Reviewed by Nuno on 01 Dec 2000
What to say about this album?!...I am afraid that nothing really good.
Seems to me that this is a continuous roll of old neo-prog clichés, washed out so many times that you have the ever present sense that you have heard this album before.
Pendragon was one of the bands that have pulled me back to neo-prog music. I did like the The World and Window of life era, but now, looking back, I must say that these guys just cannot fully satisfy a grown and knowing progger...
Pendragon tends to repeat themselves, as this album is too close to prior works than it should be, in fact 5 years have passed since The Masquerade Overture and it seems that they could have progressed something in their sound but no, no changes, just another dish with the same ingredients, cooked exactly in the same manner.
There is one thing that really makes me not want to hear this band that many times: the way Nick Barret sings simply does not work for me, its too way dejá-vu.
OK, I admit it, not everything is bad around here, the sometimes Pink Floydish sound is well constructed, the structure of the songs is well achieved, but I really cannot deal with this singer...maybe its just me.
If you have a different opinion about the vocals, perhaps there is something here to enjoy and play for long hours in your cd player. Not me, sorry.
Reviewed by Others on 02 Aug 2002
- - Review/Comments by Sil - -
I must provide a counter to Nuno’s review. Indeed many of his criticisms of Pendragon have been around since their founding in the late 1970s. That is a little known fact; Pendragon actually predates the so-called neo movement. Neo is a worthless cliché if I ever heard one anyway. Nick Barrett is certainly no Annie Haslam or Steve Walsh, but most vocalists are not in their league. Pendragon does not challenge conventional progressive sounds, or stretch musical boundaries, and yes Nick is a fan of the David Gilmore guitar school but listen to this CD. What you will hear among the swirling tapestries and tasteful guitar is a fabulous montage of musical thoughts. Pendragon is clean and integrated; oftentimes their beautiful sound is wrought with emotion and paints the pictures represented by the cover art.
This work is a chronicle of Nick Barrett’s divorce and the painful vocals are heartfelt and moving. The first half of the album represents the emotional emasculation that he went through during the trying times. He starts telling of his wife’s infidelity lyrically when he sings, “you were faithless in a twist of fate, you jumped the queue at the traitors gate.” The pain of discovery is evident in Nick’s voice. He moves on to other emotions, including the emotional abandonment he felt when his wife claimed to have never known him, the realization it was over, and the attempts of his friends to comfort him. He moves on to his search for spiritual comfort, his anger at God, and finally an acceptance of his situation, his emotional healing and the realization that he is not God but only a human being. Nick constantly pleads for his masculinity and his human-ness throughout this album. How much more genuine does Pendragon have to be before they are accepted for what they are?
Pendragon does not innovate, they are not challenging, nor are they going to satisfy everybody. What they do is play their instruments well, compose tasteful and pleasant music, containing emotional heartfelt lyrics. I do not think these are negative qualities, but make for some pleasant, enjoyable music. You cannot always listen to Thinking Plague.
The CD contains two bonus tracks of previously released material that are positive after the negative subject of this album. The acoustic version of Paintbox is very nice.