Galahad - Battle Scars

Battle Scars
Avalon Records
Galahad may well have been around for almost 27 years… but it’s one of those bands that never got supported nor widely advertised by a major label throughout the years. The band, surely, never stopped making music and enjoying playing at gigs… building a devoted fan base slowly but steadily. Back after 5 years since “Empires Never Last”… their new work is being stigmatized by a significant sad incident. The old-time member and friend of the band, the bassist Neil Pepper, passed away in September 2011… after he had recorded his parts for the new album and for the next one, “Beyond the Realms of Euphoria”, that will be released later in 2012.
“Battle Scars” is a diverse and stunning prog rock album that mesmerizes you right from the very first moment. The blending of straightforward rock, heavy, melodic, hard rock, complex, ambient, atmospheric, experimental & psychedelic music parts is simply enthralling… making it impossible to let go. “Battle Scars” with the ala-Queen is just amazing. “Reach For The Sun” is a notional continuation of the homonymous song while it’s different, heavy & atmospheric. “Singularity” is a wonderful prog tune with a hard guitar riff, great bass lines and some splendid moody key layers. Stuart’s distinctive vocals make the song exceptional. “Bitter And Twisted” surprises with its psychedelic trance sound at the beginning… but it won’t be long before you love this song. What a brilliant orchestration and a fantastic melodic refrain… absolutely astounding. “Suspended Animation” has a more neo-prog, heavy approach… and you can’t help but be overwhelmed by Neil’s great performance on bass. “Beyond The Barbed Wire” is a half atmospheric, half hard rockin’ tune… with a very strong refrain. “Seize The Day” balances between the classic prog rock songs with piano and voice at the beginning… but the trance, psychedelic sounds that burst in after a while… change the scene. An absorbing tune in any way… progressiveness and imagination… at the same time.
The album also contains two bonus tracks. The one is “Sleepers 2012”, which was originally featured in the album “Sleepers” in 1995. They have re-arranged the song as they weren’t totally satisfied with the original one. This version is probably slightly better than the first one. The other bonus track is the demo version of “Another Live Not Lived”, which was recorded by Stu and Neil while Neil was very ill but never completed for inclusion on the main album. The song arrangements as well as the band’s performances are all exceptional. The album was recorded, engineered and mixed by Karl Groom (Threshold) at Thin Ice studios… and the result is terrific.
This is one of those prog rock albums… that can please not only the prog fans but all those who fancy rock/metal music with atmospheric passages, beautiful melodic themes and smart orchestrations. “Battle Scars” is one of the best prog rock albums I’ve come across this year… and I’m quite curious how “Beyond the Realms of Euphoria” would be like… that’s gonna be released in a few months. If only this band had bigger promotion and support from a major label… then, things would have been different… in any case it’s never too late to discover a very frank and splendid progressive rock band…