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Kaipa - Notes from the Past
Kamelot - Siege Perilous
Kamelot - The Fouth Legacy
Kansas - Somewhere to Elsewhere
Karmakanic - Entering The Spectra
Kationis, Bob - Imaginary Force
KenZiner - Timescape
Khali - s/t
Kuprij, Vitalij - High Definition


Kaipa - Notes from the Past
InsideOut
(2002)

Really nice symphonic rock sounds from Sweden. As you notice the members of Kaipa on the cd like Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold, this music appeals to the fans of Scandinavian prog rock like The Flower Kings and British Prog Rock like Yes with good old days fashion (of course I meant positively). I am really impressed with the keyboard works by Hans Lundin who created all materials on Notes from the Past. Totally dreamy and symphonic heaven, due to keyboard-oriented sounds like mellotron, organ, and analog synth. It seems that Notes from the Past is Kaipa's kind of reunion work, so Kaipa fans enjoy this nostalgic and epic sounds. Symphonic prog fans will love this one.

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Kamelot - Siege Perilous
Noise
(1998)

Believe or not, Siege Perilous is my favorite Kamelot's album. Well, I do not say Siege Perilous' sound production is superb for comparision with their later albums like The Fourth Legacy. Somehow, Siege Perilous appeals my tastes better than any other Kamelot albums (unless I will find attaracting factors from their other albums). Before talking about the music itself in Kamelot, I was always impressed with the artwork with King throne things featured on the cover, which is really nice eye-catch for me. This is merely my opinion,.....after they feature mysterious beatiful women and mucho-men on the artworks with Euro-style power metal sounds, my curiosity toward Kamelot is slowly fading out somehow....it is quite strange phenomenon. In any way, Siege Perilous' production might not be perfect, but this album has nice symphonic prog metallic tunes with Roy Khan who is featured for the first time in Kamelot's history. Roy's vocal performance is getting better and better in the later Kamelot's albums. If sound production were better, I would like this album more. Well performed powerful and symphonic metal with some elements hinted by Queensryche and Fates Warning style. It is beyond my expectation that they started evolving into symphonic Euro power metal style. Overall, Siege Perilous features what I adore mostly from Kamelot. Every time I listen to this album, I miss their old keyboard player's piano and keyboard sounds. My personal feeling is that I would like to hear Siege Perilous kind music again from them.

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Kamelot - The Fourth Legacy
Noise
(2000)

The Fourth Legacy is definately one of their turning points in their music career. Even though Siege Perilous is my favorite Kamelot album, I also believe that The Fourth Legacy propelled them to a next level. The direction of this album is more toward symphonic powerful metal with lots of gourgeous orchestrated sections. Some progressiveness on previous works seem to have been stripped away, but I think they maintain some progressiveness. It is kind of sad for me that their previous keyboard player, Pavlico left the band. Instead, they got really spectacle symphonic sounds and much better production. Every aspect of Kamelot's music has been dramatically improved, comparing to Siege Perilous. The Sound production is really great and massive by Sacha Paeth and Miro. From the beginning, Kamelot try to maintain dramaticism and European melodic metal flavors, so the input of Sacha Paeth and Miro turned out really great. The Fourth Legacy has strong melody lines and immediate punchieness. Since this album was released, they have been keeping making great albums. I feel a bit mixed feeling about this album. The Fourth Legacy is defiantely great album, but at the same time I think their prog metal elements are very stripped away.

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Kansas - Somewhere To Elsewhere
Magna Carta
(2000)

KANSAS is undoubtedly one of my best all time favorite prog rock bands. Somewhere To Elesewhere is their latest album released in July, 2000. What have I been doing without reviewing this band's newest work since their new album released two years ago?? (LOL) As I saw the credit of the players and producers, I was surprised to see that names like KANSAS founder members who had left for long time, such as, KERRY LIVGREN, ROBBY STEINHARDT, and DAVE HOPE. People, who missed the days of golden era of KANSAS, such as LEFTOVERTURE and SONG FOR AMERICA, will find some good days KANSAS sounds on the tunes like "Icarus II" and "Myriad". For more than 10 years, Steve Walsh was handling his lead vocals. But Robby Steinhardt also co-handles lead vocal taskes (on "Grand Fun Alley"). Personally, I missed amazing violin/guitar playings of David Ragsdale, but at the same time I welcomed come-back of Robby's amazing violin playings. To me, highlight of this album must be soaring violin leads by Robby Steinhardt and powerful rocking guitar leads by Richard Williams, powerful drumings by Phil Ehart, rocking keyboard playings and soulful vocals of Steve Walsh on "Icarus II" which gives so emotional and powerful feeling in progressive rock manner. Somewhere To Elsewhere album might not be their best works, but I enjoy so much on powerful prog rock tunes ("Icarus II" and "Myriad"), nice ballady-sounds ("The Coming Dawn"), hard rocking/pumping up tunes ("When The World Was Young", "Grand Fun Alley", and "Not Man Big"), and Beatles/Kings X-esque tune ("Look At The Time") from this album. Esp., "Icarus II" and "Myriad" have Kerry Livgren composed-KANSAS sounds which are so emotional and soulful rocking tunes. If you expect too much like SONG FOR AMERICA and LEFTOVERTURE classics, you would get disapointed. However, this album surely most KANSAS fans. Last year's KANSAS live concert was very marvelous btw. They are top-notch American progressive rock band for me. Hats off to KANSAS!!!!

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Karmakanic - Entering The Spectra
Regain Records
(2002)

'Entering The Spectra' is the first album of new project from Jonas Reingold. As you are into symphonic rock with some heavier edge and faster tempo, you would find a great enjoyment here on their 1st album. In hard rock/metal music scene, Jonas has involved several Scandinavian music groups like Midnight Sun. Nowadays, Jonas is well-known as a full-time member of the great European prog rock group The Flower Kings. Obviously, most members of The Flower Kings help playing quite unique symphonic rock music composed by Jonas Reingold. It seems to be a conceptual work, but there are lots of hookliness and very interesting instrumentation presented here. Although Karmakanic's music nature is hard symphonic rock with solid performance, you could also hear some exciting fusion rock and prog metal lite moments in the second half of the cd. Actually, I also hear a bit similar tension like Liquid Tension Experiment, but not putting too much emphasis on technicality and intricacies. Besides the help of The Flower Kings, the guest musicians like Goran Edman (singer) and Richard Andersson (keyboards)are quite impressive to dramatize the music. Stylistically, the music of Karmakanic reminds me of The Flower Kings, XsavioR, and some metal side of Jonas Reingold. Again, the overall result of 'Entering The Spectra' is quite unique and varied, so I think this album could appeal to both symphonic rock fans and prog metal fans enjoying also comtemporary prog. Of course, the fans of The Flower Kings are going to love this album big time.

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Bob Kationis - Imaginary Force
Lion Music
(2004)

Before delving into the album of Imaginary Force, I would like to steer off a little bit to introduce you to Bob Kationis and his related story a bit. Greek musician, Bob Kationis, is one of prog metal/melodic metal musicians I have met in 2004. He is a really cool and nice musician I talked with, as he came to Japan as a supporting member of Firewind Japan short tour in January 2004. During the concert, I witnessed that he showcased brilliant keyboard performance, and I have been totally impressed with music calibre. After their concert in Osaka, I hanged out the members of Firewind: the singer Chity Lanka Somapala (ex. Avalon), drummer Stian Kristoffersen (also Pagan's Mind), bass player who used to be a member of Greek prog metal band, Breaking Silence, and extraordinary guitarist Gus G. As some of you might know Firewind is powerful melodic heavy metal band, uniquely four members of Firewind have been somewhat getting involved with prog metal bands. I had a nice conversation with them, esp., Chity, Stian and Bob. What I remembered about Bob Kationis is that he was really excited and anticipating about his new release. We shared similar musical tastes and favorite keyboard/guitar players in general (thanks for nice talk, Bob). :) After four and five month later, his new second album, Imaginary Force, was released throughout Lion Music and even Japanese label. It was one of my anticipating release, also.

Although I never heard the music of his first album, Turn of the Century, Imaginary Force contains really furious and intense progressive metal and neo-classical symphonic hard rock tunes with incredible musicianship. What I have learned from this album is that Bob Kationis proves himself as excellent keyboard and guitar player. He handles both synth works and seven strings guitar really technically with great chops. According to his previous story in Osaka, he has been always striving for making music with satisfaction and enthusiasm. That sums up what he wants to do on Imaginary Force. All twelve tracks are entirely technical and complex instrumental music, but each track is really tasty and well-executed. If you need heavy, powerful, speedy, pounding, intelligent progression and dramatic arrangements with contemporary touch in metal music, Imaginary Force album by Bob Kationis offers nice treat and satisfaction guranteed. Nowadays, Greek musicians and bands have been doing really good job in the entire prog metal, gothic metal, death metal, and atmospheric metal scene. In my case, what he has played on this album make me very interested. This album is definately recommended to the fans who enjoy intense symphonic neo-classical metal and uptempo prog metal. Nicely done.

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KenZiner - Timescape
Leviathan Records
(1998)

Timescape is a first album of Finlandfs guitar player, Jarno Keskinenfs band project featuring Dennis Lesh (drums) and Stephen Fredrick (vocals). Throughout Timescape album, KenZiner focus on performing kind of technical neo-classical progressive power metal. Of course, lots of technical guitar chops by Jarno Keskinen are displayed really well on this one. Dennis Leshfs intense drumming and Jarnofs shredding are really energetic indeed. Stephen Fredrick is known as a singer for Firewind of Gus G nowadays, so you probably recognize his powerful singing that reminds a bit of Graham Bonnett. To me, their mixture style of neo-classical metal and progressive power metal seems powerful enough for people who are into those types of music. However, most tunes sound like the music we have ever heard of somewhere before. Esp., melody lines and lyrics are not really catchy enough to enjoy Timescape entirely in my case. Some chorus parts are bit repetitious, unfortunately. However, I am very impressed with the tune, gLand of Shadowh having lots of exciting instrumental displays and complex parts with neo-classical elements. In adition, Stephenfs vocal performance is really terrific on gLand of Shadowh. I had hard time to enjoy all of tunes on Timescape, but indeed I find some enjoyments some instrumental sections, esp., gLand of Shadowh and gFuture Signsh.

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Khali - s/t
Academy Records/LMP
(1999/2004)

Originally, Khali's first album was released by Academy Records from Italy during late 90's, but this new version has been distributed in most European countries. As you can see that Italy conitinuously offers many quality prog metal groups with great musicianship. If you are very familiar with the Italian prog metal band Time Machine and their dramatic music compositions with melodic sensibilities, then you need to give a chance. I hope it won't disappoint the listeners regularly listening to Italian style prog metal bands. This Italian group gets deeply involved by Time Machine's mastermind/composer/producer Lorenzo Deho, no wonder that you'd find some similarities between his group and Khali. Actually, this group is considered as the side project of Time Machine featuring Folco Orlandini (vocals) who was a singer of Time Machine in the era of Act II: Galileo album. Stylistically, their pounding rhythm and meloldic approach reminds me of Queensryche a bit, but what they perform is really pleasantly elegant and dramatic prog metal in the Italian way. The instrumentation of Khali is not mind-bogglingly technical, nor super complex. However, they basically keep steady in the mid-tempo and pull off some hard-hitting parts dynamically and intelligent sections to appeal to the listener. Additionally, Khali's strong point is song-oriented approach with such lyricism you usually find in the Italian prog metal bands. Of course, such elegant factors were obviously introduced from the original band Time Machine, but Khali adopted quite nicely in friendly manners. Perhaps, Khali is not as sophisticated as Deho's main group, but the entire atmosphere is kind of relaxing in good way. Each player's performance is relatively very good in my opinion, so typical HR/HM fans would dig in what a whole group of this Italian gentlemen is offering. A new version of Khali's self-title cd released by LMP contains a bonus track called "Will You Remember," it has nothing to do with Queensryche, btw. Overall, the debut album of Khali has been done quite well and ear candy for melodic prog metal fans. I'd like to hear more about their follow-up album in the near future.

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Vitalij Kuprij - High Definition
Shrapnel Records

High Definition is a first album of Artension's keyboard player, Vitalij Kuprij. You can say that High Definition is Artension style neo-classical, and hot burning instrumental album featuring Vitalij Kuprij's keyboard works. As you see that, there are lots of keyboard shreds, piano solos, and speedy parts as well as Greg Howe's tasty technical guitar solo/bass parts and Jon Doman's intense drumming. I notice that some people can not get into Artension's neo-classical keyboard oriented shred metal. For them, Vitalij Kuprij's style is a bit too much showy and virtuostic performance. However, he did really fine jobs on the keyboard department I think. One thing I notice is that some keyboard tones on this album are a bit way-KORGy (well, I made up the word from keyboard manufacturer called KORG that Vitalij Kuprij is using mainly ), so unfotunately I can not get excited fully by his keyboard/synth tones. I mean Vitalij is a really excellent keyboard player, but sometimes I feel that he needs to explore his own keyboard sounds much more. I am nothing against his technique, but his keyboard synth lead tones seem to sound almost identical to each other. Well, hopefully you understand what I am talking about, if you listen to his tones and patches of the keyboards on Artension and his solo works very carefully. Besides such minor complaining, his piano playings are always really brilliant. Greg Howe's help and performance make his first solo album slightly different from his band, Artension. High Definition shows a kind of new territory of neo-classical solo music. Hopefully, Vitalij will find new ways of making astonishing keyboard sounds.

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