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Galahad - Myrddín CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.86 | 3 ratings

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4 stars Produced by EROC of GROBSCHNITT fame, this 4th release by German Celtic Rock group GALAHAD is, not surprisingly, their most rock oriented up to that point, with electric guitars and synths both asserting themselves more often and prominently. At the same time, this collection of original numbers retains that lilting quality of British Isles folk. In fact, the pipes on the triumphant "The Leaving of Inishmore" might have skirled right off the hallowed stage of a RUNRIG or BATTLEFIELD BAND concert, while the flutes and whistles suffuse additional energy into these compelling musical tales.

Paul Alexander Jost continues to share vocal duties with the talented Ulli Koberg, but here Jost sings more leads, if you can call it that. He actually has developed a talking on tune style that is paradoxically both warm and irreverent. The closest comparison would be MARK KNOPFLER with hints of LEONARD COHEN and DAVE COUSINS. It's a fascinating affectation that he barely hinted at on prior releases, and may have developed in keeping with the story telling aspect of this somewhat connected collection, though he plays a few roles including the titular one, more familiar to many of us as "Merlin the Magician"

Koberg herself is more assured than ever, right out of the gate as the "Celtic Queen", a spirited and independent woman who chooses to devote herself to the cultural traditions rather than accepting a husband. This creates a backlash to which Merlin himself refers in his narrative. "Heal Me" is a similarly upbeat and catchy, but "The Truth" adopts an ancient ritualistic atmosphere, the likes of which we have not heard since earlier CLANNAD or LOREENA MCKENNITT. Bands like IONA and KARNATAKA seem to aspire to this mood but ultimately fall far short because they are so tethered to the prog label that they overshoot the proverbial forest.

In a way, it all seems a rehearsal for the "Girl from the Woods", about a suspected witch, and the "Two Witches" suite, based on a true tale of woe set in Germany in the 1500s. While there appears no direct relation between the witches and the Celtic Queen, women who defy the prevailing patriarchal system have tended to be outcast, and calling them witches is an effective tool of ostracism, with imprisonment as a further consequence. The suite approaches 15 minutes in length and peaks on the "Where are You Now", when we discover that one witch is actually in love with another not in attendance, perhaps one from her prior life in a convent.

"Myrrdin" is the first album by GALAHAD that offers a convincing case for prog fans with at least a minor in prog folk, as it's more aggressive that its antecedents while the band playing is tighter than ever, making it all the easier to succumb to its magic.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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