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BIGELF

Heavy Prog • United States


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Bigelf biography
This California band offer unashamed retro hard rock with heavy use (and abuse) of growling Hammond organ, fat, juicy, heavy guitar riffs, plodding, booming bass, multiple mellotrons and lots of other unmentionable keyboard artefacts. With its mix of pop, glam and prog rock elements, their music features aggressive experimental passages with the dark, psychedelic sound of early 70's metal combined with elements from the 90's. The band consists of vocalist/keyboardist Damon Fox (a terrific vocalist who prefers a moderate range to banshee wails or toadlike croaking); Ace Mark on lead, rhythm and slide guitars; Duffy Snowhill on bass; and Steve "Froth" Frothingham on drums and gong.

Their first EP, "Closer to Doom", was recorded in Hollywood in 1998. Apart from the production, this could have been recorded in 1973: nothing over six minutes, genuinely good songs with BEATLES-like melodies and harmonies, heavy Hammond-driven stuff and nasty Mellotron on just about every track. After relocating to Scandinavia where audiences seemed more receptive to their brand of retro-rock, the same album was released in Sweden with 4 extra tracks. In 2000, they released their first official full-length cd, the highly praised "Money Machine", and in 2003 they came with the album "Hex", where they concentrate more than ever on the "BLACK SABBATH-with-more-tron" sound. Good, groove-driven stuff that is a true blast from the past. Their latest assault goes by the name of "Cheat The Gallows".

If you like BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE, URIAH HEEP and KING CRIMSON, you won't be able to help yourself head banging and humming along with these guys' material. Highly recommended.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

Bigelf official website

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BIGELF Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy BIGELF Music


Into the MaelstromInto the Maelstrom
Inside Out U.S. 2014
Audio CD$10.73
$8.62 (used)
Closer To DoomCloser To Doom
Third Hole Records 1997
Audio CD$26.10
$8.99 (used)
Cheat the GallowsCheat the Gallows
Custard 2008
Audio CD$29.90
$12.85 (used)
Cheat the Gallows 2LP (180g Vinyl)Cheat the Gallows 2LP (180g Vinyl)
Limited Edition
Custard 2010
Vinyl$22.04
$36.71 (used)
Money MachineMoney Machine
Import
Import 2010
Audio CD$45.00
$18.87 (used)
MadhatterMadhatter
EP · Import
Warner Music 2003
Audio CD$39.16 (used)
Cheat the Gallows by Bigelf (2008) Audio CDCheat the Gallows by Bigelf (2008) Audio CD
Custard
Audio CD$44.68
$19.99 (used)
CHEAT THE GALLOWSCHEAT THE GALLOWS
EMIMUSIC JAPAN
Audio CD$32.43
$17.17 (used)
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More places to buy BIGELF music online Buy BIGELF & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
  • AmazonMP3: Search for BIGELF DRM-Free MP3 Downloads @ AmazonMP3 (USA Only) | AmazonMP3 (UK Only)

BIGELF shows & tickets


  • Resonance Festival 2014 on 31 Jul 2014
  • Burg Herzberg Festival 2014 on 31 Jul 2014
  • Getaway Rock Festival 2014 on 7 Aug 2014
  • Bigelf at Boerderij, Zoetermeer on 29 Oct 2014
  • Bigelf at Z7 Konzertfabrik Pratteln, Pratteln on 1 Nov 2014
  • Bigelf at STROM, München on 3 Nov 2014
  • Bigelf - Legend Club - MILANO on 4 Nov 2014
  • BIGELF en Barcelona on 6 Nov 2014
  • Bigelf at Copérnico, Madrid on 7 Nov 2014
  • Hard Rock Hell VIII on 13 Nov 2014
  • Bigelf at The Cathouse, Glasgow on 17 Nov 2014
  • Bigelf at The Garage, London on 19 Nov 2014

BIGELF discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BIGELF top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.62 | 53 ratings
Money Machine
2000
3.62 | 73 ratings
Hex
2003
3.56 | 90 ratings
Cheat The Gallows
2008
3.43 | 56 ratings
Into The Maelstrom
2014

BIGELF Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BIGELF Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BIGELF Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BIGELF Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 16 ratings
Closer to Doom (6 track version)
1998
3.70 | 30 ratings
Closer To Doom
1998
3.18 | 9 ratings
Goatbridge Palace
2001
3.14 | 10 ratings
The Madhatter EP
2003

BIGELF Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Into The Maelstrom by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.43 | 56 ratings

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Into The Maelstrom
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by rdtprog
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars I had my first introduction to this band a couple of years ago but i didn't take the time to listen properly to their music. But this time i did and i am glad because this cd is really something special. Their music is a original combination of hard-rock, psychedelic and prog rock. The band use vintage sounds and instruments and wear some influences from the psychedelic era of The Beatles with a singer that can take the tone voice of John Lennon, but other times it changes in something more evil depending on where the style of music is going. Some hard rock riffs are very similar to Black Sabbath. You can feel a little dose of insanity in they way the band use many tempo changes while keeping the melody intact. The vocals are very effective by delivering plenty of nuances.

The band has succeed to create a very good cd, that is keeping the momentum in the second part of the cd with even more progressive elements and more space allowed to the keyboards. I don't know if this is their best cd, maybe i have missed something before, i will check that later. A nice addition to your progressive collection!

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 Into The Maelstrom by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.43 | 56 ratings

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Into The Maelstrom
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Daggor

4 stars Bigelf is unabashedly one of my favorite bands. Like many, I was introduced to them by Mike Portnoy's Progressive Nation 2009 tour. I was blown away by dominating showmanship and a completely heartfelt vintage sound that embodied many of my favorite early metal and progressive rock bands from the 1970s, along with a heavy dose of Beatles worship. While recent events have perhaps threatened their status as the "Evil Beatles", vocalist/organ player/songwriter/mastermind Damon Fox has joined forces with longtime Bigelf bassist Duffy Snowhill (Which is, as far as I can tell, not something he got out of a Scandinavian hobbit name generator) and longtime Bigelf fan and progressive rock nomad Mike Portnoy to put out release #5 in what's been a 24 year career.

So what of this offering? Into The Maelstrom is a decidedly different approach from the hell's circus-show of Cheat The Gallows, and even though that album was built as a send-off to the Beatles' Sgt. Peppers album, there's actually a stronger dose of Beatles influence on Into the Maelstrom. On top of that, there's still plenty of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and Alice Cooper influences abounding. The album, like much of Bigelf's career, plays like a loving tribute to a bygone era.

This is also the first Bigelf album that is the result of a single creative vision. Previous efforts had always been collaborations between Damon Fox and whoever was in the band at the time, and in the case of Cheat The Gallows, that was just the result of the creative vision of the band's entire history. Damon on his own is less inclined to the excess and explosiveness that made Cheat The Gallows a jaw-dropping extravaganza, but that's not to say that these moments are entirely gone. The musical introduction of "Hypersleep", the guitar solo of "Already Gone", and the front end of the album's closer "ITM" are still rich in the bombastic DNA that makes the band great. Still, the songs are carried more by vocal melodies than in the past. The result is still phenomenal, if a little bit less distinct.

In addition to Mike Portnoy behind the drum kit, Into The Maelstrom welcomes Luis Carlos Maldonado onto guitars for the solos. Maldonado is certainly talented, and when given the opportunity, as on "Edge of Oblivion", "Control Freak", "Mr. Harry McQuahae", and "Already Gone", he can lay down some really impressive guitar solos that reek of sentimentality and swagger. Still, I can't point to a single instance where the whole song seems to stop for an awe-inspiring solo like on "Money" or It's Pure Evil". In fact, on "Already Gone," Maldonado puts on his most impressive solo of the album, only to be sung over.

Still, the songwriting of Damon Fox is as superb as ever. "Alien Frequency" sounds like nothing the band has ever done before, and it has a chorus that's absolutely stunning. "Control Freak", while dubious as a choice for a lead single, functions wonderfully within the album, shifting the tone to a darker direction. "High" is the seemingly obligatory Sabotage- era Black Sabbath tribute, which has always been one of my favorite attributes of the band. "Edge Of Oblivion" is really where it all comes together though. For someone whose favorite Bigelf track was "The Evils Of Rock And Roll", this was the track that really tied everything together for me. It's got lyrics worthy of the legacy Fox crafted on "The Gravest Show On Earth", and Portnoy's fills and solos are completely stunning. I was actually quite worried about how Portnoy's style would mesh with the band over the course of this new album, especially since I was a huge fan of the style of the band's long-time drummer Steve Frothingham, AKA Froth. Much to my satisfaction, Portnoy adjusted his style to fit the needs of the band wonderfully.

For the vintage-minded progressive rock fan, Into The Maelstrom is essential listening. While Bigelf is often accused of derivative songwriting and leaning too strongly on its influences, I see a much different picture. While the sound can so obviously be traced to that bygone era, rich with hammond organs and the almighty mellotron, Bigelf completely inhabits their niche.

4.5 // 5 (Originally posted at www.blackwindmetal.com, check it out for this and other great progressive and power metal reviews)

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 Into The Maelstrom by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.43 | 56 ratings

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Into The Maelstrom
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock and Crossover Teams

2 stars Well, I'm at a loss on what to say about this new release from Bigelf. "Into the Maelstrom" is an interesting album with highs and lows, and plenty in between, too. Bigelf has something of a cult following, and it's been a long 5 years since their last album. So, I think the expectations and anticipation are pretty high, especially with Mike Portnoy stepping in to take over on drums.

I'm going to be honest. Maybe I just don't like Bigelf's style, or maybe it's just this album, but my first experience with them has been one of annoyance. "Into the Maelstrom" is annoying. It's boisterous. It's impossibly over the top, brick-walled, and devoted to fun. That may appeal to many out there, but it is a big turn off for me. I find the songs to be repetitive affairs that generally focus on sounding retro. I have no idea why this is labeled progressive at all, as they must barely ride the edge.

Their style is certainly influenced by Black Sabbath. Everything from the low, groovy guitars to the annoying vocals are taken straight from these metal masters. Bigelf adds just enough strangeness and eeriness to make a sound that is all their own, but the classic rock/metal underpinnings are definitely the foundation for everything else. Because of this, the instrumentals (very few) are rather predictable and sound like something I've heard a million times. This is especially true for the guitars and bass.

I do, however, really enjoy the keys. I found the mix of organs and atmospheric synth to be delightful and a huge elevation for the rest of the music. Portnoy does a decent job on this record, though his drumming is more or less by the numbers. There are few fills and such that I found really good, though. All in all, I found nothing special at all about the instrumentals or any of the performances.

The album is made up of a bunch of catchy songs. I was really surprised at this. Consequently, I find most of them disappointing, unsatisfying, and downright abrasive. "Control Freak" and "Edge of Oblivion" come to mind here, as they are big, pounding, shallow affairs. There are some good songs on here, but almost no great or excellent songs. I really like the track "Alien Frequency" with its interesting keys and its more complex structure. The rest of the songs? They're okay. Most of the tracks on "Into the Maelstrom" sound much the same, as I even kept checking because I thought that I might have hit the "repeat" button or something.

Is this a terrible album? No. Not really. It's just so darn irritating and boring. It sounds like an Ozzy Osbourne record sometimes. If that sounds good to you, then you'll enjoy this. If not, then stay far away from it.

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 Hex by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.62 | 73 ratings

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Hex
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Memo_anathemo

4 stars BigElf or Black Sabbath revival. I knew a couple of songs of Bigelf and thought they were good. As it usually happens with a prog rock album, it is necessary to listen to it completely to understand the essence of a band. It happened to me and I got the album Hex and wow, impressive way of playing. The sound is very retro, simulating the heavy riffs of heavy rock of the seventies, especially Black Sabbath, but personally I would say Bigelf surpasses much their possible idols. The style of playing is, as I mentioned, pretty similar to those heavy riffs, but the musical arrangements and especially the use of mellotron makes it different and of course really high quality, now I'm craving to hear the first and the third album, but Hex is widely recommended!

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 Cheat The Gallows by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.56 | 90 ratings

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Cheat The Gallows
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Daggor

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 by Alice Cooper, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour. Bigelf won't try to fool you for a second, they're not breaking any new ground, they're not trying to find out what's next in music, but telling the world their sinister, addictive, and energetic version of the golden era. The album starts with the anthemia "Gravest Show on Earth", a wordplay so obvious, it's a wonder Alice Cooper hasn't used it yet. While some bands might save the sweeping orchestral arrangements for a 10 minute extravaganza at the end of the album, Bigelf puts em up right away (As well as in the 10 minute extravaganza at the end). From Gravest show, the CD flows seamlessly into "Blackball", the heavy road song paying homage to, among others, Pink Floyd's Money, with a rocking sax solo. The orchestration continues and the question has to be raised, "Has orchestral rock ever rocked so hard?" Drummer Steve "Froth" Frothingham, Los Angeles homeless look-a-like, does an extremely respectable job holding down the beats with finnish bassist Duffy Snowhill, while Organist/Vocalist Damon Fox and guitarist Ace Mark absolutely rip and tear though everything ever right and just about the golden age of music. Blackball ends and a startlingly commercial song greets listeners, "Money, It's pure Evil".

Similar to Deep Purple, Bigelf never really takes themselves terribly serious with their lyrics, Money, It's Pure Evil (Not to be confused with the title track of 2000's Money Machine), is a highly radio friendly song that is as honest as it is catchy. A lot. The lyrics are basic, focusing on how money and Hollywood can corrupt, the orchestras are sweeping as ever, and Ace Mark rips an absolutely stunning guitar solo. The real first gem of the album though, is my personal favorite Bigelf track, "The Evils of Rock and Roll" (In addition to having "Evil" in two consecutive song titles, the band has referred to themselves as the Evil Beatles on more than one occasion, modesty be damned!).

Evils starts out fairly modest, if a bit haunting, vaguely reminiscent of something Iommi might have written for the Vol 4 album, at least until the 1:40 mark, when the main riff comes in, and the song rips into full "Sabotage Sabbath" glory. The melodic chemistry between Fox and Mark is downright stunning, and if a tribute were to ever be written to Sabbath's most monumental work, this would be it.

Having exhausted the need to rock for the first 4 songs, Bigelf tames a bit with "No Parachute". It's not necessarily a "Bad" song, but coming right after one of the most roaring starts to an album I've ever heard, it certainly seems a bit pale. Ace Mark delivers again with a downright heroic guitar solo, but it feels like a bit of a letdown. The game is a bit better, but for the most part, just another good melody where everything falls into place at the right time, complimented by a glorious guitar solo, and when that constitutes the weak link of an album, you've stumbled onto something really extraordinary.

Superstar, like Money, It's pure evil, was clearly written as a single. Bigelf isn't ashamed of that fact, Fox will be the first to admit he wants Bigelf to be heard on the radio, but they're not going to sit down and sing whiny lyrics over a four chord progression to accomplish it. Superstar differs from Money in one key area however, in that it's much dirtier, grimier, and more true to Bigelf's sound, however maybe a bit less catchy. Race With Time, like No Parachute and The Game, is a well constructed, intelligent track with good melodies, and a killer intro, and a great Organ breakdown from Damon. It's a great track, but nowhere near as good as what's to come, because Bigelf has clearly saved the best for last.

Well, maybe not the BEST, but it's a nice cliché, and Bigelf likes clichés, I'm sure Damon would be proud. Evils still remains the album's best track, but the final two songs, "Hydra", and "Counting Sheep", are the two, highly technical, progressive masterpieces of the album. Hydra is really Damon's showcase for his organ and singing, and if the song sounds great in the studio, it sounds twice as good live, with Damon extending the solos and rocking even harder, if that's possible. The Orchestra is back in full, epic force, and Froth's drumming is nothing short of spectacular. Which leads us to the album's closer, "Counting Sheep".

Counting Sheep is the real prog epic of the album, clocking in at a startling 11:20 for a band trying to get commercial recognition. This, more than anything, pays tribute to bands like Floyd, and Yes, as well as (In the spirit of Sgt. Peppers) a reprive to "The Gravest Show on Earth". It is frantic, eclectic, and ever changing, as well as one of the tracks that caused Mike Portnoy to fall in love with the band (Which was what led them to explode onto the prog scene, a full year after Cheat the Gallows had been released, and in the 18th year of their career). Fans of songs like "Superstar" or "Evils of Rock and Roll", might not be as high on this as other songs, but it is definitely a core principle of what makes Bigelf, Bigelf.

All in all, the album can be divided into three sections, The evil, rocking songs like Gravest Show, Blackball, Evils of Rock and Roll, and Hydra, the more commercial, but still very "Bigelf" melodic oriented songs like "Money, It's pure Evil", No Parachute, The Game, and Race with Time, and the super-prog, which is evident across the whole album, but really exemplified in Hydra and especially Counting Sheep. This is a very comforting and reassuring album for one who thinks that Rock is dying, and that the spirit of the genre has given way to the tides of commercialism, and possibly one of the best albums of the decade, a very obvious, thumbs up.

Taken from the defunct personal blog (daggreview.blogspot.com) of blackwindmetal.com writer Mark Nagy (AKA Dagg). Who is me.

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 Hex by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.62 | 73 ratings

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Hex
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Starhammer
Prog Reviewer

3 stars When Floyd met Sabbath...

The band's influences are blindingly obvious, not only in the music, but also the lyrical themes. However, they are not totally derivative with plenty of intricate synthwork mixed in with those dirty guitars. For the longest time 'Cheat the Gallows' was my favourite Bigelf album, but more recently I am starting to prefer 'Hex'. Whilst none of the tracks are as good as the likes of Hydra, just about all of the tracks are better than (the rest of) the second half of 'Cheat the Gallows'.

The main attraction with 'Hex' is that it is consistently consistent, I can listen to it from start to finish and enjoy every minute. For this reason I find it hard to pick stand-out tracks and my favourites fluctuate with every listen, but at the moment they include Madhatter, Rock & Roll Contract and Carry the Load.

The Verdict: An excellent addition to any hard rock music collection

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 Cheat The Gallows by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.56 | 90 ratings

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Cheat The Gallows
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group Admin / Heavy Prog Team

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.

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 Cheat The Gallows by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.56 | 90 ratings

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Cheat The Gallows
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Starhammer
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A tale of two halves...

After a five year gap Bigelf return on a new record label, but their signature style remains intact.

The Good: If Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles got together and produced a musical lovechild it would sound something like this. The album opener promises The Greatest Show on Earth and by the end of the first four tracks you would be forgiven for believing it. Don't expect virtuoso musicianship but the songwriting is proficient, and its product addictive.

The Bad: It's hard to believe that after such a promising start this release could plummet into an abyss of pure unadulterated filler for (almost) the rest of its duration. Whilst Superstar, The Game and Race With Time are merely sub-par, No Parachute is actually dire and through a combination of science and scissors has now been scratched from the face of the earth (CD). The albums closes with Counting Sheep, a mini rock opera of sorts which starts off amusingly enough, but quickly loses its charm by dragging on forever and a day. However, despite this latter drop in class there is still a beacon of hope in the form of Hydra which, in contrast to its back end brethren, is my absolute favourite of the whole album.

The Verdict: Some banging tunes to be found but also bring a body bag.

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 Cheat The Gallows by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.56 | 90 ratings

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Cheat The Gallows
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by Oliverum

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 hard rock group Bigelf creates high expectations with their Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin influences. There are even some hints to The Wall era Pink Floyd in their harsh-sounding organ heavy dramatic hard rock style, with occasional musical humour here and there. But if you really look farther Damon Fox's fearsome topper hat and massive Mellotron/Hammond C3 duo which looks like it has jumped right out of Captain Nemo's submarine from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, you find nothing special.

Bigelf's annoyingly conventional guitar parts mixed with sporadical whoops from (two!) organs create a really woolly and unclear concert and studio sound. 23-piece orchestra adds character to the best songs on the album, but is still notably underused. The listener would find some very promising moments for Bigelf's own style to emerge, especially in four star songs listed below, but in the end it still drowns into their desperate act to make some dramatic doom rock, which might be impressive on stage but hardly memorable on cd. With some cuts Cheat the Gallows would have made a great EP.

Noteworthy four-star song: The Evils of Rock 'n Roll. Three-star songs: Money, It's Pure Evil, Hydra, Counting Sheep.

2,5 stars

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 Money Machine by BIGELF album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 53 ratings

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Money Machine
Bigelf Heavy Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

3 stars Can you imagine yourself being in a 60's-70's retro party with fancy colourful clothes, long hair and big sunglasses? Add to this the elements of prog and heavy guitars and it might be approximately what you feel like listening to this album... And if you are a rock/metal fan, imagine a prog version of Monster Magnet and Spiritual Beggars and you will not be too far away...

BIGELF present here an interesting mix of heavy edge riffs (Black Sabbath, Atomic Rooster), hammond/keys-filled psychedelic passages (Hawkwind, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple) and a lighter prog-pop side (Beatles). The vocalist Damon Fox displays a wide range of influences and singing styles that give flexibility and variety to the final result. The use of mellotron, hammond and keyboard sounds revive the late 60's feeling which is dominant in BIGELF's sound.

The opening title track more or less sets the stage for the style expected in the rest of the album: mid-tempo composition, supported by heavy prog riffs (especially reminding of Uriah Heep in this case) and a continuous keyboard background ''rocking'' along with the main riff. The (longest in the album) track succeeds in catching your attention with the slightly dark interim guitar riffs (a-la Atomic Rooster), while the ''distorted'' theatrical vocals fit perfectly. The same recipe is used for tracks like Neuropsychopathic Eye, which adds more complicated riffs and speedier psychedelic prog passages in the vein of Hawkwind. This heavy side is also reflected in Ironheel, showing a mix of Sabbath-derived riffs on a berzerk psychedelic atmosphere. Atomic Rooster's cover of the legendary Death Walks Behind You is exactly on the same pattern and well executed by the band.

Mindbender is an excellent example of how to fit a catchy psychedelic rock piece of music in just 2 minutes. The ''other'' - lighter or poppier - side of the album is represented with the rest 4 compositions. Although not as enjoyable as the heavy aspect of the album, the lyricism of Sellout and mostly The Bitter End shows the diversity in the band's sound, producing attractive melodies. Side Effects and (Another) Nervous Breakdown are the least appealing tracks in my opinion, directly influenced by The Who and especially The Beatles. The light-hearted feel, although giving a more relaxed atmosphere between heavier tracks, fails to keep my interest at the same level.

In summary, the first full-length album from BIGELF is a highly entertaining experience and would definitely appeal to retro-prog fans that prefer heavy-edge riffs of the Sabbath/Rooster/Heep school. Although not very original in ideas, the blend of psychedelia and heavy prog is at least interesting and promising for future releases. 3.5 stars deserved.

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