Alicante, Spain-based space rock group Pyramidal’s first album Dawn in Space was an hour-long tower of an album. And that’s only if you exclude the bonus material; the original edition featured seven tracks plus a cover of Neu!’s ‘Isi’ as a hidden track, but the vinyl edition (which was later uploaded to Bandcamp) features two added 10-minute-plus tracks (as well as un-hiding the ‘Isi’ cover). That pulls the album to a staggering 1 hour 24 minutes.
This is not unusual at all for bands in the psychedelic/progressive rock spectrum; when your genre is partially based on writing long, sprawling pieces of music, it is only to be expected that your albums will be long and sprawling as well. Album length can sometimes be a good barometer of where a band intends to go artistically; do they expand their musical reach to new levels, or do they cut out the excess and go for a more straightforward approach? Both can work beautifully.
And this makes Pyramidal’s new album, the fantastic Frozen Galaxies, an interesting creature. It is considerably shorter than Dawn in Space at 46 minutes long – but half of that is taken up by the final, 23-minute long title track. Clearly the band has not given up length, and in fact, Pyramidal actually seem to have expanded their sound into a few new areas, despite fitting it all into a shorter runtime.
Where Dawn in Space was all about massive, spacey atmosphere, Frozen Galaxies focuses more on memorable musical hooks while retaining their trademark spaciness. Dawn in Space was an album to get lost in, one that felt like drifting around the outer reaches of the universe in a trance; Frozen Galaxies, meanwhile, is a focused intergalactic journey demanding your undivided attention.
If the above description makes it sound like Pyramidal have changed their sound significantly, it shouldn’t. The core of the band’s sound remains the same, but they have added a considerable classic prog influence to their psychedelic palette, with compound time signatures, dissonant melodies, and complex song structures added onto their spacey jams. The band channels bits of King Crimson and Camel throughout ‘Altar of Delusion World’ and ‘Beyond the Lost Orbs’ in particular. ‘Sons of Light’ is a bit more straightforward, except for the 11/4 section at the end.
And then there’s the massive 23-minute title track. ‘Frozen Galaxies’ begins with the same prog influences we’ve heard on the rest of the album, but towards the middle begins to focus more on the drawn-out jams that defined Dawn in Space (it might be ironic that the title track from the new album bears the closest resemblance to the old album, but I digress). The bass-driven ending section is one of the best things Pyramidal have ever written and the song in general closes out the album fantastically.
Frozen Galaxies is a phenomenal follow-up to a fantastic debut album. It is a good sign when a band shows willingness to evolve and expand their sound and is able to get results out of doing so, and Pyramidal’s refusal to rest on their laurels should make them rising stars in the psychedelic rock scene.