Album of the Week 49-2014: Galneryus – Angel Of Salvation

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’ 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 – 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 adrenalin 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’

  1. Hey kev, love your reviews as always. If you’re up for writing some more please give me a shout

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