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Griot - 2020 - "Elisabeth"

(62:37: Griot)


Portuguese band Griot were formed in 2014 by Joao Pascoal (bass, guitar, programming) and Sergio Ferreira (drums, programming). In 2016 they released their debut concept album ‘Gerald’, and now they are back with ‘Elisabeth’ which concludes that story. Alongside the debut they released a 21-page book telling the story, and here they have gone even further by releasing one which is 60 pages long. Most bands, if they go to these lengths, provide lyrics and artwork but what we have here is a full-blown short story, so does the music accompany the book or is it the other way round? Neither of the lead singers, Maria Branco and Joao Rodrigues, were involved in the debut album but here they definitely own the characters they are portraying although there are some times, such as on “Atonement” when Maria does veer slightly offkey and her voice is more delicate than I might have expected give the force of the accompaniment. Musically the album is quite diverse, and even though there are many different musicians involved (including 3 other guitarists, 3 keyboard players, brass, woodwind and strings) it does very much feel like a band album as opposed to a one-off project. One is never sure quite where the music is going to lead, as while it is progressive rock throughout there are times when it becomes more theatrical as there is quite a story to tell, veering between elements of Alan Parsons Project and Clive Nolan. Lots of strings and held down chords, alongside often powerful (and always varied) drumming, provide the platform for Maria yet sometimes she sings in a fairly quiet tone and her vocals are brought back into the music as opposed to being thrust forward which gives it a very distinct sound. Guitars can be strident and strummed, or totally absent from proceedings, and keyboards may be modern or very dated, all of which provide width and breath to the music. Overall, this is an interesting album musically, and all power to the guys for putting so much effort into the package which goes with it, I really wish more bands would think of that side of it.

Progtector: December 2020

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