Ang-Ant

Angel Provocateur (USA): Angel Provocateur (Ventricle CD8, CD, with die-cut booklet, 1998)
Ambient
Vanessa Harvey (lead vocals), Kelly Thistle (instruments)
Another project by the prolific Kelly Thistle (assisted by the equally prolific Lee Blair), this is again typical of the Ventricle label. Vanessa Harvey is possibly the label’s best singer, with a lovely, rich and ethereal voice, that effectively complements the eerie, trippy and minimalist ambient-industrial musical backing. GRADE: C+.
Angel Provocateur (USA): Stars Below (Ventricle CD 011, CD, 2000)
Ambient
Vanessa Harvey (lead vocals), Kelly Thistle (electronics)
Whilst pleasant to hear, most Ventricle albums are very difficult to review – they begin subtly, hang around for a while, blending ethereal female vocals with minimalist Mellotron and electronic accompaniment, and then disappear. Stars Below is no exception. GRADE: C+.
Angel Provocateur (USA): Cloud Street (Ventricle CD 16, CD, with digipak, 2003)
Ambient
Vanessa Harvey (lead vocals), Kelly Thistle (instruments)
Weird, ethereal and melodic, Angel Provocateur’s final album simply seems to exist in the ether, never coalescing into anything concrete or taking on recognisable musical forms. The result is another effective, minimalist sonic trip. GRADE: C+.

Angel’In Heavy Syrup (Japan): Angel’In Heavy Syrup (Alchemy ARCD-034, CD, 1991)
Psychedelic
Mineko Itakura (principal vocals, bass), Mike Nakao (occasional vocals, guitar), Mandrake Yoko (drums)
This all-female trio offer a range of psychedelic guitar rock styles, from late sixties and early seventies-influenced jams through to more contemporary shoegaze sounds. It all makes for an accomplished and enjoyable debut, containing some fine moments. The original Japanese release ran for a mere 28 minutes, so the American version (Subterranean SUB 74-2, CD, 1992) added a twelve-minute bonus track (‘Crazy Blues’, a version of which would also appear on their second album) plus completely different artwork. GRADE: C+.
Angel’In Heavy Syrup (Japan): Angel’In Heavy Syrup II (Alchemy ARCD-055, CD, 1993)
Psychedelic
Mineko Itakura (principal vocals, bass), Mine Nakao (occasional vocals, guitar, glockenspiel), Fusao Toda (guitar), Tomoko Takahara (drums)
A significant step up from their first, this is a really excellent album of intense jamming guitar psychedelia. Even their unexpected closing cover of ‘I Got You Babe’ works very well. For no obvious reason, this is by far their hardest album to track down. GRADE: B–.
Angel’In Heavy Syrup (Japan): Angel’In Heavy Syrup III (Alchemy ARCD-072, CD, 1995)
Psychedelic
Mineko Itakura (principal vocals, bass), Mike Nakao (occasional vocals, guitar, glockenspiel), Fusao Toda (guitar, chimes), Tomoko Takahara (drums, flute)
This is another nice album of guitar rock and psychedelia, although not as trippy or memorable as its predecessor. Once again it’s a short LP, and like their debut the American version (Circular Reasoning REASON-1, CD) features a bonus track (this time taken from the last album) and different artwork. GRADE: C+.
Angel’In Heavy Syrup (Japan): Angel’In Heavy Syrup IV (Alchemy ARCD-114, CD, 1999)
Psychedelic
Mineko Itakura (lead vocals, bass), Mine Nakao (guitar), Fusao Toda (guitar)
The band’s belated final album is marginally more interesting than their third, though it rarely recaptures the intensity of their second. In this case, the American edition (Monotremata MONOCD04) features no additional tracks, but it does revise the running order and substitute a slightly different version of ‘Fate’ without the faded ending. GRADE: C+.
See also Holy Angels, Seventh Seal, Slap Happy Humphrey

Ruth Angell & Sid Peacock (UK): Love Forgiven (Peacock Angell Duet01, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2011)
Folk
Ruth Angell
This side-project by the Rainbow Chasers confirms (if any confirmation were needed) that she has a breathtakingly beautiful voice and exceptional flair for creating delicate, dainty and haunting acoustic arrangements. If there’s a failing, it’s the same as for the parent band – this is all very polite and pretty, and ultimately a little lacking in variety of mood. GRADE: C+.

See also Lark Rise Band, Rainbow Chasers

Änglagård (Sweden): Hybris (Mellotronen MELLO 004, CD, 1992)
Progressive
Anna Holmgren (flute)
Along with Anekdoten, Änglagård spearheaded the new Swedish prog revolution in the early nineties. Similarly, they draw notably from King Crimson and from their countrymen Kultivator, but their frame of reference is broader, taking in all kinds of early seventies sympho-prog here. Whilst all but one composition here has singing and lyrics, these are largely instrumental pieces with the vocal sections (delivered in a hesitant, high-pitched manner) seemingly inserted almost as an afterthought. This aspect of the album isn’t brilliantly conceived, but otherwise the music here is wonderfully structured and played, with the right balance between virtuosity and atmosphere. GRADE: B.
Änglagård (Sweden): Epilog (No label HYB CD 010, 1994)
Progressive
Åsa Eklund (lead vocals), Anna Holmgren (flute)
Their second and final studio album is as good as their first, with a more pastoral feel in parts and some superbly rich musical textures. Sensibly, they drop the actual songs and concentrate on instrumental pieces with occasional wordless female vocals by a guest musician. GRADE: B.
Änglagård (Sweden): Buried Alive (Muséa FGBG 4167.AR, France, 1996, recorded 1994)
Progressive
Anna Holmgren (Mellotron, flute)
Their material inevitably doesn’t work as well live as in more carefully controlled studio settings, but this is still an excellent album and a welcome addition to their small canon of recordings. GRADE: B.

Änglagård (Sweden): Mexico 1993 (Rescue Live Music RLMP-PR-AN03 2005, CDR, with gatefold minisleeve and inner, 2005, recorded 1993)
Progressive
Anna Holmgren (flute)
Whether this is a bootleg or an officially authorised product is debatable, but it’s included on Discogs so I’ll review it here. This 1993 soundboard recording of Änglagård live in Mexico – comprising four originals plus a cover of Genesis’s ‘The Musical Box’ – doesn’t feature fully professional sound quality, but it’s pretty good nonetheless, making it an interesting addition to their discography. As for the music? Wonderfully complex and inventive prog, as you’d expect. GRADE: B.
Änglagård (Sweden): Viljans Öga (Änglagård ANG03CD, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2012)
Progressive
Anna Holmgren (saxophone, flute)
Returning after a highly extended absence, Änglagård remain true to their original intention with four lengthy instrumental pieces that are alternately pastoral and folky and dynamic and complex. As with their earlier work, this can occasionally feel a little inorganic, but it’s superbly done and reaffirms their position at the forefront of modern progressive rock. GRADE: B.
Änglagård (Sweden): Prog På Svenska: Live In Japan (Änglagård ANG04CD, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2014)
Progressive
Anna Holmgren (Mellotron, saxophone, flute, recorder, melodica)
The most striking thing here is how jazzy Änglagård has become: it’s not a genre I’d previously linked with their music, but this has quite a bit of squalling saxophone topping off the customary knotty riffing. The less surprising thing is that this is wonderfully crafted instrumental prog, as usual, full of dynamism and energy. GRADE: B.

Änglagård (Sweden): The Busride From Hell ’93 (Änglagård Official Fan Club, DVDR, 2016, recorded 1993)
Progressive
Anna Holmgren (synthesiser, flute)
This fascinating archive release by Änglagård’s fan club couples 37 minutes of a show in Houston with a complete 71-minute set from Milwaukee and a gallery of photos and memorabilia from the tour. Shot on VHS, the filming is somewhat below professional standard and the sound is essentially decent mono, but this is a great release nonetheless. Whilst the Houston show is slightly better filmed than the Milwaukee, the latter is a much better concert, with the band on great form (though their stunning musicianship is not complemented with commensurate stage presence). GRADE: B–.

Änglagård (Sweden): Made In Norway (Änglagård AGR-L001, Blu-ray plus DVD, with booklet, 2017)
Progressive
Anna Holmgren (Mellotron, percussion, saxophone, flute, recorder, melodica)
The music, as expected, is absolutely stellar, and the band have a pleasant and engaging onstage demeanour. That said, they’re pretty static onstage, there’s not much in the way of visual excitement, and despite the Blu-ray format the recording and filming are merely decent. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable and long overdue concert document. As a footnote, the Blu-ray and the DVD feature the same contents, making me wonder why they chose to release the set this way. GRADE: B–.
See also Pär Lindh Project

Anglesee (Australia): Stories (No label, download,  2018)
Rock/Progressive
Naomi Ryde (bass)
The band compare themselves to King Crimson and Porcupine Tree, and describe the songs here as being ‘about the less pleasant parts of life’. Yet for all that, ‘pleasant’ is one of the adjectives I’d use to describe the album, and it’s definitely closer to Porcupine Tree than King Crimson as it doesn’t sound seventies in any way. Instead, this is fairly mellow modern prog with a rather autumnal feel and a slight indie edge, with a few atonal guitar outbursts adding some heavier rock touches. With songs of between 5½ and 7½ minutes, this isn’t the most ambitious debut, but it’s all relaxing and atmospheric enough. GRADE: C+.

Anima (West Germany): Stürmischer Himmel (Ohr OMM 56011, 1971)
Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Limpe Fuchs (joint lead vocals, bass, drums, zither)
What’s remarkable about Anima’s debut isn’t just how odd it is: improvised music fringing free-jazz and Krautrock, played on home-made instruments by a couple with a healthy contempt for musical traditions (and a strong agrarian slant, which is why they toured with a tractor instead of a bus). It’s that the music never becomes boring, whereas so much free-jazz improvisation is simply a tedious series of crashes, bangs, squawks and yells. This has all of those things, but their musical palette changes constantly and the mantric drumming firmly anchors it to Krautrock: much of this is close to Amon Düül II’s Phallus Dei. That said, this kind of music isn’t for everyone and there are bound to be people out there who simply hear a tedious series of crashes, bangs, squawks and yells. GRADE: B–.
Anima-Sound (West Germany): Musik Für Alle (Echolette St-LP-NB 0.027, 1971)
Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Limpe Fuchs (lead vocals, percussion, zither)
Their second album consists of two side-long improvisations, mostly consisting of clattering percussion and Limpe Fuchs’s electronically treated vocals, which recall Annette Peacock or early Urszula Dudziak. Occasional horns, also electronically treated, put in an appearance, but the slight rock edges of their debut are completely absent, resulting in an album that is equally fascinating – but if anything, even weirder. GRADE: B–.
Anima (West Germany): Anima (Pilz 20 29097-2, 1972)
Jazz/Avant-Garde
Limpe Fuchs (lead vocals, drums, percussion, zither, electronics)
The addition of a bassist and pianist fleshes out the duo’s sound, but not in a good way. This is much closer to conventional free-jazz than their first two works: still firmly avant-garde but far less startling and adventurous. But as free-jazz goes, this is pretty good free-jazz. GRADE: C+.
Anima (West Germany): Monte Alto (Alter Pfarhoff Production ST-A-33A, with insert and postcard, 1977)
Jazz/Avant-Garde
Limpe Fuchs (piano, drums, zither)
Side one offers a fascinating improvisation by Paul and Limpe Fuchs, dominated by the latter’s clanging, echoing drums. Side two is a 25-minute solo piano performance by her that’s far more involving and interesting than such a minimalist piece has any right to be. GRADE: B–.
Anima (West Germany): Der Regt Mich Auf/A Controversy (Ohr Today OMM 580.001, double, 1982)
Jazz/Avant-Garde
Limpe Fuchs (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion, violin)
This expansive double album showcases all facets of their sound – clattering drum-led excursions, bass and piano solos, a duet between violin and horn. It’s mostly quite intriguing but also diffuse and rambling, even by their standards, and occasionally sounds more like a collection of random weirdness than a coherent work. GRADE: C+.

Anima (West Germany): Bruchstücke Für Ilona (Loft LOFT 1010, double, with booklet, 1986)
Jazz/Avant-Garde
Limpe Fuchs (lead vocals, percussion, violin, ballastseiten)
The four side-long improvisations on Anima’s final album mostly consist of percussion (and ballastseiten, a bizarre room-sized instrument invented by Limpe Fuchs herself) plus occasional violin and glossolalia. It’s all minimalist, rambling and diffuse, but Anima being Anima it’s surprisingly compelling too. GRADE: C+.

Anima (Germany): Anima Sound ’78 (Des Astres D’Or, Holland, 2019, recorded 1978)
Jazz/Avant-Garde
Limpe Fuchs
Limited to 40 copies, each with a unique hand-made cover, this archive release features a fascinating 1978 live performance from Anima. Although heavily percussive, the arrangements are quite varied too, including one track based around keyboards, creating an intriguing and unpredictable tapestry of music. GRADE: C+.

Anima-Sound (Germany): Im Lungau (Play Loud! pl-100, with insert, 2020, recorded 1977)

Jazz/Progressive/Avant-Garde

Limpe Fuchs

This 1977 Anima concert offers some fascinatingly odd music – all echoing percussion and Limpe Fuchs’s occasional glossolalia. As with all truly avant-garde music, it’s likely to divide opinion and some listeners could simply hear endless minimalist tedium, but to those of us who love Anima’s oddball vision its sparseness is also a strength. GRADE: C+.
See also Limpe Fuchs

Anima Mundi (Cuba): Septentrión (Mellow MMP 432, CD, Italy, 2002)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards, programming, backing vocals), Anaisy Gómez (bagpipes, recorder, clarinet)
Progressive rock albums from Cuba are rare enough, but as a Cuban prog album making extensive use of bagpipes, this must be unique. Keyboards are the dominant instrument, however, on lengthy and sometimes quite messy tracks that remain firmly rooted in neoprog. There are some enjoyable moments on offer and hints of real talent, but for the most part songwriting isn’t really the band’s strong suit. GRADE: C.
Anima Mundi (Cuba): Jagannath Orbit (Muséa FGBG 4747, CD, France, 2007)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards), Anaisy Gómez (bagpipes, recorder, clarinet)
I’m still not captivated by their rather derivative neoprogressive sound, but the riffs and melodies are decidedly better second time around. Also, with tracks of eighteen, sixteen and twelve minutes, one has to give them credit for their ambition, even if they don’t always have the chops to match. GRADE: C+.
Anima Mundi (Cuba): The Way (Muséa FGBG 4405, CD, France, 2010)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards, backing vocals)
Another huge leap forward, their third album features a much heavier sound with some powerful riffing and a much more seventies feel. A few neoprogressive touches remain and the song-based sections are not as good as the instrumentals (not helped by a rather mediocre vocalist), so this is far from perfect. However, it’s dramatic, ambitious and carefully paced, to such an extent that the lack of originality is rarely an issue. GRADE: B–.
Anima Mundi (Cuba): Live In Europe (Anima Mundi Music Ammus 001, DVD, with booklet, 2012)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards, backing vocals), Anaisy Gómez (bagpipes)
Running for close to two hours, this live set is vibrant and energetic, and the band really appear to be enjoying themselves. As always, their material isn’t exactly world-class, but they definitely make the most of it, resulting in a fine set of progressive rock. GRADE: B–.
Anima Mundi (Cuba): The Lamplighter (Anima Mundi Music AMMUS 005, CD, 2013)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards, percussion, effects, backing vocals), Anaisy Gómez (clarinet)
The band’s fourth studio set is divided into two suites – ‘The Lamplighter’ and ‘Tales From Endless Star’ – plus an epilogue. The former is decidedly underwhelming, offering simplistic song-based neoprogressive with some very strange and frequently quite silly lyrics (I suspect ‘let’s frighten those pain sprouts’ may have lost something in translation). ‘Tales From Endless Star’, in contrast, is excellent, with some fine instrumental sections, making you wish they’d concentrated on this sort of material for the whole LP. GRADE: C+.

Anima Mundi (Cuba): I Me Myself (Anima Mundi Music AMMUS 006, CD, 2016)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards, effects)
I’m not convinced by their new vocalist, who struggles with the English lyrics, but otherwise this is a marked return to form after the underwhelming The Lamplighter. The riffs here are suitably chunky, the keyboard passages are effectively spacy and the tempo changes are well handled, and the blend of shorter and longer pieces makes for a varied and consistently satisfying set. GRADE: B–.

Anima Mundi (Cuba): Insomnia (Progressive Promotion PPRCD067, CD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2018)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards, percussion, loops, effects, backing vocals)
Like most of their work, this mixes moments of mediocrity (the songs plod a bit) with moments of brilliance (some of the more intense instrumental sections are superb). But again, like most of their work, it achieves real synergy, with a dream-like organic flow that makes the whole far greater than the sum of its parts. That said, this one plods more than it enthrals, so whilst it’s good it’s not among their best. 

GRADE: C+.

Anima Mundi (Cuba): Once Upon A Live (Progressive Promotion PPRDVD069, DVD, with digipak and booklet, Germany, 2018)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards, backing vocals)
By any standards, this is a great live DVD – beautifully filmed, partly in colour and partly in black-and-white – and it’s a great live performance too. With some inventive lighting effects and a fair bit of theatre too, with a dancer performing with a wheel, this must have been a memorable show to attend. Of course, it helps that they’re on great form musically. GRADE: B–.

Anima Mundi (Cuba): Once Upon A Live (Progressive Promotion PPRCD068, double CD, Germany, 2018)
Progressive
Virginia Peraza (keyboards, backing vocals)Comparing the CD version of their live outing to their recent studio album is a revelation: this is the Anima Mundi I love. Elegant, richly symphonic and dynamic, they really stretch out on some long cuts that are involved without being overbearing, atmospheric without being minimalist, and inventive without being pretentious. GRADE: B–.

Anita & The Perdidos (Luxembourg): Flower Beat – Happy Hippie (Concorde ORL-ST 5007, 1967)
Beat
This is nowhere near as trippy as its impressive multicoloured cover, but it is a nice period piece blending influences from the beat, flower power and chanson traditions. Oddly, it was also released in Venezuela in 1970 (Circulo Musical 598) in a completely different and much more psychedelic sleeve, retitled Flores Beat – Happy Hippie and credited to ‘Anita & El Conjunto Los Perdidos’. Unsurprisingly, this version is virtually impossible to find. GRADE: C+.

Annabouboula (USA): Hamam (Virgin 259 246-222, CD, Greece, 1988)
World Music/Dance/Pop
Anna Paidoussi-Drakopoulo (lead vocals)
Issued by a trio of American musicians of Greek descent, this has been widely hyped on dealer lists as a masterpiece of trippy psychedelia. In fact, it’s a mixture of Greek traditional songs, dance music and pop, with some acid guitar here and there. It’s mostly pretty good, but also mostly pretty lightweight. GRADE: C+.
Annabouboula (USA): In The Baths Of Constantinople (Shanachie SH 64022, CD, 1989)
World Music/Dance/Pop
Anna Paidoussi-Drakopoulo (lead vocals)
Whilst this is in the same vein as their first, I find it more interesting and, at its best, less calculated and commercial. Indeed, as fusions of Greek traditional music and rock go, this is occasionally quite impressive, although they remain a mainstream pop act at heart. GRADE: C+.
Annabouboula (USA): Greek Fire (KOCH International 322 600, CD, 1991)
World Music/Dance/Pop
Anna Paidoussi-Drakopoulo (principal vocals)
The opening ‘I’d Rather Set Myself On Fire’ isn’t too promising, with its cheesy electropop stylings, but things quickly improve and overall this is a solid enough fusion of the then-cutting edge commercial and traditional. GRADE: C+.

Anonymous (USA): Inside The Shadow (A Major Label 1002, with insert, 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Marsha Rollings (joint lead vocals)
This strongly reminds me of the slightly earlier A Euphonious Wail (who really were signed to a major label), offering similar guitar-led rock updating the classic sound of Jefferson Airplane et al for the seventies. Inevitably it’s nowhere near as well recorded as A Euphonious Wail, but it is somewhat more consistent, with few obvious weak moments. The band continued under the new name of J Rider and cut a number of demos in 1977 that were released nearly 20 years later; both albums were compiled onto a single CD (Aether Archives #0009, USA, 2000). GRADE: B–.
See also J Rider

Anthem (USA): Anthem (No label NTHM-101, 1978)
Rock
Jace Lindsay (joint lead vocals)
I only once saw this ultra-rare one-sided album openly offered in a list, where it was compared to Trees. That’s nonsense: two cuts are country/rock, one is proggy and the fourth is a symphonic-edged ballad. It’s all fairly good, though. GRADE: C.

Antiqua (Mexico): In Red Nights… (Luna Negra CDLN-08, CD, 1999)
Metal
Mónica Martinez (joint lead vocals)
‘Light extreme metal’ might sound like a contradiction in terms, but that’s exactly what we have here. No doubt Antiqua were intending to come across as evil and disturbing with their pummelling riffs and occasional death growls, but the open, spacious recording and tentative, amateurish feel to both the vocals and instrumental work creates a different vibe entirely. Although genuinely odd, this is a listenable enough set, with the instrumental ‘A Place For Us’ being both the best and most conventional track. GRADE: C+.

Antithesy (Italy): Fuori E Secondi (No label, CD, 2003)
Rock/Progressive
Silvia Vagelli (lead vocals)
With twelve songs of about five minutes each, this is more an LP of catchy hard rock songs with progressive embellishments than a progressive rock album per se. It’s not mouldbreaking or especially creative in any way, but it’s melodic, unpretentious and upbeat, and I like it a lot. GRADE: C+.

Antonius Rex (Italy): Zora (Tickle TLPS 5013, 1977)
Progressive
Doris Norton
The band formerly known as Jacula return with a rather different album (although two of the four tracks are heavier rock remakes of cuts from Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus). Mixing elements of jazz/rock, folk, psychedelia and the dark neoclassical sound of Jacula, with quite a few avant-garde edges, this is a slightly messy and untogether LP that pulls in all kinds of different directions, but it is consistently surprising and interesting. The original release (apparently pressed in a run of 3000 copies) came in a lurid cover depicting a topless blonde whipping some skeletal demons, and featured four tracks, with a running time of little more than half an hour. The following year it was reissued (allegedly with 5000 copies being pressed) with a much more sombre black sleeve and a fifth cut, ‘The Gnome’ (a far more commercial piece reflecting the disco/prog hybrids of the time). Unlike the Jacula album, Antonio Bartocetti, rather than Doris Norton, handles much of the vocals, with the latter presumably taking care of the keyboards. The most recent CD reissue adds an excellent ten-minute bonus track ‘Monastery’ in the band’s more modern symphonic prog-metal style, supposedly recorded in 1980. This album’s tall tale: drummer Albert Goodman was allegedly an English nobleman residing in his own castle, and was apparently murdered whilst the band was in Slovenia. GRADE: B.
Antonius Rex (Italy): Ralefun (Radio ZPLRR 34048, 1979)
Progressive
Doris Norton (keyboards)
Issued on a subsidiary of RCA, this apparently managed to sell 15,000 copies. It’s very different from their previous work, being quiet, rather spacy sympho-prog with folk edges and long instrumental sections. The prominent flute work sometimes brings to mind Jethro Tull, although this is less rock-based and more freeform than Tull’s work. Most of the cuts are relatively short, although the closing ‘Enchanted Wood’ lasts for over twelve minutes and rather outstays its welcome. GRADE: B–.
Antonius Rex (Italy): Anno Demoni (Mellow MMP 118, CD, 1992)
Progressive
Doris Norton (occasional vocals, keyboards)
Issued as a limited edition of 499 signed copies on vinyl (or an unlimited CD) and credited jointly to Jacula and Antonius Rex, this album supposedly features a number of unreleased recordings from the seventies. This is contradicted by the boss of their CD label, who has stated that it was recorded in 1992; in any case, this offers solid, if slightly meandering, keyboard-led progressive with the usual occult themes and Antonio Bartocetti delivering most of the spoken vocals. Later, the band claimed that the 1992 pressing was in fact a reissue of an album released in 1979 (in a run of 500 copies) but like much about the group’s odd history, this seems extremely doubtful. In any case, the 2001 version credits the disc solely to Antonius Rex, and adds both sides of their 1972 single under the name of Invisible Force (these are nothing more than short remixed edits of Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus cuts). GRADE: C+.
Antonius Rex (Italy): Neque Semper Arcum Tendit Rex (Black Widow BWRCD 066-2, CD, Italy, 2002)
Metal/Progressive
Doris Norton (keyboards)
A step forward from Jacula’s In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum, released the previous year (although allegedly first recorded and released in 1969), this moves the emphasis from keyboards to guitars and fits squarely under the progressive metal banner. As usual for the band, it’s a strong and powerful album, even if it sometimes comes off as faintly silly rather than frightening (especially on ‘Devil Letter’). This album’s tall tale: this was supposedly slated for release on Vertigo in 1974, but the label rejected it due to the cover and the lyrics of ‘Devil Letter’, as a result of which the band issued it in a run of 400 copies on their own Darkness label. Needless to say, the album was completely unknown before its 2002 ‘reissue’. GRADE: B–.
Antonius Rex (Italy): Praeternatural (Black Widow BWRCD 074-2, CD, 2003)
Progressive
Doris Norton (keyboards, drums)
Down to a duo of Bartocetti and Norton, Antonius Rex offered a much more synthesised album, with the heavy guitar parts toned down considerably. This isn’t among their most punchy or powerful albums, and once again I doubt the LP’s supposed chronology – this doesn’t sound like something recorded, let alone released, in 1980. GRADE: C+.
Antonius Rex (Italy): Magic Ritual/Fairy Vision (Black Widow BWR 083 LP, 2005)
Progressive/Metal
Doris Norton (keyboards)
This rare LP (limited to 300 copies) features two side-long suites: ‘Magic Ritual’ (supposedly recorded in 1990) first appeared a few months earlier as a dual disc EP with a rather surreal video (using the suite as its soundtrack) on the flip, whilst ‘Fairy Vision’ was previously unreleased (though a different mix would appear on the band’s next album Switch On Dark). The A-side in particular is a logical step forward from Praeternatural, though far less vocal and quite disjointed in parts, whilst the flip is more atmospheric. This is among the band’s more interesting recent recordings. GRADE: B–.
Antonius Rex (Italy): Switch On Dark (Black Widow BWRCD 099-2, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2006)
Progressive/Metal
Monika Tasnad (joint lead vocals), Doris Norton (keyboards, computer)
Most of the material on this album is new, but it also contains a different mix of ‘Fairy Vision’ from the previous LP. It’s more symphonic and instrumental than the majority of the band’s previous work, though most of their hallmarks remain, and is frequently rather impressive and atmospheric. GRADE: B–.
Antonius Rex (Italy): Per Viam (Black Widow BWRCD 126-2, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2009)
Progressive/Metal
Doris Norton (joint lead vocals, keyboards, drum programmes, computer)
Not dissimilar to its predecessor, this is largely instrumental, with most of the cuts sounding like jams and occasionally reflecting Norton and Bartocetti’s background in house music. Whilst the music is of a consistently high standard, it’s all rather formless, like most of their recent work, and a radical remake of ‘UFDEM’ from Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus provides a welcome change of mood, being the only actual song. GRADE: B–.