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Big Big Train - Grimspound CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.00 | 558 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Excellent! Close to 5 Stars.

More lively and diverse an album than Folklore, Grimspound is a welcome addition to the BBT catalogue. It keeps with the now-established mature BBT sound (and thus also BBT formula), but with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting, and to differentiate it from previous albums. Unlike the album Folklore, which I found drags a bit, Grimspound's 68 minutes go by in a flash. There are some of the pagan-folk influences introduced on Folklore (the main example here is "The Ivy Gate", with Judy Dyble guesting on vocals alongside David Longdon, and the violin of Rachel Hall is featured prominently), but I find the album harkens back more to feel of the English Electric (EE) volumes in terms of musical diversity and the ability to rock out in between softer passages. But there is still a clear theme/formula, with references to older English traditions and ways of life, and I find the lyrics to be quite similar to previous albums (for instance, "Brave Captain" here, like "Winkie" on Folklore, is about a world-war flying hero, "Meadowlands" harkens back to both "Edgelands" and "Hedgerow" on EE, etc). So, not much new in that sense. I indeed wish that they would find newer/different themes to sing about, not because I find the current formula in any way off-putting, but because they already did this so well on previous albums. Saying this, the music here is excellent, and I can totally see why people would give this album 5 stars. BBT have with each subsequent album honed their own voice, and this album doesn't lean quite as much on melancholic emotives - it is more direct. Standout tracks include the title track "Grimspound", and the last two tracks ("Mead Hall in Winter" and "As a Crow Flies") which I am sure are set to become among their most-highly requested live tunes. Those rank up there with the best of English Electric. But it is the instrumental "On the Racing Line" that I love the best. This track, which is actually an addendum to "Brooklands" from Folklore (and would become part of the "Brooklands Sequence" on 'The Second Brightest Star' released only six months after Grimspound), shakes up the album, and is exactly the kind of diversity that was missing from Folklore. Nick D'Virgilio's drumming is (once again) awesome - worth the price of the ticket alone - as is the guitar playing. Other tracks have mixed effects - mixed in the sense of diverse. "Brave Captain" is great, although I find the lyrics a tad trite, but it has a number of great musical moments, shifting between slow and fast etc. "Experimental Gentlemen" likewise shifts between time signatures, but the chorus is less musical than the 6/8 sections. "Ivy Gate" is wonderful - nice addition of Dyble's vocal, but "Meadowlands" sounds like an outtake from Folklore, with nostalgic and syrup-y lyrics (some which resurface in Mead Hall, although they fit in better there). On the whole, an enjoyable experience, up there among the best BBT albums, more memorable and diverse than Folklore, but not quite as good as their very best. I give this 8.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is near the top end of 4 PA stars.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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