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Galactic Empire - Episode II

Label: Rise Records
Format: Download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8.5/10


Two lines of deep geekery intersect on Galactic Empire’s second album, “Episode II:” Prog Metal and Star Wars. Impressive. . . . Most impressive. Don’t mistake this for the drunken power chord covers you’ve heard of Vader’s “Imperial March;” Galactic Empire’s music is like that, sure, but taken deadly seriously, and about 100 times more awe-inspiring. Think comic relief battle droids attacking Gungans compared to Darth Vader storming a Rebellion vessel.

 

Now, before we proceed any further, this review doesn’t give a crap what you think of Star Wars as a film series and cultural phenomenon, whether you think Star Wars is life, it used to be great but sucks now, is great except for Jar Jar Binks, has consistently stayed good, the Expanded Universe is where it’s at, the prequels were the best, would be better with more focus on Gronk Droids, you love to Cosplay Slave Leia, etc. I’m down to discuss (most) of those topics - - provided you don’t lose your cool - - but they’re irrelevant here. Your personal level of Star Wars fan passion does matter here, though, as it will directly affect your enjoyment of Galactic Empire’s music.
On the “Episode II” record, they focus on the Deep Cuts, if you will, from John Williams’ Star Wars scores across the decades, with only 5 of the 9 tracks going to the sacred Original Trilogy. Don’t expect the instantly-recognizable pieces, but the important thematic scores from key scenes throughout the films. Galactic Empire employ a deeply technical approach, with insane Death Metal/Prog Metal drums and deep-tuned guitars. John Williams’ famously based his scores on the Gustav Holst’s suite, “The Planets.” Holst was the most Metal of all classical composers, as heard especially in “Mars, The Bringer of War,” so this is actually a blend that makes a lot of sense.
For me, the best thing about the post-George Lucas Star Wars film (so far) is “Rey’s Theme.” It’s a brilliant piece of music from “Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens” which sets up the leitmotif for the series’ new lead character, and shows John Williams as a master of his craft, even at 80something years of age. Galactic Empire get all of the kudos for doing a spot-on Metal version of this tune.
The band’s closest brethren are possibly Minibosses, just more proficient, and focused on Metal versions of Star Wars tunes instead of 8-bit Nintendo game themes. “Episode II” may be nothing more than an impressive novelty, destined to be used as background music for Star Wars gaming sessions and nerd parties, but I admire what Galactic Empire have accomplished with this record. I’d love to hear them expand to other areas of William’s oeuvre, as well as maybe even other Classical/Pops-style composers and music from great Science Fiction film themes. I hope they get recognition and lots of prominent gigs at Comic Cons and Sci-Fi conventions.


Bonus content! Here are my notes on the songs, trying to identify the Star Wars movie Episode numbers where the symphony orchestra originals were first heard:

March of the Resistance - VII
Scherzo for X-Wings - VII
Hyperspace - V
Droid Invasion and the Appearance of Darth Maul - I
Kylo Ren Arrives At the Battle - VII
Love Pledge and the Arena - II
Rey’s Theme - VII
The Departure of Boba Fett - V
The Emperor - VI
Into the Trap - VI
Battle of Yavin (Launch From the Fourth Moon) - IV

 
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