Anglagard - Hybris

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Mellotronen
Catalog Number: MelloCD 4004
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:18:00

Ah, so the well respected Änglagård have reformed. This Swedish sextet -- Tord Lindman on vocals and guitars, Johan Högberg on bass, bass pedals and "mellotroneffects," Anna Holmgren on flute, Mattias Olsson on all sorts of drums and percussion, Tomas Jonson on a variety of keyboards and synths, and Jonas Engdegård on guitars -- released but two (studio) albums during their short-lived career, but two albums that have garnered a great deal of praise, Hybris (1992, MELLO 004) becoming a much sought after disk. Some time before it had become hard to find, I had picked up the CD, though I'm not sure the circumstances (likely prompted by a review in Progression or Exposé), but at time I was less into angular progressive rock and more into the smoother, melodic prog rock - that is, "neo," -- so this CD didn't quite get the attention that it deserved from me. So, with their reformation and scheduled appearance at the 2003 edition of NEARfest, I placed this disk in the player. Yes, I should have paid more attention at the time. Right from the get go, you can tell that Änglagård had their stuff together, as Hybris is a mostly strong release, showing a great deal of tightness and interesting interplay. It is not all angular, being quite lyrical at times - not quite folksy, but containing many old world elements in more acoustic settings (though the instruments themselves aren't necessarily acoustic).

Progressive music fans who enjoy such diverse artists as Minimum Vital, King Crimson, Yes and White Willow - to name three that come to mind at various times - will find that they will like Änglagård as well. Minimum Vital and Yes come to mind during "Vandringar I Vilsenhet," especially in the light and airy way the vocals are sung and the piece's open arrangement. And yet, that also brings to mind "Close To The Edge," at least to me. Harder darker tones do color the music, bringing in a Crimson element. But, don't be thinking that Änglagård were (are) in anyway a "clone" of any of the mentioned artists - these comparisons are due to style, and instrumentation. With the swell and sweep of the keys, you get something is quite symphonic. And this is where Crimson comes in, as I most often though of that first, classic, album In The Court Of The Crimson King.

Few bands get it right on their first try, but Änglagård get very close. The weakest element is the vocals of Lindman, which in themselves are quite good, but the band's instrumental skills far outshine. Lindman has a soft, warm voice - similar to Greg Lake's in that, though tonally he doesn't sound like Lake. So, it's not a case of great music, bad vocals, but rather very good vocals, stellar music. In fact, saying the vocals are the "weakest" are misleading ? It's as if the band started with their third, seasoned and experienced album, forgetting to record that "promising debut" and "competent, but lacking sophomore release." Maybe the band was short-lived because they set their own bar very high - did Epilog live up to the promise of Hybris?

The re-release of Hybris, which came out in 2000, added the bonus track "Gånglåt från Knapptibble" that had originally been recorded to accompany the English magazine Ptolemaic Terrascope (issue No. 5 in 1994). The piece itself is an early version of "Skogsranden" that later appeared on Epilog.

The current version of Änglagård does not include Tord Lindman, though I don't know if that means the band will play as a quintet only, or have brought in a second guitarist to fill his spot. However, according to the Änglagård website, the band are working on new material for a possible new album.

As for Hybris, what I wonderful album that I regret I overlooked for so long. Sure, the specter of "it's great because it's so rare" looms behind every recent review of this album (of any "hard to find" CD of note), but I'm not telling you it's great because of that. I'm telling you it's great because it is a stellar release from start to finish. And, don't let the fact that there are only four tracks fool you, there is a lot of music packed into each one - though not like sardines, as there is plenty of room for each piece to move about, to evolve - as the shortest track is 8-plus minutes. And yet, the CD is over before you know it (unless, like me, you've had it on "repeat all"). Terrific, terrific stuff that you should seek out before even the reissued version becomes scarce, likely to happen now as progressive music fans headed for NEARfest get familiar with the music.

Jordrök (11:10) / Vandringar I Vilsenhet (11:56) / Ifrån Klarhet Till Klarhet (8:08) / Kung Bore (13:04) / Bonus track (2000 edition) Gånglåt från Knapptibble

Total timing shown for 1992 edition

Thomas Johnson - Mellotron, Hammond organ B-3 and L-100, solina, clavinet, pianet, korg mono/poly, piano and church organ electronic version
Jonas Engdegård - Stratocaster, Gibson 335, nylon and steel acoustic guitars
Tord Lindman - vocals, Gibson 335, nylon and steel acoustic guitars
Johan Högberg (now Brand*) - Rickenbacker bass, basspedals and mellotroneffects
Anna Holmgren - flute
Mattias Olsson - Sonor drumset, Zildjians cymbals, concert bass drum, triangles, tambourines, vibraslap, po-chung, gong, castanets, line-bells, cow-bell, wood-blcok, glockenspiel, tubular bells, bongos, bells, ice-bell, finger cymbals, waterfall, a-gogo bells, cabasa, claves, French cowbell, African drums, effect-flute

The Largen Demo (1992) (cass.)
Hybris (1992/2000)
Epilog (1994)
Progfest '94 (1994) (one track)
Buried Alive (1996)

Progfest '94 Day One (1994) (VHS; 2 tracks)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: February 11th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1852
Language: english


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