Let me take you back to the late 1970s when rock was kind of fuzzy, featured a Hammond organ and guitars often sounded like lasers being fired in sci-fi films. Welcome to a world recreated by Graal. I do find it odd that a style referred to as “progressive” usually involves stepping backwards several decades in time, but let’s skirt that issue and focus on the music.
As you can probably tell by the title, Chapter IV is Graal’s fourth album and it was released midway through 2015. There is little truly original in their sound, but what they do very well indeed is to take many well-honed sounds of the past and weave them together. Imagine the bastard offspring of Fleetwood Mac and early Iron Maiden and you’re getting there.
The opening track, “Little Song” is the most individual of the tracks presented being a medieval-tinged acoustic number complete with whistles and the like. It’s really nice and relaxing, but not representative of the rest of the album with is very much electric with the exception of “A Poetry For A Silent Man”.
Tonewise, the album’s more laid back and atmospheric than catchy and fist-pumping – typically prog in that respect. Graal have made use of all the tools available to them in terms of effects. Keyboards sound wonderfully dramatic where needed and there’s no shortage of different settings used. Reverb aplenty accosts the ears where appropriate and as a result the songs seem to have been recorded by a band of ten rather than half that number of musicians. Indeed, looking at some photos of the band, keyboardist Danilo seems to use multiple instruments (including a keytar) during their live shows. They’re needed, believe me!
The most “metal” track on the album is probably “Lesser Man”, but in fairness this isn’t a metal album. It’s a wonderful piece of prog rock which has enough tendrils sneaking into more modern genres to hook a few of us in. “Guardian Devil” is vaguely Pink Floyd and parts of it could pass for the theme music from a cheesy sci-fi film. “Goodbye” is a long, lilting ballad with occasional hops into rockier territory. “Shadow Plays” organ tones make it sound more like something from the era of The Doors.
What Chapter IV does not lack is variety. Many of the songs are instant toe-tappers, but it’s also the kind of thing you could put on in the background and sink into.