Tuesday, 21 August 2012

GALAHAD: Fireworks Magazine review

‘Battle Scars’ is the first of two new studio albums from Galahad due to appear in 2012, in support of which the band is about to embark upon some live dates, including the Progmotion Festival in the Netherlands at the start of September. (The second album, ‘Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria’ was recorded at the same time as the present offering, and both feature bassist Neil Pepper, who passed away last September. It will be reviewed here when available.)

The remaining members of Galahad (Stuart Nicholson (vocals), Spencer Luckman (drums), Dean Baker (keys) and Roy Keyworth (guitar)) have been together for the past thirteen years (thus earning themselves the title of “veterans of the UK prog scene”), so it is no surprise that

‘Battle Scars’ is a tremendously well-polished piece of work, and yet one where the band has
been prepared to take risks. To quote from the band’s web site (www.galahadonline.com) ‘Battle
Scars’ “takes the band further in to a heavy/rockier direction but mixing it up with a few more overt modern dance/trance and classical influences.” Lest that begins to sound alarm bells amongst the more traditional progressive rock adherents reading this, I can only say that it all works absolutely splendidly: not just musically - but lyrically as well, and will be another album in my collection jostling for repeat plays in the future.

Once again we are in what I term “Brit Prog” territory and the key thing is that as fully paid up
members of this union, they have – to my ears at least - a unique sound (you may find other reviews which suggest some Rush and/or Muse inflections) and in having Nicholson’s clear, precise and melodious stylings they are fortunate in having one of the genre’s great vocalists.
Lyrically the album is also very strong, and ‘Battle Scars’ oscillates in mood and focus between
the acerbic and rage-encrusted title track and what is in effect its coda ‘Reach For The Sun’ to the utterly delightful ‘Singularity’ which works on so many levels. ‘Bitter And Twisted’ sets us back into a mood of despair and distrust (more fabulous lyrics, by the way!), keeps us there via ‘Suspended Animation’ and digs the knife in deeper (‘Beyond The Barbed Wire’) only to leave us with a mini epic song of reaffirmation, ‘Seize The Day’ an absolutely fabulous, positive piece and including sections I have dubbed “techno prog” – oh yes!!

So there’s 43 minutes of some of the most phenomenal prog rock music released in 2012. But
there’s more: a bonus of 14 minutes more – a re-visitation of the title track of their 1995 album,
‘Sleepers’. Well, every time I hear it I am completely transfixed by this stellar work, now
magnificently updated and enhanced.

This is a remarkable album, no mistake about it and stands as a wonderful tribute to, and parting gift from the late Neil Pepper. Paul Jerome Smith

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