without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
As a huge fan of Animetal (OK, I'm a geek, I admit it), I was eager to hear this band since it involved Syu, guitar shred maniac extraordinaire. And on the one hand it is very good, with top drawer playing all around and a pretty decent production where everyone gets a shot at being heard for the most part.
The good parts first; they beat the Euros at their own game as far as blazing power metal anthems, especially standout track "Whisper in the Red Sky" where vocalist Yama-B stands out in a gritty Jeff Scott Soto manner. The playing, as I mentioned, is excellent, I thought Syu could shred in Animetal, but in this context he REALLY lets loose and will prick up the ears of guitar aficionados everywhere. Yuhki's keyboards are tasteful and even when he solos it's not the typical bursts of notes associated with keyboardists in these bands. He actually gets some taste and restraint in there. "Silent Revelation" is a right barnburner and "Fate of the Sadness" is a slower and more syncopated number where Yama-B puts in another excellent and emotional performance. I'll even cut him slack for his thick accent and "Engrish" language lyrics since he tries so hard and is obviously into what he's doing. And instrumental "Glorious Aggressor" is insane shred at its most potent; any more than the two minutes and change this song lasts would've been far too much to endure.
The only issue I have with this album is that most all the faster songs sound alike with their furious double bass drumming and the melodies begin to sound very similar on these tunes. I'm sure they didn't notice this until after the fact, though. And again, Yama-B's vocals; when he's on he's on, but on many songs he adapts a higher, more nasal tonality that irks a bit. He's not a bad singer, he just takes some getting used to--and in their native Japan, a higher-pitched voice is considered more manly, I'm told, so chalk it up to cultural differences.
It's when Galneryus slow down and start messing with the paradigm that they start standing out more, like on "Fate of the Sadness" (some choice bass bits from Tsui on here) and "Whisper in the Red Sky". There lies their potential, in writing more varied songs and showing that they can take the power metal template and make it their own--even the odd time section before the solo on opener "Silent Revelation" shows this can be done, with its early Rush feel.
This is by no means a bad album. It shows both strengths and weaknesses equally and holds its own in the end. The potential on this album is undeniable and I look forward to hearing more to see where they can take this. With any luck they'll capitalize on the more varied aspects of their writing and really develop a sound of their own in the future. With the level of talent in this band on display I wouldn't be surprised if that's just what they do.
This is the second release from Japanese power metal quinet Galneryus. Advance to the Fall sees the band shedding some of their debut jitters and maturing to produce a new, but still breathtaking album.
The album starts off with the quintessential short, instrumental opening that many power metal outfits utilize. The keyboard figures largely into "Stillness Dawn", and the piece begins the album showing emotion and powerful writing. From this, is a direct segway into the single from the album, "Silent Revelation." Opening with a short, very catchy keyboard line, one can expect to hear anything. In the next few seconds, we're treated to Syu mirrioring this piano with his screaming guitar, and doing so with emotion and feeling.
The first thing listeners of the first album will realize is probably a distinct improvement in Yama-B's vocal pronounciation and his utilization of his range. Being a native English speaker, I found it hard at times to discern what Yama-B was singing on the first album, "Flag of Punishment." Here I can catch each word with relative ease and the vocals are executed with confidence and power. The same complaint that cropped up with the first album rears its head here though: The drums and bass execute well, and from video they are obviously skilled musicians, but their potential is somewhat squandered.
"Silent Revelation" starts off this album with a jolt of high octane power metal to kick off an even higher octane album. The guitars roar and scream, the drums smash and at times sound like gunfire, the vocals are at times akin to the wails of a Banshee, the keyboard is blazingly fast, and the bass pounds at you from the recesses of the music.
The third offering on the disc is "Ancient Rage", a powerful song of glory and war. Much like the previous album, this one follows the tried and true tradition of civil war, strife, warfare, and swordplay. The drum fills here are especially nice, as is the keyboard throughout the whole song. The solo is extraordinarily well executed, but listeners of the first album have come to expect no less from the talented Syu. After this, the song breaks into a softer bridge, where Yama-B can exhibit more of his range, and then into a great keyboard solo with proficient guitar soloing to back it, to send the song into its final moments.
The fourth track is a pounding, bass-driven, dark sounding metal piece, called "Fate of the Sadness." Here the guitar plays a low, pounding riff, and bends are frequent. This is one of the only songs where bassist Tsui gets to flex his chops, and he does pretty well constructing a catchy bassline for all to hear, with a distorted feel. Yuhki and Syu break out a nice solo section to show that they both know very well what they're doing, and the song is well written, with powerful and forceful vocals.
The fifth track, "Deep Affection", is, as of now, my undisputed favorite song from the whole album. It's something I'd probably call a power ballad, due to the lyrics, but it plays like power metal at its best. Yama-B flexes his vocal muscles to deliver what I think is probably his best performance of the album, and the band pays homage to Dream Theater with their construction, at time rushing into the progressive vein. Syu is lightning fast and flawless throughout the song, and the beatiful backing keyboard keeps the song pulsating. Satoh and Tsui both play their parts exceedingly well, and fills are well done. At the bridge and solo sections, Syu and Yuhki deliver the album's winning performance in terms of soloing. At times beautiful and moving, like the instrumental Requiem, and at others, invigorating and adrenaline moving, the solo is a greatly executed piece of composition. Not to mention Syu's insane speed at the final section of it is amazing to behold.
Next is "Dream Place", an upbeat and higher sounding song than most others. It's also a bit of a ballad, with a verse backed almost exclusively by drums, piano and bass. Then the heavier guitar breaks back in for the chorus. Yama-B still delivers the marvels of his pitch for his longing lyrics. A high tempo and upbeat keyboard solo is a great asset, with Syu following it with an emotional solo from his proficient guitar playing.
After this, is the instrumental "Glorious Aggressor." This is a blazingly fast, incredibly well played small solo piece for Yuhki and Syu. Both trade off solos and play an incredibly quick riff while swapping some great passages. While it doesn't take the award for "Best Galneryus Instrumental" from Requiem, it's still a great piece in its own right.
Track eight is "Whisper in the Red Sky." This is a straight up power metal piece with uplifting keyboard, pounding guitar, and deep vocals. The song is all around well executed, and is another choice for a potential single. Syu has a pretty lengthy solo here that should convince any non-believers that he's a great guitarist.
Following that is "The Scenery." According to linear notes, this song is written by the bassist, Tsui. You can tell that it starts off different from the others songs on the album, but it soon picks up and falls in with the rest of Galneryus' impressive repetoire. I'd tell you about the great solo, but that's a given on almost every instrument. Keyboard is especially unique here, with the violin synth playing a heavy part.
"Eternal Regret" can be considered the album's true ballad. Mournful guitar, soft and gentle piano, and sorrowful lyrics come together to paint an emotional picture, proving that Galneryus can play hard and soft, something that "Garden of the Goddess" didn't try hard enough to prove for some listeners. Yama-B performs especially well here with his higher octaves playing a big part. There's a good deal of beautiful falsetto and some of the album's best keyboard playing with Yuhki playing a lead. Syu plays an emotional solo and the band executes in top form throughout.
"Quiet Wish" is the eleventh track on the release. It's not a particularly standout track and first, but I must admit that at the second or third listening, the abundant solos tagged it as one of my more favored songs on the album. Straight up power metal throughout the whole song, and a good performance all around.
The album finishes off with "Fly WIth Red Winds," a soft instrumental not unlike the intro, "Stillness Dawn."
Overall this release proves that Galneryus isn't a fluke. They produced good music in their first album, as they do in this, and hopefully will continue to reinvigorate the power metal scene. Even though they don't deviate from the genre norm too much, they happen to do everything right, and everything well. This release has a significantly different tone from the previous one, but it shows musical maturity, and ensures that Galneryus' attempts won't always sound the same.
All I can hope for now is that they secure U.S. distrobution so that I don't have to shell out $35 for their next release.