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Arabs in Aspic: Live At Avantgarden

Here is a band that has been getting some wide recognition among progressive rock circles but I had yet to hear. I am talking about Norwegian band Arabs in Aspic. The band formed in 1997 and have thus far released five studio albums. This review is of their first live album titled Live At Avantgarden released in 2018. In the band are Jostein Smeby (guitars, vocals), Eskil Nyhus (drums, cymbals), Stig Kvam-Jørgensen (keyboards, vocals), Erik Paulsen (bass, vocals) and Alessandro Elide (metal percussion). The disc is composed of eight long tracks totaling around seventy-five minutes of music.

From the opening Mellotron in the first track “Syndenes Magi” I pretty much knew this was right up my alley. The sound has that definite Norwegian atmosphere and moodiness and then the slightly fuzzed out guitar riffs begin and one is immediately transported to the ‘70s. There is no doubting the band’s sound owes much to that decade and I absolutely love it. A really great groove develops along with huge Hammond swells and tasty drum work. Just a great opening track of ‘70s inspired heavy prog. “Mørket II” begins with a massive organ sound in the vein of Deep Purple or Uriah Heap and as the song progresses the band’s fluid nature comes to fruition, having quite the hypnotic effect. The heaviness eases off only to return once again as the band heat up the soundscape with huge doomy guitar riffs and raging organ runs. Lovely arpeggio guitar and Mellotron begins “Mørket III”, a very mellow beginning with vocals in Norwegian. The vocals are quite dramatic and emotive, the singer has a very unique voice. Some nice background harmonizing (I hear a little Uriah Heep here) adds to the lushness as the organ begins to percolate in the background. The groove settles in, the organ kills and the guitar riffs add to the heaviness. Another great slice of ‘70s inspired prog rock. That’s three great tracks to start the disc with five more to come. Really, there are no weak offerings here, just honest to goodness heavy prog rock bliss. Highly recommended.

Released on Apollon Records.

Track Listing:
1. Syndenes Magi
2. Mørket II
3. Mørket III
4. Victim Of Your Father’s Agony
5. Rejected Wasteland/Pictures In A Dream
6. Silver Storm
7. Mørket
8. One

Added: July 17th 2019
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 786
Language: english

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