I do not like The Beatles. Never have and probably never will. I completely understand their place in music history, but I never really understood what the big deal was. Besides, I’ve always thought The Beach Boys were WAY better. So back in 2008 when I heard people talking about some band named Bigelf and their record “Cheat the Gallows” being a nod to anything from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, I wasn’t too interested. Fast forward a couple years to when I first hear ‘Money, It’s Pure Evil.’ It gets stuck in my head like some terrible Katy Perry or Nicki Minaj pop song. I had to get “Cheat the Gallows.” I finally listened to the masterful mash up that is just as much equal parts Black Sabbath and Deep Purple as it is The Beatles. I was hooked! When I heard after six years Bigelf was releasing a new record, I decided I wasn’t going to be behind the curve this time. “Into the Maelstrom” will be released on InsideOut Music on April 1, 2014.
“Into the Maelstrom” is a sci-fi themed album, playing on the journey main man Damon Fox took after Bigelf imploded as a band in 2011. Fox’s “Karn-Evil” keys take center stage on opening track ‘Incredible Time Machine,’ giving you a late 60’s psychedelic kaleidoscope effect in your ears. A HAL 9000-like female computer voice brings you into the more guitar heavy ‘Hypersleep.’ This track picks up the pace and gets your foot stomping to the groove. Even though ‘Already Gone’ starts light, it keeps the guitar groove going. New guitarist Luis Maldonado lays down an awesome solo by towards the end. The track ‘Control Freak’ later on is another great example of his guitar work. Short but sweet; Maldonado blisters all the way through.
‘Alien Frequency,’ another keyboard heavy track, is the first song where Fox’s buddy Mike Portnoy, who plays all the drum tracks on the record, gets to branch out a bit. If it wasn’t for this track and another, ‘Edge of Oblivion,’ I wouldn’t have been able to tell he was playing on the record if you hadn’t told me. These tunes are definitely a change of pace for Portnoy and it is nice to hear him play something different than his signature sound. Damon flexes his old school prog muscles on the next couple of tracks, ‘The Professor & The Madman’ and ‘Mr. Harry MacQuhae,’ the latter with a serious Pink Floyd vibe. “Into the Maelstrom” closes with an 8 minute, three part mini epic, ‘ITM.’ In it Fox gets to scrunch all the influences he’s thrown at us so far, including some classic Alice Cooper and Queen, into one big ball.
I think “Into the Marlstrom” is Bigelf‘s best record yet. That says a lot considering how good “Cheat the Gallows” was. Damon Fox‘s song writing is at its best, transcribing his personal experiences as only he can. Having Mike Portnoy in the band doesn’t hurt either. So lay back, put your headphones on, and enjoy!