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Grey Lady Down - Fear CD (album) cover


Grey Lady Down



3.57 | 40 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars And finally... something a bit better

With their third album release, Grey Lady Down finally managed to avoid sounding derivative and indistinctive. With the present album - that was given the title Fear - the band took their first steps out of stylistic anonymity and towards their own musical identity and the end result is certainly something a little bit more original than anything they offered us before. Indeed, for this reviewer, Fear was the first good Grey Lady Down album. After having listened to all four of the band's studio albums, I can only assume that the only reason for which people like the first two albums is nostalgia. On these earlier albums, Grey Lady Down simply wore their influences on their sleeves and produced music in the already well-established style of the British Neo-Prog scene of the 80's with (early) Marillion standing out as the most obvious role model. Maybe many people were starved on this kind of music in the early 90's (about ten years after the first Neo-Prog bands emerged), but today, albums like Grey Lady Down's 1994 debut, The Crime, and the 1995 follow-up, Forces (both rated with two stars each), sound seriously dated. (Besides, bands like Pendragon were doing that sort of thing much better at the same time). It is in this context that Fear sounded a bit more refreshing to these ears.

Compared to the earlier recordings of the band, Fear is a more mature effort; it is less derivative and much less 80's sounding. It also has a harder edge (even heavy at some points!) and is darker in both tone and subject matter. I would say that the compositions here are more complex and developed too. To what extent this rejuvenation and revitalization of the band was due to the replacements in both the keyboard department and the guitar department is unclear, but I suspect it had a lot to do with it. Judging from this album, Mark Westworth is a better and more interesting keyboard player than the previous Louis David and Steve Anderson a superior and more powerful guitarist compared to Julian Hunt. With Westworth and Anderson on board, Grey Lady Down seems to have acquired a newfound confidence and the whole band benefits here including singer Martin Wilson who sounds better here than in the past.

While I find this album to be more enjoyable than the previous ones by Grey Lady Down, the material here is not that much stronger. Fear is an enjoyable listen for sure, but the songs are again not particularly memorable; unlike with the previous two albums, Fear is a rather pleasurable listen, but afterwards I don't remember any of its melodies. It never really grips me. There is also not enough diversity and variation on this album to make it really exciting. And, the cover art picture is simply dreadful!

An improvement for sure, but still far from essential

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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