Album of the Week 50-2015: Galneryus – Under The Force Of Courage

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’

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