Blue Gillespie – VII Rages of Man
Reviewed by Meghan Player
After being granted a little taste of Blue Gillespie‘s new album a couple of months ago with single, ‘Grim Determination‘ – I was definitely looking forward to seeing what was on offer with the Newport bands latest album, ‘VII Rages of Man‘.
Loosely based on the Shakespearean poem, ‘The Seven Ages of Man‘, the album takes the listener on a journey from birth to death – and pulls all the punches along the way.
Opener ‘Prologue‘ is, as it should be, the first thing that draws you in. The gradual progression of the melody builds and builds with momentum – occasionally stirred by whirring feedback that is as much hypnotic as it is, unsettling. Pinpricks of short, sharp bursts of vocals dot the track – and inevitably reveal what you are in for.
‘Act I: The Mewling‘ kicks straight in where the previous track left off – never pausing for breath. What is most striking about this track is how different Blue Gillespie are with this album. While the original core and heart of the band are still undeniably present, there is something different about the band this time around – and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.
Continuing the journey of the album, ‘Act II: Messianic‘ keeps the ball rolling – one track flowing right into the next. It’s at this moment you realise that this isn’t an album broken down into tracks, it is one EPIC song – no breaks, no pauses for breath – just one onslaught of sludgy, post-apocalyptic noise.
Strikingly, it’s frontman Gareth David Lloyd’s vocals that have made the biggest transitiion. One moment his vocals are roaring and calling like a wild beast – the next moment, there is a bittersweet, almost sentimental sound to his voice.
Wonderfully engaging, the band and the ensuing backing melody remains undeniably tight throughout. The natural progression of the tracks matching the highlights and shadows of Lloyd’s vocals perfectly.
‘Act II: Interlude‘ is where the album really starts to take off. Feeling like a slight calm before the storm, the melody shifts and changes – almost into a moment of quick reflection – before ‘Act II: Effervescent Youth‘ blows the sentiment out of the water. By this stage, you are already so engaged and involved in the album, it is impossible to pull yourself away from the rest of the ‘story’.
‘Act III: Sullen‘ is an interesting offering – relying on an incredibly long instrumental piece to continue the album. Undeniably though, the track is helped by an incredible piece of guitar work. In the absence of vocals, the guitar almost seems to sing along. That is, until Lloyd’s vocals kick back in once again – sounding like a completely different person and/or persona.
Without doubt, my favourite track on the album [at least for now] is ‘Act V: Grim Determination‘. There is something almost primeval about the track that makes it wilder, louder and more ‘in your face’ than previous tracks. However, with that being said, following track ‘Act VI: Medieval’ is an incredible piece of storytelling.
The track shows an unparalleled depth of emotion compared to the previous tracks. There is strange sense of remorse or repent that is being delivered through the vocals that is unspeakably good. This is Blue Gillespie at their finest hour.
Sadly, all journeys must come to an end – and for the closing curtain – we are left with ‘Act VII: The Misanthropist‘, closely followed by ‘Epilogue‘. Two, wonderfully contrasting tracks that go from heart pounding obliteration to melodic and sorrowful. A perfect end, to a near perfect album.
Without doubt, ‘VII Rages of Man‘ is a triumph for one of Wales finest underground bands. The unprecedented, almost animalistic onslaught of sound is ridiculously good – coupled with a clear concept driven story to grab hold of the listener and not let them go until the album is finished.
If this style keeps on for Blue Gillespie, then there is nothing stopping them in the future.