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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

LINK: Galahad review


GALAHAD Battle Scars (2012)


Do you ever wonder where your life goes? I was staggered when reading the press release for Battle Scars that 2012 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of Galahad - and by the sound of the outstanding music here, they've been building up to this moment for all of those years.

Although tinged with more than a little sadness (bass player Neil Pepper lost his battle with cancer shortly after completing his contribution), Battle Scars is nothing short of a deserved triumph for one of the hardest working bands in progressive rock.

The early years of the band were not that great, being generally regarded as a bit too derivative to push any boundaries - perhaps with the exception of the 'Sleepers' album (which caused some controversy at the time due to its cover depicting a young woman in a mortuary - which later transpired to be an actual photograph).

It's all change here though - this is cutting edge neo-prog at its very finest, pushing every boundary to its limit - from the use of lush orchestration to the inclusion of techno dance beats, from the angular guitars to the lush keys and poignant lyrics - nothing has been left to chance.

Nearest resembling Pendragon, whose latest album 'Passion' is a good touchstone, the band really give the impression of 'going for it'. From the opening title track, with its juxtaposition of strings, crashing guitar and evocative lyrics, the scene is set for a musical thrill-fest which never pales.

Second track 'Reach For The Sun' is as good a pure rock song as you'll hear this year and the anthemic 'Singularity' delivers in spades every prog-head's template for magnificence.

The album's finest track has to be 'Bitter And Twisted' which, whilst not winning any awards, lyrically speaking, for positivity, and including the greatest use of the aforementioned dance beats, rocks like an absolute bastard!

A re-recording of the title track from the 'Sleepers' album is included as a bonus track (all fourteen minutes of it) which, although welcome and an insight (for the uninitiated) into Galahad's past, is completely superfluous - what goes before it betters anything the band have previously done.

With 'Battle Scars' Galahad have crafted an intense and eclectic album that demands your attention. It's not easy listening at times (the finest albums never are) but it will restore your belief that there is still great music out there - it's just a matter of knowing where to look.

And look no further than this - absolutely outstanding.


Review by Alan Jones

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