I am always happy to see a band rise from the dead. Pallas, I thought, was completely done, as they had even announced as much a year or two ago. Here they are, though, with a new tour planned and a special new album. This album is called “The Edge of Time”, and it released back on November 28th. I am absolutely loving what they have done here.
Pallas has been around since the late 70s, once under the name “Rainbow”. Their debut under “Pallas” released in 1984. Yes, they used to be labelled “neo-prog”, which is a marker that I have chosen to stop using completely. Anyways, they are comparable to bands like Pendragon, Marillion, Saga, Galahad, and those second generation progressive rock projects. I should have known they would be back, though, because they have had a few gaps in their history: one in the 90s, and another in the late 00s. Their resurgence in 2011 with the album “XXV” is when I came aboard, and their following “Wearewhoweare” in 2014 might have been their best album yet. So, here it is, 2020, and it seems that the band has had yet another gap in activity, but they are back.
The current lineup for this UK band is Paul Mackie on vocals; Graeme Murray on bass, 12-string, taurus pedals, and vocals; Niall Mathewson on guitars; Ronnie Brown on keys and vocals; and Colin Fraser on drums and vocals. At least, that is the lineup on their Facebook page. I assume it is the same still.
Similar to the other second generation prog bands, Pallas’ music is progressive rock, but quite guitar-driven and almost visceral with snarling guitar lines and emotional solos. They can honestly be pretty heavy at times, especially lyrically, and they love concept albums. The power, weightiness, and beauty of their music instantly bewitched me on “XXV” (first album with Paul on vocals), and on older albums that I listened to after that.
With “Edge of Time”, Pallas is doing something different. This is a compilation album, of sorts, but is different in that they have reworked these classic songs into cinematic, ambient, and stripped down versions. Some of them still have vocals, while others are truly more like a soundtrack version of the song, evoking the emotions and themes of the originals, while feeling more abstract and reductionist in presentation.
Now, this isn’t like some other prog albums that release an extra disc that is purely just the instrumental form of the studio album. There are new instruments at play here, and these songs have truly been reworked into something almost completely new. For example, “Violet Sky” is one of my favorite songs from Pallas. It is a beautiful, mournful love song that comes near the end of “XXV”, and it always painted pictures of color, apocalypse, and intimacy on my mind. This new version features some gorgeous acoustic guitar and plenty of gushing atmospheric accents, but it still evokes the same emotions. The song itself, though, sounds quite different.
The band does that with many other favorites. “Ghostdancers” is another favorite from the band, and this version sounds like a folksy abstraction of the original. Songs like “New Life” and “Something in the Deep” retain the vocals from Paul, but the songs around him have changed, being much more ambient and evocative. Two of my favorites here, I think, are “Ark of Infinity” and “The Blinding Darkness of Science”. Both are instrumental in full, but they are truly like some grand cinematic experience, and they flow so well together, even though they are from two different albums. They sound majestic, uplifting, adventurous, and exciting.
Pallas is back, and I hope for good. They have a way of creating memorable melodies around gritty instrumentation and soaring vocal fireworks. They are constantly in my playlist. “The Edge of Time” is a love letter to fans who will recognize the beautiful emotions and powerful tunes that they so love. I hope this is leading into a brand new album, as well.
Find Pallas online: