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Gnidrolog - In Spite Of Harry's Toenail CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 172 ratings

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Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Enriched by a wonderfully nervous atmosphere, In Spite Of Harry's Toenail is an intense listening experience. Fusing many of the sounds of the cherished ground-breaking British prog movement in the early years of the '70s while adding a unique, malignant and busy quirkiness as the icing on the cake; it's an album and band that deserves more love from a prog community that has taken music like that to their hearts.

Think the sometimes crashing cacophony, deranged changes and brooding atmospheres of Van Der Graaf Generator coupled to some of Gentle Giant's impeccable taste for details and medieval sounds and some broad kind of folk influences that ranges from the evil, chilling music of Comus to sweet flute melodies if you need some points of reference when it comes to style.

But what I like most about these songs are in fact how they are delivered; a crashing introduction in the first few seconds of Long Live Man Dead sets the standard right from the start. Vicious, gritty and unpolished. There are no lush keyboards or flashy solos to found. They're all replaced by this constantly evolving, twitching, meandering intensity that makes the album a great one. It really doesn't matter if it's a slow or fast section either, the feeling seems to sneak in everywhere. The great choice of incorporating saxophone, horn, oboe and cello into the overall sound immediately have me thinking about King Crimson, even if the comparisons in that matter aren't entirely correct. Acoustic parts are naked in sound, clear and piercing, which suits the beautiful flute parts perfectly and add a fragile polish to the mix - gone just as fast as you notice it, lost in another swirl of hammering and sharp burst of guitar or jazzy chaos like in the end of Time and Space. Many of the songs are mostly ticking bombs, ready to explode in VdGG- or Crimson-esque ways without warning. Although they can be just as jarring and emotionally charged as the aforementioned bands, Gnidrolog still isn't as 'trigger happy' when it comes to expressions like that. That's something on the positive side, giving the music time to build up pressure enough to warrant them meaningful and surprising.

Having such a great and working concept it seems a little strange to muddle it with what ironically is the title track. The melancholic flute and bass guitar leading up to a mellow Goodbye-Farewell-Adieu (literally, yes) part and that part itself is pure genius and the perfect epilogue to In Spite of Harry's Toenail. But the following bluesed-up guitar solo and the jumpy, sometimes Uriah Heep-ish minutes following it leaves something to be desired. Harmonica and guitar fiddling included, it mostly feels like an excuse to actually 'rock out', even if the thunderous cacophony wrapping it up takes the album back on track and ends it on a proper note. But no, it isn't actually bad. Just an observation that makes the experience ever so slightly diminished.

Highly recommended to almost everyone. 4 stars.


LinusW | 4/5 |


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