Back in the sixties and seventies many bands succeeded in recording two albums a year, equally high-levelled and filled with great compositions. Nowadays - also a result of the possibility to put more music on a CD - bands stick to a maximum of one album a year and even that's an exception. Most artists need more time between albums in order to meet the same high level of musicality. So, after the highly acclaimed album Battle Scars (see review), the British neo-prog band Galahad surprised me with a second album within a year.
Musically Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria continues where Battle Scars ended, combining impressive progressive rock with a diversity of other musical styles like trance, dance and metal, just to name a few. So, please don't switch off the CD player during the opener Salvation I - Overture! This piece tries to pull your leg with a techno start, which works remarkably well with Dean Baker's piano and the heavy guitars that take over after approximately two and a half minutes. This little surprise gently segues into the second part Salvation II - Judgement Day, where the vocals appear. With a Rammstein influenced guitar riff in the background, the melodic vocals work perfectly with the modern ambient keyboard and (perhaps) programmed parts. Neil Pepper's rumbling bass leads to a change of direction: background vocals appear and Stuart Nicholson's voice creates a kind of Muse atmosphere. The end has a Threshold touch, which could be influenced by Karl Groom, who was involved in the recording process.
On Battle Scars I already noticed contemporary musical influences in Galahad's music, but this time around those influences are even stronger embedded. Guardian Angel is the perfect example to prove this for the musicality has even increased since Battle Scars. Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria sounds more coherent; the diversity of styles now sounds very natural together. However, I must admit that I normally have an urge to vomit when I hear the kind of music that Galahad plays around the eighth minute on a regular radio station! Strangely enough it doesn't annoy me too much in this majestic composition. Secret Kingdoms... starts nice and retro with Roy Keyworth's stunning guitar parts. Here the fine old fashioned progressive rock, including the ohh's and ahh's in the background, are blended with a more metal-like style. Towards the end this piece has an eighties feel, with a sort of computerized drums and vocals that are gently mixed in an early Marillion style.
Like the three dots already indicated, the second part of the song is ...And Secret Worlds, which starts with a relaxing piano preparing for a heavier middle section, with a prefect groove provided by drummer Spencer Luckman and a typical neo-progressive and emotional guitar solo. A combination of seventies keyboards and modern sounds lead to All In The Name Of Progress. In my opinion this is a perfect title for this song where all the aforementioned musical styles come together. Impressive keyboards cooperate with powerful vocals and the ultimate riff of this album. Basically this is still a strong neo-progressive piece, but if you dig deeper and with an open mind, you may enjoy the heavy guitars, the subtle programming and a singer who's is capable to affect you by switching from soft and emotional to rough, aggressive and even a grunt...
Guardian Angel - Reprise returns to the earlier song. A strong piano part paves the way for Nicholson's sensitive vocals; this reprise pushes the song back to neo-prog, with which Galahad once started. It contains a great mixture of pompous keyboards, clear vocals and prominent choir vocals. Normally the album should end by now, but as a bonus we get a reissue of Richelieu's Prayer, one of Galahad's classic compositions. This piece first appeared on Nothing Is Written (1991), the band's debut album. For this reissue Galahad invited Mark Andrews, former band member and writer of this song, to play some additional keyboards. Regarding the compositions they have written in recent years, the changes the band went through music wise are evident. However, Richelieu's Prayer is still a great song with splendid solos, but the early Marillion is never far away.
Galahad have recorded two brilliant albums within a year. I was happily surprised while listening and reviewing Battle Scars, but twice a year such a big surprise by the same act is quite exceptional. Just like Battle Scars, Beyond The Realms Of Euphoria is an excellent album and even more coherent than the penultimate CD. Therefore I have to add half a star and by doing so I judged this album to be a masterpiece...
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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