- Album Reviews

Telergy- The Legend of Goody Cole

In 2011, musician Robert McClung introduced us to Telergy via the debut effort Exodus, an album which the Lady reviewed here. For his second effort, he went with a much more obscure story, but one very dear to me, the Legend of Goody Cole. Goody (Eunice) Cole lived in New Hampshire during the late 1600’s, a time when prejudice and fear drove townsfolk to accuse and cast out the denigrated and unwanted through accusations of witchcraft. Goody was formally accused three times, and each one was followed by a prison term, the last which lasted unto her death, where she was buried in an unmarked and still unfound grave, and according to legend, a stake was driven through her heart to exorcise the foul spirits within her. 300 years later, Goody Cole was exonerated of charges by the town of Hampton in celebration of the town’s milestone. There is a great deal of depth in the story to cover, so McClung gathered some talented musicians to assist in the retelling of this storied legend, a list over thirty names long, but which is highlighted by the following…

Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree)
Ryo Okumoto (Spock’s Beard)
Nik Turner (Hawkwind)
Ty Tabor (King’s X)
Trent Gardner (Magellan)
Dee Snider (Twisted Sister)
Emmanuel De Saint Méen (Delusion Squared)
Joe Cairney (Comedy of Errors)
Joel Hoekstra (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Night Ranger)
Valerie Vigoda (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Cyndi Lauper, Groovelily)
Laura Sanscartier (Boston Symphony Orchestra, James Taylor)
Mattan Klein (world renowned jazz flutist)
Andy Reiner (The Earth Stringband)
Rory Makem (The Makem Brothers)
Tim Nunes (The Nero Complex)
Adam Nunes (The Nero Complex)
Hoi Yan Joyce Pang (celebrated Chinese violinist)
Myschyffe Managed (medieval madrigal choir)

And with Wanda Robidas in the lead role of Goody Cole

Now let’s run down the checklist…. Talented and proven composer- check. Intriguing historical storyline- check. Jaw dropping list of uber talented musicians from around the world- check. Looks like we are all set up for an epic evening of progressive metal story time. Now let’s just all gather around the campfire, and bundle up warm, while old Mr. McClung tells us a witch story…

The story is split up, song wise, into sixteen segments. Five are titled “Meeting House Green”, and are folk ballad-like segments. Five are numbered scenes, which are the acted parts that give the work its dialogue. Then there are the five songs proper, each with a title of its own, that just kick a ton of prog metal ass. Opening with Meeting House Green 1 and Scene 1, they introduce the story and the prejudice that the town people have against Goody Cole in a quick and decisive manner, which is ok with me because it gets me to Rumors, the first of the solid musical segments. It grabs the listener by the short and curlies right out of the gates and serves notice to the eardrums to tread cautiously.  The structure and form of the musicianship here are nearly flawless. For a project that for the most part was digital files flying around the world, enough credit can’t be given to McClung for being able to piece it all together into a beastly piece of progressive metal. My hat is off to you for that alone good sir, but back to the story. We flow from Rumors into Scene 2, which is where Goody Cole is faced with her first charges of witchcraft by the Judge, none other than Dee Snider(I was a bit disappointed to discover he only had a spoken word role to be honest).

Now where Rumors showed us the harsh roles of colonial America, Accusations, the next musical number, really drips with the heartbreak of Goody, the despair and helplessness of being falsely accused. The guitar work that carries the front half of this song paints these emotions wonderfully. As the Lady stated in her Exodus review, McClung knows how to tell a story through his music. About halfway through the piece, to say they kick it up a notch is a brutal understatement. It’s an all hands on deck metal situation. Every instrument has it’s say in the downfall of Goody Cole, from the searing keyboards to the ripper guitars, all backed by a thunderous rhythm section that pounds the song into your soul with a sledgehammer like force. Bringing it down a step, they bring in a soulful bass line and the sax takes over. Then the other parts merge back in and they bring it back to the metal. Brilliant McClung, just brilliant.

Next comes what to me is the meat and potatoes of the “story” part of the album, Meeting House Green Pts 2,3, 4. This is where the main trial of Goody takes place, and is wonderfully done, with testimony from the townspeople interspersed with Goody’s own defense, all done in a wonderful folk style. Here we are also introduced to vocalist Wanda Robidas, whose deeply soulful and throaty portrayal of Goody is just perfect. I really regret that she didn’t make more appearances on the album; her characterization of Goody was just perfect. The next trio of songs, Scene 3, Verdict, and Scene 4 has reappearance of Snider to condemn Goody, and on the speaking of the word “guilty”, they jump into Verdict, which is a three minute musical assault, period. I am amazed how they managed to pack so many notes into such a short span.  Scene 4 has Goody being locked up, and the ensuing short instrumental, Incarceration, once again shows McClung’s mastery at musically conveying the emotion of the story. One can literally visualize the lonely and beaten Goody sitting in the cell alone, completely beaten. By Meeting House Green Pt. 5, Goody has died, leaving her spirit to live an eternity in shameful disgrace for three hundred years, a part that, once again, is told through a lengthy and harrowing musical piece, Ghost.

But there is a somewhat happy ending to this story. As I said in the beginning, the townspeople of Hampton, on the town’s 300th anniversary, decided to reinstate the good name of Goody Cole, and declared her a “citizen in good standing” of the town of Hampton, as told in Scene 6 via a crackly recorded speech. The album closes with Exoneration, a truly sad piece in my eyes. Soft acoustic guitars accompany the moaning tones of the cello, which to me spoke that although her name was restored, nothing can repair the dreadfully tragic life she was given in the first place.

McClung did so many things right on this album. He was able to coordinate a cast of over thirty musicians and actors to compile an hour’s worth of incredibly intricate music into a work that really captured the spirit of the legend itself. The amount of dedication and passion involved here truly deserves all the accolades it will duly receive. It should also be noted that the profits from this album will be donated to the Hampton New Hampshire Historical Society to update and restore Goody Cole’s currently unmarked memorial. My deep respect and admiration on all fronts for this album, the musicians involved, and the cause it supports.

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