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Pallas The Cross & the Crucible album cover
3.57 | 221 ratings | 25 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Big Bang (3:07)
2. The Cross & The Crucible (9:05)
3. For the Greater Glory (7:38)
4. Who's to Blame (4:43)
5. The Blinding Darkness of Science (6:46)
6. Towers of Babble (8:09)
7. Generations (6:05)
8. Midas Touch (11:11)
9. Celebration! (7:22)

Total Time 64:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Alan Reed / vocals, acoustic guitars
- Niall Mathewson / guitars (electric, acoustic, nylon, Thai 3-string & Roland VG-8 electronic processor), tambourine, co-producer
- Ronnie Brown / piano, synths (Korg Triton & X5R, Roland D-50 & JV-1080, E-mu orbit, Proteus 2), sampler, Yamaha W7 DAW
- Graeme Murray / bass & fretless bass, Moog bass pedals, electronics & Fx, backing vocals, co-producer
- Colin Fraser / drums, drum machines (Alesis & Roland)

- Gill Main / vocals (2,6)
- Laura Harrow / vocals (4,8)
- Alastair Taylor / backing vocals (2,6)
- Claire Bleasdale / backing vocals (2,6)
- Laura Sinclair / backing vocals (2,6)
- Trevor Gray / backing vocals (2,6)

Releases information

Artwork: Mike Bentley and Patrick Woodroffe (logo)

CD Inside Out Music IOMCD 079 (2001, Europe)
CD Inside Out Music America IOMACD 2024 (2001, US)

CD Soyuz Music under license from Inside Out Music IOMCD 079 (2004, Russia)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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PALLAS The Cross & the Crucible ratings distribution

(221 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

PALLAS The Cross & the Crucible reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
4 stars One of the United Kingdom's finest symphonic rock bands, Pallas, has released a new hour-long concept album called "The Cross & The Crucible". It confirms why Pallas is one of the leading bands in the genre. It is pompous, well produced, skilfully performed and there are lots of nice melodies and strong choruses.

Musically the band is easily comparable to IQ, Marillion and Pendragon, but while they're just slightly better then IQ and Pendragon, they are much better than Marillion of today. I especially like the lengthy tracks "The Cross & The Crucible", "Towers Of Babble" and "Midas Touch", but also the shortest track "Who's To Blame".

Every Pallas album has its own personality and originality and so has "The Cross & The Crucible". They were once labelled as a neo-progressive rock band, but nowadays that label doesn't do them justice at all. Pallas has cemented their place among the top names in the symphonic rock genre and judging by the strength of their previous albums, they'll probably stay there for a long time.

Review by The Prognaut
4 stars It is perfectly understandable to think of this guys as a resemblance of some other mid eighties, early nineties bands. Even it's fair enough to compare most of their work done so far to what MARILLION did till the FISH era. It's clear to me that they relied on the essence and composition of already mixed prog formulas to came up with a brand new one that still smells like the oldies and has nothing attractive to bring to the table.

Neo Progressive genre is a very battled one. Not most of the bands involved with that fused prog rock genre actually made it and disappeared pretty soon or even worse, it took them years and years to come up with a whole fresh production. This is the very specific case of bands like TALE CUE and SHADOWLAND that in spite their efforts and well educated music, they just happened to vanish in the eyes of the prog rock.

PALLAS certainly strayed away from their original context and its musical proposition for a while right after "The Sentinel", but at the time they released "Beat the Drum", I realized they were back on track and punchier than ever. By retaking the good prog way with what they reached in "The Cross and the Crucible", PALLAS encouraged themselves to struggle for a spot in the constant back and forth of the prog scene. This a great album to be given a chance to; when directing our ears to great crafted pieces such as "The Cross and the Crucible" itself, "Towers Of Babble" and "Midas Touch" we might as well rethink our conception and judgment upon the band and give it a shot.

Intrepid and challenging, "The Cross and the Crucible" is that kind of experience translated into curiosity and awareness, it is the can of worms ready to be opened. Nothing bad will come along after listening to this album, believe me, it's not the PALLAS CD to be hated, yet to be loved, it's simply their best work so far. Enjoy.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For those of you who love neo progressive rock, this album suits you. It has all components of typical neo prog music: melodic, some-time mellow and poppy, simple structure and compositions but it has changing tempos as well. And so is the case with this album. I knew the band long time when MARILLION was born, and I did not pay attention to the band with its album "Sentinel". At that time I was so amazed with Marillion so that I did not really follow the band. What I ever knew was that the band had a long vacuum period of more than 10 years.

I consider this album excellent and is still consistent in the vein of neo prog since the band inception even though the front man had changed to Alan Reed. Musically, they have been more mature especially with this album. The only problem that I got at first listening was a definitely long duration of silent music of first track "The Big Bang". I just don't get it! What the band is trying to achieve actually? I don't really know. I always skip first track; I can't wait. The title track "The Cross And The Crucible" has a silent period as well in the beginning (approx 1 minutes) with no value at all. But when it has passed 1 minutes and it enters to the body of the music .BOOM! Such a wonderful track! It's atmospheric and melodic; and I tend to put my amplifier volume loud when listening to this track.

The third track "For The Greater Glory" has a boring part the beginning of the song; it's so simplistic melody, I think. It seems more poppy than prog. Luckily, as the time passes, the music grows to a more complex composition with sort of inclusion of world music in the middle of the track. It reminds me to Peter Gabriel's music. "Who's To Blame" is totally an ear candy prog music with a soft'n'nice acoustic guitar to open the track. The overall beat of this track is straight forward but it's enjoyable.

"The Blinding Darkness Of Science" is a great track with an ambient music in its intro (but it's not as boring as "Big Bang" - uuugh .. I hate this track!) . The intro really helps setting up the tune of the track as when the music flows with all instruments are played, the transition is really nice. I like the guitar riff at background (similar to the kind of Mike Holme's of IQ style of guitar play). I love this track as it's melodic, simple and memorable. The interlude with guitar solo is stunning.

"Towers Of Babble" is another great track with (again) acoustic guitar intro. It has a nice choirs arrangement and classical music touch in the middle of the track and some little influence of Pink Floyd style. It's an atmospheric track, stunning solo keyboard / organ. The keyboard solo reminds me to Rick Wakeman, played in a simple form. It's really nice.

Recommended. It has strong songwriting, excellent musicianship without having to demonstrate how skillful each member is, excellent melody. Sonic production is excellent. I enjoy playing the CD loudly. Rating 4/5. Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Review by NJprogfan
3 stars For a suppose of 'Neo" band, Pallas do not sound anything like Genesis, (which is good). Who do they sound like you ask? Think a smidgen of early Marillion, some IQ and a whole lot of Pendragon and Arena. Their sound is pompous, bombastic prog with catchy melodies and some excellent bass and keyboard play. Yet, when the album starts, it's as soft as a babies bottom. Loads of chorus singing, almost church-like. By the second song, "The Cross and the Crucible" the Pallas sound kicks in, it rocks in a grand Pendragon way. Although "For The Greater Glory" has a powerful opening, the vocals just don't do it for me, I'm not a big fan of Alan Reeds voice, it's a bit flat in spots, later on he improves. For me though, the album doesn't really gel until the second half. "Tower Of Babble" and Celebration!" have very catchy and memorable riffs and choruses, but it's "Midas Touch", the longest song on the album that is the crowning achievement. Soft opening segueing with nice bass, it has a definate IQ vibe, (my favorite neo band by far). The lyrics are catchy and Alan singing is reigned in allowing the melody to propel the song. The most prog song with incredible keyboard work, (like a previous reviewer stated, there is a YES "Awaken" sounding keyboard/guitar flourish in the middle section). But overall, its excellent and a highlight! The last song, "Celebration!" ends the album on a very happy, joyous note. All in all, a very good album thats a tad under the four star rating. So, for me, it's an easy 3.5 star affair. For fans of Pendragon, Arena and early Marillion.
Review by Menswear
3 stars Duality between the hurt and the love.

One thing is sure, Pallas is definitely concerned by the Church, and the history of religions and their impact on the world of today. As was the theme of Dreams of Men, the album The Cross and the Crucible talks about the possibility of men to love and kill, to create and destroy at the same time, with the same intentions. Many themes of the Bible are stated, as well as the Church itself and the Crusades, and in the title song they put more emphasis on the carnage by acting how these wars could've sound like. A true calling to reflexion and sensibility is showing in this fine record.

Without calling it 'Christian Rock' per se, with their last 2 or 3 albums Pallas is stepping more and more in this strange category, as well as Neal Morse did. Scotland being their homeland, the ghost of the good ol' glory dayz of Marillion is often showing, but not overwhelming the package. Thanks a lot, the other main influence (at least on one bit) is Pink Floyd, The Wall period. This is néo-prog, so the mood is relatively soft so don't seek heavy guitars or keyboard extravaganza, just plain but gripping and emotionnal music. One thing I like is the Rickenbaker bass sound put in front, so the songs have a bit more beat than Marillion for instance. The other strenght of this record is that they tried to set a pastoral, clergical mood, with success is you ask me. The choirs and gregorian chants are adding a good amount of credibility to the sound and originality to a somewhat worn band.

I really wished this would've take another direction like a heavier one, but the whole plot is crying over a lost cause: bloodshed and destruction about faith and devotion. Despite the negative theme, some songs are actually very varied and progressive (Midas Touch, The Cross and the Crucible) some other are just soothing and relaxing to sing along (Who's to Blame). Fans of long, sad guitar solos (a la Gilmour), pastoral and churchish atmospheres (like Era or Enigma) and satisfying keyboard textures will like Pallas and therefore will class them in a higher league than the latest Marillion.

Who thought Christian Rock would sound that good?

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. This is a concept album about how science and especially religion have affected mankind's behaviour and attitude throughout history. I must admit i'm not a big fan of a lot of the lyrics especially the start of "The Cross & The Crucibe" where they suggest man made God up. It's always about the music with me though and this is really good.

"The Big Bang" builds with sounds then calms down as it stays spacey. Reserved vocals and piano 2 1/2 minutes in. "The Cross & The Crucible" is one of my favourites, i'm pretty impressed with the bass player (Graeme Murray) who is very upfront with his Rickenbacker. Some good guitar in this one too.Vocals 3 minutes in. Some choirs in this one as well. Heaviness late with chunky bass and scorching guitar. "For The Greater Glory" is not a song i'm that into really. It's ok though. It's the orchestration early that I don't like. I'm reminded of MARILLION late though.

"Who's To Blame" is a mellow track with acoustic guitar and reserved vocals although it does get fuller. It's ok. "The Blinding Darkness" is another favourite of mine. Spacey to open before it kicks in after a minute.The guitar is prominant. It settles when the vocals come in. Excellent guitar solo before 4 1/2 minutes. "Towers Of Babble" has a pastoral intro before kicking in around a minute. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. Check out the organ 4 minutes in.The guitar after 5 minutes in fantastic. Synths come in. Another good song. "Generations" features strummed guitar and reserved vocals. Some soaring guitar before 4 1/2 minutes in this mellow track. "Midas Touch" opens with over a minute of sampled spoken words. A good rhythm follows with some outstanding bass as usual. A catchy tune. "Celebration !" is an upbeat song with positive lyrics as if mankind somehow is going to be fine on their own.

Anyway musically this is quite good just not worth 4 stars in my opinion.

Review by The Pessimist
3 stars I will say this about the album that got me into Pallas: if they would have cut some parts, this would be undoubtedly a masterpiece of masterpieces. I adore many of the tracks on this album, and the blokes have clearly put a lot of effort in here. Here's why I'm very disappointed however, in the form of a track by track:

1. The Big Bang - Mediocre track, not a good start. I had to skip it if I'm honest with you. 3/10 2. The Cross And The Crucible - Pallas's best song by far, this shows an excellent side to every musician. The opening chords after the seaside effect are very good also, reminiscent of Bach. 10/10 3. For The Greater Glory - Another fantastic track, albeit weaker than CATC. 8/10 4. Who's To Blame - The second bad track on the album. It seems that Pallas are not too good with short songs from my experiences. 2/10 5. The Blinding Darkness Of Science - An excellent track. This time they let loose their heavier side with some metal influence, let still retaining some very melodic harmonies. 9/10 6. Towers Of Babble - I love this track so much. It has prog written all over it, with a nice 11/8 second part, apocalyptic feel, organ solo, acoustic guitar solo at the start and the beloved 7/4 heavy start that some proggers have grown so used to. 10/10 7. Generations - Third poor track off the album, this does not appeal to me at all. They have melody to a cheesy level that I can't stand! 3/10 8. Midas Touch - Great track. Even my friend who hates prog loves this track. I even took time to learn the keyboard solo! I also love the solid restrained drumming in this track, subtly brilliant. It even has a nice little moral against greed hidden in the talking section :P 9. Celebration! - Starts with a pathetic bang and sizzles out. The cheesiness returns! This is NOT Pallas and is a shame to Neo-Prog. 2/10

I'd love to give this 5 stars, as half of the content is of much better quality than Beat The Drum. But I can't. 4 stars at most, but if i'm just i will give it 3. so it's really a 3.5, sorry guys :-(

Review by stefro
2 stars Filled with excellent bands, the British Neo-Prog scene has been a prime-mover in the development of progressive music worldwide as a whole since it's quiet inception during the early 1980's.

Whilst Marillion and IQ battled for UK supremacy, Pallas quietly chugged along, releasing an impressive debut, then an ok follow-up, then...silence.

Until, that is, the band re-convened to produce the highly-rated 'Beat The Drum' IN 1993 and re-kick- start their faltering career.

Views are mixed on the groups early recordings, with this reviewer still un-decided about 'The Sentinel', so it has come to their latest offerings for the fans, the critics and the prog-communty in general to cast judgment over their more profilic times, times that produced a steady stream of albums without large, intervening breaks.

And, again, opinions are divided.

'The Cross And The Crucible' is a decent affair, it's just the bands overall style has never sat as comfortably as, say, IQ, in their translation of prog into a modern arena.

Whereas IQ manage to rock-out and daze in equal measure(balancing styles, tempo's and ideas in equal measure) Pallas' music seems too muggy, too broken-up with ideas, and, ultimately, too over- produced for it's own good. Potentially great songs curtail after a few minutes of blinding inter-group playing into bland, faux-mystical sub-plots that serve only to irritate, rupturing the flow of the music and sacrificing substance underneath style, favouring the oblique over the optimistic.

Pompous word-play, over-elaborate breaks, choruses and verses, silly mid-song speeches...yes, they are all hear. 'The Greater Glory' however, really does rock, even if that's only for the first 3-minutes, the rest of the song quickly lapsing into terminal, indulgent, glutinous fantasy-roleplay style atmpospherics, guest-speakers waffling on slowly about some 'star' or 'cosmos' or 'angel'.

This is prog and there is nothing wrong with a bit of psychedelic-swirl, but a major feature of modern progressive rock, and one of the reasons the genre has come back to life so strongly, is the advent of humour within the actual music. Just look at Pallas' label-mates. The Tangent basically created the book on humourous modern-prog; Spock's Beard delight in it and even IQ include the odd comical-interlude to lighten the load once in a while.

There is no doubting Pallas and their position near the top of todays progressive-music premier league, it's just that the Scots are falling behind, way behind, the likes of Andy Tillison, Neal Morse, Pete Nicholls and Roine Stolt in terms of creating fresh, accesible music that genuinely captures the imagination of the supporting community.

'The Cross And The Crucible' has some nice ideas, and it's good to see the band falling back on their prog-roots. However, the album is so flat, so earnest and, at times, so damn dour, it's hard to keep an interest.

Talented musicians? Yes

Great Songs? Kind of...

Dash Of Knowin Humour? Completely and utterly missing


Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars It seems that Pallas doesn't want to inundate the market with their studio releases. This is their fourth original album in seventeen years. This one came three years after their reunion Beat The Drum.

What annoys me during this album, is that several parts of songs are quite useless. Take the opening number for instance: it holds a fine and bombastic little portion which is ruined by ambient and almost inaudible sounds.

Same applies to the title track: some uninspired sections combined with great guitar. And I can go on with the poor AOR For The Greater The Glory. Dull for about six minutes; it is the moment of another superb guitar work again. But at this pace, an EP would have been more than sufficient.

I would have expected this album to be better, according to those high rates, but it can't really move me. This is a sub-par IQ album of which Towers Of Babble might be somewhat better.

During the first few listening some years ago I had rated this album as good (three stars), but after this final one, I have to say that I just consider it to be average and not worth more than two stars. Maybe that their Christian oriented music is just too much for me (these choirs all the way through are quite boring). But even if I put this aspect aside, the album is just a life size cliché. No personality, little inspiration, few passionate tracks.

There are lots of better neo albums in the prog sphere.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars The alchemists acquire a Midas touch

Released in 2001, some 3 years after "Beat the drum" (a mere blink of an eye in Pallas terms!), "The cross and the crucible" represents Pallas most complete and indeed progressive work up until that time. That completeness may lead to impatience among those who will simply dip in and out of an album without stopping to fully discover it. There are some sections here where it appears at first as if little is happening, this being especially true of some very soft parts. These though are an integral part of the whole, demanding the attention and concentration of the listener right from the start.

The concept of album examines the conflicts and parallels between the world through religious eyes, and when see through scientific ones. Many of the songs though seem to concentrate more on the futility of war in all its forms, the religious and scientific contributions to conflict being strongly derided. This theme is brought out early on in the magnificent title track through observations such as "As the iron hand of science took revenge upon the pious, they wondered if the world they knew could ever be the same". Pallas generously credit Motzart's "Lacrimosa" for inspiring part of the track. The stance in respect of religion is more than a little cynical, the following "For the greater glory" mocking the futility of religious war and strife.

It is easy to get embroiled in the heavy themes, the lyric sheet included in the lavish packaging being essential. It is though the musical arrangements and structures which make this such an essential album. This is neo-prog at its absolute finest with magnificent symphonic sounds, driving rhythms and a myriad of moods and atmospheres. The aforementioned "For the greater glory" has all of these in absolute bucket-loads, the guitar work of Niall Mathewson being particularly impressive here.

There are slightly lighter moments musically, such as the shorter "Who's to blame" which features female backing vocals, but the substance of the song remains deadly serious. One could be forgiven when hearing the early part of the 8 minute "Tower of Babble" for thinking a stray Therion track had ended up on the album. The operatic chorus is quite unlike Pallas' usual style (if they can be pinned down to one), and represents a magnificent foray into yet another area. The track also features some fine church organ sounds by Ronnie Brown introducing a menacing core and some more superb guitar.

"Generations" appears in terms of the album's theme to be an odd track out, apparently (unless I am missing something) being a simple acoustic based love song. It is probably the only possible single on the album. The longest track "Midas touch" runs to over 11 minutes. Here the mysteriously named "The Doctor" makes a guest appearance as the Alchemist speaking almost inaudibly at the start of the song. The lyrics translate the efforts of the Alchemist to make gold into a human context. The basis of the track is clever on several fronts, not least of which as the essence of alchemy is a blending of religious and scientific tenets. Various elements are given the characteristics of human frailties and melded together in a Crucible, the resulting gold being "The power lust that divides us". What we should not overlook here though is that the track also contains a magnificent instrumental piece reminiscent of ELP at their finest.

With all the doom and gloom which has prevailed (lyrically) through the album, the closing "Celebration!" finally offers hope for the future. With wonderfully prog phrases such as "I hear a million voices sing - celebration", we are assured that "One day we will win" and "We are all the same beneath the skin". The chiming bells and orchestral synths offer an appealing blend of Marillion, IQ and Pendragon, the upbeat and positive nature of the song making for the perfect ending.

When an album as fine as this comes along, it can be difficult to remain objective when attempting to review it. The incredible effort which has been put into the arrangements throughout may mislead some into merely hearing this album superficially. This is though an album which demands to be heard again and again and with the listener's undivided attention. Only then will the magnificence of the complete product fully reveal itself.

The fine digipak edition includes a multi-media section with film of the band working on the album.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars "How can these mighty opponents be reconciled?"

Despite the fact that the opening track of this excellent Neo-Progressive album is called The Big Bang, it certainly does not open with a bang. At first I did not understand the point of this very discrete opening sequence, but now I find it quite brilliant. As the title implies it is about the big bang. Make sure you play this loud otherwise the quiet, discrete vocal will pass you by; 'From a single point of light, the universe began'. Talk about taking the bigger perspective on things! The theme of this album is about as far away from the typical themes of conventional Rock and Pop as you could possibly come! Yet, while on paper it might sound pretentious, it does not come across that way at all. Rather, I find this profound and deeply reflective.

The title track also begins very quietly, but the powerful bass line that enters about one minute into the track finally breaks the stillness, this time with a bang. We are now treated to a full on band with howling guitars and powerful symphonic keyboards over propulsive bass lines and dramatic choir vocals. All this becomes all the more powerful in contrast with the very quiet opening of the album. This song features an excellent lyric that continues the theme of the first; 'In the beginning there was darkness, and in the darkness there was fear, and fear gave birth to God, whose rule was harsh but clear. But reason led to questioning and God became a man, he retreated to the skies, though some began a search to comprehend the universe, the men of God screamed out - you must not question why!' Utterly brilliant!

This song also features possibly the most memorable line of the whole album: 'How can these mighty opponents be reconciled?' - the opponents in question being reason and religion, the conflict between which constitutes the overarching theme of the whole album. But as with all great conceptual albums, the individual songs do not stay too close to the theme, allowing them to express something each on their own too.

The vocals of Alan Reed are fragile yet powerful and have a unique tone. On the first couple of listens I thought the vocals were to low in the mix, but I now suspect that this might be intentional and it does not bother me any more - provided I play this loud! (which is probably the way the band intended it to be played). Though, I strongly recommend following the lyrics on a lyric sheet while listening to the music, because it is often a bit difficult to hear clearly what Alan Reed is singing. This is especially true given that these lyrics contain some words that probably never have been used before in a Rock context! After all, how often do you use the word 'crucible' in everyday speech? Or make a reference to the Dogon tribe of Africa? Or use the expression 'promethian fire'?

I have seldom found such potent and effective lyrics and this clearly gives the impression that the lyrics were written first and the music was composed to fit the theme rather than the other way around. I don't know if this is how they did it, but it comes across that way.

The hard rocking For The Greater Glory, and the acoustic ballad Who's To Blame also feature lyrical passages that will either make you think or make you cry, or both! Towers Of Babble and Midas Touch are among the longest tracks of the album and perhaps the ones that comes closest to the "typical" Neo-Prog sound with slightly more theatrical vocals, keyboard solos and nice guitar work. Otherwise, I think that Pallas has their very own sound that is not very similar to other bands. My usual problem with Neo-Progressive bands - that they are too derivative and stay too close to other bands (most often 80's Marillion and 70's Genesis) - is thus not a problem I have with Pallas. This band is special and the present album is their best work by far in my opinion. Dark, heavy and reflective yet full of fragility and emotion.

Generations is a more conventional song both lyrically and musically, but within the context of the other songs, this too gains a deeper meaning that it would not have had standing on its own, I think. The album closes with Celebration, which indeed sound a bit like one!

To sum up, The Cross And The Crucible is a fantastic concept album with truly intelligent lyrics, distinctive vocals and very strong musicianship. It both requires and deserves repeated listens. This is clearly one of my favourite albums in the Neo-Prog category behind the best works by Arena.

A minor masterpiece!

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Pallas is a british neo prog band who for many years were in the shadows of big names like Marillion, IQ or Pendragon in the '80's. While thir music is a good ex of how must sounds neo prog, they always seams not to gain so many aplauses as the rest of their country fellows, wonder why???. The cross and the crucible is their fifth album from 2001 and a very good one. With this album Pallas manage to come from behind and even to beat some bands well known from this subgenre. The neo prog they offer here is very well done, where the voice of Alan Reed goes hand in hand with the rest of the instruments. The musicianship on some pieces is top notch , like on title track, a nearly 10 min of high class neo prog, the best track from here without doubt, and one of thier better pieces from all the career, and Midas Touch - another smotth piece that shows Palls mean bussines in this genre, the rest of the pieces are ok. So, a good album that will please many fans of the band snd of neo prog in general, not quite close to a masterpiece, but a worthy release for sure. The cross and the crucible desearve 3 stars, and the reputation of this band must goes a little higher then is today, only because of this album and a fiew more from the past. Intristing band that will have a lot more to say in the future.
Review by Warthur
2 stars Pallas' The Cross and the Crucible was hailed as a major return to form for the band, but I guess that's only the case if you define "form" for Pallas as "capable of making OK but forgettable melodic neo-prog albums". Basing the concept out of the tired old false dichotomy between science and religion, listeners are likely to react to the lyrics either with enthusiastic agreement if they happen to agree with the band's premises already or profound irritation at their preachiness if they don't. As for the music, it's plodding, tedious, and shows none of the flair or imagination which made the Atlantis Suite on the reconstructed Sentinel so good. Plus the album is mixed really badly, so a lot of the time the musical performances are very subdued.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The return of Pallas with ''Beat the drum'' was quite succesful, as the band signed a contract with Inside Out just after a year of its release.This was the needed push for the group to begin the proceedings to the recording of a brand new album.This would see the light just three years after Pallas' comeback under the title ''The Cross & The Crucible'', a concept album around the endless battle between religion and science.

Musically nothing seems to have changed regarding the new style the band established in late-90's.The first tracks retain the epic and heavily lyrical sound of Pallas, where there is plenty of room for orchestral keyboards, choirs, heavy bass lines and strong trippy guitars in a very atmospheric way.Alan Reeds' voice still is a trademark for the group with his over-sensitive chords, while the tracks have a slightly spacey approach at moments.By the middle of the album the quality drops significantly.''Who's to Blame?'', ''The Blinding Darkness'' and ''Generations'' are just mediocre Soft Rockers with an evident AOR touch, still the Neo Prog sensibilities are obvious, but the choruses are rather forgettable and the musicianship holds less interest compared to the opening tracks, which leave much to be desired.Fortunately the later material of the release offers accesible but highly cinematic and grandiose Neo Prog of good inspiration.The keyboard work of Ronnie Brown becomes the leading force and the musicianship is highlighted by his wash of dominant organs and flashy, virtuosic synthesizers.The symphonic influences become more apparent, Reed performs at his highest level and the early-80's bombastic Pallas style is back in the forefront in tracks such as ''Midas Touch'' and the fantastic ''Celebration!''.

''The Cross & The Crucible'' just confirms the new face of Pallas in the millenium, an easy-going mix of Neo Prog with light Orchestral Rock and Soft Rock touches, pretty grandiose and fairly accesible, whether the listener likes it or not.Some tracks do not do much, some others though show how talented this group of musicians is.Warmly recommended despite the black holes in the middle of the album.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars I admit it; I wasn't a fan of their last album. From a band that had produced such awe-inspiring albums in the past, I had expected much more. Therefore, it was with some degree of cynicism that I put this on the player. I actually expected to be disappointed. Now I have been wrong many times in the past, and will be again in the future, so I am very happy to report that I was way off the mark with this. It is a superb album, one that every proghead will have to put firmly in their collection.

I saw Alan Reed the other night and I said to him that I wasn't sure how I yet rated this against 'The Sentinel' and he felt that it was very easy, this one is better. That is a bold statement given how progheads view both 'The Sentinel' and 'The Wedge', but one that he may well have grounds for.

It has great vocals, great melodies, and sweeping passages that show that Pallas are still masters of orchestral thematic prog music. At times, they come across with hints of Pink Floyd, but for the most part, they are their own band, and for that their fans will be very pleased indeed. There are a few longer tracks for the band to get their teeth into, and considering that three of the guys were in the original first stable line-up of 1979, the sound is fresh and inviting. Pallas are most definitely back.

Originally appeared in Feedback #63, July 01

Review by BrufordFreak
4 stars A band that I've not familiarized myself with much but here impresses.

1. "The Big Bang" (3:07) cinematic instrumental (orchestral) intro. (4.25/5)

2. "The Cross & The Crucible" (9:05) a challenging song to define and describe: not fast paced but driven; not boring but not really engaging; not dissonant but not really melodic. The most interesting parts of the song are the church- like choir chanting in the seventh minute and the distant church bells. Strong rhythm track from the bass and drums. (17.25/20)

3. "For The Greater Glory" (7:38) opens and sustains a kind of LED ZEPPELIN "Immigrant Song" feel. Lots of theatric vocalizations and nice background synth work. For a time it almost feels as if it comes right out of Peter Gabriel's Passion soundtrack music for The Last Temptation of Christ. Gotta admit: it's pretty powerful and effective! A top three song, to be sure. (13.5/15)

4. "Who's To Blame" (4:43) acoustic guitar, joined by fretless bass, and then whispery vocal of Alan Reed. In the second minute joined by drums, more movement from the bass, and more keys--but basically it's the same song. The chorus is jarringly horrible! Too bad! This had promise. Nice vocal work in the delicate lull of the fourth minute by Laura Harrow--but then, yech! back to that chorus! (8/10)

5. "The Blinding Darkness Of Science" (6:46) atmospheric synth and vocalise gently fill the sonic space until the second minute when the fullness of a heavy prog band enters with all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. Another horrible chorus. Nice instrumental passage in the fifth minute with great electric guitar solo. Too bad about that chorus! (12.75/15)

6. "Towers Of Babble" (8:09) picked oddly-tuned 12-string opens this in a "Turn of the Century" kind of way before big shock wave of full band entry occurs in the second minute. Church organ enters in the fourth minute and eventually takes over for an awesome solo. At 4:25 new motif begins with guitar and bass harmonics and Rumpelstiltskin-like vocal performance before unleashing a searing guitar solo. Good vocal chorus before great synth solo. Complex band manoeuvers before chorus and choral input and mandolin. Very interesting song--worth many more listens. Another top three song. (13.25/15)

7. "Generations" (6:05) slow-strummed guitars joined by tin flute and Robert Plant-like vocal. I like that it stays acoustic through the second verse. Even with the unleashing of full force at the 4-minute mark it's still great--still restrained (not over-the-top heavy prog). A top three song for me. (8.75/10)

8. "Midas Touch" (11:11) narrated in a Orson Wells Edgar Allan Poe-like fashion. At 1:15 the band kicks in with a very basic, almost spacious soundscape over which Alan Reed sings in a forced delicate voice. The chorus allows Alan to reach for his usual near-metal power. The guitar is soloing a lot between and behind the vocals. (Reminds me of some 1980s hair band.) Interlude in the fifth minute in which vocalise of Laura Harrow plays before Peter Gabriel- like theatric voice of Alan Reed takes over. At 6:15 bass and drums burst back in prepping the listener for synth washes and a soaring lead guitar solo. Nice multi-synth work by Ronnie Brown follows. Recreation of penultimate section of YES' "Awaken" follows in the ninth minute before giving way to sensitive electric piano solo for the final 90 seconds. Great performances, just not the most attractive or engaging song. (17/20)

9. "Celebration!" (7:22) arpeggiated electric 12-string guitar is joined by bombastic PRINCE "1999"-like full-band motif. At 1:10 it takes a turn into a busy weave of several rather discordant threads. It's like RUSH and EDDIE MONEY. At 2:50 there is a left turn into MARILLION territory. Even when Alan begins singing again, it feels like Rothery and Fish are trying something new. At 4:05 it turns anthemic with big voices and big choral shouts of things likte "one day," "one world," "one dream" and the like before sliding into a kind of finish to "Feed the World (Do They Know It's Christmas?)" and then "1999" again. Interesting smorgasborg. All in all, it kind of works! (13/15)

Total Time: 63:40

B/four stars; a very nice addition to any prog lover's music collection--highly recommended. I look forward to my journey of getting to know Pallas better.

Review by friso
5 stars How bright the future of neo-progressive rock looked at the turn of the century with a a string of great heavy symphonic albums by IQ, Arena, Galahad, Knight Area (in a minor way) and of course Pallas. Listening to 'The Cross and the Crucible' in 2021 I can't help but thinking how rare albums of this quality have become with only IQ still releasing classics and furthering the genre. Had Marillion redefined symphonic prog as personal and political in the eighties, during the nineties the genre became heavier, more gothic and for some perhaps slightly less relatable.

Pallas return in 1998 with 'Beat the Drum' was slightly plagued by an overdose of AOR songs, but it also showed great promise with songs like great title track of that album. On this 2001 release the band returns to full-blown progressive rock with a concept album, a new symphonic pallet and a very sophisticated production. Alan Reed is the type of singer who can deliver emotional, intimate performances and the lead guitars by Niall Mathewson are as fierce as Steve Rothery's on Marillion's 'Clutching At Straws' album. The band uses atmospherical interludes in most tracks and the addition of choral sections give the album a gothic touch fitting the album's theme. Somehow the overall sound is a bit dense and doesn't allow for easy listening, but that might just be Pallas's most defining trait in the neo- progressive genre. They are quite serious. Either you submit yourself to its mystique or are repelled by it; which I think explains the variety in ratings of this album.

For me this album is perfect example of neo-prog at its finest. To be named alongside Arena's 'Contagion' and Galahad's 'Empires Never Last'. To bad the enthusiasm around Pallas declined over the years with 'Dreams of Men' being the last on the InsideOut label. After that the band released the underrated XXV and found itself without a label altogether with the mighty 'Wearewhowheare' album in 2014. Alan Reed has released two crossover prog albums that are also worth giving a try. Currently the band is working on a new record and I do hope the band will get the recognition it deserves.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The Cross & the Crucible is the fourth full-length album of Scottish neoprog band Pallas, their second after the long break they took between the end of the 1980s the late 1990s. The line-up who recorded The Cross & the Crucible is the same that had recorded their 1999 record Beat the Drum, and is c ... (read more)

Report this review (#2755872) | Posted by lukretio | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Following on the steps of Beat the Drum, this album proves that Pallas' comeback was no fluke. Pallas sound here like a mix of 80s style synth-drenched arena rock (a touch of Rush and Bruce Springsteen, why not) and Pink Floydian celestial atmospherics, with their church sounds and airy guitar s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1341887) | Posted by Progrussia | Friday, January 9, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Having really enjoyed their previous album I was looking forward to this one - a concept album from a band who were showing strong signs of improvement after their previous release - I didn't enjoy the albums prior to "Beat the Drum" much at all. "The Big Bang" - A dramatic sound-scape to star ... (read more)

Report this review (#1022217) | Posted by sukmytoe | Friday, August 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To me this is the pinnacle of PALLAS - an excellent album Excusing the first track and the start of the second track THE CROSS & THE CRUCIBLE, that and the following track FOR THE GREATER GLORY simply rock. The majority of the remaining tracks aspire to these two but don't quite make it. H ... (read more)

Report this review (#91823) | Posted by huge | Sunday, September 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars PALLAS is a band that I have recently discovered, and I must say, that they are totally blowing me away. I have listened to "The Cross and the Crucible" at least 15 times now, and do not tire of it. The songs are well-written and arranged, the instrumentaion is phenomenal (lots of mellotron a ... (read more)

Report this review (#74476) | Posted by | Sunday, April 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is the follow-up to the Beat the Drum. It's a concept album about the conflict between science and religion through the ages, with science represented by The Crucible and religion by The Cross. This is superbly well realised in the title track. A tremendous epic complete with grandi ... (read more)

Report this review (#11936) | Posted by jimpetrie2000 | Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "The Cross & The Crucible" is a dynamic, richly orchestrated set of neo-progressive rock brilliance from genre stalwarts Pallas. Grounded in the post-Genesis (and Marillion, and IQ, etc.) mix of guitars and keyboards that characterizes neo-prog, Pallas' sound is familiar yet energized, an enormo ... (read more)

Report this review (#11933) | Posted by | Tuesday, July 6, 2004 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I bought this album gave it a listen, was dissapointed, put it away for a while, listened to it again, and again, and again. I finally gave up and put it some place, I can't even remember where. I have not heard The Sentinel, which I understand is quite good, but this CD is, overall, weak particul ... (read more)

Report this review (#11926) | Posted by | Saturday, January 31, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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