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Bigelf - Cheat The Gallows CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.70 | 112 ratings

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4 stars After a brief hiatus the band regrouped with some of their most exciting material to date!

Actually I'm still somewhat confused about the origin of this material since according to the album's credit notes two of these song were co-written by Richard Anton who was one of the band's early members and left before the release of Money Machine. Then there is a question of Gravest Show On Earth and The Evils Of Rock & Roll which are credited to Damon Fox and Bigelf's other founding member A.H.M. Butler-Jones who left the band in 2002. This is unfortunately also Butler-Jones' final credit since he passed away last new year's eve due to complications with pneumonia.

Finally the song Money, It's Pure Evil was previously heard as a bonus track on Bigelf's previous album Hex where it was entitled simply $. This sums up to a total of five out of ten tracks that in one way or another have already been in development before the recording sessions of Cheat The Gallows.

Still this is a second studio album by the same line-up which is actually a record considering all the changes that the band has undergone over the years with only Damon Fox as the only remaining member left from the original line-up. I personally consider this release to be a definite improvement over Hex and although it still suffers from the issue of trying to appeal to a wider audience most of these compositions work a whole lot better for me. First of all I really like the whole intro and outro idea which makes me think a bit about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but it's not all done just for the sake of a tribute since there is enough originality to keep it all sound fresh and existing to my ears. It's true that the band does tend to sound a bit too much like a cover band towards the album's middle section but that doesn't ruin the overall flow for me.

I was delighted to see the band perform as one of the supporting acts at Progressive Nation 2009. They were originally billed alongside Opeth and Unexpect on the European leg of the tour, but after Pain of Salvation and Beardfish dropped out, due to the bankruptcy of their record label's distributor, Bigelf filled in as one of the replacements during the U.S. tour as well. From what I've heard the band has now also continued to perform at the South America leg of the tour which will definitely get them the biggest exposure to date!

When I saw the show here in Stockholm, Sweden Bigelf announced that they would come out to the stands after their show to chat and sign albums. I had a chance to briefly chat with all of the members and they were even nice enough to sign my copy of the album. That whole experience replays in my head every time I listen to Cheat The Gallows so for me it's one of those must have albums in my collection. As for everyone who have never heard this album I still think that it would be an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection especially if you're one of the retro 70's fans!

***** star songs: Gravest Show On Earth (5:00) Blackball (7:02) Counting Sheep (11:20)

**** star songs: Money, It's Pure Evil (3:18) The Evils Of Rock & Roll (6:37) No Parachute (3:43) The Game (5:11) Race With Time (4:28) Hydra (6:23)

*** star songs: Superstar (3:46)

Rune2000 | 4/5 |


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