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Galley Beggar - Heathen Hymns CD (album) cover


Galley Beggar


Prog Folk

3.95 | 2 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Perhaps GALLEY BEGGAR needed a couple of years' infusion with a major Doom Metal label before the blood- brain barrier could be broached, but "Heathen Hymns", while by no means a metal or even a hard rock album, is the better for its hobnobbing with those so inclined.

While the sources remain traditional or traditionally based, and, while violin continues to be a go to instrument, it is deployed more atmospherically than to carry a tune. Heavy electric guitars and percussion, along with Maria O'Donnell's trance-like vocals, impart a doom-laden, Gothic suspense to many of the tracks, one into which the entire band seems vested. This contrasts with prior releases that tried too hard to achieve an artificial balance.

The opening cut "Salome" is possibly the most authoritative of all, with O'Donnell singing as if under a 500 year old spell, and a 3 minute coda that begins with eerie fiddle and textured guitar and builds up to a feverish crescendo before the intro is revisited. Just to reiterate their commitment, "Four Birds" are of the same feather, adding in a foreboding lead guitar solo. Other highlights are the more acoustically based but just as haunting "The Lake" and "Lorelei". It's hard to believe they could be the 10,000th group to tackle "Let no Man Steal Your Thyme" and yet add to the lexicon, but that they have, both in the sung parts and the outlandishly LED ZEP like instrumental coda.

Bravo to GALLEY BEGGAR for this near manifesto for prog folk in 2017. "Heathen Hymns" probably won't get you into heaven, but it might make a believer out of you.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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