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Galahad - Year Zero CD (album) cover





3.56 | 125 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Galahad belts up?

Starting life as a rather traditional Neo-Prog band, Galahad has come a long way since their inception in 1985. Over the years, Galahad has released six proper studio albums (not counting compilations, re-mix albums and the acoustic one-off album Not All There) with the present album appearing a mere three years after the previous Following Ghosts album - the shortest gap between albums in Galahad's history (given that In A Moment Of Complete Madness was in reality an 80's album released in 1993). I prefer to divide the band's career into two equal halves with 1995's Sleepers as the culmination of their first era and 2007's Empires Never Last as the culmination of their second era.

Year Zero is advertised as an album-length, multi-part composition, but in reality it is a collage of songs and instrumental interludes in various different styles. The first four sections do, however, hang together very well and this portion of the album has become a mainstay in the band's live set. John Wetton of King Crimson and Asia fame makes a guest appearance on this album providing some lead vocals on Belt Up and Take A Deep Breath And Hold On Tight (the latter Wetton appearance is a repeat of the same basic passage from Belt Up) as well as some backing vocals. It is always nice to hear Wetton's distinctive voice, but with such a fine vocalist in Stuart Nicholson they didn't really need outside participation. But it probably helped to boost sales!?

Haunted begins promisingly with some electric piano and a strong vocal but it soon develops into a heavily Deep Purple-like, bluesy rocker complete with Hammond organ! Not bad at all, but you tend to lose sight of the idea that Year Zero is supposed to be an album-length, conceptual piece. After the good, but somewhat disjointed Following Ghosts album, you would have hoped for this follow-up to be a more consistent effort, but sadly Year Zero suffers from the same shortcomings, only exacerbated! Following Ghosts had several redeeming features, but Year Zero features at best some good bits and pieces scattered thinly over the album. Thankfully, they keep it a bit more concise this time with a running time of just under an hour.

The nearly ten minute Democracy is Hawkwind-like Space Rock all the way and it is indeed hard to recognize this one as being a Galahad number. Do not expect this to be anything like the excellent Bug Eye, which was the centrepiece from the previous album. Year Zero doesn't have a centrepiece! With the exception of the aforementioned Take A Deep Breath And Hold On Tight (which is a short reminder of Belt Up from the beginning of the album; again with Wetton on lead vocals) and Hindsight 2 - A Very Clever Guy, the rest of the album consists mostly of shorter instrumental pieces with a surprisingly jazzy and also Classical nature with lots of vintage keyboard instruments as well as flutes, saxophone, clarinet and trumpet! To my mind this is where the album loses its way and becomes an incoherent mess of seemingly randomly assembled bits and pieces that shouldn't have been allowed to escape from the drawing board. (It is indeed doubtful that they ever were on the "drawing board" in the first place as they sound more like the result of a jam!)

The conclusion can only be that Year Zero falls rather flat despite the reasonably strong opening and a few good bits scattered over the rest of the album. The highlights are the first four sections as well as the ballad Hindsight 2. The opening portion of the album is though readily available on live recordings and Galahad is a more powerful band in a live setting anyway.

Somewhat disappointing this one. Indeed, this is my least favourite Galahad album.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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