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Big Big Train - Grimspound CD (album) cover

GRIMSPOUND

Big Big Train

 

Crossover Prog

3.98 | 423 ratings

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wiz_d_kidd
2 stars Shortly after Grimspound came out, Big Big Train seemed to be the talk of the town. I couldn't click on a prog website without stumbling across news or raving reviews. A friend of mine recommended them, so I took a listen. Sorry to say, I just don't get what all the hype is about.

Overall, this album is not bad. In fact, it is just fine. It just fails to provide (me) with anything that is especially interesting, captivating, or moving. Let's look at some different aspects:

Aside from one instrumental piece, all of the tracks seem to share the same basic construction... play some introductory music, stop playing music and start singing, stop singing and start playing music, repeat several times. Then in the middle of the track, shift gears into a completely different mood.

I'm not a big fan of the either/or trade-off between groovy music and vocals. I like both at the same time. I find it more enjoyable when the band plays and the vocalist sings together, as one entity, not two separate entities trading time in the spotlight.

I'm also not a big fan of abrupt changes in mood, as if a new track has started. It really ruins the mental and emotional picture I established earlier in the song. It's kind of like a novel changing from a murder mystery to sci-fi fantasy half way through. It almost never makes sense.

So what about the quality of the vocals? I find them adequately average. They are pleasant enough, with no unnecessary melismatic runs or annoying note-seeking glides, but they are also of limited dynamic and spectral range. No faults or annoying habits, but nothing to write glowing reviews about, either. However, my ears perked up with interest when the female vocals started, and again when several vocalists harmonized together, but those instances were too few and far between.

And what of the music? There were plenty of musical interludes, and every so often a synth, or mellotron, or Hammond organ would chime in, but not for very long. There was occasional guitar presence, and lots of violin (which I love in prog music), but it was all very restrained, anti-climactic, and non-captivating. And despite enjoying Nick D'Virgilio in other settings, his drumming was constrained to basic background time-keeping. It was almost as if the band were trying their best to purposely restrain themselves. I kept wishing they would unshackle themselves and just let loose. I think they have the chops to do so, and the fact that they didn't (for whatever reason) was disappointing.

Overall, I would say that the album reminded me of a painting of a bowl of fruit on a table. Adequately executed, but lacking anything intriguing, interesting, stimulating, thought provoking, emotional, or adventurous. Worth a look, but nothing to dwell on. And while the artist(s) seemed to have the talent to paint a much more interesting picture, they failed to do so on this one. Two and a half stars.

wiz_d_kidd | 2/5 |

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