Glacier (UK) - 2001 - "Monument"
(66 min, 'Glacier')
Lull Before a Storm 5:54 (Youdale)
Think of England 7:03(Youdale / Mulvey / Cornforth)
Bring Down the Rain 7:05 (Youdale / Cornforth)
Another Open Door 5:09 (Youdale / Harbron / Dawson)
The Iceman Comet 5:32 (Husband / Youdale)
Con Molto Noddus 5:33 (Husband / Wind / Youdale)
Monument (instrumental) 4:25 (Youdale)
Bring Down the Rain - Reprise 0:54 (Youdale / Cornforth)
East of Arabia 9:01 (Husband / Youdale / King / Harbron)
Beyond the Wave 5:43 (Cornforth)
Through the Mist (instrumental) 1:42 (Youdale)
The City Gates 6:09 (Youdale / Harbron / Birdsall)
Which one- Outro 2:10 (Youdale)
All tracks (written,) arranged and played by Glacier - Past & Present. Lyrics by Youdale, except: 4 (Youdale, Dawson), 9 (Youdale, Harbron), 10 (Cornforth) & 12 (Youdale, Birdsal). Produced by B. Mulvey & Glacier. Recorded and ebgineered by Tony Stewart at "TSM Audio" & "Castlegate" studios. Front cover artwork (*) by Dale Harbron. This album is dedicated to Mick King (who's one of the co-authors of track 9?)
Line-up: John Youdale - guitars, vocals; Bob Mulvey - bass; Graeme Ash - drums & percussion; Dave Kidson - keyboards, vocals; Dave Birdsal - lead vocals.
Additional contributions by: Heather Davies - (not co-lead yet solid) vocals (tracks 3, 5 & 8); Peter Cornforth - keyboards (track 10); Tony Stewart - bass (track 1); John Rhodes - guitar (track 2); Chris Brown - spoken words.
Prologue. Glacier erected a kind of monument to themselves already on the cover of their debut album, as well as Deep Purple did practically the same on the "In Rock" album cover. The only difference here is that the faces of Glacier members - "Present and Past" - were carved on… a glacier, of course. But while the guys of Deep Purple really rocked on that album of theirs, Glacier's glacier, being placed in water, reminds me rather of an iceberg that tries to swim with the current mainstream. Of course, such associative thoughts crossed my mind after I listened to the album. I did it three times, by the way, - just to be fully confident in what this album is really about.
The Album. I was quite impressed by the opening track on "Monument" - especially since it has a promising title (Lull Before a Storm). Structurally divided into three parts with the vocal ones in the beginning and in the end of the song, it has excellent and quite long instrumental arrangements in the middle. While not too complex, these done-by-all-instrumentalists arrangements are quite diverse, tight, rich and enjoyable, so the band showed their good potential to play cohesively together and, thus, a good musicianship of each member separately stands out already in the beginning. The second track Think of England was constructed the same way as its predecessor, though with the only exception. While Dave Birdsal (vocalist) sings his four parts on both openers very convincingly, instrumental arrangements in the middle of the second song are even better than the previous, and such an intensive and effective joint playing as here can recall to mind a storm in some ways. Especially when it gets clear that Lull Before a Storm is originally just a kind of preparation for storming in the process of Thinking of England. And then something close to a musical lull will reach your ears beginning with the third song and up to the album's end, with a few exceptions though. Also, a state of the 'musical' lull (after the brainstorm on Think of England) doesn't mean that the remaining part of "Monument" is just a filler. That's why I'm going to add a few words here. Even knowing (since we consider us experienced Prog-lovers) that the first two tracks are the only real winners on this 65-minutes album, we especially can't forget that there are lots of neo-headed in the world and, after all, at least one third of them needs Neo as a stage to comprehend more complex progressive music. But there is here, however, another winning point in a 'scheme' of "Monument" (sorry, I can't say "in the Monument-al scheme"), which is even more significant in some ways than both previous. The name of this third ace Glacier has in their sleeve is originality, which, to me, is the main trump of any true artist. Before I'm back to say some more good words on "Monument", it should be specially noted that the album's weakest point is Bring Down the Rain, track 3, which is nothing but a complete lull after the two more or less stormy tracks. There are too many choruses repeating the same refrains on the album in general, but especially on track 3. Four times in all, and three times in the end of the song a chorus repeats the same empty words: "Bring down the rain To case the pain Bring down the rain Ha-ah-ah-Ha-ah-ah Just once again" again and again, over and over. A real MTV hit killer! (But it kills me too!). Guys, really, send this one to MTV and you'll probably be rich and famous, and more… Just try it, after all. It is also has to be said that each of all the rest songs on the album contain instrumental parts, but there are too few of them to consider them normal arrangements, let alone large-scale ones.
Summary. It's time to sum up the resting "Monument"-all pluses and minuses…. Well, (only) the first two tracks (of 13 in all) whose quality is equal to excellent Neo songs (sadly, these two songs, even taken together, sound just 13 minutes in all) can help to augment the album's overall rating here, on ProgressoR, no more than with a half of a star. But the factor of the band's quite original, on the whole, stylistics, adds here a whole one star more and, this way, changes a satisfactory status of "Monument" to good. So despite the fact (which is obvious to me) that the rest 53 minutes of the album's total time are filled with accessible Neo things, including instrumentals (except, perhaps, a very nice but short acoustic guitar passages on Through the Mist), I have to admit that Glacier, not being one of the best Neo bands, is at least one of those Neos that have an original sound all its own, unlike a lot of wannabe-bands of the same most accessible and therefore the most commercially successful sub-genre of Progressive. I only wish Glacier's following album could be a lot more adventurous in anything related to instrumental parts, at least.
Vitaliy Menshikov. May 20, 2001