Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Citadels - Galt Aureus

In 2006, a California-based indie rock band showed up on the scene with their debut album Heralds To The Sun. After three years of waiting, Galt Aureus is back with Citadels.

01. Overture Of Legion - 'Overture Of Legion' is a short, intro track reminiscent of Heralds To The Sun, but it foreshadows something completely new and exciting.

02. The Cavalcade - This is the first taste listeners get of Saher and Susan's voices complimenting each other on this album.  The piano magnificently contrasts with the heavy guitars. If you've seen any of their Youtube videos, you'll recognize that the style of 'The Cavalcade' is similar to their song 'Haunted Mind.'  The blend of Saher's screaming, and the silence at the end show the musical adeptness of Galt Aureus.

03. At Dawn - This track is one of my favorites.  Saher really paints the imagery of an early morning duel, and the confidence that each party required in themselves to partake, and win a duel.  With the layering of the different instrumentation beneath the guitars, as well as the harpsichord phrases, combined with lyrics like, "No need for words at all," this track is incredibly powerful.

04. Our Own Versailles - Saher's voice on this track is just amazing. The percussion is featured a bit more than in their other songs. 'Our Own Versailles' features interplay between the strings and percussion with Saher's voice soaring above.  This is an incredibly romantic and uplifting track.

05. Citadels - 'Citadels' opens with a melodic, almost melancholy piano. A waterfall-start follows; piano, voice, percussion. This song is a roller coaster of dynamics and instrumentation, very moving and depressing at the same time, especially with the lyrics, "The sky presses down."  'Citadels' features a triumphantly epic instrumental break, followed by a gorgeous ending.

06. The Armada - This track started out as one of the first videos Galt Aureus posted online.  It's interesting to hear the differences between the first version and the final version.  The guitars brilliantly underscore Saher's voice, with the piano singing through underneath.  'The Armada' contains an especially mournful, "You took everything..." section.  The ending is upbeat with great piano and guitar work.

07. Spiral Stile - This song is excellent and is almost lost among the other fantastic tracks on the album.  The opening of 'Spiral Stile' is excellent. There is a delightful faint techno feel beneath Susan's vocals.  The harmonies are amazing as always. Like all the tracks, there is a great blend of instrumentation throughout. The lyrics for 'Spiral Stile' are terrific, as is Susan's voice fading out to end the track.

08. Eight - The standout track of the album features a laid back feel, melodic intro, and great, subtle vocals. This song sounds like something hear in a private or intimate setting.  'Eight' is very personal; you can tell Saher put a lot of himself into it.  The result is a mix of happy memories, internal angst, and bitter regret at things long gone.

09. Before The Fall - The horn crescendo is an awesome start, followed by the drastic shift to Susan softly singing. Saher's voice sounds like a blanket I'd pull around myself on a cold winter day. I like the whispering, soft singing, and falsetto from Saher.  Susan shows off an impressive range and voice as well.  This is the most I've heard her sing; she has a gorgeous voice. This song is similar to the style/feel of their Youtube songs, 'Is There Anyone Left' and 'Beautiful Longing Words.'

10. Conquerors - What a contrast from the previous song.  "I will wipe you off this earth."  'Conquerors' is incredibly powerful and gritty.  The piano starts out with a theme, and the guitar picks it up and finishes.

11. Nocturne Carceris - Ambient noises give way to the piano, strong and true, elegant and wise. After the musical ecstasy I just heard, it's hard to believe the album is over, and then I accept that it is, and start over with track 1.

I don't remember ever being as excited for any album as I was for Citadels.  Not only did Galt Aureus meet all my hopes and expectations, but they far far overshot them.  Heralds to the Sun is a great album, Citadels is even better. Their sound has matured beyond belief.  I can hear the amount of thought, effort and skill that went into this album.  The fact that Saher and Susan did every aspect of creating this album, recording, performing, mastering, etc, is a real testament to human achievement.  Citadels is life-affirming.

Album rating: 10/10

For more information on Galt Aureus, check out their website:
Or follow them on Twitter: @GaltMusic

© 2010 Nate Phillipps

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