In the past several albums have been released about the myths and legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, the sword Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake Guinevere, Merlin the Magician, the castle of Camelot and the mythical Isle of Avalon. Just think about Merlin - Bard Of The Unseen (2003) by the Dutch symphonic prog band Kayak, Once And Future King, parts I & II (2003) by Gary Hughes, Secret Green's To Wake The King (2009, see review) and of course Rick Wakeman's album The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table (1975), to name a few. Well, we can add another concept album to the long list based on these legends, namely The Road To Avalon recorded by the American prog rockers from The Minstrel's Ghost.
The Road To Avalon is their second studio album after their debut Dream Things True (2011), but the latter only features Blake Carpenter who played all the instruments. Besides being an excellent singer he's a multi-instrumentalist who masters both the keyboards and the guitar. For this new album he gathered a band around him consisting of guitarist Colin Tench (Corvus Stone, Bunchakeze), drummer Zoltan Cs÷rsz Jr. (ex-The Flower Kings, ex- Karmakanic), keyboardist Marco Chiappini (Gandalf's Project) and bassist Troy James Martin. Together they made sure that The Road To Avalon is a musical journey that you won't forget after you've heard it.
This 76-minute long concept album is a pleasant journey back in time. Many influences of the wonderful progressive rock of the seventies from bands like Genesis, Yes and Rick Wakeman shine throughout the album. However, it's the musical style of Pink Floyd of Wish You Were Here (1975) that mostly came to mind. Besides these names the music sometimes made me think of a contemporary band like Unitopia on their album Artificial (2010). Especially Carpenter's vocals reminded me from time to time of singer Mark Trueack.
The Road To Avalon is a pleasant album to listen to; it takes you on a journey with all the above-mentioned historical names. Several times you'll hear realistic sound fragments between the songs that bring you closer to the story as if you're sitting next to the Knights of the Round Table. Thanks to the fantastic art work of Ed Unitsky you step into the world of the legendary King Arthur. However, without the wonderful music, which grabbed me right from the start, this stunning design would mean less. All tracks are worth listening to without exception. The album ends with the title track that provides a fifteen-minute overview of the album. By doing so you get a kind of nostalgic feeling after this song has finished. It's a bit like Rick Wakeman did on The Last Battle, the final track of The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur.
I have to compliment all the people who made The Road To Avalon possible since it's a fine listening experience. Therefore it's highly recommended to those who enjoy the music of all the above-mentioned acts.
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
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