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Galneryus' magnum opus - 95%

Agonymph, September 25th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, VAP (Digipak)

On my never-ending quest for good power metal bands, I have stumbled upon the name Galneryus numerous times. While they have a couple of fantastic songs – ‘Struggle For The Freedom Flag’, 'Silent Revelation' and ‘Carry On’ come to mind – most of their albums just didn’t appeal to me enough. Original singer Yama-B was part of the problem; his operatic mid-range bellow – while technically very proficient – sometimes clashed with the guitars. This album, the band’s third with Masatoshi ‘Sho’ Ono holding the microphone, corrects my gripes with the band: Ono’s soaring approach is a much better fit for what Galneryus is doing these days and the level of songwriting is consistently high.

First things first – at least chronologically – the album’s overture ‘Reach To The Sky’ is quite possibly the most awesome intro I have ever heard. The main theme of the piece is so triumphant that it hurts. Guitarist and main songwriter Syu never shied away from such melodies, but such a victorious march is overwhelming even by his standards. It’s not just that though; every song is good. Galneryus’ upbeat, warp speed power metal on this record is most reminiscent of Helloween – whose discography, let’s be honest, is just as spotty – but Galneryus is more neoclassically oriented, which especially shows in Syu’s guitar histrionics.

Opening track ‘The Promised Flag’ – one of many flags in Galneryus’ discography – is one of those songs that will make your day. It did for me. Syu’s riffing and Junichi Satoh’s drums in high gear get your energy going and that huge, positive chorus with Ono soaring on top bring your spirits up. And that’s not where the fun stops. All the songs have great riffs, mind blowing solos (both by Syu and keyboard player Yuhki) and strong choruses. Favorites are ‘Lonely As A Stranger’ with its badass main riff and the triplet fest of ‘Infinity’, but any of the other songs would have done if you’re into this type of upbeat power metal.

Galneryus’ magnum opus, however, is the 15 minute title track of this album. The remarkable thing is that the song never really feels like it lasts a quarter of an hour. You’ll notice that it’s longer than the average song, but the band did very well to build in recurring themes and even a sort of chorus that returns frequently, though it’s more sort of a bridge if you count the monumental section near the end as the chorus. Personally, I love the way the mood of the song changes gradually throughout the song and Syu uses a lot of the room to show off, but then again: he’s good enough to keep even that interesting. Ono’s vocals are beyond amazing here as well.

So after a while, I did get the hype around Galneryus. This is clearly a group of very capable musicians who had done some awesome songs in the past, but as a compositional unit, this is definitely their crowning achievement. Also, I realize preferring Ono to Yama-B isn’t exactly the most popular opinion, but if you give this album a chance, you’ll realize that he’s an amazing singer at the very least. And if you, like me, would like to have a shot of power metal adrenaline once in a while by pumping your ears full of fast riffs and hyperspeed melodies, this is definitely the way to go.

Recommended tracks: ‘The Promised Flag’, ‘Angel Of Salvation’, ‘Reach To The Sky’, ‘Infinity’

Originally written for my Kevy Metal weblog

Galneryus - Angel of Salvation - 95%

IndividualThought, January 28th, 2013

Galneryus is a band that originates from Osaka, one of Japan's largest cities, with an extensive discography and an even more extensive range of influences. This album is no different. This is Galneryus at their best. With Angel of Salvation they've bought everything they have to the table; full neoclassical metal compositions, beautiful guitar work, powerful vocals, insane drums, inspiring keyboards, and orchestrations that can compete with Mozart if he played heavy metal, which would be fascinating.

The first thing that attracted me to the album, like I'm sure many people will agree with me, is the awesome artwork. The logo's pretty awesome, too. When was the last time the artwork reflected what was to come? It's rare. Well, that's exactly how I feel listening to this album, like an angel has descended upon my ears with a (seemingly awkward) rainbow spear. Sho is a magnificent singer and I'd be inclined to say he is in some ways better than Yama-B. That's a huge compliment to the vocalist as Yama-B was the benchmark for eastern Asian power metal vocalists in my book. He has a very powerful and catchy voice, hitting highs like he's a pro.

Syu here is fantastic. He's been one of my favorite guitar players for awhile now. He can make a guitar "speak," much like in "Longing". Instrumental music of any type is usually hit or miss with me, but that song nails it. Syu uses a wide variety of techniques which all compliment each other, like the aforementioned guitar work "speaking", melodic parts, and heavy parts, and almost thrashing, speed-like interludes. His solos are outrageous to say the least, like his solo in "Angel of Salvation", which is probably the highlight of the entire album at an epic standard of 15 minutes. "Hunting for Your Dream" is another highlight where Sho shines and Syu destroys. It has a catchy chorus and an awesome riff with near perfect drumming and a solo that'll pound your face to oblivion. What more could you ask for?

Next are Yuhki's keyboards and orchestrations (I'm assuming he wrote the orchestrations since that usually is the work of the keyboardist in any symphonic outfit), they make the album what it is. He uses a variety of nice compositions, especially within the intro track "Reach to the Sky" which really is an amazing opener. Taka's bass here is nothing amazing; he keeps up with the guitar, but it really works.

The drums are rather awesome and bombastic. Junichi does an amazing job here with straightforward, no bullshit drumming. All in all, during this album you find Galneryus at their finest; bombastic, catchy, downright hypnotic with energetic singing where you'll be catching yourself mouthing the words (this applies to the non-Japanese-speaking metal world, too), awesome leads, powerful symphonies, and brazen guitar solos. It's amazing that they can still write such awesome music after one of the most extensive careers in the Japanese metal scene.