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Pallas - Beat The Drum CD (album) cover

BEAT THE DRUM

Pallas

 

Neo-Prog

3.65 | 110 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Spirits and ghosts

Like several other older Neo-Progressive bands, Pallas too has produced their best material in more recent years. In Pallas' case it is with a trio of very good albums starting with this one from the late 90's and continuing with The Cross And The Crucible and The Dreams Of Men in the new millennium. Since Beat The Drum was Pallas' first album in 12 years, it was probably hard - even for the band's fans - to really know what to expect from them after all that time. For many of us though, the band's more recent string of albums was our first exposure to the band. And for me, it was a positive surprise. My usual problem with some Neo-Prog bands - that they are too derivative and stay too close to other bands (most often 80's Marillion and 70's Genesis) - is not a problem I have with Pallas. This band has a sound of their own and the very good vocals of Alan Reed have a distinctive quality and he is never trying to sound like Fish or Peter Gabriel or anyone else of the usual suspects.

The album starts out strongly with two of its best songs. Call To Arms grabbed my attention quickly and the title track, with its excellent verses and memorable chorus stuck in my head. The lyrics are often thoughtful and reflective. The following two songs, however, are closer to that typical Neo-Prog sound and Hide & Seek features a bit of an 80's flavour that might perhaps be distracting for some Prog fans. All Or Nothing, despite having very nice verses, has a pretty lame chorus! This is a bit too catchy and melodic for my taste. But it does not distract too much from the overall direction of the album.

The atmospheric Spirits brings us back to the more substantial and reflective mood again. This has an excellent vocal and some lovely bagpipes at the end of the song. This song might remind you of Mike Oldfield in some passages! Man Of Principle is again an up tempo somewhat 80's flavoured song that is below the overall high standard of the album. Ghosts is possibly the most progressive song on Beat The Drum, but it is not the best.

With a running time of well over an hour, there are a couple of moments that perhaps could have been left out in order to make the album a bit more concise and engaging, but overall this is excellent music. It is a common mistake in the age of the compact disc to put too much material on an album. The lovely piano ballad Blood & Roses is beautiful but would probably be even more effective a bit earlier in the track list. The closer Fragments Of The Sun is good but not quite strong enough to bring the album to the conclusion it would deserve.

Overall, Beat The Drum is a highly enjoyable album with several excellent tracks that will be Pallas classics for eternity. The strengths of this album lies in the individual tracks and as a whole it does not hold together as well as the brilliant conceptual follow up, The Cross And The Crucible. The minor flaws I mentioned initially kept me from giving it a higher rating, but over more listens I decided to upgrade my rating to four stars.

Highly recommended in addition to the even stronger and more mature The Cross And The Crucible.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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