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Mandalaband: 'Resurrection': Album Reviews

Reviews of the digipak

Please find the reviews of the digipak listed below.

For comments from the fans click here.

The Reviews

Malcolm Smith, North Wales

Blast from the past

Prog rock from way back when.

Really for those who wanted to renew themselves with this work or for fans of the genre. If you're not into prog then there's every chance that you won't like like. Prog rock afficionados may well already have this in their collection.

Great album if you love things progressive and I expect dreadful if you don't.

Olga Odessa, Ukraine

This release is a miracle!

I can't stop listening to it ... and I am enjoying so many new discoveries in these mixes. What a rich, lush and clear audio! It sounds like it is happening "right in front of me" – very modern and with that breadth and soul which we so appreciate in Mandalaband's music. Soft but precise bass, not dominating the mix ... it sits in exactly the "right place" amongst the other instruments. The orchestral sounds, together with the guitar (which soars like a bird on the wind), create a beautiful landscape. I am thrilled to experience the unbelievable clarity of all the keyboard sounds and crisp percussion. The choir and lead vocals are so "fresh" and lovely everywhere ... it also seems to me that some parts sound more powerful now compared to the original 1970s mixes - and all of this makes me really happy. I am so delighted with this absolutely PERFECT musical event! Really, it has given new life to this great music. I am amazed how it was possibly make such a difference! And the bonus tracks are much more than simple additions - they are not only very interesting and beautiful in their own right but they also compliment the original tracks as if all flow from a single breath.

Joop Horsten, Het Platenblad, The Netherlands

David Rohl, the most important driving force behind the Mandalaband project, has done a great job and remixed/re-mastered these two top albums the band released in the 70s. Originally called Mandalaband and The Eye of Wendor they are now both repackaged in a wonderful 2cd digipak "Resurrection" with new gatefold artwork. It includes 6 bonus tracks and an extensive booklet with a lot of information/pictures about the making of the two albums 35 years ago.

Because both albums were hard to get in Holland this is a nice present for those who were looking for it over the years. These two albums feel like one, the hand of master Rohl is in it!

Both albums have a majestic feeling similar to the Alan Parsons Project. Many famous (prog) musicians make their contribution like the complete Barclay James Harvest (those who know them will surely recognise them), all of 10cc (easy to discover their voices), Justin Hayward of Moody Blues and Paul Young from Mike and the Mechanics. Anybody who likes these artists will surely have a good time with these two discs.

Zack Nathanson, Music from the Other Side of the Room, Houston, Texas

... Mandalaband’s two albums, Mandalaband and The Eye of Wendor which are released under the 2-CD digipak, Resurrection, give us a welcome back treatment with the help of band member and mastermind David Rohl who ... painstakingly restored the albums ... While some of the prog listeners may have mixed opinions on why he did, the sound is incredible and well received ...

... Mandalaband was formed in the early ‘70s by Rohl ... [and consisted of] Dave Durant on lead vocals, Vic Emerson on keyboards, Ashley Mulford on guitar, John Stimpson on bass, and Tony Cresswell on drums and included David himself playing keyboards. And they certainly show why this band were way ahead of their time and were like composers rather than rock stars, with their conceptual boundaries and with the sleeves showing pictures of the making of the albums, and liner notes as well describing how the band came to be.

Released in 1975 on Chrysalis, and now in the reissue format with Legend in 2010, there are 8 tracks on the first album and three bonuses including a demo, an audition of Looking In [for] Chris Wright at CBS Studios after which he signed the band, and a recording at Indigo Sound. These tracks could have been classics and achieve cult status for them. Given the operatic treatment thanks to Durant’s vocal arrangements, the band could have been the next ELP.

The opening 20-minute epic, Om Mani Padme Hum, which pays tribute to the Tibetan National Anthem and a homage to the Buddhist tribes of the mantra, features a middle- eastern monk introduction to get the listener in before Durant comes in and shines through his amazing voice ... guitarist Ashley Mulford lets the guitar do the talking with homages to Steve Hackett and Steve Howe’s atmospheric guitar layered sound with some piano passages that are in the realm of Keith Emerson. In the second movement, the time signature goes into various changes with ragtime, ballad, and features tubular bells and dramatic tension filling the void, while the keyboard just takes it beyond the symphonic realm and into something that is beyond beautiful. The third movement is a 17th century baroque ballad as Durant, Stimpson, Emerson and Cresswell just make the music sound very much in a dreamland-esque soundtrack, while the climatic fourth and final movement goes into a hard rock format that really gives it a roller-coaster ride to a new dimension.

You thought that the 20-minute epic was the landmark? Well there’s more. The explosive homage to Keith Emerson turned Nektar space rock sound is ... Determination which starts off with a rising crescendo and then goes into a space adventure ... a thrilling experience. You have the swirling futuristic guitar solo that Ashley Mulford does as if he’s Roye Albrighton throughout the midsection. He shines and gives a raw energetic power to the atmosphere on the first album.

Song For a King is a rare composition of the band, going into the Swords and Sorcery era as if the number could have been written for the game, Dungeons & Dragons. One of the more surprising tracks is Roof of the World; it has a fast tempo beat as if the band is in the realms of early Progressive Metal. It has a fantasy sound as the Tibetan monks are ready to fight ... and sacrificing and fighting for glory. The closing track, Looking In, has a Canterbury Prog tribute as if Caravan were moving away from the Jazz sound into something that is orchestral. Dave Durant is doing his Richard Sinclair vocalisation as the band goes into a laid-back groove, while it has a jazzy blues atmosphere to close the first album up. The music has a bit of a mixture of the Symphonic, Canterbury, and Jazz, and after all a tribute to the Tibetan Buddhist anthem is not a bad idea after all. It’s twisted, but it works like a charm when you get to hear it from start to finish.

The Eye of Wendor, Mandalaband’s second album in 1978, took about two years to finish. The band recorded the album at Strawberry Studios in 1976 where Rohl took over as Chief Engineer. And with a little help from Barclay James Harvest, 10cc, Steeleye Span, The Moody Blues, and Sad Café, you can tell that this was a project that everyone enjoyed working on. This is another concept album in the realms of a heartfelt tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The story is about a magical gemstone set in the pre- history era. The album itself is a collector’s item and now with Rohl re-mixing and re- mastering, is a perfect match made in heaven.

The 14 tracks on the album are a strange and mystical journey as it starts off with the Overture of the title track. It has an Irish-Classical Rock dance ballad that begins the journey with a bang. A charming opening if you like and for me, it’s very much like a film score that is quite majestic, flowing, and soaring at the same time as if they were writing their own rock musical animated film that would have Walt Disney bowed to his knees. The cathedral beauty of Florian’s Song enters with a prog-pop flavour thanks to 10cc’s Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, that serves as a strong fairy-tale ballad while Ride To The City carries a perverse underwater instrumental thunderous storm to search for the gem as the late Noel Redding of the Jimi Hendrix Experience comes up with some incredible bass lines. He wasn’t a great bass player, but what he did here was to create a moody tone on the instrumental including Rohl, Close, and the late Woolly Wolstenholme helping out as a team with intensity.

Then we get into the twisted instrumental composition, Almar’s Tower. On this you have Norman Barratt speaking in tongue on the voice box guitar to give a spooky atmosphere as the percussion sounds almost like a Tim Burton film and as if the piece was recorded in the jungle. Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span fame brings her angelic vocals to Like The Wind. Now it has this homage of the Annie Haslam-era of Renaissance Prologue sound, but the mixture of Celtic and rumbling roar of the chorus helping Maddy out as the group and her fly into a cutting edge of amazing electric spark. The Tempest is a snarling droning atmospheric destruction view of hell as Kim Turner sounds like he is in an psychiatric ward screaming out like a lunatic, while hallucinating and playing Russian roulette as it [descends] into the calm symphonic ballad, as Justin Hayward sends chills down your spine with the emotional tear drop on Dawn of a New Day.

Departure From Cathilias is probably in the realms of militant rock with the drums and unique acoustic ballad. To most prog readers, the heroes leave from their home town by ship from Carthilias and head towards the mighty Sea of Wendor. Sounds very much like Lord of the Rings to you right? It could have been easily inspired by the trilogy and has a cutting edge sound. Now we’re back into the realm of 10cc. My god! Looks like Mandalaband could have gotten prog-pop all of a sudden thanks to Graham Gouldman’s vocalisation. Even the soaring keyboard mellotron beauty of Woolly and jazz fusion funk synth of David Rohl. Mandalaband really pushes the envelope a bit further, but they still have a shining spirit in their hands, and the spooky atmosphere keeps on going.

The Witch of Waldow Wood comes to Mandalaband’s disturbing and moody tracks and is probably in the realm of bombastic proportions, in a good way. It takes two guitarists to create a mind-boggling solo thanks to John Lees and Steve Broomhead creating almost a BJH tribute. You could hear the rock opera boundaries in there, but they have guts and soul in their bodies for the field of fantasy. The classical rock punch is back in full swing with the time changing attitude on Silesandre, up with the Queen riding her horse and saving the world, to return the gem and stay in the hours of twilight - and to head on home before all hell breaks loose.

Musically, the instrumentals come into full swing, for the most part mourning and sad. A fine orchestral score on Aenord’s Lament soars into the death of the hero as the choir mourns Aenord’s brave fight and sets the scene in the listener’s head, while Funeral of the King is a dramatic hard rock epic ... as Phil Chapman’s sax solo sets a funeralistic wail on his instrument with the 3/3 time signature. It’s almost a flourishing waltz as the closing finale, Coronation of Damien, lets the listener know that everything’s okay - that the war is over and won, and closing it with a progressive Celtic dynamic yet explosive finale.

The bonus tracks were recorded at Indigo Sound in 1975 and are demos of three of the tracks. There is the orchestral waltz version of the title track, while Dave Durant brings his early [style] reminiscent of Pavarotti to The Witch of Waldow Wood, which has an impressive score. Silesandre sounds very much pomp rock in this demo as Ashley Mulford just let’s it rip with the Sword and Sorcery rocker boundary. There is a lot to offer from the underrated band’s symphonic sound, although there is a chance to get your head flowing with more of the lost symphonic prog bands than Yes did in their hey-day.

What Resurrection does is to bring Mandalaband back from the dead and see what road may lay ahead for them. Are we ever going to see maybe an animated story rock opera of The Eye of Wendor one day in the future? Will they come back and reunite to create more concept albums that will have Prog fans jumping for joy? The answer: we don’t know. There is something special from underground story-complex songs in what Mandalaband has, a greater story for them to tell us ... Who knows what the Eye of Wendor has in store for us.

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