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Samurai of Prog: Beyond The Wardrobe

I have been following Finland based Samurai of Prog for a number of years now and continue to be amazed by their exceptional body of work. Their albums have been consistently excellent and their November 2020 release Beyond The Wardrobe continues that tradition. For those of you new to the band, core members include Marco Bernard (Shuker bass), Kimmo Pörsti (drums and percussion) and Steve Unruh (lead and backing vocals, electric and classical guitars, acoustic and 5-string electric violins, flute). Of course, with the Samurai of Prog you usually have an outstanding cast of supporting musicians which in this case are Marek Arnold (saxophone), Ronaldo Rodrigues (keyboards), Oliviero Lacagnina (keyboards), Rafael Pacha (electric and classical guitars), Octavio Stampàlia (VST symphonic choir, keyboards), Alessandro Di Benedetti (keyboards), Daniel Fäldt (vocals), Carmine Capasso (electric guitar solo), Christian Bideau (keyboards), Pablo Robotti (electric guitar), Yuko Tomiyama (vocals, piano, synth), Marc Papeghin (French horn and trumpet), Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards) and Elisa Montaldo (vocals and keyboards).

Beyond The Wardrobe is based on C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and begins with the strong opener “Another Time”. Lush strings and keyboards begin the piece in a smooth and carefree way and is soon joined by one of the most romantic saxophone solos you will ever here. Arnold has such a fine taste for melody, his tone so rich and smooth. The soundscape is quite dreamy and following another sax break comes Unruh’s pleasing and reflectively mellow vocals. His delivery is completely sincere and endearing. The ensuing change up veers towards heavy prog as the guitar and keyboards add a considerable amount of power. When Unruh’s flute enters the mix, Jethro Tull comes to mind as the band really starts to cook. The next track “Dear Amadeus” has a darker sound, partly due to the dramatic use of choirs and the stabbing guitar work. Violin also adds hints of melancholy as well as the band’s signature lush symphonic prog calling card. The dynamic “King Of Spades” is a classy ‘70s inspired piece where gentler keyboards and acoustic guitar lead to slightly more intense workouts before returning to mellower backdrops. Hints of jazz can especially be heard in the piano. Tricky rhythmic virtuosity and staccato riffs has the band displaying excellent musicianship without forgetting the melody. Some searing instrumental passages combine with gentle soundscapes creating a wonderfully complex and compelling sound. That is just a taste of what you will hear when digging into Beyond The Wardrobe.

Again, the band continues to release top quality retro symphonic prog that should appeal to all fans of progressive rock. One of the classiest progressive rock bands working today and is absolutely recommended.

Track Listing:
1. Another Time (6:22)
2. Dear Amadeus (8:52)
3. King Of Spades (5:54)
4. Forest Rondo (5:50)
5. Jester’s Dance (6:47)
6. Kabane (7:33)
7. Marigold (2:33)
8. Brandenburg Gate (4:24)
9. Washing The Clouds (7:29)

Added: April 11th 2021
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band on Facebook
Hits: 888
Language: english

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