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Gandalf's Fist: A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition)

First released and reviewed here at SoT in 2013, A Day In The Life Of A Universal Warrior was the fourth album from British progressive rock outfit Gandalf's Fist. Bold, beautiful and brave in execution it was a conceptually based piece built round the story that "a record, seemingly transmitted from a derelict space station in the far reaches of the galaxy using instruments salvaged, is a cosmic jam across space and time exploring a mythical figure from the 26th Century – The Universal Warrior – who's legend tells of a figure who has wandered the cosmos from the birth of existence to the end of time….". Convoluted that may be, but in essence this is a human tale of love, loss, loneliness and the emotions that make up human life, whether we acknowledge them or not. It's sympathetically told and tied to superb neo-prog that reaches confidently beyond those boundaries into traditional progressive areas, as well as a heavier outlook from time to time, becomes the sort of album that slowly builds from an engaging set of songs into an unforgettable experience.

At the time those who contributed constituted an amazingly wide array of talent, however the band were a core duo of Dean Marsh and Luke Severn, who between them handled most of the instruments and vocals. However, it's impossible to underplay the significance flutes, saxophone and the sumptuous backing vocals from a whole host of others played in making the album the huge success it was and remains to be.

Four years and two albums later (last year's The Clockwork Fable still my favourite release of 2017) Gandalf's Fist have used the experience they gained in piecing together what is a monumental mix of progressive rock goodness and a genuine, fully realised radio play for their latest opus, and applied it to this older release. Hence the special edition of A Day In The Life Of A Universal Warrior is no straight reissue, instead it is an expanded edition that comes fully remixed and remastered from the ground up, and as the the press release states… "Incorporates new performance takes that bring the album in line with the sonic palette of 2014's A Forest Of Fey and 2016's The Clockwork Fable. The record also features new and re-recorded narrative tracks from British act Mark Benton, who worked with the band on their critically acclaimed triple-CD release last year. Brand new violin and cello performances have been captured to elevate the original songs to new heights and drummer Stefan Hepe has revisited and re-recorded the drums and percussion to every song. Completing the package are previously unreleased transition tracks, a brand new exclusive track, "The Stowaway And The Endless Night" (an 11 minute epic omitted from the original release) and new cover art from Thomas Huth, who is responsible for the band's sleeves on their last two releases".

Again, that may sound very grand, but believe me, they ain't kidding. This is a reboot of the highest order. With Benton's melancholic tones and Alicia Marsh bringing the voice of the ship's computer to life, Universal Warrior quickly becomes more than just an album. Fans who've already become well acquainted with the likes of "Somewhere Beyond The Stars" or "The Wanderer Goes South" will still immediately recognise the absolutely top notch progressive interplays, while the occasional vocal contributions from Melissa Hollick raise things even higher. Why the aforementioned "Stowaway And The Endless Night" didn't come to be on the original version of the album, I'm not quite sure. However here it suddenly becomes an integral and standout track, moving the concept along and providing room and space for some musical muscles to be stretched, but never strained.

What more is there to say? I gave and stand by the four and a half star rating awarded to A Day In The Life Of A Universal Warrior back in 2013. However, with this new, updated and even more atmospheric version somehow improving on what came before, there can be only one verdict.

Track Listing
1. Another Night on the Far Side of the Universe

2. The Nine Billion Names of God

3. Where's a Bloody Escape Pod When You Need One?

4. Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet

5. Message Home

6. Somewhere Beyond the Stars

7. Orphans of the Sky

8. A Visitation of the Mushroom People
9. The Stowaway and the Endless Night
10. A Universal Wanderer

11. Nexus

12. North of the Wall

13. The Battle for Tannhäuser Gate

14. Ghosts of Spacetime

15. The Wanderer Goes South

Added: September 23rd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Gandalf's Fist online
Hits: 2020
Language: english

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Gandalf's Fist: A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer (Special Edition)
Posted by A great blast off album on 2017-09-23 12:25:31
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