The Swedish progressive rock act Hidden Lands released in 2010 In Our Nature (see review). With members on board who used to be and are still in the band Violent Silence it wasn't at all so strange that musical links with this band could be heard on their debut. In both bands you have the keyboards as leading role and are played in a percussive way. Two years later a successor of their first musical effort was released.
They named it Lycksalighetens Ö and can be translated into The Blissful Island. Bruno Edling (vocals), Hannes Ljunghall (keyboards and guitars), Phillip Bastin (bass) and Gustav Nyberg (drums) made this album a kind of concept album based upon a Swedish novel of the 19th century, but also around the tragic death of an old school friend from Ljunghall who died last summer in dramatic circumstances in a large park, situated in Uppsala, Sweden. This same park can be seen on the cover of this release, only the picture was taken more than one hundred years earlier. The park has the same name as the title of this album and the book on which this concept is related to. Strange that a place where everything is how you want it to be is the same place where someone ends his life. The album also tells you that everything turns eventually to dust, no matter how happy you are and how much you have achieved.
This occurs of course also to this release. People who might find it a good or terrible album today might not even be heard or listened to a couple of hundred years later. I guess for those who walk among the earth in that period of time it doesn't matter that the second Hidden Lands album is musically very much related to their first musical achievement. They probably don't know that the guitar parts on a tracks such as Dakkar and Over Again are the main differences between their first release and this new one. In the past many talked about the fact that no guitars could be heard on their debut and therefore they allowed this time to let the electric guitar join the other instruments. Not that it did change the musical content on this release. Still the keyboards dominate the music-music that is very much related to the concept of this album. A tragic story of course can't include happy music. So it isn't so strange to notice that the overall feeling music-wise is a very sad feeling-a feeling of loss, old days and things that could have been! To get this feeling, the music is rather mellow and laidback. The six tracks that you can enjoy are all of the same high level so it's hard to pick a favorite. This is a good thing otherwise the album would have its ups and downs.
Those who enjoyed the first release of Hidden Lands and the albums made by Violent Silence most certainly can buy Lycksalighetens Ö without listening first. But to the other prog lovers I can say the same as I said about the band's debut. Try before you buy!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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