Pallas - The Cross & The Crucible

Year of Release: 2001
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 079
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:40:00

Fresh off the oven is Pallas' newest, The Cross And The Crucible. So what is one to expect from the Scottish proggers this time around, considering that the space between this album and its predecessor was quite short (in Pallas time, of course)? Fortunately enough, the band was very clear about that: an ambitious concept album centering on the history of mankind and the underlying mystery that has run the course of our history. All surrounded by an elegant gala of well-arranged music and clever hooks, of course. Now comes a much more important question: did the band succeed?

Amazingly enough, yes. Not that I'm questioning the band's talent or decisiveness in the realms of progressive rock, but the lyrical quest that the band set upon its own porch was quite enormous, and thus much harder to tackle. Now add the need of an appropriate soundtrack for the theme, considering that just some background music wouldn't have done, and the merits found within The Cross And The Crucible are considerably augmented. So considerably, in fact, that one can almost forgive Alan Reed's excessively strained vocals and the less-than-spectacular moments that show up every now and then throughout the course of the album.

Then get into the pulsating stomp of "The Cross And The Crucible" or "The Blinding Darkness" and forgiveness soon mutates into grateful forgetfulness. That's when Graeme Murray's forceful bass lines submerge the listener into a deeply emotional world, where tragic lyrics haunted by images of religious wars and technological misuse evoke worrisome parallels between the barbarism of yesteryear and now.

The record, however, is more than just a couple of cleverly-arranged tracks adorned with thought-provoking lyrics, and thus resounds with a unique freshness that becomes evident when one absorbs the rare but delectable solos of keyboardist Ronnie Brown and guitarist Niall Mathewson, or the subtle textures that Murray lays across the entire album. "For The Greater Glory" and "Midas Touch" demonstrate the principle more than enough, and the songs serve to place the listener in the appropriate state of mind for the band's lyrical exploits not for a mere moment or two, but for the entire hour that The Cross And The Crucible spans. Sure, flashes of apparent sterility are intermittent throughout the record's songs and seem to somehow trespass even upon the band's brightest ideas, but even the best fail sometimes, and given the strength of Pallas' new material, the mistakes aren't really crass enough to truly detract from what is otherwise a very good record.

Similar artists: Arena, Marillion, IQ

The Big Bang (3:08) / The Cross & The Crucible (9:17) / For The Greater Glory (7:37) / Who's To Blame (4:45) / The Blinding Darkness (6:41) / Towers Of Babble (8:11) / Generations (5:21) / Midas Touch (11:16) / Celebration (7:24)

Alan Reed - vocals
Niall Mathewson - guitars
Ronnie Brown - keyboards
Graeme Murray - bass
Colin Frazer - drums

Arrive Alive (1981)
The Sentinel (1984/2000)
The Knightmoves EP (1985)
The Wedge (1986/2000)
Knightmoves To Wedge (combo reissue)
Beat The Drum (1999)
Live Our Lives (2000)
The Cross And The Crucible (2001)
Blinding Darkness (2003)
The Dreams Of Men (2005)
XXV (2011)

Blinding Darkness (DVD) (2003)
Live From London (DVD) (2008)
Moment To Moment (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: November 17th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 548
Language: english


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