Galley Beggar, Heathen Hymns

Galley Beggar
Heathen Hymns
(Rise Above Records)

Galley Beggar defies simple definition with ease, being a complex thing of no simple conception themselves. No friend of pigeonholes, the Beggar crew is something of an electric based neo-folk outfit with some slightly psychedelic, almost metal underpinnings bleeding in at times just in case things were getting too neat at the corners. There unfortunately aren’t a lot of groups around today that express the same sort of singularity of vision and execution as Galley Beggar, but the English Psych-Folk revivalists do the job of ten groups in the interim.

They much more closely fit the weird and ethereal world of psychedelic folk of the 60s (a la Ace of Cups or Leopold Perry) or the funky, quasi-metal progressive neo-folk stylings of Jethro Tull in the 70s than much from their contemporaries. There’s definitely something heavy, portentous and potent in that old folk groove the Beggar’s wield however as they twist it from Celt to blues to Black Sabbath and back again.

The album opens with a simple heathen hymn, entitled Salome. Salome’s slyly Gaelic blues banshee howl is captivating from the initial trip of the opening riff as it repeats and reverberates. A sense of something building, something circling is nearly ever-present on Heathen Hymns.

I was drawn to the UK based “minstrels in the galley” from their name on, and it makes sense considering my love and appreciation for English and Celtic folk music and lore. The name itself refers to a malevolent sort of spirit supposed to haunt Somerset and Suffolk region in the North of England. The Galley Beggar carries it’s own severed head while squealing like a banshee, quite a sight it seems and existing solely for the purpose of inspiring fright… (Continue reading at New Noise Magazine)Galley-Beggar-Heathen-Hymns.jpg

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