SAGA - Network
Artist: Saga
Album: Network ( 2004 )
Format: CD
Label: Steamhammer
Genre: [Progressive Rock]
Overall Rating: 9.0
Music: 9.0
Production: 8.0

Saga got together already in 1977 and since 1978 they've released albums on a regular basis. If you listen to progressive rock, you must have heard of SAGA. Saga is one of the pioneers of progrock with 15 studio albums under their belt... All of their albums have the 'Saga' sound (Sadler's vocals), and I've been a fan of Saga quite some time already. Their songwriting skills is the main reason why I like their music.

On Network Saga has succeeded a lot better than on their previous album Marathon. The songs have diversified in terms of sounds and ideas - maybe a little bit in terms of song structure also. On earlier albums Saga had 80's sound and now they've modernized it to the 21st century. Also Sadler's voice has improved (it's more pleasant than earlier). Crichton himself "feels reminded of releases like Silent Night or Worlds Apart", but he calls it "continuation of typical tried-and-tested Saga elements, combined with fresh ideas and sounds". It's quite amazing that a band, which has already made music for over 25 years, is still able to come up with new ideas.

On this record a new drummer is introduced as Saga's earlier drummer Steve Negus wanted to take a time out - "Steve asked for a sabbatical", Jim Crichton explains. Crichton thinks "Network sounds rawer, more lively and more spontaneous" than their earlier releases. "No doubt that's also thanks to Christian", Crichton adds (Christian is the new drummer). I endorse Crichton's opinion, I think that Christian may be the reason why this album sounds fresher than earlier Saga albums.

Content-wise, about half of Network deals with TV as a medium and its effects on people. The concept is working and songs are felicitous. Saga's music is melodic progressive rock (in case you never have heard of Saga). Since their debut, Saga has had their own unique overall sound, which may be why Saga has been so successful.

Production has been done well (thanks to Jim Crichton). Only complaints I have regard the drum sound (on which a lot of time has been used). However, I think the snare has a little bit of cardbox quality to it. Otherwise, no complaints - analog recording of drums was the right choice (it really gives warmth to the sound). Also some slight distortion could be heard few times (but fortunately it occurred very seldom).

All in all, this album is a 'must have' for all Saga fans... On Network Saga's creativeness is on another level (you must hear it). I recommend this album warmly to everyone who wants to be exposed to progressive rock, there's no better album to introduce classic progrock for 'newbies'. Be sure to check it out!

Release date: 20.09.2004

- MAGE (29.08.2004)


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