Tom Hayes 7-Aug-2006 Muttered Promises From An Ageless Pond

The late 80s were an exciting time for progressive rock. The punk, new wave and heavy metal movements of the early 80s about killed the genre. The only response, the neo prog movement that swept England in the early 1980s, had already begun to creep into boring normality, producing a banal sound more akin to American AOR music. But the momentum they created was just enough to spark a symphonic rock renaissance in continental Europe for the first time in nearly a decade. France had Halloween, Tiemko and Minimum Vital. Italy launched Sithonia, Ezra Winston and Nuova Era while Sweden gave birth to Isildurs Bane. And Spain’s first representative from this era was Galadriel. And with an exciting title like “Muttered Promises From an Ageless Pond”, augmented with a beautiful album cover, my imagination went wild at the time with the possibility of a Spanish “Foxtrot” or something similar. Of course the reality was something entirely different. To expect a big budget, major label production was unrealistic for one thing. And this was the age to ditch the old analog geezers for more sleek, easy to tote, digital toys (an idea that fortunately lost cache with the arrival of Anglagard in 1992). So, in the end, the album sounds under-produced, with a plodding, tinny and lifeless digital sound. As for the music, it becomes clear early on what Galadriel were about. That is, what Marillion was to Genesis, Galadriel were going to try to be for Yes. So vocalist and band leader Jesus Filardi ends up sounding like Fish with a higher Jon Anderson voice. Maybe not such a good idea. All of what is said above makes it sound like Galadriel were terrible. Couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I was quite happy with it upon release. Only a revisionist historical perspective dims the impact somewhat. With 20 minute tracks like ‘Landhal’s Cross’, there’s bound to be plenty of instrumental creativeness, which Galadriel achieves with moderate success here. And more room is given for piano than normal, which is a positive. The CD also contains, as a bonus track, the 11+ minute ‘Summit’ which was originally on the “Exposure” compilation, a landmark progressive rock release for the day. Galadriel were to improve on their sophomore album “Chasing the Dragonfly”, but it would be negligent to write this album off as yet another dogpile piece from an era best forgotten. It was albums like this that helped keep the flame alive for progressive rock during its darkest hour, and why it’s able to shine so brightly again today.

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