Notes From The Past (2002) was already an impressive album, but as far as I'm concerned the Swedish masters of progressive symphonic music hit the big one with their new, seventh studio album Keyholder. The album contains a delicate balance between classic symphonic rock (Fields, Yes) and the contemporary progressive music as played by The Flower Kings orTransatlantic with some influences of Jazz and fusion. The vocals are mainly done by Aleena and Patrik Lundström (Ritual), Morgan Agren plays the drums and the fabulous Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings) excels on the bass. These three top musicians accompany keyboardist Hans Lundin and guitarist Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic). All the vocal melodies are pleasant and easy listening for the ears and carefully imbedded in lots of intriguing and complex instrumental interludes. The album opens vigorously with drums, a heavy bass and Hammond, like Yes could have done, then multiple guitars - as Queen used to do - and the Mellotron joins in. The style abruptly changes from progressive rock into pop music as Patrik Lundström sings his first lines in a sweet melody supported by only keyboards in the beginning. Gradually the atmosphere changes into a more Flower Kings-style although the same melody is used. As in most other tracks a long instrumental piece follows with delightful synth and guitar solos. Lifetime Of A Journey ends with the returning vocals of Lundström. While hammond and Mellotron bring back memories of the old days, the other instruments and the clear and solid production by Lundin and Stolt demonstrate clearly that we're listening to present day music. A Complex Work Of Art opens with an organ melody and then drums and bass join in to get a catchy, swinging piece of music followed by a lovely theme sung by Aleena. Alternating with Aleena's singing are instrumental parts in which you'll recognize the same melody but in a different rhythm. Although five out of the eight tracks were composed by Lundin, the first part of The Weed Of All Mankind is definitely inspired by The Flower Kings. The middle section is a bombastic symphonic masterpiece beginning with a Hammond as Graham Field used to play it, then the rest of the bands joins in while Stolt's guitar plays the lead. Sonic Pearls opens with a majestic two-minute keyboard intro. Then it develops into a mid-tempo progressive rock song sung by Lundström. In the closing section the first melody returns, but heavier and more bombastic. In End Of The Rage Stolt's slide guitar can be heard in an almost southern atmosphere like Lynyrd Skynyrd. In the large instrumental middle section of this nearly fourteen-minute track some jazzy and even metal influences can be noticed. The influences by Transatlantic are evident in Across The Big Uncertain sung by Lundström and Aleena. Beside delightful fretless bass playing by Reingold you'll hear magnificent Mellotron and organ play in this semi-ballad! The opening of Distant Voices reminds me somewhat of Sylvia by Focus, but a lot of different styles can be heard. An organ solo and wah-wah guitar dominate this track. Both vocalists end this track sounding almost like The Beatles! The last seven minutes of this cd are for Otherworldly Brights with an opening that could have been music from a movie with a happy ending, followed by a piece of music that sounds a bit like Genesis (period Trick Of The Tail) and in the finale Stolt plays beautifully and Aleena's sighs are heard until the music fades away.
Although Aleena nor Patrik Lundström belong to my group of favourite vocalists, the music is so powerful and tasteful that I really think this album should be heard by prog addicts.