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4 stars If you think that the hard-rocking XXV from Pallas was a departure from their usual retro 80s sound, wait till you hear this. It retains the basic neo-prog formula of long-winded pompous rock+pompous atmospherics, but mixes it up with all sorts of eclectic stuff - synth-pop, techno, gothic, soul, even some Latin sounds.The first track hooked me with a lush techno start progressing into a danceable beat propelled by fat bass lines, synth-pop washes and elongated vocal mannerisms a la Brit-pop. By the second track I was sure I was listening to Airbag with its melancholic pop/electric Pink Floyd formula. Then it settles into a style that is apparently the new Pallas - with a dark electronic underbed pierced by strong guitars. What is known as the "Porcupine-fication" approach to modern prog. Its a diverse set of songs, a plus for this veteran band, but with its younger influences - mainly from the likes of Porcupine Tree and Muse - sticking from all over their ears.
Report this review (#1329377)
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
5 stars 4.5 stars

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this ended up as one of my favorite albums of 2014. This really surprised me, as my first listen did not yield much for me. However, after several spins, I can say with confidence that "wearewhoweare" is awesome, and I'll tell you why.

I originally heard Pallas for the first time with their spectacular previous album "XXV". It was spacey, scary, and ominous with bits of serenity and pure beauty therein. After hearing this, I investigated some of their discography, and time and time again I heard Pallas' ability to compose tight, catchy melodies. "wearewhoweare" follows this same trend, but adds quite an electronic feel along with quirky, dark instrumental passages that are near the top of my list for 2014.

The band consists of Paul Mackie on vocals, Graeme Murray on bass, Niall Mathewson on guitars, Ronnie Brown on keyboards, and Colin Fraser on drums. This team is simply incredible. Niall's guitars floored me as he bounces back and forth between ominous edge and Gilmour-ish soul. Ronnie's keys are constantly there, filling out the atmosphere with gusto and presence. Graeme's bass is fleshy and head-turning. Colin's drums are pounding and played with finesse. I was simply blown away with the dark-as-night verses that transition into lovely choruses guided by Paul's lush voice. I cannot compliment these guys enough.

I've seen some complaints about Pallas' new sound. Some people think they should have stayed in their 80's neo- progressive sound, but I personally applaud this old band for the incredible ingenuity and creativity that are so obvious. I mean, just look at the array of artwork they've applied to this album! It's easily one of my favorites from 2014 because I get and enjoy the quirky, almost sci-fi horror behind it all.

My favorite tracks are the catchy opener "Shadow of the Sun", the wonderful instrumentals of "Harvest Moon", and the longing, expectant sound of "Winter is Coming". Every track, though, has high points that are very memorable. Pallas has given me, then, the exact album I hoped to hear from them. I wanted a little progression in sound. but I wanted that clean, clear melody, too. "wearewhoweare" is exactly that.

Report this review (#1354749)
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Pallas released a neo-prog debut in 1984 and released some noted albums within the sub-genre after the turn of the century. This self-released studio album of 2014 didn't get a lot of buzz, maybe because of disappointment around its very heavy predecessor 'XXV' of 2011. On that album the band also introduced the singer Pauk Mackie, who replaced the much appreciated Alan Reed. 'We Are Who We Are' shows Pallas returning to the style of 'The Dreams of Man' with an up-dated sound. You'll hear that distinct neo-prog sound with emotive, theatrical vocals, the electronic synths and loops, the echoey hardrock lead-guitars and some thick Rickenbacker bass. Without introducing a single innovation when it comes to the song-writing, the band does further the genre here by great craftsmanship when it comes to arranging and producing. Seldom have I heard a collection of eight songs that have gotten such a detailed treatment. Pallas has a gift for making simple melodic ideas turn out sophisticated. Moreover, I don't know of any band in this genre that gets a fat symphonic sound like Pallas. This album can get almost too exciting. That refrain of 'Shadow of the Sun' almost makes me jump up. Like on 'The Cross & The Crucible' and 'Dreams of Man' the band knows how to get that distinct neo-prog mystique just right. Niall Mathewson had always been an amazing guitarist, but on this album he has some experimental solo's that really stand out. Paul Mackie is a great theatrical and subtle singer for the band and he makes every song shine here. The way his personality leads on a quiet song like 'In Cold Blood' is simply amazing. A band like Arena would wish they had found such a great replacement after Rob Sowden left. This album is a rare example of perfectly written, executed and recorded neo-prog and if you are like you are - a fan of of this genre - you are probably missing out (looking at the number of reviews here).
Report this review (#2532844)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2021 | Review Permalink

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