Written by: TL on 13/03/2011 19:55:46

I can't be certain of course, but I'm guessing most of the regulars are not, just as I was not prior to being tasked with this review, familiar with Pallas, a band that I have discovered to be an institution in British prog rock. Their history is filled with more or less succesful, yet mostly all ambitious projects, and many members have come and left, yet while the interest for traditional progressive rock is probably at an all time low these days, Pallas have still managed to release their proposed epic "XXV" - The eight studio album since 1984's debut "The Sentinel", and a direct sequel to that album's concept.

Now ask yourself dear reader, when did you last listen to a full-fledged, rock-opera style concept album, in which everything, from the art, over the lyrics to the sounds, all aligns to tell the listener a coherent, cinematic story? That's what you get in "XXV", which tells the story of how and ancient, mighty presence awakens in the ruins of Atlantis, sees what has become of the human race that it once guided, and decides that things have turned out all wrong and the slate is in dire need of being wiped clean.

This story is told with all traditional prog elements in place. Squealing guitars, atmospheric samples, intricate keyboard melodies and powerful singing, all comes together in relatively long compositions of an average six minute length. It speaks of the experience of Pallas, that despite these lengths, the mood and story is driven forward by far the most of the time, and little time is wasted on pointless instrumental wankery.

One debatable quality however, is how faithful Pallas are to their period of origin. While the production quality is certainly worthy of the new millenium, the ideas, rhetorics and musical style doesn't seem to have evolved over the years, and effectively, Pallas still sound very 80's, and this I'm sure is a feature that will park the band solidly in its current niche-position. Obviously, the people who've stuck with the band over the years probably think this is more a pro than a con, I'm just pointing out that curious newcomers need to be prepared for a bit of sonic time-travelling, lest I'm sure they'll become disinterested with Pallas quite quickly.

Personally, I've actually found "XXV" to be quite enjoyable, although in a sort of dorky way, after getting over how non-contemporary and, well, uncool it in many ways is. Whether you consider the record's concept corny or fascinating, I find it a winning aspect, that the album actually manifests the old argument of releases being more than the sum of their tracks. Not that the music is bad, in fact it's nice to hear some 80's qualities with modern production, and considering the brilliant articulation and generally fine performance of current singer Paul Mackie, the story would be quite easy to follow by just listening to the songs. It just becomes more interesting if you also have the cover and lyrics to look at while you listen.

Overall, despite my positive impressions, I must admit that "XXV" is unlikely to become an album I will come back to and listen to very often. For that it does sound a little bit too dated. Like many music-geeks, I personally crave novelty and relevance, and this is an obvious obstacle when it comes to me really getting into Pallas. That being said, I can appreciate the mastery of 80's stylistics, and the rarity of a record that has actually been thought through in all aspects, and with that in mind, I think it would be slightly ignorant to give Pallas anything less than:


Download: Monster, Violet Sky
For The Fans Of: IQ, Marillion, Pendragon, Galahad

Release Date 24.01.2011
Mascot / Target

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