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Pretty good fretboard/piano wrangling - 83%

caspian, March 8th, 2018

This is cool, but yknow I'm not sure if I'd play it around other people. Perhaps I have a hard time taking this music fully seriously myself. Perhaps I'm just not interested in loudly suggesting to everyone else that I'm a Naruto fan? I know it's a crass, very basic level "haha they're a Japanese band so it reminds me of mainstream anime" sorta thing to say, but I mean.. listen to the thing. It's not something I'll go out of my way to confirm, but I'll eat my pants if there's not a few million uploads on youtube along the lines of "NARUTO VS SASUKE- Galneryus Raise My Sword.wmv"

It is a good album though, and I imagine if you're hardout into power metal/have a slightly higher tolerance for bombastic cheese you'll probably find this quite sensational. The production is totally on point, light, airy, crispy, and I like the way the guitars and keys are mixed- they both play a lot of fairly busy lines, and neither dominate the other. The singer- well, name dropping power metal singers isn't a strength of mine but I rather like the dude, he's not as powerful as some but he's redolent of a smoother early James LaBrie, especially with his vibrato.

I like how there's not that many ballads. Whether you can really say that something as polished and airtight as Raise My Sword of Voice of The Grevious Cry "rocks hard" is certainly up for debate, but it's got plenty of energy and there's actual riffs, unlike your europower endless chord progression types. It's pretty inspiring, it's fairly uplifting. The tunes are pretty long, but the songwriting is fairly tight- there's enough going on that you don't really get bored, even the fourteen minute title track with all of it's classical pretentions. There's much to be said about the way the guitarists approach it; everything is quite busy, and there seems to be more of an influence from early power metal stuff as opposed to trying to outwuss Stratovarius or whatever.

It's probably the best album in the style- whatever style you want to call it, anyway- that I've heard. It's certainly rather cheesy in places- whenever they slow down and the keys really come out I tend to cringe a bit- but for the most part it's pretty great. Highly recommended, whether you just want to listen some well written power metal or you need some new music for that "goku goes ssj3" video you're currently editing.

Dramatic, epic and darker than average Galneryus - 90%

Agonymph, September 25th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, VAP (Special edition)

Opinions on Galneryus’ previous album ‘Vetelgyus’ were divided. The album saw the band deviating from their trusted formula by injecting more hardrock than usual into their highly melodic power metal sound. Personally I quite liked the record, but those of you who had their concerns need not worry: ‘Under The Force Of Courage’ manages to mix the catchy, yet musically interesting power metal of their era with current singer Masatoshi Ono with the epic, dramatic nature of their early work. And some refreshing progmetal influences to boot. Whoever liked ‘Angel Of Salvation’ will certainly find something of their liking here.

What may help in terms of consistency is that ‘Under The Force Of Courage’ is a concept album. Its conceptual nature is apparent through recurring themes and interludial passages. The record has not one, but two intros and while that may seem a bit excessive, there’s enough proggy power metal euphoria between them to justify them. Yuhki seems to leave his mark when it comes to progressive influences; his keyboard sounds are really surprising and ‘Rain Of Tears’, one of his compositions, bears more than a passing resemblance to Symphony-X. These things are exactly what make this more than just another Galneryus record.

After the two intros, ‘Raise My Sword’ and ‘The Voice Of Grievous Cry’ open the album in pretty much trusted Galneryus fashion. They’re the upbeat power metal tracks one would expect the Japanese quintet to open their albums with. And that is no criticism, because it works. The latter has a main riff that blew me away upon first listen. The story seems to take a dark turn after that; the aforementioned ‘Rain Of Tears’ builds from a dark ballad to a section that even has guitarist and band leader Syu grunting and the following ‘Reward For Betrayal’ is one of the album’s highlights with its exciting structure and dramatic delivery.

‘Soul Of The Field’ also shows a few extreme Metal influences, especially in Junichi’s blast beats, but generally it’s a strong Power Metal track with a rather atypical 3/4 rhythm. But it is after ‘Chain Of Distress’ – one of the band’s better piano-based ballads – that the cake gets its icing. ‘The Force Of Courage’ is a mighty epic that is comparable to ‘Angel Of Salvation’ in more ways than its 14+ minute duration. It builds from an orchestral opening to a monumental, surprisingly catchy power metal track with mindblowing riffs (the one that starts shortly after the 2 minute mark is too good to believe) and virtuoso leads. The finale has a similar triumphant feel as well. Simply brilliant.

Coincidentally, ‘Under The Force Of Courage’ lasts almost exactly as long as ‘Angel Of Salvation’. That’s not where the comparison stops; both records are skillfully crafted, joyous slabs of power metal and a proof that Galneryus is still a force to be reckoned with. ‘Under The Force Of Courage’ just has a bit of a darker edge at times and a more epic, dramatic feel throughout. It may even convert a few fans who – unjustly – gave up on the band after original singer Yama-B left. Power metal seems to be stagnating a bit in Europe, but luckily there’s bands like Jupiter and Galneryus in Japan to keep me satisfied.

Recommended tracks: ‘The Force Of Courage’, ‘Reward For Betrayal’, ‘Soul Of The Field’

Originally written for my Kevy Metal weblog

The Force of Courage - 100%

CaptorOfWinter, May 8th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, VAP (Special edition)

It is not often that terms like transcendental, monumental and genuinely unique can be utilized to describe a metal album in this day and age. The genre as a whole and its many sub-genres have been explored to a depth unparalleled in other music and while this, in of itself is a positive thing, it also makes it more difficult for aspiring and established artists alike to stick out amidst a vast sea of imitators. Galneryus, despite these daunting odds, have ascended above their respective genre(s) to release something that shall, in time, go down in history as a legendary album that has truly risen above not only the competition but the band’s own catalog as well.

Under the Force of Courage, as likely implied by the cover, has a strong atmosphere and aura that nourishes dark and brooding fantastical landscapes one can envision quite easily in his or her own mind whilst listening to this opus. Myself, I am reminded of the video game Dark Souls III specifically here, as the same sense of widespread desolation and determination present in the game also saturates this album. Galneryus is able to convey such a vivid and eloquent atmosphere through a sense of composition that feels very refined and aged which is undoubtedly due to the band’s experience and longevity. None of the songs feel haphazard just as all of the melodies and audible sounds alike feel purposeful and thoughtfully manipulated. As a whole, the songwriting is what takes this album to another level entirely for the power and progressive metal genres, for somehow such a meticulous balance between raw ability and sheer accessibility has been employed to maximum effect. Amidst unusual time signatures, complex keyboard patterns and nearly inhuman guitar playing Galneryus was able to remove any of sense of pretentious pompousness through the listening experience which, to necessarily repeat myself, is because of an elevated sense of composition. Whether it’s the speed and velocity of a track like Raise My Sword, the stoic heroism of Soul of the Field, the heartfelt sorrow of Chain of Distress or the absolute grandeur of the semi title track The Force of Courage, these Japanese men have given us a hardy sonic potpourri to explore time and time again.

Songwriting aside, Under the Force of Courage sounds absolutely phenomenal due to a crisp, airy production and professional performances from all of the band’s respective members. Sys’s playing reaches astronomical heights on a technical level while still maintaining a terrestrial sense of emotion and feeling; likewise, Yuhki utilizes a comparable palette of musical wizardy and heartfelt sincerity. Mr. Ono, the band’s vocalist, has a remarkable voice that soars above the rich musical tapestry of the album through a variety of vocal stylings ranging from a deep, almost operatic tone to a near glass-shattering wail. Lastly, the rhythm section performs more than competently and although I admittedly have paid the least amount attention to this aspect of the album, I nevertheless found that it complimented the other elements appropriately.

Overall, Under the Force of Courage is more like an experience than a mere collection of songs to listen to every now and again. This is an album that will remove you from your earthly dwellings, giving your imagination more than adequate encouragement and space to explore depths perhaps nearly forgotten or never yet even breached. The limited edition comes with a hardy book that has numerous pieces of art that will certainly help with the aforementioned internal journey and the packaging, as a whole, is most aesthetically pleasing. I highly recommend this album with the utmost sincerity to those that enjoy power and progressive metal as well as those listeners who appreciate an album with a dense atmosphere, exceptional performances and superior composition. This is a transcendental piece of art that makes me proud to be a metal listener.