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Galneryus: The Flag Of Punishment

Power Metal is a dying breed. A genre that was once backed by the forceful styling of artists like Ronnie James Dio and Iron Maiden, is now plagued by uninspired tantamount bands. With the rise of DragonForce due to their portrayal as unfathomably skilled artists in “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock”, Power Metal has never been at as devastating a low as it is now. But it needs to be said that underneath the masking layers of grime, Power Metal still manages to salvage itself with…Galneryus.

Galneryus is a Japanese Power Metal band that formed in 2001 when it was co-founded by Syu (guitarist) and Yama-B (lead vocalist). Unfortunately it was announced in 2008 that Yama-B would be leaving the group in pursuit of other projects and opportunities. Regardless of this, Yama-B and the remaining components of Galneryus have all created a legacy that has reinvigorated Power Metal by sending an adrenaline shot into it’s dying veins.

“The Flag Of Punishment” is the bands first full length album (of a total five thus far), and serves as an excellent sampling of the band’s discography. “Struggle For The Freedom Flag” is by and far the most phenomenal track on the album, one of the many instant classics I’ve fallen in love with. The viciously seething vocals on the track are done great justice by Yama-B, who actually sings in English for the majority of the album (a feat in and of itself). Syu’s hard hitting Power Metal guitar influences are extremely prevalent as well. To put you in perspective, understand this…Syu is the only guitarist in Galneryus (with the exception of bass guitar, played by Yu-To). He plays both rhythm a lead tracks for their studio recordings, able to come up with melodic, heart-thumping riffs as well as put together memorably divine solo work. On top of this he even manages to provide intense backup vocals with an almost demonic snarl that greatly contrasts the energetic, upbeat nature of Yama-B.

Getting back to the tracks on the CD, a few other noteworthy choices are “Shriek Of The Vengeance” and “Beyond Of The Ground”. “Shriek Of The Vengeance” has a very in-your-face sound, and though I despise using the word ‘epic’ since it’s thrown around with little meaning nowadays, this is one of the few instances where I would use ‘epic’ to classify something. There really is no better way to describe this song, which sounds like an ascension into the reaches of Power Metal heaven. “Beyond Of The Ground” trades the heavy throttle of gut wrenching riffs and replaces it instead with a higher pitched, yet equally enticing harmony. This is where the lyrical work really shines, in my opinion. One of the most important aspects of good Power Metal is having lyrics that don’t fall into that undesirable “cheesy” category, turning into a mash-up of nothing more than overused clichés and mythological ridiculousness. Galneryus is very keen to avoiding these sorts of traps, and have managed to make a unique sound that still holds within it very catchy lyrical work. The sign of a good Power Metal band is being able to get their audience energized (it‘s called Power Metal for a reason), and I can honestly say I’ve never made it through the Galneryus section of my iTunes Playlist without belting out at least a few lyrics in unison with the band.

Galneryus takes everything that defines Power Metal and serves as the perfect counterbalance to the undeserving artists who dragged the genre down with mockingly generic and bland music. Be sure to check out Galneryus if you’re a fan of melodic metal, or if you just feel like expanding your musical repertoire. Though the disembarking of Yama-B leaves the band’s future in question, you definitely won’t be disappointed with any of their current five albums.




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