Although one cannot describe the output of Scottish prog rock quintet Pallas, in view of each of the three studio albums between 1981 and 1986 and then again between 1999 and 2005, as overwhelmingly much, what the band around bassist Graeme Murray and guitarist Niall Mathewson delivers are, without exception, polished rock musical gems worked out to the greatest detail, which makes it a real pleasure to listen to them. And it’s the same with the new release ”The Dreams Of Men“.
Four years have passed since “The Cross & The Crucible“ and Pallas have now completed their new opus “The Dreams of Men“. Bassist Graeme Murray tells us the reason it took so long: “‘The Cross...‘ was a big album which we are really very proud of till today. But when we started working again some time ago it was a kind of milestone for us. Self-critical as we are, and wanting to deliver more than just the standard, we became aware of how high we had set our level. There is always the temptation to churn out CDs, and many people just do that – they write two, three good songs and stuff the rest of the record with fillers. After such an exceptional album as ‘The Cross...‘ we didn’t want to get caught in that trap. Call it nitpicking, but that still is better than to sell average stuff to the people. Quality needs its time.“
Those who become familiar with “The Dreams Of Men“ and know a previous release “Beat The Drum“, as well as the afore-mentioned 2001 album “The Cross & The Crucible“, know that Murray doesn’t tell tall stories. Prog rock with gripping melodies, delicate details, surprising twists and turns, and well stuctured arrangements are the trademarks of those guys from the picturesque Aberdeen. Music that always holds up with quality and excitement but never sounds too shallow, too technical, or too bombastic. So Pallas achieve what few manage: to attract fans of old school prog rock as well as those who like the modern elements.
On the search for a theme for the new album, connected with the wish that it should deal with human affairs and leave space for many changes of mood, it came to their mind to focus on dreams. “The dreams of men can be very different“, says Murray, ”so what’s good for one human being is bad for the other. So we started to explore a lot of dreams of mankind: the quest of true love or a better life, the striving for power, fortune, or bravery.“ The ten minute opener ”The Bringer Of Dreams“ is the introduction to the theme. It shows that each culture knows a deity which brings dreams, be it the Greek Morpheus or the beautiful celtic Rhiannon who appears to man on the back of a white horse, and introduces the listener to the complete range of Pallas.
It becomes clear that classical passages and folk elements are of more importance now. You can hear this with the deeply moving and dark overture of the opener; in ”Ghostdancers“ which describes the emigration of Irish people to America, with celtic sounding violins; in ”Too Close to the Sun“ with flutes, celtic harp and the indulging harmony vocals which are crowned by a wonderful Floyd-like guitar solo; and ”The Last Angel“ which lived a long time among man and now goes back home and is finally accompanied by celestial singing.
All in all, “The Dreams Of Men“ presents itself as a more than worthy successor of “The Cross & The Crucible”. It’s a varied, complex, but most of all an entertaining album, and for a few, maybe a masterpiece. One can only hope that the next vital sign by Pallas, with the great standards of the musicians, doesn’t really need so much time the next time.