Star Wars fans and metal fans and both very similar when you look down to it. They’re both often unfairly criticised tribes who love collectables (for Star Wars fans it is figures, for metalheads it is band shirts), camp outside for shows and argue that the old stuff is always the best. The worlds of Star Wars and metal have crossed over many times before with covers, Star Wars influenced band names (Vader, Nerf Herder, Bantha Rider and Bossk are a few that spring to mind) and merchandise. Aerosith took it one step further by dressing up and performing Star Wars style songs and covers with a Star Wars twist, sometimes from the point of view of the characters.
But the best Star Wars themed band are Galactic Empire. These five disciples of the force perform metal covers of the soundtrack, but these Star Wars covers are performed in a full costume that “make playing instruments feasible and also changing elements of the characters enough that it won’t ruffle any legal feathers.” After releasing covers of the ‘Main Theme’ (for the release of The Force Awakens in 2015) and ‘The Imperial March’ to wide spread praise from metalheads and Star Wars fans alike; Galactic Empire continue their dominance of the galaxy with their debut album.
Galactic Empire’s debut album is a lot of fun for metal fans and Star Wars fans alike. It’s evident that a lot of work has gone into this. When I interviewed Bass Commander last year, he said that the band “basically sat at a computer and listened to about four bars of the score at a time, picking out each note in each instrument group by ear, and recording a rough take on guitar. We wrote drum and bass parts to the guitar arrangement and then went through the painstaking process of tracking real drums and guitars and bass in detail and in tune.” The long hours on sweating under the twin suns of Tatooine seemed to have paid off as the self titled effort is a faithful metal recreation of John Williams‘ iconic soundtracks.
Taking music from across the franchise, the five piece have done an excellent job of transforming Williams’ soundtracks into heavy metal tracks then the Emperor himself would headbang to in his office. As someone who has seen the Star Wars films more than I’ve had hot dinners, I am happy to confirm that the band have not put a foot wrong here. The added choral vocals on ‘Duel of the Fates’ add to the frantic nature of the original while the guitar solo on ‘The Force Theme,’ perfectly captures the mood of the original piece; I felt like I was watching that binary sunset with Luke Skywalker himself. There is a lot of emotion in these songs too, ‘Ben’s Death:Tie Fighter Attack,’ and ‘Across the Stars’ perfectly capture the feelings felt by the characters in these situations. Credit is also given to the ‘Cantina Band’ cover that is as bombastic and enjoyable as the original.
Galactic Empire have mastered the ways of the dark side to create a Death Star’s worth of galactic riffs, but what the band do next is going to be next question for the difficult second album. There is still a lot to be taken from the first six films, while the soundtracks for The Force Awakens, Rogue One and the various TV series and games as well as future Star Wars movies and projects will no doubt provide a wealth of material for the band to choose from. I’d like to see some original material with guest vocals as well as some other styles of metal utilised. A doom cover of ‘Snoke’ or ‘Palpatine’s Teachings’ springs to mind. But whatever the band do next, this album will serve as a high benchmark for the rest of their career.
These aren’t covers created by hired guns for studio yes men or by YouTubers for hits on their channel, this is an album made by five talented musicians who are passionate about some of the best pieces of cinema and its iconic soundtracks. Galactic Empire have a memorable album full of passion, riffs with the precision that could bullseye a wamp rat from a T-16, and respect for a franchise of films that has made a profound impact on modern society. The force is with them.
01. Main Theme
02. Imperial March
03. Duel of the Fates
04. The Force Theme
05. The Asteroid Field
06. Battle of the Heroes
07. Cantina Band
08. Ben’s Death: Tie Fighter Attack
09. Across the Stars
10. The Forest Battle
11. The Throne Room: End Title
Boba Sett – drums
Bass Commander – bass
Dark Vader – lead guitar
Shadow Ranger – guitar
Red Guard – guitar
Galactic Empire tour the UK in February. Their tour dates are as followed:
Wed-1-Feb London UK 02 Academy Islington
Thu-2-Feb Southampton UK Joiners
Fri-3-Feb Milton Keynes UK The Craufard Arms
Sat-4-Feb Brighton UK Patterns
Sun-5-Feb Plymouth UK The Hub
Mon-6-Feb Bristol UK Fleece
Tue-7-Feb Cardiff UK Globe
Wed-8-Feb Birmingham UK Academy 3
Thu-9-Feb Leamington Spa UK Zephyr Lounge
Fri-10-Feb Manchester UK Satans Hollow
Sat-11-Feb Edinburgh UK Opium
Sun-12-Feb Glasgow UK ABC2
Mon-13-Feb Newcastle UK Academy2
Tue-14-Feb Reading UK Sub89
Wed-15-Feb Oxford UK Academy2
Thu-16-Feb Derby UK The Venue
You can read Jack’s interview with Galactic Empire from last year here