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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nikolo Kotzev

Nostradamus

Review by Gary Hill

There was a time in the '70s when rock operas were all the rage. Since then they have been pretty scarce, and many times with good reason. This rock opera is quite possibly the most successful attempt at the genre to have ever come around. The awesome results are probably greatly related to the fact that the CD's creator (Kotzev) is not only a rock composer, but also an accomplished classical composer. The result is a CD that combines prog metal work, progressive rock, and plenty of classical/operatic leanings to achieve a very potent mix. Kotzev also recruited a considerably impressive cast to fill out the roles in his creation. That cast includes such names as Alannah Myles, Sass Jordan, Glenn Hughes, and Joe Lynn Turner. The work is very powerful, emotional, and inspiring.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Act I

Overture (instrumental)
Nearly the first two minutes of this track is a purely symphonic classical arrangement full of drama. After that initial period, electric guitar screams in and moves the cut into the rock vein. From that part on it feels a bit like Deep Purple does Emerson, Lake and Palmer. 
Pieces of a Dream
This ballad has a pretty and evocative texture with a very strong vocal presence. It gets quite hard edged after a time. The arrangement on this one is very dynamic and driving. This is hard-edged prog at its best.
Desecration
Beginning in strong metallic tones, choir like vocals quickly jump in along with the strings. It begins building with a metallic drone intersperse with neo-classical textures. It eventually shifts to more straightforward metal, but the prog leanings still pervade.
Home Again (instrumental)
A pretty neo classically dominated balladic style creates the crux of this composition.
Introduction
The Deep Purple leanings rush back in on this hard edged, fast paced progish number. This cut lyrically tells of the early years of Nostradamus.
Henriette
Somewhat pop oriented, this balladic cut tells of Nostradamus meeting his first true love Henriette D' Encuasse. The arrangement gets quite powerful and lush at times and it eventually turns to a fast mode.
Caught Up In A Rush
Coming in fast and frantic, this is another that feels a bit like Deep Purple. The chorus has a classic rock texture.
The Eagle
Very neo-classical in texture, this one jumps straight into drama. The instrumental/vocal arrangement on this composition is quite interesting.
The Plague
Rather dramatic, this cut begins building quickly. It is hard edged, mid tempoed prog material. This killer song is full of drama and tension - both musical and lyrical.
Inquisition
Fast paced classical textures accentuated by hard-edged rock makes up the early segments of this track. Then the rock mode takes the dominant role. It does not, however, completely abandon those classical elements
Act II

The King Will Die
Fast paced and driven by neo-classical textures, this again feels Deep Purplish. It drops to a classical segment with a narration of Nostradamus' prediction. The cut jumps back up after this to the rocking tones.
I Don't Believe
Frantic metal tones make up the core of this frantic track. A retro '70's rock tone also makes an appearance. It drops to a balladic style for a time, then jumps back in in a bluesy hard rocking fashion, coming back with a vengeance. A proggy break ends the piece.
Try to Live
A very classically oriented segment starts this cut and it begins building in sedate ways from there. It is a pretty, poignant rock ballad in duet form.
Disc 2
War of Religions
A fast paced, hard-edged prog cut, this one really works. A great neo-classical mode dominates.
The Inquisitor's Rage
Coming straight out of the previous cut, this one feels much like an extension of it.
Chosen Man
A dramatically oriented balladic cut, this one is very strong. It builds up in power, becoming anthemic in its balladic mode. It keeps building getting more and more powerful.
Act III

World War II
Hard edged and very classical in texture, this cut rules in its powerful splendor of the intro. After at time it drops to more straightforward metal, but maintains its intensity. This is an awesome song. It covers so much musical ground and is so powerful that it really stands out.
World War III
Starting with an odd neo-classical mode, this one begins building in dart tones. A hard-edged prog style that screams out takes hold after a time. This one leans heavily to symphonic prog metal. It turns almost Yesish at times, though. It also comes across as something similar to the solo work of Rick Wakeman from time to time.
Because of You
Coming in in a gritty mellow arena rock style, this one has some solid classic rock leanings. It jumps into a more melodic, balladic fashion. This one gets incredibly powerful and the vocal interplay is awesome, as is the instrumental progression.
The End of the World
Neo-classical strings begin this cut. It eventually bursts forth into fast paced prog metalish styles. It drops to a segment that is far more classically oriented with a spoken word element that is very dramatic. Then it comes back in rocking hard, but in a new arrangement. A sad violin ends the piece.
I'll Remember You
Another duet type ballad, this cut is smooth and emotional, but one wonders if the previous number might not have made a stronger closer. It does get quite lush as it carries on and a bit weird at times.
 
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