BIG BIG TRAIN – Grimspound (2017)
Perhaps the most ‘traditional’ act in the current Progressive Rock scene, BIG BIG TRAIN are releasing a new album titled “Grimspound” next Friday. And they maintain the truest celebration of the classic Prog sounds established by groups like Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull, and Genesis, and with no apologies.
But their approach is authentic, and not derivative in any way. It is this authenticity, along with the masterful musicianship and skilled storytelling, that have built this band into one of the most important Prog groups of the last 10 years.
With this latest album, the magnificent “Grimspound”, they continue to cement themselves among the Prog elite.
It is hard to write a review of this band without sounding like an adoring fan. Most reviewers of this band are. To get the music, it sometimes helps.
However, it is not difficult to find things to love about this band’s music. There is just nothing like it. It hits you at your core, makes you think, makes you read the lyrics and figure out the stories behind each song. You don’t check Facebook during a listen, or look at the clock.
This mentality might be what brought tthe group to make this album, which was originally intended to be a companion EP to their 2016 album ‘Folklore’, a brilliant CD that stood true to its title, with the songs all telling tales and the music acting as the soundtrack.
A few leftover songs from ‘Folklore’ evolved into a full album of 8 songs, 3 of which are over 10 minutes long. These songs needed to be written and the stories needed to be told.
That is how we arrive at “Grimspound”.
“Brave Captain” is immediately captivating, with a brief intro the song erupts on the wings of one of the most direct and rocking themes the band has ever composed.
Where the last album featured celtic sounds from the start, this one starts with a rocking approach. Musically, this is one of the strongest on the album and an early favorite for song of the year, from the epic guitar and strings, to the build at the end, this song has everything.
“On the Racing Line” has a bit of a fusion influence, something new for the group. Top drummer Nick D’Virgilio lets loose on this one and shows why he is still one of the best in the world. This is a mammoth instrumental.
The other highlights on the album are the 3rd track “Experimental Gentlemen”, which has a more familiar sound and structure to older BBT works, and the title track, which starts as a beautiful ballad but has a one of the standout moments on the album with the middle section where the music picks up. The transition is surprising and, as a change on on earlier theme, it’s so simple, but so brilliant.
The album’s longest composition is “A Mead Hall in Winter” which is as Proggy a song as you will find. It shifts through a number of themes and melodies over the course of 15 minutes. Halfway through it seems as though the song is finished but there is so much more to behold.
Another more upbeat, rocking track, the song finds the band again taking a more direct, organic approach. David Longdon’s singing takes this song over, along with the group’s signature background vocals.
Throughout the album, as on this track, the guitars are much more prominent than in some of their previous work. So, while the group have their style, there is a change in feel and vibe overall.
Big Big Train are the reincarnation of all the good elements of classic Prog, done in their own unique way.
If you never liked Big Big Train at all, “Grimspound” is an album that might stand a chance to covert you to a degree. This is the kind of band that rarely repeat themselves album after album, and you’ll be surprised by the more rocking approach on this new effort.
If you were already a fan, you should adore this album. “Grimspound” is a treasure, containing some of the best this genre has to offer, from a band that right now can do no wrong.
1. Brave Captain
2. On the Racing Line
3. Experimental Gentlemen
6. The Ivy Gate
7. A Mead Hall in Winter
8. As the Crow Flies
David Longdon – lead vocals, flute, keyboards, guitars
Andy Poole – guitars, bass, keyboards
Greg Spawton – bass, backing vocals, guitars, keyboards
Nick D’Virgilio – drums, backing vocals, percussion
Dave Gregory – guitar
Danny Manners – keyboards, double bass
Rachel Hall – violin, backing vocals
Rikard Sjöblom – guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
thanks to progreport.com