Anton Johansson’s Galahad Suite – Galahad Suite
Anton Johansson’s Galahad Suite
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Look, I don’t know who on earth this Anton Johansson fellow is (other than he shares a last name with half of Sweden), but it’s obvious from pressing play that his Galahad Suite is no cobbled-together hack-job of an Arthurian concept album. Released on Lion Music and boasting an impressive promotional page where listeners can follow the story (http://www.galahadsuite.com/index2.htm), Johansson’s crew for the album boasts a familiar name in multi-instrumentalist Linus Abrahamson (Bass for Andromeda), as well as a spread of other, lesser known (to myself, at least) musicians.
Though broadly labeled as “progressive power metal”, this album is not that. Semblances of power metal are few and far between – but this doesn’t really work against the album. The Galahad Suite is, first and foremost, a narrative endeavor upon the life and trials of Sir Galahad. However, compared to other, conceptually similar projects, I feel that it maintains musical interest much more successfully. Musically, this reminds me more of a blend of Kansas-style lightly progressive (and sometimes symphonic) rock, with a few overtones of progressive metal akin to Circus Maximus or Threshold on their lighter days. Vocalist Carl Lindquist helps this comparison, reminding me a bit of both Mac McDermott and Michael Eriksen occasionally in both timbre and style.
Both sections of “Galahad” (“The Hope” and “The Man”) boast a sparse but memorable chorus, and “Somewhere: The Quest” is by far the most energetic song, carrying its brief but identifiably power metal drive to another quality chorus, helped along considerably by the keyboards. “Happy: The Incident” and “Never Alone: The Victory” exhibit more superb vocal melody work, as well as featuring some of the better progressive-influenced instrumentation (though even here, the complexity is minimal). Throughout the album, the keys and vocals are certainly the album’s greatest proponents, and sweep along a work that might otherwise succumb to being overly long or bereft of interesting guitar work (which, on the whole, is fairly light and unremarkable, serving primarily as harmonic and rhythmic support).
The primary drawbacks to this album are evident: it’s not heavy, and strong guitar hooks are nowhere to be found. It’s also only subtly progressive, and primarily so in its melodic structure and application of keyboards – though I personally have no problem whatsoever with this. There’s also a conspicuous lack of momentum during the middle and end of the album, where Galahad is pensive and less active. In an album that’s already not the most thrilling, this inevitably is going to spell boredom for those listeners with a lesser attention span.
I enjoyed this album considerably, but I recognize that it hit me at just the right time, and is definitely too reserved and subtle to be in constant rotation for me. That said, however, fans of symphonic prog, solid concept albums, and softer, melodic prog rock/metal should all get a good bit of mileage out of this work. It’s very well-crafted, boasts some great keyboard work, employs a charismatic vocalist, and generally drives home Anton Johansson’s vision quite effectively.
3.5 // 5