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And Time Stood Still

Pure Rock (2013)
Rating: 7/10

Not to be confused with the German-based power metal band of the same name, this particular Gallows Pole hail from Austria with And Time Stood Still being the seventh full-length album from this much respected combo.

Those of you unfamiliar with these guys should be told that their first opus, In Rock We Trust, emerged in the wilds of 1982 and they’ve actually been in existence since 1975, although their second platter, We Wanna Come Home, didn’t emerge until 1989, and then there was a further ten year gap between that record and 1999’s The Smile Of The Dolphins. Thankfully though, the last decade or so has seen a more steady flow of album releases from Gallows Pole.

And Time Stood Still is a nine-track composition and features the line-up of Alois Martin Binder (vocals / guitar / bass), Harald Pikasky (guitar), Michael Haderer (drums), Günther Steiner (keyboards) and Elsko (backing vocals). Plus, guest contributions from Thomas Gehrke (bass) and Andy Wagner (drums).

As one would expect, with seven albums now behind them, Gallows Pole are most certainly experienced musicians and the sound they create can only be described as a comforting brand of hard rock with progressive, and at times psychedelic, sweeping touches. To class Gallows Pole as metal would be unkind. Instead, these guys opt for a melodic style of laid-back rock that is made all the more reflective by those moody vocals of Alois Martin Bender, who rarely croons beyond an almost monotone bellow. Yet so enchanting is this slab that it evokes images of late-night 80s radio as the keys flow so fluently in the background over the more steely, yet still as pensive guitars.

Although I’m not overly familiar with their past work I’m at once transported to a wondrous place with Elsko’s backing vocals – she has a distinctive oomph to her voice that goes hand in hand with Binder’s more gentile approach.

This is clearly evident on the mid-paced chimes of ‘Summer Rain’, but when the band choose to really rock, boy can they. ‘Older’ marches in with a steely drum and raunchy jug, but the vocal injection is quite unexpected, almost jarring yet infectious as Binder moans “Take me to the end of time, make me high make me shine”.

This really is an unusual yet wholesome brand of melodic rock that has a calming influence, and yet it is so self-assured as another set of meaty drums bounce into the room to signal the Queen-like drama of ‘Here And There’. Once again the vocals are unpredictable as the track picks up the pace, but despite its intent this is probably the weakest track on the album. All is forgiven however with the pounding beat of ‘Rock This Town’, a simple, slow two-and-a-half minute anthem of fist-pumping aplomb, and without doubt one of the album’s biggest rockers.

‘Take Me To The Heaven’ is the ballad of the platter. It drifts in on a gentle piano tinkle but with an equally stirring guitar solo. Again, there are slight elements of Queen in the musicianship, and for some Binder’s vocals may be deemed an acquired taste. But one can’t argue with the high levels of musicianship, especially with the buzzing stomp of ‘I Don’t Wanna Go’ which hints at David Bowie, and the majestic ‘Holy Nights’ with its cool guitar sound.

I must admit that the sound of Gallows Pole is a hard one to pin down, but even if you spin a track such as ‘Abyss’ from their 1982 debut, you’ll find that the band still adopt the same familiar theme, if less driving nowadays. However, the fusion of melodic rock and pop clearly works and so And Time Stood Still makes for an enjoyable listen.

Neil Arnold

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