There are some bands that I must drop everything and hear when they release a new album. Galahad is definitely one of those bands and have been for about a decade now. There’s just something about them that I love. The new album is called The Last Great Adventurer, and it releases today, October 24th.
I first discovered Galahad with 2012’s two album release of Battle Scars and Beyond the Realms of Euphoria. I still listen to those records constantly. For some reason, I like to hear them while I’m mowing the yard. From there, I listened to older albums, such as Sleepers, Year Zero, Empires Never Last, and other classics. Moving forward, Quiet Storms, a compilation of new arrangements and covers, has become another favorite, and then Seas of Change with its 42 minute, one-track structure has been the last we heard from the band officially. That was back in 2018, so it’s been 5 years since Galahad has released a studio album, though they have released live albums.
Galahad hails from the UK, and they have been active since 1985. For this record, the band consists of Stu Nicholson on vocals, Lee Abraham on guitar, Dean Baker on keyboards, newcomer Mark Spencer on bass, and Spencer Luckman on drums. Galahad has seen many lineup changes through the years, and so having only one personnel change this time is a great thing.
The band has flirted with various styles through the years. Their current form is that of modern progressive rock with electronic trappings, and that is my favorite sound from them thus far. I found it interesting that Seas of Change didn’t have much electronica on it, but this album does. It made me wonder if these songs predate Seas of Change somehow, being written closer to the pair of albums in 2012. It appears that this is the case, to some extent, and explains why that sound has returned.
There are so many things I love about this album. First, Stu has one of my favorite voices, period. He is instantly recognizable for me, and his voice is somehow larger than life to my ears. Second, Lee’s guitars are fantastic. He has added a fierce and muscular element to the band, and some of his solos on this record are truly extraordinary. Third, Dean’s keys are some of my favorites this year. Not only does he offer up some addictive solos, but the general atmosphere and tone he utilizes here just jives with me so well.
It’s not just the individual elements, though, that make this album special. The songs are simply well written, both musically and lyrically, and I find that I can listen to the record back-to-back several times without feeling the desire to switch to something else. I simply love the atmosphere and melody that this band brings.
The Last Great Adventurer technically has only 5 tracks, but there are two bonus tracks, as well. Each of the songs has a particular personality that I like. “Alive” is the opener, and besides its wonderful chorus, I like the energy and the absolutely searing synth solo that feels so vibrant. “Omega Lights” is a 10-minute piece with what I would admit is a slightly weak chorus, but everything else about the song is incredible. I love the pace, the ambient portions, the wide variety of keys, and the incredible instrumental section near the end. The song is so strong, even if it doesn’t really get stuck in my head.
Skipping to the end, the title track is another 10-minute song, and it is a good one. I like how gracious and nostalgic it feels as the band celebrates the legendary mountain climbers of Groβglockner and Wildspitze. Stu’s father was part of that crew and is pictured on the cover; that adds a very human and emotional element to this already wonderful piece, as that connection obviously influences who the “last great” is in this song. The song has bluesy moments and slower, vocal-centered parts, and everything just feels right. The fiery guitar solo from Lee in the second half only serves to elevate the track even more.
I mentioned the two bonus tracks earlier, and I must say that they are both excellent. In fact, they may be two of my favorites overall. “Normality of Distance” is a serene song with a classic sort of golden rhythm that I find very attractive. It is catchy in that way, and it has my favorite chorus on the album, even if I wouldn’t call the gentle chorus incredibly addictive or anything. No, there is something more reserved about it that has really stamped it upon my memory. “Another Life Not Lived” is a sad song lyrically, and that has really drawn me to it. The lyrics are clear and concise, and the song overall makes my mind wander, not from the song, but from whatever else I’m doing. I love that song.
My favorite two tracks on the album are “Blood, Skin, and Bone” and “Enclosure 1764”. These two go together in my mind. The former has the soothing edge that Galahad does so well, and its glorious chorus immediately stayed with me. I love the background female vocal harmonies, almost Middle Eastern in style, and there’s just something slightly gritty and macabre about the song that really highlights it for me, especially the spoken word portion from Stu in the second half. That song feels like it continues directly into “Enclosure 1764”, even though it doesn’t actually. This song is rather cinematic and thoughtful as it utilizes an anti-enclosure nursery rhyme to somber effect. It isn’t a typical rock song at all, but I love how ominous and full of social commentary it is.
Galahad continues to prove that they are one of the most underrated modern progressive bands out there today. They write fantastic melodies, they combine rock and electronic sounds to soothing effect, and they have lyrics that can definitely feel biting and uncompromising. I love that about them, and this album is not only one of the best examples of their work, but also a great place to start becoming acquainted.
Find Galahad online: