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PROG ARCHIVES intends to be the most complete and powerful progressive rock resource. You can find the progressive rock music discographies from 11,894 bands & artists, 67,640 albums (LP, CD and DVD), 1,882,507 ratings and reviews from 66,276 members who also participate in our active forum. You can also read the new visitors guide (forum page).

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Last 50 reviews
Studio Album, 2001
4.05 | 173 ratings

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Imaginary Friends
A.C.T Eclectic Prog

Review by Gallifrey

Listening diary 25th March, 2022: A.C.T - Imaginary Friends (progressive rock, 2001)

A.C.T's incredibly distinctive brand of pop-prog-metal-rock opera is already very evident here, and though it's not quite as complete as on Last Epic, it's still worth celebrating. Whether you love this music really comes down to your ability to handle cheese, because this packs it in at an unprecedented rate. Every melody on it is sugary sweet, straight out of a Disney Channel musical, but with the prog sensibility of the guitars and song structuring, you get a frequent break to allow some of those hooks to sink in without getting to overbearing. The metal here is fairly tame and anyone coming for riffs will likely be disappointed, but if you like musicals and cheese, this is some of the best out there.

6.8 (3rd listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

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Studio Album, 2014
4.00 | 23 ratings

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Desintegraci�n
Atavismo Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4.5 stars. ATAVISMO are a Psychedelic band out of Spain, a trio in fact of guitar/vocals, bass and drums but the guitarist and drummer both add farfisa and mellotron. They even have a guest playing mellotron on the closer. Yes I love this band! This is the debut from 2014 and they have also released a second recording in 2017 called "Inerte" that I consider one of the best albums to ever come out of Spain. The debut here is more raw, in fact the two longest tracks, the opener and closer brought "A Saucerful Of Secrets" to mind for that dark, spacey sound.

Listen to the sounds howl to start the opener "Blazaya"! I'm guessing mellotron and theremin. A bass line before 1 1/2 minutes as the spacey sounds subside. Cymbals and guitar join in. Drums 3 minutes in as the guitar starts to solo more steadily. Distorted guitar later but the tone 7 minutes in sounds really good. The guitar solo starting before 11 minutes brings BLACK SABBATH to mind. "Kraken" is spacey to start as guitar joins in quickly. More to follow then vocals before a minute. Harmonies after 1 1/2 minutes helps create an uplifting mood. More of a rock mode before 4 minutes as we get a change. Love the guitar here. A FLOYD vibe very late.

"Oceanica" is very relaxed and spacey with laid back picked guitar. Drifting vocals join in but not for long as it turns instrumental. Vocals are back after 4 minutes then it kicks into a more powerful sound a minute later. Vocals are more passionate here. So good! They step aside before 6 minutes as we get a relaxed guitar solo but he will start to rip it up some. Distortion 7 minutes in then it settles back again. "Meeh" has these deep sinister sounding bass lines to start as drums join in then guitar. Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes as the guitar stops. This is mid paced and dark. Vocals will come and go and the guitar sounds pretty amazing. It slows down heavily before 10 minutes to end it.

They've only released two studio albums but this might be my favourite band from Spain. Can't get enough of this stuff. Did I mention the word mellotron? Bumping this up to 5 stars as I find no bad sections even but tons of stuff that I crave in music.

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Studio Album, 1994
3.47 | 192 ratings

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Goodbye to the Age of Steam
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

So a review for a band that I've been checking out quite a bit. So, Big Big Train, one of modern prog's more staple bands with their unique blending of a more English and old British sound with a more neo-Prog or symphonic Prog sound. I've been loving their music for quite a bit so far, and I've heard albums like English Electric and Gathering Speed, which were really great Prog albums in of themselves, but I was curious to see what their first was. The album that basically birthed this band into the light of the Prog scene was one that I was fairly interested in, so I decided to check out what this album had to offer, mostly to see how they evolved from this root in their career.

So this album genuinely surprised me after my first listen due to how it sounds. Many songs here sound completely different from their other albums and a lot more like songs you'd hear from Neo Prog groups, specifically IQ, but more on the edge of Nomzamo or Are You Sitting Comfortably type of IQ with that more pop and new wave style of prog, now I won't say this is a bad thing, but it definitely leads into some minor complaints, which I'll get into later.

So the album starts with Wind Distorted Pioneers. I find this a very neat opener for this album since it starts off very proggy, but shifts to a slower and more rock-like tune. I honestly like this song as an opener, it gets the gears turning to what might come further with this album, and one of the most interesting thing that hits you nearly immediately is the singing, the late David Longdon doesn't sing on this album at all with Martin Read taking up the opportunity instead, and it was a bit jarring since David Longdon was someone I'd see was the conductor of this train with him appearing on a lot live album covers, promotional material, and photos of the band, so it was both interesting but also jarring to not hear David's more older and more British sounding vocals on this album and instead experiencing someone else's vocal performance.

Next song is Head Hit The Pillow, and this is where we can fully see the whole new wave sound that was at the time, still kinda big. Again I hear a lot of influence from early IQ and I really dig this song, but I also do not in a weird way. The sound isn't bad, but it doesn't feel like that staple Big Big Train sound, and I know that this is their first album and they wanted to try and find their sound, but with this I feel like I am not getting at least a hint of what that sound might be. They were clearly trying to make a Neo Prog sound, but my guess was they also wanted to be more pop-like to get more sales so they springboard into a more progressive sound with ease, which is not bad, it's just kinda odd for me. I believe that's my issue with this album, it doesn't feel like Big Big Train, it feels like a completely different band and there is no hint of what the band would become anywhere which certainly is a miss in my eyes when checking out first releases of a band's work.

Next we'll skip a bit of songs and get into Dragon Bone Hill. So this track is rather unique. A lot of the songs here are very loud and proud, full of pop and new wave Prog songs, and then there is this, an instrumental acoustic song. I feel like, unlike many of the songs on this album, this does show a bit of the hint of the slower and more contemporary side of Big Big Train and honestly I am quite for it. This also reminds me of the late Nick Drake and his Five Leaves Left album, which I feel this song sounds kinda like a tribute to that artist with how the guitar is being played, being more softer and more lavish and beautiful than jamming and powerful, which I think is good and necessary for a more upbeat driven LP like this.

Skipping ahead we have Blue Silver Red, which I consider to be the band's first major epic. Again keeping with a Neo Prog sound, but they try a bit more different things here since they have room to really stretch their legs and try somethings new here. Still doesn't sound like what Big Big Train would become, but here you can definitely feel those strong eclectic gears turn with this song as opposed to the others, and with that fact I feel like this is the best song on the album by a long shot, but my main issue is that at the end, it doesn't feel like should've ended in that way, it feels like it should've done a bit more in my opinion and it was a bit of a downer when that played, and I was just sitting there like "Oh, that's it? The song is over?" which is and shouldn't be a good thing to hear from anyone reviewing your album or just listening to it.

And with that, my review for Big Big Train's Goodbye To The Age of Steam is done. So I thought this album was good, and very interesting to hear what the early form of the band sounded like. Obviously it wasn't the best due to the lack of what makes the band in later incarnations really pop out in a lot of Prog spaces, but they definitely showcase a knack for making good progressive music, even if it's in a different form unlike most of their stuff beyond. So I can safely say that I really did enjoy this album, but not as much as their other works obviously.

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Studio Album, 2022
4.00 | 1 ratings

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The Efficient Use of Space
Moonwagon Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dinosaur Blanket I Just Really Like Dinosaurs Soft Cozy Warm Plu
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
The Finnish space rock band MOONWAGON started as a quartet (their first two albums featuring synth expert Ami Hassinen known from the long-lived electronic music group NEMESIS) but the remaining trio of guitarist Joni Tiala, bassist Janne Ylikorpi and drummer Jani Korpi has become a very tight unit, a true power trio, with both Tiala and Ylikorpi handling also keyboards. This is the Kokkola-based band's fourth full-length album, and although there may not be significant stylistic changes since The Rule of Three (2015), I think the end result is more rewarding. Perhaps the compositions are more diverse and less riff-oriented, and the use of synths naturally more developed.

Aptly titled 'Banzai Boogie' is a fast-paced opener in which the HAWKWIND-like psych/stoner rock meets a tight RUSH instrumental with powerful guitar & synth interplay. The nearly 9-minute 'Far Apart' offers bouncy and pulsative space rock. The first half builds tension by a desperate distant voice repeating the word "connecting", and later that tension is released with more opened up playing and proper vocal sections.

Another extended track 'Waiting for Tomorrow' is pretty many-sided, almost to the point of being disjointed, containing both CAMEL-reminding melodic prog fusion and psychedelic heaviness with some freaky synths and attached vocals in a Hawkwind manner. 'Left Dangling' starts in a relaxed mood, especially the synths sound charmingly airy, but the elements of psychedelic space rock get thicker towards the end.

Brief 'Strange Encounters' practically only serves as an intro to 'Nights of Neon', a relatively synth-heavy piece with a slight Giorgio Moroder retro feel. The distorted vocal parts on it and a couple of other tracks are in my opinion rather unnecessary. The longest piece 'Smoke & Mirrors' (10:40) is undoubtedly the most diverse too, as it shifts between delicate elegance -- worth remarking is the cool bass line! -- and harder sounding space rock. The album closes with its calmest and the most keyboard oriented piece 'Orbits' that takes the listener into a dreamy celestial journey reminiscent of ASHRA.

If my rating is again somewhere around 3� stars, it's now time to round it upwards. It's an unquestionable benefit that despite being about 17 minutes longer, this album succeeds to maintain its high spirit actually better than The Rule of Three (sometimes it feels almost hilarious in a happy way). The album title is not futile.

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Studio Album, 2019
3.92 | 6 ratings

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Vers la lumi�re
Apairys Heavy Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

From France is coming this intristing band named Apairys, formed from the ashes of another two good french bands from prog zone Maldoror and Saens. Drumer Sivain Gillot from Maldoror and guitarist Beno�t Campedel from Saens decided to take a step further in musical terms and Apairys was born. Helping hand from Saens vocalist Christophe Belli�res. All three musicians involved playing on all instruments to be heared on their debut from 2019 named Vers la lumi�re .

The pieces are long elaborated, very nice changes in tempo and time signature, title track is almost 10 min of pure heavy prog and the ending track is lasting almost 17 min. The music offered can be described as a combination of former bands Maldoror with Saens but is little less symphonic then the last. Also I can trace lots of conections, musically speaking with another top band from France in last 20 years - Nemo, is intersting that Beno�t Campedel played bass on Nemo most intresting albums ( at least for me), Presages from 2003 and Pr�lude � la ruine from 2004.

All in all a very worthy album in today prog scene, a really inspired , well played and produced release who desearve a far better recognition, they offer old school type of prog with notds to today scene, all wrapped in a solid and intresting package.

4 stars for sure, recommeded.

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Studio Album, 1966
2.99 | 19 ratings

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Blow-Up (OST)
Herbie Hancock Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by DangHeck

This is the Hancock-composed soundtrack to the Michelangelo Antonioni film of the same name (1966). There are some certain shining moments here, for sure. The degree to which this will appeal to your average "prog rock music collector", though, is unknown to me. It will appeal to those fans of perhaps Proto-Prog, but even that is a stretch. The most notable thing to me here is the incredible lineup featured. Next to Herbie, we have such Jazz greats as Freddie Hubbard, Phil Woods, Joe Henderson, Jim Hall, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette. Good Lord. Sorry to say that I don't know Joe Newman, but it appears that I really should... Paul Griffin has appeared on The Royal Scam and Aja by Steely Dan! Apparently involved in a lot of rootsy music, otherwise. And to think that British trumpeter Ian Carr of Nucleus was nearly on this as well! [Herbie scrapped the idea of using those British musicians with whom he, in the least, rehearsed this material.] One track, "Stroll On", was performed by The Yardbirds, and, I would say most significantly, it features both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck.

"Blow-Up", the main theme, is a pretty great opener. A mix of sort of rockin' feel with awesome jazz instrumentation in its (short-lived) latter half. Perhaps, if anything. there's some parallels to what was done by contemporary bands like The Free Spirits. "Verushka, Pt. 1" really had nothing to offer. Its second part was far more sultry and slower paced. That track features a tenor solo by the great Joe Henderson.

Following "Verushka", "Bring Down the Birds" brings back the more rockin' instrumentation, driven by the straight-ahead drums and Jim Hall's rhythm guitar. Another stellar solo here, this time by Woods on Alto. Some more very of-the-time jazz on one of the more satisfying numbers, "The Naked Camera", we are then back to a quieted moment on the soft "Jane's Theme".

The one track different from the rest in just about every way is the Garagey, straight-ahead Rock song by The Yardbirds, "Stroll On". This is certainly, too, far from their finest moment... The guitar solo, I assume performed by Page, is definitely the best part.

We return to swingin' '60s Jazz on "The Thief", a rolling number prominently featuring organ. This track, in the middle-to-end, features a sort of low-lying Post-Bop section [I'm speaking here with more confidence than I should...]. Not a whole lot to say or see here. We then return to the feeling and softness on "The Kiss", with a light solo from Hall. This is matched then with a blazing and loud solo from (what I can tell) Henderson. "Curiosity" feels a whole lot like something off of Kind of Blue, perhaps. Very lovely.

We get into something that is stylistically rather interesting on "Thomas Studies Photos"... Very cool. It's hard for my mind, personally, to not go to the Wazoo era for Zappa. I know I've made similar comparisons previously. Believe me when I say, I would have loved it for longer than its minute runtime... Real beauty and grace is featured on the next, "The Bed", featuring an airiness from our rhythm section and acoustic piano from Herbie. Frisson, baby! So lovely and sweet. This then is juxtaposed sharply by the strong, forward-running "Blow-Up (End Title)", our brief album closer.

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Studio Album, 2005
4.12 | 2105 ratings

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Deadwing
Porcupine Tree Heavy Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

Review N' 517

'Deadwing' is the eighth studio album of Porcupine Tree and was released in 2005. The lyrics on the album are based on a screenplay written by Steven Wilson and Mike Bennion and are essentially a ghost story. Wilson had expressed the intention to eventually have this film script made into a movie. He stated that David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick were his major influences for the film script. However, the complete concept and story has never been entirely announced by Wilson. Meanwhile, it seems the project has failed. So, we just have to please us only with the songs on the album.

The album produced two singles: 'Shallow' and 'Lazarus'. 'Shallow' also appeared on the film 'Four Brothers', an American vigilante film directed by John Singleton, released in 2005. It can be heard as background music in a bar. The album also produced three music videos: 'Lazarus', 'The Start Of Something Beautiful' and 'Glass Arm Shattering'.

The line up on the album is Steven Wilson (vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards, hammered dulcimer and bass guitar), Richard Barbieri (keyboards and synthesizers), Colin Edwin (bass guitar) and Gavin Harrison (drums and percussion). The album also includes the collaboration with King Crimson's Adrian Below guitarist, who plays the guitar solos on 'Deadwing' and 'Halo', and Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt, who adds vocal harmonies on 'Deadwing', 'Lazarus' and 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here', where he also plays the second guitar solo.

'Deadwing' has nine tracks. All songs were written and composed by Steven Wilson, except 'Start Of Something Beautiful' written by Wilson and Harrison, and 'Halo' and 'Glass Harm Shattering' written by all four band's members. The first track is the title track 'Deadwing'. It opens the album and sets the setting for the remainder of the album. This is one of the heavier tracks on the album, but the song has numerous breakdowns. Synthesizers are also added to add to the musical atmosphere of the track. It also includes several different guitar solos. The second track 'Shallow' was the US single. The band really rock out here, much in the vein of Led Zeppelin. The main riff is probably the catchiest on the all album. This is a very enjoyable track especially for those who can appreciate progressive rock bands who can really rock out. The third track 'Lazarus' is the song that most casual listeners know, showing the diversity the bad can cover. The piano takes the central stage for the song with Wilson's angelic voice singing beautifully. The lyrics are very beautiful and melancholic that seems to be about a dead mother talking to her son. The fourth track 'Halo' has some of Wilson's best singing on the album. This is a song with great musical atmosphere, a good bass line, a catchy chorus and an excellent guitar work by Adrian Bellow. It's one of the simpler tracks on the album, but still is very addictive and atractive. The fifth track 'Arriving Somewhere But Not Here' is a classic Porcupine Tree track. It's a classic progressive space rock song with lots of musical atmosphere, lots of harmony vocals and lots of interesting musical effects. This is the best song on the album and one of the best Porcupine Tree tracks. The sixth track 'Mellotron Scratch' is apparently a song written about the Mellotron, the instrument that is perhaps most closely associated with progressive music. But curiously and strangely, Porcupine Tree doesn't have the use of any Mellotron here. However, this is a very good track with beautiful vocal harmonies. The seventh track 'Open Car' sounds like it could have been a hit single, with a fast rhythm and a beautiful musical break down. The vocals seamlessly flow perfectly with the guitar riff and there's an almost and truly uncountable number tempo and style changes in this relatively short song. The eighth track 'Start Of Something Beautiful' has some wonderful bass lines, special effects and a simple musical atmosphere. I like the upbeat rock feel of the chorus and the lyrics here make an excellent balance between the softer melancholic moments and the heavier ones. The ninth track 'Glass Arm Shattering' represents a nice ending to the album. It goes back to the days of 'The Sky Moves Sideways' and 'Signify' with spacey Floydian slide guitar and monotonous and melancholic vocal harmonies. This is a very nice and enjoyable song but isn't probably the best closing track of the band ever.

Conclusion: 'Deadwing' predecessor, the 2002's 'In Absentia', was an album made up of some gorgeous, sprawling masterpieces of tracks. So, on paper, 'In Absentia' is a better album than 'Deadwing' is. It has fewer weak tracks, and its best musical moments are probably higher picks than any seen here. 'In Absentia' is also, for many of Porcupine Tree fans, their best studio album. And yet, I can't stop feeling that 'Deadwing' is, in some aspects, a better album. Primarily, because of the aforementioned flow that ensures that it's such an engaging list. So, being 'Deadwing' a better album than 'In Absentia' or not, I think it become to be an irrelevant thing, really. In reality, the only thing I would say is that Wilson and his companions have done it again. 'Deadwing' gets better and better with every spin and I truly recommend it for everyone. It also proves again why Porcupine Tree is perhaps the best British prog band of our time.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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Studio Album, 1979
3.66 | 328 ratings

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Sleep Dirt
OSALADI Flour Sifter Stainless Steel Flour Sieve Round Flour Sta RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

"Sleep Dirt" is an album release by US artist Frank Zappa. The album was released through DiscReet Records in January 1979. It�s the successor to "Studio Tan" from September 1978. All material from "Sleep Dirt", was originally meant to be featured on the shelved "L�ther" box-set. The original version of "Sleep Dirt" is entirely instrumental. Some of the tracks were initially written in 1972, and imagined with vocals, for a shelved stage musical titled "Hunchentoot". In 1982 Zappa opted to hire female vocalist Thana Harris to add vocals to "Flambay", "Spider of Destiny", and "Time is Money". He also made Chad Wackermann overdub drums on "Flambay", "Spider of Destiny", and "Regyptian Strut". The 1991 CD reissue of "Sleep Dirt" features these changes, which makes the 1979 original vinyl version and the 1991 CD reissue version of the album very different listening experiences. All original instrumental tracks were recorded between 1974 and 1976.

"Sleep Dirt" opens with one of the most intense, dark, and almost sinister sounding instrumentals in Zappa�s discography in "Filthy Habits". It�s an instant album highlight. "Flambay", "Spider of Destiny", "Regyptian Strut", and "Time is Money" follow, and it�s easy to hear that these clever, tightly arranged, and classical music influenced rock could have appeared as part of a stage musical. They are dramatic, theatrical pieces of music, with the occasional more fusion influenced touch. Having listened to the original versions without vocals, I personally have a hard time appreciating the versions featuring the added vocal parts, and the overdubbed drums are completely unnessary too (to the point where they lessen the listening experience), so my recommendation is to listen to the original instrumental versions. "Sleep Dirt" is completed by the beautiful acoustic guitar duo title track and the impressive 13:20 minutes long jazz/fusion instrumental "The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution".

While "Sleep Dirt" may not have been released exactly how Zappa originally planned, this is the album release which ended up being presented to the fans, and as it is (the original instrumental version), it�s through and through a high quality release, featuring a powerful, detailed, and organic sounding production, high level musical performances, and intriguing songwriting. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

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Studio Album, 2012
3.76 | 107 ratings

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Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

In recent memory, Yes has been one of the more respected Prog bands, with some of the greatest albums I have heard like Close To The Edge, Fragile, and Tales From Topographic Oceans, heck even their pop stuff isn't half bad (not including Open Your Eyes obviously). They have some great musicians in the band too with some respectable careers of their own. Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, and of course the focal point of this review, Rick Wakeman.

Out of any member of Yes, Rick has the biggest discography, of 80 albums, not including compilations or live albums, that is more albums than the entire discography of all the members of Yes, which is approximately 63 albums. It is a discography that is very formidable with some amazing albums, some not so good albums, and some albums that seem otherworldly. One album that feels beyond this world is 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth'. This album is actually a re-recording of a live show in 1974 by the same name, however this is considerably longer than that album, and for clarity's sake, I listened to the old live show to get a grasp on what was improved and what was lacking from this new version of this journey, and I did notice a few things, but we'll get to that later, for now let's talk about the album.

So I like to preferably listen to the full 54 minute song version of the album, usually seen in streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music. This is so I can fully gather my thoughts on this album without making a track by track analysis, especially since with the sections sometimes being very short, sometimes being just a few seconds long. With that in mind, oh my god I love this giant suite. You can tell Rick was having a blast making this. From start to finish this is a blast to get through, with twists, turns, beauty, profoundness, and adventure.

The start of the song we get a short introductory sentence that starts to journey out, not with a bang, but with a couple of words to fully captivate the listener to see what is in store with this tale. After this introduction ends we get to a bang with an orchestral moment. Lots of violins, horns, very bombastic and classical. So far this starts the whole album off almost perfectly, almost since I am not a fan of classical music so when I first heard this I was fearing I might've started a listen with a classical album instead of a rock album, and was a bit turned off, though that doesn't persist when it shifts away to a new part of the journey.

The song takes a turn to a more acoustic Prog sound with acoustics and flutes, but with a bit of Rick's electronic piano playing to tie things together. Not only that but towards the end it starts to get a bit poppy, but it doesn't go to a new wave or an unsustainable pop sound, it feels in place and it feels indulgent in itself, which I really like. Furthermore, after a few more monologues and orchestral bits and pieces, we get a bombastic guitar, drum, and electronic piano session with lots of verbose playing that leads to a new section of orchestration and narrative driven monologues. This is what I feel like is the album's biggest strong points, how it is able to smoothly blend the eclectic Prog rock with symphonic orchestra plus the more pop like approach with some of these sections, it's melting with a beauty and grace that I love, and this perfectly shows why progressive rock is so good on how it can blend many styles and make it work.

I don't wanna spoil too much of the album so I'll skip a few bits and pieces, but I do wanna talk about two more parts on this album that being the section coined as The Battle and the two ending sections of In The Hall Of The Mountain King and Mount Etna. Let's start with The Battle, which is my favorite section of this suite. I am always a sucker for more punchy, weird-like sections in my suites like with Supper's Ready's Willow Farm or Tarkus' Mass. It blends the more eclectic Prog rock with the orchestration super well to where it gives a sense of epicness, but also mixes with the wobbly sounding piano Rick plays with, it gives a sort of odd ball feeling with the song and Rick's singing fits this track perfectly, especially with his more older voice, giving the track an older and more grander feel. Now let's talk about Mountain King and Mount Etna, so Mountain King, personally is not that special but within the context of all that happened with this suite, it gives a whole flurry of meaning and awesomeness, and it leads to that grand closer most Prog epics have. However it's not grand in a sense where it's a part that goes beyond, but it rather builds upon itself with Orchestration that leads into the magnificent part of the song where the beauty of Rick's playing mashes together with the symphonics to create a compact and masterful work of art that gushes with beauty, to where I cannot begin to describe it, and after such a long stretch of music, it just adds onto that. I cannot recommend this entire suite to any Prog fan enough, it's just so amazing that the 54 minute run time makes it all the more worthwhile.

But now we have a question, obviously, how does this fare against the old 1974 version? Is it better or worse? Well, this may be my young mind talking and my whole first listening bias talking but this is way better than the original live composition. The 1974 version definitely gets the job done, and I love the more olden and almost rustic feel this version has compared to the slicker and modern version, but this feels more complete and just brimming with more flare and transcendent sounds to where it's way better in my mind compared to the old 1974 version, though I do see why people would prefer the old version more whether it's for its older sound or it's more nostalgic reasons, whatever it is I can definitely see the appeal of the OG album.

So, overall this album and this suite as a whole is so good. It's a masterpiece of Progressive Rock music and I'd totally recommend this to any Prog fan, whether they like classic Prog or modern Prog, whatever, it's brimming with some amazing symphonies, amazing music, and above all one of the best closings to an epic I have heard in the past few weeks. Do not be afraid of its run time, you'll not be disappointed.

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Boxset/Compilation, 2019
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Neal Morse Collection
Neal Morse Symphonic Prog

Review by DangHeck

— First review of this album —
This is an apparently solely digital compilation album for Neal Morse throughout his career, released in 2019. I think, especially after the first few songs, it is a great showcase of the best of the best that this man can offer in composition and truly excellent performance, of course with others included.

In title and in certain flavors, our first song, "My Time of Dying", is like some quieted homage to Led Zeppelin in my mind. It is more overtly reminiscent of Kansas' radio hit "Dust in the Wind", if I can put my finger on it. Pretty, but nothing to write home about. "Daddy's Daughter" is exactly what you'd expect from the title. I mean, it's certainly no regular Prog fodder and... it's certainly not something I would ever want to listen to free from this compilation. Next, "Wear the Chains" is a glowing, clean track with triumph and optimism. No surprises here, but a pretty nice song.

With "Momentum", we get the first true-blue glimpses of Prog Rock officiel on this album. This is a booming song with full instrumentation and a wide open composition. Very fun. A real head-bopper with a beautiful Peart-esque tom roll from Portnoy followed by a blazing synth and (then) guitar solo... Sheesh. The classic, yet modern Prog continues in fullness on "Lifeline", a 13-minute epic. The references range from American bands such as Kansas and Styx and even Happy the Man to more classic feels that might evoke bands like Gentle Giant (not a group I associate with the sound of Morse or many of the bands in which he's played). This latter eclecticism, specifically here, is a rarity still, to be clear. Fantastic performances over an expectedly excellent composition, thanks to Mr. Morse. Christian or not, don't miss this one, ye fellow fans of Symphonic Prog.

From that so-called 'mountaintop experience', nothing really to report here on "There is Nothin' That God Can't Change"... This is an unabashed ballad praising the works of God, as he do, with just Neal and a guitar. That's it. More folksy still, and undoubtedly in a sort of Dylan style, Morse lightly makes fun of those of his own ilk on "Talkin' Mega-Church Blues", all the while railing on the universally condemned sins of the modern American Mega Church: "At first I thought he might be a crook / But then I found out he has a best-selling book". Just a regular ol' folk tune about the emptiness of the so-called Jesus buildings that they like to fill up the most haha.

And gratefully, we have another return to Proggings on "The Door". Praise be! This is a long one(!), at a whopping 29 minutes' length! And certainly epic it is, right from the start. A much darker track, at first, than those it follows. I'm into that. In the first 4 minutes alone, we see something like 3 different movements, all interlinked seamlessly together. Delicious stuff. The first vocals can be heard around minute 5. Y'all know what that means: Prog! hahaha. I'll quit cheesin'. It shifts to a half-time groove around minute 6 with sweet group vocals singing, "In the name of God you must die", which is... pretty metal really. This is later repeated with vocal parts reminiscent to Gentle Giant (there they are again!), though with no counterpoint to be found [grateful to say, as you'll see below, this is rectified haha]. It's around minute 8 that the darkness comes back with some sweet riffage and a blazing organ solo. Around minute 11, there is a section that is increasingly gospel-esque but more overtly classic CCM, which, really, I don't mind at all. Like very '90s sort of Pop, though, again, just overtly CCM. I'm unsure I'd be able to unveil what exactly it is that makes that sound 'that sound'. I'm now thinking, it was back with Rick Wakeman where these really churchy sounds were fit into the context of Progressive Rock back in the early-70s (though in a much different musical landscape). Around minutes 15 and 16 is a really really sweet section: just awesome. This track offers a lot. I wish I could speak on every section, but I know it will only get monotonous and repetitive. Great song. Truly epic.

"Author of Confusion", I saw elsewhere and I must concur, is a bit of a Dream Theater-type of song [at least at first], everything heavier and being propelled forward by all parts present. This thing that happens around minute 1 is... just amazing. So good. This song, as implied with my first statement, just goes and does not let up. Around minute 4, we do get that Gentle Giant-esque contra punto. And this madness then subsides all of a sudden with the most stunning smoothness [I realize now I didn't know how to refer to this] around minute 5, like... holy hell... Wow. Just blown away here. Some more CCM somethings going on here with "Entrance", but overall a lot of great Prog throughout. Like seriously, if this was a thing for Christian Radio, I think that would be a good thing. But I guess that would also require Prog Rock itself to not be so niche... Perhaps a moot point? The next few tracks are from Testimony 2 (2011), and starting with "Mercy Street" we have some Dennis DeYoung up in here [not literally]. I love it. I guess to me it most sounds like "Sing for the Day". I think that's the one that's coming to mind most. Very upbeat and melodic song. Seamlessly from "Mercy Street", "Overture No. 4" has a much more grand feeling, with a more prominent feature of strings. Another awesome showing of Morse on synth. He really is such an impressive figure, so it's no wonder he ended up with folks like Portnoy and, most notably for me, Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic). Another clean transition, we have "Time Changer", another more metallic track from Portnoy's blaze and some very quirky instrumentation. Love it. They got me into frisson territory on this one. There is something, too, that is actually reminiscent of his Transatlantic bandmate's band, Roine Stolt's The Flower Kings, which is a compliment to me. This track, though, as on another before it (my apologies I've forgotten), features a violin solo. Much welcomed to me. And then more than welcomed Gentle Giant counterpoint... I am in heaven with this one! These other vocalists are none other than Neal's brother Alan Morse, Dave Meros and Nick D'Virgilio of Spock's Beard! Lovely! The final track from Testimony 2's 'Part 6', "Jayda" is far more quieted and personal. I didn't have a whole lot to say about this track until around minute 4, with some simply grandiose instrumentation. Very Yesque on this one.

Our final epic of the compilation, at 26 minutes, is "Seeds of Gold", a song of epic proportions... of course. There is something perhaps Power Poppy about some of these vocals, this being one of the best performances in that arena from Neal. This is going to fly over some of your heads (or just appear as super odd), but some of these vocals are reminiscent of Newsboys' Peter Furler. Much of their early material in the '90s was really just great Pop music. I have to know if they know each other... [With a quick Google search, it appears they don't.] Welcomed, I'd say. This track features absolutely stupendous and stupefying guitar from Flying Colors bandmate Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Kansas, Deep Purple), no relation. Just wanted to have an opportunity to say that haha. Pleased to see him here, of course. This track just gives and gives. Awesome awesome awesome around minute 12 and on... Sheesh. A tad neo-classical, a tad Crimson-esque. Very nearly a perfect epic in my book. Can't stress it enough: fantastic.

Another song cycle, this time from 2003's Testimony [1], is kicked off with "The Land of Beginning Again". Not a whole lot to say here. Pretty nice introductory track, if anything. Eerie thereafter, "Overture No. 1" starts like an incessant swarm of strings, which quickly opens up from its claustrophobia. This is like a film score. Epic. And praise be to Mike Portnoy. He's had many a strong performance, but this is one of 'em for certain. Love the more orchestral instrumentation here. This element is all apparently due in great thanks (or full thanks?) to longtime Morse collaborator Chris Carmichael, appearing on much of his albums throughout the last 20+ years. This is a huge song for only being 6 minutes long... Perfecto. Naturally, this flows into the sort of quirky intro of "California Nights". Some really cool rhythmic complexity here. I guess with all that complexity, I wish the song itself had more to offer me.

Despite being more or less a Pop Rock song, the very early Morse track "Nowhere Fast" is pretty solid. I mean, if I can place it anywhere, my mind goes to AOR. Love it or hate it, it does have something solid to offer. Very different from anything else on the album here. Finally, we have "Emma", certainly a very pretty, personal song. A decent way to finish off an album that doesn't necessarily have a singular thematic or stylistic focus. Because this album certainly did not.

True Rate: 3.5/5.0

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