Formed at a nightclub in 2005 when a mutual friend invented a silly band name to try and impress a geeky girl, Gandalf’s Fist is the creative collaboration of multi-instrumentalist Dean Marsh and lyricist/vocalist Luke Severn. Meeting at University and becoming good friends, drinking partners and pub-quiz teammates, the duo spent the subsequent two years releasing experimental instrumental tracks, however, the origins of their music go back much further. They start, depending on your point of view, with the golden era of Prog in the 1970s, the birth of English folk centuries before or, even in the time before time inhabited by Tolkien’s fantastical characters.
The pre-release pitch of the album on the band’s website is as follows: “Transmitted from a derelict space station in the far reaches of the galaxy using instruments salvaged from a cargo bay and corroding electrical terminals, ‘A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer’ is the latest album coming soon from Gandalf’s Fist,” and should give you a vague idea of where the music will be taking you.
‘A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer’ is progressive rock in the sense that the music often defies traditional song structures in favor of a more cinematic approach to composition. There are a few pop-rock songs on this album, and they’re very good. But I think most Gandalf’s Fist fans aren’t interested in radio-type singles, they’re interested in the big, epic songs…and there are plenty of those!
This album requires many listens to fully appreciate the complexity and beauty of Gandalf’s Fist’s music. Favorite songs are replaced and then become favorites again, only to be replaced by other tracks. Like any other great Progressive Rock album, it takes some time to digest, simply because the music and the words around it are not simply intended to be white noise to fill a room and get us through another day.
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Gandalf’s Fist is a very unique band. Their style of music is a powerfully, near-laid back progressive rock, similar to Pink Floyd or Yes. The instrumentation and arrangements are unquestionably amazing. While the vocals soar beautifully with both male and female voices as is evidenced on Somewhere Beyond The Stars or The Battle For Tannhauser Gate.
‘A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer’ has tons of great rock songs, and three epics, The Nine Billion Names Of God, Orphans Of The Sky, and The Wanderer Goes South. From the roaring opener of Another Night On The Far Side Of The Universe to the emotionally stirring The Wanderer Goes South, that closes the album, there is nary a miss. It is an altogether beautiful, thought provoking, heart tugging and soaring experience.
Gandalf’s Fist delivers really inventive stuff. The musicianship on display is second to none and the guitars crackle and soar in all the right places. The keyboards are grand and just right, as is the drumming, while the bass is plucked and played with aplomb.
It is rare that you find a band that can indulge itself creatively, explore different sounds musically, and yet still put out quality material that the fans will embrace. ‘A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer’ by Gandalf’s Fist is a great album from a truly great rock band.
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