Pallas

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The Cross & The Crucible

Pallas - The Cross & The Crucible ©2001 InsideOut Music
1. The Big Bang
2. The Cross & The Crucible
3. For The Greater Glory
4. Who's To Blame
5. The Blinding Darkness
6. Towers Of Babble
7. Generations
8. Midas Touch
9. Celebration!

Veteran prog rockers Pallas return with another new disc. After one spin, it is evident why the veteran bands have such staying power. After several listens the nuances and subtlety of the music really come out. Fans of Close to the Edge by Yes or Abacab from Genesis will want to give this disc a listen or three.

This disc tackles a complex concept. The disc deals with evil done in the misguided name of religion. It speaks to things like the irony of preaching peace and practicing violence. "Our new album tries to get to the bottom of the mystery of the human race," explains vocalist Alan Reed. "We've always been interested in the contradictions of the human individual - on one hand there's the potential to achieve wonderful, amazing things and on the other people are capable of unbelievable cruelty." Reed goes on to explain, "The history of mankind has seen many wars under the guise of religion, whatever shape or form it may have taken. It's pure irony that every faith teaches first and foremost values like peace, love and partnership, yet the armies of certain religions have killed and destroyed throughout the centuries." "The title, The Cross & The Crucible, reflects the conflict between religion and science throughout history. Most of the wars in the world are fought in the name of religion and we wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of that. We're always writing music and then look for lyrical themes," said Graeme. "Lyrically, Alan and I are the main writers and I suppose the idea for the album first took root when we were on tour in 1999 and we were traveling from Paris to Belgium and we drove through the World War 1 killing fields and that really brings it home to you. Alan Reed works for the BBC and spent some time in Bosnia as a reporter and saw it first hand and something like that obviously has a profound effect on you."

Each song in some way picks up and continues the theme forward. It is a challenging theme, but it is carried off very well through the several movements in the tracks. With songs of seven, eight, nine, and eleven minutes, there is ample room for the band to flex their technical expertise. That expertise helps to convey the emotional energy of the songs.

The songs are rich with atmosphere. The keyboard work is top-notch throughout the disc. The backdrop offered by the keys afford the band the opportunity to change the tone and feel of a song midway through and take it in a new direction without seeming forced or out of place. The vocal harmonies and melodies are outstanding. The singing helps carry the disc to a higher plane than the play alone could reach. It is a mark of the band's staying power to be able to produce a sound that is indeed larger and richer than the sum of their parts. Fans of progressive music will really appreciate the amazing tapestry woven by these skilled artisans. This is deep, thought provoking music. It is capable of conjuring many images in your mind's eye. It does exactly what progressive rock should do, challenge and move you. This disc succeeds at every level. It is the best progressive rock album I have heard this year.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2001

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