Asgard – Arkana

1992 (Music Is Intelligence)

Tracks:
1: A Gathering Of Fairies (6:57)
2: Wulfstan (6:42)
3: Olaf Stonehand (13:15)
4: The Mirror Of The King (16:58)
5: The Queen Of Ice (7:52)
6: The Squirrel (3:30)
7: The Breath Of A Veiled Goddess (6:13)
8: The Lords Of The Mountain (12:18)

In the late 80’s I occasionally corresponded with Alberto, an Italian keyboardist. At some point we exchanged music from the bands we played in. Proudly I sent him a demo of Ligeia Lie after which he sent me a cassette tape of his band Asgard. Unfortunately, after some time we lost contact.

A few years and a cerebral infarction later, Asgard came on my way again. This time the contact was not personal, I was completely addicted to their CD’s. Time had been good to them. Four albums with the classic line-up in the 90’s and later two more albums with an altered line-up.

Asgard is lyrically heavily inspired by Northern European mythology and in terms of music by bands like Genesis and Marillion. On their third album “Arkana” you can hear the band at its best for 73 minutes. In the enchanting A Gathering Of Fairies their focus is on the expressive vocals and the melodic guitar. In addition, in the flashy Wulfstan, which has a resolute keyboard solo, a combination of lush neo-prog and metal can be heard.

There is no lack of variety on “Arkana”. Olaf Stonehand brings gothic ambient to the pallet, The Squirrel acoustic guitar and The Breath Of A Veiled Goddess is full of sparkling piano.

The Mirror Of The King has a perfect 16 minute balance between building and relieving tension. Asgard is very good at that phenomenon, proven by all their other albums. “Arkana”, however, is top of the bill. Right on time there is the Marillion- like The Queen Of Ice and also with the thunderous closing track The Lords Of The Mountain, in which the band goes nuts, the gentlemen know exactly the right tone to strike again.

I must let something of my chest. This album is in no proportion to the meager cassette tape that Alberto sent me way back. What a talented bunch of musicians this “Arkana” shows. Wow!

Musicians:
Kikko Grosso: vocals
Max Michieletto: guitar
Alberto Ambrosi: keyboards, flute
Chris Bianchi D’Espinosa: bass
Marco Ferrero: drums
Thomas Schaufler: drums