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5 stars I´ve just finished with the listening of the new album of Galahad from England. My feelings from the listening are really fresh so I think it´s the best time to make some review on it. I knew that this year promised to be very strong in the prog music releases but I didn´t think that will start so soon with such a masterpiece as "Empires Never Last". New Galahad album will suprise you from the first tone with amazing atmosphere and really fascinating mix of classic neo prog with very strong prog metal elements. Beautiful melodies together with technical heavy passages, touched with excellent key background. The production and the sound of the album is very fresh, modern and bombastic. I think that "Empires ..." is a great example of the modern prog music masterpice and is strongly recommended to all those really like melodic, technical and atmospheric, progressive music of the highest quality. I´m really hurry to listen to this prog art again ...
Report this review (#107155)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With "Empires Never Last", Galahad has released an album that probably will end up in quite a few top 10 of 2007 lists at the end of the year.

The english veterans have combined mood tunes with several very strong songs here, with a soundscape that is really fascinating.

At the most mellow you may associate the music with early Marillion and late 70's Eloy, while the harder parts stretch out towards prog metal territory.

And the mood of the album is a dark one, filled with sadness, grief and anguish - and something undefinable "more".

As for instrumentation, the synth is central in adding to melodies and soundscape, as backdrop or floating above the other instruments in the soundscape. The guitars are dark, polished but somewhat gritty, and played so that you'll hear each individual tone to a shorter or longer extent rather than plain riffing. Rhythm section is energetic and hard, often played in a fashion reminding of prog metal. And the vocals are used as an instrument in it's own right as well.

My conclusion: Strong album, and should be checked out.

Report this review (#111864)
Posted Monday, February 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars No doubt, this is the strongest GALAHAD album to date. Not just the strongest, it blows away everything they did in the past. Pure energy. I listened to their earlier albums and they are really a mixed lot. Even the popular "Sleepers" had just three or so dicent songs on it (out of eight), the rest is just too week or outright poppish. Not so with "Empires Never Last". It's a blast from beginning to end! How very strange that GALAHAD needed so many years to create such a high-quality output for the first time! Every track is dynamic, with great melodies and beautiful orchestration. Stuart Nicholson no longer copies FISH (which was obvious from a couple of tracks on "Sleepers") and instead uses his powerful vocal resources quite originally. He'll really surprise you with his vigorous voice! The songs tend to be quite heavy, but the heaviness is right to the point; it's very distinct from the aimless DT "wanking". The lyrics are often politically coloured. A couple of tracks even feature excerpts from the famous speech of Martin Luther King and some infamous 'bushisms (I am not joking)! This 'technique' quite innovative - I don't remember similar excerpts in prog music before. The most notable tracks on this album are 'I could be God' (you should absolutely see this song live!), 'Sidewinder', 'Empires never last' and 'This life could be my last'. The latter track is very emotional which does not mean it's ligher or poppier. It just makes you think about the significance of your life, which is one the only. I don't hesitate to predict that 'Empires Never Last' will be one of the best albums in 2007. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#124322)
Posted Friday, June 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I totally agree with the last reviewer!!! In my opinion this is the album of the year so far!! Empires Never Last beats out all of the eagerly anticipated album of this year: Scarsick, Systematic Chaos, Fear of a Blank Planet and Somewhere else. Empires Never last succeeds on all fronts; lyrically, musically, vocally and production! Karl Groom's production is pristine and brings some much needed Oooomph to Galahad's sound. Musically it is a treat. There's ambient keyboards, prog-metallish guitars(though much simpler and easier to digest, not mindless noodling) and a rock solid rythym section. Stu Nicholson's voice is a real treat, it is nice to hear someone who can hold a note and has a rich natural tone! The sounds actually have melodies and you find yourself humming them to yourself; a raraity these days when so much emphasis is placed on how gloomy or depressing you can sound or how fast you can play your instrument! As opposed to all the BIG albums that have come out this year Empires Never Last delivers consistently from beginning to end a GREAT work!!!
Report this review (#124327)
Posted Saturday, June 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars A few weeks ago I wrote a review about Galahad their new DVD entitled Live In Poland - Resonance. I was delighted about the exciting prog by this current line-up, the last time I heard Galahad was in the mid-Nineties during a triple prog concert in Holland with a very disappointing Galahad performance so I decided to focus on other bands. This new album is produced by guitarplayer Karl Groom who played in the neo-prog bands Casino and Shadowland (with Clive Nolan) and mainly with prog metal formation Threshold along guest work on records from Mercy Train, Strangers On A Train, Peter Gee (Pendragon) and Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq), most musicians had a contract with SI Music, allied to SI Magazine, the Dutch progrock magazine I worked for many years in the Nineties.

In general the 7 compositions sound bombastic featuring sumptuous keyboard layers, propulsive guitar riffs, howling and fiery guitar soli and expressive vocals (from warm and dreamy to ominous and dramatic). The captivating elements in Galahad their new sound are the great tension and lots of musical surprises: an intro with fragile piano runs, then a compelling and bombastic climate and a break with sensitive electric guitar play in Termination, an intro with exciting sequencing, splendid guitarwork, excellent vocals and a majestic church-organ sound in the alternating and emotional I Could Be God (quite cynical view on mankind and religion), a swinging bass, mellow Fender Rhodes piano and a bombastic final part with fiery guitar in the captivating titletrack and wonderful keyboards (from fragile to sparkling piano, bombastic synthesizers and soaring Mellotron) and a closing section featuring howling guitar runs in de alternating final song This Life Could Be My Last.

I am impressed by Galahad anno 2007, what a compelling musical experience, way more interesting and original than the pleasant but predictable neo-prog like the debut CD Nothing Is Written!

Report this review (#128819)
Posted Monday, July 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars While the "towne" vicar was sipping his afternoon tea, munching on some crumpets, the choirboys were engaged in a spirited cricket test with Anthony Phillips' squad, in the field beyond the garden wall. Meanwhile, in a nearby burg's (now, would that be Dorset?) most relevant "Ye Olde." pub, a dedicated band of old 50 something progfools, all expert musicians, decided that they are finally agreeing to progress instead of treading in the same progressive lagoon. Because the true maxim of our current times is most assuredly "Empires Never Last" and since new ones inevitably always appear (anyone learning mandarin?), why not go for the gusto! Galahad has a long history, one of the early stalwarts of the neo genre, together with IQ, Marillion, Pendragon, Jadis, Abraxas, Clepsydra and Arena, pushing out excellent albums like the classic "Sleepers", the puzzling "Following Ghosts" and the edgier "Year Zero". Now, they have hit their peak with a very rare and hence, very laudable diversion from their usual musical philosophy, proposing an outright punchier, electro-drenched set of highly political commentary, desperately needed in our times of ultra-egoism fueled by total disinterest. Keyboardist Dean Baker seems to be the catalyst of this sudden surge of power, giving an appropriately aggressive platform for guitarist Roy Keyworth to kick into some shimmering forays, full of electric verve and élan. Baker's synths are a very modern version of the prime TDream aural tapestries, pinging and ponging, washing and cascading, gurgling and bubbling. The material is razor sharp, concise and hard hitting, egged on by a tight yet unpretentious rhythm crew and carves out a podium for unheralded lead lung Stuart Nicholson to step up to the microphone and really get into it and snarl a tad. Their DVD "Resonance" live in Poland I have already drooled over (See review), as it offered five of the seven main tracks of this, at the time upcoming, studio album. Even that shows some progressive balls, releasing a live album with new, not yet released studio material! Not too many have dared to be that bold, especially in the 70s where big record companies would nix any hint of entrepreneurship in the bud! The stupendously appropriate cover art depicts the famous raising of the conquering Soviet Army's red flag in war-shattered Berlin, when that "evil empire" felt it was eternally invincible. Amusingly, the hammer and sickle replaced by the letter G. (Err.. God, Goodbye or Galahad, hmmmm) .One empire down and in order to appear politically correct and current, who do the lads go after; well I guess you must be "bushed"? If IQ's stunning anti- war, anti-Cheney epic "Harvest of Souls" was compelling enough, Galahad take it to an even more satanic level, to say the least. There is bile, venom, anger, doom, despair and sarcasm, spewed out without guile or rancor. The stirring opener "De-Fi-Ance" begins with some plaintive female vocal and some explicative lyrics "Just because we are not youngsters, just because we are not hip, doesn't mean we are less valid", all blanketed in an aggressive musical wrapper. Yes, Galahadlads, yes!!! "Termination" also conveys a rather gloomy outlook on the consistent stupidity of the human race, remindful of one of Einstein's more progressive quotes:" There are two infinites, the universe and stupidity, but I am not too sure of the first one". You got it, Alberto! Dead on! "I Could Be God" sets the "general" tone from the very first beat (or is it byte?), thrashingly playful rhythm guitar raising the pressure to unsustainable heights, pounding, hammering, bombing with cruise missile like precision, pleading for the rage to explode. "Sidewinder" smokes with the same fury as a Top Gun dogfight, full of military innuendos, and an anthemic drive, the anti-war message as blunt as an exploding warhead: "It's a dangerous path we are taking; beware of false prophets spinning yarns of deceit"! Enough to give the Veep heart tremors! "Memories from an African Twin" assuredly addresses the endless African enigma, where life is seemingly cheap, a few grains of diamond dust from Sierra Leone, blood-soaked Hutu machetes, empty sacks of flour in Darfur, etc.. and the lyrics go like this:" ba, ba, ba, ba etc.." Pretty sad. The dizzying acme is the glowing title track, (you can almost hear the phosphorous canisters fizzing and crackling in the background), a blistering attack with no holds-barred, where Nicholson positively unleashes some of the most vitriolic vocals in prog, sheer genius coated in abject anger, with fiery repetitive words echoing the pounding chorus, "Always remember, Empires never last, they always crumble and fall". How true! The disc ends mercifully on what sounds like a typical soldier's lament, "This life could be my last", a cat has nine but how many lives does a trooper have? They are trying to bring decency and (cough) democracy to people who have been rejecting it for thousands of years, very valiant but very hopeless ("I know that there's no sense in much that we do.") . The photo of a young lad in full flying ace outfit, smartly saluting is the perfect depiction of the roll of honour gone into making this amazing recording. Galahad took their time to unleash their WMD (Weapon of Mass Devotion) and it can sit in my silo anytime, occasional wisps of steam rising from its O rings .. Masterpiece Neo sidewinder..honing right up your flaming... 5 Migs
Report this review (#131626)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was turned on to this album by ProgArchives (as well as a whole lot more) and I am adding this to my list of "Best of 2007", along with Amaran's Plight and Dominici's album.

I had no idea who they were and how long they had been around, but this album really kicks. It's got all the things I like in my Prog... hard riffs, soothing melodies, fast, slow, intricate tracks, and subtle simplicity. Diverse, but cohesive. I don't like prog that's all over the place, and this sounds like it all belongs on the same album.


Report this review (#131736)
Posted Saturday, August 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Empires Never Last is for now my best cd of 2007 =5 stars and a masterpiece if you like that style (fresh new hard neo-prog) and to make matter worse I mean better I saw them at this year Rosfest and they blew me away.For me they were better than Spock's Beard -Pendragon -Starcastle-Magic Pie and the rest of the excellent bands who were there.A lot have been said with the other reviews but I'm a co-host at a radio show and the phone start ringing like hell after I played a few songs of the album (I rest my case) Just try it. POTS
Report this review (#132064)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars One can easily get lost in hundreds of contemporary Prog band, confusing names, styles and musicians. There are bands that hang on somewhere near, you may even know their names but never heard their music. Maybe one of it could become another favourite band for you…who knows? I never waste a minute and grab every unknown Prog CD that I can - that’s exactly how I fell in love with ENGLAND, MAGENTA, MINDGAMES and many others. And that’s what I recommend to do FOR EVERYONE – don’t hesitate, try everything and be grated.

“Empires never last” is my second effort to get into GALAHAD. “In Moment of Complete Madness” once reviewed by me was a good but for Neo-collectors-only album. This one is quite another in mood (closer to Progressive Metal IMHO!), darker, stronger, better recorded, with killer epics like “I Could be God”, title track and “This Life could be the Last”…but it didn’t click on me EMOTIONALLY. Still I’d like to recommend it to IQ, MAGENTA, DISCIPLINE, ARENA, APPLE PIE etc fans, but GALAHAD seems to be a “just-for-the-record” experience for me. Seriously, don’t take it as offence, but it happens in different ways – some are blown away, some are totally ignorant after trying. But it’s better to try than to not, I insist!!!

Report this review (#133041)
Posted Tuesday, August 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars So often scared away from bands that wear the neo-prog tag as a 'tribute' to the various 1970's prog acts, I first listened to the title track "Empires Never Last" from a magazine CD expecting the worst.

Although unmistakably proggy in its scope, structure, and great musicianship, it has a much more up to date (almost prog-metal) sound that is instantly satisfying to those who know what good rock sounds like. The album contains some really catchy hooks some quiet moody moments, and an equal number of rock symphony moments.

I've tried listening to Galahad before, and the listen was ok but hardly worth forking out my hard earned cash for. This is, by far, the best Galahad CD I have listened to, and would recommend it to anyone who likes Arena, Threshold and the like.

Highpoints are 'I could be God', 'This Life Could be the Last', 'Sidewinder', and of course the title track.

Buy the CD, sit in your most comfortable chair, turn off the lights and turn the volume up to 11...

Report this review (#134090)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Like other reviewers of this album I also think that it is Galahad's strongest to date. Part 1 of De-Fi-Ance lulls you nicely with it's almost ethereal quality and choral voice. Then the second part roars (literally) into life and the album is up and running.

There is some excellent musicianship on display here with just the right balance between guitar and keyboard, all underpinned by a top-notch rhythm section. It is a very neo-prog album with echoes of some of their comtemporaries much in evidence - I get strong flavours of Pendragon and Arena, with subtle hints of Threshold (perhaps thanks to Karl Groom?).

My favourite tracks are Termination, Sidewinder, Empires Never Last and the album's closer, This Life Could Be My Last. Not that there is a disappointing track on this album - all are very strong, well written and well produced. That's why this will be one of my favourite albums this year.

Report this review (#139110)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This may have been a tricky album to record, after all it was 5 years and a line up change plus serious illness (Spencer Luckman). However, this certainly is a powerful album, well put together and certainly their most bombastic to date. Starting off with a female choir, the track bursts into life with a shout of DEFIANCE, from then on it's pretty heavy stuff, certainly by their standards. Standout tracks for me are If I could be God and the title track, although there's no weak tracks at all, great lyrics, superb vocals and it makes a very satisfying album to listen to in one sitting. Having heard some of these tracks played live, they come across even more powerful and certainly impressed me. This album is recommended to anybody who likes quality heavy prog with meaningful songs and no musical masturbation! I hope this albums gets as wide an audience as it deserves.
Report this review (#139139)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#140527)
Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I hope this band will last!

Don't you like when a no-name-out-of-the-blue band steals the show? This is the case here. Galahad pulls out the big guns (a la Pepper's Ghost) to impress the gallery and they'll get new fans with this album.

The intro has to be heard: starts with a nice female chant, changing into a scary revolution riot from the streets of Pekin to a full Threshold / Pallas / Arena song with a darn good chorus. Whoo!

The rest is still going in the same polically-engaged-anti-Bush lyrics, with nice melodies and always that ragged and edgy new néo progressvie attitude. Listen to Termination, I could be God or Empires never last and you'll be surprised by their crunchy sound and crisp production. This sounds big and loud!

Again, think of a mix of Threshod (approach of metal and rock), Pallas (vocals) and Arena (song structure). A good blend of this and that, and on top a nice and very catchy instrumental song; sing along!

A huge surprise and total run of your money, a good purchase and a round of applause for the superb package.

A nice prospect for album of 2007.

Report this review (#147606)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the only Galahad album that I have listened to so far, but it is an excellent start. There is not any weak song in the album. It is a perfect blend of fine melodies and a powerfull music played like a metal band without demonstrating any technical skill.

There is no need to analyse the album song by song since previous reviewers have done it sufficiently. In general, choral or acoustic piano / guitar intros are followed by heavy drumming and guitar riffs with keyboard layers and the tempo changes again with melodic keyboards or guitar and remarkable back vocals. 14 minute long "I could be god" is a good example of this which can be considered as a track in three parts and stands out as the best piece IMO, but every song is very good.

Any prog fan who loves heavy rock with cathcy melodies and has not listened to Galadah before must listen to this album. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#148350)
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars No doubt. Last albums of Galahad have been the best.

This one is a continuing in the politic lyrics and melodies of Year Zero.

GalaHad is a very solid band in all sides.

Neo prog tunes as the best of all British bands.

With a very energic singer, it transmits the power of its art.

The only thing a miss is that in the last albums it has been quite a repetition of the substance in the melodies(very notorious in"Could Be God") But i love this melodies ,so that is a detail.

4 stars

Report this review (#149689)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Last album by Galahad and easily their best!!!! I am not a fan of early Galahad but this one is top notch neo-prog!! Very good musicianship and melodies, very catchy. When i listen to it, i hear the next ARENA album!!! Bravo!!!!
Report this review (#149696)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Uhmm.finally .an excellent neo prog album!

I dunno is it accident or not but for sure I knew the name of this band for the first time from my colleague neoprog Bowo Neo who has adored neo prog side of prog rock since his love with Marillion (Fish era, of course!). By the time I knew the band name I was not challenging him on whether the band is originating from GBR or other country like Germany. It does not matter at all because finally I knew this excellent album by Galahad which indeed a GBR band. The first time I listened to this album, it blew me away at first spin. I checked the reviews on the net and I found many praises for this latest album by veteran prog band who has been in prog industry since 1985! No wonder that finally they could perfect their composition as excellent as this album.

Through this album Galahad invited the contribution of Karl Groom, guitarist of Threshold. No wonder that this album has some flavor of progressive metal especially in the use of riffs. Karl is also credited with co-production and engineering and the overall sound of the album.

The album kicks-off wonderfully with an angelic a cappella Part 1 of "De-Fi-Ance" performed by Tina Groom, Sarah Quilter and Tina Booth (used to be with Magenta). This serves as a wonderful overture that sets the tone of the overall album beautifully. It moves in great mood to the screaming male vocal which remarks the intro of Part 2 of "De-Fi-Ance". I can imagine if this track is performed live it must be a great opening especially the music blast that follows the creaming vocal saying "De-Fi-Ance!!!!" which comprises like an opening of death metal music. What happen is then the follow-up music which comprises heavy riffs by bass guitar overlain beautifully by a long sustain keyboard work. Oh my God! I love this segment very much. When it reaches minute 2:33 I like the guitar solo part in neo prog mood. Well, my friend. this is it! This is the kind of neo prog music that I have expected and dreamt of so far.!! It reminds me to PALLAS music of their album "The Dreams of Men" and also "The Cross and The Crucible" . I cannot believe that I finally I find the music that I have been dreaming so far. This is really great!

It then moves seamlessly to the next track "Termination" (7:14) with excellent singing style, moves along smoothly with the music and sometimes the style of singing is in distant voice that makes it a good combination. The rhythm section comprises soft guitar riffs that remind me to progressive metal but it's combined nicely with touchy melody. In the middle of the track there is a simple piano touch in break mode followed later by augmentation of guitar. The back ground music is symphonic as indicated by long sustain keyboard work.

"I Could Be God" is a relatively long track (13:58) with multiple styles starting with a great keyboard effects followed by dynamic drumming and heavy guitar riffs. It's really an excellent opening. "I could be God.. I could be the devil." the vocal enters nicely while the keyboard still producing nice repeated notes at background. At 1:55 the music changes suddenly into another style while it then returns back to the original style. At 5:12, after the high tone music, it suddenly turns into silent break with ambient keyboard work in spacey nuance. The vocal line enters beautifully in mellow style with no drumming, only keyboard at background. I enjoy this part, really! Especially when there is a male narration. It's really COOL man! At 9:10 the music moves in high tone with long sustain keyboard solo which creates great nuance. Especially the drumming is providing great accentuation for the beat.

The remaining tracks are all excellent tracks with "Sidewinder" (11:00), "Memories From An African Twin" (4:02), "Empires Never Last" (9:05), and "This Life Could Be My Last" (10:23). The compositions are really tight. The last track is a simple one with mellow style but it has nice melody.

Overall, I am so happy enjoying this last album by Galahad and I urge those of you who love Early Marillion, Pallas, IQ MUST own this wonderfully crafted album. The cd sonic quality production is also excellent. I have no major complaint with this album and I rate this album very close to masterpiece, or 4.75 of 5 stars. Again, MARILLION (this era of Marillion with Hogarth) should have learnt from GALAHAD on how to make a great neo prog album, and not moving into a direction-less music like their latest "Somewhere Else" which is going nowhere.Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#157226)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
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.
Report this review (#173958)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Honestly, one of my favorite albums to date, so many thanks to ProgArchives for pointing me toward it. I have listened to this album over and over and it just keeps getting better. A great example of heavier neo-prog with a great sound and excellent vocals. Every track is strong, and I couldn't really pick a favorite. I Could Be God and Sidewinder do, however, seem to be the most progressive in nature. Overall, one of the best neo-prog albums of the last two years, and it should definitely be owned by any fan of the genre.
Report this review (#183146)
Posted Sunday, September 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I thought I had been very active with my progressive involvement in 2007 but somehow I get the feeling I must have been sleeping when this album came out. I never noticed it in the running year even though I have been very active on progarchives looking often on the top 100 2007. And what makes things even stranger is that I'm probably the biggest neo adherent on this site at least amongst the prog reviewers. So the least you can do is check out all the neo albums of the running year, at least the good ones. And this was obviously one of the very best if not the best of all. So that leaves me stunned in fact. The only excuse I have is that I never really cared for Galahad mainly caused by their very poor effort in 1997.

The only thing positive in my mind I experienced with this band was the Bug Eye stream song on our site and that was already a lot better but with this album it's very clear they improved even more. The album starts with a very strange overture (De-Fi-Ance) of a beautiful singing lady for several minutes taken over by some fierce metal towards the end. Impressive opener (3,75*). Termination is a more regular neo track, keeping the album on a high level so far (4*). Third is I could be God, my personal highlight (4,75*). The energy is coming off with wagon-loads, this is not how I remember Galahad. It just shows you that a band always deserves a second chance with a next album. But this surpasses even my highest expectations. I never thought Galahad could do something like this I say in all honesty, a completely different band suddenly after many mediocre or even poor efforts over the years. Next song Sidewinder is there to take away my last doubts (4,5*), we are indeed dealing with a near masterpiece here. At first few listens I wasn't really convinced yet but another advantage is that this album can truly grow on you at least it did on me, I only get more and more enthusiastic after each listen.

On the other hand, after this fourth track we have had the better of the album, next song Memories from an African Twin is ok but not very special (3,25*), Empires never last is a great track but not as good as the two earlier highlights (4,25*) and the closer This life could be my last shows they are running out of fule in the end, a fine ballad-like epical song but not by far the best of the album for me (3,5*).

That's why I was talking of a near masterpiece earlier on, it's not really there but it is truly excellent and no doubt their magnum opus so far. It will probably have something to do with the contribution of the excellent guitarist and producer Karl Groom. Anyway, I'm curious after their follow up. 4 stars for this.

Report this review (#189504)
Posted Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. I liked their previous album "Year Zero" quite a lot.There was quite a bit of variety yet it really worked for me, and I enjoyed the theme of the record which was about starting over. "Empires Never Last" is a darker and heavier album which is right up my alley, but I think i'm just getting tired of the subject matter. Or maybe it's just that I enjoy GALAHAD better when they're more positive and not trying to be a Metal band ? Maybe a bit of both actually. I know i'm in the minority with my thoughts here as many feel this is the best work they've done, so you can take my feelings with a grain of salt. Some cool guests here like Karl Groom who engineered, co-produced, edited and mastered this album. He also plays some acoustic guitar on one track and a guitar solo on another. Clive Nolan adds some Fake Dulcimer on the opening song.

"De-Fi-Ance" opens with what I thought was a children's choir but is actually three ladies singing together. Karl groom's wife Tina, Sarah Quilter and Tina Booth (ex MAGENTA). This is contrasted with Stu coming in vocally and angrily shouting "Defiance !" Then a heavy soundscape comes in. "Termination" opens with piano before we get some bombast. Vocals come in, female vocals too. Mellotron on this track as well. Some whispering vocals followed by processed vocals.Themes are repeated. "I Could Be God" opens with synths before drums and vocals join in. Some heaviness comes and goes. He does sing with passion here, sort of like Fish. I prefer his normal vocals but I get the reason for singing like this on this track. I like the atmosphere before 5 1/2 minutes when the vocals stop. Reserved vocals 7 minutes in. A sample of Martin Luther King's speech comes in a minute later. Great sound 11 minutes in. Vocals are back after 12 minutes.

"Sidewinder" opens with some cool atmosphere. I like the way it builds. Vocals after 2 1/2 minutes. Nice guitar 3 minutes in. A sample of George Bush makes me roll my eyes. Why ? Excellent guitar later though. "Memories From An African Twin" might be my favourite song on here. It sounds really good when it gets fuller before a minute. The guitar and organ are outstanding. It settles down then the bass becomes prominant as vocal melodies join in. "Empires Never Die" has a nice bass intro. I like the fuller sound 2 minutes in. Vocals come in when it settles. It gets heavier later. "This Life Could Be My Last" opens with piano, fragile vocals join in. Drums and a fuller sound after 2 minutes. The tempo picks up with piano 6 minutes in. Nice guitar before 8 minutes that goes on and on.

A good album that many will hail as GALAHAD's best yet.

Report this review (#212167)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Bought this one directly from the merchandising desk after I could enjoy a GALAHAD concert at pROCKfest 2007. I was simply impressed by their performance and especially Stuart Nicholson's presence. Not a surprise really - the studio version of 'Empires Never Last' met my expectation later on and - well - two years later now it's about time to write this down. The album holds seven songs, pretty much dominated by a neo prog style provided with a heavier touch - obviously because Threshold's Karl Groom is responsible for the production here. However - Nicholson is the band's figurehead - absolutely deserved.

Lyrics are provided by him - don't know how much more he was involved in the essential song-writing procedure because the complete band is continuously credited. At least, when he sings, his vocal appearance is dominant. I can only recommend to reach for one of their concerts (if you have the chance) to get an impression about his inspiration and form of expression. On the other hand this does not mean that GALAHAD is a one-man show of course. The album opener De-Fi-Ance makes this clear immediately - pastoral female vocals establish some tension first until the band suddenly destroys this peaceful mood with a heavy wall of sounds - speaking of bombastic keyboards by Dean Baker, Roy Keyworth's heavy riffing guitar and a high-pressure rhythm branch. This is refined by Nicholson's nightmarish sprechgesang.

Just a short remark concerning the album cover. The band utilises a prominent picture showing a Russian soldier setting up a red flag on the Berlin Reichstag - THE symbol for the defeat of the fascist aggression. I like it as for the historical importance although some rumours came up later about slight modifications which were made. And GALAHAD carries on here when putting a 'G' on the flag replacing hammer and sickle. But obviously this does not suit for the whole production - only for a special edition or so. And this is definetely confusing - only a little bit though because the music stays as it is - promised.

Termination is showing Nicholson's vocal range for the first time really - Tina Booth is backing here partially. Again you will detect significant prog metal ingredients like the dramatic heavy bass drum. Probably the album's highlight I Could Be God is something for singing along. A fantastic piece of work especially because holding a melancholic ambient/psychedelic interlude mixed up with Martin Luther King's prominent 'I Have A Dream' speech. This is followed soon by an impressing jamming part presented in a typical neo prog outfit.

Some George Bush quotes are to find on Sidewinder - a more standard genre track with symphonic key/synth work, a catchy chorus but first of all impressing guitar appearance - Karl Groom is involved with a solo. The short Memories From An African Twin surprises off the beaten path - classic flavoured with acoustic guitar, harpsichord and pipe organ here but also jazzy tinged there at the end. The entertaining title track Empires Never Last is corresponding to the album cover contentwise. They excellently switch between heavy and mellow impressions here and integrate some shouting refrains.

Normally I should avoid to emphasize someone especially. Okay - I already did it with the singer - what's the point? The more I listen the more I'm also impressed by Dean Baker's tricky keyboard/synth contributions. 'Empires Never Last' is an absolutely recommended album if you're reaching for a representative progressive rock collection. Memorable catchy melodies and a powerful production - no filler. Congrats pals - 4.5 stars!

Report this review (#245130)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Year One?

For many fans, Empires Never Last was the album on which Galahad finally found their way (back?) after years of producing sub-par albums. While I certainly agree that the present album is indeed better than their previous two albums and also one of their best ever, it is not, in my opinion, up to par with the classic Sleepers album from 1995. Several songs from this album deservedly became instant Galahad classics and live favourites and that is quite an achievement for a band that has been active for so many years. Songs like I Could Be God, This Life Could Be My Last and the title track will probably be in the Galahad set for all future (as long as the band continues to perform, that is) and there is no doubt that these songs are among the band's best ever. But sadly there are also a couple of weak moments on Empires Never Last.

Produced by Karl Groom, who for many years have straddled the divide between Neo-Prog and progressive Metal (he played with Clive Nolan in Shadowland before he formed Threshold), Empires Never Last is definitely Galahad's most aggressive effort. The electronic sounds are still here, but the guitars have a much harder edge. On the weak opening track De-Fi-Ance, Stuart Nicholson literally screams in the middle of the track for no apparent reason whatsoever. It is quite strange that they chose to open the album with this weird number, when they had such strong tunes within. In my opinion, I Could Be God would have made a much better opener. Termination follows and this too is not among my favourites, it comes across a bit as if the band are trying to outdo themselves here and they appear to be outside of their comfort zone.

Not until the third track, which is the aforementioned I Could Be God, does the album really get off the ground. This is a great track where the band feels a bit more at home combining electronic keyboards with a Metal-like guitar sound and strong vocals. They are still trying to be more aggressive than we are used to from the band, but it sounds more natural here than on the first two tracks.

Sidewinder is another pretty good song but Memories From An African Twin is merely decent. Karl Groom provides some tasteful acoustic guitar lines to this instrumental and it is by no means a bad one, just not very interesting. Neo-Prog guru Clive Nolan is also credited on the album for playing fake dulcimer! I think the dulcimer appears in De-Fi-Ance, but I'm not sure.

The strongest part of the album comes at the end and the last two tracks are very good. Overall, this is a fine album with a couple of Galahad's very best songs. Personally, I prefer these songs on the excellent live album that I have called Sleepless In Phoenixville - Live At RoSfest 2007 that contains only the best songs from this album plus several other Galahad classics including the very best tracks from Year Zero, Following Ghosts and Sleepers as well as a song that goes all the way back to the mid 80's.

Report this review (#258091)
Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Really, really good with some of the smartest efects and extras I ever saw in an album. Really consistent, yet powerfull, let me warn you that It's heavy for what is usualy called Neo-Prog. Maybe that's what makes it soo good, and you can even listen a couple of speechs from Luther King or George Bush, along the songs, wich is at least brilliant.

The cover of the album is also excelent, anyway it's a part of the progressive style... The fall of the third reich with the red army soldiers showing off their flags, good. It's an unusual record, yet extremely good.

Report this review (#259964)
Posted Friday, January 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Great survivor of the UK prog soldier

I love melodic guitars, so I cannot live without this album today. Well, I must say melodic is not only the guitar but also vocals. Earlier albums of them sounded like Genesis (or, closer to Marillion of Fish), but this album is totally their original.

For instance, the last track "This life could be my last". I cannot imagine if there is anybody in the world who feels nothing when this song is heard. Even if you try, the melody remains in your head once you hear it. The melody is so strong that you cannot leave.

Report this review (#304886)
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars An atmospheric female almost childlike vocal part opens this work just accompanied by dark keyboard chords (almost only audible as a deep rumble - a silence before the storm, I guess?), then a male voice joins in, but not for long - a voice screams "Defiance" (this shout does not work well I must admit)but this are the only three seconds in the track that don't work) and then the music lifts into prog-metal like spheres - organ and heavy guitars continuing into a dark neo-prog journey - the first almost 6 minutes are over before we realise it.

Track Two, "Termination" start with soft piano notes, slightly reminding of the Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner, then heavy guitars and bombastic keyboards, male and female vocals taking turns, sometimes distorted. Pallas or the "modern" Pendragon come to mind ... then techno like rhythms with the beautiful piano notes from the beginning ... works excellent! This is music to race down a highway at midnight!

"I could be God", the high light of the album takes us on a 13 minute journey through heavy neo-prog waters. The vocals are a kind of Fish in an aggressive mood with typical rolling Rs ..."sipping my "Earrrrl Grrrey Tea!" This is what Marillion would have sounded if Fish hadn't left and if Prog Metal would have found its way into their sound. After ca. five Minutes we get a little break, the track slows down, the keyboards preach in slow multilayered orchestrations. And here they are again: the Fish like vocals, this time in a calm voice, joining the keyboards to be accompanied by Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" (ok this soundclip is a bit overused, but somehow it is incorporated brilliantly), I have a dream .... and then the tempo picks up a bit , Organ again, heavy guitars, ... take off .... flying ....... and for the finale the tempo increases again ... with this tracks Galahad are almost Godlike.

"Sidewinder", opens slow, somewhat more mellow then the previous track, a little bit of a letdown in relation to the highs experienced before ... I would have put "I could be God" at the end. Not a bad track, but so far the weakest track, something is missing, niece and solid neo-prog.

Acoustic guitar opens "Memories from an African Twin", a mid-tempo instrumental piece. Still a rock instrumental but here the natural instruments take over more (a church organ, harpsichord,) .... not a bad track

The title track brings back some of the magic back we experienced during the first three track, but unfortunately just some of the magic, maybe the filling of 9 minutes was a bit ambitious ... the last three minutes rock!

And now for the last round ... "This Life could be my last ..." Piano, a crackling of a record player introspective vocals open the track, then the electronics kick in, ..., the tempo is brought up ... now I am reminded of IQ, a strong track, all in all, but also not quite up to the standard of the first three.

To sum up: 5 Stars for Track 1, 2, and 3! 3 Stars for Track 4 and 4 Stars for Track 5,6, and 7. Altogether this boils down to a 4 Star Album. If you like Pallas, the last two Pendragon outputs and IQ, you will love this album.

By the way, this was my first review written for PA.

Report this review (#548866)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Some bands, like Marillion or King Crimson, burst onto the scene with a high-quality debut album which shows them having already ironed out the wrinkes on their sound and at the top of their game. Other bands, like Yes or Van der Graaf Generator, might let a lesser album or two slip out before it all comes together and they finally put out an album which represents a creative breakthrough for them (such as The Yes Album or The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other). Some bands are mere also-rans who put out a few OK-ish albums but either break up before putting out something truly brilliant or prove in the long term to just not have it in them to produce something really earth-shaking.

But I don't think I'm aware of any bands who've had quite the career trajectory that Galahad have had. For well over a decade, Galahad put out music which at its best was alright but not exactly essential neo-prog, and at its worst was a tediously derivative waste of time. Then, all of a sudden, it all comes together for them around fifteen years after their debut album! Perhaps they just needed the right inspiration - Empires Never Last is clearly motivated by the band members' disquiet about the direction of the War on Terror (the GWB quote cropping up here and there should convince even the most sceptical on that point) - but either way, they've put out a fascinating neo piece which combined melodic rock with some harder-edged passages. Frontman Stuart Nicholson might not be the most characterful vocalist, but what he lacks in personality or distinctiveness he makes up for in anger and other heartfelt emotions.

It's not perfect - This Life Could Be My Last outstays its welcome a little bit - but it's a far better album than I ever expected to get from Galahad, so bravo to them.

Report this review (#726148)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having been given a progrock compilation at Christmas and finding GALAHADS 'Empires Never Last' on the first CD and then replaying that track continuously I naturally became intrigued with what else the group had done. I bought the back catalogue and set about listening.

Unfortunately the experience was in the main wasted ? Fish era Marillion was the overriding verdict. However the self title album 'Empires Never Last' immediately stood head and shoulders above any of their previous material, here was an accomplished album that blew the past cobwebs away taking them into new territory.

GALAHAD had arrived at their zenith.

This album, for me, epitomises what is best about Neo Prog; tracks that are allowed to naturally develop, that has that ability to lead the listener on an adventure. Arguably it is the keyboards that drive this album forward, however without the 'heavy' guitar and drums it would never have held up. As an ensemble the 'whole' works extremely well. The only downside (and this applies to GALAHADS other material) are the lame lyrics, not only repetitive but shallow, almost jingoistic, however Stuart Nicholson's vocals and his belief in them adds immensely to the experience.

Though veering on the heavier side, musically, the musicianship cannot be questioned in any way, shape or form. However 'Memories Of An African Twin' is somewhat of a throwaway track when placed in context with the rest of the fare.

Strange that the compilation album that introduced me has chosen, probably, the best track from this excellent album, and group.

GALAHAD has certainly come of age with this release.

Report this review (#928908)
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have always loved the dramatic style of strong vocalists in the old Marillion Fish type vein and the accompanying dramatic music that makes up a large portion of the neo-prog genre. I love just about all forms of music aside from a very few which I am usually vehemently outspoken against. The kind of music that this album is made up of kind of is the water that I usually prefer to float my musical preference boat in. It is no secret that I love the old 70's "prog" music - old Genesis, Yes, Rush and possibly that is why I really enjoy dramatic music with almost classical music nuances attached to it. The opening track to this leads the way to the rest starting off sweetly with female vocals singing a kind of anthem and seguing into anger in part 2 of the track before crossing two sides of a coin - the sweet with anger. "Termination" starts of very gently with piano before heading into heavy dramatic territory with gusto. Very interesting, strong track. There is a definite Metal sound in the track which I do enjoy. "I could be God" - again is a very dramatic track that starts off in an almost operatic, metal drama way- it softens towards the third of the track mark into an interesting section where we hear a portion of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech whereafter the music punctuates that speech with a lot of emotive hard music before the vocals come back. "Sidewinder" - starts of softly with childrens voices heard in the background before Nicholson's vocals come in and the volume gradually increases. In the track a feature is George Bush's voice giving some of his typical "pearls of wisdom". I have no doubt that this track is about following leaders who will only lead you into a whole mess of trouble as a people if you allow that. "Memories of an African Twin" - pretty much an instrumental track to break the angst of the previous tracks. "Empires never Last" - starts with a thumping bass that's joined by keyboard sound until it hardens before Nicholson's voice comes in in a contrast of emotions and nuances. This man can inflect just about any emotion into his voice. At times on this track he sounds like a bluesy crooner. A giant of a track. "This life could be the last" - starts again with piano and crooning (like out of the fifties). A third into the track the music fills out in a hard rock fashion.

I can't emphasise how impressed I am with this album enough. It holds a variety of pleasures throughout. It is an angry, in places sarcastic, album full of emotion and drama. Lovers of old Fish fronted Marillion will drink this album down with a great deal of pleasure. It isn't, by any means, a copy of old Marillion however it is in the same style with a little more emphasis on keyboards.

A four and a half star album for me rounded up to five stars as there was nothing that I didn't enjoy a great deal about the music. It's not perhaps an essential album to someone with a preferance for certain kinds of music but I would call it essential if Neo Prog is your thing or if you really enjoy dramatic music.

Report this review (#940502)
Posted Sunday, April 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars It is indeed strange to realise that the album I am currently playing is now some 10 years old. I reviewed it back then, but what I am currently listening to is the 2015 remastered reissued version. Instead of a standard CD case, this was released as a digipak, containing two additional songs, while the booklet that appeared in the initial version had also been retained. Although in terms of membership there had only been one change between this album and the previous, 'Year Zero', there had been a gap of five years and the band had been through a great deal in the intervening period. Much of this was reflected in the music, which saw the band move into a far heavier approach than previously. Gone was the naivety of the band of the Nineties, and instead it has been replaced by a maturity and strength that showed the band in a brand new light.

I do have a history with these guys, so it probably isn't surprising that I am going to be raving over this, as I think I have done so with every one of their releases ever since I first came across them some twenty-five years ago, but this is a very different band indeed to the one that won the Radio 1 Rock Show Rock Wars all those years ago, who first came to the notice of many progheads at the same time with their debut CD 'Nothing is Written'. True, in Stu, Roy and Spencer they have the same singer, guitarist and drummer and keyboard player Dean Baker had been there for a while by then now (line- up completed with new bassist Lee Abraham) but it is the depth and presence of the band that is such a surprise.

Galahad are one of those bands who have truly progressed with each album, and have toyed with acoustic and dance among other things, but at their core they have always been a progressive rock band, and here they pushed the rock more than ever before. This is an intense ride, and there is no doubt that haivng Karl Groom at the controls made a huge difference to the overall sound. 'Year Zero' suffered from a long gestation period, being recorded in multiple places and then being produced by the band themselves, whereas this was mostly recorded at Thin Ice.

With each release showing another side of the band, but here it all comes together in a major tour de force. It may open gently enough with "De-Fi-Ance", and some guest vocals, but this really is just an introduction for the band to kick off blazing into "Termination". Second song in and already Galahad have the listener by the ears and the balls. From here it is a rollercoaster ride of power and emotion, the band kicking together and showing that prog can be a really strong and dynamic force in the hands of guys who really know what they are doing and what they want to achieve. This was awarded 'Album of the Year' in many quarters, and rightly so, as here is a band at the very top of the game with over the top bombastic progressive rock

To be honest it had been a while since I had played this, but given that I now have three copies in my collection (tour edition, 'normal' issue and now the deluxe edition) I really don't have any excuse for not returning to it more frequently. If you want to hear progressive rock at it's finest, then just go to "I Could Be God" and play it loud. Very loud.

Report this review (#957862)
Posted Saturday, May 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Galahad started out as a typical Genesis clone. But at mid-point in their career, they started infusing this unoriginal neo-prog foundation with doses of metal and techno music. Empires Never Last is the first album where this came to full fruition. It's produced by Karl Groom of prog metal band Threshold and this explained his trademark cold and powerful production. The end result is a combination of Pink Floydian uneasy celestial atmospherics and metallic riffs, topped off by Stu Nicholson's highly theatrical voice. There are cool moments here, from the bass riff of title track to the crushing crescendo on I Could Be God. But the album is dragged down by its single-mindedness. It is basically an hour-long rant against politics of George W. Bush, and some songs kind of blend in together. The closing This Life Could Be The Last is more to the highly melodic neo-prog stuff, but excessively repetitive.
Report this review (#1104719)
Posted Tuesday, December 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nş 189

'Empires Never Last' is the eighth studio album of Galahad and was released in 2007. Through this album, Galahad invited the contribution of Karl Groom, the guitarist of Threshold, on some additional guitar work. Karl is also credited with co-production, engineering and the overall sound of the album. No wonder that the album has some flavour of progressive metal, especially in the use of guitar riffs. So, the final sound of the album is much heavier than the sound of all their previous studio albums. In reality, their last studio albums have taken them towards a much heavier sound, creating a unique and modern sound whilst retaining very occasional nods to their more 'progressive' past.

Karl Groom is a British guitarist and record producer. He his best known as the founding member of the progressive rock metal band Threshold, but he also played guitar on other bands like Mercy Train, Shadowland and Strangers On A Train. As a producer, he is mostly known for metal styles production of various bands like his own band Threshold and Dragon Force. But he has also worked on other progressive rock acts including Yes, Pendragon and John Wetton.

'Empires Never Last' has seven tracks. The first track 'De-Fi-Ance' is divided into two parts: 'Part 1' and 'Part 2'. It begins with a beautiful female choral vocals formed by Tina Groom, Sarah Quitter and Tina Booth, before Stuart Nicholson growls the name of the track in the style of the death metal music. This is a magnificent, astonishing and surprising musical overture that sets perfectly the overall tone of the album, showing that the Galahad's sound appears to have changed. The second track 'Termination' confirms the first impression and expectation that we are in presence of a Galahad's album completely different from their previous studio albums. This is a magnificent, astonishing and surprising track which comprises heavy guitar and bass riffs perfectly sustained by excellent keyboards, drums and vocal works. It's a very bombastic track that puts the album on a very high musical quality level. The third track 'I Could Be God' is the lengthiest track on the album that keeps the album in a very high quality level. It's a very energetic track, in the same mood of the previous tracks. This is a fantastic piece of progressive music with a very melancholic musical ambience and where Martin Luther King's famous and touching speech fits very well, bringing to my memory also the famous and touching speech made by Winston Churchill that appears on 'Fool's Overture' of Supertramp. Curiously, some vocal parts of the album, in the middle of the track just before Martin Luther King's speech, reminds me Rush, from the times of 'Hemispheres'. The fourth track 'Sidewinder' is also another great song and confirms that we are in presence of a great progressive album, which is probably a truly masterpiece. It's a track that opens with a very cool and pacific musical atmosphere and where we can hear some portions of George Bush's speeches. It's a song with an excellent musical atmosphere and where we can highlight a great guitar work, a beautiful keyboard performance and a very catchy choral job. Karl Groom appears on the song with a solo. The fifth track 'Memories From An African Twin' is another surprising track, but this time, because we are in presence of a different kind of song. It's a more classic song, nothing heavy and with a jazzier style in the end. It's a song based on acoustic guitar, harpsichord and pipe organ and is the only song on the album without lyrics, despite have some choral work. It's the weaker track on the album but doesn't spoil the overall quality of the album. The sixth track is the title track 'Empires Never Last'. It represents the return of the album to its overall mood. This is one of the most powerful tracks of the album and represents another highlight. It's a track with an excellent musical balance between the heavy and mellow parts of the song. The seventh and last track 'This Life Could Be My Last Life' is a very emotional song that makes us think about the significance of our life and that like the empires we also doesn't last forever. It's a pleasant, beautiful and melodic track, a fine rock ballad with hard rocking guitar riffs, in the same mood of the rest of the album. It's the perfect ending for a great album.

Conclusion: 'Empires Never Last' is, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece and one of the best neo-prog albums ever made. There are bands that can grow with the passage of time, becoming more mature and innovative. This is the case of Galahad. They seem to me very similar with to Port wine, the older the better. 'Empires Never Last' is a very strong album, perfectly balanced and superiorly produced and that doesn't have any disappointing or any truly weak point. It's a departure from their previous works with a little more emphasis on keyboards and guitars. It has a more modern sound which is sometimes more close to metal. I dare to say that Galahad, with this album, made one of the greatest contributions to the category of 'British Neo-Prog' and is setting definitively a place alongside such established names in the neo-prog rock sub-genre, such as Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Pallas and Arena. If Galahad continues to innovate with this high musical quality level, I sincerely hope that they don't crumble and fall, and that they can will last forever.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1942796)
Posted Monday, July 2, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album by Galahad is among the highest rated neo-progressive records and I must say; I already loved this record before I really got to know it. It has this great dark sound. A bit muddy in a mysterious way, yet so bright and detailed. By the way, I own the recent 2LP vinyl remaster. The great a capella opening reminds me of the soundtrack of the movie 'Ghost in the Shell' and the main riff of 'Defiance part 2' is simply amazing. After that the band just keeps on firing these songs in which I can't find a single original idea - but holy mother of god do they hit the right notes! On 'Empires Never Last' the band just can't seem to do anything wrong, which is precisely what separates it from all other Galahad albums.

The band combines heavy metal guitars, symphonic/melodic lead guitars, eighties vocals (AOR, metal and more Fish-like), modern electronics (trance) and gothic sounds of the more traditional neo-prog pallet. The lively vocals of Stuart Nicholson, whose performance outshines the poorly conceived political engaged lyrics, give every song those truly catchy & compelling moments. Another key element to the succes of 'Empires Never Last' is the aggressive performance of the heavier parts. The electronic music arrangements work really well because the band itself doesn't sound mechanical at all. I don't think I would have come to see this album as a neo- progressive record without others labeling it as such, to me it sounds closer to - for instance - 'Epica'-era Kamelot. Symphonic metal with a progressive twist.

The packaging and artwork of the 2LP is among the best I've ever seen. The bonustracks on the fourth side are even quite charming, especially the orchestral version of 'Empires Never Last'. Despite its flaws, this is a compelling and brilliant sounding album for me. I find myself waiting for a perfect moment to play this record. Five stars.

Report this review (#2265825)
Posted Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | Review Permalink

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