This is one of the hardest reviews I’ve had to write, and I’m not sure quite why. I think it’s because this album is really tough to listen to, and it’s important to say that that is not because it’s a bad album. On the contrary.
Blue Gillespie are an independent prog/metal band from Newport, South Wales and “Seven Rages of Man” is their second album. Evidently they see the character “Blue Gillespie” as a collective alter-ego who represents the hidden darker side of each of the band members.
Now, you might say that’s a little pretentious, but let’s put that aside for the moment and ask the important question: Is the music any good?
Oh my laws yes.
Opener “Prologue” – natch – introduces us to rumbling drums, strident guitars and the very forceful vocal presence of Gareth David-Lloyd.
Now, if I try and review each track I think I could be here all night. There’s a lot going on and its all solidly played and well-recorded. My particular favourite is track 7 “Impiety”. A melodic riff gives way to some monstrous guitar. When Blue Gillespie are heavy they sure are heavy. Not just the guitars and the drums, but also the singing.
It is unusual for the vocals to be the dominant force of a metal album, but I think in Blue Gillespie‘s case it is true. And you know what, it works. The guitars are crunchy and creative and occasionally absolutely terrific throughout, but this is David-Lloyd‘s album. Maybe that is no surprise when you discover he is a successful actor here in the UK.
I debated long and hard as to whether I should put that fact in my review but in the end I felt I had to. He may feel that it is an irrelevance in the context of the band, but I feel the vocal performance he gives on “Seven Rages Of Man” is precisely that. It is a performance. And I mean that in a good way.
From plaintive to pleading, howling and screaming, David-Lloyd roars his way across the seven ages. Can you win a Bafta for singing with a metal band? Maybe not. Shame.
I am really looking forward to seeing Blue Gillespie live. A lot of even the best metal bands these days are actually a bit dull live but I’m quite sure Blue Gillespie will be anything but.
I have been listening to the album for about three weeks now and I’ve listened to it more than any other album I’ve reviewed. It feels like an album you have to play over and over again, like a Tool album, perhaps. So I have done. It has worn me out but it’s been worth it.
If you want a band who utterly believe in what they are doing and believe in giving it everything, then I urge you, nay, demand that you check out “Seven Ages Of Man” by Blue Gillespie. You’ll be spent, but you will have a stupidly satisfied smile on your face.