The Agony and the Ecstasy fixes up the weaknesses of Childhood's End, but it also dulls its strengths. Instead of embarking in a multi-part epic track, Tempano has devised this album as a loose suite of songs. There are three main differences with this opus. First, Pedro Castillo sings in English instead of Spanish, and he does so comfortably, without a heavy accent or questionable syntax. Second, he sings more often, in six of the 15 tracks. Third, the music has lost most of its jazz-rock component to focus on a friendlier, more melodic form of progressive rock. The last two elements combined produce a shift in direction. The previous album consisted of a collection of instrumental pieces with occasional lyrics popping up. This one is made of songs with instrumental tunes interspersed -- that is, the focus resides on the songs; they provide the melodies. The instrumentals have been relegated to a supporting role (providing atmospheric nuances, in particular), with a couple of exceptions, the opener "Twisted Mind" and closer "Conspiración" being the most noteworthy. It's all well written, performed, and produced, but in "Imaginary Sky" you can completely forget that this is Tempano, a Venezuelan band, and mistake it for a radio-friendly Spock's Beard song. "Just in a Second" and "Timeless Time" provide the song highlights. The album is wrapped in Italian Renaissance imagery, including female Italian voices included here and there in the mix and culminating in "Attimo Infinito." Some old fans may experience difficulties adjusting to the changes, but mainstream prog devotees will surely enjoy this polished release.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture