X-Panda premiered in 2011 (has it been that long?) with the stunning “Flight Of Fancy.” This was a nearly flawless combination of progressive rock and metal. Hopes for an equally satisfying sophomore effort are fulfilled with “Reflections,” another work of complex compositions, pleasing melodies, and terrific vocal stylings.
After listening to this great album, several important characteristics stand out. One is Tamar Nugis’incredible vocals; his range is varied and his delivery smooth. A second noteworthy attribute is the single-minded cohesion of the band: this is a very tight band. Third, the production is nearly impeccable: all players gel together in unison, yet all are heard with clarity. Finally, being a fan of great guitar work, I am again impressed with Risto Virkhausen, a superb and passionate musician. He needs more recognition in the genre.
X-Panda again includes several longer songs where the members stretch their collective musical talents. Both “Denial” and two-part “Reflections” are great pieces of prog metal, the former being a little edgier. Other favorite songs include opening “The Game,” “Hit And Run,” and instrumental “On The Way.” Take particular note of the instrumental piece, where Virkhausen and keyboardist Kaarel Tamra rip it up in a dynamic exchange
It’s hard for any band to build upon the success of a great debut. Yet, X-Panda has done it and done it very well. My hope is that the Estonia’s best kept secret is here to stay.
Buy this album and enjoy!