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X-Panda: Flight of Fancy

X-Panda is an interestingly named progressive metal act from Estonia, and Flight of Fancy is their impressive entrance into the scene. This mostly-instrumental debut showcases a talented young band with a unique sound, as well as a strong ability to write memorable and captivating compositions. Flight of Fancy is a truly remarkable musical experience - although many new progressive metal bands tend to derive too much from Dream Theater and the like, X-Panda truly has something unique to offer with this debut effort. All in all, Flight of Fancy is a highly successful mix of progressive rock, jazz, and metal; fans of those genres should definitely give these guys a shot.

Flight of Fancy does contain a handful of vocal sections, but most of its seventy-minute duration is entirely instrumental. Unlike most instrumental prog metal, however, there's a very strong sense of melody and harmony in every single one of the compositions. X-Panda is not afraid to show off their stunning technical capabilities as musicians, but none of the compositions ever seem like a mere vehicle for soloing. Though the musicianship and production shine throughout all of Flight of Fancy, I'd argue that the album's strongest asset lies in the deep and intricate songwriting. The album is pretty long (clocking in at nearly seventy minutes), but it doesn't ever seem to drag on too much. X-Panda's fascinating blend of jazz, prog, and metal is instantly captivating; once you factor in the top-notch musicianship and excellent compositions, it's clear that we're dealing with a truly remarkable observation.

This young Estonian band made one hell of an entrance with Flight of Fancy, and I can safely regard X-Panda as one of the most promising acts on the scene today. Fans of progressive metal and jazz fusion with a unique twist should be sure to check out this impressive debut - this is one of 2011's more memorable albums for sure. 4 stars and a very warm recommendation are deserved. Let's hope to hear more from X-Panda in the coming years!


Track Listing:
1. Intro (0:49)
2. Black (11:00)
3. Dickybirds (7:01)
4. Flight Of Fancy (7.04)
5. Siren (4:22)
6. Journey Of A Dream (11:06)
7. Keyboard Solo (3:23)
8. Rhythm Department (6:01)
9. Calm Waters (4:17)
10. Crystal Gazing (8:16)
11. Revelation (6:24)

Added: February 6th 2012
Reviewer: Jeff B
Score:
Related Link: X-Panda Official Website
Hits: 3635
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

X-Panda: Flight of Fancy
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-02-06 15:29:59
My Score:

From Estonia comes X-Panda, a formidable band that plays an epic style of progressive metal mixed with some jazz-fusion for good measure. Their debut, Flight of Fancy, is an impressive affair that balances long instrumental sequences with some equally strong vocal passages, and is sure to strike a chord with any progressive music fan.

"Black" kicks things off with 11-minutes of exciting bombast, mostly instrumental save for some vocals at the mid section. Lots of fluid guitar solos, orchestral keyboard textures, tight rhythms, and soaring melodies to be found here, and it's a great way to grab the listener right from the start. Things continue with "Dickybirds", a sizzling instrumental with no shortage of fiery guitar solos, while the title track perfectly balances the prog and the metal, another instrumental that contains white hot solo sections, many of which would not sound out of place on any vintage Dream Theater or Genesis album. Vocals reappear on "Siren", a more atmospheric metal track with ultra heavy guitar riffs and dramatic piano, while the 11-minute "Journey of a Dream" lets the band once again strut their instrumental virtuosity for a stunning musical adventure.

After a lovely keyboard solo, the band comes right back to complex prog-metal on "Rhythm Department", lush, pastoral prog & jazz on "Calm Waters", and back to challenging prog metal and fusion on "Crystal Gazing". Some excellent guitar and keyboard work on the latter. The CD closes with the symphonic metal track "Revelation", a catchy vocal piece that seems influenced by Nightwish, especially for its use of epic symphonic orchestrations.

There you have it, a wonderful release from X-Panda, who are sure to become a much talked about band on the prog & prog metal scene in the months and years to come. Highly recommended!

X-Panda: Flight of Fancy
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-01-27 10:06:35
My Score:

X-Panda are a progressive metal/fusion band from Estonia and have recently come out with their debut album Flight Of Fancy.

The band formed in 2009 in order to enter a song competition. They happened to win for the song "Linnukesed Siristavad" and the response was so overwhelming positive they decided to stay together.

I must confess I have not heard very many bands from Estonia but after listening to Flight Of Fancy that might have to be rectified.

Flight Of Fancy exhibits great musicianship and fine melodies throughout without compromising the bands innovative approach to progressive rock. The guitar riffs can be quite angry at times especially when the band is in full progressive metal mode. However, on many occasions there is a jazziness in their playing that adds another dimension to the band's sound. The album is mostly instrumental but when there are vocals they are well done. Also included is a choir that really ups the ante in terms of orchestral elements. Keyboards are also used extensively but never in an overindulgent matter.

The songs often feature heavier and lighter moods especially in the two album epics "Black" and "Journey Of A Dream". Both tunes feature dramatic touches in the form of heavy riffs and sweeping orchestration but also quieter moments of piano infused tranquility. The band's jazzier side especially shows on "Journey Of A Dream" with softer piano motifs and funkier rhythms. I detected a Steven Rothery (Marillion) influence in the ending guitar solo.

With a title like "Keyboard Solo" you may immediately think 'excess' but that is not at all the case. The playing is tasteful building from a mellow beginning to more fluid flowing grooves.

"Rhythm Department" is a nice blending of progressive rock and jazz and "Calm Waters" sounds like the title suggests, a very melodic and peaceful ballad filled with elegant piano and tasteful orchestration.

Flight Of Fancy is an excellent debut from an up and coming band that really flew in under my radar. They have set the bar very high with their debut, it will be interesting to hear what they come up with next. I for one can't wait.

X-Panda: Flight of Fancy
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-12-18 22:11:20
My Score:

This is an album full of great orchestration along with powerful grinding electric guitar, solid bass, excellent keys, and strong drums. Most of the music is instrumental, except for the lyrics, (in English), which begin with the track, "Black", an 11 minute epic. The vocals are solid, and full of a good combination of both male lead and female backing vocals. "Black" is a stand-out highlight of this album.

"Dickybirds" opens with bird song before some excellent keys fill the air, while the electric guitars buzz through the air creating a jazzy prog effect. This track is full of great keyboard rhythms.

"Flight of Fancy", the album's title track, is another standout, full of experimental keys and solid lead guitar rhythms.

"Siren" has a cool opening before some good vocals and solid keys, bass, and drums surrounded by powerful electric guitar.

"Journey of a Dream" is another more than 11 minute epic track full of more excellent keyboard work augmented with progressive guitar, solid bass, and great drums.
I'll confess that I really enjoy keyboard solos, so I skipped ahead to the track "Keyboard Solo". This solo is full of great drum and percussion support and builds a cool spacey rhythm full of experimental tones which do amaze.

"Calm Waters" is another great track full of great keys and guitar rhythms.

"Revelation" opens with some excellent bell like keys that will hold you in their grip, until the drum kicks in, followed by heavy guitar, and a choir like chorus of voices. The violin work later in the piece will catch your attention again.

Excellent debut for this Estonian band. I've added them to my watch list.



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