If you’re going to reissue an album that’s less than a decade old, you have to make an effort.
As befitting the knightly honour of a son of Lancelot, Galahad have done just that. Originally released in 2007, their sixth album has been remixed, remastered “and in some cases, re-recorded”. Alternative versions of Termination and This Life Could Be My Last are added bonuses, and there are demos available via the band’s website too. Galahad first emerged in the late 80s, just after prog’s ‘second wave’, and by the time of Empires Never Last, they were getting meaty with the guitars, emphasising the metal in prog metal. Karl Groom, of Arena/Threshold note, engineered and mixed them for the first time here. Fortunately, they also dabbled in electronica, at points faintly echoing The Who sketching out a Baba O’Reilly intro. And the album opened with the angelic vocal of Magenta’s Tina Booth, piping, ‘Just because we are not youngsters/Just because we are not hip/Doesn’t mean we are less valid/Than the latest one-card trick,’ lulling us into a false sense of calm before Stuart Nicholson growls ‘Defiance!’ and carefully controlled carnage breaks loose. While this is very much a ‘rock’ album then, Galahad retain enough progressive savvy to break up the barrage with oases of calm, allowing synths and keyboards to cruise and chime. Fourteen minutes of I Could Be God (don’t worry: the next line is ‘or I could be the devil’) contains enough switchbacks to keep it vivid, while the title track, opening with an addictive bass line, is Kashmir meets Killing Joke. This Life Could Be My Last uses rhythmic tension as a weapon of momentum. There’s liberal use of sampled speech (is that Martin Luther King motivating us?) and sufficient imagination to prevent this from lapsing into thrashing. Empires may crumble, but this one’s standing firm.