Anima is the third album by the Swedish neo-progressive rock band Introitus. Their two previous albums Fantasy (2007, see review) and Elements (2011, see review) both got the highest possible rating of five stars on our website which they certainly deserved. At the time both albums were reviewed by our reviewer Cor Smeets, but this time I had chosen to review their latest CD myself. Since both albums got the maximum score of five stars I was curious to find out if I would have the same opinion about this wonderful band.
Well, compared to the previous albums the first thing that struck me was that Introitus fortunately didn't change their musical style. It's still the same kind of neo-progressive rock with many solos performed on the guitar by Pär Helje and on the keyboards by Mats Bender. Together with the magnificent vocals of Anna Jobs Bender these are the band's musical trademarks. Also the fine Celtic and Scandinavian folk influences performed on the flute by Henrik Björlind can still be noticed. These characteristics make sure that the music contains enough variety throughout the album. I dare to say that the band members have even grown music wise in comparison with the other two albums. Anima is a very mature and professional sounding album which is probably the result of playing together for such a long time.
To mention any favourite isn't an easy thing to do, but if I have to then I would say that the three epic tracks Broken Glass, Slipping Away and the title track are the highlights on this album. All these tracks last longer than ten minutes. Being a lover of great instrumental breaks and awesome solos those pieces were prog heaven to me. On the other hand a ballad like You Will Always Be My Girl is a very emotional song that causes goose bumps or even wet eyes. It's hard to describe how beautiful this track sounds! And what about a track as the instrumental Free that perfectly blends prog rock with traditional folk music? Throughout the flutes, synthesizers and guitars go hand in hand in a natural way. This track also contains the angelic voice of Anna Bender who uses her voice the same way as Maggie Reilly used to do on the instrumental pieces recorded by Mike Oldfield. As far as I'm concerned Anima, the new album by Introitus, contains only excellent compositions. Even the additional short instrumental hidden bonus track at the end of the album sounds magnificent!
In my humble opinion there's only one possible conclusion. The third record by this Swedish family band can only be rewarded with the highest possible rating of five stars. That said it also means that Anima belongs to the musical highlights of 2014; there's no doubt about that. If you like female fronted neo-progressive rock in the vein of Landmarq but with a touch of folk music you have to check out this album.
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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