Album of the Week 47-2015: Galneryus – Reincarnation

Original singer Yama-B’s final album with Japanese Power Metal masters Galneryus is one of their most controversial releases. The album is more experimental in nature than any of their previous records – which have all been more or less straight up Power Metal – and that may put off some of their older fans, but personally, I think the experiments are at the very least partially successful. And while the band’s first few albums have been decent with a few amazing standouts, ‘Reincarnation’, not unlike its predecessor ‘One For All – All For One’, is one of Galneryus’ most consistent records yet.

Its experimental nature doesn’t mean that ‘Reincarnation’ showcases a completely unrecognizable Galneryus; the basis of the album is still the band’s trademark Power Metal with highly catchy choruses and a lot of room for Syu’s neoclassically influenced, but still highly emotional lead guitar. It’s just that with this album, the band seemed to be looking for the extremes of what they could do within the – admittedly somewhat limiting – framework of Power Metal. Another thing that may contribute to the “different” sound of the record is the increased involvement of other members than main composer Syu in the songwriting process.

Most successful is the experiment with downtuned guitars in ‘Blast Of Hell’, which also features some awesome percussion in its amazing chorus. ‘Stardust’ is similarly heavy. Bassist Yo-To – later Deluhi guitarist Leda – contributed ‘Shining Moments’, a highly melodic Hardrock tune somewhat close to Dio’s late eighties work which doesn’t really sound like anything the band has done before either. ‘Fairy Tale’ is one of the band’s best ballads – usually a weakness of Japanese bands – because it shifts moods so nicely. The middle section to closing track ‘The Flag Of Reincarnation’ feels fresh too, though the rest of the song is Galneryus’ trademark upbeat, big chorus sound.

However, the band does really well in more familiar territory as well. Yama-B’s solo compositions have proven to be amazing in the past (‘The Flame’, the mindblowing ‘Raid Again’) and ‘Against The Domination’ is no exception. It’s the song that fits his mighty semi-operatic bellow best and its positive energy is bound to leave a smile on your face. Keyboard player Yuhki’s ‘Face To The Real’ is a great work of more traditional Power Metal as well, while ‘Seasons Cry’ is a fine example of the band’s flair for the dramatics. One of the best even.

As understandable as the mixed reaction to ‘Reincarnation’ is, it’s a fact that it’s a consistently amazing Power Metal record which borrows a few elements from Hardrock and a few more contemporary Metal styles. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a Galneryus album. Syu’s guitar work and Yama-B’s vocal prowess just have a certain quality check to them and that is no different here. The latter would leave the band shortly after the release of this album, which lends something of a bitter aftertaste to it, but it can also be seen as a closing statement of amazing contemporary Metal.

Recommended tracks: ‘Blast Of Hell’, ‘Against The Domination’, ‘Shining Moments’

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