Abraxas - 99 - 1999


Abraxas is one of the premier bands in the growing Polish progressive rock scene. It took many years and a lot of misfortunes before their self-titled first CD was finished and it was finally released in 96. Though they’ve been together for more than thirteen years, all the musicians still appear to be very young. The current lineup is Szymon Brzezinski (guitars), Marcin Mak (drums), Adam Lassa (vocals), Marcin Blaszczyk (keyboards, flute), Rafal Ratajczak (bass).

Abraxas was a very solid first release, bouncing fluidly between classic prog and neo-prog. Often a Pink Floyd/Porcupine Tree flavour, the disk was brilliant throughout. I’ve only heard the English version of their second release, known as "Prophecies". This leaned more to neo-prog and was weaker and looser in structure.


Now comes "99". The strongest so far of the Abraxas releases, it is very similar in style to their first. The CD consists of 12 tracks, from the 17 second spoken word "Szalenstwo przyszlo noca" to the 7:30 sec "Anatema, Czyli Moe Obsesje". After the endearing wrong words used on their version of KC’s "In the Court of the Crimson King" – a bonus on their "Prophecies" release – the band is back to singing on their native tongue.

"99" begins with a short rocker, "14.06.99", an instrumental bridge "Czekam", then segues into the Floydesque "Jezebel" with it’s spacey keys and scorching guitar. The 17 second spoken word leads to track five, a nice rocker again, with spacey keys. Track six opens with flowing keys AKA Floyd’s "wish you were here", then erupts into the ballsy long track, ("….Noca") a wonderfully progressive piece that hampered only by strained vocals that don’t quite carry on the instrumental backing. In general, the guttural vocals Adam Lassa are the weakest part of Abraxas.

From a strong opening, the CD only gets better. Track 7, "Petla Medialna", is another nice simple rocker with flowing keys and chomping chords. The instrumental leads us to "Noel", track 8, which opens with "Omegish timpanis" and softly lifts into melodic space rock with ethereal and beautiful female harmonies. Synthesised vocals like "21st Century Schizoid Man" provide for a jarring chorus.

":37" is a short, symphonic instrumental that leads to "Medalion", track 9. At over 6 minutes, this is the one disappointing track on the CD. It’s not a bad ballad, but the near falsetto vocals and commercial melody makes one almost think of the Bee Gees. On "Oczyszeczenie", a rocking rhythm reminiscent of Eloy circa early 80s shows that Abraxas is back to business. The song moves between all kinds of rhythms and melodies and is the most experimental song on the disk. Halfway through, it cuts to crickets and all kinds of muffled orchestration.


The final track "Moje Mantry" builds from a strong pipe organ intro into a spoken word progressive piece with diminishing chord structure and wonderful female backing vocals. It’s a good song to end a very solid CD

author - date - rating - label

Richard Zywotkiewicz - April 2000 -   - Metal Mind Records