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Galahad - Empires Never Last CD (album) cover

EMPIRES NEVER LAST

Galahad

 

Neo-Prog

4.12 | 438 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the dramatic change of pace incarnated in their superb gem "Zero Year", Galahad has to meet the challenge of prolonging the momentum of musical creativity. eventually leading to "Empires Never Last", a fantastic statement of all that remains vivid in the current neo-prog scene. This is a manifestation of prog-metal driven neo-prog, not unlike Arena from "Immortal?" onwards. But as the band led by Nolan and Pointer seems to be stalling in some sort of formulaic writing strategies, Galahad's music has a refreshing focus to it. This album really achieves the kind of greatness that the band had been confidently aiming at for years: if "Zero Year" had the band exploring a one-occasion eclectic approach, this album is more related to "Following Ghosts" backwards, yet reaching a solid maturity. The two "De-Fi-Ance" preludes set a very bombastic mood, beginning with a Celtic-driven female chanting, going on with an exhibition of empowered metal-friendly prog. Without flashing solos but rough guitar riffs and splendid keyboard layers, the rhythm section seems to take center stage with its solid foundation. 'Termination' confirms this sonic trend, adding some pertinent industrial adornments. The same can be found in the 13-minute long 'I Could Be God' from the very start. When we reach the 4-minute mark the variations take place, first going to a softened Threshold-meets-pre-"Operation Mindcrime" Queens˙che, and next turning into space-rock territory a-la WYWH-era Pink Floyd. The reemergence of the initial mood takes a more complex guise in terms of time signatures and melodic arrangements, creating a moderately epic atmosphere. This track set a pace for much of the remaining repertoire, since the 11-minute 'Sidewinder' also captures much of this combination between space- rock and metallic neo-prog, albeit not being as rough. The mood and tempo shifts help to maintain the standards of musical grandeur delivered in stylish fashion: sometimes the Gothic-like keyboard layers remind me of the most mysterious parts of Abraxas' last album "99". The portions of Bush speeches remind me of the documentary feel provided in Queensr˙che's zenith albums. 'Memoirs from an African Twin' is a beautiful instrumental that starts with a very bucolic duet of acoustic guitars that states the main melody for the candid electric section, which sounds like a mixture of 90s Camel and "Out There"- era Wakeman. The powerful bas riffing that states the starting point for the namesake track brings back the album's prevalent mood, a metal-oriented spirit with industrial flirtations and cosmically elaborated keyboard layers. For the sung section, Baker displays a jazzy vibrato to his emulated electric piano: a nice detail that shows the band's intention to create something renewing within the recurrent scheme. The track's closing climax falls somewhere between tracks 3 and 4 in terms of sonic power. The album's last 9 minutes are occupied by 'This Life Could Be My Last': the calculated melodic frame stated by the vocal and piano seems to be conceived under the power ballad standard, but once the whole ensemble settles in, the industrial element and the hard rocking guitar riffs set the stage. The main motif is catchy and moving, so it won't need any radical refurbishment in mood or rhythm to make it work for its time span: there is indeed a short break in the interlude that begins before minute 6, but it is mostly an adornment and not an autonomous section per se. In terms of structure this track is not as impressive as no. 3 or no. 4, but it definitely provides a nice closure to the album. "Empires Never Last" is the definitive achievement of what Galahad essentially stands for since its inception.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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