Album of the Week 11-2015: Gunbridge – Privilege Of Ten Thousands

Galneryus fans are split quite evenly into two camps. One prefers original singer Yama-B, while the other goes for current singer Masatoshi Ono. While I am firmly within the Ono camp, Yama-B’s more dramatic delivery isn’t without its merits. During his Galneryus days, his voice already proved better on the material he had written himself (the awesome ‘Raid Again’ comes to mind immediately) and now that he’s got his own bands and projects to mind, he seems to make sure that his powerful, clean voice gets all the room it needs to shine. And not unlike Galneryus, the result is absolutely stellar Power Metal.

‘Privilege Of Ten Thousands’ is the first Gunbridge album that actually features an entire band; while guitarist Issy and drummer Hideki were around before, the band has been a solo outlet for Yama-B since the late nineties. And he’s still the one who wrote all the material and recorded and produced the whole thing, but ‘Privilege Of Ten Thousands’ most definitely profits from the band interaction here, which is also what justifies the many re-recordings on the album. The instrumentation sounds a lot more together, alive and energetic this way.

Technically, there’s really only two new songs on the album – not counting the intro – and they’re bookending the album. It was one of those songs that drove me to buying the album though. For a while, I have been almost dangerously addicted to the goosebumps-inducing, triumphant slab of Power Metal that is ‘Ten Thousands Cry’. Heroic lead guitar melodies, fantastic lead vocal lines, a driving rhythm and that chorus… Oh my god, that chorus! Guaranteed to get your fists pumping and stuck in the back of your head for days. Issy and Hayato prove themselves more than worthy lead guitarists here and Hideki’s drumming may be a tad predictable, but it’s also incredibly tight and solid.

Of a completely different nature is the other new song, closer ‘Trailblazer’. Prior to hearing it, I would have considered Yama-B’s voice too powerful for a ballad with only acoustic guitar and vocals, but this song turned me around. The voice is a perfect fit and the desolate atmosphere comes across really, really well. The remaining six songs are all strong, uptempo Power Metal highlighted by the amazing verse riff in ‘Baptism Of Steel’, the borderline Thrash scorcher that is ‘Dispel’ and the somewhat darker ‘Means To Live’. I think the highest scream in ‘Try To Win’ was a bit too much, but the song is very good otherwise.

So here we have the ultimate proof of why it was a good thing that Yama-B has left Galneryus. Where his vocals sometimes used to clash with Syu’s guitar histrionics, Gunbridge leaves all the room his powerful, dramatic voice needs. His vocals never become the overpowering factor though; being a good songwriter, Yama-B obviously realizes a good song dominates any separate element. And from a simple quantitative viewpoint: there are even more mindblowing Power Metal albums this way!

Recommended tracks: ‘Ten Thousands Cry’, ‘Means To Live’, ‘Dispel’, ‘Trailblazer’

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