Monday, October 27, 2014

Galneryus - Vetelgyus

Power metal, in the neo-classical or symphonic style, has been one of my favorite genres of metal to the point that for a while, in the early parts of this century, I listened to nothing else. Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Rhapsody (before "of Fire"), etc. were the leaders of the genre. But it seems all three of those bands just ran out of steam, putting out several albums that were not even close to their previous glory. Actually some were even less than mediocre. Luckily when I need that speedy, riff laden metal, those insane solos, and soaring vocals I can still count on Japan's Galneryus for my Euro-power metal.

Seriously, this band has not put out a bad album, from what I heard of them. So I jumped at the chance to scoop up their eleventh full length, Vetelgyus. Wow, what a beautiful breath of fresh air. This album is as close to perfect as any album of this genre can be. Even the intro is catchy. Yeah...the minute and a half instrumental that most usually skip on a power metal album? Well, don't skip it this time. It's actually catchy and powerful. Then you get the storm of speed and riffs with "Endless Story," the first song. The riffs are catchy and the keys are cheesy. The tempo is speedy and Masatoshi Ono's vocals are just spot on. He sings predominantly in Japanese with some lines of English thrown in. His melodies are infectious and his voice is powerful. The guitar solos are fucking godly on this song as well as the rest of the album. Another song with a monster solo is "Ultimatum." But this is not all wankery and no substance. The opening keyboard goes right into a main riff that is heavy as fuck. The chorus is catchy, but that's to be expected here. Then comes this fucking godly keyboard solo followed up by a guitar solo that gave me goosebumps.

And just when a song is finished and you say, "Goddamn that song was amazing," comes another one. "Enemy of Justice" is one of the longer songs and is absolutely amazing. Clocking in at almost seven and a half minutes, this song showcases the dynamics that make up this band. The melodies, the bombastic orchestral sound of the keys with the guitars. There's some acoustic passages as well. Everything you would want in an epic song like this. The title track is another of the longer songs. It's actually just over eight minutes and it's an instrumental. Yep, you read right, instrumental. But have no fear because they are the band who can pull that off. Of course it's a wank fest but when you can write great songs and play as good as this, a wank fest is a beautiful thing. There is a cool part in the middle where the song slows down and even incorporates some traditional Japanese music sounds. Those traditional sounds carry over to the melody leading to the last few minutes of the song. For an instrumental, it really grabs your attention and holds it.

I think that the problem with most of the bands of this genre, and especially the aforementioned bands, is the the lack of memorable riffs. With this band you get the riffs. The keys are predominant but the guitars still drive the songs. The riffs give that punch that lets you know that this is still heavy metal. "The Guide" is one of those songs that have some kick ass riffs driving the song even if the keys are in your face. This is the proper way to do this type of music. "I Wish" is a song that has some killer riffing but with some 70s sounding organ going right along with the riffs. I think of it as the "Jon Lord" effect because of that organ sound. The guitar solos on this one is fucking they all are but this one needed to be mentioned on it's own. He goes by the name of Syu and he is just incredible on this one. Just when I thought the previous one was good. Closing out the album is, "The Voyage." This is an instrumental that feels more like a ballad than an outro. Slow, tasteful and melodic, this is the perfect way to end a perfect album.

This album is amazing, there's no other way to put it. There is not one song on this album that is less than amazing. I could listen to this album over and over again and not get tired of it. All the elements that make an exceptional power metal album are here on this album. This band is no joke. They are masters of their craft and this album is the proof. If you love, or have ever loved, symphonic power metal, then you must get this album. It's essential.