When I saw the band name Vargton Projekt for the first time it didn't ring a bell, but after reading the information I was rather surprised that the name of Morgan Ågren popped up. This drummer made fame at a very young age, playing with the blind keyboard player Mats Öberg in the Mats Morgan Band. He was even invited to play with Frank Zappa. When the Swedish guitarist Mats Hedberg heard this famous drummer on Fredrik Thorendal's album Sol Niger Within, the first idea to cooperate entered his mind. Now, a few years later the time was right to get together and write and record some music. At first both musicians thought about recording an instrumental album, but then Hedberg came with the idea to ask Björn Jansson (Tears Of Anger, Book Of Reflection), one of Sweden's finest metal vocalists. They agreed to use his voice on a number of songs on the ProgXprimetal album.
Listening to the album the songs vary from heavy fusion with brilliant guitar playing and distinguished drums, to a more progressive metal style in the vein of Pain Of Salvation. The heavy fusion can be heard in the great song Vargton, and piano fusion in Norrsken. Songs like Birka Triliogy: Defender & Believers, U Playin On My Drum, Birka Triliogy: Rendition and Uggarderojr contain the progressive metal style. I think Björn Jansson's vocals are due to this comparison, because especially in the latter two songs the similarity in emotion and power is certainly present. Jaipur and Rjoredraggu are songs that have more influences from Indian music, so all in all there's a lot of variation on this surprising album.
This album that lasts over 75 minutes also contains a number of short interludes. Some of them are fragments of ideas that could be part of a longer piece meant for a second album. Unfortunately they put those interludes on this album. They sound a bit unfinished now, while they could have grown to mature compositions. The two bonus songs Tokeri 1 and Tokeri 2 sound like pure jams and give you an idea of how these highly classified musicians composed the majority of the songs on this CD.
ProgXprimetal is a great showcase of how drummer Morgan Ågren, together with fusion guitarist Mats Hedberg, extended his status to the metal scene with a lot of fusion sidesteps. Together they form the heart and soul of the Vargton Projekt which is shown in the instruments that stand out most. People who like drums and guitar playing in the fusion and progressive metal style should buy this album. It pushes back the boundaries of progressive rock.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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