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Pallas - The Wedge CD (album) cover

THE WEDGE

Pallas

 

Neo-Prog

3.01 | 129 ratings

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sigod
3 stars The Wedge was the second and final album to be released during the band's tenure with EMI and saw the arrival of singer Alan Reed. Reed took over the front man mantle from the previous incumbent Euwan Lowson, who although enjoyed a well deserved reputation as a showman, possessed a less than impressive recording voice. The band's previous album (The Sentinel) had been a much anticipated release in the progressive community but sadly failed to scale the commercial heights that Marillion's 'Script For A Jester's Tear' had achieved a year previously.

The album bore all the hallmarks of a band intent on streamlining its sound and jettisoning the theatrics of the past. Gone were the odes to lost civilisations and in came sanguine observations on the inhabitants and mechanisms of modern society.

'Dancing Through The Fire' pummels along on the back of a frenzied 6/8 beat which pauses briefly midway only to hammer the tune home again before giving way to the albums first single 'Throwing Stones At The Wind'. It is here that most of the band's commercial edge becomes apparent with its staccato guitar riff and (now somewhat ironic) hookline. 'Win or Lose' power ballad's it's way into forgetfulness but is quickly replaced by one of the album's finer moments 'Executioner', a dark foreboding tale of a vigilante's mission to rid his neighbourhood of street scum. A fine track which exudes a tangible menace despite the 80's production sound that plagues much of UK prog from this era (i.e. the ubiquitous Phil Collins drum sound).

'Imagination' is a surprisingly coherent and catchy number that sees bassist Graham Murray taking up the vocal spotlight with considerable aplomb. 'Ratracing' is certainly the most progressive song on the entire album and probably embodies all that this era of Pallas were trying to achieve with their music. With its brooding opening, icy power chords, odd time sequences and effective use of loud and quiet passages, the band explore the oppression and wonder of the big city experience. 'Just A Memory' (which was originally the last track on the LP version of the album) broils quietly and effectively as Reed sings of how memory can transform even the most significant things and people into phantoms.

The final three tracks were originally released in a 3-track e.p. (The Knightmoves) and added to the recently re-issued CD. 'Strangers' is not a million miles away from 'Imagination' but sounds a little less focused and nowhere near as much fun. 'Sanctuary' opens in a swirl of keyboards and slow guitar arpeggios which backs a heartrending commentary upon the Jewish genocide. Finally 'Nightmare' completes the trinity with a dark, macabre ride through the outer limits of a disturbed mind.

EMI and Pallas parted company soon after 'The Wedge' was released and perhaps if the company had not pushed so hard for commercial success, we might have seen a more complete record which might have ultimately sold better to the band's core following. That said, there are few neo-prog bands that have produced a finer slice of mainstream prog and although it is not a masterpiece, it is a successful body of work.

sigod | 3/5 |

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