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Gandalf's Fist: A Forest Of Fey

Fifth opus from medieval space-rockers

Let’s be honest, Gandalf’s Fist are asking for it.

Nothing about this Cumbrian quartet – the daft name, the Tolkien obsession, the concept albums about interstellar travel – does much to subvert the tired old notions about prog rock. Charting the journey of a lost girl in a malevolent forest, it’s unlikely that A Forest Of Fey will endear them to the doubters either, yet there are some genuinely fine moments here. The Circus In The Clearing rubs a delicate psychedelic glaze over their folksy space rock, while Forest Rose (Coming Home) sounds like a woody cousin of Jethro Tull’s back-to-nature phase of the late 70s. Regular guest vocalist Melissa Hollick provides real uplift to a fair portion of these songs. Also at hand is a decent spread of guests: Troy Donockley of Nightwish, Gryphon’s Dave Oberlé, Pendragon keyboardist Clive Nolan and The Fierce And The Dead’s Matt Stevens. It Bites’ John Mitchell, meanwhile, is potent on the Genesis-styled pomp of Stories Old And Stories Told. Unfortunately, as fun as it is, much of the rest isn’t quite as persuasive, the cause not helped by lyrics so cliché-ridden that it’s sometimes hard not to wince.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.