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Gryphon - Treason CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.45 | 161 ratings

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2 stars Henry VIII sent those who committed Treason to be hung, drawn, and quartered, and, after hearing this sell out of an album, he would surely have dispatched the whole bally lot of Gryphon by oxcart to Tyburn for immediate execution.

It is sometimes said that it is about the journey and not the destination. That must certainly be true of Gryphon, because their journey from medieval folk troubadours to pop rock tune meisters was a wonderful ride full of beautifully crafted music, combining medieval folk and progressive rock in amazing ways, but, if this album is the final destination, then I would prefer to see the troubadours back out on the road again.

Of course no band can keep doing the same thing over and over again, and all bands that want to flourish must explore new musical territory and new musical directions. However, not all new directions are the right direction, and this album is definitely a wrong turn for a band like Gryphon.

Gryphon going pop rock is like Houdini announcing that he's giving up performing escapology and will instead give demonstrations of cross stitching. He might have been a great cross stitcher, but it's not what I would want to watch Houdini doing. Equally I want to hear Gryphon exploiting their talents and exploring their medieval folk prog influences to the full.

With a changed line up of Harvey, Oberle, Gulland, Foster, Davie, and Baird, Gryphon are, as always, a wonderful set of musicians, and the quality of the musicianship is again high on this album, and there are many nice enough pop rock songs on the album.

But this is GRYPHON!! This is not an average pop rock ensemble. We know that Gryphon are capable of creating incredible albums fusing medieval folk with progressive rock music in the most glorious ways, so why would they want to change their style and produce okay but fairly average pop rock that so many other bands were already churning out?

When you have your own niche and a style that is absolutely unique in music, why would you want to become ordinary and like every other pop rock band?

Of course, those listeners who dislike the medieval folk inspired albums will probably prefer an album like this, but, medieval folk is the very essence of Gryphon, and there are plenty of other bands to turn to if toe tapping pop rock is the order of the day.

Gryphon had been touring with Yes, and they clearly craved the success that Yes were having. They hoped for bigger audiences and main stream appeal. Unfortunately a band as specialised and inimitable as Gryphon were never likely to top the charts, and the experiment failed. There is no surprise that the band called it a day soon after this album.

"Spring Song" is of course the highlight, and the only highlight, of the album. It has nice use of bassoon from Gulland and a good uplifting melody. The chorus section of "Spring is the dancer..." has a nice catchy refrain and the song is pleasant and memorable. Even so the track is a little disjointed in places and, good as it is overall, it is not enough to rescue the album.

Is 2 stars a bit harsh? Possibly, and in all honesty, if I was reviewing this album on a purely stand alone basis, it would probably merit 3 stars, but this is Gryphon and I know what they are capable of. I cannot reward an album that has sold out on a wonderful musical heritage for cheap popularity that in the end it did not achieve. What's more, I would only recommend this album to someone who was a committed fan of Gryphon and who had already heard all of their other albums.

For this crime of Treason I sentence Gryphon to 40 years of banishment, after which they shall be required to ReInvent themselves.

Chaser | 2/5 |


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