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Pallas - The Cross & the Crucible CD (album) cover

THE CROSS & THE CRUCIBLE

Pallas

 

Neo-Prog

3.57 | 218 ratings

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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.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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