Galahad – The last great Adventurer (2022)


For years I have followed this British band around the charismatic singer Stuart Nicholson, aka Stu. This man has a very pleasant voice and writes very good lyrics that often have a socially critical charge. The latest album Seas of Change is a clear example of this and deals with the uncertainties in the UK after Brexit and in general. On this penultimate album, former bassist Lee Abraham plays along, but now as a guitarist and he does that very creditably. It's a shame he didn't get that much space on the long title piece. Due to the replacement of former guitarist Roy Keyworth, certainly not a favorite of mine, the balance in the band has improved because I think Abraham is a much better fit. Yet Seas of Change is not my favourite album, that must be Empires never last from 2007. I was very curious about new work and now there is The last great Adventurer.

Has anything else changed that we need to know?

Yes, as a new bassist Mark Spencer is active and he replaces, unfortunately much too early, deceased Neil Pepper. Together with Spencer Luckman on drums, he provides the music with a very solid foundation. This rhythm tandem is doing so well that I would love to see them perform live one day.

Five longer tracks have been chosen for the actual album and two bonus tracks have been added, but more on that later.

Abraham can count on a much larger share on The last great Adventurer and is a great counterpart to keyboardist Dean Baker, who again manages to create very diverse atmospheres on this new album. Opener Alive is an up-tempo song and starts trance-like and through the incoming guitars a fairly straightforward song develops with a very sing-along chorus. Do proggers actually do that? I do. It is a longer song and in the middle a calm passage follows with very fragile vocals by Stu after which Baker can assert himself with a nice keyboard tune and yes, a nice guitar solo at the end. That's what we call a good start, but what next? Well with a beautiful and very calm piece of keyboards Omega Lights starts, consisting of two parts, the first of which is instrumental. Part two is a very varied song with a very simple chorus but with all the trimmings. Here too Abraham plays a fine solo and that makes it a very good song. So far so good. Blood, Skin and Bone also has all the ingredients of a fine prog track. The quiet, floating Enclosure 1764 is a wonderful resting point with a melody to die for. The title track closes the regular album and this again offers plenty of variety. The ending is a bit jazzy and, unfortunately, a bit of saxophone is added, but iI believe it does have the function that the band intended.

Thematically, the album is about an adventurer who, as a mountaineer, has conquered many alpine peaks and is thus sung to as the last great Adventurer. (I am sure I read the name somewhere but can’t find it, so far) Stu apparently got the idea for this theme of his late father Bob. The artwork is also completely adapted to the subject and looks great.

As mentioned above, it is a fairly short album in itself, but because of the two bonus tracks the total comes to a decent length. These bonus tracks are Normaliy of Distance and Another Life not lived. The first one doesn't captivate me and passes without too many highlights, the slide guitar solo can't save the song either. Another Life not lived however is a beautiful song made by the late Neil Pepper and Stu and the title already betrays what it is about and the emotion is just palpable. Nice.

After many listens I've figured it out, this is one of the best Galahad records and that's a big compliment because The last great Adventurer is already their 11th album. The vocals of Stu are again of a high level and the band actually sounds better than ever. How I would like to hear Empires never last by the band in this line-up because I find the songs on that album just a bit more exciting than those on this album, but in terms of execution, the newcomer wins. Then there is only one solution, go on a live tour and visit Holland. I will be there!

A spot in my top ten of this year for sure.