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(50:40, MALS Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Angels and Demons 5:04 2. Galilei 5:47 3. The White Stone 5:00 4. Walking Around Jerusalem 5:17 5. Secrets of the Sky 5:29 6. The War 6:31 7. The Madness Formula 5:25 8. The Chimney House 6:00 9. Express Train 6:07 LINEUP: Sergey Milyaev – vocals; basses Ilya Frolov – keyboards; guitars Oleg Vasilyev – drums Igor Tarasov – guitars With: Albert Pogosyan – drums Anton Adrianov – guitars Vladimir Mikhaylov – guitars Nikolay Egorov – saxophone
Prolusion. The Russian band ALGABAS was formed back in 2007, and the current incarnation of the band stabilized in 2011. "Angels and Demons" is their debut album, and was first released digitally through the Bandcamp website in 2013, which led to the band being picked up by Moscow’s MALS Records, which released the CD edition of this production in 2014.
Analysis. Algabas’ take on progressive rock is one that to some degree falls slightly outside of expected borders, and as such one might state that they have a true progressive spirit as far as approach and attitude go. Otherwise this is a band that explores a brand of progressive rock that should have a wide appeal to existing prog rock fans as well as to those with a taste for classic rock, as their music does have a touch of classic rock to it as well. The compositions at hand are all in the 5-6 minute range, and typically come with two or three different themes that are explored and repeated, most often in a cyclical manner, occasionally with a standalone insert of some kind or other. Structurally not the most complicated of material in other words, but music you can listen to and get a feeling for without having to concentrate 100% on the task of listening. That the band tends to use distinct melodies and focuses on the harmonic rather than the disharmonic giving a certain emphasis to that description. In terms of style and direction Algabas belongs to the category of bands that cite artists such as Genesis and Camel as influential, and those inspirations come to life in what many would describe as a somewhat typical neo-progressive manner. Dramatic digital strings, smooth keyboard textures and layered, majestic keyboard sequences all have their place in the compositions, both in supplemental and dominant roles. Algabas does know how to create an archetypical neo-progressive theme of the early 80's variety, but they do tend to use guitars of a darker and somewhat grittier nature than many other bands people tend to categorize as neo-progressive. They are also fond of guitar and organ combinations, and in a manner that if not strictly comparable then at least have a slight touch of classic rock and Deep Purple about them. In some instances, like The Chimney House, parts of the songs actually appear to have closer ties to AOR than to progressive rock as such, although I'm unable to say if that is planned or an accidental feature. Slight touches of Russian folk music appear from time to time, most often in the keyboard arrangements, but also by way of the guitar, and the band does incorporate a few passages from jazz as well. But while Algabas is a band that does know how to incorporate details from a fairly wide stylistic palette, the bred and butter of this CD is accessible, melodic progressive rock, arguably most fitting a description as neo symphonic progressive with a touch of classic 70's hard rock as the main seasoning used. As such ventures go it is a well made one, but at least on this occasion not all that a remarkable one. Tracks like Walking Around Jerusalem, The Chimney House and Express Train do stand out though, and even more so Madness Formula, the latter an impressive array of different themes formed on top of an energetic bass foundation that creates quite a few moments of minor magic, at least as far as my personal tastes in music are concerned.
Conclusion. The Russian band Algabas has made a debut album that shows a lot of promise and indicates that this is a band that might have an exciting future ahead of them. They don't come across as quite the finished product just yet to my ears, but those with a fascination for neo progressive rock in general and bands that combine that direction with harder edged, darker toned guitars in particular should find plenty to enjoy on "Angels and Demons".
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: August 3, 2014
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