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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


The Fearless Vampire Killers

Review by Gary Hill

This is a pretty intriguing set. Frank Badenhop is the mastermind here. What he did is pretty amazing. First, he got the soundtrack to the old Roman Polanski film The Fearless Vampire Killers. He transcribed it, note for note. Then he made his own arrangements. He even went so far as to bring in music from such sources as Iron Maiden, Uriah Heep, Slayer and Judas Priest. Then he recruited a lot of musicians to put this thing together. It could be argued that it’s heavy metal. Personally, I think there are too many other sounds here to lump it there, though. That’s why I’ve put it under progressive rock. However you slice it, though, this is quite an unusual and effective album.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at
Track by Track Review
Main Theme

Some percussion starts this. Then it fires out into a symphonic treatment with progressive rock and some metal guitar in the mix. A scorching hit guitar soloing section takes it. Then it drops to just sound effects for a spoken narration.

Sarah’s Bath, Snowman
Psychedelic rock that almost has a cowboy music element to it presents the motif here as this starts. It’s slow and breezy. Then around the 45 second mark it powers out to some metallic territory. Violin solos over the top of this arrangement as a driving rhythm section propels it. There is some great melodic guitar soloing later, too.
This is the most unusual thing we’ve heard so far. It’s got some fusion and some classical in it. There’s a part of the rhythm section that feels like some weird King Crimson like prog. Yet the drums pound away like some serious metal. There’s a drop back at the end, though.
Metallic guitar opens this. As it moves out some chorale vocals are heard over a mellower motif. That guitar comes back into deliver some slow moving melody. Then some more symphonic elements are heard. There are some changes deliver before around the minute and a half mark it fires out to Slayer thrash. As the thrash continues some more symphonic elements occasionally come over the top.
Into the Cellar
Coming in tentatively, this builds up with a thrashy sound before firing out into some serious metal. The piece continues to evolve, mostly metallic. It drops down mid-track, though for some mellower music. There is another drop back at the end.
Skiing, The Castle
This is quite a dynamic and powerful piece. Intricate, melodic rock sounds emerge as this piece opens and moves forward. Around the one minute mark a new rhythm section emerges and flute like sounds come over the top, delivering a new sound. Then we get some guitar bringing world music progressions. It turns metallic from there. Beyond that it drops back out to some mellower, theatrical symphonic music before more metal takes it. A martial beat moves it forward later and more metal guitar delivers the melody over the top of that. A merging of sounds takes it near the end of that and then we’re brought back to the beginning of this ride.
A metallic grind starts this piece and it builds out from there. Further down the road, though, this turns into a killer Celtic prog jam that’s just plain great. This is one of the most unusual pieces here (and that says a lot) and stands as an energetic and fun jam. There’s even some country sound later in the form of some picked banjo.
Vampire Corners
More metal starts this one off. It fires out from there into something that’s like a cross between punk and metal. It turns towards more pure metal, but with chorale style vocals lending a symphonic element. Then, as it turns to more energetic music we get more of a proggy style in place. Violin emerges in the arrangement later and it shifts into something rather like the music of Yngwie Malmsteen.
Metal guitar leads us out here. There is almost a stoner metal vibe at times as it continues. As that drops away chorale vocals bring a symphonic element to the fore. There is music running behind that, though, making it more like symphonic metal or progressive rock. After those vocals are gone more hard rock sounds create a new section. Then it works out to something that’s more in line with metallic prog.
Alfred Hears Singing
This is very creepy with sound effects, weird voices and weird music all over it. It’s a really weird track and yet it works in a bizarre way. After the three and a half minute mark, though, we get classical piano as everything else drops away. Then some guitar rises up, but not as a lead instrument, but more as accompaniment to the piano.
Sarah’s Song
Some unusual melodies open this. As it works forward keyboards come over the top lending a lush progressive rock vibe. That element remains even when some metallic guitar crunches out. Then it drops to nothingness and mellower instrumentation takes it. From there some more metallic guitar takes the lead.
Hunting Alfred
Serious metal starts this. It drops away and sound effects are all that’s heard. Then more of that metallic riffing takes control. This becomes an Iron Maiden tune for a time.
Keyboards create a neo-classical vibe as this starts and builds. In fact, that’s the whole arrangement for the first three plus minutes. Then some crunch guitar joins to add the rock to this progressive rock mix. There are some drops to just the classical keyboards here and there as this continues. They don’t last long, though. There is also a full on hard rocking jam later in the piece, too.
Early on this becomes a pure metal piece. Then around the two and a half minute mark it drops back to more progressive elements to continue to the end.
End Theme
Another that comes in metallic, this drops out to space before evolving into more pure progressive rock from there. After the two minute mark, it drops to sound effects. Then another spoken narration takes it to the end, but sound effects continue beyond the voice as the actual finale. 
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