X-Panda - Reflections review


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Band: X-Panda
Album: Reflections
Release date: October 2016

01. The Game
02. Denial
03. Hit And Run
04. Slaves Of Lies
05. Rise Up to Fly
06. On the Way
07. Reflections: Inner Battle
08. Reflections: Silent Friend
09. Esivanemate Pärand

X-Panda's 2011 album Flight Of Fancy was easily one of the most impressive debut albums that prog metal had seen in the last ten years, it was an album that demonstrated almost unrealistic musical maturity for a new band and flawlessly mixed virtuosity with songwriting. With the follow-up album, Reflections, X-Panda have chosen not to create a copy of their first album - an admirable step - and have instead gone for a cinematic, symphonic, and, dare I say, somewhat more accessible sound.

The most obvious change, however, is the frequent use of Tamar Nugis's vocals, which were seldom featured on Flight Of Fancy. The man certainly has a set of powerful lungs on him, but like the rest of the band, he is best at emoting, using his rather unique and interesting voice not to blow our minds with the highest notes in his arsenal, but instead to pull on the listener's heart-strings (successfully, I might add). The only negative about the use of vocals is that occasionally some unconventional time-signatures (a must in prog) seem to be at odds with the vocal lines.

The others' performances mirror Tamar's in that every X-Panda member exercises restraint and uses his instrument for the benefit of the music and not the other way round. Those who have seen the band live know that each member of X-Panda can easily blow away the audience with their skills, yet there isn't a single unnecessary note on Reflections.

This brings us to the songwriting itself. Some fans of the first album may understandably be put off by the changes in the band's music, but rest assured, X-Panda use symphonic and cinematic soundscapes to complement their heavier elements and not to compensate for them. The two lengthy tracks, "Denial" and the two-part opus "Reflections," are complex, ambitious, and emotional, though what's surprising is that the simpler and shorter songs like "Rise Up To Fly" are almost equally enjoyable. The latter song features a rather common chord progression that works brilliantly with the vocal melody, resulting in a track that sounds fresh and interesting in spite of its simplicity. Those who might have become worried after hearing the first two tracks released from Reflections ("Slaves Of Lies" and "The Game") should know, that the rest of the album is much more progressive, symphonic, and simply better.

Reflections is a very good album from a band that refuses to repeat itself even once and as such is a good example for all prog bands. X-Panda have achieved a lot already and with their skills and passion, they surely have an even brighter future ahead of them.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 10

Written by Metren | 06.05.2017


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This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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