It has been a while since I last put a Pallas CD into my player, although I am still very fond of albums like The Wedge (1986) or The Cross & The Crucible (2001). But, to my surprise, on Pallas's new studio album, their eight by the way, Alan Reed has returned to the fold, as he left this Scottish neo prog band in 2010. Pallas never got the “appreciation" and judgment that other neo prog bands like IQ or Pendragon got and maybe that was mainly due to the fact that the music of Pallas is always very dark, mysterious, and sombre indeed. Lyrically the band also sounds rather pessimistic and anxious about all the troubles and problems in the world.
The six tracks on this new album The Messenger all feature musical intros with a really sinister sphere, making this again a typical Pallas album. Sign Of The Times opens this dark concept album with mysterious keys and guitar melodies, followed by the unmistakably recognizable voice of Mr. Alan Reed. The guitar solo in the middle of this song is impressive, rather exotic, and wild, so a great opening track which makes you want to hear more of The Messenger. The Great Attractor, being the shortest track, is almost “catchy” for Pallas standards and the guitar work of Niall Mathewson is again excellent. Fever Pitch stands out due to the majestic keyboard passages and melodies of Ronnie Brown, while Reed's singing here is again very obscure and emotional.
Highlight of this album is without any doubt the title track, clocking in just over thirteen minutes, it is remarkably diverse, featuring goosebumps, intricate guitar solos, lots of tempo twists and turns, choir-like vocal passages, evocative vocals, and a marvellous ending; this is Pallas at their best.
The Messenger is a great Pallas album, but I really loathe the fact that they have not got a real drummer and that the programmed drumming is, for most of the time, too bombastic and too dominantly present....
Well, you cannot have it all, can you now? And by the way, also check out the outstanding artwork as The Messenger has a formidable cover indeed. Listening tip: Sign Of The Times at maximum volume!
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Dave Smith)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2024