Galneryus – Angel of Salvation
Angel Of Salvation
First off let me offer a disclaimer: this is Japanese power metal, so it’s basically the most over-the-top, high powered symphonic power metal you’ve never heard. Japanese power metal has its own niche in the genre because it has such a distinctive sound. If you think bands like Pathfinder or Rhapsody Of Fire are cheesy and extreme, then allow me to take things one step further. With the possible exception of Dragonforce, this band (and most other Japanese power metal bands) packs in the most epic guitar solos and blazing fast 16th note drum beats I’ve ever heard. With Angel Of Salvation, Galneryus shows signs of… maturing, and they seem to be focusing on a more cohesive, traditional power metal sound as well as song writing. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still pretty nuts, it’s just that they seem to be toning it down a bit, which really works in their favor.
Their album Resurrection was my favorite work of theirs. It had some variety, while maintaining very anthemic power metal, “Burn My Heart” could very well be the Japanese “Reach Out For The Light”. My issue with that album though, is that it’s a bit too diverse, and comes across as all over the place in feel and style, which really hurt the cohesiveness of the album as a whole. The same could be said of Phoenix Rising, although the songs there aren’t quite as good. Many of these issues have been resolved on Angel Of Salvation, and I feel that the whole thing fits well together as an album. Now, the band might run into the opposite problem, with a few songs running together. On the whole, it’s an improvement that I’ll take.
The instrumental introduction track is one of the best I’ve ever heard (Dragonland’s “Illmarion” is THE best). What really makes an opening track great is the build-up, and “Reach To The Sky” certainly manages to do that. It leads right into “Promised Flag”. This is a rather typical power metal track and an explosive opener to the album. What I love about this song is that it feels incredibly uplifting and empowering: which is exactly what power metal is supposed to do. The riffing is great, and as usual the solos are fantastic. In fact, I’d say they stepped up the solos a bit on this album because they are MIND BLOWING. The other highlights here include “Stand Up For The Right”, “Lonely As A Stranger” and the amazing title track. “Stand Up For The Right” is great in so many ways, I love what they did with the rhythms and the feel of it. It starts off with some of the crunchier riffs from this album, and probably contains some of the best vocals and lyrics as well. Without even being quite 7 minute,s it manages to be very multi-faceted and feel like a mini-epic, the changing feel and style throughout the song really make this one stand out.
Now another disclaimer: I LOVE Japanese power metal. I’m kind of an anime/Japanese culture nerd, and so this kind of stuff really speaks to me; the fanboy in me wants to gush about the title track so much. However, even if you’re not a fan of Japanese power metal, if you like power metal at all, make this a priority song to listen to. “Angel Of Salvation” has received my personal nomination for best song of 2012: first of all, the orchestration behind it is top notch, the violins play in perfect harmony with the guitars and keyboards creating a beautiful symphony of sounds that lifts you up and ensnares you. The chorus is one of the finest I’ve ever heard. I can’t understand all of it, but I can understand enough of it to sing along with the best part. Also, this song manages to feel less like a 14 minute epic and more like a normal song, which is impressive. I like this way of writing epics, because oftentimes bands try to make longer songs with completely different sections and they don’t always fit well together, ruining the cohesiveness of the song as a whole; Galneryus has managed to avoid that problem in spectacular fashion.
Overall, we have here an excellent album with one filler material song and some same-ness. “Infinity” isn’t a bad song, but it sounds so similar to the rest of the album, and being the track right before the amazing title work, it just doesn’t do anything for me. The sameness comes from a slight lack in variety amongst the songs, but it doesn’t damage the album too much. As mentioned, the feel of the album helps create a very consistent, cohesive sound. Last, and once again, this is Japanese power metal; if you don’t like Japanese power metal, this probably won’t change your mind. Galneryus is very fast, very light, and WAY over the top in terms of crazy solos and wankery. Plus, the vocals are mostly in Japanese (and when they aren’t, the English is very difficult to understand). Personally, I think the music stands for itself and manages to overcome this, but to each his or her own. One thing to take away from this is that “Angel of Salvation” is a great song, and is probably destined to become the next “And Then There Was Silence”. Seriously, it’s that good.
Ian’s rating 4.5 out of 5