864 ratings

BUY
A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

2 stars Where The Final Cut is often derided as a Roger Waters solo effort, I and others view A Momentary Lapse of Reason as a David Gilmour solo effort. Nick Mason's contributions to the album were minimal, and multiple outside songwriters were utilized.

Pink Floyd founding member Rick Wright was hired on as a session musician (legal issues blocked him from fully rejoining the band), but he barely did anything. By the time he had been brought on, most keyboard parts had already been recorded.

As I've mentioned at least twice now, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, released in 1987, is not a good album. However, it's stronger by a mile than The Final Cut and only marginally weaker The Wall. It has a few good songs, but its bad points are really, really bad.

AMLOR opens with "Signs of Life", an unfocused, meandering, but undeniably Floydian instrumental. This is followed by "Learning to Fly", the big single off the album. I was never the biggest fan of this song, as it feels like a ton of '80s cheese, but it's better than anything other than "Not Now John" off The Final Cut. For as much as I criticize the bluntness of Waters's lyrics, he's miles better than Gilmour with words, and even Gilmour's outside help can't write much of anything compelling.

Jesus, The Final Cut really set the bar low. At least I can write about the individual tracks on AMLOR.

"The Dogs of War" is one hell of a mixed bag. It's got a simple but imposing string motif the lends an air of doom and gloom. Gilmour's vocal performance is strong, and the song's overall starkness works well in its first half. But then the drums come in, and with them, super cheesy organ, guitar, and saxophone, all of which only cheapen the experience.

"One Slip" starts off as a pretty cool Mike Oldfield song, but it quickly turns into typical late-'80s art-schlock. There are some neat musical ideas here, but there's too much bloat and gloss to make it worthwhile.

"On the Turning Away" sounds like an outtake from The Wall, and I emphatically do not mean that as a compliment. It's not bad, but it's overly sentimental and too long. "Yet Another Movie" contrasts this quality by being needlessly grim and solemn, but I'll take that as an improvement.

The Vocoded spoken word of "A New Machine" is oddly alluring; it's disappointing that it doesn't lead to anything interesting. Gilmour's got a great voice, and feeding it through this synth makes for a unique atmosphere. But nothing special comes of it.

"Terminal Frost" is pure garbage, but "Sorrow" is pretty cool. Imposing, icy guitar looms over everything, and that harsh sterility is used to build ambiance. Sequenced synthesizers, understated rhythm guitar, and distant vocals are all hallmarks of Gilmour-Floyd (Gilmoyd? Gilmoyd.), and this is one of the highlights of this particular lineup.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Final Cut by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.19 | 1995 ratings

BUY
The Final Cut
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

1 stars It's confession time. Prior to writing this retrospective, I'd never heard The Final Cut (Pink Floyd's 1983 follow-up to The Wall) in its entirety. And after listening to it, I wish I hadn't.

The album isn't without its enjoyable moments. "Not Now John" is a pretty good song. "The Hero's Return" sounds like a weaker sequel to "Run Like Hell", and...and...and good God, I tried to find a third thing about this album I could give even back-handed praise to, but I couldn't. This record is one of the worst [&*!#] sandwiches I've ever heard.

Most of it is like a worse version of the worst parts of The Wall. It's simultaneously over-orchestrated and thin and weak-sounding. Roger Waters's vocals are exceptionally strained, and this 43-minute release feels like it's three times its actual length.

This is the only Pink Floyd album to not feature Rick Wright, and his presence is sorely missed. Nick Mason's drumming is so anemic he may as well not even be there, and David Gilmour's guitar parts are uninspired. Longtime Pink Floyd album cover artist Storm Thorgerson hadn't been utilized on The Wall, but that album has fitting artwork. In contrast, his absence is acutely felt here. This [&*!#]ty, ugly cover was designed by Waters himself, unsurprisingly.

Gilmour complained that Waters mostly brought material which the band thought was too weak for The Wall to the recording sessions, but he had nothing to contribute either. Thus, Waters was allowed to fully dominate the album. The lyrics on The Final Cut feel genuine, but the music is incredibly half-assed and lazy. It feels as if there was a general who-gives-a-[&*!#] malaise over the band.

The Final Cut was originally envisioned as the soundtrack for the film adaptation of The Wall, but the outbreak of the Falklands War prompted Waters to rewrite the material as an anti-war concept album.

Roger Waters is the premier example of a musician whose politics I broadly agree with but who I wish would keep politics out of his music. Animals was an exception, and that was more sociology than politics. Roger Waters's political music is [%*!#]ing garbage. Jesus Christ, shut the [%*!#] up, Roger.

The Final Cut is an embarrassing, abject failure. Dr. Zoidberg really summed this album up well when he said, "Your music's bad, and you should feel bad!"

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Wall by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1979
4.09 | 3219 ratings

BUY
The Wall
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars **The Wall Is a Middling Album, and This Is a Hill I'm Willing to Die On**

This part of the essay is a bit I've been eagerly anticipating writing for a long time. And if one were to scroll through my personal Reddit account, one could find embryonic versions of the ensuing discussion.

The title of this section is a thesis I've long proclaimed. Setting aside lyrics for the moment?I will get to that?the music on The Wall is woefully inconsistent. There are gems buried in here, but much of the record is plodding and monotonous. There's a pretty decent 40-minute album buried in this 82-minute slog of bloat and self-indulgence.

I've stated many a time on this site that I'm not a lyrically-focused individual. In general, I like the sound of the human voice, and I like the structure of human language, so I prefer music with lyrics to instrumental pieces, all else being equal. However, bad lyrics can hurt otherwise-good music, as can a bad vocal delivery. Roger Waters was never a strong vocalist, and his delivery is especially weak on much of this record. 

The lyrics on much of The Wall are bad, and they're delivered in an impossible-to-ignore way. To start, the main conceit of the album is not a strong concept. "I'm so isolated, I feel like I'm behind a wall," is not a particularly new or unique idea, and it's not presented in a very interesting way. It comes off as whiny and full of self-pity. While relatable, this narrative presented in a facile and achingly unoriginal way. The story?adapted from a much more explicitly autobiographical first draft?is overwrought.

The compositions tend to be either blandly spare or needlessly over-orchestrated, and things certainly weren't helped by the band members' deteriorating personal relationships during recording. A combination of depression (stemming largely from a failing marriage) and a falling-out with Roger Waters led to Rick Wright being fired from the band. He was hired on as a session musician for the tour, however.

Wright's reduced input is obvious, as most keyboard parts on The Wall are plain and simplistic. Jazz is noticeably less prominent as well, as Wright often was the one bringing in those uncommon chords on prior compositions. It's Gilmour who carries the instrumental aspects of this album without Wright. Waters was never a standout bassist, and Mason's drumming is so restrained that even Ringo could have pulled it off.

The Wall also suffers from an abundance of sound effects. Snippets of conversation are littered throughout the album, and it often stretches decent two-minute songs to interminable four-minute lengths. The constant background chatter becomes draining. Contrast this to Dark Side, where conversational snippets were smoothly integrated into the fabric of the music. On The Wall, these elements feel hastily and thoughtlessly slapped on.

The individual songs were composed almost entirely by Roger Waters, with only four of the 26 tracks having a credited co-writer. And unsurprisingly, those four songs are some of the strongest on the whole record, demonstrating that Waters usually needed outside input.

"In the Flesh?" opens the album, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. If I weren't told this was a Pink Floyd song, I'd think it was fine. It's Stygian, prog-ish arena rock, but it's nothing to write home about. I do like the soulful backing vocals, but everything else here is either way too much or not nearly enough. That is to say, it's an odd mixture of overblown and unambitious. "The Thin Ice" features an uncharacteristically weak vocal performance from David Gilmour, and the piano-and-synth backing is underbaked, a quality which most of the record suffers from.

"Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)" is the strongest of the three parts of this song. It's got genuine menace, and the sense of isolation and abandonment is palpable. Unfortunately, this mood isn't upheld in either of the following tracks. "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" is a weird, unfocused prelude to what follows. It's more sound effects than substantive music, and the many ideas jammed into this sub-two-minute cut feel disjointed. "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" meanwhile suffers from the irredeemable ill of a child choir and half-assed white-boy faux-funk.

"Mother" is uneven. A not-insignificant portion of this cut is folky, singer-songwriter bull[&*!#] that I simply don't like. Once "Mother" gets going, though, it's not a bad composition. It's not great, but this solid-C+ cut is a relative strong point on The Wall.

The Wall has some oddball tracks which I really love. "Goodbye Blue Sky" is one of those. It combines wonky folk motifs with sinister synthesizers and opaque-enough-to-be-good lyrics to make something compelling.

"Empty Spaces" is more notable for its stupid backmasked message than for anything else. It's an aimless, forgettable interlude which could have been trimmed from two minutes to 30 seconds. ("What Shall We Do Now?" was an inexplicable exclusion. Originally placed after "Empty Spaces", it was quite a strong 90-second piece, and The Wall would have been stronger to include it.) "Young Lust" also overstays its welcome. Co-written by David Gilmour, this song is a send-up of late-'70s bluesy sex songs. It's another alright cut, but the premise wears thin by track's end.

"One of My Turns" is one of the great successes of The Wall. It aptly conveys the sense of desperation and mania the Waters was striving to portray, and though it's rather unimpressively played, its internal diversity is strong enough to let it stand on its own. Sadly, this is followed by what is likely the worst slog on the album. "Don't Leave Me Now" has Waters warbling off-key over atonal organ chords in a hazy torpor of uninteresting depression for four punishing minutes.

Disc one of The Wall ends with the perfectly passable duo of "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)" and "Goodbye Cruel World". Neither is particularly noteworthy: the former is a slightly more energetic rehash of Part 1; the latter is a dull-but-short organ-and-bass dirge.

Thankfully, disc two is markedly stronger than disc one.

"Hey You" is a standout on The Wall, but if it had been on Wish You Were Here, it would have been underwhelming. It isn't a bad song by any means, but it does fall victim to many traps of late-'70s arena rock which I have a distaste for. In addition to being generically overblown at parts, the production is a bit much for me here. Gilmour's solo is decent, but its backing track is repetitious and uninteresting. The organ is too dramatic during those moments, as well. This song thrives in its quieter moments.

Unfortunately, Roger Waters can't let us have two consecutive good songs on this record, it seems. "Is There Anybody Out There?" begins as a dull synth drone, but its second half features more interesting acoustic elements. "Nobody Home" is a track I have an unjustifiable soft spot for. It's a simple piano-based piece with big, warm swells of string and brass that feel almost embarrassingly earnest.

"Vera" is simply pointless. Let's skip this one. Y'know what, let's also skip "Bring the Boys Back Home". Christ, these two messes made it in but "What Shall We Do Now?" was cut? Revisiting The Wall is simply reinforcing my anti-Roger Waters bias.

Finally, we're getting to the good part of The Wall. "Comfortably Numb", on paper, suffers from many of the symptoms of bloat which I'd normally decry on this record. The simple playing and overly lush sound palette would usually be red flags, but the melody has drama to it, and the song has an understandable arc. Gilmour's masterful closing solo certainly doesn't hurt either. (For a truly amazing rendition of that solo, listen to the live version of this song from 1994's Pulse.)

"The Show Must Go On" is nice and warm, if forgettable, and "In the Flesh" is a pointless retread of the album's opening track.

"Run Like Hell", however, is an amazing, energetic, anxious track. It's both claustrophobic in its tight rhythm and wide-open with its guitar tones. It truly evokes the feeling of sprinting from some danger. Waters's snarled delivery is befitting. This song features Rick Wright's one solo on the album, but it's a strong one. Though not particularly technical, the wobbling insecurity of his synth suits the subject matter well.

One of the weirdest tracks on The Wall is "Waiting for the Worms". It's full of allusions to the preceding songs, and the oddball vocal deliveries suit everything wonderfully. It's thumping and lurching and scary, though it's also got some of the most beat-you-over-the-head obvious lyrics on a famously straightforward record.

After the 30-second piano interlude of "Stop", "The Trial" is another strong, wonderful oddball cut. There's a Vaudevillian theatricality here that is absent elsewhere in Floyd's output. The song's sheer weirdness is what saves it. The lyrics continue the trend of ditching any semblance of artfulness, but everything is so odd and surprising, I can't help but love it. "Outside the Wall", which closes the album, feels like an afterthought and makes no lasting impression.

A few paragraphs ago (or maybe a few dozen, it feels like), I mentioned I felt that there was a decent 40-minute album buried in this unfocused mess. Coming from my lyrically-deemphasized standpoint, here is my proposal for an improved, abbreviated tracklist. Certain songs would need to be trimmed down, and those songs have been noted with asterisks. If they were to be taken as-is, this The Wall would wind up north of 50 minutes. Seeing the tracklist now, I'm not sure I could whittle it down to 40 minutes, but 45 seems totally reasonable.

My Streamlined Wall

In the Flesh?* Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)* Mother* Goodbye Blue Sky What Shall We Do Now? Young Lust* One of My Turns Hey You* Nobody Home Comfortably Numb Run Like Hell Waiting for the Worms The Trial

Lyrics would need to be rewritten if you wanted the story to make sense, but unlike my view on films, I don't need a coherent plot in my music.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Animals by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.53 | 3987 ratings

BUY
Animals
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

5 stars Animals, Pink Floyd's 1977 release, saw Roger Waters dominate the songwriting even more than on the previous releases. David Gilmour only co-wrote one of the three big suites, and neither Mason nor Wright received any songwriting credits.

Loosely based on George Orwell's Animal Farm, Animals is a concept album about the socio-political state of Britain in the mid-1970s. Waters's lyrics became increasingly on-the-nose here, but it wasn't yet distracting. If anything, they work quite well in this instance, and the songs on Animals are some of the band's best.

Animals is bookended by a pair of brief acoustic pieces titled "Pigs on the Wing". On the 8-track release of this album, these two cuts were stitched into one piece, with a guitar solo by session musician Snowy White acting as a bridge between the halves.

"Dogs" was cowritten by David Gilmour, the only non-Waters songwriting credit on the album. This song starts off with a dark folk backbone, rolling along steadily. Rapid, acoustic strumming and quiet organ and synth provide a subtle backdrop for Gilmour's strong vocal performance. After a brief, mildly bluesy instrumental interlude, "Dogs" enters its extended, down-tempo midsection. There's a signature plaintive Gilmourian guitar solo, and Nick Mason's drumming is restrained but artful.

It's around the 8-minute mark of "Dogs" that Animals hits its one big snag. The drawn-out section of synth drone and dog sound effects overstays its welcome by a significant margin, and it could have been significantly shortened. In the final minutes, though, the opening theme is revisited with Waters on vocals and a wonderful twist on the lyrics.

"Pigs (Three Different Ones)" is the song with lyrics that have aged the worst. They're unsubtly about mid-'70s British politics. The general sentiment is discernible, but many of the specific details will be lost on listeners who don't do their reading. It's also my least favorite of the three opuses on Animals, but being the weakest song on Animals is like being the worst type of non-pineapple pizza. It's still pretty good.

There's a laid-back, funky grooviness to much of the song. This is what "Have a Cigar" strove for but failed to deliver on. "Pigs" carries an air of self-satisfied smugness which suits the subject matter so well. Gilmour's use of a talkbox is handled quite well. That's a tool which is often mis- and over-used, but it's deployed tactfully here.

Animals closes on my favorite of the three main tracks. "Sheep" is a snarling, biting cut that was (sadly) Rick Wright's last huzzah as a soloist. The languid, jazzy opening piano solo is the perfect lead-in to the charging verses. The guitar (played by Waters) slashes aggressively, Wright's organ swirls like a hurricane, and the bass (played by Gilmour) thumps and pounds.

The midsection of "Sheep" features big, bright synthesizers that complement the other instruments to build an anxious atmosphere. The vocoded pastiche of Psalm 23 is a little silly for my taste and presaged some of Waters's most brutally unsubtle songwriting tactics which would crest on Pink Floyd's next two albums. Still, it's a forgivable sin in this context.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Wish You Were Here by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.64 | 4438 ratings

BUY
Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Many consider their 1975 follow-up, Wish You Were Here to be equal to Dark Side, but that's a point where I disagree. It's a very strong album, but it does have a few glaring flaws which drag it down.

Roger Waters again penned all the lyrics, and he had a hand in the composition of each song, as well, though songwriting remained an overall collaborative effort. The album's concept is based on the band's experience in the music industry, and its quality varies somewhat.

WYWH opens with the first five parts of the 26-minute "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" suite. It begins with droning synths and a delicate, clean guitar solo. This movement dissolves into an expansive, four-note arpeggio which builds into a sinister, psychedelic blues jam. This particular instrumental passage overstays its welcome a little bit, but it eventually does a good job of transitioning into the verses. The verses are some of Waters's strongest compositions and a loving ode to Syd Barrett. The closing sax solo channels the best moments of Dark Side and is a fitting wrap-up to this first half of the suite.

"Welcome to the Machine" is my favorite song on the album, and it might be my overall favorite song by the band. This menacing, pulsing synthesizer experiment contrasts the harsh sterility of the music against the bitter, plaintive vocals. Acoustic guitar bites brilliantly against the electronic tones, and Nick Mason's restrained drumming complements it perfectly.

This masterpiece is then followed by "Have a Cigar", undoubtedly the weakest track on the album. The faux-funkiness of the backing track feels tepid, and guest vocalist Roy Harper sounds strained.

The album's title track is next, and I've got somewhat mixed feelings on it. In isolation, it's a very good song. The folk and country tones of the main guitar line suit the lyrics and vocal delivery, and the warm synth tones in the outro are very nice. But in the context of this album, it feels out of place. This doesn't sound like a Pink Floyd song, and this track's earthiness and rawness clashes against the lusher sound palettes of the other cuts.

The second half of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" wraps up the remainder of the album, and it's overall stronger than the first half. The introductory movement revisits ideas from the first half, this time with a bit more purpose. It isn't quite as wandering, and Rick Wright's synth solo is a highlight. This section feels like a slightly updated version of "One of These Days", and it's some of the band's best in-studio jamming. More funk touches come in after the verse, and these experiments feel less forced than on "Have a Cigar". The song's final movement is piano-and-synth-centric, and the very final moments have a rich hopefulness to them.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Dark Side of the Moon by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.61 | 4625 ratings

BUY
The Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

5 stars Pink Floyd had started to record The Dark Side of the Moon in mid-1972, and they released it in March 1973. To say this album was a commercial hit would be a gross understatement. It spent seven years on the British charts (despite never hitting number one) and twice as long on the American charts. Depending on the source of the numbers, Dark Side is somewhere between the twelfth- and fourth-best-selling record of all time.

It's not difficult to see why this record was such an immense hit. Every little aspect of this record works in perfect harmony with everything else. The songs are smooth yet powerful, and the frequent integration of jazz and soul influences are seamless and sublime. This album is right up there with Revolver and Thick as a Brick as contenders for my personal favorite album of all time. I find no flaws in this release.

The Dark Side of the Moon also represented the beginning of Roger Waters's increasing domination of Pink Floyd's songwriting. The overarching concept of Dark Side was his idea, and he penned all the lyrics, though the music remained a group effort.

The brief instrumental "Speak to Me" opens Dark Side with a gradually-building collage of sound effects and voice recordings over an insistent rhythm reminiscent of a heartbeat. This resolves in a soulful scream and a segue into the mellow, flowing "Breathe". "On the Run" follows. It's a nervous instrumental which highlights the looping sequences of the VCS 3 synthesizer.

"Time" is one of Pink Floyd's best-known songs for good reason. The opening cacophony of clocks and ensuing slow build to the verse are perfect. The verses have a biting, bitter edge to them, and Rick Wright's soothing vocals contrast to Gilmour's harsher tones. This song's guitar solo is yet another of David Gilmour's many highlights, and the reincorporation of the theme from "Breathe" is nothing short of masterful.

"The Great Gig in the Sky" closes out Side 1. Richard Wright's jazzy piano chords and swirling organ provide the instrumental backbone of this track. The true star, though, are the magnificent, wordless vocals provided by Clare Torry. Her wailing is at once soulful and sorrowful. They are some of the most evocative vocals in all of rock music, and this is accomplished with zero actual words.

Torry was initially paid Ł30 for her contributions (approximately Ł400/$500 in 2021 money), but she sued for co-authorship credits in 2004. The case was eventually settled out of court, but all pressings of the album since 2005 have listed "The Great Gig in the Sky" as a Wright/Torry co-composition.

Following the one gap in the music on Dark Side, "Money" opens up side two. Likely the best-known song written 7/4 time, this track has a strong blues backbone. The twangy bass, bright electric piano, and striking sax solo all add to this track's character. Gilmour's guitar solo is played in the more-straightforward 4/4 time signature, imbuing this section with a more driving, hard-rocking feel. (Gilmour self-deprecatingly jokes that Waters had to "dumb down" the time signature to something easier for him.)

"Us and Them" is a slow-moving, jazzy cut. It's too densely layered to be described as "airy," but that descriptor isn't far off. The chorus is immensely dramatic and dark in sharp opposition to the light verses. The segue into "Any Colour You Like"?a criminally underrated instrumental?is sudden but welcome. Rick Wright's many layers of delayed synthesizers glimmer and slither over a funky backing beat. All the while, Gilmour's guitar is somehow both watery and sharp.

The closing "Brain Damage/Eclipse" is six of the strongest minutes in the history of rock music. The guitar in "Brain Damage" is slightly askew, and the gently-uttered lyrics are brilliant. "Eclipse" takes the slightly-off, dreamlike atmosphere of the preceding song and explodes into impactful, tumbling, eruptive climax.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Obscured by Clouds by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.37 | 1716 ratings

BUY
Obscured by Clouds
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars In 1972, Pink Floyd recorded the soundtrack for the French film La Vallée, a project of director Barbet Schroeder, who had been the driving force behind More. After scoring More, Pink Floyd had agreed to score his next film, as well. Recording had already begun for The Dark Side of the Moon, but the band temporarily paused that work in order to conduct some hurried sessions for the film. Some underlying DNA of Dark Side can be detected here, especially in Rick Wright's VCS 3 synthesizer, shorter song structures, and jazzy inclusions. The rushed nature of the recording is obvious, though, as this record feels scattershot and inconsistent to a degree which cannot be easily explained away by dint of it being a soundtrack. Obscured by Clouds contains no bad songs, but it feels notably incoherent when digested as a single work.

"Obscured by Clouds" is a moody, droning instrumental track which segues seamlessly into the bombastic "When You're In". The latter song is enjoyable, but it feels awfully long considering it two-and-a-half minute runtime. This isn't helped by the song's minute-long fade-out.

"Burning Bridges" is, funnily enough, a bridge between Pink Floyd's past and future sounds. Dreamy, late '60s psychedelic flavors blend with smart, jazzy influences, and this song is yet another example of how Wright's and Gilmour's voices worked so well together. Many of the instrumental motifs present here are also utilized in the instrumental "Mudmen".

"The Gold It's in The..." is atypical of Pink Floyd's sound. It's almost as if "The Nile Song" had been written more like a pop song. It's hard-rocking, groovy, and guitar-centric. While enjoyable, it doesn't feel much like a Pink Floyd song. In contrast to this high energy piece, the next cut is "Wot's...Uh the Deal?". It's a slow-moving folky piece and one of the strongest on the record.

Side 2 opens with "Childhood's End", which sounds like a rough draft of "Time". Had I heard this back when it was initially released in 1972, I'm positive I would have adored it. But having heard "Time" first, this track feels like a demo. This reverse-self-rip-off is followed by the most unique track on the album. "Free Four" is downright jaunty and features significant folk and country influences. The lyrics are strongly reminiscent of what would be addressed on Dark Side, but the lighter feel is distinct. Rick Wright's evil-sounding VSC 3 is a sharp contrast to the bouncy acoustic guitar.

"Stay" is Side 2's answer to "Burning Bridges". This Wright composition leans heavily on jazz and soul and slinks along smoothly. And much as Side 1 ended on an instrumental, Side 2 closes on "Absolutely Curtains". This six-minute piece allows organ and synthesizer to build an oppressive atmosphere, complemented by Nick Mason's spare drumming. It closes with a field recording of the Mapuga people of New Guinea, which was taken from the film.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Meddle by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.30 | 3396 ratings

BUY
Meddle
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Meddle, released in late 1971, saw Pink Floyd's best-known sound taking shape. The instrumental "One of These Days" opens the album. The powerful, reverberating bassline propels the song as stabs of organ, twisting guitar, and the odd strike of percussion continue to build. The unusual effect on the bass acts as an instrument unto itself, particularly in the slower midsection. The song's final two minutes explode with searing guitar and warbling organ.

"A Pillow of Winds" follows this striking opener. While I'd argue that this song fits into the overall flow of the record, its slow, folky composition pales in comparison to the highlights on Meddle. "Fearless" maintains a similar sound palette, but the melody is more engaging, and the inclusion of drumming keeps the momentum up.

Side 1 ends on a pair of less-than-impressive tracks. "San Tropez" is a lightweight, jazzy piece, and "Seamus" is a brief, forgettable bit of acoustic blues with a howling dog in the background.

What everyone knows Meddle for, though, is the closing opus: "Echoes". Covering all of side 2 and clocking in at over 23 minutes, this is one of Pink Floyd's indisputable masterpieces. From the opening pinging piano notes, which evoke a satellite calling out from the icy void of space, the song gradually builds while Nick Mason's drums complement the grand-sounding organ.

Gilmour and Wright harmonize their vocals on this song, giving a gentle, dreamy atmosphere. The chorus swells gracefully before dissolving into a dramatic, downward guitar riff. Following the second verse, the song enters an extended instrumental period. At first, it's a natural extension of the post-chorus guitar solo, but the structure shifts, subtly at first, as the solo builds in intensity.

Around the 7-minute mark, "Echoes" enters a funkier, groovier movement. The irregular stabs of Hammond organ add depth behind Gilmour's bend-filled, bluesy soloing. After a few minutes, the song enters its well-known "whale song" section. Amid a sparse and ominous backdrop, Gilmour's guitar wails and squeals sharply.

These few minutes of eerie atmospherics gradually give way to an extended crescendo. Farfisa organ and a few more piano pings reestablish the opening atmosphere. Light cymbals and muted guitar and bass propel the movement as Rick Wright plays an organ solo over top of it. At 18 minutes, this section reaches its climax. David Gilmour unleashes a magnificent, glimmering arpeggio before dissolving into a third verse. The final few minutes feature one more masterful guitar solo before the song quietly fades out.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Relics by PINK FLOYD album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1971
3.59 | 412 ratings

BUY
Relics
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars In mid-1971, Pink Floyd released Relics, an album which collected some non-album singles, B-sides, and unreleased songs. However, five of the eleven songs had already been released on other records. I was conflicted over whether or not to include this release in this article, but if I addressed Living in the Past in my Jethro Tull piece, I'd argue that this falls in the same category.

In addition to the five album tracks, I've already discussed "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play", but there are four more cuts to cover here.

"Paintbox" was originally released as a B-side to the disjointed, less-than-stellar "Apples and Oranges", and it far outshines its A-side. It's a Richard Wright composition and features his usual light, jazzy compositional tendencies, intercut with some sinister minor-key moments. "Julia Dream" is another B-side I prefer over its A-side, "It Would Be So Nice". (Though it was stronger than "Apples and Oranges", this single's verses are a bit too childlike for my taste.) "Julia Dream" is a spooky, simple acoustic piece that utilizes Wright's organ excellently.

"Careful with That Axe, Eugene" opens as a slow organ-based jam, featuring some noodling in an uncommon mode. After the title is whispered, there's a shriek, followed by an extended, dark solo. This is one of many songs in Pink Floyd's early repertoire that was vastly improved in live settings. The shriek and opening of the solo were given much greater impact during live performances, resulting in a more effective, arresting experience. The version on Ummagumma is especially noteworthy.

The final song on Relics to be discussed is the previously-unreleased "Biding My Time". This song was performed live as a part of The Man and the Journey, but Relics was the first time the studio version was heard. Jazz and blues are the primary influences displayed here, with warm piano and guitar tones taking the lead during the first part of the song. This song features prominent trombone, played by Rick Wright, and the final two-plus minutes are an enthralling blues jam. It's clear why this wasn't previously released?it would have sounded odd on any album Pink Floyd had put out up to this point?but it's a solid piece overall.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Atom Heart Mother by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.90 | 2425 ratings

BUY
Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Ron Geesin would also go on to work with the full band on their 1970 album, Atom Heart Mother. Featuring the iconic Holstein cow album cover, this record bears structural similarities to Ummagumma. Atom Heart Mother opens and closes on full-band suites, while Waters, Wright, and Gilmour each have one solo song in the middle (with the full band's backing).

Atom Heart Mother is also the first album where Pink Floyd unambiguously stepped into the emerging field of progressive rock. Prior to this point, they were primarily a psychedelic band with some experimental and space rock leanings. However, they didn't fully abandon their psychedelic past, and they would remain somewhat semi-prog up until the mid-70s. It wouldn't be until Wish You Were Here that I would say they released an unquestionably prog album, with all interceding records having significant psychedelic and space rock substrates.

The song "Atom Heart Mother" is the longest studio recording Pink Floyd ever made, clocking in at 13 seconds longer than "Echoes". (That is assuming you don't count the two pieces of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" as one song.) It's also one of the rare Pink Floyd songs to credit a non-band member, as writing is attributed to the band's four members, plus Ron Geesin who arranged the strings, brass, and choir.

Roger Waters and Nick Mason recorded the rhythm section part in one massive take, resulting in an inconsistent tempo throughout, but that doesn't hamper the song. Geesin's brass arrangements add a spooky, circus-like feel to this song. Upon hearing this song for the first time, my wife referred to it as "haunted carnival music."

Though some bandmembers have expressed distaste for this song since its release, I think it's one of their seminal pieces. Nick Mason's drumming is especially noteworthy for the power he gives to the song's more bombastic moments. The choir arrangements add a haunting quality, and Gilmour's soloing is shockingly un-Gilmour-like. The vocal arrangements feel like an earthier counterpart to Magma's celestial chants.

Stanley Kubrick asked to use "Atom Heart Mother" in A Clockwork Orange, but the band refused permission. As much as I love this song, I'm glad they didn't allow Kubrick to use it; I would not want this piece associated with that stupid, boring, nigh-unwatchable film. (I'll save the rest of my anti-Kubrick sentiments for another essay.)

Side 2 of Atom Heart Mother sees Waters, Wright, and Gilmour contribute one song apiece. This experiment turns out stronger than Ummagumma's solo-writing experiment, as the members of the band weren't required to play all the instruments.

The Waters-penned "If" begins side 2 and is the weakest of the tracks. It's a slow, acoustic piece that features some languid soloing from Gilmour. Wright's "Summer '68" follows. It's reminiscent of the songs he contributed to A Saucerful of Secrets?relatively light, piano-led psychedelia. The chorus has a great punchiness to it, and the inclusion of a brass section was a smart move. David Gilmour's "Fat Old Sun" is the strongest of these three songs. It's slow-moving, gentle, and sweet. The closing guitar solo is among the best he ever recorded. In live settings, this song would get stretched out to nearly 15 minutes and feature some truly dramatic interplay between Gilmour and Wright.

Atom Heart Mother closes on the weird, three-part instrumental "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", another group effort (though primarily written by Nick Mason). The three segments are intercut with audio of Pink Floyd roadie Alan Styles making breakfast for himself. The first section is centered primarily around piano and organ, and the second is a folky acoustic guitar fugue. Part three features the full band and acts as a strong closer. Piano is the lead instrument here, and a relaxed but purposeful feel drives this piece along.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Ummagumma by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.46 | 1874 ratings

BUY
Ummagumma
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Pink Floyd's second album of 1969 was even more acutely aimless. Ummagumma is a sprawling double album of immense contrasts. Disc 1?the live disc?is absolutely fantastic. It features reworkings of four songs: "Astronomy Domine", "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", "Careful with That Axe, Eugene", and "A Saucerful of Secrets". That fourth song, in particular, is one of Pink Floyd's top live moments, and that is a title with stiff competition.

Disc 2?the studio disc?in contrast, is an absolute mess. The four members of the band split up song writing duties, so each would get between 9 and 14 minutes of time. The band members had to play all the instruments on their tracks, much to the record's detriment. This disc is a trudge, but it's also the weirdest studio material they ever put out.

This disc opens with Richard Wright's four-part "Sisyphus" suite. Part 1 has a promising opening, full of looming Mellotron and dramatic tympani and cymbals. Part 2 is piano-focused with a lot of jazzy dissonance which reminds me of the weakest parts of the studio version of "A Saucerful of Secrets". Part 3 dives even deeper down the disjointed, atonal weirdness hole, to the point that it is almost unlistenable, especially with all its high-pitched squealing. Part 4 is as long as the other three parts combined and thankfully is the best of the bunch. It opens on a quiet and meditative note before some brief bombast leads into dull improv. It closes by revisiting Part 1's theme. With the help of the rest of the band and a bit of workshopping, this piece may have been salvageable.

The same cannot be said of Roger Waters's two compositions. "Grantchester Meadows" is an abusively dull seven-and-a-half minutes of floundering folk. Live renditions would be improved slightly, but not by much. The annoyingly-titled and entirely unlistenable "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict" follows. Only Roger Waters's voice is featured on this track, often manipulated in some way.

Side 2 of Disc 2 starts with David Gilmour's three-part "The Narrow Way", which is hands-down the best composition on the studio disc. Part 1 is a folky idyll, and Part 2 is centered around an off-kilter, slithering guitar riff. Part 3 is the best of the three parts and feels the most like an actual song, though Gilmour's unsteadiness on the piano and drums is evident. (But kudos to him for branching out.)

In order to prepare for this review, this was the first time I'd listened to Nick Mason's three-part "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" since high school. It's not as awful as I remembered, but it's mostly unfocused percussion and weird tape effects. If you're into musique concrčte, you may like this. Otherwise, skip it.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 More (OST) by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.14 | 1490 ratings

BUY
More (OST)
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

2 stars More is an unfocused album that caught Pink Floyd deep in the throes of a transitional period. They had fired their bandleader and lacked clear direction. It doesn't help that More is a soundtrack, which by their very nature tend to be relatively scattered.

In the creative vacuum left by Barrett, Roger Waters contributed the most to this record. Five of the thirteen songs list him as the sole composer, and another six have him as a cowriter.

"Cirrus Minor" opens the album with a bit of a dirge. Richard Wright's distinctive Farfisa organ is the central focus, with acoustic guitar embellishments, and the vocals are delivered in a sleepy manner. In an immense and jarring tonal shift, though, the second song is "The Nile Song". This track, as if compensating for the first, contains no keyboards whatsoever. It's Pink Floyd's most metallic offering; the guitars bludgeon the listener with far less finesse than Gilmour normally used, and the vocals are delivered in the form of hoarse screaming. Though uncharacteristic of Pink Floyd's overall sound, this is a favorite of mine, and I consider myself fortunate that I got to hear it live when Nick Mason and his band came through Seattle in 2019.

"Crying Song" dials the intensity from a 10 back down to about a 2. It's a slow-moving acoustic blues piece and not one of this band's more memorable recordings. Following this is "Up the Khyber" a Wright and Mason improvisation. This two-minute track has a nervous, chaotic feel to it, which is augmented by the rapid audio panning.

"Green Is the Color" is a sweet acoustic ballad and one of the strongest tracks on More. It would go on to become a staple of Pink Floyd live sets prior to their massive success in the mid-'70s. "Cymbaline" similarly saw heavy rotation in Pink Floyd's live shows. Its studio version utilizes jazz and folk touches, and it closes on a two-minute organ improvisation.

Side 2 of More is mostly skippable. "Main Theme" has some interesting ideas and Eastern scales, but it ultimately doesn't amount to much. This song is recommended for those of you who (like me) love the live disc of Ummagumma. "More Blues" is a dull blues jam that probably worked fine as background music for the film, but it's not interesting enough to stand on its own. "Quicksilver" meanders in a torpor of aimless organ noodling and tape effects, and "A Spanish Piece" is a jokey piss-take. The album closes on "Dramatic Theme", a rather undramatic revisitation of "Main Theme".

Buried in all that aimless slog, though, is one more good song. "Ibiza Bar" shares the heavy atmosphere of "The Nile Song", though Richard Wright does contribute piano and organ this time around. These two songs are similar, and I prefer "The Nile Song", but this song is worth a listen too.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 A Saucerful of Secrets by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.67 | 1932 ratings

BUY
A Saucerful of Secrets
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Following Barrett's firing from the band, Pink Floyd released A Saucerful of Secrets in June of 1968. ASoS contains some small Syd Barrett contributions. Most notable among these is the song which closes the album, "Jugband Blues". It is a bizarre acoustic piece filled with odd sound effects. The closing is comparable to the swirling oddness in the final minute of "Strawberry Fields Forever".

"Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" has a mantra-like atmosphere and is rumored to be the only Pink Floyd song to feature all five members of the band. Nick Mason once again demonstrates his ability to craft unique textures with his tom-focused style. This song is one of many that would achieve new heights in live recordings.

The other five songs on this album are something of a mixed bag. "Let There Be More Light" opens with one of Roger Waters's most distinct basslines. It has a churning, tumbling quality to it, complemented by Richard Wright's murky organ and Nick Mason's deft drumming. Unfortunately, the band are unable to keep this up during the body of the song. Neither the verses nor the chorus are particularly noteworthy.

Richard Wright's two compositions?"Remember a Day" and "See-Saw"?are enjoyable slices of psychedelic pop, with "Remember a Day" being the stronger of the two.

"Corporal Clegg" is notable for being one of only four songs to feature Nick Mason on vocals (alongside Waters and Wright). It's a jagged, disjointed song. Between the three vocalists, the kazoo solo, and unnatural melody, it is more notable as an oddity than a highlight in Pink Floyd's oeuvre.

ASoS's title track is my go-to example for Pink Floyd songs which are outshined by their live versions. This studio version is muddy, unfocused, and needlessly chaotic. Gilmour's guitar and Waters's bass are almost inaudible in this version, and Wright's many keyboard effects feel tedious and grating by the song's end. The choral arrangement in the final movement feels particularly anemic and wasted on Wright's gorgeous organ chords.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by PINK FLOYD album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.87 | 2196 ratings

BUY
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

5 stars In August of 1967, the band released their first full-length album: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Even if this had been the only album Pink Floyd ever released, they would still be remembered as psychedelic royalty. The kaleidoscopic cover art only hints at what's held within the grooves of the record.

"Astronomy Domine" is my favorite song that Barrett ever wrote. It is mind-boggling how far ahead its time it sounds to the modern ear. The guitars are jagged and angular in a way I'd describe as post-punk, if post-punk weren't more than a decade away from existing. The melody is stranger and more complex than almost anything else that existed in the contemporary psych scene. The chromatic, descending organ and guitar duets make this song feel weird and off-kilter, and Nick Mason's tom-heavy drumming adds serious weight.

"Lucifer Sam" has a groovy, bluesy backbone with a bizarre, Dick Dale-sounding guitar solo. "Matilda Mother", in contrast, has a dreamy, childlike feel to the verses, undercut by sinister minor-key lines. The organ solo is notable for utilizing the Phrygian mode, which lends an unusual, Eastern Mediterranean flair. Also aiding in this regard is the fact that Wright played a Farfisa organ, which has a distinct sound from other organs, such as the omnipresent prog standard, the Hammond organ. (Wright would later deploy a Hammond as his primary organ, but these early recordings prominently feature the Farfisa.)

"Flaming" is the weakest song on Side 1, but its wide-eyed innocence is a fascinating time capsule of the late '60s. It's not a bad song, either; it simply pales against most of the other songs here.

"Pow R. Toc H." was a full-band effort, and it shows some of their earliest jazz influences, as well as some of Roger Waters's earliest weird-ass screeches. Side 1 ends on the one song without a Barrett writing credit, the Waters-penned "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk". This is a manic, anxious piece that skitters along without any breathing room. Barrett's jittery guitar is key to this song's success, and Wright's organ solo is as inspired as anywhere.

Side 2 opens with the seminal "Interstellar Overdrive". Comprised of nearly ten minutes of psychedelic freakiness, this is one of Pink Floyd's defining pieces. The downward riff which opens this song never fails to grab me, and its rapid dissolution into echoing, meditative, brain-melting glory could be seen as a direct precursor to subgenres like zeuhl and krautrock. The rapid panning between audio channels in the song's final minute is disorienting in the best way, and my memories of the first time I heard this piece stick with me to this day.

Unfortunately, Side 2 isn't nearly as strong as Side 1. "The Gnome" is [%*!#]ing insufferable, and "Chapter 24" is just boring. "Scarecrow" has some interesting folk touches, but it fails to make much impact.

Piper closes strong, though. "Bike" is another slice of madcap psychedelia. The music is dense, and Barret's simple melody and silly lyrics only serve to complement the more complex elements of the composition.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/01/deep-dive-pink-floyd/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Zopp by ZOPP album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.10 | 221 ratings

BUY
Zopp
Zopp Canterbury Scene

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars The Canterbury scene of the early 1970s was one of prog's most recognizable and most idiosyncratic movements. It's been experiencing a small revival as of late: Homunculus Res (featured in part one of this list) utilizes many Canterbury tropes, and other acts incorporate Soft Machine or Gong influences semi-regularly. Zopp wholeheartedly embraces the Canterbury sound and invigorates it with a fresh and modern energy. The retro organ tones are delightful, and a driving, jazzy energy sucks the listener right into the first proper song, "Before the Light". Each song is distinct. Some feature dark, discordant moments and others feel light and sunny. Most songs deftly blend both sides. What makes this even more impressive is that this is an instrumental record.

Review originally posted here: //theeliteextremophile.com/2021/01/14/top-50-prog-albums-of-2020-part-2-25-1/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Dai Kaht II by DAI KAHT album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.89 | 35 ratings

BUY
Dai Kaht II
Dai Kaht Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars In my initial review of this album, I unfairly maligned it as simply a more guitar-centric Attahk. But that mischaracterization is part of the risk of writing a review after only a listen-and-a-half. There are plenty of blatantly Magma-ish moments (rapidfire Kobaian-inspired gibberish, scatting over jazzy background), but those are some of the record's weakest elements. Dai Kaht thrives when they put forward a sound that is their own. Jazz, metal, blues, and even Southern rock flavors are obvious in the guitar lines, and the songs twist in strange ways. The two tracks which top 10 minutes are especially praiseworthy for their cohesion and dramatic builds. In particular, "Mōa Orgata" is one of 2020's best individual songs.

Review originally posted here: //theeliteextremophile.com/2021/01/14/top-50-prog-albums-of-2020-part-2-25-1/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 From the Great Beyond by GRAND ASTORIA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.00 | 6 ratings

BUY
From the Great Beyond
The Grand Astoria Eclectic Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars The Grand Astoria considers their latest release to be an EP. Normally, I'm respectful of bands' classifications of their releases, even if they're much longer than the usual length of an EP. For example, the 60-minute Tulimyrsky from Moonsorrow is absolutely an EP, with its weirdly scattershot collection of covers and re-recordings. This 33-minute release, though, feels cohesive enough to be a short album, which is why I've placed it here, and not on my Top EPs list. Addressing the substance of this release, it's a stellar slab of space-psych suffused with stoner spirit. Folky acoustic guitars and banjo mesh effortlessly with the astral atmosphere of the title track, and the 10-minute "Njanatiloka" showcases the band's strength at blending stoner metal with complex prog riffs and arrangements. This might be the band's most explicitly spacey release yet, and it's an angle which suits them well.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/01/14/top-50-prog-albums-of-2020-part-2-25-1/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Trial of the King by CHROMATIC ABERRATION album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.80 | 6 ratings

BUY
The Trial of the King
Chromatic Aberration Heavy Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Happy 2021, folks! I took a couple weeks off, but now I'm back to my usual (mostly) weekly posts. I've got a queue of EPs and other releases for an upcoming Odds & Ends. I'm also nearing completion on my next Deep Dive, so expect that in early spring. I haven't posted a full-length review in over two months, though! So, I'm shaking off the rust and highlighting a fantastic two-piece out of Cleveland.

There's not much about this band online. They've got no presence on Facebook or Twitter or anything beyond their Bandcamp page that I can find. That's a shame, because The Trial of the King is a great way to start off the year. This record feels like an alternate universe where Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee were members of Yes. The overall sound palette is rich and full of retro synths, but the guitars are usually angular. The bass has a satisfying, snapping bite to it more akin to Geddy's tone than Chris Squire's usual overdrive.

"Fortune Hunter" is a short instrumental that opens everything up. Its first riff immediately begs Rush comparisons, specifically to "The Camera Eye", with its staccato synth jabs and odd guitar chords. This quality is paired alongside slinking, decidedly modern post-rock style arpeggios for a wonderful contrast.

Folk-tinged acoustic guitar and bass-forward jamming begin "Lord of the City". The harmonized lead vocals add to the semi-folkish Yes allusions, but the verses' jittery, driving pulse comes right out of Yezda Urfa or Wishbone Ash. An unexpected post-punk flavor emerges in the song's closing 90 seconds, and I must once again lavish praise upon the bass tone here. It commands the listener's attention, and it cuts through the layers of synth and guitar.

Following this is a much-needed breather. "Approaching Storm" lives up to its name with a slow-moving, deliberate tempo for its first two minutes. Glassy organ and driving percussion announce the storm's arrival as the band downs an espresso and jumps into high gear. The song eventually modulates back to its opening tempo and mood, though the aura grows more and more oppressive throughout. A moment evocative of "Apocalypse in 9/8" sees a martial drum pattern and enveloping organ build to a dramatic climax.

"The Incidence of Memory" is another instrumental, and it's another place where folk touches shine through and some Genesis influence can clearly be felt.

The Trial of the King closes on its 21-minute title track. Acoustic arpeggios lay the groundwork for a sunny electric guitar solo in its opening moments, and that leads into a rather clear allusion to "Cygnus X-1 Book II". I love the way the guitar and bass harmonize at moments, and the constant flux between the smooth keyboard tones and the raggedness of the stringed instruments is satisfying. In classic Rush fashion, there's a clear demarcation between this song's movements, and the second part is a raucous stormer, compared to the relatively mild opening. Despite all the strong moments in this suite, however, it does lose focus in its second half.

As I've discussed in the past, my feelings on unashamedly retro-prog acts can vary wildly, but Chromatic Aberration is one which falls in my good graces. It doesn't feel overly slick, and there's a genuine sense of passion pouring out of this record. There are only a few flaws on this album, and most of them?bloat and instrumental aimlessness?are endemic to prog. The mashup of classic sounds is engaging, too. Rather than basing their sound clearly on one act, they've drawn bits and pieces from across the spectrum of prog.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/02/01/album-review-chromatic-aberration-the-trial-of-the-king/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Future Bites by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.03 | 321 ratings

BUY
The Future Bites
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

2 stars Steven Wilson, likely the biggest individual name in the current world of prog, returns with his sixth solo album. After making a name for himself with his longtime prog metal/rock band, Porcupine Tree, he struck out on a solo career (which I've documented here) that has tacked increasingly poppy over his last few releases.

Wilson had commented that he currently does not feel inspired when playing guitar, and his continued gravitation toward synthesizers is evident on The Future Bites. I have to give him kudos for following his musical heart and not kowtowing to prog traditionalists demanding another Deadwing or Hand. Cannot. Erase. I really respect him for broadening his horizons and playing what he wants to play. I wish more artists had that sort of integrity and adventurous spirit.

However, a good attitude will only get you so far. You still need to write good, engaging music. Ulver is the clearest parallel to Wilson's career trajectory. After starting out as raw, kvlt black metal, that Norwegian duo shifted to making some top-notch electronica and synthpop. Unlike Ulver, Steven Wilson's chops as a pop songwriter are iffy, at best.

Many of the songs on this album have sparse arrangements which put his vocals front-and-center. Wilson has a nice voice, but it's more suited to rock or contemplative folk than pop. He lacks the power and oomph you need for something as bombastic as some of these disco-inspired tracks. He heavily leans on falsetto delivery on TFB, and his falsetto simply is not that good.

The lyrical content is something of a continuation of what was on Fear of a Blank Planet: wariness surrounding technology and a fear that people are growing too isolated. While that's a good subject to tackle, it's tough to do well without coming off like some hackneyed boomer-humor-type "phone bad" commentary. Plus, Steven, don't you think it's a bit hypocritical to put out an anti-consumerism album and then turn around and offer expensive limited-edition box sets?

TFB continues to demonstrate his skill as a producer, though. Divorced from the quality of the songwriting, the sounds themselves are very nice and work well together. The volume and textures are balanced.

After a brief, lonely-sounding intro track, "Self" isn't a bad way to kick things off. It's not particularly good, but it's not bad. The verses sound like something that was scrapped during the Deadwing sessions; it bears similarities to "Halo" off that record. The chorus, though, fails to grab any attention, and the melody's not memorable.

"King Ghost", on the other hand, is bad. The moody opening synths again feel like a Deadwing outtake, and this is the first time we hear Wilson deploy his falsetto on this record. Everything comes off as thin and strained, and the musical backing is too light. It's fluff upon fluff, which results in auditory cotton candy.

The next song?"12 Things I Forgot"?might be the worst goddamn thing Steven Wilson has ever recorded. This is one of only a couple songs to feature prominent guitar, and perhaps not coincidentally, it sounds deeply uninspired. This falls somewhere between Christian rock and Roger Waters's solo material. Generic is the best descriptor I can give this song.

The music video for "Eminent Sleaze" showcases Wilson's shallow, latter-season-Black-Mirror-style commentary, and the music doesn't do much to improve upon it. Parts of this sound like a weaker version of "Have a Cigar", and the Middle Eastern-inspired strings and percussion feel incongruous against Western instrumentation and beats. On the plus side, it has an interesting jagged, halting guitar solo that I like a lot.

"Man of the People" continues with its allusions to Roger Waters's work, this time "Welcome to the Machine". Though the allusion is brief, there is a momentary jab of dark, pulsing synth paired alongside acoustic guitar, which feels almost like a rip-off. Beyond that, most of this song is dull, acoustic soft rock that uses too much falsetto.

The nearly-10-minute "Personal Shopper" features some of the most driving, engaging, and fun music on all of TFB, but this is also one of the most maddeningly repetitious things I've heard in a long time. The dark, pulsing synths of the opening lead into a segment which reminds me of Ozric Tentacles' recent electronic experiments. Wilson again over-relies on his falsetto during the verses, but the chorus has good impact. However, this verse-chorus structure quickly wears itself out, and by about four minutes in, I was looking at my watch. After a bit of ambience and narration (provided by Elton John), there's an unnecessary reprise of the chorus, but Wilson delivers another notably odd guitar solo full of squealing, atonal stutters.

"Follower" is probably my favorite song on the album, and even that is a mixed bag. The opening percussion sounds like a minimalist post-punk composition, but the sparse arrangement once more emphasizes how un-robust Wilson's voice is. It's not weak, but he can't really belt it out or command the listener's attention. After about two minutes of unimpressive power-pop, though, the song improves markedly. Warm synths and piano tones remind me of Klaatu, and I really enjoy the diversity of this song's second half.

The Future Bites ends on "Count of Unease", a weak retread of some of his past gentle piano pieces. "Collapse the Light into Earth" is the clearest comparison, but this song suffers from severe aimlessness. Aside from some dramatic piano chords in the middle, this track is too wispy and ethereal.

TFB is about what I expected. It's the logical culmination of Steven Wilson's recent proclivities, and I can't say I love it. I admire him for steadfastly doing what he, as an artist, wants to do. But the result is half-baked, shallow, and unremarkable.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/02/08/album-review-steven-wilson-the-future-bites/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Playing House by MEER album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.77 | 54 ratings

BUY
Playing House
Meer Crossover Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Over the last two decades, Scandinavia has become one of the most prolific producers of prog in the world. Big-name acts (by prog standards) like Wobbler, Opeth, and Beardfish have made huge waves in the scene. Meer, a Norwegian octet, continues in this trend, blending complex compositions and arrangements with accessible, catchy pop tendencies (another Scandinavian tradition, which I'm considerably less fond of).

The eleven songs on Meer's sophomore album, Playing House, show intense structural ambition. The music is densely layered, and the band utilizes dynamics to great effect.

The album opens with "Picking Up the Pieces". It begins unassumingly enough, with piano acting as the lead, until guitar and strings burst forth. The drama is balanced with more delicate passages led by pizzicato strings and gentle vocals. This piece often begins to feel hopeful as the music swells, only to have it undercut by an unexpected chord change. The closing instrumental barrage is a fantastic ending; this track sets the tone for the rest of Playing House.

"Beehive" immediately brings strings to the forefront. Groaning cellos provide an anxious backdrop to the verses. Swelling synths in the pre-chorus and an infectious melody make this a standout track. The tension between restraint and bombast is utilized wonderfully.

"All At Sea" dials down the intensity, leaning into the band's chamber music and classical influences. Chamber music isn't really my thing, but if you're a fan of Russian duo iamthemorning, you'll probably like this. This track verges on skippable, but it closes strong. "Song Of Us" is more rock-oriented, but it's another cut I'm less than wild about. It borders on feeling churchy.

The plucking strings which open "Child" have a fitting playfulness about them, and the folky vocal melody meshes quite well with them. This song has a very gradual build, but it doesn't feel drawn out. It's a slow ascent which feels earned and rewarding.

Empty space gets its turn as a musical tool in "You Were a Drum". Vocals are contrasted against minimalistic instrumentation, giving the words room to breathe. The hurried delivery and skittering percussion offer a sense of anxiousness which contrasts against the flowing string lines.

Sequenced synths give "Honey" a striking opening. Though promising, it takes a little too long to get going. The piano, guitar, and drums should have been brought in about 30 seconds earlier. The synthwave touches on this track are a welcome surprise amid Meer's usual pop, rock, and chamber backbone, but the second half drags on a bit longer than it needs to. This is followed by what is likely my least favorite track on the album. I can't put my finger on it, but there's just something about "Across the Ocean" which doesn't quite click with me. There's nothing egregious about it, but it just doesn't quite land.

Playing House has a strong closing stretch, though. "She Goes" is a bombastic, huge-sounding piece that features the band's best use of dynamic contrast. The quiet, subdued verses explode into piano-led glory during the chorus. In contrast, "Where Do We Go From Here" is a quiet, contemplative piece which acts as a nice counterbalance.

The album ends on its longest song, "Lay It Down". The piano-led verses swell dramatically toward the chorus, buoyed by ascendant synthesizers and strings. The chorus soars triumphantly, and it's one of the strongest moments on all of Playing House.

Overall, Playing House is a strong, varied record of highly-accessible prog-pop-rock. The band utilizes its eight-person membership well; it takes a lot of effort to sound as big as Meer do. Though the record does sag a bit in the middle, the stronger moments more than make up for it.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/15/album-review-meer-playing-house/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Dream Weapon by GENGHIS TRON album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.89 | 9 ratings

BUY
Dream Weapon
Genghis Tron Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Part of the reason these reviews have been less frequent as of late is that I'm simply having a harder-than-usual time finding new music which really speaks to me. Unless it's a fairly big-name act, I don't have much motivation to write 400-800 words on a record where the score will be in the 50s. Thankfully, Dream Weapon came along and snapped me out of that funk.

I'd never heard of Genghis Tron before this album, and I can see why that might have been. They were initially active in the mid-2000s before taking a 13-year hiatus. I'd also never heard of the cybergrind genre, but it's a fitting name. It takes the aggression and energy of genres like mathcore and grindcore and pumps it through synthesizers galore. (Interesting sidenote: "mathcore" is considered a real word by MS Word, but "grindcore" is not.)

What this record almost reminds me of is Justice's debut album. Where ? is an electronic album with a significant hard rock/heavy metal substrate, Dream Weapon feels like it's coming from the other direction. It's definitely a metal album, but electronic music thoroughly imbues its DNA.

After a brief, spacey instrumental intro song, "Pyrocene" kicks things off strong. Pulsing synths and programmed drums set a steady tempo under dreamy, processed vocals. There's an infectious groove to this cut, and the anxiety of the verses contrasts wonderfully with the swelling majesty of the chorus.

Following this relatively restrained opener, the title track roars forth with full metallic fury. The drums are pummeling, and the guitars and synths mesh so well it can be tough to tell which sound is which instrument. The song's midsection lessens the intensity, opting instead to build texture and atmosphere atop a looping guitar line. The resolution to this in the song's final minute is both ethereal and incredibly heavy. "Desert Stairs" offers a much-welcomed breather after the preceding madness. This two-minute synthesizer meditation is a bit longer than it needs to be, but it doesn't hamper the album's flow.

A plinking synthesizer opens "Alone in the Heart of the Light". This is reminiscent of That 1 Guy's more electronic material. Around two minutes in, the drumkit joins, adding to the song's nervous energy. A synthesizer line which sounds like it could have been borrowed from a Jon Lord organ solo crops up, acting as a backdrop to an extended section of atmospheric build-up.

The 10-minute "Ritual Circle" is Dream Weapon's longest song. Another subdued, electronic section kicks this track off, and Genghis Tron again takes their time building things up. At no point does it feel like padding, though. Even after repeated listens, it all works excellently. By the song's midpoint, it's reached a state of harsh, buzzing agitation which effortlessly transitions to a mellower, krautrocky movement.

The first half of the instrumental "Single Black Point" is one of the more overtly metallic moments on the album. It opens with oddly-metered palm-muted guitars which harken back the band's more explicitly mathcore-y past. The drums get a chance to shine in this song's first half, tossing in all kinds of fills and rolls under the repetitive instrumentation.

"Great Mother" closes out Dream Weapon on a bang. Huge walls of guitar loom on this track, and it adds some nice oomph after the preceding mostly-electronic cuts.

Dream Weapon is a refreshingly different record, and it's introduced me to a new pico-genre to explore. The combination frenetic metal and lush electronics is an enthralling contrast, and I'm especially impressed by the pacing of this record. The songs flow well, and the order they're in makes a lot of sense.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2021/03/29/album-review-genghis-tron-dream-weapon/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Echoes by WILLS DISSOLVE album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.00 | 1 ratings

BUY
Echoes
Wills Dissolve Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

— First review of this album —
4 stars Album-long songs have a rich tradition in progressive metal. Edge of Sanity's 1996 album Crimson is the best-known of these, but Inter Arma, Meshuggah, and others have dabbled in this format. And that's not even touching on the countless albums where the individual tracks flow together. And while any band can put a 30-plus-minute track to record, it takes another level of skill to make it consistently good. A good album-long song needs to make sense as one song, as opposed to feeling like a handful of short songs smooshed together.

Echoes?the second release from Houston-based quartet Wills Dissolve?consists of solely the 32-minute title track. The swirling, psychedelic black hole cover art is fitting for this record. The music is huge and intergalactic, yet immensely heavy and crushing.

Ominous synth drone and staticky radio transmissions set the scene in the first two minutes. A clean syncopated guitar line slowly builds as bass and light percussion join in. It gives a feeling of ascending to some astral realm. Things remain airy, but there's a sense of impending doom permeating this passage.

Sludgy waves of death-doom metal burst out suddenly, and deep, guttural growls contrast against cleanly-sung passages. As if bursting through a sudden barrier, the music slows down and incorporates acoustic instruments. An optimistic-sounding guitar line that feels right out of Liquid Tension Experiment takes the lead, and the bassist gets in plenty of inventive licks and fills. There's another rapid oscillation back to death metal (this time accented with Cynic-style vocoded vocals), but the transitions on Echoes never feel jarring or disjointed.

Wills Dissolve incorporate inventive, unusual timbres and textures with both their guitars and vocals. Everything operates in degrees of distortion: guitars can be acoustic, clean electric, or evil-sounding; and vocals similarly are sung cleanly, growled, or put through a synthesizer. The band experiments with layering these sounds, to great success.

As the song progresses, the slower, more plodding death-doom of early on gives way to a furious tempest of blackened death metal, though doom metal tinges remain. Gentle reprieves are smartly dispersed, so as to avoid overloading the listener with a never-ending torrent of musical brutality.

The album's closing minutes combine thick walls of distortion with majestic clean vocals and another impressive solo. Echoes draws to a close on a calmer, more somber note from the preceding pummeling, but it fits beautifully.

Echoes is a tour-de-force of progressive death metal. The cosmic interludes help both to add gravity to the heavier moments, as well as act as palette cleansers, to keep everything fresh. Though not a long album, this one behemoth song flies by in what feels like under 10 minutes.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/10/06/album-review-wills-dissolve-echoes/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The 3rd Majesty by RING VAN MÖBIUS album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.73 | 65 ratings

BUY
The 3rd Majesty
Ring Van Möbius Symphonic Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars This Norwegian act fits in well in the corpus of retro-prog bands currently popular. Rather than aping Yes or Genesis, though, they've gone closer to the route of ELP or very early Deep Purple. This trio lacks a guitarist, so keys are at the forefront. Unlike many retro-prog bands, RVM manages to nail to keyboard tones of the early 1970s, which gives the music an authentic feel and goes a long way in making this album that much more enjoyable. The organ has some nice grit to it, and the synth leads channel Tarkus better than any other modern band. The songs themselves keep things changing and shifting, and solos feel purposeful.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/11/16/odds-ends-november-16-2020/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Dwellers of the Deep by WOBBLER album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.31 | 416 ratings

BUY
Dwellers of the Deep
Wobbler Symphonic Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Wobbler are indisputably one of the top dogs of the modern progressive rock scene, and I quite like them. However, I view them as one of the most overrated acts out there. They're certainly not bad, not by a wide margin. Nevertheless, From Silence to Somewhere (their 2017 release) is ranked 28th all-time on Prog Archive's list of the top prog albums, which is ridiculous. It's a very good record which cracked my personal Top 10 that year, but it certainly ain't the 28th-best prog album of all time. At time of writing, Dwellers of the Deep ranks 52nd on that same list, and that's even more egregious. (That list, aggregated off user reviews, has all kinds of other odd inclusions and exclusions, and I've got my own gripes about that site's users' biases.)

I also find the progosphere's eager deference to this band off-putting, and I've witnessed an awful lot of hand-waving at just how Yes-y they've become over their last few albums. Their Yes-iness isn't an inherently bad thing. Rites at Dawn is my favorite of their records, and that is arguably their most blatantly Yes-like release. But after a while, such obvious aping of another act's sound does begin to wear thin, and Yes varied their sound more than Wobbler have. To reiterate: I like Wobbler, but I don't view them through the same irreproachable lens that many other prog fans seem to hold.

Now that I've gotten my expository rant out of the way, I can address the album at hand. Dwellers of the Deep is this Norwegian quintet's fifth full-length release. Upon first listening to it, I was struck by the fact that I could identify no appreciable differences between this album and From Silence to Somewhere. The sound palette hasn't been shaken up, the albums' structures are similar, and the melodies feel too familiar?bordering on re-trod. However, the strength of Wobbler's baseline sound is such that even with these considerations in mind, Dwellers of the Deep is still a pretty good record. Not amazing, but pretty good and worth listening to.

"By the Banks" opens the album on a bombastic note, and Wobbler's bombast has always been their strongest mode in my book. The organ playing is more reminiscent of John Evan of Jethro Tull than of anyone Yes ever had, which is a nice change of pace, but the verses are weak. The melody feels forced and unnatural, and the instrumental backing lacks any real muscle. Much of the middle of this 14-minute song is instrumental, and it's something of a mixed bag. Good ideas are mixed in alongside themes and riffs which should have either been refined or cut altogether.

Following this is Dwellers' pre-release single, "Five Rooms". It opens with warm organ, Mellotron, and wordless vocals before gradually building toward another frenetic riff that sounds like it was written by Chris Squire. This song, similar to the first, is a mix of strong ideas and half-baked melodies that ultimately fail to land. The song's closing minutes strongly channel Phideaux, but that's not quite enough to save it for me. These first two songs feel somewhat scattered and unfocused.

"Naiad Dreams" is an insufferable, torpid four-and-a-half-minute acoustic dirge. I hate it. This might be Wobbler's worst song. It drips along slowly, seemingly never-ending, with almost nothing in the way of instrumental variation. I tried to couch my criticism of the first two songs by pointing out that each have good ideas, but this one is a waste.

Up to this point, Dwellers has felt like something of a disappointment. Two mixed bags and one snoozefest do not a strong release make. Thankfully, the 19-minute "Merry Macabre" ends this record on a strong note.

After a brief piano intro, distorted organ launches this song into an aggressive, askew riff which feels fresh. This eventually dissolves into ominous walls of organ and wordless vocals. This foreboding atmosphere continues for a while before transitioning into a rapid, twisting guitar line. Jazz and blues elements pop up in the rhythm and organ line. A jangly guitar line acts as the backdrop to gradually escalating keyboards and percussion, both of which inject impressive drama. There are a million ideas in this song, but it somehow holds together. This might be Wobbler's best individual song of their career.

Wobbler's fifth album is somewhat patchy, featuring both extreme highs and extreme lows. "Merry Macabre" is what elevates Dwellers of the Deep from decent-but-skippable to something worth checking out. I doubt I'll be listening to the first three songs on this album with much frequency, but I can foresee myself revisiting this closing suite quite often.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/11/23/album-review-wobbler-dwellers-of-the-deep/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Endless Twilight of Codependent Love by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.47 | 18 ratings

BUY
Endless Twilight of Codependent Love
Solstafir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Sólstafir's last two albums?Ótta and Berdreyminn?have both been mixed bags. Some songs demonstrate their former blend of black metal and post-rock which they expressed so amazingly on Svartir Sandar. However, they've also leaned heavily into the general uninteresting murkiness of post-rock. Endless Twilight is definitely a step up over Berdreyminn. I like that metal makes up a larger portion of this album, and the gentler moments feel more purposeful. This release feels like it will grow on me. Though after a couple listens, it still feels overlong, and some songs (most notably "Alda Syndanna") simply aren't landing.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/11/30/odds-ends-november-30-2020/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Cyberfunk! by MOTHER'S CAKE album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.91 | 2 ratings

BUY
Cyberfunk!
Mother's Cake Crossover Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars This is the first Austrian act to earn a place in my library, leaving Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, the Vatican, Malta, Cyprus, and Kosovo as the only European acts without representation in my collection. Beyond that bit of odd trivia, this is a fantastic record. It's full of mad, kinetic energy that can't seem to decide which way it wants to go. I'd strongly recommend this release to fans of The Mars Volta. The punkish energy of their early work is well-represented here, and it blends well with the visceral funk grooves the band lays down. Echoes of Rage Against the Machine are evident too. Everything is clearly tightly structured, but there's somehow still a fun, spontaneous vibe to this record. This is one of the big surprises of 2020 for me, and considering the strength of this year's crop of prog, that's a ringing endorsement.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/12/07/odds-ends-december-7-2020/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Hedvig Mollestad & Trondheim Jazz Orchestra: Maternity Beat by MOLLESTAD TRIO, HEDVIG album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.00 | 7 ratings

BUY
Hedvig Mollestad & Trondheim Jazz Orchestra: Maternity Beat
Hedvig Mollestad Trio Heavy Prog

Review by spleenache

4 stars I am so surprised to see that there is no written review for this excellent record. Hedvig Mollestad has been creating music since 2009 and many of her previous records has been favorably reviewed on this site.

In this record she steps away from her usual trio and collaborates with Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. As this collaboration might hint, this record is far jazzier then her previous output with her Trio. If I am not mistaken, she composed all the songs in this record including the orchestrations. She still plays her killer guitar, but more space is allocated to other instruments as well.

Overall I would describe the feel of this record as avant rock/jazz with fantastic guitar solos mixed in. There is a definite Latin jazz tinge in some of the songs. I clearly feel the spirit of Flora Purim infused all over the compositions.

The album is very balanced; it not only has typical fast paced Hedvig style songs but also includes contemplative quieter compositions. I hear another female singer supporting her in some of the songs, who has a wonderful voice, but I am not sure who she is.

Hedvig certainly evolved her musical style and further developed both compositional and orchestration skills. I am already looking forward to her next output.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 ID.Entity by RIVERSIDE album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.06 | 184 ratings

BUY
ID.Entity
Riverside Progressive Metal

Review by Hokeyboy

4 stars ID.Entity is the eighth album from this renowned Polish progressive rock/metal band; their first in five years as well as the first release featuring guitarist Maciej Meller (replacing longtime original guitarist Piotr Grudziński after his sudden death in 2016). Their last LP, 2018's Wasteland, represented (certainly in retrospect) a transition moment for the band. With Grudziński's passing, Duda took over primary guitar duties (alongside bass and vocals), resulting in a more riff-heavy, metallic sounding record. Without question and by nature a somewhat different sounding record, Wasteland nonetheless represented a powerful and affecting statement from the band. "Lament" still hits me hard every time.

With the January 2023 release of ID.Entity, Riverside has not only returned with a strong new album, a new fulltime guitarist, and a world tour that kicked off in my home state (and of course I had to miss it), but also with a renewed sense of artistic purpose. Traveling along a musical spectrum that ranges from quiet, almost ballad-like nuance to explosive metal anger, with multiple stops in between, ID.Entity bleeds emotional verisimilitude amid a broad dispersion of heavy progressive melody.

ID.Entity exemplifies the themes of this record: identity in the digital era. How vision is warped and manipulated by social media. Truth becomes malleable, political discourse becomes weaponized, self-realization becomes anathematic, and the entirety of one's being becomes commerce fodder.

Heady themes indeed, and Riverside delivers them in a powerfully cohesive and engaging album. Their songs reflect these ideas in a thematic concept album that questions and challenges the new realities of this social transition.

Leading off the album with "Friend or Foe?" is a gutsy choice. For starters, the track doesn't sound like anything else on the album. Nor does it sound like a Riverside tune in general. At least, not at first. It's a synth driven 80s pastiche with pop sensibilities of a bygone (but influential) era. To my ancient ears it sounds like something a-ha would have released in their '80s North American heyday. Only when the guitars crunch in during the pre-chorus/chorus do we realize we are in other territory entirely.

So yeah, it's gutsy, but it's the meta aspect that fascinates me. The early/mid 80s was the beginning of the personal computer/online era. Although it took another decade for mass acceptance and then another for social media to take off, the mid 80s was the launching pad for the Digital Age. What a perfect stylistic metaphor for this album's opening track, which delves into the sublimation or obfuscation of self in a virtual world, and the endless parade of masks worn in online interaction.

Plus it's a total pop earworm of the best kind.

"Landmine Blast" evokes the booming, forceful immediacy of crap going sideways in social media. Be it from Cancel Culture overreacting or General Stupidity accelerating. For whatever reason, the wrong words were said at the wrong time, context be damned, and the resulting detonation of outrage rolls on exponentially, without nuance or understanding, or perhaps even with too much of both. The track opens with some country-esque riffing, moving into a strong metal power swell. Middle Eastern melodicism is woven throughout the tune, adding exotic beauty through the crunch and distortion.

You can almost forgive the band for including the cheeseball 'terms and conditions' opening to "Big Tech Brother". Good idea in theory, but in practice, it's a bit silly. Still, it's over in seconds and the keyboard-driven riffing takes over. While the synthetic horns are an odd aesthetic, the transition to Hammonds as the intro ends allow the song to take on a haunting, howling vibe. The song excoriates its title subjects as it puts the adage "when you don't pay for the product, you are the product" to powerful musical effect. The band plays with dynamics to drive their concepts with melodic precision, from quiet piano interludes to atmospheric guitars and organs to evoke an endless digital prison landscape.

"Post-Truth" laments antagonism, hatred, and division, in which the dissemination of truth and verifiable reality becomes refracted through emotion and agenda. Capitalizing on the manipulation of fear, anger, and outrage is big money.

Headline drew attention Then I lost my temper Again

The song ends with a soft piano reprise of the main melody, a plea of hope and reconciliation perhaps? Or is it a normalization of self-righteous outrage? This is the world we live in.

"The Place Where I Belong", at 13 minutes, is the album's "epic" track. In many ways it summarizes the entirety of the record, emphasizing political division, anger, insincerity, hiding identity, being forced into social conformity, and ignorance presented as defining knowledge. The slow, quieter opening erupts at around the three minute mark with a bluesy bass riff. The band briefly breaks out in a strong jam before the verses kick back in.

Duda's vocals vacillate between anger and self-recrimination as he tries to obtain the titular Westphalia, that place of individual balance, self-realization, and acceptance. His vocals, alongside Meller's shimmering guitar melodie, imbue the song with a strength, beauty, and dignity. It's not a powerful "TIME TO KICK ASS! I BELIEVE IN ME!" bit of posturing that erupts with wailing soloes and a thundering wall of rhythm section badassery. This is powerful musical reconciliation that underscores the lyrical recapitulation of self.

"I'm Done With You" takes its fuzz-bass opening and drives into full-on exorcism mode; good riddance to bad rubbish indeed. Through musical urgency the band bids a not-so fond farewell to the patronization of those who insist they have our best interests at heart.

You are not my judge You are not my God You are not my own CEO Why don't you simply shut your mouth And take your poison from my soul Far away

A powerful piece of self-determination, "I'm Done With You" pulls no punches. It segues into the more uptempo "Self-Aware", with a strong central riff, driving rhythm section, and even some elements of pop melodic construction. If anything, it makes a fine reflection of the "Friend or Foe?" opener. There we questioned who we (and others) really are; here the focus is on reconciliation. Unplugging but not disconnecting entirely. We still need that human connection. Musically the song has hints of Signals-era Rush; again bringing that mid 80s milieu back into high relief. We've come full circle in our reflection of the deregulation of human behavior in the digital realm.

ID.Entity was the first "major" prog release of 2023, and as such set the bar pretty high. It presents an exemplary collection of songs that probe the fragmentation of social and individual identity. The album doesn't proselytize, but it doesn't pull its punches either. Change, as it always does, begins with the individual. Riverside delivers this excoriation of the digital ethos in a manner both explosive and measured. ID.Entity is a different sounding album for the band, but not an entirely foreign one and ultimately an engagingly successful endeavor. Welcome back guys!

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Fall of Man by GUPPY FISH album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.27 | 6 ratings

BUY
The Fall of Man
Guppy Fish Heavy Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars I've largely been unimpressed with Opeth's pivot away from death metal. A lot of their recent output has felt flaccid and derivative in an oversaturated retro-prog scene. However, the full-length debut of Greek act Guppy Fish covers the territory I'd always hoped Mikael Ĺkerfeldt and his crew would. The Fall of Man isn't exactly a metal album, though it often flirts with the territory. The music is both grand and gloomy. The shadows cast by the giants of the genre are readily evident, but this album stands on its own.

This album's title track aptly sets the mood as its opener. An eerie, watery guitar arpeggio bursts forth from its quiet beginning into the looming verses. A jagged, irregular riff is deployed to great effect between verses. Two-layered vocal arrangements are utilized both here and throughout the rest of the album to add a layer of depth.

"Easily Played" feels like an outtake from Fear of a Blank Planet if it were played by Haken. The song's overall texture and atmosphere are undeniably Wilsonian, but interweaving clean guitar lines and the majestic outro help it feel distinct. "I Don't Like Your Face" continues with the obvious Porcupine Tree nods. It's one of the more derivative pieces on The Fall of Man, but it's also one of my favorites on the record. It's got an infectious groove to it.

The band tone things down on "Exposed". This mostly acoustic song pulls heavily from folk and post-rock until its final 90 seconds. It's a nice contrast to the heavier moments both preceding and following it.

"Still Here" opens with a riff far bluesier than I expected from this band. I'd expect it from a band like Clutch but not one so firmly in Opeth's vein. By the one-minute mark, though, they've incorporated cabaret piano, and it's not long after that that a herky-jerky guitar riff comes to dominate. The second half of the song is a swirling, organ-powered instrumental.

"Neverending Flow" is another gentle piece, reminiscent of The Flower Kings. This track could have easily veered off into irredeemable cheesiness, but Guppy Fish manage to keep everything grounded. Unfortunately, not every slow song on this album is a winner. "Justify" meanders for its first three-plus minutes, and the eventual climax is not worth the wait.

The two-part, 10-minute "Above the Sky" closes the album and is a mixed bag. Part 1 is a thumping, engaging instrumental, full of jungle rhythms, haunted-carnival organ, and discordant, Voivod-style guitar squeals. Part 2, however, is less interesting. The first four minutes are downright torpid, and while the closing is better, the weight of the preceding slog drags it down.

The Fall of Man is a strong debut effort from Guppy Fish. They successfully channeled progressive metal and heavy progressive rock influences into something both accessible and rewarding.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/08/10/album-review-guppy-fish-the-fall-of-man/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Andiamo in Giro di Notte e ci Consumiamo nel Fuoco by HOMUNCULUS RES album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.89 | 87 ratings

BUY
Andiamo in Giro di Notte e ci Consumiamo nel Fuoco
Homunculus Res Canterbury Scene

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Back in the early days of progressive rock, Italy was second only to the UK in the scope and vibrancy of their prog scene. The Italians infused Anglo-originating prog with native folk and classical influences, they sang in their native language, and their use of uncommon scales and modes made them stand out. Not many of these bands found success beyond Italy's borders, though, perhaps due to just how intensely Italian the music was.

Homunculus Res, then, have somewhat subverted prog tropes. Andiamo in giro di notte e ci consumiamo nel fuoco (We Go around at Night and Consume Ourselves in the Fire) is Homunculus Res's fourth full-length release. This Sicilian quintet plays a variety of progressive rock strongly inspired by the Canterbury scene. The sound of the Canterbury scene was intensely English, and that's why it was so surprising to find an Italian act in that vein.

Andiamo opens in a jazzy manner, with "Lucciole per lanterne" ("Fireflies for Lanterns") featuring light guitar strumming and saxophone. Before long, though, a cascade of keyboard tones?organ, synthesizers, and clavinet?fill in the auditory space. The organ tones especially pay homage to Caravan and Soft Machine. "Il Carrozzone" ("The Caravan") continues with lush synth tones embellished with silky sax lines over unusual rhythms. Even the vocal delivery is reminiscent of Robert Wyatt's distinct style.

"Buco nero" ("Black Hole") is bouncy, light, and summery, in stark contrast to its rather grim lyrics. (Thanks, Google Translate!) "Supermercato" ("Supermarket") features some of Homunculus Res's most Italian moments, with a reeds-brass-and-strings arrangement in its second half, before "La Spia" ("The Spy") enters with a fittingly slinky, sneaky electric piano heartbeat.

Even this album's darkest moments?the opening moments of "La Salamandra" ("The Salamander")?are relatively light. Buzzy electric organ is the lead instrument here, and there are some great instrumental excursions. "In girum" ("The Roundabout") is mostly instrumental and highlights interplay between a biting, funky bass and rich, warbling synthesizers.

Andiamo closes on something of an odd note. "Non dire no" ("Don't Say No") works in its role as the record's finale, but stripped of that context, it's not quite strong enough to stand in isolation. It's slow-moving and based around a waltz rhythm. Layers of keyboards gradually build up with flute and bassoon adding more textural depth.

The particular brand of keyboard-forward, jazz-infused, Canterbury-style prog is not exactly common nowadays. And when I do run across acts that play it, they frequently run the risk of sounding derivative or simply paling in comparison to the original founders of the scene. Homunculus Res largely succeeded at paying homage to the big names of the Canterbury scene while also making something distinct. The frequent inclusion of classical instruments helps to keep the sound diverse and engaging, while the classic keyboard tones work to evoke an era of prog, not blindly ape it.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/08/31/album-review-homunculus-res-andiamo-in-giro-di-notte-e-ci-consumiamo-nel-fuoco/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Naiv by THY CATAFALQUE album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.72 | 40 ratings

BUY
Naiv
Thy Catafalque Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars I found this album in a record store and was struck immediately by the cover art. After quickly consulting the Internet to make sure this wasn't going to be something I'd hate, I decided to gamble and bought it without first listening to it. And boy, am I glad that I did.

Thy Catafalque is a one-man project based out of Hungary, and Naiv is this act's ninth full-length album. By the way, this is a catafalque; I'd never heard that word and needed to look it up. On it, sole full-time bandmember Tamás Kátai blends black metal, electronic elements, and Hungarian folk music into something distinctive.

"A bolyongás ideje" ("It's Time to Wander") opens the album with a charging, infectious rhythms. Harsh male vocals and clean female vocals harmonize to create an effect reminiscent of a vocoder, and the fact that this is sung in Hungarian adds a unique character.

The instrumental "Tsitsushka" has a misty, post-punk feel to its guitar tones, though the song soon enough veers out of metal territory altogether. There's an infectious slap-bass interlude complemented with a brass arrangement that segues into an unexpected series of jazzy solos. By the time we reach the song's end, synthesizer and saxophone are trading the lead over an anxious backing track.

That high-octane instrumental is followed by the quiet piano, flute, and synthesizer opening of "Embersólyom" ("Man-Falcon"). It's on this track where the folk elements of Thy Catafalque's music are most evident. Airy flute lines cut through big walls of distorted guitar, and multi-parted vocal arrangements contrast beautifully against the song's metallic backbone. Obvious folk motifs continue on "Számtalan színek" ("Countless Colors"). This brief instrumental gives the lead to a string arrangement and contains more textural shifts than would normally be anticipated in a song this short.

"A valóság kazamatái" ("The Dungeons of Reality") closes the first half of Naiv in a manner very similar to how it opened. After a brief synthesizer introduction, the song bursts forth into surprisingly catchy metal. The guitar soon cedes the spotlight to a speedy oud solo that fits right into this album's metallic sensibilities. The song's second half features an extended clean section that draws from post-rock and math rock, though it closes on a reprise of its opening fury.

Side 2 begins with "Kék madár (Négy kép)" ("Bluebird (Four Pictures)"), with a solitary, fluttering flute, followed by compressed strings. Tight, energetic drumming enters, pushing it along as the flute reenters with a speedy, lilting solo. This song's second half veers off into some of the most blatant electronic influences yet. Gentle synthesizers gradually bring this piece down from its energetic heights.

"Náput" ("Sun") continues with gentle quiet tones in its opening moments, but black metal?augmented by Wakemanesque synthesizer embellishments?soon takes over. Smooth female vocals once more add brilliant contrast with folk melodies.

"Vető" ("Sower") opens with the heaviest metal of the album. Apocalyptic blackened death metal weaves with more vocal folk melodies in its first couple minutes. The midsection of "Vető" once again ditches guitar altogether, with synthesizer and organ taking the lead in a jumpy, nearly danceable movement. Spare post-rock is visited briefly before closing out on a revisitation of the opening metal theme. "Szélvész" ("Tempest") is a fitting closer. It features all of Thy Catafalque's usual eclecticism while also being one of the most accessible songs on the whole album.

Naiv is a fantastic, unique record. The music is incredibly ambitious and packed with an impressive amount of ideas. Black metal, electronica, progressive rock, and Hungarian folk somehow fold together into a brilliant blend of unexpected influences. Despite the diversity of this album, it feels focused and well-structured. Never does the music drag or feel disjointed. Every twist and turn on Naiv has purpose.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/09/07/album-review-thy-catafalque-naiv/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Oceanic Electron Harvest by VINYL DIAL album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.93 | 5 ratings

BUY
Oceanic Electron Harvest
Vinyl Dial Crossover Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars I featured the remaster of Vinyl Dial's debut earlier this year and heaped a lot of praise onto it. This one-man act's latest album is a pair of 20-minute suites which lean heavily into psychedelia and space rock. The title track comes first. It's full of snappy bass lines and airy keyboard tones, and it maintains a light atmosphere throughout. "Myristica" is a peppier composition and features some heavily-affected vocals. The whole record has a certain lo-fi charm about it, which is a rare compliment from me. I'm normally not the biggest fan of lo-fi aesthetics, but Vinyl Dial's background in vaporwave was certainly helpful in the mastering of this album.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/09/14/odds-ends-september-14-2020/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Virus by HAKEN album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.61 | 274 ratings

BUY
Virus
Haken Heavy Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Haken have proven themselves to be one of the most consistent acts in all of progressive metal. Even their worst album is only spotty. Virus shares a lot in common with its predecessor, Vector, with the two having been recorded in quick succession. Everything here is meticulously crafted, highly dynamic, intelligently structured, and skillfully played. However, much like Vector, once the record is over, almost none of it has stuck with me. I'm not the biggest fan of Affinity, their 2016 release, but that album (and the three which preceded it) stuck out in my mind when I heard them. I'm not sure what it is about Virus (and Vector), but it feels ephemeral. Like, if you're not actively listening to it, it doesn't really exist.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/09/14/odds-ends-september-14-2020/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Eden in Reverse by HAIL SPIRIT NOIR album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.88 | 57 ratings

BUY
Eden in Reverse
Hail Spirit Noir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Hail Spirit Noir have been one of my favorite metal acts since they debuted with Pneuma in 2012. Mayhem in Blue, their 2016 release, was the only album to give Terminal Redux a run for its money in my personal best-of list for that year. Their unique synthesis of black metal and late-60s psychedelic rock and folk has been nothing short of brilliant. On Eden in Reverse, HSN has brought their sound up to the mid-1980s, with rich, creepy synthesizers taking over where swirling organ once dominated. While most of the album is quite strong, it's definitely their cleanest album to date. I really missed the raw, abrasive black metal fury which was more prominent on their earlier records. The glossy synthesizers often only underscore just how slick everything sounds.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/09/14/odds-ends-september-14-2020/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 El Profeta by TIRELLI, ARMANDO album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.92 | 46 ratings

BUY
El Profeta
Armando Tirelli Symphonic Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars It's been a while since I posted a Lesser-Known Gem entry. There's been a ton of fantastic music released lately, and I can't keep up with all of it, but there have always been great albums that simply get missed. El Profeta is one of those records. Released in 1978, this album failed to get much traction outside of Uruguay at its release, or in following years.

Armando Tirelli, prior to releasing his solo album, was the keyboardist for the Uruguayan jazz-rock group Sexteto Electrónico Moderno. SEM was not a prog band, but there were ample classical and jazz influences. I'm no expert in South American music (so I can't specify genres), but SEM also had a distinctly South American feel to their music. Tirelli would use a lot of that classical and jazz experience when composing El Profeta.

El Profeta is based on the book The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. It may have just been "inspired by" Gibran's book?Internet sources are inconsistent in their phrasing. I haven't read it, and my Spanish isn't too great, so I will not be summarizing the album's story. But between what Spanish I know and the large amount of narration, I feel confident in saying that this album tells a story.

The album opens with its title track, which is also the longest song on the album. Groaning synth bass and jazzy piano and guitar licks build before giving way to minimalistic piano, bass, and drums topped with dramatic narration. Spoken word usually comes off as grating and lazy, but the narrator's voice has a great tone, and he sells his passion hard. Even after the narration ends, the music remains decidedly jazzy, with lilting flute and rich synth pads.

El Profeta is structured without gaps between its songs, so the transition to "Candombe Samba" is smooth. Flute, piano, and synthesizers dominate most of this instrumental cut. The song's second half shifts from symphonic to something a bit more aggressive, and fuzzed-out guitar gets a chance to shine with a dramatic, Gilmour-esque solo.

Following "Candombe Samba" is a quartet of short pieces. "Barco de los Sueńos" revisits a vocal melody from the title track amid a backing of space-jazz, and "Tema Central El Profeta" is a dramatic little instrumental led by glimmering synths. "El Momento de Partir" combines elements of both of the preceding short songs. "Amanever en Orphalese" is a short instrumental, but it packs a lot into two-and-a-half minutes, with mellow jazz, acidic psychedelia, and classically-inspired piano gymnastics all flowing together coherently.

"Hablanos del Matrimonio" begins with a slow, unassuming build-up. As elsewhere on El Profeta, piano is the backbone, with synthesizers taking the lead and guitar fleshing things out. This song, which opens side 2 of the album, works as something of an echo of the title track. Its structure and instrumentation are similar, with the narrator speaking over the song's middle part before closing on sung elements.

"Hablanos de Dar" continues with the preceding song's gentle atmosphere, but "Hablanos del Amor" opens on a more energetic note. The rhythm section is propulsive, and the main melody is a weird, twisting line with plenty of pep. The verses slow things down, but the instrumentation remains impactful.

"Los Ecos del Almustafe" synthesizes earlier themes from the album into something light and folky. The wordless vocals and walls of keyboard instruments interact wonderfully, and the flutework is especially praiseworthy.

El Profeta ups the tempo with nervous guitar strumming and driving drums on "Hablanos de los Hijos". Narration again takes the lead before giving way to an organ solo that sounds like it could have been on Piper at the Gates of Dawn. This song is full of forceful riffs and serves as a fitting climax to the whole album. A pair of short songs follow "Hablanos de los Hijos", acting as something of an epilogue. "Tocata Scarahuala" is 30 seconds of Tirelli showing off his instrumental chops, and "Tema Central El Profeta" is a reprise of the earlier song with the same name.

El Profeta was Tirelli's only solo release, which is a real pity. There are certain musical parallels between this record and certain Italian prog acts, but much of that likely comes from Tirelli's background in classical music. He crafted a unique album with a distinct timbre, a smooth integration of narration and singing, and a compelling dramatic progression.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/09/28/lesser-known-gem-armando-tirelli-el-profeta/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Omens by ELDER album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.60 | 74 ratings

BUY
Omens
Elder Heavy Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Over the last few years, Elder have established themselves as one of the most interesting acts in progressive rock. Their albums Lore and Reflections of a Floating World deftly blended prog and psychedelia with a stoner metal backbone, and their 2019 EP The Gold & Silver Sessions saw heavy incorporation of krautrock and jam band influences.

The recording of Omens, Elder's fifth full-length release, marked several major changes for the band. The most obvious of which was that the band underwent their first-ever lineup change to introduce a new drummer and guitarist/keyboardist. The band also relocated from Boston to Berlin, and the press for this record leading up to its release emphasized this state of change. Sonically, the most obvious change over previous releases is the widespread incorporation of synthesizers. Overall, though, Omens doesn't stray that far from Elder's typical sound; all in all, they've just added a few baubles.

In usual Elder fashion, Omens is five songs long, all between 9 and 13 minutes long. "Omens" is the first track, and the inclusion of electric piano, organ, and synthesizer immediately tries to establish that this is different Elder. But the guitars belie that relatively little has changed. The huge chords and dramatic vocals. Maybe my expectations for change were just too much, but I came away slightly disappointed. In absolute terms, it's a strong track, but it's just the safest move Elder could have made. This piece is like something off Reflections of a Floating World with marginally more prominent keys. "In Procession", the second song, is similar in this regard.

The third song, "Halcyon", finally does something different. It opens on a much gentler note than the first two tracks, and the band take their time in building up to their eventual bombast. Over the course of almost five minutes, synth drones, airy guitar arpeggios, and simple, steadfast percussion bleed together in a swirling mélange. This drawn-out introduction to Elder's metallic side is greatly satisfying. Mellotron is used to great effect in the song's final minutes, creating a foreboding, tense atmosphere.

"Embers" is by-the-book Elder for its first six minutes  or so, but there's a great synthesizer solo that leads into a quieter section led by electric piano with some mild jazz flavors. Hints of post-rock crop up as well over the span of this song's second half, and those influences are deployed in smart, effective ways.

"One Light Retreating" opens in typical Elder fashion, but it's the most adventurous song on Omens. Around the five-minute mark, synthesizer squeaks through over a martial drumbeat, and following a brief guitar solo, Mellotron leads the way into this song's drawn out, quiet conclusion. Watery electric piano glimmers over gentle percussion, and a simple, fuzzy bassline adds some nice grit for contrast.

I think the marketing for this album may have overhyped just how fundamentally Elder had actually changed, leading to a misalignment of expectations (from me, at least). Omens feels a lot like Reflections of a Floating World, Part 2. If you liked that record, you'll probably like this one, too. However, I found it so similar to RoaFW that it detracted from the experience. Yes, Elder have their own distinct sound, but I heard so little evolution that I came away a little disappointed. I still enjoyed Omens overall, and I could plausibly see my opinion of this record either rising or falling as I listen to it more. But after a few listens over a few days, I'm putting it in the pretty-decent-but-not-essential camp.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/05/04/album-review-elder-omens/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira by STEENSLAND, SIMON album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.92 | 27 ratings

BUY
J G Thirlwell & Simon Steensland: Oscillospira
Simon Steensland RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars JG Thirlwell is an Australian-born, Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist best known as the man behind the industrial act Foetus. He also acts the composer for the TV shows Archer and The Venture Bros, the latter of which is one of my absolute favorite shows. (It also made progressive rock a central plot element in one episode.) Simon Steensland is a Swedish multi-instrumentalist and composer with a long history in modern avant-garde rock music.

In addition to avant-garde and progressive rock influences, this duo makes extensive use of orchestral music. Much of this album sounds like it could have been the score for a creepy arthouse film. Atonal strings and minor key woodwinds dominate on this record, filling up most of the space not occupied by traditional rock instrumentation.

The opening "Catholic Deceit" demonstrates this approach, with its spooky chamber-music orchestration and rolling, propulsive percussion below stretched-out distorted guitar. Later in the song, a marching rhythm takes over, augmented by low brass and a distorted, pulsing synth. The song's final minutes come to a climax with speedy marimba lines and chaotic, yet deft, drumming.

The second song, "Heron", starts off slower than the opener, but by the time it reaches its midpoint, it's brimming with dramatic guitar, synth, and choral parts. "Night Shift" has huge, metallic guitar parts and plodding, powerful drums. That song also features another march consisting of low brass and marimba that sounds like it was originally written for The Venture Bros before being retooled for this project instead.

"Papal Stain" is one of the most consistently urgent compositions on Oscillospira. There are the usual tempo and dynamic variations that mark all these sprawling pieces, but the mood of this song is especially tense. "Heresy Flank" has some distinct textural qualities. There's this hurried scratching sound which I can only guess is muted acoustic guitar strings. Contrasted against bassy, heavy piano, it makes everything feel askew. "Heresy Flank" is also the most consistently Venture Bros-ish composition here.

The album closes on "Redbug", which has some apparent Magma allusions. Mantra-like vocal chants, jazzy drumming, and insistent basslines build in intensity. Synths warble in the background, and electric guitar notes stretch and distend over the top. Once the intensity crests, the mood shifts to one of doom and despair.

Oscillospira is a long album that demands a lot of attention. The instrumental compositions morph gradually over runtimes which regularly cross the 8-minute threshold. Atonality can be a tricky tool to deploy, but Thirlwell and Steensland have used it masterfully on this record.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/05/25/album-review-jg-thirlwell-simon-steensland-oscillospira/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Side$how 2 by DE MIEULLE, LOUIS album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.09 | 2 ratings

BUY
Side$how 2
Louis de Mieulle Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Last year, New York-based bassist and composer Louis de Mieulle released Side$how, an instrumental, improvisation consisting of himself, a drummer, and two keyboardists. That album was one of my most pleasant surprises of 2019, given my usual leeriness about instrumental records. He deftly blended a jazzy backbone with proggy flourishes and touches of krautrock, zeuhl, and even electronic music.

On Sid?show 2, de Mieulle follows the same general template. Himself, a drummer, and two keyboardists improvise over a preconceived structure, employing the musical vocabulary of both jazz and progressive rock. Despite the similarities in how these two albums were composed and recorded, they have vastly different characters. Side$how had a bright, sunny atmosphere, but Sid?show 2 has a colder feel to it.

The opening "Dwarf Elephant" demonstrates this atmospheric shift. It's a slow-moving piece full of diminished chords, and the lead synth line has a haunting quality to it. The spare composition of "The Two-Headed Kid Variations, Pt. 1" continues this trend. The individual instruments seem to be working around one another, rather than together. This observation isn't a complaint, though, as that approach is effective at enhancing the mood.

"Giant Fly (aka Mes Choux Gras aka Metastasis)" blends the jitteriness of Side$how with the icy tones established on this record. Especially of note here is de Mieulle's bass tone. It's a crunchy, biting tone that reminds me a lot of Geddy Lee, and this tonal aggression fits the darker mood of Sid?show 2.

Returning to earlier themes, "The Two-Headed Kid Variations, Pt. 2" establishes a spacier atmosphere with watery synthesizers and massive amounts of reverb. However, this is one of the rare points on the album where the slow pace and sparse instrumentation are a detriment. This song winds up dragging on for several minutes too long.

The 12-minute "Dwarf Elephant/Bed of Snails" is my favorite song on the album. Its first half utilizes rich instrumentation, and I would once again make sonic comparisons to Rush, not only in the bass tone but also in the synthesizer selection. The composition itself is incredibly un-Rush-like in its jazz backbone and improvisation, but a similar sound palette is used. The song's second half revisits some themes from Side$how and adapts them to fit this album's overall feel.

"Revenge of the Giant Fly" is a disorienting piece, featuring a fractured bassline and reversed percussion amid the usual odd synth chords. This piece is followed by part three of "The Two-Headed Kid Variations". By this point on the record, I'd gotten somewhat exhausted by his revisitations of this idea. Any one of these three variations would have been fine as a standalone piece, and this third part is my favorite of the three, in isolation. However, this theme isn't interesting enough to warrant nearly twenty minutes of music.

"Son of Giant Fly" is another dark piece that features an especially aggressive, jumpy bassline, and many of the start-stop instrumental flourishes remind of acts like Yes or Dream Theater. The closing "Two-Headed Kid Theme" features some of the lushest textures on the album, though it does feel somewhat out of place as the album's closer.

Sid?show 2 continues in the same vein as its predecessor, with some notable changes. This record feels starker and colder than last year's Side$how. I like the continuity between these two albums. However, the sparseness of Sid?show 2 works against it at points, leading to moments which feel unnecessarily drawn out. Despite these shortcomings, I enjoy this record and would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy jazzy, instrumental rock.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/06/01/album-review-louis-de-mieulle-sideshow-2/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Deleted Scenes by ONCE AND FUTURE BAND album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.93 | 12 ratings

BUY
Deleted Scenes
Once And Future Band Crossover Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Deleted Scenes is the second album from Oakland prog-pop outfit Once and Future Band (hereafter called OAFB). I was introduced to them via their self-titled 2017 album, which was their first full length release. Their self-titled is a sunny slice of prog-pop with ample jazz and folk touches. However, almost every song on that album felt one to two minutes too long.

The songs on Deleted Scenes are more focused than on OAFB's self-titled, much to this record's benefit. Rich electric pianos and synthesizer tones take center stage for most of the album, and vocalist Joel Robinow has just the right tone and timbre to complement it.

"Andromeda" opens the record with unpretentious piano chords and guitar embellishments. The song skillfully shifts themes, and the many ideas feel unrushed. The second half of the song features a wonderfully jazzy, Patrick Moraz-esque synth solo that builds to a gratifying climax. In contrast to this energetic opening, the second song, "Automatic Air", maintains a slow pace. The multilayered vocals contribute to this song's airy feel, along with the glimmering piano.

"Problem Addict" begins with some clavinet and electric guitar lines that sound like they're right out of Alan Parsons's debut album. It has a downcast feel, but OAFB's inherent warmth seeps through. This warmth can also clearly be heard in the country-tinged, Beatlesesque "Freaks".

The instrumental "Several Bullets in My Head" is the first point on the album where I felt a song overstayed its welcome, but it wasn't by much. It helps that the song's second half is stronger than its first. "Mr. G", another instrumental, has some fun funk vibes and deft soloing.

The album's title track is slightly slower than most other songs, but it maintains a strong sense of urgency. "Airplane" is the simplest song on the album. Its relatively spare, acoustic arrangement serves as a refreshing contrast to all the preceding dense layers of keyboards.

Deleted Scenes closes on its strongest song, the nine-minute instrumental "The End and the Beginning". Opening with plain piano, it gradually builds in grandeur with the addition of jazzy percussion, wordless vocals, and gentle brass arrangements. The drumming is fantastic throughout this whole album, but it's especially noteworthy here. Some of the darker, heavier moments in this song give vague echoes of Van der Graaf Generator and Magma.

Deleted Scenes is exactly the sort of album I was hoping for out of OAFB. They took the upbeat, prog-pop of their debut, stripped away most of the bloat, and added in some more adventurous elements.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/06/08/album-review-once-and-future-band-deleted-scenes/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 The Fading Thought by JARGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.04 | 84 ratings

BUY
The Fading Thought
Jargon Crossover Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars The Fading Thought is the debut solo album of Greek keyboardist Jargon. Prior to this solo effort, he was one of the founders of the progressive rock band Verbal Delirium. There are some obvious sonic overlaps, but he's managed to differentiate his solo sound from that of his band. The band's efforts hew heavily toward certain prog-rock clichés; organ and bombast permeate the music. Jargon's solo album, though, borrows extensively from chamber music and film scores. Piano and strings are given prominent roles throughout The Fading Thought.

The opening track, "The Film", lacks traditional rock arrangement altogether. It's a quiet, bittersweet instrumental led by piano with lush string backing. This flowing composition serves as a strong introduction to this record's overall tone.

"In Search of the Invisible Thin Line" follows with some sinister interweaving of rock and classical elements. Despite the darkness of the opening moments, the chorus of this song is surprisingly sweet. (I understand the prosodic reason for saying "Invisible Thin" versus "Thin Invisible", but the phrasing does strike the ear a little oddly.) Often when artists incorporate strings into their music, it can sound tacked-on, but the integration in Jargon's music is seamless and complementary. "Dance of the Framed Words" segues smoothly from the closing moments of "In Search of the Invisible Thin Line" and artfully plays demonic piano, violin, and guitar lines against quieter moments subtly suffused with jazz touches.

The album's title track features some particularly David Gilmour-esque guitar lines in its first few minutes. Around the three-minute point though, a sudden shift occurs, and a quiet, palm-muted riff takes center stage, topped with electric piano that sounds straight out of a Porcupine Tree song. The song's climax is one of this album's highest points. This intense song is followed by the airy instrumental "Light", which, much like the opening "The Film", features no rock arrangements.

"Time Is Running Out" channels some A Passion Play vibes in its bouncy, yet dark rhythm. The guitar solo is a bit schmaltzy for my taste, but it's a forgivable sin in this context. "How Can I?" features more echoes of Steven Wilson's work, with the opening being especially reminiscent of "Raider II". Once the song moves past its intro section, though, Jargon reasserts his own unique sound. Heavy effects are applied to the piano at moments, and it contributes to the sinister, downward-spiraling feel.

Despite its apocalyptic title, "The Last Temptation" remains fairly light through most of its runtime. The final two minutes see the intensity cranked up, however. The Fading Thought closes on "A Window to the World", one of the most consistently-heavy pieces on the album.

The Fading Thought is a strong debut effort, and my initial impression is that it is considerably more enjoyable than Jargon's work with Verbal Delirium. The blend of artsy piano-rock, chamber music, and menacing heavy prog comes together brilliantly.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/06/15/album-review-jargon-the-fading-thought/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Solitaire by ALCŔNTARA album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.66 | 19 ratings

BUY
Solitaire
Alcŕntara Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars Pink Floyd is one of those bands with no shortage of imitators and near-clones. Less-blatant aping and influence are nearly inescapable in modern psychedelia and prog. Pink Floyd had many distinct sounds throughout their career, though, giving modern acts plenty of material to draw inspiration from. Alcŕnatara?a quintet hailing from Italy?is one of those acts that doesn't try to hide their Floydian roots.

I tried to think of other acts to list in the "For fans of" section of the review header, but this band draws from late-70s Floyd so clearly, I couldn't think of a more apt recommendation. This is not to call the music here derivative or unoriginal, though. Pink Floyd is a heavy, heavy influence, but I'd never mistake any of these recordings as some discarded track from The Wall's recording sessions.

"Treefingers" opens the album in a slow-building fashion. The sparse percussion and stretched-out guitar lines of the first few minutes eventually give way to a big, Gilmouresque solo in the song's closing minute. In contrast, "Logan" has a more immediate intro. Rich organ tones and vaguely bluesy guitar licks are the focus on this track. The bridge of this composition switches things up in a refreshing manner that draws in some of the melodic tools of indie rock.

Alcŕntara dial up the drama on "Bad Bones", where they channel the better moments of The Wall. It's slow-moving and weighty, and the second half features some interesting interplay between the bassist and drummer. Unfortunately, "After the Flood" follows this by opening with some of The Wall's monotony and torpidity. This song is full of obvious homages to the elements of latter-Waters-era Pink Floyd I'm unenthusiastic about; it's plodding, overwrought, and doesn't say or do anything particularly interesting. The weaknesses of The Wall are also covered in "The Resistance", which takes the atmosphere of that album's unspectacular interlude tracks but stretches them out to three minutes.

This record's title track is a brief instrumental which evokes Opeth's best gentle moments and acts as a fitting prelude to the slow, jazz-tinged "Faith". "Faith" features one of the most natural, satisfying build-ups on the record as it gradually escalates into something quite foreboding. The lyrics are trite, but that's forgivable.

The album-closing "Seasons" features another slow build, though it really takes its time to get going. In isolation, that's not much of an issue, but almost every song on Solitaire opens this way. By the midpoint of this song, it's gotten going into an engaging groove with a good guitar solo, though the fadeout is overlong.

Solitaire is an enjoyable record, if a bit too blatantly inspired by The Wall. Alcŕntara have room to grow, especially in regard to how they structure their songs. Almost every song starts slow before building to a David Gilmour-style guitar solo, and that structure got predictable and tedious by the album's end. If you're a bigger fan of The Wall or Roger Waters's solo career than I am, this record should be right up your alley. And even if you share my reservations, I'd recommend giving Solitaire a chance.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/07/06/album-review-alcantara-solitaire/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Clockwork Angels by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.96 | 1175 ratings

BUY
Clockwork Angels
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars It would take Rush five more years to release their next (and final) studio album, Clockwork Angels. (The single "Caravan" b/w "BU2B" was released in 2010, though.) Clockwork Angels sees the band returning to a consistently heavy sound, as well as featuring some of their most complex and progressive songwriting in decades. Complementing this is the fact that Clockwork Angels is a concept album.

"Caravan" opens up the album and sets the tone well. It's full of big riffs, and Geddy's bass tone is especially aggressive. "BU2B" (short for "Brought Up to Believe") features metallic guitar tones and sudden shifts in dynamics and rhythm. The title track is a multi-parted mini-suite that hearkens back the band's best output of the late 1970s.

Other highlights include the driving, infectious "The Anarchist"?featuring a string arrangement that lends a distinct Middle Eastern atmosphere?"Seven Cities of Gold", and "Headlong Flight", my personal favorite track on the album.

Like most later Rush albums, though, there is some bloat. This 66-minute album could have been trimmed down by shaving off some time from some of the less essential songs, like "Carnies", "Halo Effect", and the disappointing closer, "The Garden".

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/04/27/deep-dive-rush/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Snakes & Arrows by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.57 | 1045 ratings

BUY
Snakes & Arrows
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

3 stars 2007 saw the release of Rush's next album, Snakes & Arrows. "Far Cary" opens the album strong. It features a heavy, slightly weird riff in the verses, and the chorus is some of the catchiest music the band had written in a long time. "Spindrift" is another highlight, having an idiosyncratic main riff.

Snakes & Arrows features a trio of instrumentals, which are some of the strongest tracks on the album. "The Main Monkey Business" shows Rush returning to their prog rock heyday. It's full of complex rhythms, just the right amount of instrumental flashiness, and Mellotron is deployed to great effect. "Hope" is a lovely little acoustic piece, and "Malignant Narcissism" is a funky, aggressive two-minute showoff session for Geddy and Neil.

There are weak points on Sankes & Arrows, though. "Armor and Sword" is one of the least-interesting songs on the album, which only serves to reinforce my bias against slow Rush songs. "Workin' Them Angels" shows continued alt rock influence, particularly in Alex's guitarwork in the chorus. The verses are weirdly folky, and folky wasn't really a sound that suited the band too well. "The Larger Bowl" reminds me of Test for Echo or Vapor Trails in how bland it is. Despite these shortcomings, Snakes & Arrows is considerably stronger than their previous couple albums, due in no small part to the tonal and textural variation deployed.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/04/27/deep-dive-rush/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
 Vapor Trails by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.42 | 928 ratings

BUY
Vapor Trails
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

2 stars Rush returned to the studio in early 2001, and in contrast to their usual speedy recording process, it took them nearly a year to finish this release. The result was 2002's Vapor Trails. Vapor Trails was distinct from Rush's preceding albums in that it wholly lacked keyboards?the first time this occurred since Caress of Steel?and that there are almost no guitar solos. Lifeson's guitar tones are rawer than on past releases, and Peart's drumming is more aggressive than usual. He specifically cited The Who's Keith Moon as an influence on his drumming style for this album.

(Note: I'm using the 2013 remix of Vapor Trails for this review. The initial release was muddy as hell, and this remaster sounds much better.)

The increased aggression is a nice change of pace compared to some of their more anodyne releases in the '90s, but that doesn't exactly make up for weak songwriting. The opening "One Little Victory" is maddeningly repetitious, and it wears out its welcome about two minutes into its five-minute runtime. "Ceiling Unlimited", the second track, is stronger in that it has more ideas in it and those ideas are more interesting than those in "One Little Victory". Despite this, it once again runs too long, though it features one of the rare solos on the album.

"Peaceable Kingdom" is one of the more engaging tracks on the album, as it's not just big walls of distortion. There are some genuinely interesting dynamic contrasts, and there's a rather Collective Soul-y riff in there. However, like most songs on Vapor Trails, it's simply too long. "The Stars Look Down" is another strong point, featuring some of the band's most complex structures in a long time. It also helps that this is one of the shorter songs on the album. "Earthshine" is probably the best song on the album, though. It reminds me a lot of "Driven" off Test for Echo with its metallic riffs and highly melodic chorus.

Despite this handful of decent songs, Vapor Trails is mostly a slog. The individual songs are too long, and that piles up into an exhausting album. Caress of Steel may not have featured any keyboard tones, but Lifeson deployed a greater variety of guitar tones, and the band demonstrated much more ambitious songwriting. Vapor Trails is a monotonous, tedious record, though it's not their worst.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2020/04/27/deep-dive-rush/

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password
Reviews list is cached

Latest Prog News, Shows and Tours


Prog News & Press Releases (10) | More ...
Prog Gigs, Tours and Festivals (10) | More ...

Latest 3 Progressive Rock Videos


All videos
MOST POPULAR ALBUM (last 24h)
FORUM NEW TOPICS

Prog Lounge

Prog Polls

Prog Interviews

BUY PA T-SHIRTS & MORE
Arjen Lucassen (AYREON's mastermind) wearing the classic long sleeves PA t-shirt
Arjen Lucassen (AYREON's mastermind) wearing the classic long sleeves PA t-shirt.
To buy Progarchives.com custom items: t-shirts, beer steins, coffee mugs, mouse pads, bumper stickers, go to http://www.zazzle.com/progarchives, select the ones you like and checkout (PayPal support). All orders are handled by Zazzle from invoicing, printing to shipping.

Thanks in advance for supporting us and for spreading the purple prog !
TOP PROG ALBUMS
  1. Close to the Edge
    Yes
  2. Selling England by the Pound
    Genesis
  3. Wish You Were Here
    Pink Floyd
  4. In the Court of the Crimson King
    King Crimson
  5. Thick as a Brick
    Jethro Tull
  6. The Dark Side of the Moon
    Pink Floyd
  7. Foxtrot
    Genesis
  8. Red
    King Crimson
  9. Animals
    Pink Floyd
  10. Godbluff
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  11. Fragile
    Yes
  12. Pawn Hearts
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  13. Larks' Tongues in Aspic
    King Crimson
  14. Nursery Cryme
    Genesis
  15. Mirage
    Camel
  16. Per Un Amico
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
  17. Moonmadness
    Camel
  18. Moving Pictures
    Rush
  19. Relayer
    Yes
  20. Darwin!
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
  21. Hemispheres
    Rush
  22. Aqualung
    Jethro Tull
  23. Io Sono Nato Libero
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
  24. Hybris
    Änglagĺrd
  25. Hot Rats
    Frank Zappa
  26. In a Glass House
    Gentle Giant
  27. Si on avait besoin d'une cinquičme saison
    Harmonium
  28. Kind of Blue
    Miles Davis
  29. A Farewell to Kings
    Rush
  30. Storia Di Un Minuto
    Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
  31. From Silence to Somewhere
    Wobbler
  32. Birds of Fire
    Mahavishnu Orchestra
  33. H To He, Who Am The Only One
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  34. The Yes Album
    Yes
  35. Scheherazade and Other Stories
    Renaissance
  36. In the Land of Grey and Pink
    Caravan
  37. Crime of the Century
    Supertramp
  38. Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory
    Dream Theater
  39. Octopus
    Gentle Giant
  40. Zarathustra
    Museo Rosenbach
  41. Images and Words
    Dream Theater
  42. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
    Genesis
  43. The Power and the Glory
    Gentle Giant
  44. The Grand Wazoo
    Frank Zappa
  45. The Snow Goose
    Camel
  46. The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)
    Steven Wilson
  47. Meddle
    Pink Floyd
  48. Still Life
    Van Der Graaf Generator
  49. The Mothers of Invention: One Size Fits All
    Frank Zappa
  50. The Silent Corner And The Empty Stage
    Peter Hammill
  51. A Trick of the Tail
    Genesis
  52. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
    Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
  53. Ommadawn
    Mike Oldfield
  54. Free Hand
    Gentle Giant
  55. Hand. Cannot. Erase.
    Steven Wilson
  56. Fear of a Blank Planet
    Porcupine Tree
  57. Acquiring the Taste
    Gentle Giant
  58. Still Life
    Opeth
  59. The Inner Mounting Flame
    Mahavishnu Orchestra
  60. Rock Bottom
    Robert Wyatt
  61. Permanent Waves
    Rush
  62. Romantic Warrior
    Return To Forever
  63. Mekanďk Destruktďw Kommandöh
    Magma
  64. Obscura
    Gorguts
  65. Depois do Fim
    Bacamarte
  66. In Absentia
    Porcupine Tree
  67. 4 visions
    Eskaton
  68. Misplaced Childhood
    Marillion
  69. Space Shanty
    Khan
  70. A Drop of Light
    All Traps On Earth
  71. Hatfield and the North
    Hatfield And The North
  72. Dwellers of the Deep
    Wobbler
  73. Blackwater Park
    Opeth
  74. Ghost Reveries
    Opeth
  75. Viljans Öga
    Änglagĺrd
  76. Radio Gnome Invisible Vol. 3 - You
    Gong
  77. Symbolic
    Death
  78. Hamburger Concerto
    Focus
  79. Script for a Jester's Tear
    Marillion
  80. In A Silent Way
    Miles Davis
  81. Arbeit Macht Frei
    Area
  82. Voyage of the Acolyte
    Steve Hackett
  83. Crimson
    Edge Of Sanity
  84. Ashes Are Burning
    Renaissance
  85. Emerson Lake & Palmer
    Emerson Lake & Palmer
  86. Second Life Syndrome
    Riverside
  87. Sing to God
    Cardiacs
  88. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You
    Caravan
  89. Of Queues and Cures
    National Health
  90. Spectrum
    Billy Cobham
  91. Bitches Brew
    Miles Davis
  92. Felona E Sorona
    Le Orme
  93. K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
    Magma
  94. Elegant Gypsy
    Al Di Meola
  95. The Road of Bones
    IQ
  96. Maxophone
    Maxophone
  97. Anabelas
    Bubu
  98. On Land And In The Sea
    Cardiacs
  99. Remedy Lane
    Pain Of Salvation
  100. We'll Talk About It Later
    Nucleus

* Weighted Ratings (aka WR), used for ordering, is cached and re-calculated every 15 minutes.

More PA TOP LISTS
100 MOST PROLIFIC REVIEWERS

Collaborators Only

ratings only excluded in count
  1. Mellotron Storm (4701)
  2. Warthur (3189)
  3. Sean Trane (3161)
  4. ZowieZiggy (2931)
  5. apps79 (2629)
  6. siLLy puPPy (2413)
  7. UMUR (2219)
  8. kev rowland (2071)
  9. b_olariu (2042)
  10. Easy Livin (1932)
  11. Gatot (1811)
  12. BrufordFreak (1801)
  13. Windhawk (1699)
  14. Conor Fynes (1613)
  15. SouthSideoftheSky (1597)
  16. Matti (1474)
  17. Tarcisio Moura (1455)
  18. Evolver (1425)
  19. TCat (1407)
  20. AtomicCrimsonRush (1357)
  21. Bonnek (1333)
  22. kenethlevine (1319)
  23. snobb (1223)
  24. erik neuteboom (1201)
  25. Finnforest (1146)
  26. tszirmay (1068)
  27. Rivertree (1056)
  28. octopus-4 (1025)
  29. ClemofNazareth (1011)
  30. Cesar Inca (928)
  31. memowakeman (923)
  32. loserboy (897)
  33. Rune2000 (877)
  34. Marty McFly (840)
  35. Guillermo (794)
  36. Neu!mann (759)
  37. Chris S (753)
  38. DamoXt7942 (743)
  39. Eetu Pellonpaa (724)
  40. Aussie-Byrd-Brother (719)
  41. greenback (685)
  42. progrules (666)
  43. Seyo (659)
  44. admireArt (648)
  45. VianaProghead (630)
  46. Prog-jester (624)
  47. friso (624)
  48. Epignosis (624)
  49. lor68 (601)
  50. andrea (582)
  51. Prog Leviathan (582)
  52. Ivan_Melgar_M (560)
  53. philippe (540)
  54. hdfisch (492)
  55. Chicapah (486)
  56. stefro (486)
  57. Menswear (476)
  58. The Crow (472)
  59. Dobermensch (464)
  60. zravkapt (460)
  61. colorofmoney91 (459)
  62. J-Man (449)
  63. ProgShine (444)
  64. russellk (440)
  65. Atavachron (429)
  66. Sinusoid (403)
  67. Queen By-Tor (396)
  68. Progfan97402 (369)
  69. tarkus1980 (369)
  70. Zitro (365)
  71. Greger (365)
  72. Nightfly (365)
  73. fuxi (362)
  74. Modrigue (360)
  75. Cygnus X-2 (353)
  76. lazland (352)
  77. Andrea Cortese (348)
  78. rdtprog (345)
  79. Negoba (333)
  80. EatThatPhonebook (326)
  81. Guldbamsen (322)
  82. richardh (320)
  83. FragileKings (318)
  84. Tom Ozric (306)
  85. patrickq (302)
  86. Kazuhiro (299)
  87. Flucktrot (298)
  88. GruvanDahlman (290)
  89. progaardvark (290)
  90. Proghead (288)
  91. OpethGuitarist (287)
  92. Second Life Syndrome (279)
  93. daveconn (266)
  94. Trotsky (264)
  95. Muzikman (263)
  96. Slartibartfast (261)
  97. DangHeck (259)
  98. clarke2001 (254)
  99. aapatsos (253)
  100. The T (239)

List of all PA collaborators

NEW RELEASES

Bumper Book of Mystery Stories by I Am The Manic Whale album rcover
Bumper Book of Mystery Stories

I Am The Manic Whale

Skaza by Budka Suflera album rcover
Skaza

Budka Suflera

Home Coming Queen by Davenport album rcover
Home Coming Queen

Davenport

Birds of Passage and the Enchanted Forest by Karfagen album rcover
Birds of Passage and the Enchanted Forest

Karfagen

Les Dunes by Dunes, Les album rcover
Les Dunes

Les Dunes

INTERACTIVE

RSS feeds

+ more syndication options

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.