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Galahad - Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria CD (album) cover





3.84 | 300 ratings

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5 stars One of my top three purchases of 2012, along with Rush's "Clockwork Angels" and Wobbler's "Rites at Dawn" and ahead of Opeth's "Heritage", Astra's "The Black Chord" and the Flower Kings' "Banks of Eden", I almost didn't get to listen to the album through until January 23, 2013. The original copy I got just before my two-week holiday break in December would not play on my computer and I always take a new CD home, throw it on iTunes, and dump it into my iPhone for my listening pleasure during my commute to and from work. The disc played on any CD player and in my car but my computer didn't accept it. I exchanged the disc for another copy but not before taking it with me on a one-day road trip. It was accompanied by four other CDs by artists the Flower Kings, Kaipa, Mystery, and IQ but "Beyond the Realms of Euphoria" hogged the CD player most of the time. I played it through three times before giving "Space Revolver" a chance. On the way back, I played it two more times and then listened to four of the songs a sixth time, and "Richelieu's Prayer 2012" a seventh time. I liked the album that much!

So what does this album have that appeals to my humble tastes so much? Let's see:

Heavy guitars. Check. The guitar sound here is freakin' wonderful to an old metalhead like me. The intro to "Guardian Angel" could have come straight off of a Dream Theater or Fates Warning album. It's heavy with one of those weird time signatures that would make Honda's Asimo trip over itself and short-circuit if it tried to walk to the beat. Some songs tread shamelessly into progressive metal territory in parts, and I was thrilled by the sudden break into speed metal near the end of "All in the Name of Progress", though sadly the machinegun fire riffs didn't last long (and a most out-of-place death growl rumbles menacingly at the conclusion of the song). The only thing missing from this amazing bombastic and heavy distortion is a killer riff like you'd find on an album by Wolfmother or the Sword. Nevertheless, I love it, especially in contrast with all the atmospheric keyboard work.

Atmospheric keyboards. Check. Right from the album's opening I was amazed and delighted by the techno electronica sound. Looking at the cover and listening to the beginning of "Salvation I ? Overture", you'd be perfectly excused for believing that you'd purchased a Euro/electronica techno dance album. Actually, I am not a fan of this style of music but I do like the electronic sounds, and on this album here in minimal doses and backed by more traditional neo-prog keyboards and heavy guitar I gladly welcome it in my ears. And how about those traditional neo-prog synthesizers? There are wonderful atmospheric sections, spacy journeys, beautiful passages both modern and classically influenced. There are times when only the keyboards carry the music or they are supported by bass and drums but no vocals or guitar. You'd almost think that was a Dean Baker (keyboards) solo album or Galahad featuring Dean Baker. The guy is so darn good at composing and mixing sounds that each solo section is a musical journey.

Classical piano. Check. Mr. Baker proves his ability goes beyond cosmic journeys and techno dance grooves. In songs like "and Secret Kingdoms" and "Richelieu's Prayer 2012" there are some breath-taking classical piano passages, and in the case of "Richelieu's Prayer", electric guitar plays in tandem with the piano to create a kind of Genesisian classical rock music. Incredibly tight and a sheer joy to absorb between the ears.

Great vocals and lyrics. Check. Alright, I admit, I rarely pay much attention to the lyrics but some parts catch my attention and I think they are at least good if not rather usual in a good way. "Richelieu's Prayer 2012" in particular has my attention because, though I know nothing about the song other than it is a re-recording of one of the band's old classics, I surmise that it relates to some social unrest that led to violence and I feel that occurred very near to the homes or hearts of the band. Stuart Nicholson's vocals are wonderfully smooth and effective at conveying the moods of the lyrics and music. Sometimes the singing reminds me a bit of IQ or Pallas but Nicholson manages to stand apart from his peers to his credit. Once again, the impassioned vocals of "Richelieu's Prayer 2012" really touch a chord with me, though Nicholson's good throughout the album.

Multi-part songs. Check. The songs average between 7 and 8 minutes in length and although there's a commonality they all share (heavy guitars, techno synth or classical piano, atmospheric instrumentals, etc.) each song stands apart from the others in composition. The thing I love most here on this album is that you never know which way a song will turn as it runs its course. Take for example "and Secret Kingdoms". Here are the notes I prepared for this review: "Classical piano intro. Such a keyboardist! Reminds me of Renaissance. Vocalese oohs and ahhs to piano. Heavy guitar rock band over piano. Bass solo section and piano joins. Classical piano with bass. Next dramatic rock. Begins to sound a bit like Pallas from "XXV". Heavy rock and classical piano. Great stuff! Vocals return. 'Secret Worlds' reprise. Perhaps first real guitar solo, melodic. Music fades leaving only piano to finish the song." Each song is like a musical journey but one that takes you back home again. The songs tend to wind up near their beginnings, unlike many songs by, say, the Flower Kings which I feel are more like musical migrations that leave you in a different place than you began.

Repeat Plays. Check. About five of the eight tracks get repeat plays apart from the album in my listening devices but much of the time I just let the album play all the way through. I did the same with "Clockwork Angels" frequently. Usually, I pick out a few songs that I really enjoy and listen mostly to those. But with "BtRoE" I am content to and even desirous of listening to the album from start to finish.

In some ways, I can hear that Galahad come from the same musical mould as IQ, Pallas, and Pendragon, but at least on this album ? my first Galahad purchase ? the band has defined their differences from their neo-prog peers. Regarding the techno sound in their music, reading reviews of older albums it seems that this addition came with the boarding of Dean Baker on the Galahad train, and this sound is something that the other class of the 80's neo-prog bands don't have. Sometimes after listening to this album I feel like listening to IQ's "Frequency". But then "Beyond the Realms of Euphoria" ends up getting played again.

I understand that 5 stars is a very generous rating but 4 stars just seems too low and there's no 4.5 option. In any case, 4.5 seems too low too. How about 93/100? Five stars.

FragileKings | 5/5 |


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