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BEAT THE DRUM

Pallas

Neo-Prog


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Greger
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is PALLAS follow up to their 1986 release "The Wedge", quite some time to wait. PALLAS is most known for their 1984 release "The Sentinel". Unfortunately this is the first PALLAS album I've ever heard. And unfortunately is the right word to use, as this is a brilliant album. Their music is neo-symphonic rock that sometimes is closer to AOR than symphonic rock. The songs have a lot of good melodies, catchy choruses and strong musicianship. Some reminiscences might be PINK FLOYD and YES. The highlights are "Beat The Drum", "Insomniac", "Spirits", "Ghosts", "Blood And Roses" and "Fragments of the Sun". Except for a few tracks, this is one of the best albums of 1999 so far, and one that you just has to have in your collection.

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#11939)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is a superb comeback after 13 years in the wilderness. There is not a single weak song with varying styles from epics to rockier numbers to softer ballads. The epic title track ranks among their best and is a cautionary tale about the cold war and the two leaders of the superpowers. Innsomniac is another epic with superb lyrics and inspired base playing from Graeme Murray. The ballad Blood and Roses is well played and understated, very poignant. Man of Principal and Ghosts are both rockier numbers, the latter has a truly superb ending starting with an inspired solo by Niall Matthewson leading a synth solo. Brilliant!!

This album is a must have for all prog lovers.

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Send comments to jimpetrie2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#11940)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The cover reminds me to Manfred Mann's Earth band "The Roaring Silence" album. Well, similar cover but different meaning, I guess. For sure, it's a different kind of music.

This is an amazing album. Beautifully composed and perfectly delivered by the band! Let me tell you why, track by track, because it deserves detailed review.

CALL TO ARMS kicks off the album in a straight forward medium beat rock music with relatively thin guitar riffs. The keyboard sound is positioned to accentuate the music, played in a spacey mood. This track has a nice transition when the music enters a slower tempo right before the interlude part that explores electric guitar. The first spin of this track, it didn't impress me at all but it grew slowly until I really love it now. Alan reed's voice is nice and mixed thinly in this album. "So get up and fight! Come on fight!" - what an uplifting words.

BEAT THE DRUM is really THE thing. Yup, is the THING that really BLEW me the first time I listened to it. So melodic opening with soft keyboard work and simple piano touch. And .. when Reed's vocal enter the scene . OH BOY . I cannot bear it anymore . the melody really qualifies to make a human cry! I'm not joking my friend ., seriously .. the intro part of this track is amazingly great!! Well, it's just the music, but if you listen to the lyrics .. it makes the situation even worse .so sad .. it's about change. Nothing constant but the change itself, my friend. Genesis even told us in "Firth of Fifth" .."the river of constant change!" Remember it hah? I'm so sad with the lyrics of this track "He spent his life making weapons of war. Times have changed - they don't need him no more. Beat the drum." Feel so sorry for him, but war serves no good at all for humankind. Let's stop the war. Beat the drum! Yeah . After melodic intro then the music comes into play where all instruments play together and it flows naturally in an upbeat tempo. It has a very atmospheric nuance with dazzling bass guitar work by Graeme Murray with his Rickenbacker 4001. I really love Murray's bass playing, so dynamic and wonderful! The keyboard part by Ronnie Brown is also excellent. The inclusion of percussion / drum as an accentuation of "Beat the Drum" credo has enriched the track. All in all, this track really makes the album worth- collecting! Just buy the CD! You won't regret. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Third track "HIDE & SEEK" opens with a soft guitar fills and low voice of Reed in relatively slow tempo. The exploration of keyboard sound is excellent. The track then flows naturally to a typical neo-prog rock upbeat music. The electric guitar solo in the middle of the track by Niall Mathewson is stunning especially when it is then combined by great keyboard work at the background. Not to miss is the Rickenbackering by Murray - excellent!

The mood then moves to a more theatrical nature with the opening of fourth track "INSOMNIAC". It reminds me to the band early work with previous vocalist Euan Lowson performing "The Ripper". But this track is much better. Having explored significantly in theatrical mood, the music then enters in a more continuous form with a high tone voice of Alan Reed. The solo keyboard and drum works are cool. The keyboard part reminds me to TONY BANKS work in Genesis. This track ends up with an excellent narration.

"ALL OR NOTHING" starts with an atmospheric keyboard played softly. Oops! Suddenly the music enters in an upbeat tempo with an excellent combination of keyboard (producing a sound like vibes; very nice!), bass, drums and voice. The music is continuous and composed nicely. The melody is very uplifting and will definitely cheer you up. It's a kind of music to elevate your emotion. When Niall mathewson takes the lead during interlude with his electric guitar, you can taste a rocking mood really! It is then followed by keyboard work. Excellent track!

Sixth track, "SPIRITS", I think, is destined to give a break to the listeners with a slow tempo composition. The opening part seems typical slow track but when it reaches approximately minute 2:20 the melody turns to be very touchy especially with the Hackettian guitar style. Oh boy .what this band is doing? They are so creative in creating memorable and touchy melodies! The music rises to high and reaches the point where it seems like a MIKE OLDFIELD's music. It's really cool.

Well, it's time to rock again! The seventh track, "MAN OF PRINCIPLE", is really a straight forward rock with some neo prog touch and a bit flavor of SAGA music. The bass line in some segments seem repeated but overall it does not harm the beauty of this track. This track would probably suit as an encore track in PALLAS concert. It's kind like PALLAS' "Roundabout" (Yes), I would say. But hold on .. at roughly minute 4:00 the music changes its tempo nicely and returns to the main tagline.

"GHOSTS" starts with a nice and harmonious panpipe works accompanied by mellotron- like keyboard sound. It is then combined with Alan Reed's voice performed in a theatrical mood. Alan Reed moves slowly to a higher tone and followed by the music with a faster tempo and great bass line and guitar howling sound. The music then moves in much more complex structure exploring keyboards, guitars, drums and bass. This is another excellent track that becomes my all-time favorite.

Watch-out your eyes! Cause the band brings you again to another sad song "BLOOD & ROSES"! Opened with a simple solo piano and melodic voice line that might crunch your heart and makes tears in your eyes. Beware! Yeap. I'm right. This song has a very touchy melody, especially when Reed sings "I will follow you down. I will follow you down into a deep deep sleep". Oh my God! What a great melody this band has created! Even when the full music comes into play, there is still a sad nuance.

Tenth track "WILDERNESS YEARS" opens with a kind of triangle sound (that reminds me to the intro of "Circus of Heaven" of YES Tormato album), followed by keyboard. The music then flow in a moderate tempo with, still, great melody. If don't make a long comment about this track it does not mean this track is not excellent. IT IS.

The concluding track "FRAGMENTS OF THE SUN" starts with a bit of Beat The Drum melody performed in a spacey keyboard sound to replace voice line and then the music flows naturally when the drum stools entering the scene. The music is really atmospheric with a touch of GILMOUR in guitar style and bass pedal sound. The keyboard is mostly used as background music accompanying theatrical voice of Alan Reed. This concluding track is well positioned to close the album as it serves like - in a way - a reprise of the overall album.

FRIENDS . what would you do if you find an album with no less enjoyable track? I need you advise, really, because I don't want you to blame as being too naïve in giving a final rating. But honestly, before I got your advise I would give my overall vote about this album that you might have guessed really well. Yup! It's a full round 5 / 5 rating! This album has a tight structure, strong and solid songwriting, top notch performance and excellent production. It's a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED album. GW, Indonesia.

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#11941)
Posted Monday, October 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
chessman
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I had Sentinel on tape when it came out, all those years ago, and always loved it. Recently, I have purchased the re-mastered cd, with the bonus tracks, and it is even better! Unfortunately, after that album, the original vocalist, Euwan Lowson, left, (or was kicked out, not sure which). Nothing much was heard from them after that for a long time. However, they had, reportedly, come back with some very strong material. Well, a friend of mine lent me the tape of Beat The Drum 3 or 4 months ago. What a disappointment! This is nothing like prog, it is mediocre, predictable AOR, the sort of stuff you could imagine seeing on Top Of The Pops in the awful eighties. I won't go into detail about individual songs, as they are all pretty dire. Blood And Roses, and Fragments of The Sun are about the best of a bad lot. Sorry this review is so negative, but any prog fan who rates this, must be easily pleased, and not really bothered if it is prog or not. If you want ballads, then other bands, not prog related, are doing this sort of stuff better. There is no danger, excitement, interesting chord changes, rhythmic patterns, or original keyboards and guitar here at all. Personally, I would give this only 1 star, but fans of the bands will doubtless want this, to complete the collection. Not the worst album I have ever heard, but as disappointing for me as "Tormato" was when Yes released it as a follow up to the brilliant "Going For The One." Sentinel lovers beware!

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Send comments to chessman (BETA) | Report this review (#11942)
Posted Monday, January 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've found this one a couple of years ago in a sale and was the first time that i have the chance to hear something from Pallas. I've known that Pallas were very famous as a neo- prog band, so as a Marillion fan i decided to give them a chance.

And what a wonderful record to find! At first listen i've got nothing then i imported it to my iTunes player and give it several listens and.... i became hooked (always happen to me with prog bands), simply i've just can't stop listen to it and it made me wanted to know more about this great band.

About the album, the first three tracks made a perfect opening (Call to Arms, Beat the Drum and Hide & Seek) being all strong highlights. After that, the songs doesn't really stand out even if the quality reamins the same (maybe with the exception of All or Nothing and Ghosts, awesom tracks), al least until the last track (Fragments of the Sum) which is a piece of art with a touch of Floyd.

It's been said that this album it's too AOR for it's own good but i think that it's an enjoyable and progressive style of AOR (think of Asia), so i like it.

My only complaint (and a small one): the voice, if this record would have a vocalist as John Wetton or any of the Alan Parsons Project guest vocalists, it would have been a greater success, at least in the prog-AOR territory.

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Send comments to boriscla (BETA) | Report this review (#124425)
Posted Sunday, June 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Beat the Drum was Pallas's first album in a decade, and somehow, somewhere along the line, the band became serious. Or rather-commanding of respect. Perhaps it is just looking back on a very odd decade (the 1980s), and seeing the hair, synths, and sci-fi concepts, but it can be hard to take such a pompous prog band of such an era seriously in retrospect. But with Beat the Drum, all of that changed. It is hard even thinking of the two eras as being part of the same band. The differences are immediately apparent; Alan Reed's vocals are the most powerful and compelling of all major league Neo Prog acts; the music has evolved from New-Wave influenced, brash, similar to Twelfth Night but with a science fiction twist to a very modern sound similar to Pendragon but with less importance placed on guitar solos and keyboard washes and more on guitar-led themes. I think the progress Pallas made in this album is tremendous and worthy of congratulations, but at times, the band seems indistinct from other modern Neo bands, especially Arena and Pendragon. They would flesh out this new sound on the following two albums, The Cross and the Crucible and The Dreams of Men, and the success of those recordings is in part to better songwriting. In fact, the only time Beat the Drum really falters is on indistinct songs slightly past the half point. These songs are not unlistenable, but you can easily see how uninspired they are compared to the onslaught of brilliant songs right from the get-go.

Let me take time now to shine the spotlight on Alan Reed, because he really deserves it for his work on Beat the Drum and subsequent albums. I don't know what happened in that Pallas-less decade before this album, but his voice is one of my favorites in prog, not because he can hit high notes or wail like Bruce Dickenson, but because his voice is utterly commanding. It compels action on "Beat the Drum" and offers the most tender and sorrowful lyrics on "Blood and Roses" without sounding trite or false. I will not lie, his voice is unique and takes some getting used to. Maybe not as much as Peter Hammill's voice, but it needs time to settle in. This applies to all Pallas albums after Beat the Drum as well, in case you decide to start with Pallas at a later album.

Since I don't have the vocabulary capacity to due each track justice in a track-by-track analysis, I will offer my final opinion. This is the weakest album of Pallas's second era. Every aspect of this record would be improved upon with the two subsequent records. Nevertheless, I cannot turn away from Beat the Drum. Certain songs such as "A Call to Arms," "Beat the Drum," "Insomniac," and "Fragments of the Sun" (a good portion of the album, by the way) are classic Pallas songs, and I would not want to go back to a time when I did not know them. So, please give this album a try if you are interested in Neo Prog in the least (and try not to be put off by the term). If you know and like any other Pallas material, you must try this album. And if you still have nightmares about The Sentinel, you must listen to Beat the Drum. You owe it to yourself to know Pallas for more than their 80s material.

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Send comments to stonebeard (BETA) | Report this review (#144720)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Twelve years of waiting to have this? very poor as composition, too much pop rock, many steps bejond Sentinel or even Cross and the crucible or Dreams of men. I have taken it just for the Pallas label, but what a disappointment. for completists-masochists.

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Send comments to babbus61 (BETA) | Report this review (#145338)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This was the first album I checked out by Pallas and didn't even know then that this was actually their revival after 12 years out of business. I bought it mainly because Pallas was one of the rare bands active in the (early) eighties. The other British famous ones were in those days Pendragon, Marillion and IQ. I liked those, mainly Marillion in the Fish days and Pendragon (The Jewel). So I wondered what Pallas was like. I can't get enthousiastic about this band. What I liked about Pendragon and Marillion were the progressive elements in their work. I can't really discover them with Pallas' music. They are much more ordinary songs, hardly any instrumental passages or epic songs. So I'm sorry, not my cup of tea. But the music is not really bad so i give 3 stars.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#146333)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 1. Call To Arms (6:29) 2. Beat The Drum (9:18) 3. Hide & Seek * (4:43) 4. Insomniac (7:41) 5. All Or Nothing * (4:53) 6. Spirits (5:41) 7. Man Of Principle * (5:44) 8. Ghosts * (8:16) 9. Blood & Roses (4:52) 10. Wilderness Years (6:02) 11. Fragments Of The Sun (8:01)

This is a great album, and I honestly believe that Pallas are at their artistic pinnacle with this near-master work. Not quite a masterpiece, admittedly for its technical flaws, and being a songwriter myself, these flaws annoy me more than most!

The collection starts off very nicely indeed, with Call To Arms. Every other track following is great and memorable, except for maybe Man Of Principle and Wilderness Years. My personal favourites are All or Nothing for some impeckable playing from the rhythm section, Insomniac for its very professional progression and Ghosts for just being an awesome song, with playing from Niall Matthewson and Ronnie Brown that even leans to virtuosity.

Now for the technical flaws, which you have been dying to hear!

First of all, from Beat The Drum. The chord changes are indeed ripped from numerous classical pieces, and the melody has cliche written all over it. The second longer half of the song however is very well written with some very nice pedalled basslines and vocal melodies. The second flaw is on All or Nothing. This is more of a mixing mistake more than anything, but during the guitar solo at the end the rhythm section drowns it out quite effectively, which can be very annoying if you like a good solo! Third and final recognisable flaw would be the longevity of Fragments of the Sun: it has a severely boring progression, and doesn't seem to go anywhere, which is a shame because the melody and chords are very nice indeed. The dynamics are way off taste though, and it seems like they've taken a 4 minute song and doubled it by repitition.

Anyway, on a possitive note, Pallas's best album. Don't be put off by the bad points, as the good points are definitely worth the buy. I can say I've listened to Ghosts for about 6 years now, and it still hasn't died on me. 4 stars, for catchy melodic hooks and some great musicianship.

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Send comments to The Pessimist (BETA) | Report this review (#162394)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Twelve years is quite a break. Still, this timeframe separates The Wedge form Beat The Drum.

This album is a mix between symphonic (a little), neo-prog (somewhat more) and AOR (a lot) music; it leads to some less interesting songs (or part of) like Beat The Drum which intro is great but it develops into some sort of Abacab guitar-oriented song. Average to be polite. Even if there is a great keyboards part featured at the end.

But it is unfortunately true to say that it is one of the best songs available on this record. Most of the music featured is too close of the AOR style to be really thrilling. Insomniac and Ghosts are probably the best numbers from this work. Alan Reed sounds rather passionate in the latter; but passion is usually absent from this album.

The neo-prog music played by Pallas remains what it was: average, not more. Some rock ballads like Blood & Roses are welcome thanks to their fine guitar solo (half a minute or so), but if you don't take this one into consideration, it is just a very common song.

Beat The Drum is too much of an AOR affair and is not of my liking. Extremely long as well, it holds very few good songs. Easy listening but not great rock music for the majority. The closing number Fragments of the Sun opens quite promisingly, but as soon as vocals get in, I have to say that my interest dropped considerably.

This return on business from Pallas is not a thrilling success I must say. Their best effort was their debut album (studio) and from then on, I have to admit that the band was on a slippy slope.

Two stars for this one.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#184985)
Posted Tuesday, October 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Out of the Wilderness Years

With no less than 12 years between "The wedge" and this album, Pallas fans could have been forgiven for thinking that all hope of new material had been lost. To their credit, the band persevered over that period, only losing drummer Derek Forman (replaced by Colin Fraser) along the way. Indeed not only did the band survive, but they returned with a wonderful new sound and a new found energy. While the first two albums had been competent and enjoyable, "Beat the drum" is a whole new ball game in terms of quality and in terms of prog.

Right from the opening appropriately titled "Call to arms", we are presented with a resounding new confidence, the tracks being a succession of elaborately arranged, highly melodic mini-masterpieces of neo-prog. The 9 minute title track is placed right after "Call to arms", this powerful epic being a blend of all that is great about bands such as Marillion, IQ and Pendragon. Ronnie Brown's symphonic keyboards lay a solid basis for the superb vocals of Alan Reed and some fine lead guitar by Niall Matthewson. The track has delicacy, subtlety, drama and a memorable hook, all rolled up in an exciting, pulsating wall of sound.

The 7½ minute "Insomniac" has a similarly rewarding structure, the track sounding a little like Marillion's "Grendel" at times (with a bit of "Masquerade Overture" too). Reed displays the full strength of his voice here while Ronnie Brown adds some mesmerising synth runs. "Spirits" is the most atmospheric song of the lot, Reed really surpassing himself vocally against a haunting backdrop of moody ambience interrupted by dramatic intrusions. The track is rounded of with the swirl of the bagpipes, bringing a lump to this throat at least!

Other longer songs include the 8 minute "Ghosts", another finely crafted piece which builds gradually throughout and the closing "Fragments of the sun" (also 8 minutes). The latter draws the album together in a suitably grand manner, the track building to a fine crescendo.

Some of the 11 tracks here (the album runs to over 70 minutes) are more accessible pomp rock numbers, "Hide and seek" for example is reminiscent of Marillion's "Punch and Judy". "Blood and roses" on the other hand is a delightfully orchestrated (by keyboards) delicate ballad. "Wilderness years" is the hardest (in terms of rock) track on the album, the pounding beat seeing Colin Fraser beat the hell out of the drum.

These days I tend to be rather mean with five star ratings. "Beat the drum" though justifies such an accolade with ease. This is a truly stunning album.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#189863)
Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Spirits and ghosts

Like several other older Neo-Progressive bands, Pallas too has produced their best material in more recent years. In Pallas' case it is with a trio of very good albums starting with this one from the late 90's and continuing with The Cross And The Crucible and The Dreams Of Men in the new millennium. Since Beat The Drum was Pallas' first album in 12 years, it was probably hard - even for the band's fans - to really know what to expect from them after all that time. For many of us though, the band's more recent string of albums was our first exposure to the band. And for me, it was a positive surprise. My usual problem with some Neo-Prog bands - that they are too derivative and stay too close to other bands (most often 80's Marillion and 70's Genesis) - is not a problem I have with Pallas. This band has a sound of their own and the very good vocals of Alan Reed have a distinctive quality and he is never trying to sound like Fish or Peter Gabriel or anyone else of the usual suspects.

The album starts out strongly with two of its best songs. Call To Arms grabbed my attention quickly and the title track, with its excellent verses and memorable chorus stuck in my head. The lyrics are often thoughtful and reflective. The following two songs, however, are closer to that typical Neo-Prog sound and Hide & Seek features a bit of an 80's flavour that might perhaps be distracting for some Prog fans. All Or Nothing, despite having very nice verses, has a pretty lame chorus! This is a bit too catchy and melodic for my taste. But it does not distract too much from the overall direction of the album.

The atmospheric Spirits brings us back to the more substantial and reflective mood again. This has an excellent vocal and some lovely bagpipes at the end of the song. This song might remind you of Mike Oldfield in some passages! Man Of Principle is again an up tempo somewhat 80's flavoured song that is below the overall high standard of the album. Ghosts is possibly the most progressive song on Beat The Drum, but it is not the best.

With a running time of well over an hour, there are a couple of moments that perhaps could have been left out in order to make the album a bit more concise and engaging, but overall this is excellent music. It is a common mistake in the age of the compact disc to put too much material on an album. The lovely piano ballad Blood & Roses is beautiful but would probably be even more effective a bit earlier in the track list. The closer Fragments Of The Sun is good but not quite strong enough to bring the album to the conclusion it would deserve.

Overall, Beat The Drum is a highly enjoyable album with several excellent tracks that will be Pallas classics for eternity. The strengths of this album lies in the individual tracks and as a whole it does not hold together as well as the brilliant conceptual follow up, The Cross And The Crucible. The minor flaws I mentioned initially kept me from giving it a higher rating, but over more listens I decided to upgrade my rating to four stars.

Highly recommended in addition to the even stronger and more mature The Cross And The Crucible.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#224057)
Posted Wednesday, July 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was put onto this by Classic Rock magazine's recommendation of the first track 'Call to arms', however I was equally familiar with some of the album from the excellent live album 'The blinding darkness'.

Strangely, I never considered much of what was on 'The blinding darkness' as Prog. But here it justifies its place. I might also add that Alan Reed's 'singing' isn't up to much (in typical neo- prog fashion), but then we all knew that beforehand. I perhaps that continued listening allows you to get used to the vocals, allowing you to concentrate more on the music.

What we have here is a fine album. It's 71 minutes long, but never feels repetitive. The rythym section (drum and bass) are really strong throughout. Interesting and punchy.

I think that Pallas have gone where Genesis could have had they chosen not to have gone 'Pop'. I'd go further, and say that this is more 'Symphonic' Prog than 'Neo' Prog...

The album is beautifully produced throughout. Pallas' sound never attempts to be raucious. Nothing seems hurried and yet the artistic decisions made seem right. There is no attempt to moves outside the confines of the form of Rock that it is. The fact that it still delivers within these boundaries shows what a good album this is. If there is a complaint, then it might be that the music sounds (not to me however) too one-paced.

Pallas are too refined to be a Marillion rip-off (Neo- prog) and for me, could stand alone within the Symphonic Prog category. Personally, I can only strongly recommend it this album.

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Send comments to sussexbowler (BETA) | Report this review (#279327)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars After ''The wedge'' and the ''Knight Moves To Wedge '' EP, Pallas fell into a very long hiatus for about twelve years.The contract with EMI expired and the band members had to earn their livings,but they never officially disbanded.The re-issues of ''The sentinel'' kept the interest around the band alive and around late-90's surprisingly Pallas came back with a third studio release entitled ''Beat the drum'' with only drummer Derek Forman gone and replaced by Colin Fraser.Part of the album's material were actually re-recordings of the material headed for the follow-up of ''The wedge'' back in mid-80's.

The new Pallas album contains elements from both their previous studio albums,not being that dark as ''The sentinel'' but again not as poppy as ''The wedge''.Most of the tracks have a very modern and fresh sound within the Neo Prog characteristics but definitely with an evident AOR vibe (as on ''The wedge'') but almost always surrounded by delicate pianos and big symphonic synths (as on ''The sentinel'').Alan Reed is in great shape performing either sensitive, romantic or powerful vocal chords and the rhythm section remains as powerful as back in the 80's.The tracks are tight, well-crafted and energetic but on the other hand the lack of adventuruous passages or the adscence of ''The sentinel'' haunting atmosphere are two obvious minuses.Still a few tracks have a grand symphonic sound,deeply grounded in the Classic Neo Prog style of the 80's like the bombastic ''Insomniac'' or the even better closing piece ''Fragments of the sun''.

The Pallas' comeback was a nice and pleasant surprise,though propably most of their fans would expect a sound closer to their debut.However ''Beat the drum'' remains a fine and dynamic Neo Prog release with both catchy and more proggy grandiose moments,thus covering all the possible Pallas styles related to their history during the 80's.Recommended.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#565676)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After a long hiatus, Pallas finally returned to the fray with Beat the Drum, a competent but not to my ears a particularly outstanding release. Whilst the music here doesn't pander to the mainstream to anything like the extent of tracks like Arrive Alive or Cut and Run from The Sentinel did, I wouldn't say they were as interesting to prog fans as the Atlantis Suite from that selfsame album was; what we have here is pleasant but not particularly daring or innovative melodic rock with AORish leanings. It's an enjoyable album which certainly isn't an embarrassment to the band, but there's little here to save it from being overshadowed by more prominent releases by the group.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#633659)
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars A long wait since the bands last release to here. Hopefully time has improved the effort. Alan Reed is still on vocals and I didn't much like him on "The Wedge".

"Call to Arms" - This is no more than Pallas' homage to Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" but that isn't necessarily a bad thing as I love "Eye of the Tiger" - nothing gets me on a dance floor quicker than that track does, even if I'm never really in the mood for dancing.

"Beat the Drum" - Nice classical music type intro to the track. Very nice, powerful, music follows the soft introduction. This is a much more mature, fuller sound from the band who at last seem to have found their identity (I guess leaving the EMI stable helped with that). The difference between this and the previous two albums is chalk and cheese - this is powerful stuff.

"Hide & Seek" - Slow tempo to start the work which livens up solidly. Interesting mid section to the track. Nothing to make me or ET phone home but it isn't at all bad.

"Insomniac" - Solid neo-prog work. I enjoy the keyboards on this track as well as thus far throughout the album. Alan Reed also performs better here than he did on the previous album (The Wedge) and I don't mind him at all through this.

"All or Nothing" - Interesting rhythm through this. Very pleasant.

"Spirits" - Nice piano sound here. Thus far I've been impressed with the album and as far as I'm concerned Pallas now has a follower. Minimalist but nice sound-scape to start, fleshing out nicely. I love the bagpipe type sound emulation from the keyboard on this track.

"Man of Principle" - Upbeat rocker of a track which is just ok.

"Ghosts" - Really nice work that builds from the beginning pan-pipe riff infused sound into a very solid hard edged neo-prog track.

"Blood and Roses" - Nice minimalist piano sound to start accompanied by soft vocals which becomes an almost symphonic work. This is a lovely slower track. I love this one, pure magic if you are the sentimental type. The short lead guitar piece near the end stuns. Whatever my end rating this will ensure an added half star on its own.

"Wilderness Years" - A harder edged track which serves to break the mood of the previous track nicely although on its own it is just ok.

"Fragments of the Sun" - Symphonic to start, with mournful lead guitar coming in to a heavy drum beat. The track is ultimately dramatic and emotive. Brilliant! Another half star added to the end rating.

What a change - the first two albums were really not much more than throw-aways however this is a very solid keeper. An adventure in the neo-prog world. I would have battled to find more than 3 stars here but for two extremely strong tracks which push it into 4 star territory. Here the band muscle their way next to the front runners of the genre. Four stars from me and Pallas has gained a fan. If you enjoy neo-prog you can do no wrong in getting hold of this album. If you don't enjoy neo-prog then, well, you probably don't want to stop for a moment in this place.

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Send comments to sukmytoe (BETA) | Report this review (#1021498)
Posted Wednesday, August 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Had a listen to this album for the first time in a few years last week. Forgot how good it was and have listened to it every day since. There is not one weak track in my opinion and the guys definitely worked hard on making this sound a great follow up to The Wedge. Even though there was a few years between The Wedge and Beat The Drum, the unmistakable Pallas sound is there. Alan Reids vocals are pretty damn good on this album and all the guys play exceptionally well. I'm really glad I decided to have a listen again as it makes me realise that they were an awful lot better than most people gave them credit for. A brilliant live act as well and Graeme Murray is the finest front man who actually does not front the band. He is a fantastic vocalist as well as a great bass player. A definite 5 stars and well deserved.

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Send comments to coe3231 (BETA) | Report this review (#1045831)
Posted Friday, September 27, 2013 | Review Permalink

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