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X-PANDA - REFLECTIONS (2016 ALBUM/6-PANEL DIGI-PAK)

Product Format: CD               ** Regular Stock Item **

Price: Normally £16.99 Currently £7.08 (exc) £8.50 (inc)

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A huge Symphonic Progressive Metal production is at the core of this amazing 2nd album by this hugely talented 5-piece rock band from Estonia!

X-PANDA has two albums available - their incredible 2011 debut release (re-issued in 2015): ‘Flight Of Fancy’, which is around 80% instrumental, and ‘Reflections’ their 2016 follow-up, which is more lyrically driven.
Both are excellent in their own right, but in many ways quite different, which is an amazing fact given that the band line-up is almost identical on both, except for the addition of one new member (taking over sole bass duties) on this, their 2nd album.
‘Reflections’ is far more lyrical than its predecessor and has an obvious progression that has been built up over the five-year time gap. However both are equally strong releases that contain top-quality playing that genuine Rock and Prog music fans will thoroughly enjoy.

While the band are accurately described as: “powerful, dreamy, emotional, versatile, astounding, diverse, playful and adventurous”, with this 2nd album we would add “theatrical” and “cinematic” to the list for this album!
Fusing all these different elements the band create a wide spectrum of emotions and dynamics within their music.
Their main style is definitely now Symphonic Progressive Metal, and whilst being simultaneously accessible and catchy, their sound is even more energetic and dramatic than before, with the jazz-fusion hooks and embellishments of the first album still there, but featuring to a lesser degree as the powerful symphonic rock arrangements take control.

X-PANDA are an extremely accomplished, well-honed unit, delivering a consistently high standard of musicianship and performance across the board, and the vocals (in perfect English) are excellent too.
UK and Jeff Beck are possibly a good starting reference point for the first album, but on ‘Reflections’, DREAM THEATER are a much more relevant comparison, plus GAZPACHO, especially during the quieter, more atmospheric moments.

The musician line-up for ‘Reflections’ is: Kaarel Tamra (keyboards), Risto Virkhausen (guitars), Tamar Nugis (vocals), Roland Jairus (bass guitar) and Karl-Juhan Loanesaar (drums).

‘Reflections’ comes packaged in a 6-Panel Gatefold Digi-Pak with accompanying 12-Page Booklet Colour Booklet.

Here’s a brief track-by-track rundown…

‘The Game’ is a big production rocker with catchy hooks and a strong chorus with all band members taking an equal part.

‘Denial’ comes in on a long and powerful keyboard driven symphonic arrangement with riffing guitars, plus a real orchestra and chorus. After an ethereal break a sensitive GAZPACHO-like vocal comes in at the three-minute mark and takes the track off in an entirely different, almost theatrical direction. At the six-minute mark it’s back to the bigger dramatic picture, and it’s not until they hit the nine-minute mark that the fusion side of their character starts to emerge, with a dreamy bass melody pre-empting a huge guitar solo as the drama expands and explodes in a huge climax.

‘Hit And Run’ comes in hard with fusion riffs and complex time signatures, breaking to the sound of the dark, haunting lyrics. Cutting guitar riffs cascade over driving bass and drums with multi-layered keyboards forming a huge panoramic backdrop with an infectious vocal chorus sweeping over the top.

‘Slave Of Lies’ opens with a cinematic orchestral score that is quickly joined by metal guitar riffs, then breaks back after a minute for the vocal on a song that’s similarly styled to ‘Hit And Run’. At the three-minute mark an electric guitar solo sweeps in and brings a break in the lyrics.

‘Rise Up To Fly’ comes in with another symphonic intro, then the main vocal enters followed by an infectious high-register vocal chorus and the song continues in this way for its duration.

‘On The Way’ is the first fully instrumental track on the album, and it finds the band returning to the more fusion influenced instrumental style as heard on the ‘Flight Of Fancy’ debut album.

‘Reflections : Inner Battle’ is the first of a lengthy two-part suite, and it brings the sound firmly back to the dynamics and drama of the first half of the album. The production again becomes huge as the keyboards, guitars and orchestra fight for dominance up to just past the two-minute mark where a beautifully delicate acoustic guitar theme intros the first vocal part. Gentle and reflective, the song gradually grows, with new orchestral layers being added and guitar solos and riffs, with the overall sound constantly building in intensity.

‘Reflections : Silent Friend’ completes the suite as it cross-fades from the dramatic closure of ‘Inner Battle’ with a sombre section of vocal, keyboards and orchestra, with jaunty flute melodies adding a light and colourful textural effect. As the track draws towards another powerful climax there are synth solos running through the climactic storm, and then for the final minute or so an emotion fuelled, sombre electric guitar solo brings the piece to a close with just a piano backdrop.

‘Esivanemate Parand’ continues the feeling of melancholy portrayed on the end of the ‘Reflections’ suite.
It’s a fantastically sensitive ballad that is the only song on the album with lyrics sung in the band’s native language, and even without knowing what the song is all about (although an English translation is printed in the booklet) you are hooked to the heartfelt vocal delivery as the track builds in thematic majesty. There’s a gentle acoustic guitar break in the middle before full orchestra and choir join the band, with Tamar Nugis’s wide vocal range now on full display. He virtually goes solo for the final minute with only minimal backing, closing the album on a beautiful high.

Also available by X-PANDA…
FLIGHT OF FANCY (2015 Re-Issue of 2011 Debut Album) CD – Stock # 1822249


X-PANDA: REFLECTIONS Track List:

01. The Game (4:20)
02. Denial (12:28)
03. Hit And Run (5:48)
04. Slave Of Lies (4:20)
05. Rise Up To Fly (3:27)
06. On The Way (5:47)
07. Reflections : Inner Battle (7:43)
08. Reflections : Silent Friend (6:40)
09. Esivanemate Parand (6:14)

TPT: 56:49