This is a fine album from the folk/rock pioneers, and features some notable contributions from former Albion Bandsman Ken Nicol, who has replaced Bob Johnson on guitar. His inclusion in Steeleye has turned out to be an inspired choice, as he is an accomplished electric/acoustic guitarist who fits in very well. Nicol is no slouch as a songwriter, either, as the title track shows. Concerning the siege of a stately home during the English Civil War, it could well become a Steeleye classic. He also contributes the album's opening track, the traditional "Van Dieman's Land", a lively number about poachers being transported to Australia.
This album contains a very strong collection of songs. "Child Owlett" is a classic Steeleye ballad of betrayal and gory death, my personal favourite. Peter Knight has written a hypnotic tune for "The Bride's Farewell" which sticks in the mind after a couple of plays, and Rick Kemp plays some powerful bass on "Samain" and "Diversus and Lazarus".
The strength of this CD is that it has a very cohesive feel to it, and the whole band is working well together. Along with Ken Nicol, Maddy Prior is in fine voice, Peter Knight fiddles up a storm, and the Rick Kemp/Liam Genocky rhythm section gives everything a solid foundation. Steeleye Span may be celebrating their 35th anniversary this year, but they have the energy of a much younger band and they still produce excellent new material. Long may they continue!