I've been carrying around an HMV voucher since last Xmas, so I bought a couple of albums on spec, the first being this cd, never having heard the band before. I had read a review describing the influences on the writing of this album as primarily early 70s English folk rock, which must have stuck in the memory.
This is a strange album indeed, and a curate's egg if ever there was one. I can't decide whether it is a work of genius or just plain dull.
It has to be said that there are some gorgeous harmonies and great playing on the album, and you can hear all sorts of references here, from Fairport Convention to Barclay James Harvest, Steeleye Span, Jethro Tull, Family etc. Standout songs are Acts Of Man, Winter Dies, Rulers Ruling All Things, In The Ground.
Taken as a whole it is hard work as the mournful feel of the album is compounded by it's lack of light & shade, or of any significant tempo changes. On the other hand it is quite mesmerising and entirely in tune with our never ending winter.
Reading other reviews frequent mentions are made of the band's sophomore album 'The Trials of Van Occupanther' as being a work of some merit, and entirely different to this effort. I shall investigate, as any band that has the courage and integrity to attempt a take on a totally unfashionable branch of music history deserves another chance.
3 out of 5, but in flux
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