Pallas - The Cross & The Crucible

Year of Release: 2001
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 079
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:40:00

Formed in Aberdeen, Scotland, Pallas is now Niall Mathewson (guitars), Ronnie Brown (keyboards), Graeme Murray (bass), Alan Reed (vocals) and Colin Fraser (drums). The Cross & The Crucible is the group's fifth album since their debut Arrive Alive in 1981. That is not a lot of music over the course of twenty years. The group believes in quality not quantity ... now that's an understatement. EMI had signed the band in the eighties to capitalize on Marillion's popularity and the rise of prog-rock. That relationship was short lived however.

The album starts of with "The Big Bang", which sounds more like the big fluff, and then it leads into the title track. The playing is a bit restrained right through the fourth track. It's wonderful music mind you; it's just not your typical prog-rock graduation to an explosion of sound. They focus on the beauty and texture of the sounds on "Generations" as they gently lead you into the more complex and darker songs, beginning with "The Blinding Darkness." They cut Niall Mathewson loose and he is ready to step in at moment's notice to slash away with heavy metal melodic riffing. He leaves notice that the previous restrained playing was just to fit the mood, so beware. "The Towers Of Babble" is one of the more interesting and colorful tracks, offering up a taste of this and that together with the soft and hard aspects of the music. The combination of the hard and soft edge in a song is the trademark of any good prog-rock song. Pallas does it as good as any I have ever heard. The grand torch bearer for all of prog-rock to watch burn bright is "Midas Touch." It may be the longest run on the CD at 11:14, but it stands as their crowning glory. All the pieces fall into place on this one song and prove that this group has earned their place amongst the greats in progressive rock music. "Celebration" draws the curtain on a breathtaking outing into the mysteries of man, life, and the music that tells our stories. Paradise is referred to frequently; if you listen closely you find your own paradise in the music regardless of the subject matter. The lead singer, Alan Reed, sounds like a cross between Fish and Peter Gabriel consistently, which is not a bad combination. The similarities are more noticeable on this particular song. The bass playing of Graeme Murray is extraordinary as well (as it is through the entire recording), and something would be amiss if I didn't mention the stellar musicianship of Colin Fraser on drums and Ronnie Brown on keyboards. It must be a prerequisite to be a perfectionist and an astonishing musician to make it in a prog-rock band. Any band that I have ever heard has a star at every position.

So as the disc makes it final spins to enclose your ears with story and sound, it ends in a celebration of life and the wonders that surround us. Once again I am given reason to believe that the greatest musicians today are making progressive rock music. I hear it every time I hear a new release. Add Pallas to your list of must have artists in your collection.

Also released by InsideOut Music America (IOMA 2024-2)

The Big Bang (3:08) / The Cross & The Crucible (9:17) / For The Greater Glory (7:37) / Who's To Blame (4:45) / The Blinding Darkness (6:41) / Towers Of Babble (8:11) / Generations (5:21) / Midas Touch (11:16) / Celebration (7:24)

Alan Reed - vocals
Niall Mathewson - guitars
Ronnie Brown - keyboards
Graeme Murray - bass
Colin Frazer - drums

Arrive Alive (1981)
The Sentinel (1984/2000)
The Knightmoves EP (1985)
The Wedge (1986/2000)
Knightmoves To Wedge (combo reissue)
Beat The Drum (1999)
Live Our Lives (2000)
The Cross And The Crucible (2001)
Blinding Darkness (2003)
The Dreams Of Men (2005)
XXV (2011)

Blinding Darkness (DVD) (2003)
Live From London (DVD) (2008)
Moment To Moment (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: September 24th 2001
Reviewer: Keith "Muzikman" Hannaleck

Artist website:
Hits: 800
Language: english


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