Galactic Empire review by Galactic Empire

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  • Released: Feb 3, 2017
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 7.9 (19 votes)
Galactic Empire: Galactic Empire

Sound — 8
John Williams has been the source of many of the most quintessential film score moments in cinema history, and while that list includes classics like the "Indiana Jones" theme song, and the iconic tritone of the "Jaws" motif, the most legendary of all is his score to the "Star Wars" film series. Whether you're a fan of the franchise or not, just about anyone can recognize the opening salvo of horns that build up into the triumphant fanfare of the theme to "Episode IV: A New Hope," or the dour grandeur of the Imperial March, and Williams' compositions have inspired plenty of soundtracks, pastiches, and covers in its wake.

For Grant McFarland, the drummer for the metalcore band Century, he took his reverence for Williams' film scores beyond simply playing an instrument on top of the master track, and cultivated a full metal lineup called Galactic Empire, where all of the four members role-play as figures from the Empire to play progressive metal renditions of Williams' compositions from the original "Star Wars" trilogy and the prequel trilogy.

Aside from the obvious visual humor harped on in the band's couple of music videos, like seeing Darth Vader and Boba Fett deftly playing their instruments despite their cumbersome space armor, and the fact that the bassist is just a run-of-the-mill storm trooper, their metal reconstructions of Williams' compositions in their self-titled album boast integrity in instrumental skill. Along with outright metal energy taking the spotlight, whether it's the tricky guitar leads in "Main Theme" and "Ben's Death / Tie Fighter Attack," or McFarland's relentless drumming abilities in "Duel of the Fates" and "Cantina Band," the elaborate guitar layering in the album is a key appeal. Whether it's the high hammer-on licks emulating the string melodies throughout "The Asteroid Field," the tuplet horn rhythms easily translated into djents in "Imperial March," or the twinkling guitar melodies substituted for the original xylophone/harp parts in the outro of "The Force Theme," Galactic Empire's effort to redo all the original orchestral sections with metal guitar lines works well.

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Only in a couple of cases do Galactic Empire's metal renditions feel faulty. "Across the Stars" meanders without offering anything too captivating (much like "Episode II: Attack of the Clones," which the original song was written for), and the jovial melodies in "Forest Battle" inch close to the cheesy sound of folk metal, but on top of their orchestral to metal translation, they offer other sonic flavors that embolden the modern prog metal feel in the album, like the hint of IDM-inspired production value thrown in "Main Theme," and the dry rapid strumming intro of "Battle of the Heroes" sounding like something from an Animals As Leaders album.

Lyrics — 8
[There are no lyrics in this album, so for those hoping to hear what Darth Vader's growling vocals would sound like, you'll just have to resort to your own imagination.]

Overall Impression — 7
Like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the concept of covering classical compositions in a metal style will never be able to shake off the gimmick factor it inherently wields. Galactic Empire is no exception with their take on the "Star Wars" film scores, but given their aesthetic committed to the franchise, they own up to the niche they're confined in. So while Galactic Empire may only appeal to the intersection of the metalheads and "Star Wars" fans Venn diagram, their detailed commitment to emulating John Williams' compositions as accurately as they can with their metal instrumentation succeeds.

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25 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I was surprised, but this album really doesn't sound gimmick - a lot of interesting arrangements and progressive instrumentation - I really like what I hear.
    Which leads me to wonder...are there any transcriptions of the music available on U.G.? (hint hint wink wink) Edit: I'm already fully aware of the fact that there are transcriptions of the original music available on the U.G. database. I'm specifically referring to this particular band's arrangements of the music.
    Hint: use the search bar for tabs. If nothing comes up, then the answer is no.
    Thanks Dynamight...I already knew that. What I'm angling towards was whether or not the group itself had recently submitted transcripts that are still going through the consideration/weeding-out process and are not yet officially available to the general public...but could be available soon. (and whether or not they will be in Guitar Pro/Power Tab/Text format or otherwise)
    Great interpratation, sounds realy progressive, but feels kinda overplayed to me - who does´nt heard Imperial march metal cover for hundred times with various metal arrangements already?
    Yeah, the march is a bit old hat though - everything feels really fresh and worthwhile as a whole. Really quite impressed to be honest!
    really cool idea, but arrangements sounds like made by within the ruins band
    Saw these guys in Glasgow last night, fucking killed it. Their version of Cantina band kicks ass
    The Cantina song sounded like something from a video game. Awesome concept reimagining the music of Star Wars.
    I saw these guys in Pittsburgh. It was their 3rd show ever since they are a brand new band and they put on an amazing show. It was a really unique experience seeing all the nerdy Star Wars fans cheering and head banging to the music. When they play live, they do not wear the legit costumes like they do in the music videos, but that is understandable as they need to be able to fucking move and breathe on stage lol Their cover of the Duel of Fates is amazing!
    They aren't the first. Everyone go check out Anchorhead's Shredisode IV for some real ass Star Wars metal.
    Loved this, Cantina band and Battle of the Heroes the 2 standouts for me. Really fun to listen to.
    if there's no lyrics, how did people manage to rate it 8 over 10? why not 7 or 9?
    It is the arithmetic mean between "Sound" and "Overall Impression" (7 and 8 respectively) = 7.5 - but as always the rating goes in favor of the record, so it's 8.
    Ugh, the modern production/compression and protools just strips the life out of the songs. Stick to the original score as Williams intended it.
    There needs to be more people like you good sir. Honestly. This site needs more comments like this.
    Analogue sounds way better and natural but it costs more now as if you fuck up a take the guy your paying has to cut and tape certain stuff togeather which takes up more studio time if you don't nail it. Unfortunately Pro Tools is the more cost effective way for the artists and studio. A lot of listeners don't even notice the difference which is also sad. This band just released their first album tho so don't be too hard on them as they wouldn't have much money. Bigger bands that can afford it I assume they don't do it cause it's easier just to do it in parts instead of having to get everything perfect like the older bands did I love the Cantina song
    It's not really a digital issue issue. The lifeless over-quantized sound that's complained about in modern rock and metal has a lot more to do with general production decisions than simply the nature of a computer's ADC vs. tape recording. Pro Tools makes it very easy to go overboard with the post processing and that can suck the life out of a song, but it can also be avoided, and the better mixed albums (mixed on computers) do that. That said, I don't mind it for these songs.
    ... They're signed to Rise Records. They've toured internationally (my band opened for them in England), and bands nowadays, as a rule, don't use tape recording because it's fucking pointless. Technology has moved on, and it sounds better for it, it's delusional to think otherwise.