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Music Review: Pendragon – History: 1984-2000

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Pendragon is a Celtic title, from Pen Draig, meaning head or chief dragon, and was taken as a name by many Kings of the Britons. So it makes sense it's the name of this progressive act from the UK. They have a sweeping, regal sound that is smooth and easy to listen to, with its technical precision and ethereal qualities. Their music is truly epic and makes me recall bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Marillion. It's just a shame I wasn't grabbed by this band like I was by Floyd and Marillion.

This collection, released in Poland back in 2000, is one of a few discs of Pendragon music available over the years, but I had never heard of them before. Actually, I am kind of surprised I hadn't considering their reputation as leaders on the neo-prog scene. I am far from being well-versed across the board on music or obscure bands, but I think I do alright for myself. Still, there is always room for expanding ones horizons. Am I right?

Like I mentioned earlier, The History did not really take hold of me as I had hoped. I will admit the extended guitar and organ intro for "The Walls of Babylon" is gorgeous to listen to. Unfortunately, the further into the album I got, the more bored I became. I was reminded of how I would rather be listening to Pink Floyd. This disk just keeps on going and going, and if I didn't know any better, I would have thought this was all one album and not a compilation.

Please, don't get me wrong, they are clearly accomplished musicians who know how to put their instruments to good use. But, and there is always a but, I just got tired after awhile, there was not a lot of energy to the songs, and there was not much variation in them. It reminded me of my thoughts on Dragonforce, a band with blazing speed and technical skill. They floored me upon initial discovery, but the more I listen to them, the more bored I seem to be. You see, there doesn't seem to be a lot of variation to their music either. The difference being, their speed and energy can keep me coming back, while Pendragon will probably not find its way to my ears too often.

It is terribly frustrating as there is a lot to like here. There is a certain open air beauty to the spaciousness of their compositions. There are some very smooth guitar solos and the vocals have this epic feel to them as they soar over the complex soundscapes beneath. Some of the music on the disk is truly gorgeous, but it seems better suited to background music while I am working on something else, rather than holding my attention.

Bottomline. The music is not bad, it just didn't enthrall me. As much as I hate to say it, the disk is filled with over 70 minutes of spacious room filling music that will help with your insomnia.
Mildly Recommended.

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About Draven99

  • http://www.kalyr.com/weblog Tim Hall

    I completely understand what you mean. I’ve never really rated Pendragon myself. They’re technically proficient, sure, but their music is seriously lacking in both originality and passion. They lack the edge that you see in contemporaties like IQ.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Well Chris, I commend you! You are starting to gain an analytical perspective… Realizing that bands like Dragonforce and Pendragon offer little to stimulate your deep emotion is truly a step in the right direction. Liking something isn’t good enough when you have listened to some real amazing works(Dream Theater,Spock’s Beard,Opeth)

    Nice Review…