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Gandalf's Fist - Road To Darkness CD (album) cover

ROAD TO DARKNESS

Gandalf's Fist

 

Neo-Prog

3.88 | 54 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars Gandalf's Fist is another one of those bold gambles that a prog fan will occasionally dare to consider, a leap of faith as IQ would state in a musical form whereby a hitherto unknown entity has enough non-tangible appeal to elicit interest. Peculiar in being a duet with a multi- instrumentalist (Dean Marsh) and a vocalist (Luke Severn) and yet well within the very familiar Pink Floyd confines of musical trippiness, this is one of those typical progressive (old-school) journeys that is well crafted, with superb sound and production, great covert art and some damn fine songs clearly infused by the spirit of Pink Floyd, not the shabbiest of influences out there. The obligatory spaciness is there in spades, synths fluttering wildly in the mix, breezy guitar ramblings and some rock solid drumming. This is best exemplified by the seductive opener, a lush atmospheric intro that truly mesmerizes. Hypnotic soundscapes and electronic creativity. On the shimmering 'Emerald Eyes' the mood goes fluidly into interstellar overdrive (excuse the obvious pun) and firmly grooves deep within the warm Floydian zephyr. The serene vocals are mostly soft and vaporous, just like the Dave Gilmour we all know and love. A tortuous lead guitar foray stamps the deal quite succinctly, actually different from the Gilmourian experience. Sensitive voices, seducing with a scat female aria (yum!) and cloudy wisps of instrumental prowess. 'Conjuror of Things' is weirder, solemn and brooding, exotically decadent like a soundtrack to a warped movie ('The Wizard of Oz?' Yeah! I was waiting for a prog artist to cover such a classic story, bedtime fodder for the children) , except here, the arrangements take a multitude of swings and swerves , often dizzyingly so!

'Into the Dark' is the lyrical foundation of the theme espoused by the two artists and it succeeds in being both breezy and intense. It's the longest rack at a scant 7+ minutes but what a stunner! Folky essences collide with wider symphonic catharsis, sideswiped by some clever 'rock' moves! Excellent stuff, this! This is one of those 'sleeper' tracks so common in prog , divulging its real merits only after multiple listens. Deft is the drumming here (and everywhere really), foxily beefing up the opaque soporifics and boldly foraging forward. 'Twilight'' is a much more experimental composition, an astute platform for a sizzling and lengthy axe solo to freeze the mind into a moment of bliss.Lots of air and fluffy clouds in this one.

When a track starts off with a succulent bass motif, you know the blood will be boiling! 'The Sulfur Highways of IO' clearly flees any form of timidity, very 'stoner' in the special effects department, velvety carpets of sound and exceptional singing. A massive bluesy solo on the 6 string sets a cool, English country rhythm that is most appealing.

'A ballad you ask? 'Untrodden Ways' is a gentle folk lullaby with medieval overtones (flute and mandolin like guitar), a plaintive voice drenched in serene abdication. When you least expect it, the tune swings into raucous bullying, like at the Middle-Ages banquet hall where the drunken bearded troubadours hang out!

The title track veers into another domain, deep musical adornments emit an almost electro- jazz feel, careening synths speeding like Formula One car, never out of control. Brooding, foreboding and dark are the contrasts, spooky muffled and mangled vocals. The next level is the ultra Pink Floyd finale, all blended craftily and finalizing this track as another massive highlight.

'The Council of Anderson' is even better, a looping melody that sweeps ahead, unafraid, bluesy, breezy and resolute. Luke's vocals positively shine a voice that will need to be noticed by all. The bass, drums, keys and guitar work by Dean is compelling and often, well beyond the boundaries of sheer brilliance. The fretboard solo finale is whopping!.

'Assorted Lunatics' puts this puppy to rest, comfortably numb and utterly content. This brief piece is the most obvious Ummagumma here, floating sounds and fleeting voices, celestial, dreamy and effective.

A thoroughly enjoyable outing that will provide a great many future listens. Every track a delightful nugget of pleasant familiarity and highly creative material that stretches the boundaries of Neo or Space, quite originally under the circumstances.

5 Gloomy Avenues

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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