GALLEON "Engines of creation"
The opener AI may have taken a bit longer, because it shows that typical symphonic atmosphere with nice laid back guitar, where Swedish bands seem to stand for. Galleon was in the past not really known for super complex music, but with songs like The Assemblers and Signals they have delivered beautiful symphonic works with strong compositions. Although keyboards still play an important role, you get the impression that the guitar is far more present than on previous albums. The drums also sound a little more dynamic, perhaps the presence of the new drummer Goran Johnsson is causing this, it is perhaps surprising that the latter plays keyboards with Cross. And it seems as if they return to their roots, "Engines of Creation" is clearly inspired by Rush, both musically and vocally. In State Insane the guitars sound just a little harder and you hear even a hint of "progressive metal", but as it seems obvious for progressive guys, they alternate it with an acoustic passage.
Towards the end of the album, the songs are also slightly longer and more vintage keyboards comes to the foreground, Men & Monsters is a very progressive piece with jazzy influences, here, I inadvertently must remind of The Flower Kings. This album also contains some excellent guitar solos, the sound of the guitar tends more to the hard rock of the seventies than to neo-prog, the style where Galleon might be wrongly placed by many reviewers. Mother Machine also shows the best of all musicians, first solid guitar rock alternated with synthesizers, voices through a megaphone in old-style vinyl accompanied by piano gives this issue an extra dimension.
Lightworks closes the album perfectly and simultaneously proves
that the group has indeed evolved compared to previous albums. You can
actually still find traces of groups such as IQ, Marillion and other
progressive leading bands. But they have developed their own particular
style, which sets them apart from mediocrity. This is one of the better
albums of the group and is certainly recommended."
"After working on their very ambitious last album From Land To Ocean for three years (two years were spent on the 52 minute The Ocean) Galleon found it extremely difficult to keep those creative juices flowing. Throughout 2005 nothing was happening. Then on top of that, drummer and founding member Dan Fors announced at the beginning of 2006 that he would quit the band due to lack of inspiration and wanting to spend more time on other things in life. Goran Johnsson, formerly of Grand Stand was recruited. Bass player and lead vocalist Goran Fors knew Johnsson from the Spektrum project. He also plays keyboards with Cross. During 2006 Fors and Johnsson started to brainstorm on new ideas and suddenly the creativity came back and the recording of what would become Engines of Creation started in July 2006 and it took a year to finish the album.
The sleeve design is again by keyboard player Ulf Pettersson (he also did the beautiful sleeve of From Land To Ocean) but this time its a bit different design from other Galleon album sleeves. Its a perfect match with the difference in the music and lyrical content of the album. The main theme of the album has to do with technology and all the (wrong) things man does with it. Big brother, artificial intelligence, plagues and oppression are the main subjects. They paint a very bleak picture of mankind.
We are the creative race. When it comes to pain, men and monsters are the same (from Men and monsters).
All the albums lyrics are by Goran Fors. On previous albums he already showed his concerns about the way our society is developing. He leaves room however for some light at the end of the tunnel in the closing Lightworks.
For future better ways. No more corrupted silly games. We have to set it right this time.
Musically things have changed. Maybe its because of new member Johnsson but the album has a lot more energy and driving force than previous albums. The album is heavier and has a more modern sound (its the first Galleon album that only uses digital equipment). Johnsson has a different way of drumming than his predecessor Dan Fors. He seems to hit the drums harder but also uses a lot of different cymbals and small percussion to keep things varied. However this driving force and higher energy levels are noticeable with all band members. Especially guitar player Sven Larsson really seems to have found his place and sound within Galleon because he really shines on this album.
From heavy riffs (The Assemblers, State Insane, Men and Monsters and Machine Mother) to beautiful acoustic work (on the short soundtrack like instrumental The Cinnamon Hideaway). Keyboard player Ulf Pettersson seems to have more of a supporting role but thats deceiving because there is plenty of his excellent keyboard work to enjoy on this album. Lots of moog solos seemingly coming out of nowhere. Listen for example to the Brutal reign part of Machine Mother. Pettersson really lifts that part of the song with some bombastic choir work. Later in the song he displays some beautiful piano playing. And then there is bass player and lead vocalist Goran Fors. I think his vocals on this album are much stronger than on previous records. More self assured. And more importantly; he certainly cut down the number of sentences in each song. In the past he sometimes seemed to have difficulty to fit all the words in the melody. There is a much better balance now. The best example for that is the excellent Signals. What a beautiful chorus! Also his bass work really is strong (on Monsters and Men for example).
The band claims that there is a more Rush-like energy present on this album. And I agree. Not that the music sounds like Rush but after listening to the album a lot I can understand what they mean. Although I must say that the second part of Lightworks (the Lightworks perfect way part) reminded me very much of Mystic Rhythms from the Rush album Power Windows and the opening riff of The Assemblers has a little Snakes and Arrows feel to it (until Pettersson brings his Moog to the front of the mix).
Highlights of the album? The Assemblers is a very dynamic opener (after the short but beautiful instrumental A.I.) that sets the tone. The earlier mentioned Signals simply is perfect with a beautiful chorus and at the end a guitar/keyboard duel. State Insane has some riffs that Big Elf and Black Bonzo would be proud of that are not the names you expect to read in a Galleon review. This song has also some very hard, down to earth lyrics about the government as Big Brother.
and when the so called authorities come kicking in your door. And microchip your body. Unconscious on the floor.
Men And Monsters starts as the 'Galleon' as we knew them but soon changes into a heavy jazz rock kind of a song with some very atmospheric vocal parts in between. The vocals in combination with the piano reminded me a bit of Echolyn. The last three minutes of the song are heavy progressive rock stuff. Excellent! And lastly Machine Mother features one of the most exiting pieces of music of the album - I mentioned that already in this review. They seem to end the song with a beautifully sung part with just piano so when the song did continue I was a bit disappointed at first until I noticed that it was a reprise of that Brutal Reign part.
Lots of things have changed in the last 10 years of Galleon's
existence. They had some personnel changes, some touring setbacks and
creative droughts but still they managed to get better and better on
each new release. I was very positively surprised by Engines of Creation,
especially by the album's drive and energy. Its an album that
I never expected Galleon would be able to make. IMHO it is one of the
best albums of their career so far."
There's a reason that Galleon has been one of Progress Records main
acts over the years, and that's because they know how to deliver the
goods time and time again. Dramatic songs like "Lightworks",
with its bombastic guitar & keyboard riffs, the majestic, complex
arrangements of "The Assemblers",
One might say that Galleon stick to a formula and rarely stray from
it, but you have to admit that formula is quite good and works time
after time after time. Engines of Creation is another solid and enjoyable
slice of modern symphonic prog from these veteran Swedes."
The (too?) short, but brilliant instrumental : A.I. are
a great opener to this new outing from
The Assemblers follows quickly with an up-tempo (intro
wise) tune leading to that typical
Track#3 : Signals a superb track which starts (and ends)
with morse code signals, hence
Galleon way back, were originally a Rush influenced trio and it shows
especially on this track
State Insane initially has this heavy and dooming aura about it, but midways changes to a soothing acoustic ballad like theme....to great effect, rounding it all up by returning to that heavy theme. SUPERB!!
The Cinnamon Hideaway are another brilliant short instrumental, its laidback, intriguing and beautiful.
Men & Monsters a dramatic (if you will) tense
thematic downtoned tune, that after a few listens no doubt will haunt
your lets hear that again censor, ending with some powerplay
by the band, led by
Machine Mother a heavier rougher tune (again Rush springs
to mind) fine excellent play from all involved, with Larsson (guitars),
Petterson (keyboards) to the fore and solid backing by Fors (Vocals,
bass) and Johnsson (Drums).
Epic track: Lightworks ends this fine and recommendable album, with some serious highpowered hardprog in superb different variations and arrangements.
So another superb release from GALLEON and another notch in the belt
of the excellent record company: Progress Records. I heartily recommend
this album to any serious progcollector (friends of Galleon, will own
it allready!) and while i'm at it, do check out the fabulous Progress
Records, for other brilliant progbands and releases!
At their website, they wanted the readers to know that this would be their best effort to date, and while I have no other Galleon music to compare this to, I can comment on what I have gleaned from my listening sessions with the cd. Galleon is most definitely a Neo Prog band, but as I have discovered, that is not always bad, in their defense, they are good at everything, from musicianship, songwriting, to the production and cohesiveness of the material. I am reminded of the allure of middle era Pink Floyd, and the more intense aspects of IQ/Marillion, so as a point of reference, I can see why Galleon has been as prolific as they have been, they are not merely a band that has a pretensive formulaic writing style, but they have a sincere sound that is very personal in sound. Keyboards and guitars are very well done, both in technique and sound, vintage and modern are combined to give both a nod to the golden era of progressive music, and to entertain the contemporary fans as well.
Galleon are not playing a hugely complicated music, yet it is sophisticated
enough to keep you on
This is a nice piece of music no doubt, I can see why they are nine
recordings into their careers, as
More reviews coming soon
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