As one listens to the latest release from Gandalf’s Fist, Road to Darkness, it’s easy to ask, “What would Tolkien say?” With a pint of Mead in hand, (as suggested by, Gandalfsfist.com), one might the answer: He would say; “Hell Yes!” And proceed to rock his socks off!
This duo from Cumria, England proudly proclaim; “We . . . create music thatwe, ourselves, like to listen to and can have fun recording. And if by sheer chance anyone else likes it . . . Great!”
By combining elements borrowed from the seventies best progressive rock acts, and other musical traditions— a practice they cop to with pride— Gandalf’s Fist have successfully tweaked the world of rock legends. They create something uniquely theirs, a sci-fi inspired romp; with vintage sounds, analog production values, Gilmour-like guitar riffs, (see the first single, “Emerald Eyes”), and mystical ballads complete with Anderson-like flute, (see “Untrodden Ways”).
Being more true to themselves, than any rock god, their album also adopts one tradition better than many who have tried before—the concept. As a madcap adventure, Road to Darkness, stands on its own as a collection of well-crafted songs with no obvious agenda. Which is perhaps the most intriguing element of the project—with so much shameless borrowing going on, I had to give the record a second and third listen before writing or researching a single word or question.
Only after throwing out the rulebook and taking a look at the cover-art did I appreciate the album’s nuance. I allowed an updated Dorothy and Toto to travel their highway with me and found gold. If you dare the same, you will have to decide on your own where they take you. Particularly as you approach the disc’s unsettling final track, “Assorted Lunatics”—a song that cries out for a vinyl pressing or reel to reel; I wonder what hidden messages wait to be discovered.
If you’re looking to relive a past lost to creative differences . . . if you sit in your recliner basking in the light of the lava lamp, wondering what happened to the heroes and days of yore . . . or if you missed the age entirely—Road to Darkness represents your ticket back to the of Oz that once was rock.