Galahad - Battle Scars
(AVALON RECORDS GHCD10)
Empires Never Last dates back five years ago and finally here is the sequel: Battle Scars. An album which marks the parting of bassist Neil Pepper, who at 44 years old, died of cancer last year. Pepper, despite the discomforts of the disease, still managed to play all bass parts for both Battle Scars and Beyond The Realm Of Euphoria, with a planned release for later this year. Out of respect, the remaining band members decided to continue as a foursome and Pepper is mentioned on three tracks as the composer / writer. Mark Spencer (Twelfth Night) will take his place as bassist during the upcoming concerts.
On Battle Scars the techno, ambient and dance influences, introduced since the recruitment of keyboardist Dean Baker, are strongly extended. The result contains a potpourri of styles and lifts Galahad, in terms of musical presentation, to the 21st century, while the progressive roots through Hammond and Mellotron samples are not forgotten. From the orchestral classical opening of the title track the listener rumbles on a rollercoaster ride of styles, tempo changes and atmospheres, which peaks on the trance excesses of Seize The Day. Despite the difficult way of creating this album, the band completely goes for it. Strong guitar playing by Roy Keyworth, with old fashioned solos in Reach For The Sun and Singularity. The pleasant voice of Stuart Nicholson and the now and then catchy vocal lines, especially the title track and Seize The Day, which will make them great sing-along songs during the upcoming concerts. Pepper's tight bass and the fine drumming of Spencer Luckman and finally the evocative notes of Dean Baker. It already makes Battle Scars one of the highlights of 2012.
No weaknesses to mention? Yes, but some really silly ones. The limited available, 180 grams, vinyl version, clocks at only 44 minutes. The cd (supplied free with the vinyl) contains the 2012 version of Sleepers as a bonustrack. For the music lovers and the collectors among us, the website offers a free downloadable demo version of the beautiful and highly sensitive Another Life Not Lived. Stuart Nicholson and Neil Pepper originally wrote the song for this album, but the band dared not to finish the song because of the burdened text (download available) and the emotional experiences with Neil Pepper.
Reach For The Sun
Bitter And Twisted
Beyond The Barbed Wire
Seize The Day
Sleepers (cd only bonustrack)
Another Live Not Lived (demo; available for free from the band website)