Album review: THE TIRITH – Tales From The Tower

THE TIRITH - Tales From The Tower

Convergent Recordings  [Release date: 30.09.15]

Ah but had this album been released in 1970 – it would have been up there with the finest progressive rock albums of the day and the band lauded by ‘Sounds’ and ‘New Musical Express’ as prog Gods ready to bestride the world like a colossus.

Fast forward four and a half decades and unfortunately for The Tirith – despite releasing in ‘Tales From The Tower’ a damn fine example of the genre – they find themselves cast adrift in a lifeboat from the good ship Prog in a sea of contemporary bands all being hyped to the max as the next big thing.

This is unfortunate as there is something gloriously comforting in wallowing in nostalgia and, let’s face it, none of the bands from the golden age of progressive rock in the late 60’s and early 70’s have produced any new material of any consequence for years.

So, all you die-hard proggers who don’t think a single note of good music has been written since 1975, prick up your ears – The Tirith have arrived to kick your arse.

The band has a long history stretching back to the 1970’s although its present incarnation reformed in 2010.

I first became aware of them when ‘Daughter Of The Water’, the album’s outstanding cut, appeared on a rock magazine’s cover disc around a year ago. It was so good I’ve included it a couple of times in my ‘Eclectic Mix’ radio show on GRTR! Radio (third Sunday of the month – you should give it a go…).

And yes, an album titled ‘Tales From The Tower’ sounds exactly as you would expect it to sound – interesting time-sig changes, soaring keyboards and plenty of exceptional guitar work, both electric and acoustic, all topped off with fanciful lyrics surrounding Maids Of Avalon, horsemen riding by, ships travelling the galaxy and other such whimsy.

If all this scares the average rock fan, it shouldn’t, as despite its unashamedly retro vibe, there’s an irresistible hard rock core to things and a 21st century production sheen that makes it entirely relevant to today.

Highlights include the aforementioned ‘Daughter Of The Water’ (an absolute prog-rock tour-de-force) with its delicate acoustic arpeggios a precursor to an anthemic hard rock chorus, ‘Gin Lil’ with its coruscating guitar solo, the acoustic-led ‘The Quest’, the descending keyboard runs of ‘Pioneers Of The Outer Arm’ (!) and the all round prog brilliance of ten minute closer ‘Lost’.

OK so ‘Tales From The Tower’ breaks no new ground and many may make the accusation of plagiarism, but does everything have to push the boundaries all the time? There’s nothing wrong with a little look over the shoulder now and again and when it’s done as well as this it is positively life-affirming.  ****  

Review by Alan Jones

Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix” on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, third Sunday of the month at 16:00. Expect some prog.

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