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SymfoCity Reviews

In haze of times
    Trespass - In haze of times

The Israelian three piece band Trespass plays music in the style of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Refugee and the Nice. This means many (Hammond) organs and synthesizers, where the latter often sound ver much like Patrick Moraz Their debut album. "In haze of times" contains seven tracks with classic themes around rhythmic and swinging jazzy intermezzo's. Occasionally vocals, a piano and guitar pass by. The strong opening track is typically a "Bach meets jazz and rock" piece, as is track 5, that has a very pleasant classical melody played by a church organ. Track 2 reminds me of The Nice. Track 3 features some oriental themes and big band sounds and is again very swinging thanks to good bass play and drumming. The swinging rhythm is continued in track 4. Track 6 could very well be an adaptation of the ELP classic "Fanfare for the common man" and track 7 of the blues/rock and roll song "Are you ready Eddy".In spite of these similarities it is stated that the band members (amongst others because of their age) had now former knowledge of these great names of the past. All in all an album that shows great musicianship and a must for lovers of the groups and styles mentioned. For sound samples and more information visit the the Trespass website.

Somewhere in the dark
    Deep Thought - Somewhere in the dark

From Switzerland comes the first official release from the band Deep Thought, named "Somewhere in the dark". It features 9 classic symphonic rock songs, from which some were previously released on two demo CD's. Four songs clock over 10 minutes. As said, classic symphonic rock songs, because they all conform to the conventional style and pattern of progressive symphonic rock: strumming and fuzzed guitars, orchestral keyboards and mellotron, bass pedals (although I wonder on which song), tempo and mood changes and of course guitar and keyboard solo parts. This especially applies to the best songs of the album like "Clock", "Simple man" and the culmination "Ice", which also has some nice classic keyboard parts, up tempo synthesizer solo's and appealing lyrics. No real surprises, but a pleasant album to listen to, although not al songs have obvious melody lines. Flashes of bands like IQ, especially in the songs previously mentioned and in "Waiting for darkness". Some songs have a more dark atmosphere or themes with much tension, for instance "Changing the rules", Shadows of the past" and closing track "Mud on the hill", what reminds me of the German band Scythe. A pity that this song finishes with a rather corny fuzzed guitar solo. "Driving" has a swinging rhythm and bass line and commences as if it is being played on a car radio; not very original but it fits the title and lyrics of this song and is followed by a pleasant guitar solo. This song (and also "Mud on the hill") is a bit in the vein of the work of the Dutch band Triamgle.
Samples from all the songs on the album can be found at the Deep Thought website.

Click to enlarge
    Glass Hammer - Lex Rex

The last years we have noticed that every new Glass Hammer album shows a real progression in the bands style and quality. Their previous album "Chronometree" got a lot of credits, but now they have delivered a CD that belongs to the absolute top. The driving forces behind Glass Hammer are Steve Babb and Fred Schendel. "Lex Rex" is a concept album, one long piece of detailed and melodic Sympho Prog, powerful and with a lot of influences from the seventies. Screaming Hammond and Moog solos, soaring steel guitar leads, mellotron tapistries, a crunching bass guitar, rich vocals etc. in the vein of Yes, Genesis and ELP. A real masterpeace! Convince yourself, visit the Glass Hammer website. and download the soundsamples. There are also nice videos available on this high quality website. Click on the album cover picture to get a better view on the remarkable artwork

Artificial Paradise
    Sylvan - Artificial Paradise

Artificial Paradise is the third release of German band Sylvan. On this album they manage to give their symphonic rock a modern touch, using today's drum sounds (track 1, Deep Inside), orchestral riffs (track 4, Human Apologies) and rap-like vocals (track 9, Artificial Paradise). This occasionally results in a more AOR style type of music (track 3, Strange Emotion , parts of track 4, Human Apologies and track 6, I still believe). Because of the influences of modern musical styles, you can qualify their music as rather progressive, although most parts are in essence symphonic rock pieces, even the pieces with the modern looks, as is illustrated by the beautiful instrumental second half of track 4, Human Apologies and track 9, Artificial Paradise. An interesting and high quality album with enough to enjoy, such as traces of Marillion (track 2, That's why it hurts and 5, Timeless Traces. Track 7, Around the world is one of the highlights with a jazzy riff, acoustically supported vocals and beautiful piano parts. Track 8, Souvenirs is a short peaceful piano and vocal intermezzo. The vary varied title track with which the album finishes, commences with a beautiful instrumental intro and has some rather heavy rock/metal parts. Lead vocalist Marco Glühmann definitely plays an important role with his characteristic and emotional sound.
Some soundbites are available on the Sylvan website.

Delicate Flame of Desire
    Karnataka -
                                         Delicate Flame Of Desire

'This much anticipated new release begins an ambitious new chapter that makes for a compelling listening experience. Sensual, spiritual and unrestrained by musical boundaries, the dramatic, multi-layered arrangements combine with haunting vocal melodies to create a powerful and epic work where panoramic soundscapes give way to fragile moments of acoustic intimacy. From the evolving intensity of Heart Of Stone to the desolate imagery of Out Of Reach, this is an album which embraces the agony and ecstasy of the delicate flame of desire.'

With these nice lines Karnataka promote their new album. In straight forward words: A beautiful album with which Karnataka shows that their style has been developed. The melodic lines are more elaborated and are in the vein of Iona and Arena.
Delicate Flame Of Desire will be officially released in February 2003 but is available exclusively from their on-line shop on the official Karnataka website . You can also find some soundsamples there.

Faded Leaves
    La Tulipe Noire - Faded Leaves

Recently the Greek band "La Tulipe Noire" released their third album "Faded Leaves". The typical sound of the band, as we know from their previous album "Shattered Image" has been elaborated. Nice built-up songs with emotional vocals of the female singer Ima. For the greater part the songs on this album start with nice modest vocals and keys (piano /strings /organ) fading into powerful parts with lots of breaks and tempo changes. The songs are loaded with keyboards that give them their characteristic sound (in the vein of Marillion), with a few nice long guitarsolos and more heavy guitar riffs. This album has a very tranquil atmosphere. Although there are many musical variations, all song have the same strong 'La Tulipe Noire' fingerprint, which could lead to the impression that it is "more of the same" and it lacks orginality. But if you take the time to really listen, you can fully enjoy the musical qualities and the depth of the compositions. Some soundbites are available on the La Tulipe Noire website.

Cathedral of Emotions
    Ricocher - Cathedral of emotions

The Dutch band Ricocher delivered their album "Cathedral of Emotions" with 9 neoprog songs featuring a solid but not too heavy guitar fundament with functional keyboard support, now and then catchy tunes and acoustic parts. Their sounds resembles that of Jadis and we can also refer to Pendragon and Marillion. A good production, perhaps not very adventurous, but with nice melodies, energetic vocals and much lyrics.
For more information visit the Ricocher website.For sound samples follow this link.

The Last Summer
    Shakary - The last summer

Shakary from Italy features ex-members PFM and Clepsydra. Last year the listeners of SymfoCity choose their album Alya as the best sympho/prog album for the year 2000, so expectations on their next release were very high. Decide for yourself if your expectations are met. We can only state that again they produced an album of high quality symphonic rock, although the third track more or less "plays out of tune". An old fashioned hard rock guitar riff is the basis for this "cold and dark" song. Perhaps the title of this song "Love warchild of 64" explains for this sound, but it is definitely something else than the rest of the album and a large contrast with the following track were we hear nice piano and flute parts. One of the highlights is "Sparkles in the dark" with a sweet female choir, beautiful guitar solos and even some Celtic influences with bagpipe in the grand final part. On "Alya" the guest performance of the Clepsydra leadsinger Aluisio Maggini had a large contribution to the success of this record. On "Last Summer" Michael Branzino has to prove that he is a good replacement. Time will tell.
For more information and some sound samples visit the

Submarine Silence
    Submarine silence

Submarine silence is a band from Italy, founded by members of Moongarden, who they greatly admire the sound of Genesis from their early and most progressive and symphonic period on the 70's. Their untitled debut album therefore features music that sounds very similar to the music of Genesis albums such as Trespass and Foxtrot. Pleasant strumming guitars, melodious guitar solos and lots of mellotron and other keyboards, all with a familiar sound to the hardcore symfo and prog fan. Even the design of the album cover is in the right style and this is no coincidence, because the responsible artist is the same as the one that created the album covers of the aforementioned Genesis titles. A very enjoyable fully instrumental album for the lovers of this leading musical style in sympho and prog land. Sound samples can be found at

    MysterKah - Fresq

Myster Kah is a three piece band from France. Their debut album "Fresq" features the nice female vocals of Yleah White, who also plays all the keyboards. An album full of interesting, varied and melodious neoprog compositions, with quite a heavy guitar sound and nice keyboard work. Yleah really does a good job here, but this also counts for her fellow musicians. All you expect from modern symphonic prog: dynamic songs, good vocals, a variety of very nice guitar and keyboard solos and appropriate bombastic parts. A pity that the production is a little poor, because apart from some tom-toms and an occasional keyboard, all instruments and vocals are in the centre of the stereo spectrum. Especially when you listen by headphone it all sounds like one big pile of sound. Nevertheless a recommendable piece of work.
There website can be found by clicking this link. Two samples (and some interesting from other bands) can be found at

Paradise Square
    Simon Says - Paradise Square

From Sweden comes this 2nd album of Simon Says and this probably is responsible for the resemblance in sound with The Flower Kings. A very dynamic and varied production with lively arrangements, acoustic intermezzo's and a nice stereo sound. Lots of mellotron and sparkling synthesizer and guitar solo's refer to influences of older progbands like (early) Genesis, Yes, IQ and even UK and England. The voice of vocalist Daniel Fäldt reminds of David Sylvian, because of the sometimes dramatic intonation. On a few tracks he also plays sitar and together with exotic percussion instruments, this is an interesting contrast with the electronic effects on tracks as Darkfall and White Glove. Although the influences are evident they actually create an own and very interesting en fascinating sound. This really tastes for more.
Sound samples: Simon Says 1 (1147kB) and Simon Says 2 (911kB).
For more information visit the Galileo Records page.

    Spock's Beard - Snow

Two years after their great album "V" Spock's Beard release a double album named "Snow". This is the nickname of the main character the story of this concept album is about and it bears resemblance to works as "Tommy" from The Who and "The lamb lies down on Broadway" from Genesis. I wonder if this album will eventually fit in to this categorie of classics. It has the familiar varied style of earlier SB albums and has some very nice recurring themes, but there is no great, exceptional piece. May because of the influence of the story concept there is less room for more daring and profound musical adventures. Download soundsamples from the official Spock's Beard homepage.

A nod and a wink
    Camel - A nod and a wink

Over the years the music of Camel has become more mellow and sensitive. Nonetheless Andy Latimer, founder and figure head of Camel, toghether with his partner for life, Susan Hoover, is able to compose catchy tunes next to dramatic and emotional pieces. This album has them all. It's atmosphere very much reflects that of its predecesor Rajaz, which was released two years ago, although this is not so much as a concept album, but just a collection of songs. As on Rajaz, the songs are quite reflective and inspired by personal and global events, as the decease of his bandmate from the early Camel years, Peter Bardens, and the shocking attacks on the WTC on september 11th, 2001. No heavy but delicate sounds with pleasant rhytms, new age like flute parts and, as ever, melodious, sensitive and sometimes "bluesy" guitar solos. Soundsamples.

Tricks of Time
    Grand Stand - Tricks of time

Again some quality symphonic/progressive rock from Sweden, a country that is becoming more and more a significant supplier of this type of music. Starting out as a duo in 1998 it is a now a five-piece band and this is their second release following "In the middle, on the edge", released in 1998. When they produced this very fine album they were only a four piece band, but in spring 2002 Leif Isberg completed their line-up as bass player. The album reflects many signs of recognition of the bands Grand Stand is influenced by, such as Yes, Genesis, Flower Kings, Pink Floyd and Spock's Beard. The fact that some of the members where involved in a Yes and Genesis tribute concert and a Pink Floyd tribute CD ("Signs Of Life" released in 2000) says enough. Energetic and melodic, vocal and instrumental, one short and four 9 minutes + songs of the highest quality symphonic rock is what this album offers. Especially the ballad "Waiting for water" is a beauty. Visit the Grand Stand Homepage to listen to there music.

The Cold Light of Darkness
    Tr3nity -
                                         The cold light of darkness

This UK based band released a triggering concept album called "The cold light of darkness". Influences of Pink Floyd and Marillion are present in the 8 songs the album contains. Nice keyboard arrangements and solos especially in the more dynamic and diversified longer tracks, next to plucking guitar chords accompanying pleasant vocals. The last four pieces of the album form together the "Exposure suite", from which three songs show a more quit and sensitive atmosphere. Especially the ballad "Help me" where very soft vocals are solely accompanied by a ticking clock and some organ and strings is very intriguing. The fourth song of this suite forms a nice finale, with solid mid tempo drums, a breakable flute melody, bass pedals, stretching spacey guitar chords, nice synthesizer solos and bombastic strings and choir. The Tr3nity homepage.

Official album Pre-release
    Focus - 8

What started out as an idea to form a Focus tribute band as a surprise for keyboard player Thijs Van Leer, ended up as a rebirth of one of Holland's (if not the) greatest symphonic rockbands. This time only without famous guitar player Jan Akkerman, who is adequately replaced by Jan Dumee. Jan D's guitar and playing sound very much like Jan A (perhaps it's in the name) so the superficial listener should not hear the difference. The other new members of the band, Bert Smaak and Bobby Jacobs, do a good job. Old times revive when listening to their new album 'Focus 8", that contains 11 tracks and one bonus track "Flower shower", that should have been left out, because it really destroys the mood you are in when you have just enjoyed the rest of the album. The recognisable organ- and flute sounds of Thijs van Leer are again as before in some tracks supplemented by his yodling voice, actually right from the start in the opening track "Rock and rio". Guitar ballads, like the series of numbered tracks with the same name as the band ("Focus I, II, III and IV") on their earlier albums, or tracks like "House of the King" and more rocking instrumentals in the style of "Hocus Pocus", what you expect is there. A must for old fans of this seventies band. Sound samples can be found on their homepage.

    Quidam - Time beneath the sky

It's been silent for quite some time around Quidam, but now their new studio album is available. The CD is called "Pod Niebem Czas", but has been brought on the international market by Musea under the name "The Time Beneath The Sky". The line-up of the band hasn't changed since the last album, 1998's Sny Aniolow: Emila Derkowska (vocal, backing vocals), Zbyszek Florek (piano, keyboards), Rafal Jermakow (drums, percussion), Maciek Meller (electric and acoustic guitars), Radek Scholl (bass) and Jacek Zasada (flutes). They are supported by several guest musicians.
When you listen to this album, you will be caught by the Quidam magic, just as the previous records. Although this album still contains the more "sweet" and "peaceful" compositions, you can state that Quidam returned to a bit more powerful and daring compositions. Certainly a recommended album!
There are several sound samples available at their website.

Trying to kiss the sun
    RPWL - Trying to kiss the sun

With the very successful debut with the album "God has failed", RPWL has become an appreciated member of the Progressive/Symphonic rock scene. What began in 1997 as a Pink Floyd cover band has developed into an effective band in its own right. Also on their new CD "Trying to kiss the sun" the influence of Pink Floyd is still there, but less obvious as before. RPWL has made significant steps towards their own style of music with this second album: a well-balanced collage of sound and tone, haunting melodies, poetic texts, all ending up in a little raw but sensitive and personal album.
Catch the green planet on their nice and well documented website for sound samples.

After the battle
    Plackband - After the battle

The Dutch formation "Plackband" was active between 1977 an 1981. De played melodic prog rock, inspired by (the old) Genesis and Yes. The end of 1999 they decided to get the original line-up back together again. After rehearsing for almost a year they had a whole new show together with only old songs, and gave a few concerts. The reactions were more than warming and they decided to record new songs. Now, after 25 years they finally released their first studio-CD. This concept-album "After the battle" features six of their famous classics and a few new compositions. The full-length version of "Remember forever" completes this CD. Listening to this album revives your '70-feeling !

For more info visit the Plackband website.
You can download samples from the Xymphonia website.

The Book of Dreams
    Mangala Vallis -
                                            The book of dreams

'The Book of Dreams' of this Italian band (founded in 1998) is a concept album inspired by the fantastic book-writer Jules Verne and his great books. Completely in love with the progressive sound of the early 70's , MANGALA VALLIS is influenced by the music of that golden era, even if its music is filtered through its own taste and vision. The care in the production and the thorough research of the original sounds and instruments of that period are fundamental elements of the band's philosophy. It resulted in a catching album, certainly a candidate for a high ranking in our next ProgPoll. The lyrics are in English.
Website: Mangala Vallis (with sound samples).

    Turquoise - Turquoise

When you listen to this album for the first time without knowing what record is in your player, you probably will think that it is the new "Quidam". But for that album we have to wait a little longer (release date 22-Apr-2002). At the second glance it becomes clear that it is merely the beautiful voice of Katarzyna Iajko and the Polish language that makes it Quidam alike. For the rest the band has its own sound. A high emotional value, a subdued mood, a crystal clear sound and a well balanced contribution of all the members of the band. Convince youself: Soundsample (1149kB).


        Clepsydra - Alone

After "Hologram", "More Grains of Sand" and "Fears" this is the fourth studio album that has been released by the Swiss band Clepsydra. The CD is available with three different covers, a chicken, a fish and an octopus. Luckily the music is much better than the cover art. The style of "Fears" has been elaborated and matured (in the vein of Marillion and Pendragon): impressive solos on electric guitar, alternated by quiet acoustic parts, melodic keyboard tapestries and highly emotional vocals. Sympho as it ought to be! This record is not yet available in the regular shops, but if you visit the Clepsydra website you can find how to order this highly recommended album. You can also download sound samples from this site.

    Nexus - Metanoia

The music on the second CD of this band from Argentina is rich, orchestral and symphonic with strong allusions to ELP, Yes and Genesis. Vast keyboard passages in the vein of Keith Emerson are offset by rapidfire or melodic guitar riffs. The vocals of Mariela Gonzalez are impressive and powerful. A Renaissance allusion is visually apparent in those tracks where she performs the lead vocal parts. Although you will be caught from the very beginning, it requires several listens to absorb the magestic significance of the project. You can download samples from

The Dawn of Time
    Shades of Dawn - The Dawn of Time

Shades of Dawn are a five piece band who have been described by their label as "Very musically involved progressive art-rock featuring sophisticated songs, complex arrangements spiced with elaborate guitars and keyboards". This German band plays cultivated artrock influenced by famous bands like YES, PINK FLOYD, CAMEL, KANSAS and STEVE HACKETT, however their own style is evident as well. This album, released in 1998, is strongly keyboard oriented, although the guitar has a place too. The music impresses by sure instinct on catchy melodies, atmospheric arrangements and extensive instrumental parts. Fascination of sound fantasies on the edge of reality - where dreams begin. Impressive arrangements which can almost be called rock symphonies. Filigrane, sensitive melodies, critical lyrics and a bombastic musical universe create a unique synthesis. Visit the
Shades of Dawn site (with samples).

    Magenta - Revolutions

This intense double CD is an emotive mix between symphonic classical influences (Genesis, Yes, Mike Oldfield), contemporary sounds (neo-classical orchestrations and arrangements) and modern influences (like Bjork, Radiohead and U2). The majority of tracks are between 19 and 25 minutes long, but the music has a lot of contrasts: soft and violent; melodic and powerful; atmospheric and rhythmic.
The large variations makes it difficult to select soundbites for you, but try this one: Sample from 'The White Witch'. More information you can find on the site of the record company F2 Music.

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Last update July 14, 2016


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