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The Gift - Why The Sea Is Salt album review

An absorbing musical carnival from the London symph-rockers, The Gift

The Gift - Why The Sea Is Salt album cover

This is close to being a masterpiece. An album of beautifully constructed musical journeys which touch on Genesis, Jethro Tull and Barclay James Harvest, yet also have a life of their own. The way in which the guitars of Dave Lloyd and Leroy James intertwine with the keyboards from Gabriele Baldocci is, at times, breathtaking.

It all comes together best on The Tallest Tree, which has appearances from Steve Hackett, Anthony Phillips and Tiger Moth Tales’ Peter Jones (the last on an Irish whistle) – and for once, the presence of high profile guests isn’t vanity, but a crucial part of what makes the track so inspirational. The timbre throughout is sedate, ambient and majestic. You can feel the flowing beauty on the rustic Sweeper Of Dreams and the quasi-religious All These Things.

And all six tracks leave the impression of a band who’ve grown into a style that might hark back to the epic days of the early 70s, yet never allows the nostalgic glow to become the dominant flicker. But what holds The Gift back are Mike Morton’s lead vocals. They lack the gravitas and depth the music demands. With a stronger singer, there’s no doubt this would be essential.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio, which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.