"As we approach the gates, the trumpets sound. The gates open, and A New Era is about to begin, as we enter Progeland." That's the idea I get when I hear the opening track of the album Gate to Fulfilled Fantasies by the Finnish band Progeland - brainchild of bass player Perry Lindström, who also released albums with Corvus Stone and Voice of the Enslaved this year. On this album, for which he wrote all the music, Lindström is accompanied by Tomi Murtomäki (vocals and all lyrics), Juha Kaski (keyboards), Matias Kangasniemi (guitars) and Pasi Manninen (drums). The aforementioned gates are visible on the beautiful album cover - Sonia Mota took care of all the artwork.
As mentioned, the album opens with A New Era, which is a keyboard piece that resembles horns blown at the walls of Jericho (anyone remember Helloween?). This is followed by a Dead Calm Waters, which is best described as Progeland's own Easy Livin', driven by a rhtyhmic pounding tandem of guitar and organ, on top of a rock solid rhythm section. Don't play when driving. Or, on second thought... why not?
Once we leave the calm waters, Solar Boat leads us through a slow, dark intro that develops into a guitar riff that returns a few times in between versus and is accompanied by a keyboard piece that makes you wonder whether a flute would've fit here as well. The song tells the story of man going to war, and eventually ending up in war, saving each others life. As war approaches and is entered, the guitar takes up more and more of the musical underpinning of the song, until it the courageous death of one of the men is announced by a Deep Purple sounding organ.
After a short keyboard interlude, Ocean, we meet a man and his beloved, sitting at the fire in One Day I'll Be Your King. This one starts with another Uriah Heep like guitar and organ intro (and what is that bass doing there, Petri?). As the story develops further, more room is created for the singer, who announces they will have to part their ways, until he comes back for her. After this, the guitar takes over again toward the end - and bringing us to Under Ancient Skies, the most varied track on the album, with great vocals, accompanied by keyboards and a nice, long guitar solo at the end.
After the melancholic ballad So Silently (with a somewhat medieval ring to it) the album ends with Angel, in which a man offers himself to the Angel of Death. This is a slow, dragging track carried by guitar and piano, a fitting end for both the subject of the song and the album itself.
Gate to Fulfilled Fantasies is a concept album, in the sense that all lyrics are inspired by Egyptian mythology, but no continued story lies underneath the songs.
All in all, a very enjoyable experience - a classic rock album that has yet to become a classic.