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Gandalf's Fist

A Forest of Fey

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve loved Gandalf’s Fist since the first time I heard them several years ago. I’ve loved each subsequent release. This is no exception to that. While the group is now officially a four piece, the vocals of Melissa Hollick feature prominently, making them a five piece in some ways. The thing that I really wonder about is, when did Gandalf’s Fist start to sound so much like Phideaux? Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing. Phideaux is one of the best of the modern prog acts (and so is GF). It’s just that the shift in sound has been so gradual, that I didn’t notice it, until this time around I’m very much reminded of Phideaux here. This is a concept album that’s like one long work, with tracks merging into one another. It’s another stellar release from a band I like a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Childhood Ghosts

Sound effects and a theatrical monologue open this. There is a drifting into sort of rather frightening mysterious forest. Melody emerges tentatively in that section. A folk music meets progressive and space rock sound emerges for the song proper. This is pretty, dramatic and powerful. It’s basically a ballad and rather short, but it’s an extremely effective way to start the set. Some more theatrical elements come back at the end and segue this into the next piece.

Gardens of the Lost
As the theatrical things (mostly an out of breath, panicked searching) end, a folk prog sound emerges. The female vocals lay down the first verse. Then it powers out to harder rocking music that’s crunchy and distinctly progressive rock for the next set of vocals. There are definitely metallic elements as this stomper continues. It’s still all prog, though. The piece works through several shifts and changes. There are sections that feel like epic metal. A flute solo movement brings more in line with Jethro Tull styled prog.
A Forest of Fey (Including Wisdom of the Reptile and the Lament for a Silent Verse)

This is one of the most diverse pieces here. It’s a real thrill ride of a song. Parts of it land in more melodic territory, coming across and prog ballad. Other sections rock out hard in a real crazed prog rock jam that’s sometimes a little chaotic. Still other things land in the middle, melodic, but fast paced and impassioned prog. It works quite well. I don’t think it’s my favorite piece here, but it’s very good.

The Figure Speaks
A short piece, this is more about continuing the story. It’s literally a spoken monologue, a sort of introduction. There is some atmospheric music as its companion and the voice is processed in a dreamy sort of way.
The World We Created
This piece is another that’s quite diverse. There is a mysterious sounding mellower section. There are also powered up, very catchy, prog choruses. The whole piece is a real powerhouse that has such a wide range of sounds and vibes that it is a masterpiece by itself. It might be my favorite number of the whole disc.
The Circus in the Clearing (Including the Fanfare for the King's Tournament)
This song is amazing. It has a great dream-like quality to it. With dramatic keyboards and almost psychedelic vocals, it is so effective that when it’s done you will likely not believe over four minutes have passed. You’ll also be ready to back up and hear it again. It’s one of the highlights of the set.
Blood for a Royal Pardon
A short piece, this is essentially a dreamy progressive rock ballad.
Drifter on the Edge of Time
This is definitely another highlight of the set. The balladic structure here has a nice balance between psychedelic elements and progressive rock. The dual male and female vocals are great, too. The whole piece is just very classy and tasteful. I really like this one a lot. It has a lot charm. It gets powered up in the later sections, but even then it’s essentially a power ballad.
Forest Rose (Coming Home)

With Celtic sounds at the start, flute again brings some reference to Jethro Tull. The tune works out to a full on progressive rocker that’s melodic and powerful. It’s another strong piece, but nothing here is weak, so that goes without saying, really.

Return from the Tournament
This is a short, but dramatic, progressive rock ballad.
Stories Old and Stories Told (Of Children Brave and Children Bold)
Another melodic prog song, this one has a great growing progression. There are some powerful moments, and it really soars.
A Poison Tree
This is another fairly short and rather ballad-like piece. The effects and theatrics at the end seem to bring us back to the scene where it all began. The lyrics to this one are by William Blake.



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