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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Big Big Train


Review by Larry Toering

Big Big Train are considered a prog-folk band with a pop essence to their sound, and a stronger case can simply be made for the prog side of what they do on Grimspound. The lighter side is probably where their pop aspects shine the brightest, but the overall themes and concepts are essentially prog tagged.  The songs prove that much and more on this deep and mellow monster of an album. Grimspound is a place in England, and the album centers around the beauty of it.

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Track by Track Review
Brave Captain
It’s easy to hear within one listen why this folk is prog, as the opening track is an extended 12:37 of absolute awesomeness. There’s really no describing this opener. You just have-to hear it to believe what they’re capable of doing. It covers everything from pop to prog with some great guitar and other instrumentation. This is quite the epic opener to say the least, and it almost gets symphonic in parts.
On the Racing Line
The piano flurries and strings build up at the outset for a lovely intro to what is an overall epic track with amazing instrumental passages. This is as good as music gets and a primary example of how good these musicians are. It’s an absolutely superb track in every way.
Experimental Gentlemen
This song slows down a lot from the previous cuts, and the piano is something that must be mentioned concerning the very Chopin-like style. This comes with some fine lyrics to make it stand up to the rest of the tracks, complete with a great title-chorus repeat. 
The tempo drops for an acoustic number to die for on this sublime track with everything going on that there is to like about this band. The vocals follow a narrative style, as the lyrics cut through and the piano once again reminds so much of Chopin (which is always right up my alley). The amazing strings also play a prominent role.
They keep the acoustics flowing on this more or less-unplugged number. It picks up slightly in the mid-section but essentially maintains the same tempo throughout. This is an exquisitely eloquent title track complete with vocal surprises at the end.
The Ivy Gate
This is just over the top with killer synth and organ parts getting away from the usual piano involvement with an across the board epic track. The disc comes recommended for this track’s overall awesomeness.
A Mead Hall in Winter
A track with such a title might need no explanation, but in the case of this one it’s a 15:19 track, so it’s a lot to take in order to describe. It’s a jubilant track and a 100% prog delight which renders them a force to reckon with. 
As the Crow Flies
The disc ends on a somber but very effective note with the vocals doing most of the business on the way out of this truly amazing piece of work. The guitar and piano spar so well, with electric flying over the acoustic just like the crow suggested by the title. It has the feel of flying over the music (as if it’s watching them from above) before some female vocals enhance the whole arrangement with a duet that is a "must hear." Of course, that "must hear" label can be applied to the whole disc.
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