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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Excalibur IV: The Dark Age of the Dragon'
Artist - Alan Simon

For those not in the know, Alan Simon is a French folk-rock musician and composer best known for his rock operas which are performed with collaboration from other noted rock musicians.

Indeed, Simon is associated with Breton Celticism, and his most ambitious works are typically on themes linked to Celtic myth and history; and has also branched out into film-making.

And so now, and right on the heels of his just-released 40 song, 2CD set Songwriter (October 20th, 2017 on Cherry Red Records UK), Simon now brings us Excalibur IV: The Dark Age of the Dragon (November 10th, 2017 via Babaika Productions via Cherry Red Records UK), the widely anticipated fourth studio in the Celtic Rock Opera series.

Following on from the gold and platinum selling original trilogy, this quite stunning new album - based on the legendary story of King Arthur - features guest appearances from Alan Stivell, Michael Sadler (Saga), Jess Sibenberg and John Helliwell (Supertramp), Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), Moya Brennan (Clannad), Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth), Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep), Siobham Owen, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), John Kelly (The Kelly Family), and Maite Itoiz (Elfhental).

1. "The Wings of the Dragon"
2. "Alone"
3. "Stonehenge"
4. "I'm Not the Only One"
5. "Calling for You"
6. "Don't Be Afraid"
7. "Silver Moon"
8. "Dreamers"
9. "The Last Lament of a Fairy"
10. "The New Times"
11. "Forget Your Sorrow"
12. "The Fifth Season"
13. "The Passion"
14. "I Will Be Forever"
15. "Behind the Mist"
16. "You Don't Know"
17. "You Are the Sunshine"
18. "There Is Someone"
19. "Dun Aengus II"

The fourth installment of this highly impressive Celtic Rock Opera, begins with the soaring "The Wings of the Dragon", a track that via the instruments played you can close your eyes and visually hear the beasts wings flap above your head. That's followed by the storytelling of "Alone" (with Michael Sadler from SAGA and John Helliwell from Supertramp), the guitar and saxophone fest of "Stonehenge", and then the pace is brought down for both "I'm Not the Only One" and "Calling for You".

The pop synth rock of "Don't Be Afraid" is along next and is backed by the luscious, ethereal "Silver Moon" (sung by Moya Brennan from Clannad), and then the sturdy rocker "Dreamers". Featuring both Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep and Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), just knowing those two are on this song should clue you in to what to expect.

Siobhan Owen takes the beautiful lead on "The Last Lament of a Fairy", which is followed by the mid-tempo Celtic rocker "The New Times", and then come the mellow Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp) cut "Forget Your Sorrow". The guitar rock fest of "The Fifth Season" is one of my own personal favorites here, and that's backed by both the stunning Sonja Kristina (Curved Air) lovelorn ballad "The Passion", and the medieval storytelling of "I Will Be Forever".

The joyous flute notes of "Behind the Mist" (John Helliwell and Martin Barre) is yet another stand out cut here, and that's followed by "You Don't Know", the tranquil "You Are the Sunshine", more flute on the etheral "There Is Someone" (Siobhan Owen), before coming to an end with the stirring Maite Itoiz (Elfhental) sung "Dun Aengus II".

Excalibur IV was played live in it's entirety to 12 arenas in Germany in December 2016 and will be touring again in 2018.

CD Purchase Link