The Samurai Of Prog is a Finnish prog project that evolved from the collaboration between the Finnish Colossus magazine and the French prog distribution mail-order Musea. Between 2011 and 2021 The Samurai Of Prog released 11 albums, this review is about its latest one, entitled The Lady And The Lion And Other Grimm Tales I (part 2 will be released later this year). The huge list of guest musicians includes Dutch master Ton Scherpenzeel and Chilean wizard Jaime Rosas (Entrance and Jaime Rosas Cuarteto). Let me tell you what we find on this new release music wise!
1. Into The Woods (3:07) : The intro features tender piano and wailing violin, then halfway a slow rhythm with flute, synthesizers, and finally the sound of the intro, a wonderful instrumental start.
2. The Three Snake Leaves (9:43) :This long track starts mellow featuring intense violin work. Then the climate turns into very dynamic featuring lots of bombastic eruptions and excellent interplay, and an outstanding rhythm-section. The music is embellished with strong work on synthesizer, heavy guitar, violin and flute, this is trademark The Samurai Of Prog, I love it!
3. Iron John (5:58) : First a slow rhythm, blended with dreamy synthesizer runs and mellow flute. Then a mid-tempo, strongly coloured with classical orchestrations, to me it sounds like a rock opera now. Next a cheerful interlude featuring the distinctive tin-whistle, blended with snare drums, and brass, then a fiery guitar joins. In the end a sumptuous part with propulsive drums and Mellotron violins, then the mighty Hammond joins, wow, very exciting prog!
4. A Queen's Wish (11:36) : This epic composition is mainly built upon storytelling, by a male and female voice (evoking Kate Bush), embellished with fine work on guitar, synthesizer, violin. Finally a moving guitar solo. I am pleased with the instrumental parts, but not really with the vocal parts, too theatrical, not matching with the instrumental interludes. As if I am listening to two totally different bands, trying to jam together. At some moments the music fails to keep my attention, that doesn't happen very often when I listen to The Samurai Of Prog releases!
5. The Lady And The Lion (3:59) : This short track delivers delicate Grand piano, the classical side of the band.
6. Blue Light (6:48) : This song sounds like a blend of prog (instrumental parts with outstanding work on guitars and keyboards), folk (twanging acoustic guitar and flute) and a rock opera (theatrical vocals, bombastic brass in the finale), a bit unbalanced in my opinion.
*** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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