Virtuel: Conception Of Perception

The latest from the Bulgarian prog trio’s been a long time coming.

Why you can trust Louder Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Describing themselves as a progressive/neo-medieval/Christian rock act, Virtuel were formed by keyboardist/guitarist Nick Markov and vocalist/bassist/acoustic guitarist Rosen Angelov in Bulgaria 12 years ago. Guitarist Konstantin Jambazov completes a line-up that actually resides in three different countries (Angelov’s based in Bracknell, Berkshire), so understandably the trio’s progress in releasing music has been slow, a 13-year gap separating their first and second albums.

Conception Of Perception is nevertheless the work of a group that knows exactly what it’s doing. Angelov’s vocal phrasing evokes the fruity fulsomeness of Asia’s incomparable John Wetton. Nick Markov, with nine solo albums of prog-power-metal to his name, is a shredder of significant ability, as here on Arguing With Shadows and Farewell To A Golden Heart.

Virtuel aim for the pomp-fuelled territory once carved by Yes, Dream Theater and Kansas, and they’re quite good at it, if you can get past that feeling of familiarity.

At times Markov’s attempts to squeeze too many words in detract from the flow, but on the whole, there are more reasons to enjoy this album than to nitpick.