Many bands have a massive affinity with the seventies. They love the classic recordings of that era and those influences shine through in their own albums — homages to an era that most music lovers have a kinship with and a love for. This is not news to anybody, but most bands tend to have one musical part of that decade as a basis for their sound. Usually it’s the doomy heaviness of Sabbath or the proto-punk of MC5 and The Stooges but that is not the case with Bigelf.
They can be considered an amalgamation of nearly every rock and pop-based sound that the seventies had to offer and their latest album, Cheat the Gallows is the showcase. It is a sign of ambition and a restless nature to attempt such an album and in the hands of a lesser band it would have been a failure, but Bigelf have managed to create the right mix of bombast, trippiness and straight-forward rock here. They have surpassed the former characteristic of being a band simply influenced by Black Sabbath and The Beatles and incorporated much more.
This fact hits home right at the opener “Gravest show on Earth” with its operatic tone and influence made all the more unusual by the carnival music that suddenly appears. It may sound strange but it works to, at the very least, draw your attention to the album. Psychedelia and progressive inspirations are rich in scope on “Cheat the Gallows” and they are mostly prevalent in the anthemic “Money, it’s Pure Evil” that draws a lot from Pink Floyd and their rich sound and production can also be heard in “The Game”, especially in the lush and evocative guitar playing.
Some of the finer moments on Cheat the Gallows come in the form of “Blackball” and the southern rock jamming midway through that draws up images of a muggy swamp and the effect-ladden “Hydra”- this tune has instrumentation that, for lack of a better word, sounds bewildering.
The closer “Counting sheep” can be seen as a summation of the entire album, as it attempts to put all the influences into one 10-minute song. It's erratic nature means that it is interesting more than good, but Cheat the Gallows as an album is a bold and ambitious piece of work. It demands concentration if you are in any way interested in music then you will feel rewarded for your effort.