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Galahad - Year Zero CD (album) cover





3.56 | 128 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 246

Galahad was formed in 1985, just for fun. In those times, they played half covers songs of Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Black Sabbath, Marillion, Focus, etc., and half of original material. Galahad then supported a few fairly very well known progressive rock bands, that were coming up at the time, including IQ, Marillion, Pendragon, Pallas, Haze and Magnum.

But, in the 90's, fortunately, Galahad decided to take it more seriously, playing only original material from them. The result of that decision came out in the release of their first proper album in 1991, called 'Nothing Is Written', which was purely sel-financed and released independently by the band. The final result was the sold of several thousand copies.

The success of 'Nothing Is Written' also was helped by the fact that the band received substantial air play on the BBC Radio One, especially on the Radio One Rock Show. The band then landed themselves with deals in the UK, Japan and Germany. Thanks to that, they became much more known and put them into much higher flights in the following years.

So, after more than thirty years, the band released more than thirty works, including twelve studio albums, six live albums, a DVD and twelve compilations, according to Progarchives. By the other hand, Galahad played hundreds of live gigs in the UK, Europe and America over the last years, and at times, even in some very unusual and original venues.

So, it was in this context that appeared 'Year Zero' which was released in 2002. Since their foundation until that date, they had only released six studio albums. So, we have only six albums in seventeen years. But 'Year Zero' became a mark of change in their long, but at the same time, short career. Their next studio album 'Empires Never Last' took the band in a heavier, more muscular, guitar oriented direction. This more contemporary musical approach seems to have worked making of this work the band's most successful album to date, both commercially and critically, and resulted in the album win the title of 'Album of the Year' at the Classic Rock Society awards, in 2007. In 2012 the band returned with two new studio albums 'Battle Scars' and 'Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria' that became two new great albums. They confirmed the position as a great prog act with the last two studio albums, 'Quiet Storms' and 'Seas Of Change'.

So, 'Year Zero' is the seventh studio album of Galahad and was released in 2002. This is a conceptual album with about one hour of music. The album is performed as only one piece of continuous music and is the most instrumental oriented album that Galahad has recorded in their entire career. It's divided into fifteen parts, including songs and instrumentals. Some pieces are integrated, like instrumental segments, and others are just mixed together. This and the fact that some themes are returning, give to the album a strong conceptual feel and turning it in a truly prog rock album.

As you would expect with a Galahad's release, especially the last ones, 'Year Zero' contains a myriad of musical styles including classical, baroque, jazz interludes, a heavy psychedelic musical section incorporating techno beats and industrial grooves as well as the usual traditional sound of the progressive music and heavy rock, punctuated by some quieter and more sensitive musical passages before the album reaches a grand and rousing choral crescendo to finish, supported by the Cantori Catholic Choir. Vocal harmonies are one of the features that Galahad uses to great effects.

So, 'Year Zero' is their first conceptual album, with one piece of continuous music broken down into fifteen digestible chunks, to make it easier for CD's, and they had clearly spread their musical wings. In fact, it takes until nearly halfway through the second track for the album to become recognisable as Galahad, as they are utilising the talents of Dean Baker on keyboards to take the music in a new direction. He certainly brought great many new sounds and effects to the band, some sounding much more like Hawkwind or Ozric Tentacles than like Genesis. But, when Roy starts singing, soon becomes clear this is the old band with a lot of new ideas, which even allowed for John Wetton to sing a few lead lines, which certainly confuses the ear as he is quite different to Stuart Nicholson, but was trying to sing in Stu's style.

Conclusion: 'Year Zero' isn't an album that can easily be digested on the first listenings, but requires many hearings to ful appreciate all that is encompassed. I'm deeply impressed by this album. The group has been called a promising band for a long time, but this new release is a very strong musical statement and proves that the band is very much alive. Their earlier Marillion influences are almost completely gone. The music on the album is a powerful combination of the traditional and more recent rock styles and its sound is quite modern with the music concentrated on moods and melodies, without overly too long instrumental parts. The audio quality of the album is also very good. Concluding, with 'Year Zero' Galahad made an amazing album and finally they have made a huge step into the future of their music. I'm sure this album will already feature in the musical collection of many fans of the band, but for those unsure, or perhaps unfamiliar with the music of Galahad, this would make a worthy introduction. 'Year Zero' continues growing on me.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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