I had the extreme honor to review Morphelia’s second epic album Waken The Nightmare which was released in 2009. So I had to hear where this band started from. The band sent me their debut, Prognocircus, which was released in 2003. The line-up for their debut album, Prognocircus, is Kurt Stwrtetschka (vocals), Guido Froehlich (guitars), Renko Rickerts (bass), Günter Gruenebast (keyboards), and Elmar de Groot (drums).
Just like the second album, Prognocircus conjures up something between heavy neo-prog and prog metal.. The vocals still remind me of how Nick Barrett (Pendragon) annunciates every word. You do hear a slight accent as well, but not enough to deter from the music. In fact the vocals and instrumentations fit so well together.
The album opens with “Midnightsun” (10:15) with an epic appeal. The instrumentation in the intro part of the song sounds like a variation of Holst’s Mars but on a grander scale. It soon morphs into a heavy sounding neo-prog. Almost like a mixture of the best elements of Pendragon and Arena but with a more aggressive nature.
Next up is “Love Of An Old Man” (9:17) which stars out with some lush synths and soon adds in some acoustic sound guitar and some deep bass.
There’s also some aggressive guitar with some dreamy synths woven together about a third of the way in. This alone will satisfy both metalheads as well as progheads.
Starting off with some lush synths backing acoustic guitar on “Hazard” (6:41) and adds some aggressive guitar parts in a Saga vein. It also reminds me of the heavier sounding Arena. There’s a melodic feeling that connects all the musical parts together.
Next up is “A Winter’s Tale” (7:44) which will be a perfect soundtrack to the upcoming winter months. There’s a sense of a ballad here but not in the traditional way. There’s an 80’s vibe too, primarily due to the synth sounds.
The next three songs “It’s Time For A Change” (8:42), “Dream Of Jerusalem” (8:50) and “The Russian Fail” (9:42) have, in my opinion, everything that makes up some perfect neo-prog moments. This is primarily due to the way the instrumentation unfolds. There’s also an 80’s vibe here too, more toward the latter part of the decade. The latter song of the bunch has a nice ballad quality to it.
The album closes with “Virginhood’s End” (11:08) in epic style, just the same way as the opening track. There’s a slight Fish-era Marillion vibe especially with the vocals. This also the most progressive sounding of all the songs on the album.
While not essential, this album is one of the better sounding of the neo-prog genre. I had a feeling it would be after listening to their second album. I’m hoping they can break way from some of the typical neo-prog patterns and forge a style all of their own. I would recommend this only to loyal fans of the genre as well as fans of the second album.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on October 26th, 2010