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(37:36, Astral Bazaar)
It never ceases to amaze me just how some bands are out there gigging and have to release an album either independently and/or digitally, yet any record label who are any good should have signed them up long ago. That is the case with Helsinki-based Astral Bazaar who released their debut album last year, some six years after they were formed. They state they are interested in classic rock and alternative rock as well as progressive and have brought all of that to play in what is just a really enjoyable album. This is fun throughout, and to my ears sounds as if it should have come out of the late Eighties/early Nineties neo prog scene, as I can imagine these guys fitting in well with the likes of Ark, IQ with Paul Menel, early Galahad, Casual Affair and so many others. If any band sound as if they were treading the boards of the likes of the Marquee, Walthamstow Standard or Brentford Red Lion back then, it has to be these guys. They have no rights at all to be releasing an album like this in 2018, and sounding so British as well! They take prog influences and throw them into poppy and commercial numbers, so much so that songs such as “The Animation Hand” could be played on the radio and listeners may not even realise this is a prog act as it is packed full of joy. The drumming is tight, much of the guitar is played in a staccato manner, so layers often have space within them and it is fresh, invigorating and exciting. No navel gazing for these guys, but rather here is a Summer prog album which is going to surely find them a great deal of fans. If you want prog which is more light-hearted, played with loads of commerciality, and is a damn fine listen, then look no further than this.
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