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PENDRAGON

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Pendragon picture
Pendragon biography
Formed in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England in 1978.

Originally known as ZEUS PENDRAGON it was decided fairly early on to drop the "ZEUS" as co-founder Julian Baker felt it was too wordy to fit on a t-shirt! There were several line up changes in the early days, members included Julian Baker (co-founder/guitar) Nigel Harris (drums) Stan Cox (bass) Robert Dalby (bass) John Barney Barnfield (keys) Rik Carter (keys). The one constant key element was Nick Barrett. The line up then remained the same for almost 20 years, featuring : Nick Barrett (guitar/lead vocal) Clive Nolan (keys) Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums), until 2006 when PENDRAGON and Fudge Smith parted ways.

Todate there have been 21 releases from PENDRAGON who set up their own label "TOFF RECORDS" in the late 1980's following the release of "The Jewel" and "KowTow" (as well as a couple of mini albums). "The Masquerade Overture" is probably their most acclaimed work todate. Although a recent change of direction with "Believe" has seen opinions somewhat split, it is definitely a remarkable album and maybe showing a move away from classic Neo-Prog.

I would highly recommend this band to anyone enjoying neo-prog.

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PENDRAGON Videos (YouTube and more)


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PENDRAGON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PENDRAGON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.36 | 326 ratings
The Jewel
1985
2.63 | 248 ratings
Kowtow
1988
3.80 | 459 ratings
The World
1991
3.94 | 508 ratings
The Window Of Life
1993
4.05 | 691 ratings
The Masquerade Overture
1996
3.90 | 524 ratings
Not of This World
2001
3.60 | 421 ratings
Believe
2005
3.92 | 664 ratings
Pure
2008
3.77 | 565 ratings
Passion
2011
3.68 | 268 ratings
Men Who Climb Mountains
2014
4.11 | 297 ratings
Love Over Fear
2020

PENDRAGON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.38 | 64 ratings
9:15 Live
1986
2.36 | 41 ratings
The Very Very Bootleg Live In Lille France 1992
1993
3.61 | 52 ratings
Utrecht ...The Final Frontier
1995
3.98 | 59 ratings
Live In Krakow 1996
1997
3.42 | 66 ratings
Acoustically Challenged
2002
4.02 | 19 ratings
Liveosity
2004
4.12 | 82 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.16 | 61 ratings
Out of Order Comes Chaos
2013
4.50 | 18 ratings
Masquerade 20
2017

PENDRAGON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.17 | 62 ratings
Live At Last ... And More
2002
3.96 | 67 ratings
And Now Everybody To The Stage
2006
4.03 | 64 ratings
Past And Presence
2007
4.45 | 102 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.56 | 50 ratings
Out Of Order Comes Chaos
2012
4.14 | 20 ratings
Masquerade 20
2017

PENDRAGON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.92 | 57 ratings
The Rest of Pendragon
1991
2.46 | 9 ratings
1984-96 Overture
1998
2.55 | 46 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 1
1999
2.46 | 41 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 2
1999
3.43 | 29 ratings
The History 1984-2000
2000
4.16 | 6 ratings
A Hist髍ia
2001
4.10 | 12 ratings
The Round Table
2001
3.22 | 12 ratings
Introducing Pendragon
2013
4.40 | 5 ratings
The First 40 Years
2019

PENDRAGON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.35 | 59 ratings
Fly High Fall Far
1984
2.11 | 35 ratings
Red Shoes
1987
2.52 | 27 ratings
Saved By You
1991
2.56 | 15 ratings
Nostradamus
1993
3.67 | 99 ratings
Fallen Dreams And Angels
1994
3.41 | 75 ratings
As Good As Gold
1996

PENDRAGON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.11 | 297 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by higi88

2 stars Pendragon's new album "Love over fear" is a departure in sound from raw and anger which was "Men Who Climb Mountains" , too many mellow moments and lyrics, that are not my cup of tea. That being said, since this album is what it is I found it to be long and second and third CD are unnecessary, all considered not an album that I will return to. The album starts well with "Everything" a nice organ driven song and it's a highlight of the album. True Pendragon fans will probably like this album. It's a happy, calm album, but for me there is no strong and memorable songs. From my perspective, music is solid, nice guitar solos, but to be honest not a fan of vocals from Nick Barrett on this particular album. 2,5 stars

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.11 | 297 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by FatherChristmas

5 stars I've just bought this album yesterday, and it surprised me - in a good way. Before hearing I thought Pendragon had had their day since the album "the Masquerade Overture". Luckily, I was wrong. But I'll get one with the review.

The album gets off to an excellent start with fanfare style organs from Clive Nolan on the first track "Everything", before the guitar comes in and bursts into song. This is, in my opinion, one of the best and most important songs on the album as many of it's motifs are repeated in other songs on the album. Anyway, it's a great song and brilliant intro.

"Everything" then flows into "Starfish and the Moon", a quiet, simple song featuring only piano and a soft guitar solo in the middle - and Nick Barrett's excellent vocals, of course. The quiet is undisturbed as the next song, the 8-minute opus "Truth and Lies", comes in with more of that soft guitar - do not be deceived, however, as it soon flows into an harrowing guitar solo - in my opinion, the best on the album. As the harsh, storminess of "Truth and Lies" fades away, a mandolin comes in, signifying the begin of "360 Degrees". After the first verse, the drums enter with bombast pronouncing a happy violin melody. The entire song is inspired by the sea, which would make sense as Nick Barrett is curently living in Cornwall. In fact, the entire album seems sea-orientated - even the cover.

As "360 Degrees" fades away, in comes "Soul and the Sea" - probably the most musically varied track. It begins, like "Truth and Lies", with a soft guitar. Soon the violin comes in and then the drums, followed by somewhat whispered vocals; until all of a sudden it breaks down into a short piano motif. Then, thunderous guitar and drums enter, the vocals now loud and clear, until it fades out with an acoustic guitar.

After "Soul and the Sea" ends, "Eternal Light" begins with a soft but soon loud guitar. After the first lyrics, a motif from "Everything" comes in - and after that, more lyrics, an instrumental section, then yet more lyrics, then the end. I've barely described it there - it is as varied and complex as "Soul and the Sea" - but "Soul and the Sea" gets the most complex prize, as it is much shorter.

Then - "Water" - another long song at seven minutes long. It begin only with a soft, sad guitar, but continues to build up and up as the song goes on, with a great, harsh guitar solo not dissimilar to "Truth and Lies". The album continues with "Whirlwind", a fairly short piano song, that fades into the longest track - "Who Really Are We" - that begins with a thunderous guitar riff, which descends into an acoustic passage with drums, but then breaks down - and builds up again with that thunderous guitar riff with added solo. The final lyrics come in, and then...

"Afraid of Everything", the final track. It enters with a fairly soft guitar, builds up, then swirls out with a beautiful synth solo. A brilliant outro to a brilliant album.

So, to sum up... I didn't want to have my first album review to be five stars for some reason, but here I am forced to. It has both the two requirements I consider for a five star album:

1. The songs are all great. In the words of Special Collaborator chopper, "not a duff track in sight".

2. It works brilliantly as an album. It flows well from song to song, and many songs share motifs.

So... five stars.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.11 | 297 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars 2018 saw the band celebrate their fortieth anniversary, looking back over a career which has seen them release amazing albums, toured all over the world (although not New Zealand, yet!). But they were not finished yet, and with "new boy" drummer Jan-Vincent Velazco (in fairness he joined in 2015, but given Nick and Peter have been there since 1978 and Clive since 1986 it is a tag he is always going to have) they headed into the studio to record the band's eleventh studio album. These days Nick lives in Cornwall, a far more pastoral and relaxed existence, and this has come through to the music as well. When I first saw the stunning artwork by Liz Saddington, I felt I had gone back somewhat in time, as although it is a very different style indeed to Simon Williams, it felt similar in so many ways. I opened the digipak (I have the single CD release, but it is available in multiple versions), and the card was embossed and cried "quality" to me. As I looked through the booklet containing the lyrics and some wonderful photos by Rachel Wilce I started to feel quite concerned, as in many ways here was an album which was asking to be taken very seriously indeed. But could it live up to the quality of all which had gone before? I mean, they have been at the game for a very long time indeed, and I and countless others have sung the many anthems at gigs, could this live up to the promise??

I put on "Everything", and my jaw dropped open. Clive and Jan-Vincent commence the song as if they are onstage waiting for the rest of the band with strident chords and snare drum kicking it along. A small drum fill invites Peter to join in the fun, and the three of them keep it powering through, and it is as if we have been taken back in time. Then all of a sudden Nick is there. Gilmour/Latimer style guitar soars and it is as if a black and white image has suddenly burst into full colour and light with the band now concentrating on supporting the main act. Throughout the album the music twists and turns, looking back in on themselves (I am sure I heard a tinge of "Queen of Hearts" at one point), acoustic guitars are there when needed, mandolin at others, while Peter switches his instrument and style as the need arises.

Clive has become far more confident in his own singing over the years and provides strong support to the person he first met when they were five years old, adding that additional vocal element. "Starfish and the Moon" has to be one of the most remarkable songs Pendragon have ever produced, being mostly Nick and Clive, with vocals and piano giving way to guitar and keyboards. It is full of emotion, life, and passion and some of Nick's most wonderful lyrics. The more I played this album the more I realised something quite incredible had happened, in that Pendragon had released something which is possibly their finest ever work. It has been hard to get this away from my player and looking at various forums there is no doubt that many Pendragon fans feel exactly the same way. As I write this, 'Love Over Fear' is sat at #2 on the ProgArchives charts as the best album of 2020, but given the incredibly high number of ratings given so far, I would not be surprised to see this end the year as #1.

As for me? This emotional, pastoral, delicate, soaring, majestic, polished, powerful, dramatic release from Pendragon has become my favourite release of theirs, ever. Given how much I hold close to some of their other releases that is quite some statement, but it does not get any better than this and if I could rate this 11/10 I would do so. I am so looking forward to the next one?.

 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 268 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars I'm somewhat at a loss here, as I honestly thought I reviewed this album when it was released back in 2014, but as I can't find it in any of my files I am guessing that somehow it slipped through the cracks, so it is definitely time to rectify that. Back in the Nineties, when I just dipping my toe into the progressive rock waters, not knowing that was enough to find myself either drowning or floating for the rest of my life, one of the people I contacted early on was Nick Barrett. In a very different lifetime (ok, so according to my records it appeared in Feedback #12, February 1992), Nick was the first person I ever interviewed as we discussed the amazing album which is 'The World'. We did more interviews through the years, and a poster for 'The Masquerade Overture' was the only piece of musical artwork which ever graced the walls of our family home, and anyone walking down the stairs couldn't fail to see it proud in place in front of them.

Like many, I felt the line-up of Nick Barrett (vocals, guitar), Clive Nolan (keyboards, vocals), Peter Gee (bass, vocals) and Fudge Smith (drums) was one that was destined to last forever. But he departed in 2006 after 20 years at the back of the band, being replaced by Scott Higham for the next two albums, although by the time of this recording he had also moved on, to be replaced by Craig Blundell. Over the years the band's sound had changed a great deal, as one would expect from a group who had been performing for so long, and while I have enjoyed all their releases, some have made a larger impact on me than others, with the trinity of 'The World', 'The Window of Life' and 'The Masquerade Overture' being my personal favourites. But this album is some 18 years on from the last of these, albeit with three of the same musicians involved, so what would it be like?

Pendragon in 2014 are not the same beast as Pendragon in 1996, it is just not possible as all those involved have gained different life experiences and taken musical journeys during this timeframe. Clive, as always, has been the most prolific and diverse, but his role in Pendragon has always been to interpret Nick's songs and what is required from him no matter what he has been doing outside the band. Peter has been the reliable sideman, providing the perfect support ever since 1978, using a fretted bass when the time is right, and also showing how much a master he is of fretless to slide in the sounds when it adds additional benefit and warmth to the sounds, while Colin sounds as if he has been there for years, sitting patiently for the right moment, concentrating on some wonderful cymbal flourishes, or dramatically pounding the drums, and there of course there is Nick. The top hat may have disappeared, along with the fancy shirts, but here is a man who is still focussed on Pendragon and what that means.

In many ways this album sounds to me to be the perfect combination of the 90's material and the harder edge which had come through in the 2000's, the result being something that fans can easily embrace. This allows that edge to combine with the soaring majesty of old, as the band feel full of confidence and vigour. This is a true Pendragon album, one which fully embraces the depth and breadth of their canon, yet also looking forward. How does it compare with the class albums of yore? Well, it is right up there, but possibly not quite peaking above 'The World'. But is that due to the material, or just the feelings of an old proghead who played that album to death nearly 30 years ago and still listens to it today? Quite possibly to be fair. What I can say is to my ears it is the most enjoyable Pendragon album since 'Not of This World', and possibly since 'The Masquerade Overture'.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.11 | 297 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The English neo-progressive rock act Pendragon is known for its emotive songwriters prog with singer and lead- guitarist Nick Barret taking center stage. With the sentimentalism of early Marillion, the adult symphonic rock of nineties Pink Floyd and the personality of Barret the band made some high-regarded albums leading up to 'Not of This World' in 2001. After that the band had to diversify and ventured in darker compositions with less dominance of the symphonic ballad-type song. The following of the band was challenged until finally the rather bleak 'Passion' (which I like best) was released in 2011, splitting the fan base in two. In 2020 the band returns with a new album which takes the band back some 25 years into the age of sympho-ballad with Gilmour leads galore. Almost all songs have a distinct happy-sad feelgood preachy vibe full of keyboard orchestrations drenched in shimmery reverb. Only 'Who Really Are We?' has a more diverse emotional pallet. Whereas Pendragon formerly had some instrumental passages like you would find on an Arena album (it shares keyboardist Clive Nolan), it now chooses to have the barest linear song structures that are basically pure pop. Basically this is what the fans of Pendragon love most and there's nothing wrong with that. But for some-one who also listens to Magma records this is just way to much cheese - and I do frequent 'Not of This World' because of it great sound and instrumentation. For fans of neo-prog at its most sentimental this must be pure heaven.
 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.11 | 297 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I bought this CD quite some time ago, but it took me a long while to write this review, because I wanted to give it a fair view. And I wanted to absorb all the delicate intricacies of this work. Sure, I did understand the need for Nick Barrett to experiment and avoid repetition after delivering the magnificent The Masquerade overture (1996) and Not Of This World (2001). And experiment they did! Sometimes a bit over the top, ok, and I liked most of their stuff of the new millennium, but even at their best there was the feeling was that something was missing from them. Men Who Climbed Mountains (2014) was seeing as a kind of "return to roots" (kind of, not really), but unfortunately was plagued with promising songs that seemed half baked and/or not well developed. Six years later Love Over Fear came more or less about the same mould as the previous one, but this time Barrett and co eventually did their homework, delivering the kind of masterpiece that stands shoulder to shoulder with their best work from their peak in the 90麓s.

The music here is a mix of the "old" and the "new" Pendragon, if you will. They are not trying to write a The Masquerade Overture II, which would be a foolish move anyway, but the feeling, the inspiration and the energy of Lover Over Fear is definitely from the same source that gave us such classics as Window of The World and TMO. It麓s been a long time since I heard this band doing such a powerful and convincing album, but here it is. Tracks such as Truth and Lies, Water and Eternal Lights are among the best they ever recorded. The album may start a bit strange with the frenetic organ and drums of the opener Everything, but in a few seconds you will recognise that you are listening to a superb work. With many novelties, like the celtic folk leanings of 360 Degrees and the introspection of the piano and voice work of Starfish and The Moon, it is still the good old Pendragon we all know and love. Even the fantastic cover reminds me of the great ones that adorned their quintessential albums. With a superb production and a fantastic performance of all involved, you have ten perfect tracks that leaves not one note out of place (even the strange intro). Not much more to say. Just listen and judge for yourself.

Conclusion: Love Over Fear is Pendragons best CD since Not Of This World. And it is head and shoulders with their classic stuff. It was a long wait, but very worth it. It is a great feeling when you discover that a band you like still have inspiration and energy to deliver new, terrific, emotional songs 40 years after their start. Long live Pendragon!

Rating: something between 4.5 and 5 stars. Highly recommended!

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.11 | 297 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Homotopy

3 stars After 6 years Pendragon have finally released their eleventh LP. Most fans claim that it was worth the wait, and the music indeed deserves some praise: top-notch production, outstanding quality, great arrangements, some interesting instrumentation, and different influences. The album is full of melodies, with impressive guitar solos aplenty, but also has notable atmospheric textures, created mainly by synths and tron.

That said, the release can't boast of originality and I also can't call it particularly catchy, which is especially painful in ballad-y parts. You know that feeling when the music is great, highly melodic and all the stuff, but at the end fails to evoke many emotions. And also has those boring acoustic parts.

Solid 3.5 stars. Not a masterpiece by any means, but a very pleasant listen and definitely worth checking out. Usually albums like this get 3.9-4.1 here, and it is quite surprising to see (290, 4.17) here right now. But the band's fanbase is huge, y'know.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.11 | 297 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by dougmcauliffe

3 stars I saw this album getting love from many respected collaborators, it currently is not on streaming services so I decided to pull the plug and buy the CD. This was my introduction to Pendragon and I really had no idea what to expect. Overall, I was pleased.

The awesome cover art describes perfectly the type of mood this album delivers. Much of the music is very mellow and gives off this ethereal feel that just makes me think of being at the ocean (and you better believe i'm bringing this album with me next time I hit Yorke Beach!) The Guitar work, both acoustic and electric is really strong and overflowing with great melodies. What I really love is how the guitar solos don't just come and go, but they continue to develop and become pretty epic at times. Fans of Camel like myself will get a kick out of it. There are several times throughout the album where the songs will strip down to just acoustic guitars and keys and these sections are dripping in atmosphere. I've gathered from other reviews that the driving force and front-man of the band is named Nick Barrett. He has a decent, kind of typical Neo Prog voice that sounds pleasant enough. I song I really in particular love is "Eternal Light." The way it develops is transcending, but I do have one minor gripe with it and that's some of the old-man lyrics in the lines "Turn off that TV set and read a book instead, read about the world and the universe, don't fill your snowflake head." I find lines like this to come off as out of touch and preachy. There's a few other cases where you get those lame "grrr phones bad, kids these days!" Type of lyrics and it's a bit off-putting to me as a younger listener personally. Perhaps I'm interpreting incorrectly or looking to deep into it, but generally, I'd say the lyrics are not the strong point of this album, but the guitar work tends to make up for it. Along with "Truth and Lies" this is my favorite track. There are some more shorter minimalist songs that are pretty good that work as a nice contrast to some of the longer and more proggy pieces. I think the album somewhat overstays is welcome and runs a little bit longer than i'd prefer. It could use a little more grit and it doesn't do anything particularly earth shattering as other reviewers have made it sound, but it's an overall pleasant and feel-good listen.

7/10

 The Masquerade Overture by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.05 | 691 ratings

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The Masquerade Overture
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Since its inception by Nick Barrett and Peter Gee in 1977, PENDRAGON weathered the storm of the turbulent 80s as the neo-prog scene was gaining steam but it wasn't until the arrival of keyboardist Clive Nolan in in 1987 however the band would have to experience the utmost humiliation with the load of crap called "Kowtow" before it realized that trying to copy pop bands from the 80s was going nowhere. Luckily the band didn't need to repeat this mistake and totally turned their fortunes around beginning with 1991's "The World" which found PENDRAGON hitting its stride with a stellar mix of Pink Floydian space rock, symphonic prog a la 70s Genesis and a touch of Marillion inspired neo-prog that found a tight-knit delivery of emotive guitars, pounding bass and synthesizer-drenched atmospheres.

Having established its sound PENDRAGON wasn't content to rest on its laurels but rather took things even further and that's where the following album "The Window Of Life" came in with even stronger melodic flows in the compositional department and stronger displays of instrumental interplay and outstanding vocals. But PENDRAGON was still hungry for more and followed it up with an even more outstanding album! THE MASQUERADE ORCHESTRA appeared three years later in 1996 and displayed a band that had reached full artistic maturity with Nick Barrett's songwriting also reaching new highs and the chemistry between Clive Nolan (keys), Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums) attaining sheer perfection.

The artistic nature of THE MASQUERADE ORCHESTRA takes things to the next level with lush choirs offering beautifully rendered classical influences including the outlandish opening title track which crafts a mini-opera in Italian and sets a tone for a larger than life concept album that tackles the subject matter of the eternal battle between good and evil with album cover art to match. The album was originally released with six tracks that clocked in at 57 minutes but the neo-prog bands were learning that having a tiered system for hardcore fans was commercially viable therefore this album was also re-released with bonus tracks on mult-CD editions. While i personally don't care about such extras, this album still stands as one of PENDRAGON's crowning achievements that took the promise of Genesis' 1976 album "Wind & Wuthering" and brought it all into the modern era with crisp clean production values and a vibrant new slant.

After the operatic intro, the album begins the classic PENDRAGON neo-prog touches with "As Good As Gold" that finds rich dreamy atmospheric oozing from Nolan's keyboards as Floydian guitar lines weep as bantering bass bombast and crafty drum rolls conspire to craft irresistible melodic hooks that take for a ride that doesn't let up until the album ends as the tracks all conjointly pass on the rhythmic charm that delivers ample doses of prog bliss. While all the tracks are equally impressive, the lengthier final three are the creme of the crop which take the PENDRAGON sound into the larger league of compositional sophistication. "Guardian Of My Soul" for example starts out with a rather strange energetic tribal drumming sequence before generating an infinite supply of keyboards arpeggios, guitar-gone-sailing mojo and off-kilter bass / drum interactions and effortlessly jumps from sing-songy happy pastoral sections to heavy bombastic rock til you drop gusto.

"The Shadow" only reinforces the juxtaposition of dreamy lullaby melodies and angelic choir symphonic backdrops only punctuated by the tight rhythm drive of bass, drums and the wailing guitars. The inclusion of backing vocals offers Barrett's passionate vocal style the perfect harmonic cohesion. The closing "Masters Of Illusion" offers a dramatic finale with busy keyboard sections, excellent guitar dynamics and Barrett in competition with the choir. The beefy bass bleats come right out of the 80s Marillion playbook but are forgivable as the musical flow generates enough diverse artistic stylistic changes to give the album utterly engaging to the very last note. PENDRAGON perfected the tightrope act of sustaining interest as the track drags on for almost 13 minutes but keeps you hooked all the way.

It can be extremely difficult to explain how some of these neo-prog albums work so well in words considering the formula is pretty straight forward and by the books so to speak. While THE MASQUERADE OVERTURE doesn't deviate from the likes of IQ, Arena or even its own previous albums in approach, it simply takes all the possibilities of every aspect of the music and lights them on fire. Every melody is painstakingly nurtured through the slight variations of the instruments playing in tandem and the emotive lyrical score is highlighted with instrumental tugs to match. Nolan's assortment of vintage and modern keyboard technologies is unprecedented as he makes full use of the full spectrum range of sounds available and tames them to suit the overarching themes. THE MASQUERADE OVERTURE found PENDRAGON hitting one of its highest notes ever which succeeded on multiple levels but basically is just an extremely engaging listening experience. For me this album marks the highlight of the band's 90s run.

 Love Over Fear by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.11 | 297 ratings

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Love Over Fear
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Despite the fact that Nick Barrett formed PENDRAGON all the way back in 1978 long before the neo-prog scene took off in the 80s, the band has sort of played second best behind the more successful bands like Marillion, IQ and Arena but nevertheless this band was not only one of the pioneers alongside others like Pallas, Solstice and Twelfth Night but amazingly has only continued to evolve in the forty or so years since it began. While it would take a good decade to iron out the kinks which included a few duds along the route, PENDRAGON came into its modern form when keyboardist Clive Nolan joined the team in 1986 and along with Barrett and fellow cofounder Nick Gee on bass, this trio has steadily climbed the ladder to become one of neo-prog's best and most consistent acts.

Only the role of drummer has changed since Nolan joined and there have been many (seven total in the band's history) and joining in for the band's 11th album LOVE OVER FEAR is Jan-Vincent Velazco who takes the place of Craig Blundell who only appeared on the band's previous album "Men Who Climbs Mountains." It's been six long years since that album and the longest gap between albums in the band's history but chief songwriter Nick Barrett has claimed that his music is about deep personal connections with various subjects that have to take their time to gestate before they spew out as musical statements. Add to that the death of his father, the political chaos of the last several years and the world's craziness accelerating at an exponential rate and Barrett needed some time off to process and write new music along the way after moving to Cornwall, England.

Once the 2000s hit it seemed like neo-prog bands were in some sort of competition with progressive metal bands and ever since Steven Wilson's cross-pollinating with Opeth to create more metal soundscapes in his Porcupine Tree oeuvres, it seems the neo-prog acts followed suit and added heavier bombast with distorted guitar riffs, faster tempos and flashier soloing however just as band's like Arena, IQ and PENDRAGON were threatening to take the next step into the metal world they suddenly seem to have taken a sudden retreat back to the symphonic prog and space rock roots that made the 90s classics stand out. LOVE OVER FEAR takes that same approach and although all of PENDRAGON's albums contain the same distinct elements that make them so unique, much of the heavier elements of the past three albums has been jettisoned in lieu of more intricate space rock with a few folk and jazz elements that decorate some of the most delicately designed compositions that Barrett has crafted since "The Masquerade Overture."

With ten extremely catchy tracks, LOVE OVER FEAR totally rocks the house neo-prog style with a return to the symphonic soundscapes of the band's 90s albums only with even greater attention paid to making sure that it's not simply a repeat of what's been done before. The compositions are more creatively designed with distinct sections that work within the context of the melodic developments and the production is off the chart excellent with vibrant subtleties capturing an atmospheric elegance unparalleled in the band's canon however unlike IQ's latest album "Resistance" which tested out the ambient atmospheric symphonic elements into a territory closer to progressive electronic, LOVE OVER FEAR keeps the atmospheric department closer to the heart of the melodies which are focused around the excellent vocal harmonies that dominate the album's lush heavenly soundscapes.

Despite a heavy organ stomp that begins the album suggesting a heavier album than it really is, the album is dominated by arpeggiated 12-string guitar performances, soaring Pink Floyd space rock guitar licks and synth-heavy backdrops that slowly ooze around the musical scales while the guitar, bass and drums craft the essential center pieces upstaged by only Barrett's vocal prowess where he sounds as if he's at the top of his game. Special mention to newbie drummer Velazco who delivers subtle complexities to the band's style which is a welcome development given percussion in neo-prog can often be the weakest element.

There are a few surprises as well including a folky mandolin performance on "360 Degrees" and piano dominated tracks like "Starfish And The Moon" and "Whirlwind" that sound quite different than what's on the usual PENDRAGON menu. However the absolute best tracks are the ones that capture the essence of production rich bravado that tackle all the sensualities but offer a little rock as contrast. Standouts include "Truth And Lies" and "Who Really Are We?" and we even get a bit of a jazzy sax solo on "Whirlwind. Despite all the icing on the cake, it's really the cake itself that is the true treat here. These compositions are instantly addictive and the emotive delivery of Barrett's vocal performances takes this PENDRAGON album to the next level. Neo-prog artists have gone the extra mile to give the fan's the option of extra discs with bonus material. LOVE OVER FEAR has been released in a 3-disc set that offers not only the album but the album recorded acoustically as well as another instrumental. Personally that's too much stripped down fluff for my tastes because i'd rather just listen to this album over and over again and after having down that many times since it's release i can honestly say that this very well could be the best PENDRAGON release to date and definitely one of the best prog releases of 2020.

Thanks to ProgLucky; Atkingani for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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