“Gerald” is the concept EP from Portugal’s Griot that is a 36 minute, 5 song look into the life of a man on a journey. The album comes complete with the story which I won’t analyze other than saying that it’s a nice story but it isn’t one that really moves me one way or another. Similarly, the music on the EP is about the same.
Griot are quite talented. They can play just about anything and the music is lush & beautiful. I especially like the vocals and harmonies of Nuno Aleluia. The strange thing is that he is barely heard until the third track. The opening track “The Drive” is mostly instrumental until the vocals appear with about a minute left. It definitely has the vibe of an introduction which works on a story level and musically as well.
“Through the Haze” is a fine instrumental track and that song along with “Into the Fold” are both excellent tracks. The main problem is that the songs just don’t quite move me enough melodically. For a band as talented as Griot are, I think they are capable of even more. “Gerald” feels like an introduction to Griot rather than a defining moment. There’s nothing wrong with that either.
Stylewise, they have more in common with old school prog bands like Camel or Genesis. “The Curtain Falls” has the potential to be a huge song but it is missing that big chorus. It’s close but just misses. With about a minute left, the song takes a very strange detour. While prog is known for detours, it helps to have better transitions than is present here. The song comes back from the detour with what seems like the big moment only for it to end abruptly before you can even get into it.
The final track “Fadeway” is the epic at 10 minutes and it has some very nice orchestration on it. It is a bit awkward in places. Transitions are key for any track as long as this and if not done properly, it can sound like sections are taped together. I suppose Kansas did that with “Magnum Opus.” Still, there’s a LOT of potential here which makes me think that Griot have a bright future. “Gerald” makes for a nice beginning.
1. The Drive
2. Through the Haze
3. Into the Fold
4. The Curtain Falls