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Bigelf - Into The Maelstrom CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.61 | 93 ratings

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4 stars After the long wait from 2008 when Bigelf released the excellent album "Cheat the Gallows", there was a bit of disruption from members of the band and Damon Fox, the frontman of the band, was debating whether to continue in music. Mike Portnoy, the ex-drummer from Dream Theatre, convinced Damon to continue on, and so a new Bigelf album suddenly appeared after the long break with Portnoy as the band's new drummer.

So, was there much of a change from the previous sound? Not really much, but that is a great thing when it comes to the retro-inspired heavy prog rock style of Bigelf. With the new album, you get the shot in the arm from the great drumming talent of Portnoy, but you also still get the amazing and infectious hard guitar hooks, excellent organ and mellotron in abundance as before, and the obvious influences of Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Queen and The Beatles. The band wears their influences on their sleeve, and believe me, they deserve to be raised up on the high standard that their influences are on. The music is retro, yet it is original and specific to the band. This album does tend to be a little thicker in atmosphere than the previous albums, but not enough to turn anyone that is familiar with their sound against them at all. The rhythms are ever changing, the tracks have multiple themes and prog elements running rampant through each song.

Every single track has it's own surprises and personalities. There are heavy tracks and others that are softer, at least in parts because the music is always changing. It is dramatic music, never really going over the top in pompousness, but it is there in enough quantity to keep things fun and interesting. There is enough in each track to keep things interesting for several years worth of listening, just like their other albums. There are some amazing noteworthy tracks, namely the complex "Mr. Harry McQuhae" and the strange yet original sounding "Alien Frequency". If there were more tracks like these two, then this would have been a 5 star album because of their progressiveness beyond what the band has previously done. There is the powerful and completely proggish multi movement work "ITM" which clocks in at over 8 minutes and then there are the shorter, yet not at all diminished in creativity, tracks like "Already Gone" and "Control Freak", which even in their brevity, still contain some great ingenuity and even have room for impressive soloing.

The music is heavy, but not without quieter breaks in the action. The music has a certain level of flamboyance, which is to be expected considering their influences. This album takes the sound of the prog bands that were popular in the 70's and moves them a step further. If the prog sound of the 70s was allowed to continue on without the influence of the New Wave sound of the 80s without so many prog bands trying to adjust their sound to fit in with that sounds, then this album is the logical progressive sequence that we could have expected, the same instruments used by those bands taken to the next progressive level, yes including the mellotron, and plenty of it. This is music that shouldn't be ignored in prog circles, especially those that yearn for great bands that continue the true legacy of 70s progressive rock.

I gave a 5 star rating to "Cheat the Gallows" which I stand by. There wasn't a lot of progression evident from that album to this album, and like I said before, that is not a bad thing and that by no means signifies that this is a lesser album. But with progressive rock, I come to expect a little more of a progression in the overall sound of each album, and this one, other than being a little denser, is not much different in sound from the previous album. I still recommend this album but not as an essential album as the previous one because of that reason. It's still great music that I enjoy immensely, but not different enough from before, so it can't really be considered essential. But I can easily give it 4 strong stars, and who knows, I may even change my mind as time proves it's ability to continue to be interesting.

TCat | 4/5 |


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