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Reviews Written by
Neil (Surrey, England)

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Delusion Rain
Delusion Rain
Price: £14.03

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great album, they regained their bite, 6 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Delusion Rain (Audio CD)
After the excellent Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face, and One Amongst the Living, I wasn't that taken with their previous release, Life is a Game. I felt it was too pedestrian and one paced, in the main. But I'm pleased to report that Mystery have regained their bite. The frist two tracks are a little underweight, but the last 4 tracks on the album really showcase the best side of Mystery.
Nice balance of keyboard, bass, drums and guitar, a real strength of the band. Oh and the new vocalist is very good as well.
Great to have them back on form.

The Astonishing
The Astonishing
Price: £6.99

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Grim storyline, badly conceived and mostly poorly executed, leads to a melodramatic, bloated and turgid album, 6 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Astonishing (Audio CD)
It's not that I don't like concept albums. For example, Operation Mindcrime, Misplaced Childhood, Brave, Hand Cannot Erase, Tyranny, are all very different, and brilliant albums. It's not that I hate symphonic keyboard heavy albums. The meshing of keyboard and guitars is something I love.
It's not that I don't have the patience. Prog and Metal has been close to my heart (pardon the pun) for 27 years and counting, and i've spent huge amounts of time and money on music. It's not that I dislike DT. I've seen them numerous times in concert and followed them since 1992. It's not that I prefer DT's harder sound to their prog sound. I hated "Dark Eternal Night" and I love countless Prog bands: everything from the classic Prog of Genesis, Yes and Camel, the symphonic classical sounds of The Enid, through the neo-prog of IQ, Galahad and Pendragon, through Marillion and Rush, the pomp rock of Magnum and Saga, to the Prog Metal of Shadow Gallery and Threshold.

It's not just that the concept is unoriginal...though its dangerously close to the 2112 futuristic idea of music inspiring rebellion against a totalitarian regime. If you want a decent Prog/Metal opera concept album, look instead to Ayreon's Into the Electric Castle as the benchmark.

This release is badly conceived, following an awful storyline, with abysmal lyrics and cringeworthy rhymes. Then you add the uninspired instrumental writing problems that have crept into DT's work over the years. An attention deficit problem, now at ridiculous levels of melodrama. Barely is an idea started before it's disrupted by a change of direction or silly tinkering. It doesn't communicate to, or engage, the listener. The best prog takes the listener on an emotional journey. The Astonishing leaves you cold.

There are very few tracks here that i'll come back to, perhaps A New Beginning, Our New World, and Moment of Betrayal. But its difficult to disentangle the good passages from the filler. The whole bloated offering is indigestible in one sitting. Up to now, each DT release has been eagerly awaited, and despite my fears on seeing the pre-release teasers (The Great Northern Empire v Ravenskill Militia ???) I booked a ticket for the Palladium show. I'm not sure I can justify the train fare to sit through this. Losing Faythe, Lord Nafaryus --- What is this rubbish ?

Having read recently the band's official biography, I can only guess at the main problem of 5 hugely talented technical musicians. Looks like Petrucci is a control freak in the creative process, unfortunately struggling for good ideas. Made worse now that Portnoy is absent.

The only thing astonishing to me, is that no-one in DT's inner circle had the guts and good judgment to thrown this concept into the bin. Why did JLB agree to sing this nonsense ? Surely changes must be made in the DT camp to avoid the demise of a band close to my heart. Please, take a break, as long as you need to recharge your creative batteries, and seek outside help, and come back when you've created something worthy of the DT name.

As one reviewer on the German Amazon website rightly said, John Petrucci, get rid of the kitsch!

Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria
Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria
Price: £13.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly 30 years on, at their best, 6 Feb. 2016
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I've been following this band since hearing them on the BBC Radio 1 Friday Night Rock Show, Rock War competition.
Since keyboard player Dean Baker came on board, they developed an electronic layer to their music. And this latest album is the full flowering of that approach.
Pulsing rhythms, solid guitar and atmospheric passages, intelligent lyrics, they are all here. There is a real maturity, yet vitality to this release.
Thoroughly recommended for anyone who likes keyboard heavy neo-prog.

Greatest Moments of Football (DVD/Book Gift Set)
Greatest Moments of Football (DVD/Book Gift Set)
by Graham Betts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Moments of Football DVD.....if the rest of the world didn't exist, and the last 14 years and pre-1990 never happened, 23 Jan. 2015
My son received this as a Christmas present and based on the product description and the matching photo I have every reason to believe it is the self same article. For reasons that will become clear, I stress he received it Christmas 2014. The book looks as though it is a nice to flick through. But we delved first into the DVD, over our fish and chip dinner. And from the title of the DVD "Greatest Moments of Football", well, we were a little misled.

Think of the Top 10 Defenders. I'll give you a moment or two to ponder. Who's at No.10 ?
Baresi ? Moore ? Roberto Carlos ? Maldini ?
ANSWER: GARY PALLISTER. .......You what ? (Scratches head)

Next: Top 10 Midfielders. Who's at No. 5 then ?
Zico ? Figo ? Matthaus ? Zidane ?
ANSWER: BARRY FERGUSON....wtf ? You have got to be joking !

Best players...TT Camara (who was he again?) I'd forgotten about him..even Liverpool fans will have forgotten.
According to the latest footage, Chris Waddle is just finishing is career at Bradford, Stuart Pearce is still pulling on a Forest No.3 shirt, and David Beckham just broke into the MUFC first team.

A careful look at the packaging confirm my suspicions. Packaging copyright 2014....DVD Copyright 2000. A nice addition to your collection if you are interested in the Greatest Moments of Football sometime between 1990 and 1999, exclusively from England and Scotland, and they managed to get hold of the footage. It gave us a laugh though.

Reincarnation On Stage (Live)
Reincarnation On Stage (Live)
Price: £20.66

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful from start to end, 24 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a really, really nice addition to Eloy's extensive catalogue. Their only other live release i'm aware of is Eloy Live, many, many years earlier. So this one is long overdue and represents their impressive repertoire very well.

Older classics such as Child Migration and Poseidon's Creation have to be on this album and their reputation is well earned. But I was also taken aback by the power of tracks like Ro Setau, which didn't make so much of an impression on me on the studio version.

Every Eloy fan will have their own "best of" preferences, personally I would have liked to have swapped Mysterious Monolith, Horizons, Awakening of Consciousness and Decay of Logos, with say Voyager of the Future Race, Waves of Intuition, Escape to the Heights and Sensations. But make no mistake this is a real pleasure to listen to continuously from start to finish. The power and atmosphere ooze through your speakers.

My only slight gripe is the backing female vocals on Follow the Light which don't reflect the soaring beauty of the studio version, Otherwise I can't find fault.

I urge every reader and music fan to give Eloy a try, if you like anything remotely progressive. Thanks Frank for the comeback, I only hope I haven't missed my last chance to see you perform live. Tour again and i'll be on the flight over to Germany. I guess a UK gig is too much to wish for.

King Of Number 33
King Of Number 33
Price: £7.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Really glad I found this band, 18 Oct. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: King Of Number 33 (Audio CD)
As newer bands are pretty abundant and accessible in these internet days (and by newer I mean any band who started life this century!)it's sometimes difficult to unearth real gems amongst them all. So i'm especially delighted I found Deeexpus, it's always a sign that something is really good when you keep revisiting it months after first listening.

Quality lyrics, and excellent musicianship all round, the guitar and keyboard interplay is always something I enjoy.
The centrepiece of the album is the title track, an engaging tale of a mentally disturbed local who frequents the No.33 bus service. A really novel and clever concept, and you should buy the cd in preference to the mp3 for the liner notes that help explain the story. All told its a barnstorming track. "Me and My Downfall" is a great shorter opening track, and "Marty and the Magic Moose" a really nice instrumental.

The final track "Memo" is rather watery and doesn't have the impact of the rest of the record. But it really shouldn't detract at all from the superb material that precedes it.

Musically, i'd describe them as neo-prog, not particularly heavy, but they don't lack for power, their strength is in the compositions. Hope they can follow this.

Dream Theater
Dream Theater
Price: £3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The expected DT ingredients are all here, 1 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Dream Theater (Audio CD)
The technical ability of this band is undoubted. With this new self-titled release we get a pretty representative range of standard DT fare. "Through the Looking Glass" was the first track to really grab me, one of those moments you live for in music, listening on repeat to a great track. Albeit they hashed the abrupt ending.

The first half of the album is solid, a gradiose opener, a strong instrumental in "Enigma Machine". "The Bigger Picture" is more of a straight-ahead track, but enjoyable, and "Behind the Veil" ranks as my second favourite track.

Now comes the trickier bit. "Surrender to Reason" is a good example of DT's lyrical weakness, and it crops up in several places through this album. I do feel for James LaBrie having to sing some of this stuff, and whereas last album he was prominent in the mix, this time around he seems muffled. "Along for the Ride" is another track that really doesn't resonate with me, resorting to some tired cliches.

The epic closer "Illumination Theory" contains some really sublime passages. A really nice track if you can overlook the sellotaped together sections , and the short Rudess/Petrucci frenetic and silly burst mid-song that disrupts the flow.

Generally it's a more consistent effort than ADTOE, there's no extended unlistenable self-indulgence on here that has me hitting the skip button. But it falls short of the stellar standards I expect of DT, it's nearly all good but only occasionally does it raise the hairs on the back of your neck - due to the lyrical and creative production weaknesses.

Looking forward to seeing them at Wembley Arena.

A Dramatic Turn Of Events
A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Price: £8.81

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roughly 55 mins out of 75 of true quality, 16 Sept. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, we will never know if DT had been better to take the extended break suggested by Portnoy. From a distance, I think they owed it to Mike to go on hiatus, and return refreshed, their last few albums showing more than a hint of creative decline. No disrespect intended to Mike Mangini, who wouldn't accept the gig if offered, he's a more than adequate replacement.

Anyhow, this album isn't really about MP or MM, despite what the internet trolls would have you believe. What we have is an noticeable general improvement on recent albums, no Dark Eternal Night or Nightmare to Forget (sorry Remember) here thankfully. "Angels", "Build", "Outcry", and "Breaking All Illusions" all standout. 3 decent slower tempo numbers, showing a more melodic and mature DT, ditching the nu-metal rubbish. "This is the Life", "Far from Heaven" and "Beneath the Surface" a refreshing change in pace though again nothing truly stellar. JLB, who has taken more than his fair share of criticism over the years, must be really pleased with his contribution. Same goes for John Myung.

Sadly, and I don't make a habit of slagging individuals, the same cannot be said of Jordan Rudess. Much too much of the keyboards on this album are truly awful. I say this as a self confessed lover of rock keyboards. Discordant parps, high pitched tinkles, 5-minute at a time chronic ill-fitting passages destroy "Lost Not Forgotten" and "Bridges in the Sky", which at heart are otherwise good tracks. Check out Mystery's "Through Different Eyes" if you want to hear how fantastic keyboards can sound when in harmony with the material, and with sympathy for the listener. Where is DT's quality control ? Couldn't they ditch 20 minutes of this album to leave nearly an hour of true quality ? I'm not saying JR is solely to blame. A horrible mid-section nearly manages to ruin the otherwise excellent "Outcry".

In summary, generally better than recent efforts, nice to ditch the naff growls and nu-metal, some really nice stuff here. But still some creative discretion and added inspiration would turn very good to truly great once more.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2012 1:21 PM GMT

Passion (CD+DVD)
Passion (CD+DVD)
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £15.45

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Empathy with many parts, but not the whole, 21 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Passion (CD+DVD) (Audio CD)
I've struggled with this one after repeat listenings. Is Passion very good or merely average ?

For me headphone listening benfits this album considerably, allowing the power of the album to come through.
Nick has continued the development of Pendragon, there is no mistaking musically this is a follow up to Pure.
The trademark Pendragon sounds of the past are left behind, in fact you have to be patient and listen carefully to notice Clive Nolan. No wonder Clive and Nick agreed years ago they couldn't write together in the same band. Keyboard fans will have to wait for Arena's new album, or buy Spock's Beard or Mystery's latest.

The first few tracks are solid enough, and the strongest part of the cd. Green and Pleasant Land, if the Daily Express letter column style rants at the beginning don't put you off, has one of those catchy and powerful choruses Pendragon do very well.

A couple of weak tracks later on see the album get dangerously close to a repetitive dirge, Your Black Heart really doesn't hold attention, despite Nick's solo at the close. Skara Brae is much better.

Musically dense, some of the themes and sounds are stretched a bit too far. Seeing them live may be the best way to appreciate this band and the new material.

The Unforgiving
The Unforgiving

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible, more commercial, yet still great, 9 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Unforgiving (Audio CD)
This latest from WT heads closer in the direction of commerciality and Europop/rock. Asia/Europe/Magnum anyone ? No doubt this sounds like sacrilege to some.

The Unforgiving is a relentless series of 4-5 min tracks, each of which has strong hooks and melodies. So its not particularly varied. A bit more musical adventure wouldn't go amiss. Nevertheless, I'm really enjoying the album and despite my prog metal leanings, i'm not feeling guilty.

Sharon den Adel's voice is as good as ever, and the band is really tight. Looking forward to seeing them on tour in the UK later in the year.

I can see WT achieving greater success and recognition..appealing to a broad cross section from gothic, nu-metal, prog, symphonic, and mainstream rock & metal fans.

This album may leave behind the black cloaked doomsters with anger management issues, but for the rest of us, we can sit back and enjoy some harmless good tunes.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2014 9:21 PM GMT

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