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Galahad - Empires Never Last CD (album) cover

EMPIRES NEVER LAST

Galahad

 

Neo-Prog

4.12 | 438 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
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 Úlan. 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
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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