Norway's Gargamel! (not to be confused with a U.S. quirky funk rock act of the same name) offer a competent blend of ‘70s prog rock and equally vintage psychedelia on their sophomore effort, serving it upwith a dark twist that recalls grim neo-prog bands such as Wolverine or late-period Fates Warning, though only in vibe, not execution. The catchier bits, such as most of the title track, feature drawn-out space rock jams with retro synthesizers hovering over steady rhythm section drones, the way Hawkwind did it back in the day, or maybe even Deep Purple on "Child in Time." But old school art rock greats are the main inspiration on Descending, with vocals channeling Van Der Graaf Generator and complex arrangements being tightly woven over unconventional time signatures to create a mood of controlled chaos, just how King Crimson liked it; not as majestically insane as Fripp and the gang did it, but still impressively hectic. Other classics are given a nod, too -- "Prevail," for example, is dominated by a flute straight out of Jethro Tull's songbook. The overall mood stays gloomy throughout, but also veers between pensive and theatrical, not to say histrionic, which gives Descending a cinematic flair, but also makes it a hard sell, at least for those who don't switch easy between deep space meditation sessions and high drama. Bigger issues, though, are the album's occasional lack of dynamics -- there's a fine line between psychedelic jams and plain noodling, and some of the trickier moments feel directionless -- and an utter, even defiant lack of originality. Still, Gargamel!'s target audience will enjoy Descending as a skilful and faithful, if not flawless, re-creation of old sound.
AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko