3 out of 5 Stars!
Although this U.K. group emerged during the height of the Prog-Rock explosion in the early ’70s, Gnidrolog gained no significant traction. In my opinion, this was probably due to two chief factors…
First…Gnidrolog? Not exactly a name that rolls off the tongue or is even pronounceable upon initial sight, is it? Turns out, the moniker is the backward spelling (with some adjustments) of the name Goldring, the surname of the twin brothers (Colin and Stewart) who led the group. Yes, an unfortunate name selection.
But the second and most important factor…although the two albums Gnidrolog released in 1972 (this one being the sophomore collection) contained some fascinating material when it came to instrumentation and song arrangements, occasionally bringing to mind groups such as King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, and Van Der Graaf Generator—thanks primarily to the highly creative woodwind passages and background fills, the bizarre vocal harmonies, and the jazz and folk influences—the lead vocals are most definitely an acquired taste.
Indeed, on the opening track “I Could Never Be a Soldier,” the singer, especially when being unnecessarily overdramatic and shooting for the higher octave of his natural vocal range, is often out of key and simply too grating, which takes some getting used to and the reason I rated this album down a full star for my official review.
Therefore, putting aside the band’s odd name, I can’t help thinking these vocal deficiencies may be the chief factor why Gnidrolog never gained a legion of fans during its brief history. Personally, I have to be in just the right frame of mind when listening to this album, and I do so only for the rather imaginative music and instrumentation, all the while gritting my teeth through the more awkward vocal sections.
So, let this review serve as a warning to Prog-Rock fans who may be unfamiliar with this group yet drawn to this album due to the rather cool cover art. The music is often enjoyable; the lead vocals are often not.