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Writing On The Wall - Power Of The Picts CD (album) cover


Writing On The Wall


Heavy Prog

3.88 | 33 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars WRITING ON THE WALL were a one-album Heavy Prog band from Bonnie Scotland. They began life in Edinburgh in the late- 1960's and later moved down to London where they became a popular Live act, playing at the famed Middle Earth club. They were hit by ill fortune in 1973 though when their band gear was stolen and the writing was on the wall for the break-up of the band. Their one and only studio album "The Power of the Picts" (1969) featured a creepy black and white image of a skull. The album is categorised as Occult Rock on Wikipedia, so you can expect to hear a spooky witches brew of music in the style of those other two hocus pocus black magic bands, Black Widow and Coven. The CD re-issue of "The Power of the Picts" added two bonus tracks to the original nine songs on the album. There were three later album releases from Writing on the Wall, featuring rare recordings from various sessions in the late-60's and early-70's:- "Rarities from the Middle Earth" (1994); "Burghley Road" (1996); and "The Rockfield Sessions" (2015).

The album opens in fine rollicking and rambunctious style with "It Came On Sunday", which comes loudly knocking at your back door. The postman doesn't bother to ring twice, he just comes crashing straight through your door with a special delivery of powerhouse heavy blues. It's not quite as heavy as the throbbing and thunderous raw proto-metal of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath though. No, this roaring song with its pounding beat and hypnotic rhythm is more akin to the powerful organ-driven sound of early Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Rare Bird, with a healthy splash of mean and mighty blues thrown into the mix too. It's probably best to hunker down through the storming Hard Rock of "It Came On Sunday" and wait for Monday to come 'round. There's no peace for the wicked (or the good) though, because it's time now for a piece of "Mrs. Cooper's Pie", which turns out to be a tasty slice of thrumming organ-driven heavy rock, of which High and Mighty keyboard wizard Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep fame would be mighty proud. This Very 'eavy, Very 'umble song is a Demons and Wizards Wonderworld of sonic energy which has all of the raw undiluted power of a tank rolling across Salisbury Plain, so you better run, you better take cover, because this tank ain't stopping for anyone. We're celebrating the Sweet Freedom of a "Ladybird" next, as we dive Head First into this sonic blast from the blast. Again, the Writing is on the Wall for another pounding and pulsating explosion of audio dynamite, as this band of stormtroopers are on a take-no-prisoners Conquest, where you the listener may be the Innocent Victim. This is an album that should come with a noise abatement notice! The band really Ram the message home with the next storming rocker: "Aries". Batten down the hatches because this album is about to get VERY LOUD indeed! "Aries" is a supercharged high-energy cover version of a track from the classic American Psychedelic Rock album , "The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds", recorded in the Summer of Love year of 1967. This is where the manic intensity of earlier numbers is ramped up to 99 and taken to a whole new level of sonorous magnitude, instilling the music with all of the unstoppable power and energy of a battering Ram. Whether or not you believe in horoscopes, it's written in the stars that the Astounding Sounds of this song and album will Amaze and Delight fans of Heavy Prog.

Take cover! It could be a good time to hide under the bed now or the "Bogeyman" might get you. He sounds like a mean and moody bogeyman too, if this creepy blues number with a mean and moody attitude is anything to go by. The brief and very bizarre sailor's hornpipe sea shanty in the opening only adds to the Looney Tunes wackiness in this wild ride on the Crazy Train, with the manic vocalist sounding like he's on some kind of psychedelic acid trip from Hell. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible..... There's no hope of sanity returning any time soon though as it's a Return To Fantasy for "Shadow of Man". It's another dark and brooding return to insanity that doesn't just verge on madness - it goes right off the rails altogether and takes the listener on a nightmare ride of absolute bedlam where the lines between fantasy and reality are constantly blurred. The music is a lunatic asylum of crazy over-the-top vocals accompanied by an absolutely manic keyboard player and a drummer going hell for leather with the relentless pounding power of a pneumatic drill. "Shadow of Man" represents a non-stop bunker-busting artillery barrage of sound from beginning to end, so it's best to have the ear- defenders at the ready. This band might sound as crazy and demented as a box of frogs at times, but that only adds to their manic appeal. Some sense of normality returns now for the heavy blues rocker "Tasker's Successor", which still barrels along relentlessly on full-power, but without the craziness of the two earlier numbers. We're S-L-O-W-I-N-G things right down now for "Hill of Dreams", an epic and grandiose number with all of the pomp and magnificent splendour we've come to expect from the best in Prog-Rock. This truly IS Progressive Rock too because the song progresses from a fairly sedate beginning, and then lights up like a Firefly into a dynamic crescendo of sound for the magnificent finale. This is the kind of gloriously pompous prog that dreams are made of! The album is rounded off nicely now by "Virginia Waters", a heavy psych number charging full-steam ahead, featuring some strangely incomprehensible babbling vocals and a maniacal accordion player, but that's no less than what we've come to expect from this psycho band of warriors on the edge of time.

If you like your Heavy Prog all-fired up with some added manic intensity, then the Writing on the Wall is that you'll love the sound of "The Power of the Picts". This band are a whole Different World of prog with a unique style all of their own, which verges on madness at times, but the album should appeal to fans of the keyboard-heavy sound of such bands as Black Widow, Deep Purple, Rare Bird, and especially Uriah Heep.

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |


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