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Galleon - From Land To Ocean CD (album) cover





3.68 | 119 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Is it possible to have nothing but good things to say about an album and still not be very impressed by it? "From Land to Ocean" is full of admirable instrumentation, tastefully impassioned lyrics, and airtight songcraft, forming a seamless modern progressive rock album. I just don't find myself blown away by any of it.

It's probably my fault; by now I've heard so many different approaches along the prog spectrum that only the most distinctive sounds tend to stand out. GALLEON is not breaking any new ground, but is that truly a necessity? Pure novelty or gimmicks passing off as distinctiveness can gain a band immediate but fleeting recognition, and many bands do great things with what we think of as old familiar elements (ANGLAGARD is probably the best example). So I won't criticize the band on the basis of lack of innovation; it's pretty daring, in a way, just to be a progressive rock band in the 2000s.

I'm a little unsure why this had to be a double album; ostensibly a concept album, either disc could have easily been released on its own. Perhaps the two discs are closer in tone or style than other GALLEON releases- unfortunately I haven't heard the others at all, so I can't be sure. Basically, the album deals with the relationship of man and nature, with a focus on how man is not living up to his side of the bargain.

There's a definite hard rock or metal foundation to most of the arrangements, but this is definitely not DREAM THEATER...sound-wise it's in a similar neo-prog style as IQ, with the harder edge closer to later RUSH or PALLAS ("The Sentinel", though inferior, resembles this album in several ways- even the cover art). The more atmospheric passages that spice up the second disc strike a largely positive balance between unnecessary filler and enjoyable transitions, although there is some tendency for irrelevant guitar solos. Generally, however, they do not tend to overemphasize their instrumental prowess; every part is played well and fits perfectly into the mix. The guitars and synthesizers are perfectly balanced, with good choices for tone- the synthesizers especially are more expressive and essential than many (prog or non- prog) hard rock bands. Nor are they guilty of sounding dated; they avoid the overly glossy 80s sound but also refuse to fall into the trap of trying to emulate a 'classic 70s prog' sound. Their songs develop with good use of drama and tension, and often build to a sweeping grandeur that characterizes the best rock anthems (the climax of "Three Colour", for instance). Göran Fors has a likeable vocal quality, neither too flat nor too melodramatic- often he seems to be speaking directly to you, somewhat of a rarity among the often cosmic and/ or isolated prog vocalist crew. I'm usually in favor of bands singing in their native language, but he seems to have no difficulty at all translating- in fact, his accent is quite minimal and certainly does not take anything away from the experience.

An interesting facet of the band is the presence of explicit socio-political commentary in the songs. Progressive rock lyrics, when they do discuss the workings of the real world, tend to favor either sweeping, veiled commentary or ultra-personal reflections on worldly themes; GALLEON, like several of the Italian bands, aren't afraid to speak directly about things that are happening in (or to) their locale. Ulf Pettersson's lyrics take no prisoners, especially where environmental issues are concerned. "The Porch" lets this facet take center stage on top of a pleasantly powerful metal-ballad foundation, and about twelve minutes into "The Ocean" we get a clear spoken example. The most emotive moments on the album are driven by such passion, and as it is a stance with which I sympathize, it is possible I'm being less than objective here (fair warning!).

In the end, however, I'm totally ambivalent about this album as a whole. It has a number of things in its favor, and never fails or falters in any respect (except for maybe a certain lack of uniqueness or innovation) and I have a feeling there are a lot of neo-prog or even prog-metal fans out there who could really like it. If you happen to be a fan of IQ and/ or PALLAS, it's definitely worth a try. For my personal evaluation: only two stars. For GALLEON's skills at making music, as well as the likelihood of attracting a good number of fans in the prog community, I'll raise the final score to three stars.

James Lee | 3/5 |


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