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Galahad - Seas Of Change CD (album) cover

SEAS OF CHANGE

Galahad

Neo-Prog


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3 stars Galahad is previewing the new album "Seas of Change" in 18 years, but it's already on bandcamp. Before they just released the album, I said too popular too soft, it is a bit far from the avant-garde. This one is very avant-garde form, only one song, a full 42 minutes. A mix of musical styles, such as pastoral flok, traditional rock, heavier guitars, and some electronic music. On the instrument, joined the flute, clarinet, saxophone, more abundant. Overall, the beginning of the music is more like folk songs, accompanied by male singing, behind the guitar gradually joined the combos behind the fuel fueled, the keyboard began to walk, quite avant-garde feeling. Then heavier guitars and drums entered, the strings were rendered in the back atmosphere, followed by a large number of vocal singing into the topic. The introduction of some mid-level electronic music, with heavy guitar and chorus, followed by crazy synthesizer sounded, 15-25 minutes this section is still more interesting. The last is still good, but always feel a little similar to the front, and finally attributed to the singer. Although it is good to hear, but lack of innovation than the wobbler's long song "From Silence to Somewhere" that is much worse, the overall Samsung semi-evaluation.
Report this review (#1843279)
Posted Monday, December 18, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am listening to this album on a sunny day in the garden, in New Zealand. I am one of the "Leavers" and it seems, so it should remain, as I shed a tear for all the "Remainers". Last year, Marillion had a go at the state of the nation with the album "Fear" and whilst that was open to some interpretation, you are left in no doubt that Britain is on the edge of collapse whilst listening to 'Seas of Change'.

In terms of the lyrics, there is some sarcastic humour that I like, commentary with similar effect and a reference to a government that we don't even know and who don't even know what they stand for. My only negative feeling here, is that during this one song epic, they never really tell a story, instead, continue to focus on the negative from different angles. There is certainly no solution to the on-going problems of Brexit and rising tension at the thought that our Englishness is being diminished. Well they said it.

The music varies. There is the typical wordy style of Galahad, where at times the words struggle to find their place in the rhythm, (a problem I also hear in Nick Barret's Pendragon at times). This is my problem with Galahad, on this album this is improved and the tone of Stu Nicholson's vocals to my ears are his best. There is a change of style throughout, which on one hand I really enjoyed and on the other left me feeling annoyed. On the positive, there is the inclusion of the flute to provide a more retro sound and a groove which goes beyond the usual for this band. The first half of the song provides some mellow moments, melody and then dips in and out of a heavy groove. Really great! After my first listen, I wanted to jump straight back in for another listen but at the same time there was a nagging feeling that I was enjoying this because it was familiar. Last year, Steve Hogarth left me feeling slightly annoyed when the same melody that had been used on his album "ice cream genius" was revisited at a key moment during the epic song "The Leavers". Last year, I got into Wobbler, it seems someone in the Galahad family has done the same. Certainly, the heavy riff dances between "Foxlight" and "La Bealtaine", there is even that "Yes" moment. Now Wobbler can be criticized for their retro sound and similarities to the past, not sure what to make of this. A bit too soon maybe. The second half contains some nice melodies and trademark aggressive vocals before a return to the gentle opening, warning us about the coming storm. There are brief moments when you feel that the song has overstayed it's welcome but then a new idea emerges. In particular, there is some delightful Gilmour guitar work towards the end.

Plenty of twists and turns, dark and light and all that goes to make a prog delight. I will be interested to read, what my fellow "Leaver" Kev Rowland makes of this album.

To my ears, annoyance apart, this will be one of my top albums of the year, hopefully alongside IQ, and it's only January.

Report this review (#1866646)
Posted Sunday, January 14, 2018 | Review Permalink
rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Metal / Heavy / RPI / Symph Prog Team
5 stars This 42 minutes epic song or album started as a 7-minute piece that evolved into an extended piece because of the flow of inspiration that hit the musicians. The song starts where the band has left with "Quiet Storms"; some melancholic passage with piano, memorable choral note, and samples taken from film dialogue of the Great War. Then a Gilmour style guitar part kicks in from Lee Abraham back with the band. It is followed by some heavier parts that will become a recurrent themes throughout the whole thing. The band's music has never used so much spacey electronic effects and the keyboard never had so much space because Dean Baker is the one who has written the music and the orchestral arrangements. So the atmosphere of the music is different from previous albums except "Quiet Storms". There is some nice vocals work from Stuart and some welcome flute from Sarah Bolter. This is a modern prog album that is mixing the new and the old, the hard and the soft in a sweeping panorama of sound that reminds me at times that I was in the heart of the atmosphere of a movie. Naturally, this long piece is to listen as a whole and you will only want to hear more after the short 40 minutes. We have 12 minutes more of that as bonus tracks but those songs are a continuation of the whole story keeping the same mood of the whole epic.
Report this review (#1868774)
Posted Tuesday, January 23, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the two - rather powerful ? albums Galahad released back in 2012, the release of Quiet Storms was kind of a surprise to me. Very nice album without a doubt, but "different". And when I learned about the release of Seas of Change, I had no idea what to expect.

Seas of Change was another surprise to me, in the sense that it includes only one song! The 42-minute long suite Seas of Change. In my opinion, it needs something more than "guts" to release an album with only one song in it, especially if your name is not Mike Oldfield!

The truth is that, the CD and the digital version, are including 2 more songs as bonus tracks. But not the vinyl version. The production is excellent once more, and responsible for that in no other than Karl Groom and the Thin Ice studios. Karl Groom, further than the leader of Threshold, is also an excellent producer, as it is proved by the productions he did on Galahad's latest albums; starting from Empires Never Last. Another very important fact is that, Stu Nicholson is once more in great form, and his vocals are adding a lot to the album's dynamic.

As far as I understood, the album's main theme is the uncertainty that is spread above UK, because of the upcoming Brexit. This also proves that Galahad do not afraid to deal with some serious problems that our modern world is facing. Because Brexit is not only an English thing; it's a European thing, if not universal.

As you can understand, because the album includes only one song, it is impossible (and needless) to try and write something about each its 12 parts, because it must be heard as a whole piece of work. And there is the album's strongest point for me. The only thing you will have to do is to insert the CD into your player, press 'play' and let yourselves sunk into the beauty of Galahad's music. This is an excellent piece of work in my opinion, and it is highly recommended to the fans of Progressive Rock and/or Neo-Prog. Hat's off to Galahad, not only for trying to present something so ambitious and creative, but also for succeeding in it! My Rating would be 4.5 stars

Report this review (#1869149)
Posted Thursday, January 25, 2018 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One long 42+ minute song--and what a song! This is a Neo Prog masterpiece in the IQ/Pendragon vein! But this is better. Way better, this is the best Neo Prog album I've heard since EDISON'S CHILDREN's The Final Breath Before November.

"Seas of Change" (42:43) The piece opens with ambient synth layers and treated flute setting up a spacey, latent energy atmosphere over which a "radio" voice speaks a few lines at a time. At 1:35 solo grand piano breaks the introductory spell, setting a kind of classical/symphonic scene, over which a cathedral-filling solo female voice sings some wordless vocalise. Beautiful, like the Alexandre Desplat pieces used in the last Harry Potter films. (10/10) At the three minute mark we shift into a kind of theatric, medićval section with pompous male vocal announcing the upcoming play from the "future." This is followed by harpsichord and harp and, then, piano sounds with Gregorian voice--all keyboard generated. Radio voice "play-by-play" seems to be covering the rising tension and decay of national government. At 6:23 Galahad lead singer Stu Nicholson enters for the first time to start singing his bard-like version of the eery tidings happening. "Bring it on," he says before wailing solo guitar seems to keen our plight. At 8:15 comes the first breakout of true rock fullness--a nice section with some excellent deep bass notes and matching organ and guitar chord progressions in an odd time signature. Great instrumental section! (10/10) At the ten minute mark there is another shift--into a slow, panning percussive synth bouncing around the background while winds and synths take turns filling the soundscape with incidentals and arpeggios. Drums introduce another section at 11:30 as "La-la-la-las" set up the next vocal section of the story. Great support for Stu's vocal. The part of this section is simple as the section follows the ABACAB structure of a pop song. (9/10) At 15:05 there is another break in which a radio play-by-play catches us up to speed. The music then amps back up into the full force of the previous section before suddenly breaking into a new section with acoustic guitar strumming providing the foundational fabric for Stu's next section--the "Smoke" section. Sounds quite a bit like a Peter Jones vocal on Colin Tench's albums: theatric. Nice drums as the music thickens with volume and intensity behind Nicholson's vocal. (8/10) At 18:10 we switch back to a familiar heavier riff, with low end dominating over the organ and excellent cymbal play. Another slight shift at 18:57 into an angrier section about consensus (or the lack thereof). (9/10) At 20:05 we again break for a staticky radio update. Great sequenced synth background support for Stu's higher octave vocal. Staccato choral vocals sing the next section over a hard-driving, heavier section. Another radio update is followed by an excellent synth solo over the heavy, choral section. (9.5/10) At the 24 minute mark there is a break for a long synth and organ interlude before the next radio update occurs. Nice. (5/5) Then, at 25:20, begins the intro to the "Dust" section with its strumming acoustic guitar and return of the soprano female vocalise. By 25:45 we are into the full sound of the song with its catchy throbbing beat and swirling soloing synth. Stu's vocal here is kind of laid back as he sings about the vengeance the planet is serving to the smug liars running our race into climate catastrophe. The section that begins at the 28 minute mark, the second part of "Dust," is the album's only truly weak link (both lyrically and in its IQ familiarity), though the lead guitar work is wonderful. (8/10) At 34:40 another "radio" interlude pre-empts another shift in the song thread, this one singing about "danger," "trust," and "faces." (8.5/10) At 39:18 a cymbal crashes denotes the shift into the final slowed-down, piano-based section. Ambience and atmosphere seem burgeoning with potential energy--as if ready to burst forth in another foray into hard-drive. But then Stu enters and calms and quells any thoughts of rebellion with his smooth voice and words. The true finisher is the female singer performing the vocalise to the end. (9.5/10)

A five stars; a masterpiece of Neo Prog music!

Report this review (#1887799)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Prog Team
5 stars So, last year I went back to the UK for the first time in five years, and arranged to stay with Stu and his wonderful wife Lin for a night. It was something of a shock to discover that he had been admitted into hospital, which of course warranted a trip over to Poole, so instead of sitting in his living room imbibing on the odd Hobgoblin or three we instead made do with a coffee at his bedside (and I drank his Hobgoblin later that night). It was while we were visiting that he told me that Roy had left the band again, this time presumably for good. I can remember back when he told me that Roy had left previously, but after some time he had been coaxed back into the band he founded, but this was more permanent and they had already found a replacement. Knowing that Karl Groom (Threshold) had assisted on the last release, for a minute I wondered if it might be him but couldn't work out how he could commit the time, but I think I was even more surprised when Stu told me that it was multi-instrumentalist and solo artist Lee Abraham. But, it did make sense as Lee had already been a full member of the band, as bassist, but what would this mean to the overall sound? Also, this was going to be the first electric release featuring Tim Ashton on bass, whose last "proper" album was 'Nothing is Written' before he left the band to travel to Japan.

Stu sent me some edits to whet my appetite (which are "bonus" songs on the CD), telling me that the new album was going to be a single song clocking in at more than 40 minutes. Over the years Galahad have moved from neo-prog to prog metal, have dallied with both acoustic and dance, even brought some trance into what they have been doing, so what was the new album going to sound like, bearing in mind that three of the five last recorded together in 1991?

Just one guest has been brought in, Sarah Quilter, who has played with the band on and off since the Galahad Acoustic Quintet album, again adding flute, clarinet and soprano sax. Her touches are delicate and richly enjoyed, but this is really about the five guys this time around, who sat down and ripped up the Galahad playbook and have produced something that no-one really expected, namely a back to the roots neo-prog album which is a concept, a view on the political shenanigans surrounding Brexit, and musically one of the most diverse they have ever released. This latter is in no small part to Lee, who is approaching the guitar parts with a fresh mind, playing acoustic or electric as the need arises, soloing when he needs to but often letting everyone else take centre stage and staying more in the background than some of their more metallic releases. Dean is enjoying himself by using a larger variety of sounds than previously, Tim sounds like he has never been away, while the use of Karl as a producer has yet again captured just how important Spencer is to the overall sound of the band, and just how much variety he offers in terms of technique. Then there is Stuart, who still hits the notes with ease, and sounds as if he is having an absolute blast.

How does this fit within their canon? Well, in many ways it is the logical album to follow 'Sleepers': it certainly doesn't sound as if the band have been releasing music for the last 20 years, as if they had been able to produce the former without all the issues they suffered at the time, then this would have been a logical follow-up. Here we have a line-up of some guys who were there in the (relatively) early days, one who has been there before and has returned, and Dean who is by far the longest-serving keyboard player and who has seen the band through many musical changes. He provided the music and arrangements, Stu provided the lyrics and vocals, and all five of them have provided the most complete and wonderful album of their career to date.

That it is a masterpiece is not in doubt, that it will be viewed as album of the year by many is also a shoe-in, while the understanding that in many ways this is the most important release of their career should be taken as read. Let's hope that they capitalise on the success this is already garnering, and gain the plaudits this so richly deserves.

Report this review (#1891791)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars 30 years into their career, Galahad go all in with creating a 42-minute megaepic lamenting the current state of British politics. Other than the length it probably doesn't hold much surprises, taking about 10 minutes to really lift off and then shuffling through familiar neo-prog staples of Pink Floydian up-in-the-sky atmospherics , the bounciness of Genesis, folksy melodies and an occasional drift into a heavier mode (though not as metallic as some of their recent releases). But as far as 40-minute songs go nowadays, it is an impressive and ear-pleasing feat. As a bonus, the release offers two of the most catchy cuts from the said epic, spiced up with more Gilmore-esque guitar heroics.
Report this review (#1891958)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Seas of Change is, without a doubt in my mind, Galahad's crowning achievement; a single, 43-minute, politically charged musical work unlike any other in this day and age. I've often found that one of the things Galahad struggles with the most is their lyrics. On albums such as Battle Scars, they were plagued by uninspired lyrical content that ruined otherwise wonderful songs. Such is not the case on Seas of Change, because they have actually chosen something real to write about. By focusing on the turbulence created in Europe by Brexit, they have not only managed to avoid their usual lyrical pitfalls, but they've also managed to intertwine the music with the lyrics in such a way that truly evokes the uneasy emotions of many Europeans today. It is an absolute masterpiece, and I wouldn't be surprised if it goes on to be considered one of the greatest progressive rock albums of this decade.
Report this review (#1906933)
Posted Monday, March 19, 2018 | Review Permalink

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