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Galahad

Battle Scars

Review by Gary Hill

Combining classic with modern progressive rock, the new disc from Galahad is a strong one. It is also possibly one of their most diverse. Different influences can be heard at different points in the set, and sometimes at different parts of the songs. There is one bonus track here, and while many times bonus tracks are weak, this one is among the highlights of the CD.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Battle Scars

Sound effects open this up before symphonic musical elements are added to the mix. It remains purely symphonic for a while. In fact it builds on that concept for a couple minutes and the vocals come in over the top of an orchestral arrangement. This continues in that fashion, sort of like chamber music based progressive rock. It’s past the three-minute mark when real rock instrumentation joins. It powers out to some seriously metallic territory from there. As they continue it becomes more melodic, but the chorus sees the return of the metallic textures. As it continues to revise and reform we get a jam later that’s like a crunchier version of mid-era Genesis. Then it shifts to more melodic and symphonic for some vocals before working out to the crunchy chorus again. This is one extremely dynamic and intriguing piece of music.

Reach for the Sun
This one wastes no time getting into the metallic progressive rock territory. It would be easy to mark this one up as progressive metal, but there is still plenty of progressive rock in the mix and the lyrical themes from the previous piece are continued here. There are even some hints of electronica or techno music in the mix on this one. It’s a real powerhouse. It’s also much shorter than the opener, and indeed is the shortest cut on show here.
Singularity
This is quite a bit mellower and more melodic than the previous tune. This is actually a pretty complex and dynamic tune that has more modern progressive rock elements and some seriously symphonic sounds in place.
Bitter and Twisted
Keyboards bring some cool musical textures and sounds. There is certainly some metallic crunch here, but also a lot of melody and prog styling. This is another strong cut that works very well. There’s a shift towards more pure metal later in the piece. Still, even then there are symphonic elements and melodic textures keeping it firmly in the progressive rock vein.
Suspended Animation
The hard rocking motif that leads this off is kind of like a more proggy, and yet more metallic, version of Deep Purple. As the cut continues to evolve it’s perhaps closer to something from Dream Theater. There’s a more stripped down arrangement for the first verse. There are more fully proggy elements later, too.
Beyond the Barbed Wire
The first vocals here are delivered over sort of a progressive rock ballad approach. It powers out later to something a bit like the proggier side of Queensryche. The tune keeps changing and evolving as they continue. This is dramatic, dynamic and powerful. Some parts are more metallic, while others are more purely progressive. I love the keyboard dominated sections here, but I love everything on this tune.
Seize the Day
Keyboards open this and it builds tentatively on that musical concept. As the first vocals come over the top it feels a lot like Fish or Marillion. It carries in this mellow motif for the first couple minutes, and then it turns to something more akin to modern dance music. It turns towards some seriously energized progressive rock as it continues. Once again, they prove that they aren’t content to stay in any one place for long as they move it through several variations but keep it consistent and coherent. The closing section is emotionally and musically powerful.
Bonus track: Sleepers 2012
Some might say that they saved the best track for the bonus slot. Surely this is the longest track on the set. It’s also incredibly dynamic and powerful. In a lot of ways this is probably closest to something like Fish era Marillion or the theatrical side of Gabriel era Genesis, but that only comes so close. This certainly turns more metallic than either one of those comparisons convey. It’s a killer tune that really works through a number of awesome changes and alterations. At times it’s quite hard rocking, but at other points it’s mellower with a sparse arrangement. It’s always dramatic. I really love the sedate section mid-track that’s incredibly cool. The section that comes after that really does call to mind Fish era Marillion. As it builds out after that, there is some awesome melodic guitar soloing. There’s a complex movement that takes it from there. The actual closing movement is quite classical in progression, but progressive rock oriented in terms of instrumentation. This is an awesome piece of music and it should be worth the price of admission all by itself.
 
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