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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Galahad

Beyond the Realms of Euphoria

Review by Alison Reijman

Releasing two albums of new material in the same year could be seen as either a big gamble or foolhardy. But it was a risk that veteran British proggers Galahad were prepared to take as they sought to regroup and reinvigorate themselves after the death last September of Neil Pepper, their bass player. As Pepper plays on both …Euphoria and Battle Scars, released in March, the albums could be seen as a tribute and a reminder of how much he is missed by band and fans. …Euphoria has been released a year and a month after his passing.

Both albums herald a completely new direction for the band as they have dared to be different by adding ambient/trance elements to the mix, an idea which came from keyboard player Dean Baker.  Whereas Battle Scars was mainly hard-edged rock, Beyond the Realms of Euphoria features a couple of longer pieces, full of interesting melodic twists and turns but more about them later. Produced again by the much in demand Karl Groom, Galahad have really earned their spurs through delivering two quality albums supplemented by some live dates in the UK and the Netherlands which have shown them to be in cracking form with Mark Spencer joining them on bass.

The psychedelic cover illustration of red, orange, yellow and pink by Emma Grzonkowski is also a masterstroke. That’s made even more relevant in contrast to the tranquillity of the inside photograph over the sun setting over a poppy field. For above all, this is an album which encompasses those two very different dynamics.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Salvation I -Overture

The dreamy chords of “Salvation I –Overture” give the first hint of the techno treats ahead as Dean Baker creates some sparse loops over a choir before unleashing the full force of the dance groove over Spencer Luckman’s big, meaty beats and Roy Keyworth’s characteristic scuzzy guitar riffs come crashing in.

Salvation II- Judgement Day
Morphing into “Salvation II- Judgement Day” with huge slabs of guitar, Stuart Nicholson starts his vocal journey through countless changes of tempo and instrumental settings. Again, keyboards swirl throughout and Pepper’s beefy bass can be heard adding depth to an immense sound.
Guardian Angel
A big chunky guitar starts “Guardian Angel” with the techo beat kicking in.  The song settles down into a mid-paced tempo driven by Luckman, Nicholson paring down his vocals to a sensitive glide across a smooth melody with lots of delicious rocky outcrops along the way interspersed with dreamy synths and choppy keyboards.
Secret Kingdom
A jarring start to “Secret Kingdom” erupts into Keyworth’s massive guitar intro and loping riff backed with some more haunting keyboards before it hits its stride at an extended canter. The guitars and keyboards fizz away under Nicholson’s voice before the chorus line comes with Queen-like high harmonies, all quite expertly executed. From there, the tempo slows right down with Nicholson’s echoing vocals dominating over a drum machine and muted synth.
.....And Secret Worlds
There is a blast of Rachmaninov at the start of this as Baker turns to the pianoforte for a wonderful stately solo accompanied by a Muse-like chorus line. Then, suddenly, it all shakes up again. Does that thunderous guitar line remind you of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s “Delilah?” The track builds and builds with guitar and piano running parallel through the melody - and finally we are back to a Queen groove as it all reaches a heady climax.
All In The Name Of Progress
This begins in a synthy fashion before the pounding guitar and rhythm section takes over and Nicholson sweeps in on top of another huge melody punctuated by an angry, staccato rap. Keyworth can be heard riffing in true Brian May tradition before the tempo is upped and returns to a trancey synth so Nicholson can deliver his verdict via the title line. It all then gets angry and frenetic again and Nicholson can be heard growling like a wolf in the woods towards the end.
Guardian Angel – Reprise
Baker’s flowing piano and angelic choir takes the energy levels down a notch or two at the start of “Guardian Angel – Reprise.” The whole song has an ethereal quality about it especially with Baker’s churchy organ coming in towards the end before Nicholson adds a tender vocal over the piano. It brings the album to a gentle conclusion, his final thank you sounding like Freddie Mercury signing off on “These Are the Days of Our Lives."
Richelieu’s Prayer
This bonus track is a 2012 reworking of old favourite “Richelieu’s Prayer” which features additional keyboards by former band member Mark Andrews. This is a stately and restrained delivery compared to the rest of the tracks but having said that, part of it screams Meatloaf in its style before it diversifies yet again into classical segments in the style of Bach and Beethoven spread throughout the song. 
 
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