CD Title: Men Who Climb Mountains
Label: Toff Records (2015)
Rating: Great Stuff 4/5
Itís hard to believe that this is only the bandís tenth studio album since 1985, yet such it is. Truth be told there have been quite a few other releases in the form of live discs and EPs. Not that any of that matters as weíre here to talk about Men Who Climb Mountains which musically carries on the stylistic shift that was started with the bandís 2005 release Believe. Pendragon went from being pioneers of the classic modern symphonic prog style to music that was darker and harsher reflected not only in the music but the album graphics as well. While this sonic shift has to some degree split their fan base, a good listen to this latest release betrays hints of their old symphonic style buried beneath the newer musical elements. One of the things that I detected is more than a few hints of classic Pink Floyd vibes coming to the surface here and there. In similar fashion, the guitar takes more of a centre stage in the bandís sound while the keyboards, still there, come in as support and only rarely take the spotlight. This change of instrument focus is only one of the ways the bandís new sound is executed because the actual performance approach has been altered as well. Overall the arrangements are a study in contrasts going from solo acoustic guitar to grand and dynamic flourishes. But enough about the changes, fact is I like Pendragonís new musical approach. Many of the proggy elements I look for are still there in songs that are both short and long, as are the many shifts in dramatic mood and tempo. The more somber vibe fits well with the bandís lyrical and visual approach making for the wonderful synchronicity. Trading in the overly sweet sounds for this grittier approach has I think given the band an invigorated contemporary gravitas. Recommended to fans old and new.