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Yargos: To Be or Not to Be

The name Yargos may not ring much of a bell to you. However, that's not because they are a new band. They have been around in one form or another since the early 70's with different lineups, playing with icons like UFO and Amon Duul. Primarily led by main composer Wieland Hofmeister on guitars and keyboards, the band drew more attention because of the involvement of Threshold vocalist Andrew McDermott. That said, there are also members of Running Wild and Hydrotoxin/Human Fortress on this project, namely Peter Pichl on bass and Andreas Kienitz on solo guitar. Add to them the amazing female vocalist Anca Graterol who has previously sung in many bands including Pallas; and the multi-instrumentalist Osssy Pfeiffer who's credited as the keyboardist, piano player, Hammond guy, drums, and producer. Needless to say his contribution defines the sound of Yargos quite a bit.

As for the music on To Be or Not to Be, a concept album with spoken passages, instrumental interludes, epic arrangements, most listeners might liken them to the 70's prog rock bands such as Saga and Kansas, as well as more pop-oriented bands like Toto and Asia, still preserving a distinct German vibe (particularly in some of the vocal harmonies) and even Queen-like multiple vocal parts. The vocals are mainly handled by McDermott who has really explored the limits of his range, perhaps also due to the fact that his female counterpart being a professional vocal coach. Anca Graterol often joins him during the sing-along choruses, bringing more depth to the melodies, or even making them the most beautiful thing on the songs. "Point of No Return" is a song where you'll hear Andrew McDermott like you've never heard him sing on a Threshold album; his voice drips with sheer emotion as he is accompanied by Graterol and a beautiful, Savatage-like instrumental passage follows complements their collaboration. This is arguably the most progressive number on the album, not to mention the most emotive.

Although the album has a very epic vibe and slightly 70's melodic rock vibe to it, thanks to a plethora of soundscapes by Pfeiffer and Hofmeister, most of the tracks are shaped by more modern, slightly electronic elements. Even the super-heavy, hard-rocking "The Summer Tree" features a dynamic contrast between electronic beats and fierce rhythm guitars, not to mention the very German power metal-inspired lead chorus, which isn't too different from "Why?", the other melodic metal piece with delicate 80's synths and nice female vocal harmonies. "Peace of Mind" reminds me of Queen for its counterpoint vocal stylings, blues-inflected guitar work, and rampaging bass chimes by Pichl that are heavier than on any Running Wild track. From here on, the piece slips into a mystic guitar solo that is eventually followed by a gorgeous piano coda. So much more is detected upon repeat listens, such as the 70's analog synths on "Human Nature"; the sweeping guitar expressions on "A Time to Decide"; the moving piano on "Time Drops"; or the phenomenal bass playing on "Full Circle". The European version of the album also contains a bonus track of a live version of "The Summer Tree" with a very energetic crowd.

This is an album fans of melodic metal, neo-prog, and 70's hard rock should look into. Andrew McDermott sounds awesome but don't expect anything too similar to his real band Threshold. Yargos is more on the catchier and poppier side of the spectrum.

Track Listing

  1. Guilded Cage
  2. Why?
  3. Peace of Mind
  4. Point of No Return
  5. Time to Decide
  6. Pink Confusion
  7. Human Nature
  8. Time Drops
  9. The Summer Tree
  10. Full Circle
  11. Sometimes It Is Easier
  12. Turn Away
  13. The Summer Tree (bonus live track)

Added: May 12th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Yargos website
Hits: 4103
Language: english

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