LEE ABRAHAM (Galahad) – Comatose (2019)
Released today, “Comatose” is LEE ABRAHAM’s latest ambitious release in his increasingly impressive and varied solo career. While he rejoined Galahad in 2017, Lee has created this new own concept album imagining the experience of someone in a coma following an accident.
Clocking in at around 47 mins, “Comatose” tells the story of a car crash victim who experiences flash backs while medical staff try to save his life. A deep and complex work that takes in a number of musical styles ranging from rock, pop, melodic rock, but all the while retaining the overall progressive rock sound.
Lee Abraham has continued to develop his skills as a writer and a performer, playing all the keyboards, guitars and bass on this album. He retains the ever dependable Gerald Mulligan on drums, who is in particular a force of nature furiously powering the opening very progressive piece, ‘Numb Pt 1’.
This Floydian style curtain opener begins cinematically with a deep ominous synth drone accompanying the bleeps of a heart monitor. A fragile acoustic guitar picks out a few notes interchanging with some distant electric guitar tones – there is a very real sense of the ‘near’ and the ‘far’, the feeling of an internal world set against a barely perceived wider environment. An orchestral keyboard passage builds and builds until bass, drums enter and Lee Abraham’s now distinctive trademark high pitched guitar soloing soars above the piece.
Long-time collaborator Rob Arnold makes his first appearance with some deftly played piano leading up to the first time we hear the vocals at nearly 8 minutes in to this opening. Marc Atkinson’s vocals evoke the sense of dislocation and disconnection the central character must be feeling in his semi-conscious netherworld.
Lee Abraham has previously proved himself to be a high quality songwriter, and whilst this album imaginatively conveys one storyline in an extended piece, crucially he has also not lost sight of interspersing the more cinematic or atmospheric sections like ‘Realisation’ with songs which could easily stand-alone outside the narrative of this album.
‘Twisted Metal’ is one such song as it throbs with a keyboard and drum opening and Atkinson sings with controlled power over an insistent synth pulse, vocalising the frustration of a commuter. This is a very well-crafted rock song… and probably not one to be played too loudly in traffic jams!
The listener is then suddenly thrust from the frustration of the driver in to the strange euphoria of a ‘near death’ experience in ‘Ascend the Sky’ with mellotron sounds and choral vocals, featuring Abraham’s wife Diane and Galahad band mate Mark Spencer. Lee lays another flowing guitar solo over the piece and there is a real sense of ascension.
One of the highlights from this outstanding album is the achingly beauty of ‘The Sun’, which rises with softly played acoustic guitar and flute sounds acting as a gorgeous bed upon which Atkinson can lay down his soulfully gorgeous voice.
‘Numb Pt 2’ is a musical refrain of Pt 1 with added power, more rocking and even apt for Rock Radio. A highlight for me. The heavy riffage and fine drumming continues on ‘No Going Back’, underpinning an intense vocal performance from Atkinson… before it subsides to the sound of a ventilator in a hospital ward.
The enigmatic ‘Awaken?’ segues in over the ventilator with Arnold’s finely judged piano introducing a contemplative feel before drums, bass and acoustic guitar gently join the piece. This final part of ‘Comatose’ builds gradually in intensity before Abraham’s electric guitar fluidly and emotionally solos for a gloriously extended finale – it’s a remarkable piece of guitar playing to complete an excellent album.
It is left to the listener to guess whether the protagonist survives his comatose state or not … but I may be slowing down when I next drive to work.
‘Comatose’ is a true progressive rock album for its concept and general musical style, however there’s variation via melodic passages and rock&pop accessibility.
Lee Abraham has been wholly successful artistically, telling a story with great musical skill and imagination. At the heart of his work is an understanding of the importance of great melodic songwriting, whether for 3 minutes or over a longer duration.
In this album Abraham has probably produced one of the standout prog albums of 2019, filled with sweet melody and guitar power, and definitely one of the finest albums of his notable career.
01. Numb, Pt. 1
03. Twisted Metal
04. Ascend the Sky
05. The Sun
06. Numb, Pt. 2
07. No Going Back
Lee Abraham (Galahad) – guitars, keyboards, bass
Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Nine Stones Close) – vocals
Gerald Mulligan (Credo) – drums
Rob Arnold – piano
Diane Abraham – backing vocals
Mark Spencer (Galahad) – backing vocals
BUY IT !