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Bigelf Cheat The Gallows album cover
3.75 | 124 ratings | 8 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Gravest Show On Earth (5:00)
2. Blackball (7:02)
3. Money, It's Pure Evil (3:18)
4. The Evils Of Rock & Roll (6:37)
5. No Parachute (3:43)
6. The Game (5:11)
7. Superstar (3:46)
8. Race With Time (4:28)
9. Hydra (6:23)
10. Counting Sheep (11:20)

Total time 56:48

Bonus tracks on 2010 reissues:
11. Snake Eyes (4:30)
12. Demon Queen Of Spiders (5:06)
13. Don't Blow It (3:30)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ace Mark / guitars
- Damon Fox / keyboards, vocals, string arrangements, producer
- Duffy Snowhill / bass
- Steve Frothingham / drums

- Linda Perry / backing vocals (7,8)
- Kung-Pao Horns / horns (1,2,10)
- The Section Quartet / strings (5,7)
- The Gallows Orchestra / strings (1,3,6,10)
- Eric Gorfain / string arrangements

Releases information

Artwork: Sean Geer

CD Powerage ‎- PAGE008CD (2008, US)
CD Hydrant Music ‎- QIHC-10001 (2010, US) With 3 bonus tracks

2xLP Back On Black ‎- RCV009LP (2010, UK) With 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ? for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BIGELF Cheat The Gallows ratings distribution

(124 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

BIGELF Cheat The Gallows reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cheat The Gallows plays like a tribute to many bands of the recent past. Mostly, it draws heavily from the hard rock giants from the 70's, including DEEP PURPLE and BLACK SABBATH. There are riffs taken directly from the music of these British legends.

Another strong point of reference is PINK FLOYD. BIGELF's singer has no shame in trying to sound exaclty like Roger Waters at times. There are details of glam here and there, with DAVID BOWIE coming to mind, too. The vocal style also brings memories of THE BEATLES.

But this is mostly progressive-hard rock, with strong riffs and powerful songs, with enough progressive elements to make them worthy of inclusion in any prog collection, especially the last track, "Counting Sheep", which covers a lot of grounds.

The album is enjoyable, entertaining, with music that sounds like the artists were not taking themselves too seriously.

The lack of originality at times hurts the overall impact of the music, but I think that was the intended effect. BIGELF wanted to review the past's glories, wanted to pay a hommage to the legends that gave birth to hard rock and heavy metal. They partially succeed. Some better songs would have helped make the album a stronger one, but what we have is enough to warrant three stars.

Review by Zitro
4 stars 3.6 stars

Long live Rock and Roll !!!

This is rather unoriginal music, but when do you get to listen to a good band that tries to play a tribute to the 70s classic rock bands? (as opposed to prog rock bands like Yes/Genesis).

You have here a great collection of intelligently crafted classic rock with some influences to prog rock. There are many catchy hooks, inspired instrumental sections, and great old-school grooves that bring a lot of nostalgia. You'll hear passages that may remind you of various bands, including Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, among others. While they capture the sound and vision of these bands, they made sure not to rip off any of these.

This means that you will get crunchy guitars, hammond organ runs, analogue synthesizers, epic choruses, mellotrons, and adventurous song structures. While there are songs that do not work as well as others (the Frank Zappa/Beatles inspired opener, the AC/DC inspired "Superstar", and the radio-rocker "Money, It's Pure Evil"), none fall flat for me and there is enough variety within the album to keep me interested throughout.

There are highlights in here, mostly being sections within songs rather than song themselves. The exceptions to this are "The Evils of Rock & Roll" which does everything a 70s rock fan wishes for and the groovy "Hydra" which has a wonderfully retro synthesizer solo that goes on for a while.

This is the band that is substituting for "Beardfish" in the Prog Nation tour with Dream Theater. They deserve to be there and have potential to be a popular band. I am looking forward to seeing them play.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After a brief hiatus the band regrouped with some of their most exciting material to date!

Actually I'm still somewhat confused about the origin of this material since according to the album's credit notes two of these song were co-written by Richard Anton who was one of the band's early members and left before the release of Money Machine. Then there is a question of Gravest Show On Earth and The Evils Of Rock & Roll which are credited to Damon Fox and Bigelf's other founding member A.H.M. Butler-Jones who left the band in 2002. This is unfortunately also Butler-Jones' final credit since he passed away last new year's eve due to complications with pneumonia.

Finally the song Money, It's Pure Evil was previously heard as a bonus track on Bigelf's previous album Hex where it was entitled simply $. This sums up to a total of five out of ten tracks that in one way or another have already been in development before the recording sessions of Cheat The Gallows.

Still this is a second studio album by the same line-up which is actually a record considering all the changes that the band has undergone over the years with only Damon Fox as the only remaining member left from the original line-up. I personally consider this release to be a definite improvement over Hex and although it still suffers from the issue of trying to appeal to a wider audience most of these compositions work a whole lot better for me. First of all I really like the whole intro and outro idea which makes me think a bit about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but it's not all done just for the sake of a tribute since there is enough originality to keep it all sound fresh and existing to my ears. It's true that the band does tend to sound a bit too much like a cover band towards the album's middle section but that doesn't ruin the overall flow for me.

I was delighted to see the band perform as one of the supporting acts at Progressive Nation 2009. They were originally billed alongside Opeth and Unexpect on the European leg of the tour, but after Pain of Salvation and Beardfish dropped out, due to the bankruptcy of their record label's distributor, Bigelf filled in as one of the replacements during the U.S. tour as well. From what I've heard the band has now also continued to perform at the South America leg of the tour which will definitely get them the biggest exposure to date!

When I saw the show here in Stockholm, Sweden Bigelf announced that they would come out to the stands after their show to chat and sign albums. I had a chance to briefly chat with all of the members and they were even nice enough to sign my copy of the album. That whole experience replays in my head every time I listen to Cheat The Gallows so for me it's one of those must have albums in my collection. As for everyone who have never heard this album I still think that it would be an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection especially if you're one of the retro 70's fans!

***** star songs: Gravest Show On Earth (5:00) Blackball (7:02) Counting Sheep (11:20)

**** star songs: Money, It's Pure Evil (3:18) The Evils Of Rock & Roll (6:37) No Parachute (3:43) The Game (5:11) Race With Time (4:28) Hydra (6:23)

*** star songs: Superstar (3:46)

Review by Andy Webb
3 stars The evils of rock and roll

Bigelf are an interesting group of musicians. A quartet dedicated to resurrecting retro blues- rock with an intense abuse of the Hammond organ and growling guitar riffs, the band is able to craft a rather interesting brand of music. Cheating the Gallows, the band's third studio album, shows no shortage of this bombastic brand of heavy prog. Although the prog of the music is comprised of little more than the Hammond and Mellotron riffs, overall the band crafts an interesting album, with multiple moments of lighthearted playing of four guys who are having a good time. Despite the fact that much of the album seems to borrow quite a bit from their 70s influences, such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and King Crimson, they are still able to present an overall good album for us to listen to.

With much of the band's music a high tribute to the 70s greats, some of it can come off as a cheesy amalgam of 70s riffs, atmospheres, and themes. Of course this is not bad, but the overall lack of originality the band displays on much of the album harms the overall performance of the band. Songs like The Gravest Show on Earth, Money, It's Pure Evil, Superstar, and The Evils of Rock & Roll show how these guys have an obvious affection for their yesteryear influences, with similar rocking riffs, bluesy use of the Hammond to accent the riffs, and that certain atmosphere that many 70s hard rock bands conjured up in their classic recordings. Now the band's tribute to these greats is obviously not bad, with many great moments within the music showing that the band is not just your everyday cover band. The music in the end is good, albeit a little dry.

Cheating the Gallows certainly covers a bit of ground, with its near-hour length paying a nice tribute to many bands, from Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin to King Crimson and Pink Floyd. The majority of the creative concepts found on the album are a direct result of the band's amalgamation of their numerous influences into a single display of rather interesting heavy progressive rock. Obviously these tracks aren't bad, with some great spices of inventiveness found in some of the mellow melodic breakdowns and jazzy dynamics peppered throughout the album. Overall, the album isn't spectacular. However, the album is certainly not bad in any way. The band is able to craft a nice tribute, with their own (slightly influence-reliant) musical stamp across the music as well. The slightly dissonant quality of Damon Fox's voice mixed with the cinematic quality of the riffs and growling Hammond organ plodding make for an interesting sound. In the end, despite some obvious reliance upon their influences, the band has crafted an overall good album. 3+ stars.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars I don't deny the fact that Bigelf gets their sound from 70's progressive related bands just like every other reviewer says here. They use them all from The Beatles to King Crimson, but they don't copy. I am one of the first to criticize a band for copying a sound especially when they don't qualify for being even a good band. But these guys are the real deal. They know what they are doing. They don't just play a riff or two, play a bunch of commercial crap and consider themselves retro, they play music that would have fit right in during that era and I have no doubt they would have been a supergroup if they had been around in the 70s..

I love this band and this is one of their best. Even the so called "filler" tracks are good, but the "non-filler" tracks are excellent. The lyrics are a little cheesy, but so were most of the lyrics from that decade and we were able to look right past them. The instrumentals are what you should expect from this kind of band. This is glitzy rock n roll with prog sensibilities. I love this music and this band because they do it right. They do pay homage to the great bands of the 70s, but you know how you all (yes you know who you are) always complain that they don't make music like that anymore. Well, here you go. Just don't go off complaining that they are ripping off the sound. They are not. These are original compositions with a lot of flair, rocking hard guitar riffs, crazy organ/keyboards, even an occasional sax solo, done tastefully of course, not in Kenny G style. The biggest difference is that the production value on this album is great, so imagine what the 70s would have sounded like if today's equipment and production techniques were used.

I really do enjoy this album. I can play it in the car and rock out. I can play it at home and rock out. It sounds good everywhere. There is nothing avant garde or groundbreaking about it, it's just excellent music, straightforward and interesting enough to not be boring. There is plenty of variety in the music that each song has it's own personality, but it is not inconsistent. All of the instrumentation fits in including the sax in "Blackball" (it's not cheesy sax at all), the strings in "Money, It's Pure Evil", the glam in the vocals, the electronics and special effects added to the all fits in nicely and never seems out of place. And if you want a quick way to know if it's prog rock as good as the giants of prog, then listen to "Counting Sheep" (an almost 12 minute epic) and your doubts will be erased. Then go back and listen to the whole album and you won't be able to doubt the fact that this band really knows it's stuff.

I don't understand why people don't rave about this band, especially those that are yearning for a new band or new music that sounds as great as those 70's bands. They need to stop lamenting how "music is not as good as it used to be" and look a little harder, take a few risks, and listen to the music that is out there and they will find good and great bands. The music is there. Stop complaining and start listening!

I love this music and this album. It's fun, entertaining listening and it doesn't get boring because there is still an element of challenge to it. I can't give this album anything lower than a 5. Well developed sound, great production, excellent musicianship and showmanship and vocals. It's there and it's even progressive. Try Some Today!

Latest members reviews

4 stars On this third album (from 2008) by the exciting USA progrock formation I notice more variety and less emphasis on a bombastic vintage keyboard sound than on their previous two albums. Just take a look at the huge amount of guest musicians, especially the The Gallows Orchestra, The Section Quarte ... (read more)

Report this review (#1915840) | Posted by TenYearsAfter | Friday, April 20, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Put simply to start, Bigelf is a time capsule. Cheat the Gallows, is the hauntingly melodic buried treasure of 1972, magically resurfacing in 2008. Built in homage to the Beatle's Sgt. Peppers, with a sound not different than the most romanticized love child of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, raised ... (read more)

Report this review (#982999) | Posted by Daggor | Friday, June 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Bigelf just doesn't pull it out of the hat Ever since I saw Bigelf perform live at Progressive Nation 2009 tour at Stockholm Hovet, I've given their latest album Cheat the Gallows couple of spins each year. No reason for more, because frankly, how much can one endure disappointment? US/Finnish ... (read more)

Report this review (#424353) | Posted by Oliverum | Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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