Electric 1978 / Esoteric 2013
Final chapter of guitarist’s “black” trilogy takes the listener into the celestial unknown.
A certain metal band might not have paid heed but, given this artist’s logo and the title of this album, comparisons are inevitable, although their link breaks at the words of IRON MAIDEN’s Dave Murray who said that, when Gordon Giltrap plays guitar, the angels come out to listen. Such an apparition is felt in full force on the album which distills the prog opulence of "Perilous Journey" through the bleak temperance of "Visionary" into a perfect nocturnal experience. Tapping into the gloom from the off, vigorous acoustic strum of “Roots” harking back to his pre-rock stance, Giltrap lets the splinters of ivories’ light in, yet it’s when Gordon plugs in that the miracles start to happen, as his electric axe melts the honeyed melodies into the rivers of harmony which run the parallel course to Mike Oldfield’s contemporaneous concepts. Although “Fear Of The Dark” isn’t, unlike its predecessors, a concept album.
Its title track unfolds artfully solemn and builds riffs and a flurry of notes up into an unexpectedly playful edifice as does, on lesser pop scale, the liquid “Inner Dream” where wordless vocals and violin roll alongside guitar peppered with bursts of percussion. The regular song structure and slide guitar of “Weary Eyes” provide a respite from overall blackness, but this delicate darkness thickens in a wondrous contrast between the symphonic expanse and rustic warmth of “Nightrider” in which Simon Phillips’ thunder shatters the blues that lurk behind its ever-intensifying charge. It sparks the heavy, if luminescent, interplay of “Fast Approaching” with former JETHRO TULL drummer Clive Bunker adding a clang to the sway, before it ebbs away into the gentle strings of “Melancholy Lullaby” and the piano-punctuated “Visitation” to vanish on a rocking tidal wave in a chamber void.
Angelic presence means there’s nothing to fear where is nothing at all, save for amazing grace, the point borne to the fore in one of the bonus tracks here, Giltrap’s majestically amplified, multi-layered take on “Jerusalem” – the anthem based on Blake, in a “Visionary” way – that would have fitted the album’s context as well. Which can’t be said of its out-take called “Smiler” and equally jubilant single “Theme From The Waltons” that catches Gordon in a much lighter mood. Darkness lifted, this album remains his masterpiece.