AMN Reviews: Änglagård – Viljans Öga

#nearfest Änglagård
#nearfest Änglagård (Photo credit: ranti.junus)

Änglagård remains a standout group in the history of so-called “progressive rock.” Their debut album Hybris, released in 1992, built upon the classic sounds of 70’s groups King Crimson, Genesis, and Van der Graaf Generator, but with even fewer mainstream trappings than those outfits. Änglagård disbanded two years later, and aside from a brief reunion in 2003, have remained dormant.

Despite their shameless retro sound, their music as a whole goes beyond the classic 70’s oeuvre.  Their compositional style is heavily influenced by classical, and most of their tracks come across as short symphonies written for a 5 or 6 piece rock band. For example, there is little emphasis on guitar solos, showy musicianship, or the worst excesses of the old prog bands.

While there are differences between Viljans Öga and Hybris, fans of the 1992 Änglagård should not be disappointed. Entirely instrumental, Viljans Öga provides four 12-minute plus tracks of complex interplay, brooding landscapes, and dark imagery. In many ways, this release has more in common with their second release, Epilog, than Hybris. It is somber, but with explosions of knotty motifs. The emphasis on flute and analog keyboards could paint Viljans Öga solidly in the prog corner, but as usual Änglagård goes beyond that cliche. A fine release.

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