Band: Alan Simon
CD Title: Excalibur IV: The Dark Age of the Dragon
Label: Cherry Red Records (2017)
This is as the title implies the fourth release in the Celtic Rock Opera Series created by Alan Simon entitled Excalibur IV: The Dark Age of the Dragon. This is grand production full or symphonic orchestration and incorporating some heavy-weight talent such as members of Jethro Tull, Saga, Uriah Heep, Curved Air, Clannad, Supertramp and a few others. Musically itís a full seventy-two minutes of music that is split into nineteen different compositions that set out to tell the story. It is a rock-opera after all. In the interest of full disclosure all the tunes are anywhere between two and four minutes in length and most if not all are stand-alone pieces, nothing links sonically to the next and for me that was a shortcoming in that it took away from grand scope of the production. Itís all heavily orchestrated and seeks to tell a story but itís a challenge to hear any repeated musical themes and story lines. The music would put itself in the Melodic Prog category referencing bands like later day Moody Blues, Supertramp and Barclay James Harvest and in that regard itís not at fault. Fans looking for a more complex, heavy sound will have to look elsewhere. However if what you seek are shorter tunes featuring lush melodic orchestration with a touch of dramatic movie sound score flair then this an album that will find a comfortable spot on your CD player. It has certainly proven to be popular in sold-out arena performances across Europe so thereís obviously a fan base out there that will enjoy the music of Excalibur IV.