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Anglagard: Hybris (1992)

Just when you thought you’ve given up on prog rock after 1978 or thereabout, there came a Swedish prog rock band in the early 1990s, in which half the band members were still teenagers, playing prog rock like the 1980s never happened. Who can blame these kids anyway? When crappy bands like Asia got called prog in the 1980s (the only reason why Asia got called prog was the band consisted of John Wetton, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer, some of the biggest names of prog). Having to face such crappy songs as “Heat of the Moment” and “Only Time Will Tell” being played regularly on radio, you know you’re going to get some disgruntled prog fans out there who remember how things were like just a few years before (songs like those might have passed as prog in 1982, but not in 1977).

And while some people welcomed the arrival of the neo-prog scene in the 1980s with bands like Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Twelf Night, etc., many detractors thought these bands were just pale versions of ’70s bands, and Genesis copycats.

So it took a Swedish band, whose members were all between the ages of 17 and 23 to show the world how prog rock should be done. And they did it with flying colors! For one, their keyboardist, Thomas Johnson, whipped out the Mellotron and Hammond organ, but no digital synthesizers at all (or anything else digital, for that matter). The band also featured two guitarists, Tord Lindman and Jonas Engdegård, who alternate between acoustic and electric, much in the styles of Robert Fripp or Steve Hackett. Bassist Johan Högberg, flautist Anna Holmgren, and drummer/percussionist Mattias Olsson rounds up the lineup.

The band had a fanatical anti-modern approach to their music, so you here absolutely no modern elements (no digital synthesizers, as already mentioned, no techno or alternative rock influences). Just listen to the opening cut, “Jordröck” and you’ll know what I mean. The music is unbelievable complex, with lots of changes, just like the best prog rock from the 1970s.

The next three cuts, “Vandringar i Vilsenhet”, “Ifrån Klarhet till Klarhet”, and “Kung Bore” are all in this same excellent quality, and is similar to the first cut. Musically they’re influenced by the likes of Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson. There’s that uniquely Scandinavian atmosphere to the whole album that makes me think of Bo Hansson. But if anything, Hybris reminds me of a certain American prog rock album: Cathedral’s Stained Glass Stories (1978), which I also very highly recommend! So if you like Cathedral, you’re sure to dig Änglagård.

This band also made an appearance at both Progfest ’93 and ’94 and made a huge impression on the prog audience who was obviously desperate for new prog that’s as great as the old prog. Unfortunately the band did not last. They released Epilog in 1994 which was an all-instrumental affair (Hybris has some vocals, in Swedish), appeared in Progfest ’94, and broke up. A CD appeared in 1996 called Buried Alive which was a live recording during the band’s farewell appearance at the aforementioned Progfest ’94.

So if you’ve given up prog rock since the late ’70s, or you’re looking for a ’90s band that sounds ’70s, Hybris is a must!
Year of release: 1992
– Tord Lindman: guitars, vocals
– Jonas Engdegård: guitars
– Thomas Johnson: organ, Mellotron, keyboards
– Anna Holmgren: flute
– John Högberg: bass
– Mattias Olsson: drums, percussion

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