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Pallas Beat The Drum album cover
3.59 | 175 ratings | 18 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

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)

Total Time: 71:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Alan Reed / lead vocals, guitars, bass, balalaika, oud, bodhrán, Roland XP50 synth
- Niall Matthewson / guitars, co-producer
- Ronnie Brown / Kurzweill piano, synthesizers (Roland JV80 & D50, Proteus 1, Emu Orbit, Yamaha W7, Ensonics EPS, Akai SG01V), Apple computer, backing vocals
- Graeme Murray / bass, Taurus bass pedals, guitar, backing vocals, co-producer
- Colin Fraser / drums, snare drums, percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: EQ Design

CD Self-released - PAL CD004 (1998, UK)
CD Inside Out Music America - IOMACD 4038 (1999, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PALLAS Beat The Drum ratings distribution

(175 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

PALLAS Beat The Drum reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
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.

Review by 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.

Review by chessman
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!
Review by progrules
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.
Review by The Pessimist
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
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.

Review by 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.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 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.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Warthur
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.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Pallas is a rare case of a legendary (or, in their case, semi-legendary) band whose reunion work is better than the original. Pallas sounds like an 80s style arena rock band (you know, the cheery/sad melodies, thin-sounding guitars and synths) with Pink Floydian neo-prog atmospheric and church- ... (read more)

Report this review (#1354186) | Posted by Progrussia | Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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 ye ... (read more)

Report this review (#1045831) | Posted by coe3231 | Friday, September 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 lo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1021498) | Posted by sukmytoe | Wednesday, August 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#279327) | Posted by sussexbowler | Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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. ... (read more)

Report this review (#145338) | Posted by babbus61 | Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#144720) | Posted by stonebeard | Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 lis ... (read more)

Report this review (#124425) | Posted by boriscla | Sunday, June 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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. I ... (read more)

Report this review (#11940) | Posted by jimpetrie2000 | Tuesday, April 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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