www.gandalfsfist.com [Release date 01.05.16]
I enjoyed Gandalf’s Fist’s last album ‘A Forest Of Fey’, and they have really upped their game all round on this one. First, a mention about the packaging. Not only do we get a sumptuous triple CD digipak, lovingly illustrated, but we have a ‘Traveller’s Guide’ booklet to Cogtopolis, which is the imaginary world that the band have created for this album. The attention to detail is amazing in this booklet, from the Lonely Planet pastiche in having it published by Burned Planet, through to the warning to have a sober adult help you cut-out a map in the booklet.
As for the music? Well as the band say on their website this imaginary world is like an episode of ‘Doctor Who’ by way of ‘Monty Python’. The whole tale is narrated by the Lamplighter, played by Mark Benton (who as appeared in an episode of ‘Doctor Who’ along with numerous film and TV appearances), who has a wonderful voice that draws you into this world. The spoken word parts don’t overstay their welcome and help move the storyline along between the songs. It is epic in scale and as you’d expect lots of keys, guitar parts and lots of instrumental passages.
Like their last album there are a few guest musicians including a returning Matt Stevens, Arjen Lucassen and Blaze Bayley – the latter perhaps not that expected on a prog rock album! Speaking of Blaze Bayley, the song he sings on, ‘Fight For The Light’, features some Iron Maiden approved riffs.
Aside from Arena’s Clive Nolan and the space operas of Ayreon, no-one is really doing these big production, narrated concept pieces and more power to Gandalf’s Fist for doing this. They have invested a lot of time, skill and effort into this whole concept and as a book lover I really enjoyed the booklet with its many in-jokes. If you love a good story told with a touch of humour, and good music, this is a ‘must have’. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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