The cover of Sacred To The Shades is a Dante-esque image of a fallen warrior in dark turmoil, with the hope of angelic relief or aid a possibility but not definite. Perfectly fitted then to the collection of songs it contains where tales of failing to learn from the past and of history repeating itself abound.
Influenced in the main by singer Ian Tilling's acquaintance with Roman funerary monument inscriptions and their dovetailing with his own thoughts on follies repeated generations apart and the randomness of similar events taking place centuries after originally being recorded, despite their grave consequences having been set down as a warning for the future. As he points out, the life and fate of a slave girl when Pontius Pilate was around is unlikely to be far removed from that of trafficked people these days and the lack of progress we've made in that regard is food for thought.
Seeing that point, being in agreement with it and then thinking along similar lines is not though a guarantee that the songs born out of the creative impulse will find you equally receptive. Indifference about the specifics, a preference for things less yearning and the sometimes uneasy changes from yearning to searing instrumental passages (as on 'Essex Wedding' for one example) conspired to require a noticeable effort on my part to listen all the way through. By the time 'The Space Race' began its ponderous start my mind was definitely looking for something else to latch on to.
Maybe the songs of Sacred To The Shades are too mature for my core taste but having failed to reach me emotionally, incited me to dance or allowed me to imagine I'd manage to stay awake when experiencing them in a live setting there are few, if any, reasons left for me to play them much more in the future. A worthy effort but not one that sets the heather on fire.
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