Argos - A Seasonal Affair

(CD 2015, 62:35, Progressive Promotion Records PPRCD 02)

The tracks:
  1- Vanishing(3:39)
  2- Divergence(4:04)
  3- Silent Corner(6:32)
  4- Silver And Gold(4:26)
  5- Lifeboats(6:02)
  6- Not In This Picture(12:33)
  7- A Seasonal Affair(4:18)
  8- Forbidden City(5:21)
  9- Stormland(6:21)
Bonus tracks:
10- Black Cat (2015 version)(5:18)
11- Killer (2015 version)(3:39)

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Argos are a German progressive rock band. Argos are also one of the biggest retailers in the UK and so searching for the band on Google is a nightmare. However I did manage to find out that the band consists of Thomas Klarmann (bass, flute, acoustic guitars, keyboards, soundscapes, vocals), Robert Gozon (keyboards, vocals), Ulf Jacobs (drums, percussion, vocals) and Rico Florczak (electric guitars, sounds, vocals). They have released three previous albums since forming out of Klarrmann's solo project and I claim not to have heard any of them so they are new to me. Reading reviews of these first three albums the words symphonic prog were used a lot. However, to these ears there is not a lot of symphonic prog on this album so I guess Argos have been changing their style to reach the point that they are at now. So what did I hear?

The first track, Vanishing sounded very 80s synth pop with a vocal style not unlike David Bowie in his Berlin days. On the next track the vocals have morphed into Peter Hammill. The track, Divergence could have been lifted from Van Der Graff Generators fine album Godbluff (1975).
In fact, Peter Hammill references frequently crop up all over this album. There are times when Thomas sings in a softer voice but mainly it sounds like Hammill. The music on the album is fine and the musicians master their instruments well. It wasn't until I came to write the review that I realised Andy Tillison (The Tangent) was one of the guest musicians on keyboards. The song structure is well crafted and various styles are incorporated throughout the album. The only problem is that the vocals are sung in the same style throughout and never seem to go anywhere. When the next track starts you know what you are going to get and therefore there is no excitement generated.
It is not a bad album by any means. But it has its flaws that to me are very off putting.

**+ Dave Smith

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