GLACIER – Ashes For The Monarch (2015)
Even though the English band GLACIER has existed since 1979, “Ashes For The Monarch” is their second album. There were several times in Glacier’s history when the guys split up, but they always tended to drift back together at some point.
GLACIER blend many elements from melodic Neo Prog to traditional progressive rock, with strong vocal melodies and intricate instrumental passages to form their unique brand of music.
Glacier sounds remarkably much like a mixture of two well-known neo progressive bands, namely Jadis and IQ. On top of that, Dave Birdsall’s vocals feature the same kind of heavy vibrato that Jadis’s Gary Chandler uses at the end of his lines.
But musically, the spectre in “Ashes For The Monarch” is wide, like on opener “Whichone” which mixes Gilmour ’80s Pink Floyd (the commercial side of the band) and some early Uriah Heep.
“Hell And High Water” is a lovely piece for early Eighties prog fan’s delight. It’s melodic, plenty of keys and progressions akin Marillion.
There’s some references to later Genesis on the 3-part “Projections”, but also some Asia in the quite good “Garden Of Evil”.
Then, Glacier bring to us their twenty three minute homage to some of the pioneers of the British progressive movement; “One Man Alone” is divided in 11 parts, most of them around the 2 minute mark.
It’s a sprawling meander through 37 years of Glacier music influenced by ELP, Yes, Genesis, Camel, Focus, King Crimson and … some American acts too like Styx or Kansas. It tells the story of Lawrence Talbot, the Wolf Man as inspired by the 1941 film, starring Lon Chaney Jr.
The track has the opening section being played in the style of ELP’s ‘Tarkus’ and the song is meant to be an affectionate homage to all of the bands who raised the prog banner in the early ’70s. The final outro section “Barkus Mad Mutation”… was fleshed out as being the ‘next wolfman….’ Using the original theme in 7/8 converted to a theme played in 6/4 and given a Yes type octave feel.
It’s a very well glued pastiche with nice instrumentation and arrangements. Some really vintage keyboard parts here, together with strings, Hackett-like guitars, steady percussion, etc.
Glacier’s “Ashes For The Monarch” is one that I think would appeal to people who like well-constructed, but not very aggressive sounding progressive rock in the vein of IQ, Jadis, Genesis, ’80s Gilmour Pink Floyd and, to a lesser extent, Arena. In short, melodic Prog easy to the ears.
Add to this their cool rendition to classic bands – this one done in a traditional Prog manner – and you have both sides of the genre into one disc.
It’s all quite melodic and polished, don’t expect ‘heavy instrumentation’ on “Ashes For The Monarch”, Glacier go more for delicacy than virtuosity or busy passages.
Pretty good work for all fans of ’80s British Prog, Neo Prog or light Symphonic Prog. Melodic and very intense at moments.
2. Hell and High Water
3. Projections (Parts I – III)
.. I. Sweet Dreams
.. II. From Ego to ID
.. III. Another Day
4. Garden of Evil
6. One Man Alone (Parts I – XI)
.. I. Barkus
.. II. Mooning About
.. III. Going Nowhere
.. IV. Boundless
.. V. Crystal Balls to It All
.. VI. The Great Ocean of Lament
.. VII. Epitaph for the Spirit
.. VIII. Call to Arms
.. IX. Come to a Conclusion
.. X. In a Peaceful Movie Release
.. XI. We Don’t Need Any E.L.P. and YES, It’s A Barkus Mad Mutation
7. The Isle of Glass (Outro)
Dave Birdsall – Vocals
Mike Winship – Vocals
John Youdale – 6, 12 & Nylon Guitars, Vocals, FX
Dave Kidson – Keyboards
Bob Mulvey – Bass, Bass Pedals, FX, Voices
Graeme Ash – Drums
Gemma Elysee: Violin (2, 4 & 6)
Dale Harbron: Narrative (7)
BUY IT !