I’ve been a fan of Galahad for several years now. Musically, they always deliver and they always seem to be searching for a more modern sound. In other words, they are never stuck in a rut. It’s been some time since the last true album release, but here we are: “Seas of Change” released on January 15th (on CD), and I have to say that it is one of the best Galahad releases yet.
The band has been through quite a few member changes over years, and this album sees some changes once again. The current line-up includes Stu Nicholson on vocals, Dean Baker on keys and orchestrations, Spencer Luckman on drums, Tim Ashton on bass, and Lee Abraham on guitars. Sarah Bolter guests on flute, clarinet, and saxophone.
The musical style here is what I simply call modern progressive rock, as I don’t believe they fall under the “neo-prog” label that is thrown around out there. I say this because their ideas are too fresh and too current to allow such an outdated label. The band produces fresh progressive rock with towering keys and guitars, and they throw in all sorts of other instruments and tones to keep things moving.
“Seas of Change” seems to be more eclectic and varied than any other album they have released. One moment will be pastoral and gentle, and the next moment will be steely-edged or synth-laden. It switches from “classic” to “modern” in the blink of an eye, and then back again. So, we get flutes and beauteous keys, but also distorted guitars, synth, and spacey moments. Unashamedly, my favorite part of their sound is the synthy techno moments that are so rich and vividly produced.
Performances here are top notch, as expected. Lee’s guitars leave a huge impression with giant solos and driving distorted guitars. Stu always delivers vocally: His voice is instantly recognizable, melodic, and his vocal lines are well composed. I’m also so in love with Dean’s keyboards. He offers a wide variety over the whole album, but it is the burning synth that will most likely be one of my favorite keyboard performances of the year.
Lyrically, the album is quite respectable. Yes, it focuses on the turmoil that we see in our world today, specifically in Galahad’s home country of the UK, but it doesn’t stay there. No, instead, it feels more hopeful that we truly are in a real sea of change. So, while other artists seem to be stuck on the turmoil itself, Galahad seems to see the endpoint; the goal in sight.
“Seas of Change” itself is only one track that is about 42 minutes long, so any talk about “favorites” is a little odd. However, my favorite part of this album is around the 23 minute mark where a huge synth solo comes in backed by monastic group vocals. It’s huge and vibrant, and I love it. There is also this humongous guitar solo at around the 33 minute mark that is absolutely spine-tingling.
I love the waves of spacey harmony that begin, end, and reoccur throughout this album. It truly does feel like a complete album, not just a one-off track. This feeds into the one thing that stands out for me on this album: “Seas of Change” is a fair bit more cinematic than Galahad has ever been in the past. The album feels like an event of sorts, with climaxes, subtle portions, and explosions of sound. It feels momentous and towering at times, but low and understated in others. In a way, it is exactly like the choppy waves of the sea, and I feel the band has nailed that vibe here.
Galahad is back and really delivers with “Seas of Change”. This band is always ready to think outside the box and to reconsider how they are doing things. I really respect that and I love the results. Make sure you pick up a copy!