Review of Galahad, the 2014 Trilogy of EPs: “Seize the Day”; “Guardian Angel”; and “Mein Herz Brennt.”
Birzer Rating for all three: 9/10.
Two caveats as I review these three EPs. First, I’d not come upon Galahad as a band until being introduced to them just a few years ago by the first lady of prog, Alison Henderson. When Galahad first emerged in the U.K., we Americans missed them for some reason. I’m not sure why, and I think this is an American failing. At the time Galahad came together as a band in the U.K., I was firmly listening to Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows, and The Flat Earth. But, this failing is now thirty years in the past.
Second, the moment I started listening to the band, I felt an immediate kinship. I love these guys, and I love what they’re doing. Exploring their back catalogue has been one of my sonic joys of the last several years.
I hope they don’t mind the comparison, but they sound like the legitimate successors to the Midge Ure-era of Ultravox (pre-Uvox). For me, this is not just a great thing, it’s a grand thing. I loved the songwriting and flow of Vienna, Rage in Eden, and Lament. Each moved me immensely, and I’ve always wondered why a band didn’t embrace the Ultravox sound and prog it up. An album such is Rage in Eden is so full of ideas, it could easily have been three times as long as it was. One could readily take Ultravox toward more electronica and minimalism, or one could beef the sound up, making the pop elements a part of the sound rather than the core of it. Galahad is that second band–Ultravox on steroids, beefed up and presenting the music as a deep work of art, immersed in gravitas, and willing to be profoundly adventuresome.
I was happily surprised when Stu Nicholson announced that the band would spend 2014 focusing on just a few EPs rather than on a full album. After the 2012 barrage of two albums—each astounding in its own right—the band had to be exhausted. The release of three EPs seemed a good idea. Of course, I’d love another Galahad album, and I assume we will get one. So, let the guys do what they need to do to get ready for the next big one! I can be patient, especially when it comes to excellence, and I’m positive Galahad will deliver. These are guys who–thankfully–never do a thing half way.
Now that the last of the three EPs has been released, we can readily assess just what Nicholson and co. have accomplished in 2014. And, frankly, it’s quite a bit.
I’ve already reviewed Seize the Day at progarchy. This is the longest of the EPs in terms of songs. Six total. Two versions of “Seize the Day,” including the definitive “full version”, two versions of “21st Century Painted Lady,” and two versions of “Bug Eye 2014,” including a live version.
The second, “Guardian Angel,” came out this summer. It presents the title song in four different versions, two of which appeared on the album, Beyond the Realms, It also contains a piano version of “Beyond the Barbed Wire.” Stripped down to its essence, the song reveals the delicate beauty and versatility of Nicholson’s voice.
The final EP, “Mein Herz Brennt,” presents this title song in four versions as well. I’m not familiar with the original song, and I’m still digesting this EP. Though I was once fluent in Austrian German, I have a hard time appreciating the German vocals here. They seem harsh and spooky, though this might very well have been Galahad’s intent. The EP will probably grow on me. When it does, I’ll report back.
Regardless, I’m really, really happy with what Galahad has done. They’ve managed to remain prog while also being truly progressive, exploring new areas and sounds.
I’m truly sorry they’ve not been a part of my life for thirty years, but I’m thankful they’ve been a part of it as long as they have. A huge thanks to Lady Alison for sharing her love of this band with me. Thank you, equally, to Stu and Co. for keeping alive the spirit of playful and meaningful innovation. Galahad has always been the favorite knight of this Arthur-obsessed man, and Galahad has quickly become a favorite of this same prog-obsessed man as well.
Long may they continue!
One may purchase each of the three EPs at amazon.com and at Galahad’s official site: http://www.galahadonline.com/