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Galahad - Empires Never Last CD (album) cover





4.12 | 438 ratings

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3 stars Musically "Empires" is a pretty darn good listen with a dynamic sound that is categorized as neo-prog on this site although that categorization makes the band's vocalist Stuart Nicholson bristle a bit. He describes their sound as much heavier with industrial and electronic influences and more progressive in that they really try to change with each album. The playing is very solid, most notably the guitar work and the ever present keyboards. The vocals are also very inspired and just about perfect on the ears in every situation. The album is very ambitious for a group that's been around for so many years. The content deals with power in various forms and heavy social and political topics. Much of it burns with anger and disgust through Nicholson's scathing delivery.

Here are Stuart's comments about the thematic content of this album: "ENL works on several levels, it's up to the listener to interpret the lyrics how they want. Yes, there is a certain link to politics and Governments within the song, but it is also about individuals who build empires in the work place or even at home. Therefore, I guess it is socio-political lyric. Basically the song is saying nothing ever lasts in this World and we'd be fools if we thought otherwise. I like to keep abreast of what's going on in the World at large and have my own opinions just like any other individual and, yes, these opinions do occasionally spill over in to the song writing. But we are not a political band as such, no." [Stuart Nicholson, interviewed by Giannis Tsakonas for Metal Perspective magazine, Sept. 2006]

"Defiance" begins with beautiful female choral vocals setting a mood of anticipation before Stuart growls out his DE-FI-ANCE opening, then the mood builds with good drumming and keys. In "Termination" Stuart trades off very effectively with the female vocals as the band sound really picks up with heavy guitar. "I could be God" is the longest track at 14 minutes. The vocals are dramatic and Fish-like and there's a heavy Fugazi era feel though the drumming is more crisp and metallic. A quiet part around 5 minutes leads into excerpts of a Dr. Martin Luther King speech followed by electric riffing and later a solo. It's a good song the first few times but doesn't quite sustain the length after many plays. "Sidewinder" is also longer than it needs to be and features the predictable excerpts of George Bush greatest hits for your amusement, but has another great solo at the end. "Memories from an African Twin" is one of the album's nicest moments with the anger dropped briefly for some nice acoustic and electric guitar melody and uplifting wordless vocals.

Then comes the powerful title track "Empires Never Last" which is a cool song and another of the album's highlights. The clever verses speak of Little Miss Glory, a dirty, lying, soulless, back-stabbing pariah who is destined to "crumble and fall." My first interpretation was that she represented America as Bush is referenced in the track Sidewinder but this is not the case. Rather, LMG is the portrait of an individual, a seriously messed-up one. While I have never seen Galahad perform live I can guarantee this title track is going to bring the crowd to their feet singing along, it's just a great song to highlight an album these guys should be very proud of. The closer "This Life Could Be My Last" is an emotional and pleasant middle of the road rocker with a well-crafted chorus.

I don't think "Empires" is quite the masterpiece that others do but it is very enjoyable and I would recommend it easily to neo-fans of bands like Arena and Marillion and to prog-metal fans as well. The booklet features complete lyrics and provocative photos. 3.5 stars.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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