Except this time it was real. The album cover was posted. The minute I saw it I just knew this was going to be special. Of course the naysayers were out in full force decrying the cover. Really? Where is the optimism of our planet anyway? To be honest, cover notwithstanding, I was still a bit skeptical. Spiritual leader Tord Lindman was no longer involved. And most importantly - 17 years is a long time. Really no band, in any era, is able to capture the spirit and angst of their youth. Anyone who has scaled challenging mountains, and the metaphoric equivalent in daily life, will tell their mighty tale on what a wonderful achievement it was - except the thought of doing it again is fatiguing. There's a price to pay for greatness. You have to exceed your mind, body, and spirit to accomplish it. And all of that is hard to regain, especially after going about the normal/mundane daily routine as we do.
But this is Änglagård, and they were always different. Personally, I'm floored by how great Viljans öga is. It sounds like classic Änglagård for certain, but it's still quite unique. They have changed some, and perhaps for the better. In fact, the two middle tracks 'Sorgmantel' (12:07) and 'Snårdom' (16:14) might be some the best compositions they've ever performed. Is it their best album? No, I'm not willing to say that. All three studio efforts are brilliant but I'm still partial to Hybris, perhaps the nostalgia factor wins the day.
So the question remains: Is this the bookend to a great era of progressive rock? Or are we about to embark on a new journey? I hope for the latter. Of course.
LP: 2012 private
CD: 2012 private
CD: 2013 Arcangelo (Japan). Part of a 3 mini-LP box set.
Änglagård is the rare modern band where I consider it paramount to own both the CD and LP. The latter is a stunning 2 LP gatefold with a full sized booklet. I have all 3 original Änglagård albums on display, placed side by side, in my audio room. It's an awesome sight to behold.
Last listen: August 2012