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Pallas: The Dreams Of Men

It has been four years since Pallas released The Cross and The Crucible, a CD that I loved when first released but haven't played much since. So I was really curious to see what kind of changes would be made on their new release. The Dreams Of Men is a CD filled with bombast, over-dramatic vocals, haunting melodies, intricate bass lines, and long-winded Niall Mathewson solos.

In other words, nothing has changed. At first that may sound like a negative, but Pallas may not have been inventive with style, but they certainly took their time with songwriting. Even with the constant layering of sounds that leave little space, the song structures are so solid that each song remains listenable even after repeated plays. "Ghostdancers" is an instant hit and "Too Close To The Sun" has better groves than anything put together so far by Pallas. The entire album is filled with entertaining moments that will have better staying power than the songs on The Cross and The Crucible.

Unlike other bombast rockers like Magellan, there is a logical place and space left for the vocals on The Dreams Of Men. Shorter rockers like "Messiah" and "Mr. Wolfe" allow quick themes to be developed and introduced the keep the entire CD from getting stale. Like many prog-CDs, Pallas have saved their biggest surprise for last with "The Last Angel", an eleven minute symphonic epic that reminds me of a Roger Waters' opus that spins out of control and smashes into the best parts of Arena.

If you liked The Sentinel or The Cross and The Crucible then you will love The Dreams Of Men. This is highly recommended for anyone that likes their songs filled and active, but with an absolute sense of direction and purpose.

Track Listing
1. The Bringer Of Dreams 9:50
2. Warriors 7:15
3. Ghostdancers 7:30
4. Too Close To The Sun 11:34
5. Messiah 4:57
6. Northern Star 4:01
7. Mr. Wolfe 5:48
8. Invincible 10:45
9. The Last Angel 11:28

Added: November 2nd 2005
Reviewer: Steve Ambrosius
Score:
Related Link: Pallas
Hits: 5793
Language: english

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Pallas: The Dreams Of Men
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-11-02 18:25:33
My Score:

It took Scottish neo-proggers Pallas four years to follow up their critically acclaimed The Cross & The Crucible. Apparently, the band wanted to take their time to develop their new songs as best as they could in order to reach the high level of standard they set with their previous release. The Dreams of Men is a competent successor in that it is laced with the band's universally accepted melodies, impressive guitar and keyboard interplay, beautiful vocal harmonies, and delicate song arrangements.

The songs on the album are about the dreams of mankind, but I don't think there is a definite concept going on. The songs are independent, addressing different issues, but they also seem to have that dream theme underlying them. To give you a better idea what they are about, "Ghostdancers" seems to be a very mellow tune punctuated by a sad violin melody through its entirety. The violin generates a distinct Celtic feel and portrays Scottish people immigrating to the New World in order to find a better life. This is deftly delivered through a gripping chorus and rhythm guitar. It's about people leaving their homes and loved ones behind in hopes of starting a new life in a new country. However, it's far from a single point of view. The second half of the album gives us an insight into the mindsets of Native Americans, who are not only harassed by the white man, but also threatened and terribly violated. This is perfectly displayed by saddening Native American chant vocals at the end. There are two guitar solos on the song, both of which are emotionally engaging, but the second one is a bit more effective due to its immediate bluesy leanings. Likewise, "Messiah", one of the shorter songs, is a dig at control-freak political figures, Tony Blair in particular, but the commentary is very subtle and conveyed through a plethora of genres from funky guitar lines to Arena-like melodic hard rock (think Pepper's Ghost) and female back-up vocals. "Warriors" is another track whose message got me, focusing on the 9/11 tragedy but once again looking at it from a broader point of view and touching on the suicide bombings all around the world. This song also has a heavier guitar focus yet at the same time it's uncannily 80's Pallas during the middle point. I love how the smooth guitar notes virtually transform into cutting riffs in the end as well.

With nearly half of the tracks breaking the 10-minute mark, The Dreams of Men is a long piece, clocking in at over 73 minutes. Though the album is quite mellow in most parts, it is also filled with subtle complexities, mostly in the drum and keyboard parts. "Too Close to the Sun", which must have been initially written on keys, is one of those ELP-like classics, featuring a killer bass start, lucid synths, interesting drum fills, and finally whispered vocals that beautifully harmonise with each other above minimal acoustic guitars. Strings, flutes and harps are also heard towards the middle before a quirky synth motif introduces itself secretly moving from one time signature to another, as Niall Matthewson lays down a fantastic guitar solo that will send shivers down any Pink Floyd fan's spine. While this track has Ronnie Brown shining, the opening cut, "The Bringer of Dreams", besides its marvellous orchestral arrangement (with pastoral strings and classical instruments), features an utterly complex and mind-bending drum pattern, utilising hi-hat, ride, and china all within a very short frame of time. The long ticking clock also lends the album a somewhat dreamy feel, as if all of this is happening in the middle of the night while we are comfortably asleep.

"Northern Star" is a minimalistic instrumental piece with just strummed acoustic guitar and keyboards playing sparse minor keys, whilst "Mr Wolfe" stands out as one of the darkest and nastiest pieces on the album. The wicked piano intro gets me every time - it's intense. Also, note the amazing synth lead and very heavy guitar work towards the end. "Invincible" is another lengthy piece with rocking guitar and bass combination, and a great drum sound. The best part of it, however, are the lyrics that go like: "I will not break . I will not fall . I will not compromise for anyone!" Finally, the album reaches its end with "The Last Angel", described as the best Pallas song by one of the members in a recent interview. Whether it's their best is debatable, but it certainly is among their most original and refreshing cuts. From vulnerable spoken-like vocals that drip with emotion to angelic female opera vocals singing Italian lyrics, the song is also filled with symphonic arrangements and thrilling guitar passages.

Together with Pendragon's new disc Believe and Arena's Pepper's Ghost, this is one of the finest neoprog albums InsideOut has released in 2005.



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