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Colosseum II: War Dance *

Album Notes

Colosseum II: Gary Moore (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars); Don Airey (acoustic & electric piano, organ, synthesizer, clavinet, tubular bells); John Mole (bass); Jon Hiseman (drums, gongs, tympani, percussion).

Wardance shows many of the attributes associated to symphonic rock, from a surrealistic record cover and detailed information about what amplifiers and cymbals the band uses, to song titles like "Star Maiden/Mysterioso/Quasar." But even though Colosseum II had much in common with symphonic rock, they were more of a jazz-rock or fusion band. While none of the musicians are anything even close to restrictive in their playing, Moore's solo guitar is what many of the songs are built up around. His distinctive way of playing, while still in development, is clearly heard, as are similarities to his first solo album Grinding Stone, especially in the album's only vocal song, "Castles." This was the second album released by Colosseum II in 1977, and their third in two years. The differences between the albums are not too big, but a slight lack of inspiration can be perceived here. While the songs are still technically impressive and hold an interesting mix of jazz, hard rock, and classical elements, the band often fails in making the distorted riffs meaningful, leaving an impression that the main merit of the songs is that they are extremely hard to play. The title track and "Major Keys" are exceptions, though, building on slightly simpler licks, which are developed throughout the song, instead of lost in the Spanish-style drumming that Hiseman is so fond of. But a big fan of symphonic rock may think differently. ~ Lars Lovén


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