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Old 05-26-2009, 01:21 AM   #21 (permalink)
Comus
I'm sorry, is this Can?
 
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The beginning of the end of Gentle Giant’s classic period, another shift in sound marks their venture into more poppy material. That’s not to say however, that it’s not done very well. The Power and the Glory is an example of the sound from In A Glass House being taken and made more palatable. This whole release is still unmistakeably Gentle Giant, but with yet another, more mature, sound. The album is stripped down in the form of instruments used, however the layering and usage of melody makes it seem far deeper.

The epic build up of atmosphere returns yet again, but this time it reaches far more satisfying and tangible climaxes. Proclamation is a great album opener and it establishes a good flow into So Sincere. The early style vocal delivery that were quite missed on In A Glass House return in good form, and make the experience all the better for it. The whole album is based on the great Graham Greene book of the same name, I’ve never picked up on it before despite liking the book and the album. Shows how much I pay attention, thank you wikipedia.

The whole album has a feel of mysticism around it, the flow, production and atmosphere all create a very powerful listen. That naturally means that this is one where it can be quite important to turn up to 11 to get the full, power and glory of the delivery. Songs like Playing the Game always have something new to discover, there’s some great single performances moulded together to become more than their parts. This of course is the whole appeal of Gentle Giant, and as such there’s always something new on subsequent listens.

One thing I can’t stress enough about what makes this album unique in the Gentle Giant spectrum is the guitars, the wonderful guitars. Judging on their earlier albums it almost seemed impossible that they’d give the guitar such priority for such a large part of the album. There have been hints of strong guitar driven songs, or at least a nice solo here and there, but it seemed like they’d never take the dive. Especially given the depth of the talent in the band, of course this isn’t a bad thing, it may seem like a bit of wasted talent, but it sounds so good.

Cogs in Cogs is manic Gentle Giant at it’s best, this song has so much going on it’s hard to concentrate on actually putting anything down on paper, or in this case, word document. But naturally, Gentle Giant aren’t going to let you get some rest in, with the challenging No God’s A Man. Everything can seem a bit overwhelming at times here, but things get a lot clearer with a few more listens. The interesting additions of Violin and Cello come a bit more into the forefront here, especially on The Face and again add some more depth to the listening experience.

I said at the start of the review that this was the beginning of their more poppy phase, well let me clarify that. On the surface a lot of the songs on this album, especially in the first half can seem very simple, pop driven songs (not a bad thing in itself). However venture deeper in, and especially in the second half and you’ll discover an album just as complex and interesting as Octopus. The classic sound is mostly gone, but the whole progressive spirit of the band lives on in a new adaptation of the Gentle Giant we know and love.

There is so much to this album, and it’s arguably one of the best in their catalogue, this is one you could play again and again and not get tired of. I should know, I’ve listened to it three times in a row now for the review, and it’s even more interesting. This is one that definitely gets stronger with subsequent plays, especially if you haven’t heard it in a long while. Highly recommended for prog and rock fans alike.

9.8/10
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