Galahad: Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria
Bands evolve and change throughout their time together, however it is those who can do so in a way that doesn't isolate their closest followers, while continually broadening their appeal that really shine the brightest. Whether Galahad desire the term "Prog" or not, well I'm not sure. However this is a band whose music progresses from not only album to album, but song to song. Although in a way that still taps into a sound that can only be described as Galahad.
Through a battle with cancer, which he sadly lost in 2011, Galahad bassist Neil Pepper was spurred into one of the most musically productive stages in his life, something that has strongly contributed to not one, but two wonderful albums that may well be the crowning glory of the lengthy Galahad catalogue. Earlier this year we were treated to the uncompromising Battle Scars, an album that stayed true to the band's ideals, while heightening their dalliance with dance orientated beats and keyboard themes. However the enigmatic vocal performance and stunning stand-off between keyboards and guitars maintained the album's focus as a delight for any right minded progressive fans who doesn't require yet another narrow, nostalgia tinted view of the past.
Now if Battle Scars saw a gloriously executed keyboard, guitar stand-off, Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria positively demands those two integral elements to go at each other hammer and tongs, with an amazingly cohesive end result. Huge and I do mean HUGE keyboard passages positively pulsate from the speakers, rearranging your furniture with their sheer power, again edging into dance-techno themes with thumping bass drum blasts. However when you add in grating, edgy guitars, pummelling bass and the threatening, storytelling voice of Stuart Nicholson, then the end product morphs between Jean Michel Jarre, Arena, Threshold, Muse and dance-floor anthem, while still sounding like one band - Galahad. It is an amazing skill to be capable of taking musical influences that shouldn't mix and some of which I would usually avoid like the plague and transform them into enigmatic, memorable songs that deliver melody, aggression, emotion, introspection and exuberance not just equally, but simultaneously.
"Salvation I- Overture" kicks in with an immediate keyboard anthem, half dance hit, half electro-heaven, before a smarting smack of drums takes the focus. The song segues into "Salvation II - Judgement Day?" where the theme is nurtured further with dancing (not dancey) keys, bristling riffs and threatening bass lines, via a trademark "in character" vocal. Then running at over 10 minutes, you'd be forgiven for thinking that "Guardian Angel" would be an impregnable epic, but Galahad make their own rules, instead serving up the most instant and memorable chorus line on the whole album, although via stunning guitar work from Roy Keyworth, killer keys from Dean Baker and dead-eye drumming from Spencer Luckman. With a production and mix courtesy of Threshold's Karl Groom, the album sounds magnificent, and at volume really becomes a thing of vicious beauty. Something the staccato burst of "Secret Kingdom..." and Muse like guitaring, piano duel "...And Secret Worlds" confirms, the latter via a stunning, phased vocal and soaring guitar howl. The keyboards finally win the battle for supremacy on "All In The Name Of Progress" (OK, the guitar solo and off kilter drum bursts don't hurt either!), before "Guardian Angel - Reprise" reinvents the earlier song in a church organ meets demonic choir manner - stunning!
Battle Scars closed with a reworked classic from the Galahad back-catalogue "Sleepers 2012" and Beyond The Realms... does so too with "Richelieu's Prayer 2012", which originally saw the light of day on Galahad's 1991 debut release Nothing Is Written. This new version sparkles and shines as it dives from enigmatic introspection to full on bombast, but even in this new format, there's no denying the Marillion influence, with Nicholson reprising his Fish-isms from yesteryear. It is an exciting listen, and one that shows Galahad really have advance in leaps and bounds over the years, while in terms of standards, always delivering the goods.
When Battle Scars was released Galahad singer Stuart Nicholson promised that Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria would offer more colour than its uncompromising sister album. Personally I'm not sure about that, as both show a huge amount of different hues, but maybe ...Euphoria displays them more audaciously and less self-consciously (its wonderful cover certainly does). However one thing is for sure and certain and that is if you are a lover of far-reaching, outward looking music of the highest calibre, then you need to have Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria. And Battle Scars. Both are quite magnificent!
1. Salvation I - Overture
2. Salvation II - Judgement Day
3. Guardian Angel
4. Secret Kingdoms.
5. ..And Secret Worlds
7. Guardian Angel - Reprise
8. Richelieu's Prayer 2012
Added: November 15th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Official Galahad WebSite
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