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(38:42, Melodic Revolution Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The New Era 2:08 2. Dead Calm Waters 4:24 3. Solar Boat 8:18 4. Ocean 0:54 5. One Day I Will Be Your King 6:10 6. Under the Ancient Sky 7. So Silently 3:44 8. Angel 5:12 LINEUP: Petri Lindstrom bass; some other instruments Matias Kangasniemi guitars Tomi Murtomaki vocals Juha Kaski keyboards Pasi Manninen drums
Prolusion. The Finnish band PROGELAND was formed back in 2007, initially as a project for main man Petri Lindstrom, but over time developing into a full-fledged band. They made their debut with the self-titled EP "Progeland" in 2011, and in 2014 they released their debut full-length album "Gate to Fulfilled Fantasies" through the US label Melodic Revolution Records.
Analysis. As this album unfolds, it will be sure to surprise its listeners along the way. Not due to being all that challenging and adventurous, but rather by the sound, style and the mood of the different compositions moving in rather unexpected directions. While the opening atmospheric The New Era, with its fanfare expression, might indicate some old-school progressive rock about to be served, one mirrored later on in the shorter interlude Ocean, this isn't a production that actually touches base with traditional old-school progressive rock as such. And while second track Dead Calm Waters is one of the better Uriah Heep-style songs Ive heard, replicating the glory days of that band, we're not treated to all that many instances of that music either. There is a certain Uriah Heep-tinged foundation that is a mainstay throughout though, apart from on the fine, folk-tinged effort So Silently towards the end of the album, but the dramatic, bombastic, asthmatic powerful organ, tight guitar riff and steady pumping bass and drums arrangement, so expertly explored on the aforementioned Dead Calm Waters, are toned down quite a bit on the rest of the compositions proper here, or reduced to making brief appearances. Instead, gentler sections and themes are explored, with toned down riff and organ in more of a traditional classic rock vein, gentle piano details replacing the organ, and especially in slow-paced, more melodic oriented escapades with keyboards supplementing or replacing the vintage organ. If one can imagine a meeting of minds between early 70s Uriah Heep and one of the melodic neo-progressive bands of the early 80s, you should have a pretty good idea about how this album experience pans out. This is a short, concice and well-made album on just about all levels, but with one factor that will be rather divisive: the lead vocals of Tomi Murtomaki. He has a powerful, dramatic vocal style, and has a tendency to add a fluctuating and very distinct tremble mode to his delivery when adding additional power and emphasis to his vocals. A feature that works extremely well on the brilliant Dead Calm Waters is honed in and limited to function rather well on the folkier So Silently as well, but otherwise may come across as being too dramatic and too overpowering when the musical landscapes explored are more relaxed and careful. Those who love what one might describe as emotional lead vocals will like that aspect of this production, others will most likely find it to be detrimental to the overall experience. I'll admit to belong to the latter category, being the kind of person who listen to vocals as an instrument rather than as an emotional element supplementing the instruments.
Conclusion. The Finnish band Progeland does venture into some rather unexpected landscapes on their debut album "Gate to Fulfilled Fantasies", and I can't really recall any band so far that has taken 70s Uriah Heep-style hard rock and paired it off with early 80s neo progressive rock. While I personally find the band at their best in the one instance where they have a go at a full-fledged Uriah Heep-style song, those who find the notion of listening to a band having a neo-progressive flavored go at vintage Uriah Heep-style hard rock might want to give this album a spin, especially if they are fond of dramatic, powerful and distinctly emotional lead vocals.
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