Pages Navigation Menu

Megafortress: Believer

Bill Gillim, Megafortress, Believer LP, new music, album review, Megafortress review, Believer album review

Megafortess — Believer

Release Date: Nov. 20
Our Rating: 3/5
Spec Recs: “Murderer”
In One Word: Explorative

In his debut album, Believer, musician Bill Gillim gives new meaning to the word soulful.

The 10-track Megafortress release is carried by instrumental imagery. Woodwinds, piano, sparse bass lines, synth and nature soundscapes add to the story line. These sounds play the narrator — telling a story full of highs and lows.

Gillim, as the singer-songwriter, is the main character. His voice comes and goes throughout the album but is constant in its offering of clarity and insight. There’s a poeticism to Gillim’s lyrics that make his, sometimes monotonous, voice come to life. It is clear early on that this is a story tied to higher beings, and life beyond the human body or world. Religious undertones peak out from the beginning and reveal themselves to be more fundamental as the album plays out.

Beginning” is the opening track, a short instrumental that smoothly transitions into “Live in Grace.” This song is the introduction to the main character and his quest. There’s a hopelessness felt in the opening of the album and this track is where it starts. Gilliam sings of a “man with a thousand names,” presumably a higher power. He talks of living in grace, but also suggests, “climb if you wanna / baby, it’s the same as falling down.” In this introduction, we sense the searching and pining after something, but the “what” may not be clear. All that is evident is that this is a spiritual journey.

Fear” is the third, and longest, track on the album. It’s slow moving and guided by fluttery flutes. There’s a certain etherealness about the vocals and instrumentation. At times it feels angelic, but in other moments it feels more haunted, almost ghostly. The music soars and swarms and the listener might get carried in this before being jolted back into reality with “Never Becomer.” It is with a stark, unsettling transition that this track hits. Once you settle into the song, you might notice how momentous it sounds.

The title track, “Believer,” is fittingly a key part in the narrative. It begins with sounds of birds and moving water (perhaps to signify a baptism or cleansing). “I was afraid, now I’m not afraid / I won’t be afraid, I will be OK with all the white faces,” Gillim sings upon his return. Now, he seems more resolute. Through his religious verbiage, the listener might sense that he has found his way and is no longer searching for something he seemed so bent on in the earlier tracks. “I lost my way, thought I could not be saved / but now I take my place among all these white faces,” he explains. Adding in, “one life is all we have to give — no more.”

Just as things begin to feel more focused, the listener is hit with “Murderer.” Hands down, this is my favorite track on the album. It is more pop infused than the rest of the album and serves as a transitional moment in the narrative. Perhaps the title says it all. “I’m so far away from returning / I’m at a higher place” is among the few lines that Gillim repeats in the opening half of the song. It’s convincing. Until he is cut off mid way through the track. It sounds as if a robot is malfunctioning — sparking up, falling apart. Then Gillim returns, with a different tune: “I cannot make out…your intention, but I know mine.” He ends the song on a darker note, “You’re the only way back, you’re the only way back…down.” Tracks “Bogota” and “Leroy in Tongues” do not include much of Gillim’s voice. Though the latter includes vox that is hard to decipher. The title itself may hint at the religious idea of speaking in tongues. Whatever the case, the instrumentation in this album plays the most vital role. It is cinematic and important for guiding the listener when Gillim is not as present.

Pilot” begins with more sounds of nature — this time it is the squawking of seagulls. Eventually the sound of a helicopter’s blades spinning in the distance moves closer and meets with what sounds like people yelling. “Blame me for everything — I am the killer and the king,” sings Gillim. The twisting and the turning of this musical journey is a lot to keep up with, but it’s powerful. “Long Hair” ends Believer, but it doesn’t seem as if things have been resolved, but maybe that’s because there is no real resolution.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *