Review | Pallas – The Messenger

Independent Release / Bandcamp

Only their 8th album in 48 years Scottish neo-prog alumni Pallas’ slow pace leads to grandiose creations. ‘The Messenger’ passing me by unnoticed due to singer Alan Reed’s 2010 departure and its following malicious stand off from both sides of the divide, the reunion didn’t catch my attention until the sudden spinning ‘Heavy Air’ in my YouTube stream. Immediately noticing the insane chemistry of their acclaimed debut and following Grande ‘The Wedge’, I was drawn into the band’s rich musical tapestry and Reed’s prolific and intense vocal delivery. The gripping neo classical allure of the song and its gloomy accolades made me visit the new album, no questions asked, prompting this belated review.

As Reed himself recently stated in an interview with Loudersound, he was “set up” by former Pallas keyboard player Mike Stobbie in rejoining the band after their tumultuous split in 2010. Waking up the next morning literally wondering “did I just rejoin Pallas?”, the charismatic vocalist adds to my findings of the unexpected resurgence of the classic line up.


Nuff said, ‘The Messenger’ stands as a testament to their enduring musical legacy and creative talents. From the very first note of ,,Sign of the Times” to the closing crescendo of the title track, this album takes listeners on an exhilarating sonic journey through intricate melodies, poignant social critical lyrics, and masterful musicianship. Especially the lyrics, much like on ‘The Sentinel’ echoing their concerns of the cold war, are the defining anchor points in these new songs.

Addressing the recently reignited cold war sidings of the world, climate change and the rising tide of mis- and disinformation, the new album traverses social critical stir. Wrapped in an undeniable well of dark and ominous emotions, Pallas’s musical expertise rises to mastery. ‘The Messenger’ is a tour de force, offering profound insights into the intricacies of the world. Hope, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of humanity permeate the album, serving as a source of solace and inspiration in turbulent times.


The musical discharge of ‘The Messenger’ falls far from tone of ‘The Sentinel’ and ‘The Wedge’, now profoundly blending levels of musical discomfort to convey disarray inflating the lyrical doom. Without falling prey to the band’s uplifting undertone, the album is a statement reinstating the band’s identity. “There can be only one” Connor MacLeod uttering the mantra in the Highlander movies after which he absorbs the power and immortality of other contenders. The magic of the Highlands applies to Pallas!

There can be only one….

No band has created such a spirited and remarkable discography as these proggies and ‘The Messenger’ is a testament to that. From Alan Reed’s soul-stirring vocals to Niall Mathewson‘s virtuosic guitar work, every instrument shines with a brilliance that is both awe-inspiring and emotionally resonant. The rhythm section, anchored by Graeme Murray’s intrinsic bass prowess atop the programmed clinical drums, provides a solid foundation yet would have benefited from the organics and depth of a drummer.

However, this is the only point of attention because the musical mastery of the band makes serious waves on the album. Pallas showcases its insane dexterity, seamlessly intertwining intricate rhythms with melodies soaring to celestial heights.


From the electrifying energy of ,,Sign of the Times,” it becomes evident that Pallas has a compelling album to share. Niall Mathewson’s masterful guitar work with his typical rich texture, complemented by Ronnie Brown‘s subtle keyboard flourishes, infuses the music with vibrant vitality. Reed’s charismatic vocals serve as a bold declaration of intent, setting the stage for the album’s somber resonance. The song’s choral harmonies are pleasant and cascade the band’s melodic accolades.

In ,,The Great Attractor’’, with its Trump cameo, the band showcases their power and finesse, delivering a bombastic performance that resonates theatrical. Robust biting staccato riffs combined with Murray’s thunderous bass lines, inject the song with an aggressive dark vigor underneath its progressive changes. Reed’s vocals are meticulously precise in its delivery, adding to the song’s charismatic allure.

,,Fever Pitch’’ captivates with a sublime piano-led intro and ethereal choral vocals that evoke a celestial ambiance. Unfolding, a pounding riff and driving drumbeat heighten the track’s urgency, drawing listeners into a mesmerizing narrative. Reed’s vocal delivery adds layers of depth, akin to cinematic epic goth acts. Through towering riffs and commanding keyboards amidst the ‘hollow’ emptiness of its structure, Pallas crafts an enthralling epos underscoring the need for environmental change with the earth ‘crying out in pain’.


,,Heavy Air’’ emerges with a brooding throbbing atmosphere. It heralds an impending storm, that threatens the fabric of civilization. There’s a poignant tenderness to the music emphasized by Alan’s melancholic vocals, which offer a faint glimmer of hope. The song resonates on a deeply emotive level, with a guitar solo agonizingly weeping, it channels deep human emotions like waves crashing onto us.

The ominous tension prevails on ,,The Nine’’, with the band painting the picture of a post-apocalyptic world, offering a haunting glimpse into a potential future. The track exudes a prophetic aura, and its somber tone is unfolding in sinister glare of unpleasant scenery sprouted by coverage of the Ukrainian war. Mathewson’s sinuous, sinister guitar solo and haunting chants lay bare the depths of the soul, leaving listeners captivated and spellbound.


Closing the album is the 13-minute magnum opus, ,,The Messenger’’, a culmination of the dramatic and ominous journey thus far. Touching all musical boxes of the previous tracks, the song diversifies on its appeal. Choirs inject a portentous dark luster, reminiscent to Carmina Burana’s dramatic bombast. This blends with the alarming dismay casted forward; As our planet hurtles towards destruction, the song ponders the possibility of hope. An electronic pulsating beat sets its disquieting tone transcending with time-changes and rhythmic shifts, contrasting with the plaintive acoustic guitar and keyboards, hinting optimistic horizons. The dynamic shifts, propelled by Reed’s soul-stirring vocals and Niall’s jaw-dropping guitar melodies and colorful themes, evoke a sense of transcendence. Its uplifting finale hints glorious, resonating hope still lingering amidst the chaos.


In essence, Pallas’ ‘The Messenger’ album is a profound exploration of existential themes, delivered with poignancy and musical brilliance. Each track serves as a chapter in a larger narrative, inviting listeners to contemplate the fragility of humanity and the enduring quest for redemption. With its evocative lyrics, mesmerizing melodies, and masterful instrumentation, the album leaves an indelible impression, offering solace and introspection in equal measure.

This is Pallas and neo-prog at its very best; There can be only one!

Release date: 15 December 2023



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