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Pallas - The Sentinel CD (album) cover

THE SENTINEL

Pallas

 

Neo-Prog

3.49 | 167 ratings

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aapatsos
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars An interesting acquaintance

Thinking of neo-prog, I was expecting something relatively different than what PALLAS deliver in their studio debut, and especially in the first part of the record. THE SENTINEL, as it is presented in CD format (different order from LP), can be separated in three parts with imaginable lines after tracks 3 and 7 respectively. From the band's first live release in 1981, only Arrive Alive remains here, giving an idea of that album's musical approach.

The first three tracks have in common a somewhat sophisticated pop-rock approach from Britain's mid-80's. The sound of these compositions personally remind me of the goth/punk pop-rock wave that was dominant at that time; lots of keyboards, strange vocals and a well-created darkish atmosphere. From these tracks (which all sound at least pleasant and interesting), Arrive Alive sounds as the most mainstream track with obvious AOR references (a reviewer has successfully referred to SAGA).

As their predecessors, tracks 4-7 range from 4-6 minutes but this is where the similarities stop. Rise and Fall pt.1 starts off with a well-known bombastic intro and falls in a sophisticated mid-tempo with odd vocals, slowing down in the refrain and producing the proggiest moments in the album so far with exciting eclectic keyboards. The ''Atlantis'' theme seems to be revealed in this track and continues in the rest of the record, along with an ELOY feeling that seems to flow through the lyrics and the way the vocals are sung. East West is a ballad that continues in the same thematic vein and atmosphere with the previous track but with much mellower parts and melodic pianos.

March on Atlantis picks up with Vangelis-like intros and epic heavy rhythm-sections which are accompanied by operatic keyboards. After the first half the track turns in a mellow vocal-piano section to conclude the track as it commenced. Rise and Fall pt.2 flows in a similar slow tempo, but this time the vocals are spoken (rather than sung) in the vein of the lyrical theme and only towards the end of the track do the guitars pick up in soloing.

The last part of the album consists of 3 relatively longer (7-8 minute) tracks. Heart Attack is a brilliant example of theatrical vocals and strong melodies. The track flows in slow tempo again with beautiful pianos and livens up slightly half way through to a more mid-tempo approach. The closest reference to describe the music is IQ, especially in the mid-tempo sections and the melodies. Atlantis is a generally more dynamic track with an epic opening part and a vivid, full-of-vocals middle part. Lots of experimental parts here interchange with electronic vocals and spacey keyboards. The second part of the song is dominated by Lowson's vocals and a pompous outro. Similarly Ark of Infinity continues the same thematic approach with lots of adventurous bass playing and bombastic keyboards. The main experimental theme gives its place to a dreamy section that concludes the album.

I am not sure how differently the LP version sounds, but in this format, the tracks 4-10 seem to follow a common pattern, and especially the last three. The neo-prog that PALLAS are presenting makes only few references to YES (Ark of Infinity) and reminds me strongly of an ELOY atmosphere in albums like OCEAN, primarily in the lyrical/theatrical approach. The bombastic operatic parts resemble slightly to VANGELIS and other prog-electronic musicians (TIM BLAKE) and the neo-prog music elements themselves can be found in IQ and maybe ARENA albums (could not see a resemblance to MARILLION). This is a somewhat strange neo release that takes some time to digest. Excluding the first three decent pop-rock tracks, the rest of the album has an interesting cohesion that prog fans are urged to explore.

aapatsos | 3/5 |

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