Skip to main content

Anglagard - Viljans Oga. 2012 Sweden


Änglagård - Viljans öga. 2012 private.

The only radar Änglagård's new album is flying under is the Radio Shack kit that a 3rd grader can put together. As such, there really isn't a need for me to write a review and create any kind of exposure. There are hundreds out there already. It didn't take long, but the contrarian "overrated" crowd is starting to make the rounds. Not sure why folks feel it necessary to rain on parades. But it's free speech and all that.

My main purpose of putting this album up is just my tiny way of demonstrating respect for what I consider the most significant progressive band of the 1990s, and perhaps the band most credited with maintaining the original 1970s spirit - and launching a renaissance that remains in effect today. Much of the criticism that comes Änglagård's way is just that - it's not really progressing, it's just rehashing a style that was popular in 1973. And I would counter that it was a style that died an all too-early death. And it's also a genre that is multidimensional and the combinations are practically endless. We've all heard modern bands try desperately to recreate the sounds of another era. While they are earnest attempts - and the requisite analog instrumentation are in place - the results tend to be a pastiche rather than fully realized compositions. To this day, when I hear an album that gets it "just right", it reminds me why I'm a dyed-in-the-wool old-school progressive rock fan. And Änglagård always gets it just right.

When Änglagård burst onto the scene in 1992 and their subsequent ProgFest performance in 1993, all of my running set at the time were bursting with enthusiasm. Not only was our favorite genre of music back and in full swing, but it might actually improve. Not to mention we would have plenty of new product to consider, and not just be stuck to the dusty bins of an old record store (Actually I really miss those old record stores. Ebay is great, but I miss the days when you could still find a rare import for $3 in a bottom crate - deep in the International section of some obscure store in Nebraska. Sigh).

Änglagård continued with the excellent "Epilog" and then... then.... just disappeared really. For years there was talk of a comeback. To the point of ridiculousness. It became something of a running joke. If not for the participation of actual band members on these chat boards, the whole thing would have been discredited. Then, SEVENTEEN years later, another one of those tired announcements arrived: Änglagård has reformed and will have a new album out soon. Yawn. Heard that before.

Except this time it was real. The album cover was posted. The minute I saw it I just knew this was going to be special. Of course the naysayers were out in full force decrying the cover. Really? Where is the optimism of our planet anyway? To be honest, cover notwithstanding, I was still a bit skeptical. Spiritual leader Tord Lindman was no longer involved. And most importantly - 17 years is a long time. Really no band, in any era, is able to capture the spirit and angst of their youth. Anyone who has scaled challenging mountains, and the metaphoric equivalent in daily life, will tell you for as long as you can stand it what a wonderful achievement it was - except the thought of doing it again is nauseating. There's a price to pay for greatness. You have to exceed your mind, body, spirit or whatever. And all of that is hard to regain after going about the normal/mundane daily routine.

But this is Änglagård, and they were always different. I was floored by how great "Viljans öga" is. It sounds like classic Änglagård for certain but it's still very unique. They have changed some, and perhaps for the better. In fact, the two middle tracks 'Sorgmantel' (12:07) and 'Snårdom' (16:14) might be the best compositions they've ever performed. Is it their best album? No, I'm not willing to say that. All three studio efforts are brilliant but I'm still partial to "Hybris".

Änglagård is the rare modern band where I consider it paramount to own both the CD and LP. The latter is a stunning 2 LP gatefold with a full sized booklet. I have all 3 original Änglagård albums on display, placed side by side, in my audio room. It's an awesome sight to behold.

So the question remains: Is this the bookend to a great era of progressive rock? Or are we about to embark on a new journey? I hope for the latter. Of course.

Comments

  1. I like the jazzy elements on this one, Tom. And count me among these that consider them one of the 3 most important progressive bands of the last 30 years because they DID improve the classic 70s style.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Spyros - I always appreciate your comments!

      Delete
  2. Granted, hardly a true "Under the Radar" candidate. One of the best in recent memory. That guitar riff on Snardom sends me to another dimension every time I listen to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree Eddie - such a great album!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Gösta Berlings Saga, Sweden

News: Their 4th album Sersophane was released at the tail end of 2016, and has garnered excellent reviews to date.

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Stockholm

Overview: On their first couple of outings, Gösta Berlings Saga could be considered the perfect modern Swedish progressive rock band. They look inward towards their own country for melodic inspiration, rather than the UK/US style of groups like The Flower Kings. Recently the band has moved into Post rock / avant prog areas, which moves a bit outside of my enthusiastic zone. I haven't heard their latest, but I'm very tempted to try it anyway.

Reviews (click on album covers)


The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, England

Samples
Facebook

One of the real gems from the late 1980s, The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus were like no other group before or after. They take a base of Popol Vuh styled Krautrock, and add elements of neo-folk, gothic, electronic, motorik, and even a few dance beats on La Liturgie... The reformation album came as a big surprise to everyone, as the band had been in mothballs for 20 years, and it's just as great as anything else the band has ever done. These guys are unreal. Don't miss an opportunity to hear any of their works, though I recommend starting with The Gift of Tears, which is a 5 star masterpiece in my book. I have all their recorded output, and will eventually enter them in here.

The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus - The Gift of Tears. 1987 Probe Plus (LP); 2015 Feral Sounds (LP)
The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus - The Gift of Tears + Le Liturgie Pour Le Fin Du Temp. 1993 Probe Plus (CD)
The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus …

Il Tempio delle Clessidre, Italy

News: According to a post from the group in January, mixing is done for their new 3rd album! No date has been given for release yet, though late April has been reported. Il Ludere is the working title.

Website Facebook Samples
Location: Genoa

Overview: Il Tempio delle Clessidre's debut is one of the finer new retro Italian progressive rock in the landscape today. Lead by the beautiful keyboardist Elisa Montaldo, Il Tempio delle Clessidre is the classic five piece Italian band working their way through increasingly complex compositions, but with melody and passion.

Reviews (click on album covers)



Astrakan, England

Website
Samples
Facebook

First published May 5, 2011 and moved forward to highlight their latest album Comets and Monsters. A third album called Hidden Agenda has supposedly been completed by May of 2016, so we'll have to keep our eye on that one.

Astrakan - s/t. 2008 private (CD)
Astrakan - Comets and Monsters. 2012 Jaguar Steps (CD)

----Astrakan

Here's one that flew so far under the radar, that it's still near impossible to spot. Credit goes to long time friend Bob Netherton for turning me onto this one.

Astrakan starts afire with 'In & Out', which possesses a distinct Canterbury sound but completely run amok. The shredding wah-wah guitar left me breathless. Too bad there isn't much more of that psychedelic sound present throughout. Have no fear though, the melodic jazz rock that the Canterbury sound is noted for remains intact. The jazz influence becomes more prominent in the middle of the disc. Sax and organ all get plenty of time to shine. I particularly…

Redshift, England

News: No news on the Redshift front. I've fallen terribly behind here. I own all their albums through Turning Towards Us (2008) and then inexplicably stopped for no good reason. Other than their albums have always been to tough to source at a good price (I can't think of a time they've been stocked in the States except Eurock for a brief while). That never stopped me before... In any case, I'll be updating this page for some time I think. I have missed out on their last 3 albums including one from 2015!

Facebook (fan based) Samples Fan Website
Location: London

Overview: Redshift, in my mind anyway, are the premier Berlin School revivalists from the UK. They started as a quartet led by accomplished synthesist Mark Shreeve, and their blueprint is Baumann era Tangerine Dream. Nobody does it better, and it seems Redshift picked up where Tangerine Dream left off after Stratosfear.

Reviews (click on album cover)


Tusmorke, Norway

News: Great news here as Tusmorke have announced their new 4th album will be titled Hinsides and released on May 12! Also bumping this post forward for new notes on their 3rd album. The band also seem to have a new logo, which I've pasted in here. Very odd indeed.

Facebook Samples
Location: Oslo

Overview: Tusmørke started their career as a band very much influenced by Jethro Tull. Today they are far more native ,and recall some of the great 70s Norwegian bands like Host and Hades.

Reviews (click on album covers)



Kebnekaise - Kebnekajse. 2009 Sweden

Kebnekaise - Kebnekajse. 2009 Subliminal Sounds.

I was in San Francisco recently for business, and ran over to Amoeba's after enjoying a nice evening of microbrews and dinner at Magnolia's Brewpub. I can't believe Amoeba's closes at 10 on a Friday night? So that left me with only a few minutes, and I needed to pick up a few CDs for the Mrs.. While they're announcing the store closing, I made a beeline to the Psych-Prog section. Basically if I saw something marked cheap that I still hadn't picked up, it was going in the cart. I only found this one in the 3 minutes I had left - an album I've been meaning to get for some time. So I was pleased with my "cheap" buy, only to find out there was a hole punch in the back cover. Man, I hate that! Oh well, a small thing considering right?

ANYWAY.... Kebnekaise is one of my favorite 1970s Swedish underground rock bands. They covered the gamut from blues rock to jazz funk to African indigenous music. But the…

Cuprum, Czech Republic

Website
Samples
Facebook 

First published June 11, 2012 and moved forward to highlight their new album Brahma Višnu Šiva.

The band is still active as of the summer of 2016.

Cuprum - Musica Deposita. 2011 private (CD)
Cuprum - Brahma Višnu Šiva. 2014 private (CD)

----Musica Deposita

With Cuprum what you get is good old fashioned hard rock meets progressive with loads of fuzzy guitar, Hammond organ and a little flute. Sure, it's retro 1971 England or Germany, and a sound you've heard from other modern bands like Wicked Minds (Italy), Seid (Norway), Siena Root (Sweden), Blood Ceremony (Canada), Hypnos 69 (Belgium) and a few others. But the Czech Republic has no such tradition, and hearing this style performed with the Czech language is quite interesting indeed. About the only band from 1970's Czechoslovakia that even came close to this sound was Flamengo and maybe Modry Efekt - both groups only at their most hard rocking selves. The songs for the most part are quite co…

August 2016 roundup

For those of you who are exceptionally perceptive, you may have noticed I rewrote the "What is It?" introduction to your right. In there I mention something about "monthly roundups". And here is our first one. I don't intend on writing lengthy dissertations here, though this first one will have much more explanation. In addition, as you see at the very end of this first roundup (personal update section), I'm not sure how active I will be going forward (all will be explained, nothing to be concerned about). BTW, if you have no interest in why I'm doing a roundup and what's in here, just skip down to the first "orange" line for updates.

But back to the monthly roundup concept. When I started this blog, it had been my intention to feature bands I like, with one post per band, somewhat to how the CDRWL evolved. As I began though, I ran into some dilemmas. For 1), I like to hear albums in my collection randomly (literally, using a random number…

Egonon, Italy

Website
Samples

Egonon - Risveglio. 2011 private

Here's one courtesy of our Gnosis friend Eddie - the same gentleman that brought us all those wonderful Romanian albums earlier in the year.

The 1970's Italian progressive rock greats are regarded as such because of their innate ability to compile and distill the influences of their day. Namely classical, jazz, rock, indigenous folk, avant-garde, and canto. And a big old scoop of youthful exuberance. Considering this, Egonon are true to the philosophy of their ancestors. Rather than recreate the sounds of the 70s, as many Italian bands are doing today (and wonderfully so I might add), Egonon are assimilating their own influences. In their case, the list might look like: Heavy Metal, Alt-Rock, World Music, funk, and... everything that was also included in the 1970s Italian progressive rock scene, including the end result of said scene, which they clearly respect and pay homage to. It may be a restaurant with too many ite…