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Pallas - The Sentinel CD (album) cover





3.49 | 214 ratings

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3 stars The Sentinel is the debut studio album by neo alumni Pallas, released in 1984, although the release date had been put back by EMI, who, apparently, did not think that the initial press contained enough "hits". Many commentators have cited record company "interference" for the relatively poor sales of this work, moving it away from its original state to something altogether more "accessible" in parts. Comparisons have been made, of course, with Marillion's Script released the previous year, with many saying that this could have outshone it. Actually, the truth is rather more simple than all of this. The Sentinel simply ain't as good as Script, end of.

Conceptually, it as certainly very bold, telling the story of a search for Atlantis as the cure for east v west wars, and this theme would, of course, be taken up again with the 2011 follow up, XXV. The latter has the advantage of benefitting from 21st century production standards, because this, with the legendary Eddie Offord at the helm, sounds, well, dreadful, with huge chunks lost in the mix. Offord, of course, had ceased to be a "relevant" producer some years before. Presumably, EMI thought he would provide a magic touch and give them another monster prog hit.

Musically, it was certainly accomplished, and it is fair to say that Pallas took their chief influences from a wider range than Marillion or IQ. In here, you can hear the obvious Yes, ELP references, alongside sci-fi era Rush and others. Highlight for me here is the fine keyboard work undertaken by Ronnie Brown, and the album is, in truth, better when it is instrumental, because the vocals of Euan Lowson always grated. The arrival of Alan Reed would, IMO, take the band far further forward.

So, how to rate this? It is difficult rating an album you were familiar with in 1984 in 2013, and especially judging it by today's digital production standards. So, I think the best thing to say is that this is an important album in the context of progressive music history, was very enjoyable when I first got it, but less so now, and (in whatever decade) nothing near as good as some of its "competitors".

So, three stars for this, a good album, but newcomers to Pallas might be better off starting with the sequel, because that is a heavy belter.

lazland | 3/5 |


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