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Album Reviews

Short album reviews by The Prog Yak.  No puffery here, just a simple review and score from 1 to 5 yaks!  Have a new album you'd like The Prog Yak to review?  Let us know.

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The Prog Yak
Planetary Overload, Part 2 – Hope



Planetary Overload, Part 2 – Hope

United Progressive Fraternity




STORY TIME: In 2020, Prog Radio ranked JPL's album, "Sapiens - Chapter 1/3: Exordium" as our #8 best album for that year. I personally felt that this exceptional record might have been under appreciated due to its French-only lyrics. As a result, I came up with a proposition—I reached out to Jean-Pierre Louveton of JPL and proposed an album re-release with English vocals, performed by another artist. The vocalist I had in mind was none other than one of my all-time favorite prog vocalists, Mark Truey Trueack (Unitopia, UPF). JPL, being an avid Unitopia fan himself, was open to the idea.

After securing JPL's approval, I presented this concept to Mark Trueack. He was intrigued. We decided to start with a test run: a single song from the album would be translated to English and sung by Mark. If all parties were satisfied, we'd continue with the rest of the tracks. I selected and translated the song "Homosapien" and sent it over to Mark. His response surprised us—he suggested incorporating "Homosapien" into the upcoming United Progressive Fraternity (UPF) album he was working on.

That was almost three years ago. I'm thrilled to announce that UPF's new album, featuring the English rendition of "Homosapien", was released on July 15th.

Before diving into my review of the new UPF album, I thought it prudent to disclose my vested interests, such as my admiration for Mark's vocals and my involvement with the "Homosapien" track.

Now, let's get to the review.

"Planetary Overload, Part 2 - Hope" is the conclusion to the trilogy that began with 2014’s Fall in Love with the World and continued with 2019’s Planetary Overload, Part 1 – Loss. All three albums are thematically centered on environmental stewardship. While Part 1 of Planetary Overload serves as a warning, Part 2 offers an optimistic outlook, asserting that there's still "hope" if we start taking necessary actions.

The band explains that Hope “focuses on the problems we are already beginning to encounter on a troubled planet and expected to face with increasing severity in the future”; consequently, it encourages listeners to "take positive action to mitigate those effects to ensure humanity’s survival...we choose optimism over despair.”

As with the previous two albums by UPF, Part 2 - Hope, continues the tradition of a literal “progressive fraternity” of musicians taking part. Here are just some of the many musicians who you’ll hear on this record: Ben Craven, Ryo Okumoto, Sean Timms, Jean-Pierre Louveton, Steve Hackett, Matt Williams, Jonas Reingold, Hasse Froberg, and MANY more.

This 2-hour-long album comprises 22 tracks, each unique, yet interconnected, showcasing the rich diversity one would expect from such a versatile group of A-list prog artists. Echoing its thematic complexity, the musical styling of "Part 2 - Hope" blends elements of traditional progressive rock, symphonic rock, and a sprinkling of world music, creating a rich tapestry of sound. With nearly 50 musicians contributing, you know the album is dynamic and unique, you won’t get bored listening to this epic prog album.

To truly appreciate the grandeur of "Planetary Overload, Part 2 - Hope", I recommend immersing yourself in the experience. Enter a dim room, equip your best headphones, visualize entering a lush jungle, and embark on the journey that the album offers.

Whether you're a prog rock aficionado or someone interested in concept albums that tackle pressing global issues, "Planetary Overload, Part 2 - Hope" is poised to be a standout moment for 2023. Prog Radio is delighted to feature several tracks from the album in our New Music rotation, so tune in to get a taste.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! If 2 hours of great prog isn’t quite enough for you, ordering the full album on CD or Vinyl, or buying the full album digitally from Bandcamp, grants you a bonus "The Secret Life of Light" CD, featuring 9 additional songs (68 minutes) by UPF’s “Romantechs” (Christophe Labled, Mark Trueack, Steve Unruh). This is by no means throwaway bonus material. Some of the best songs on the 3-CD set can be found here, such as "Mechanical Love," "New Beginning," "Justify," and the epic "Secret Garden." They could have easily released this as a single album to much fanfare and high praise. (We are also playing a lot of these songs on Prog Radio.)

Follow the links below to order the album on CD or Vinyl, or hear some of it on streaming services (most of the Romantechs Bonus CD is not on the streaming services). If you’re on a budget, it’s only $19 (US) to digitally download the entire collection of 31 songs, equating to over 3 hours of top-notch prog. Well worth every penny!

5 Yaks!

United Progressive Fraternity

Run Time:
Jul 15, 2023
2 hr
Hope Is / Drums of Hope • Homosapian • Faultline • Being of Equal • Who We Really Are • The Changes We Make • Hymn of Hope
The Prog Yak
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