Progressive Rock stalwarts Galahad are among the few original 80s' neo-prog bands to remain active and relevant in the new Millennium - a list which includes Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, It Bites, Magnum, and Pallas. Twelfth Night, another member of that second wave alumni are still performing sporadically but haven't released anything new for some time. Which is not the case with Galahad. 2012 has proven to be a most productive year for the group. The band released both "Battle Scars" earlier this year and "Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria" on October 1st.
For the uninitiated Galahad has been performing in one incarnation or another since 1985, and in that time have produced 8 proper studio albums (their description ... not mine), as well as dozens of live, experimental acoustic, and 'best of' compilations encompassing their 27 year career; which includes Galahad off-shoots like Galahad Electric Company and Galahad Acoustic Quintet.
Vocalist Stuart Nicholson and guitarist Roy Keyworth remain the rock solid foundation of Galahad since its inception; amidst a revolving door of personnel changes totaling 21 full time members, as well as 35 guest and sessions musicians appearing either on stage or in the studio throughout their history. Not uncommon among bands with a career spanning a quarter of a century.
The unfortunate passing of bassist/keyboardist Neil Pepper, who appears on both albums, lost his battle against cancer in September of 2011. Leaving the remaining members and current line-up on "Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria" to include the fore mentioned Nicholson and Keyworth, as well as Spencer Luckman (drums), and Dean Baker (keyboards).
I was an avid follower of Galahad throughout the 80s' and 90s' but inexplicably lost contact with the group after the release of their brilliant 1998 album "Following Ghosts". (Something that can easily be attributed to my burgeoning Ghosts Of Pompeii musical career which took up most of my time.) So upon my first listen to "Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria" I was completely blind-sided by the unexpected twists and turns of this 21st Century version of Galahad; a band who had successful merged the neo-prog of their earlier years with a harder-edged Metallica/ Dream Theater metal approach ... and by God! ... an unlikely infusion of ambient/dance/Electronica.
The changes are not so drastic as to alienate their old listeners - like myself - yet fresh enough to appeal to a broader fan-base and younger audience.
This unlikely marriage of neo-prog, heavy metal, and Electronica may seem a non-combustible mix of unlikely elements - but believe me this is lethal stuff. And unlike Marillion who have seemingly abandoned their Fish-era neo-prog roots for a melancholy chilled-out ballad approach, Galahad has retained their early progressive rock identity while infusing this new sound with a hefty dose of "balls to the wall" metal mayhem, catchy hook laden arena rock, and sequenced techno/trance groove patterns. In addition to the vintage Galahad of old are shades of Tangerine Dream, Future Sounds Of London, Dol Theeta, Enigma, Ayreon, and The Orb.
It's impossible to isolate stand-out tracks because the entire CD is killer from beginning to end, and should be played as such. But if forced to choose I'd single out "Guardian Angel", "Secret Kingdoms ...", and "All In The Name Of Progress" simply because they jump out at you and demand to be noticed.
An updated version of their classic track "Richelieu's Prayer 2012", which originally appeared on the 1991 album "Nothing Is Written", is offered as a bonus track featuring previous band member Mark Andrews (who wrote the music for the original version of "Richelieu's Prayer") on additional keyboards.
"Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria" has been spinning non-stop now for the last few days, and I can't seem to get enough of it. An instant classic, and a strong contender for my 'Best Album Of 2012".
Highly recommended for fans of bands like Arena, IQ, Pallas, Pendragon, Jadis, Shadowland, early Marillion, Rush, Yes, Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery, Enchant, and Genesis.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on December 22nd, 2012