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Pallas - Knightmoves To Wedge CD (album) cover





2.97 | 21 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With Euan Lowson departed and new frontman singer Alan Reed filling in the former's shoes with a more technical approach at singing, Pallas went headlong for a continuation of a progressive musical vision well instilled in the sonorities that were becoming more and more abundant in the British/European pop and rock scenarios from the mid 80s onwards. By that I'm referring to the use of explicitly polished melodic ideas and an abundant utilization of synthetic ambiences and ornaments. A fine example of this, regarding the major development of the band's compositional imagination at the time, is encapsulated in the majestic 'Dance Through the Fire'. Its mysterious woodwind intro and its sophisticated catchiness make it a perfect opener (for the "Wedge" tracklist), and why not, a perfect closing song too (this CD puts it in the penultimate position, an anti-climatic mistake, if you ask me). 'Stranger', on the other hand, could only be an opener: the opening chorale word, and its Asia- meets-Toto-meets-80s Queen mood bears an irresistible drive that almost makes it a prog guilty pleasure. This song and other two, 'Sanctuary' and 'Nightmare', come from the "Knightmoves" EP. 'Sanctuary' has got to be one of the most brilliant compositions ever in the Pallas catalogue: this piece somewhat recaptures the overwhelming epic momentum of the "The Sentinel" concept, developed in a more mature set of instrumental arrangements and an irresistible escalade toward the grand finale. If only 75% of this tracklist were like this! 'Nightmares' is also great, building on the creepy side of Pallas (perhaps for the last time), even featuring a fabulous synth solo by an ever- inspired Ronnie Brown. The "The Wedge" doesn't come out as impressive, despite its obvious highlights. One of them has already been mentioned - other ones are 'Executioner' (with its controlled use of dramatic variations), 'Just a Memory' (bearing an eeriness that makes the patent melancholy almost tangible), and of course, the mini-epic 'Ratracing', owner of a moving power properly enhanced by strategic mood shifts and occasional unusual signatures. 'Throwing Stones at the Wind' is a clever while not brilliant AOR-ish tune, while 'Win or Lose' turns out to be a pleasant ballad. For Pallas at their most AOR-ish, there is 'Imagination', catchy yet not special at all. I find 'Dinosaur' more enjoyable, but it wasn't included in either "Knightmoves" or "The Wedge", so. that's how it is. All in all, you can tell that the band feels more confident performance-wise, and that includes the constant couplings of Reed and Murray's vocals for each and every song. Additionally, songs like 'Sanctuary', 'Ratracing' and 'Just a Memory' show the presently decadent Yes and Genesis how you can still make good prog rock in the 80s, while 'Nightmare' and 'Executioner' rival the plastic-oriented grandeur of 82-87 Rush. It is true that the renewing fresh airs brought in by Reed didn't catch Pallas at their creative prime, but patience will pay off later with the band's releases in the 90s and the 2000s (their best era, in my opinion), but that's a story for another review. Regarding this item that comprises "The Wedge" and "Knightmoves", here we get a nice repertoire of melodic neo-prog with lots of hints at AOR and hard rock, and also some bits of progressive grandeur Pallas-style. Not great, not essential, but certainly good and with traces of the better future to come (from the "Beat the Drum" album onwards).
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |


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