Big Red Dragon

"I can't wait. I should have reviewed other albums before this but it's the first thing that I listen from this artist and I wasn't expecting anything like this. Symphonic orchestral arrangements on melodic bases and a concept behind. I'm not expert in William Blake's poetry but this album has made me curious.
The introduction "William" is a symphonic piece of beauty with a guitar of the "not a misplaced note" kind, like Andy Latimer is used to do, some "mute" vocals and a very nice melody. A stunning surprise.

"Angel Of The Revelation" starts with electronics and piano, then vocals and a proper song starts. The high pitched voice of Sophya joined in a choir by whom? Maybe Sonja Kristina who features in the guests? The guests list is another thing to check. This is a progressive track as I think people usually intends "progressive": sung parts alternated with instrumentals, structured as a suite with different movements and recurring themes. And all in 4 minutes and half.

"Satan" has an obsessive rhythm and has the theathrical flavor of a rock opera. The electronics behind have a vintage sound but is remarkable the dialogue between guitar and piano before the last sung part and the coda. Another great song.

"Love Of Hecate" Is a slow waltz. It's folky and theathrical in the same time, with excellent vocals again. The signature changes in the chorus. It's still a 3/4 (almost) but the tempo is accelerated. Vocals like in Mozart's magic flute are replaced by a cymbal, then piano and vocals. Another very complex and "circular" song.

Percussive piano and bass with water sounds to start "La Porta Dell'Inferno". This is a little mistake: it's taken from Dante's Comedy, but the door should lead to the "anti-inferno". The first lyrics are taken from Dante, then the man talking leaves the Dante's book to give a different view of the hell's entrance. "Here nothing grows because nothing dies". Another great song with the music perfectly fitting with the concept. The violins support the whole track, choirs, a stupendous coda... Great.

After a track like the previous one staying on the same level is very difficult, so the style changes totally. "The Number" is a rock song. Of course the number is 666. It starts hard rock, but with no relations with Iron Maiden, and the rock screamed part is alternated to more quiet and symphonic interludes. The organ is excellent, neither Emerson nor Wakeman, the sound reminds me more to Vitalij Kuprij (Artension).

"Just" is opened by percussion, piano and cello. The theme recalls "La Porta Dell'Inferno" but the vocals take a different direction. The song's intro, before the male singing, makes me think to the Russian Iamthemorning, mainly because of the instruments used. However, after 2 minutes the song changes drastically. The impression is still of a rock opera. Remove the metal element from Ayreon and add more symphonics to have an idea. The vocals here are more operatic. Not enough to think to Zeuhl, but enough to enhance the track. Great guitar solo in a Van Halen style which slows down and closes Floydian before the last sung reprise.

"Cerberus" is the three-headed infernal dog. Keyboard and strings introduce the song which reprises the chords of the main theme. It's on this song that I'm almost sure Sonja Kristina is singing. I don't know it for sure because I have received a download link from Blackwidow records and I haven't seen the notes on the CD. This is a very dark song on which the rock-opera factor is very relevant. I want to add the the most I listen to this album the most I'm surprised. It's surely one of the best albums I've listened to during all the 2013.

"While He's Sleeping" starts in a weird way respect to the symphonic mood of the previous tracks. It's still classically influenced but has a touch of Canterbury, especially in the melody. Not an easy track, but very enjoyable.

Back to full orchestra and theatrical suggestions. "Au Matin Du Premier Jour" (At the morning of the first day) is sung in French by a man who sounds like the chansonniers of the end 50s / early 60s. French and operatic don't mean Magma, but this song has a Zeuhl flavor in the instrumental parts.

"Beatrice" brings us back to Dante's Comedy. To Paradise now. Her character would deserve some words but this would lead us off topic. Of course there's less darkness now. Piano and ethereal voice for a very melodic song. A Sophya's solo performance and let me add that the sequence of chords deserves a mention. There's plenty of good passages. excellent also from the composition point of view.

We are now at the title track. Full orchestra and voice plus some electronics behind. It starts like a symphony and turns into rock. I don't know who's the male singer but his voice is incredible. The mood is still of a rock opera I'm finishing the words...

The album is closed by a cover. "Jerusalem" has been played and recorded by the likes of Vangelis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Par Lindh Project for what I remember. Well, I must say that it's probably the best version that I've heard up to now. It's a new interpretation when the one from Par Lindh was an ELP clone.

A masterpiece, amazing because unexpected. How can an artist that I've never heard before have done a thing like this? Symphonic proggers and RPI fans will surely agree with me, but there's so many stuff in this album. It will stay in my portable reader for a very long time, I think." - ProgArchives

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  • Originally released privately in 1978 and long sought after by collectors, III was the one off album by this Dutch progressive rock band. The dual guitar driven quartet injected a touch of anarchy into their mix of improv and Crimso influenced prog. This release marks the first time it has ever appeared on CD. It comes with extensive unreleased bonus material, detailed liner notes and unpublished photos. The album was mastered by audiophile engineer Bob Katz from the original analogue master tapes. This is a strictly limited edition of 500 copies and arrives housed in an old style mini-LP tip-on sleeve.
    $27.00
  • Second album from this early Italian band with close ties to New Trolls.  This one is a bit more refined and progressive sounding than In The Beginning."NUOVA IDEA came from Genova and their roots lie in a 60's band called ''Plep'' (from its members names).By 1970 they were renamed to NUOVA IDEA and even participated at the Viareggio Pop festival the next year,having a grea success.The same year they release their debut ''In the beginning'',a decent proto-prog/psychedelic album,but not of particular interest for prog fans.After the album guitarist Marco Zoccheddu leaves to form ''Osage tribe'',replaced by Antonello Gabelli for the recordings of their second work ''Mr. E Jones'', released in 1972 on Ariston (as their debut), re-released on CD by the Italian Mellow Records.Far from the familiar symphonic sound of most of the Italian prog bands of the time,NUOVA IDEA developed their early melodic style in a more intricate form,mixing their music with elaborate vocal harmonies.The closest comparisons might be early NEW TROLLS with a more demanding musicianship, 70's DELIRIUM, even BLOCCO MENTALE on their lighter side.The songs in this album differ so much,twisting from beautiful ballads (containing nice percussions and symphonic keys) and rockin' attacks with dated guitars (fuzzy-sounding at moments) to demanding instrumental passages,featuring complicated organ,delicate piano,sudden breaks and even some jazzy lines.What is of great notice is the vocal work in here,as all members contribute,resulting tons of attacks by melodic harmonies, recalling NEW TROLLS.Despite the mixed sounds,the album grows in you with each listening and all compositions are nicely executed with good melodies and a fair amount of complexity.''Mr. E Jones'' won't ever be among my favourites listenings out of Italy,but certainly I will return to it from time to time,as it's definitely one of the most balanced Italian releases I have ever heard.Recommended for lovers of rock music with an artistic flavor." - ProgArchives
    $15.00
  • "Downtime doesn’t appear to be in this Swedish traditional group’s mindset, at least in this point of their career. Striking while the iron’s hot from their 2011 Heads Will Roll debut and touring with the legendary Lizzy Borden across mainland Europe, the quintet from Gothenburg set about writing the follow up, Storms of War rather quickly. With King Diamond guitarist Andy Larocque behind the production chair, Storms of War will either make Katana another worthy Swedish contender to the Wolf/Enforcer new brigade throne or may cast them into the land of bargain bins forevermore.The opening salvo of riff peeling from guitarists Patrik Essen and Tobias Karlsson on “Reaper” rivals the best 80’s Judas Priest with Accept for good measure- and the trade-off solos are pure ecstasy for all air guitarists worldwide. Sometimes the reference points get a tad obvious: Iron Maiden on “Wrath of the Emerald Witch,” Loudness on “The Samurai Returns,” but Anders Persson’s poised drumming and the multi-octave, high-octane melodies from Johan Bernspang more than make up for any similarities.Bernspang even shows off a lighter, lower playful side to his voice ala Bruce Dickinson during the shorter, gallop-worthy “City on the Edge of Forever.” The swirling wind effects and a slow moving bass line signal the start of the eight-minute epic “In the Land of the Sun,” the verse melody mirroring the open clean plucking before the tempo moves upward and you feel like you are experiencing another NWOBHM journey with a series of Egyptian point-counterpoint guitar refrains. And how about the Omen up and down guitar harmonies throughout “Modesty Blaise” circa Warning Of Danger?Since Iron Maiden feel that their fans desire more progressive rock-length arrangements over the classics they rendered on the first seven studio albums, Katana could fit that missing niche in your collection with Storms of War. Thank you gentlemen for bringing me back to my teenage years with this one. " - Blistering,com
    $14.00
  • "Using the same line-up as their eponymous sophomore album, this weird but prophetically- named album W.W.W. is the very proud follow-up taking the same kind of psychey-jazz brass-rock and perfecting (if that was possible) it to reach a sort of perfection that is rather hard to achieve in this controversial style. With another weak artwork and a bizarre name, this album had better have good tracks on it.Obviously BRI was having time to tour England (this is sufficiently rare to mention as England was a bit of a impenetrable or closed market, due to strong musician union and enforced quotas) and they wrote this excellent track about their hotel in Croydon after a gig in Fairfield Hall (where Genesis and Caravan were regulars) where Menzer's flute resembles that of Traffic's Chris Wood. Some of the other sonic similarities that can be heard are reminiscent of the excellent German group Out Of Focus. The title track starts out dreamily as an oriental-desert psyched-out trip: you could almost see the early 70's hippies crossing Iran on their way to Kathmandu in their Combi VW while listening to this. Close to the best German groups such as Embryo, this track is a pure delight. With almost no transition we veer into Kaskelain (these guys were most likely smoking some dynamite stuff), which is definitely more dynamic and brilliantly played and ends up in motif that is exactly the one that the next track uses to pick up the pieces. Karsemore (give me their dealer's name, I must taste the stuff ;-), this tracks starts almost basic but soon veers into a demented jazz-psyched out rock. Cool stuff and BRI is on top of their game in this lengthy three-piece suite (mmmmmmmhhh!!!.. Not even going to touch that one ;-). After another stand out track Oblong Serenade is a phenomenal succession of blistering solos over a great rhythm and a fitting outro for the album.Traffic, Out Of Focus, Colosseum. Does it not make your mouth salivate better than a naked Mcpherson? Run for it guys!!! After their next album Miley Smiley, a live-in-the- studio album recorded in 8 hours, Karsten Vogel will leave the band to form one of the best Danish band Secret Oyster (after a track on their second eponymous album) and will enjoy a long solo career as a jazz muso." - ProgArchives
    $16.00
  • LImited edition digipak version with one bonus track."Long life and health to Dushan Petrossi! The mastermind behind some of my favorite neoclassical metal has returned to his part time fantasy-skinned side project. While 2010’s Symphony Of War was a good album and maybe the best under the Magic Kingdom moniker, I think (and I believe others will agree with me) that Iron Mask has been Petrossi and bassist Vasiliy Molchanov’s main project for a very good reason. However, Savage Requiem has a statement or two to make, and while Magic Kingdom has a reputation for being a “pretty good album every five years” sort of band, that attitude may soon be bound for the grave.I say this in part because of the addition of Christian Palin as the project’s vocalist. Petrossi has worked with some big names on his albums (see erstwhile Iron Mask vocalist Mark Boals), and seems to know how to get the most out of his mercenary vocal talent. Personally, I find Boals’ work with Iron Mask to be some of his very best, and while Magic Kingdom has boasted the voice of Olaf Hayer, I do not find Symphony Of War to have been the man’s best work. Palin is most notably responsible for vocal duties on Adagio’s excellent Archangels In Black, as well as fronting Random Eyes and power metal quasi-supergroup Epicrenel.The sound of Savage Requiem is, while not a far throw from Symphony Of War, a bit beefier in both the guitar and voice departments. While Iron Mask’s Fifth Son Of Winterdoom cut back on the typical arpeggios, sequences, and baroque-styled solos that have long been Petrossi’s trademark, they’re back in force here, but with a little more “oomph” to the metal behind them. Dushan hogs a lot of the spotlight, consequently, with his furious fretwork, but his rhythm section is tighter than ever, and Palin’s singing is more throaty and aggressive (and we even glimpse a couple of growls). Actually, had the last couple of Iron Mask albums not deviated considerably from the group’s early blueprint, we might now be confusing Savage Requiem with another title from that act. So, maybe this sorcerer of shred has come full circle?Well, in any case, this isn’t going to let down fans of prior Magic Kingdom – nor any other aficionados of neoclassical guitar gymnastics. Opener “Guardian Angels” starts things right on cue, and the group gradually begins spicing the album with some familiar, yet fresh-sounding entries like “Ship Of Ghost”, which distracts itself merrily with a jaunt into Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy’ before digressing into its solo section. The title track follows by being appropriately catchy and memorable, and dual corkers “With Fire And Sword” and “Dragon Princess” tie a pretty little bow around the album’s tail end. This album just might have the most up-and-up tracklisting of any Magic Kingdom release yet.With such a well-established sound being the focus of Savage Requiem, anyone vaguely acquainted will know what they’re in for. The measure of such an album, therefore, is not “does it shred?”, therefore, but rather “how memorable are the songs behind all those Malmsteen licks?”. By my estimation, they’re pretty darn good, and Dushan Petrossi has not only earned some replay value with yet another of his compositions, but also built his credibility up one more notch with an attractive album that embellishes just enough upon the Magic Kingdom formula so as to remain supremely listenable. A high-priority listen for Petrossi fans and neoclassical enthusiasts alike!" - Black Wind Metal
    $16.00
  • First new studio album in many years is a winner. In typical Schulze fashion the disc consists of four epic length compositions. This is a more modern sounding KS - plenty of sampled sounds can be found here - but at the same time it harkens back to some of his work in the 70s. There is a rhythmic, percussive intensity to the music that is a driving force a la Dune. In fact KS plays the Mini-Moog for the first time on a studio recording (who would have figured?). While his output can be uneven at times this one comes across as a solid disc.
    $15.00
  • "This is the 1st album by a French band whose sound & compositional style are firmly rooted into Zeuhl and who features a line-up of vocals, guitar, bass, drums, synths, & flute.Vak started in 2008, centered around the prog/zeuhl compositions of drummer Vladimir Mejstelman : repetitive patterns, asymetric measures, crafted melodies and emphatic moments. After several musicians changes over the years, further influences completed the melting pot, from the rhythmic progressive metal influences reminiscent of Tool or some of Mike Patton's projects, to experiments echoing the Rock in Opposition scene, such as Guapo.Vocalist Aurelie Saintecroix does a great job, her wordless vocals strongly evoking Eskaton's early works. This first album has been recorded between 2011-2014, originally planed to be issued as 2 EPs (6 long tracks) - which never happened!Vak is currently heading towards a new kind of zeuhl with broad perspectives and influences, notably including metal & space-rock touches; a second album which will features more of this sound will hopefully be issued in 2016, but now, finally, you can hear all they have accomplished up to now!"
    $17.00
  • Yet another one to file away under the "I never thought I'd see this in my lifetime" category. NTSC Region 0 DVD of the live appearance by these Polish symphonic rock legends at Rockin' Jamboree '80. The DVD also contains videoclips of various appearances on Polish television as well as a video clip by Madmax - a band put together by four of the members after Exodus broke up. As a bonus there are some audio tracks taken from The Most Beautiful Day and Supernova. Make sure you don't mistake this for the thrash band from California or you will be in for a real surprise.
    $18.00
  • Kaipa's first two albums were probably the pinnacle of 70s symphonic rock in Sweden.  The band featured a very young Roine Stolt on guitar.  The band also featured keyboardist Hans Lundin who also handled vocals (in Swedish so be forewarned).  Lundin resurrected Kaipa and they are still going now.The first album from 1975, features a sound that is very much an amalgam of popular British bands like Yes and Genesis.  Hell - toss in a touch of Camel if you like.  Lundin's upper range vocals will remind you a bit of Jon Anderson in places but he never goes for the stratosphere.  On the other hand his keyboard work features a fair amount of Mellotron - never a bad thing.This 2015 remastered edition comes with two bonus tracks.
    $12.00
  • Ever wonder what Jasun Tipton does when he's not recording with Cynthesis and Zero Hour? Well apparently he forms a new project! Abnormal Thought Patterns is an instrumental project featuring Jasun on guitars, Troy Tipton on bass, and Mike Guy on drums. Essentially the core musicians of Zero Hour. Further they are augmented with Richard Sharman as the second guitarist. This is tech metal to the max - somewhere along the lines of Blotted Science and Spastic Ink but with that unmistakable Tipton Brothers sound. Its an EP and frankly I don't think you could digest any more in one sitting - lots of notes here. Guaranteed to have many moments where you will stop and ask yourself "how the hell did they do that?". Complex thinking man's metal at its best! Highest recommendation.
    $8.00
  • A new band for the LMP stable. Symphonity hail from Czech Republic. They used to be known a Nemesis (no - not the Hungarian band) and released one forgettable album on Underground Symphony. After a couple of key guys dropped out the remaining members decided to regroup. They invited Dionysus vocalist Olaf Hayer to front the band. The results is symphonic touched power metal that reaches for the big sound (courtesy of Sascha Paeth). I'm not a good judge for bands of this sort but I would comfortably file them alongside Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and their ilk.
    $7.00
  • DGM has been cranking out albums for years and with all the lineup changes they go through, somehow the music gets better and better.  Forget that Russell Allen and Jorn Viggo Lofstad guest on the album - sure that's cool.  More important are the facts that vocalist Mark Basile is rock solid and the band has come up with a perfect blend of melodicism, heaviness and proginess. (not sure that is a word).  This one makes all the right moves. File under: AWESOME!   Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • "Really superb debut album from this contemporary instrumental progressive rock band who sound completely contemporary but manage to do so while not using the metallic/crunchy overtones that so many contemporary progressive bands use. There's a certain dark, mysterious quality which is probably due to the strings, but it's not particularly avant-garde. It doesn't sound like anyone else and it doesn't sound old. Highly recommended." - Wayside Music Makajodama is the unusual name for this young instrumental quartet from Sweden. The band was formed by Mathias Danielsson, guitarist for the progressive rock band Gösta Berlings Saga. In the course of searching for another avenue to express his own musical ideas he met Mattias Ankarbrandt, the former drummer of The Carpet Knights. Their goal was to blend both written and improvised music. Through the walls of the cellar of Mathias' rehearsal studio, he could hear someone practice violin everyday, and since some of his new ideas included strings he decided to find out who the player was. After a month searching, they located their man Johan Klint who immediately joined Mattias and Mathias. As luck would have it Johan knew a cellist, Karin Larsdotter, who was also interested in improvisation as well and she came onboard, rounding out the quartet. The band invited Anekdoten’s guitarist, Nicklas Barker, to mix the album. Makajodama’s debut is a direct reflection of the quartet’s influences: Third Ear Band, Univers Zero, Swedish psych pioneers Älgarnas Trädgård, the kraut rock spirit of Can and Faust, and Swedish contemporary composers Karl-Birger Blomdahl and Allan Pettersson. The result is a unique collision of progressive and post rock that sounds like the musical offspring of early King Crimson and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The artwork and design of the digipak was created by noted Swedish artist Johan Björkegren. Get a taste of Makajodama here: Makajodama's MySpace Page
    $14.00
  • Steven Wilson's second solo album features a variety of interesting prog luminaries including Steve Hackett, Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Trey Gunn, Theo Travis, and Jordan Rudess. Proggier than his first solo album and frankly recent Porcupine Tree. Lots of Mellotron bliss on this one. Exemplary production wraps up the total package.
    $16.00