Wednesday 14 October 2015

Galley Beggar - 'Silence and Tears' (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/2015
Label: Rise Above Records

I have taken a chance and reviewed what is an excellent folk/rock record and one that might provide a worthy diversion from all that heaviness

‘Silence and Tears’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Adam And Eve
2). Pay My Body Home
3). Empty Sky
4). Jack Onion
5). Geordie
6). Silence And Tears
7). Sanctuary Song
8). Deliver Him

Galley Beggar is:

Paul Dadswell | Drums, Percussion, Vocals
David Ellis | Guitars, Mandolin
Mat Fowler | Guitars, Mandolin, Vocals
Bill Lynn | Bass
Celine Marshall | Violin
Maria O'Donnell | Vocals

The Review:

Well, Rise Above is generally regarded as a label that puts out doom, doom and a bit more doom; specifically of the trad/retro variety. Galley Beggar are not doom. Indeed, they are not metal in any way, really. Galley Beggar is a folk band, with some rock/prog elements thrown in. They are kind of a distant cousin/descendent of Fairport Convention or Jethro Tull.

If you made it through that first paragraph, welcome to the rest of the review. I am writing this after listening today to: Pestilence, Crawlspace ( The Deny EP, death metal, obscure, late 90's), Iron Maiden, King Hitter and Grave. All in all, a metal day as per usual. I review this record because it grabbed me straight away as something different- not just from what I had been listening to, but to most stuff around in the alternative sphere at the moment. This isn't anything to do with the folk-metal that involves anyone doing a jig or any such nonsense. This is acoustic (a lot of the time) organic and very relaxing. Unfortunately, most associate folk with the risible Mumford and Sons these days, which is a shame, as the genre has contributed a fair bit to metal, in a weird way. Sure, fiddles and whistles are unusual in the metal sphere, but story-telling songs, complex arrangements and a longing for the past are not. 

Opener ‘Adam and Eve’ is a fine statement of intent- incorporating as it does a lovely acoustic guitar motif and excellent lead vocal. ‘Pay My Body’ clocks in at the nine minute mark and could sit as a more reflective moment on one of any of the 70's rock behemoth's records of your choosing. Things continue in a relaxed and faintly maudlin manner throughout ‘Empty Sky’. ‘Jack Orion’ sees the band getting seriously folky- fiddle, snare keeping the rhythm, olde worlde phrasing to the lyrics... It's like punk never happened.

The excellent ‘Geordie’ takes the record over the half way point, returning the record to more morose fair- fiddle still present- and references to riding over London Bridge (not in a rickshaw). ‘Silence and Tears’ is similarly downbeat (as you might guess form the title) and is a fine piece of writing. ‘Sanctuary Song’ features a guitar refrain that could be identified as a riff, perhaps, and features nature themed lyrics and, again, a kind of nostalgia for a way of living that none of us in the modern world follow anymore. The album closes with ‘Deliver Him’ and an excellent harmony vocal arrangement to start the track off.

I realise that this is a strange album to be reviewed for Sludgelord- to be clear, if this wasn't on Rise Above, I wouldn't be reviewing it for Sludgelord at all (I listen to Neil Young but I wouldn't review his records here). As it IS on Rise Above and thus Lee Dorrian approved, I have taken a chance and reviewed what is an excellent folk/rock record and one that might provide a worthy diversion from all that heaviness... and no, I don't just mean what we listen to most of the time. Good stuff.

 ‘Silence and Tears’ is available now

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