Three years ago LA-based prog metal band Bigelf released their fourth album Cheat The Gallows and since then it has been silent in the Bigelf camp. There were even rumours about a break-up of the band, but luckily frontman Damon Fox changed his mind and therefore we can now enjoy the fifth new album called Into The Maelstrom.
If it wasn't for super drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, now Winery Dogs), maybe this new album wouldn't have been released. Portnoy always loved the music of Bigelf, and his assistance (he handled the drumkit on the album) and enthusiasm helped Fox to not give up and keep the band going.
The new album contains twelve new tracks and almost all the songs are founded around the explosive and gripping guitar riffs by Fox. Bigelf's sound is drawn from seventies bands and is heavy, psychedelic and dark.
Incredible Time Machine is the opening track and it sounds a bit like a rock song with lots of influences from The Beatles. Follow up Hypersleep is rather heavy, with lots of strings.
This is then followed by one of the highlights of the album, Already Gone. It has has great harmonies and is definitely one of the poppiest songs Bigelf has ever recorded.
Halfway through, Already Gone becomes heavier and Luis Maldonado plays an explosive guitar solo. The Professor And The Madman is probably the weirdest song on this album, as it starts with sitar sounds and high-pitched vocal harmonies before it evolves into a stunning musical roller coaster. The longest track is the final one, called ITM and is divided into three parts of which part one, Destination Unknown, is semi-instrumental; the two other parts kind of remind me of prog gods Transatlantic.
Overall, I can only say that I'm glad Bigelf decided to continue and that they produced an excellent new prog rock/metal album, that is really worth listening to.
***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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