In a previous life I stood watching the Fish-fronted Marillion at, shall I say, modest venues. Even then it was obvious that something special was going on. This was just before it became necessary to queue around the block outside much larger places to get in. To me their unashamed continuation of the early Genesis tradition, along with Fish’s own enigmatic stage persona, made them the band that I bored people about when I was drunk. I still play their albums today and love them just as strongly as ever.
Now comes Irish prog rock band Dead Heroes Club with their second album, A Time Of Shadow. One listen through my headphones and I was back to my Misplaced Childhood again. You may remember the "Market Square Heroes," but now we have the Dead Heroes Club to keep the legacy alive. However, this is a band that is not content to merely mirror their influences. Instead they have a lot to add by possessing a strong and equally inspiring character of their own.
The music scene in Ireland is alive with quality rock. I have already had the pleasure of covering several examples here on Eurorock. The Answer and Glyder spring to mind. Now with fellow countrymen Dead Heroes Club we have that all-too-rare breed: a first-rate progressive rock band.
Vocalist and lyricist Liam Campbell picks up that challenge and delivers an impressive, highly compelling performance. Guitarist Gerry McGerigal, drummer Mickey Gallagher, bassist Wilson Graham, and the keyboardist Chris Norby complete the band’s excellent musicianship.
However, it is the strength of the material they write, as well as how they deliver it, that is really quite staggering. This is thinking person’s prog. A Time Of Shadow has a powerful collection of thought provoking, imaginative, and inspirational lyrics the likes of which I haven’t heard in a long time.
Listen, if you will, to the track with the Fish-flavored title of “A Gathering Of Crows” and you will hear that this is an intelligent band with a deep desire to say something worthwhile while serving it up dripping in quality. This is one of the most powerfully wise tracks I have heard in a very long time, addressing the age-old mystery of how people rationalize war, death, and destruction conducted in the name of religion.
A Time Of Shadow begins with the “Theatre Of The Absurd.” It’s an impressive start and leads strongly to the exceptional “Stranger In The Looking Glass," which further underscores just how impressive this band can be. It is with material of this undoubted caliber that the band ensures that this work is devoid of even the slightest dip in form. A driving “The Centre Cannot Hold” and the beautifully constructed “The Sleepers Are Waking” both maintain the album's class.
As if this wasn’t enough it closes with the magnificent, fifteen-minute epic title track. Stylish and creative, it displays exactly the right degree of well-placed ambition necessary to make them stand tall. Never pompous or overblown, the balance is perfect and is something this band seems capable of pulling off time and again.
A Time Of Shadow — its album art having been beautifully rendered by official Tolkien illustrator Ted Nasmith — will be a well-played and much-loved addition to my music collection. I recommend that you add it to yours. You won’t be disappointed.
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