Closer to Doom

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Sounding nowhere near as confident or meticulously orchestrated as the breakthrough efforts that would seduce legions of classic rock lovers nearly a decade hence, 1997's Closer to Doom EP was Bigelf's modest recording debut, and a massive retrospective endorsement of long-term artist development like no other. Which is to say that the group would improve by leaps and bounds in years to come, but here, unsatisfactory production standards (which is odd, considering Sylvia Massey was in charge) conspire with undercooked early songs like "Change," "Frustration," and the title track to expose band mastermind Damon Fox's as yet unfulfilled talents and creative vision. Rather, Bigelf's eventually thrilling mutations of the Beatles and Black Sabbath, Jellyfish and Uriah Heep, only threaten to come together on rare standouts "Crazy" and "Salvation," respectively. So, if anything, it's the four bonus tracks tacked onto this six-song EP at a later date that round out its promise with a few added glimpses of Bigelf's versatility, including the prog-symphonic instrumental workout "Theme One," the Queen-like power pop nugget "I, the Jury," its full-on metallic polar opposite "Fight," and the closing Sgt. Pepper-isms of "Baron Saturday." All of which brings Closer to Doom a little closer, as it were, to the latter-day excellence expected of Bigelf, but not enough to justify recommending this flawed first sighting to listeners aside from their most devout fans.

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