The Flag Of Punishment
Released: 2003, VAP Records
About 5 months ago, I was sitting on Soulseek browing a random persons files. I came across some group called Galneryus and decided to look them up on Metal-Archives to find some information about them. Unfortunatly not much was available, and Google was little help as well. Most of the little information about the group is in Japanese. Based on the description of the band as "Symphonic Power Metal" from Metal-Archives I downloaded the couple tracks that I had located and was blown right out of my chair. Without hesitation I checked every version of eBay I could to find a copy of the CD to purchase, to no avail. Undaunted, I checked Gemm which is almost always guaranteed to have what you are looking for as long as money is no object. But I did not care, what I had heard was an epiphany, and I needed more. Three weeks later, I had the copy of STRUGGLE FOR THE FREEDOM FLAG in my trembling hands.
From what little information I was able to gather, Galneryus is from Japan, have an ex-member of gimmick-band Animetal (who play anime themes metal style) and have at made at least one video (a clip of which is available on their website, if you can navigate the Japanese pages). Also, they are a pretty visual band, wearing outlandish vinyl armor on stage. Japan has always been somewhat known for having a thirst for power metal, but not necessarily for having a high number of power metal bands. The days of X-Japan are behind us, and other groups such as Aiming High have languished in obscurity partly due to their overall mediocrity. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt, without any fear of hyperbole that Galneryus crushes X-Japan in every department like Godzilla crushes Tokyo. If you thought X-Japan was all that Japanese metal had to offer, throw your preconceptions out the fucking window, track down this hard-to-find album and prepare to have your mind blown.
Galneryus play a hyper-speed, somewhat neo-classical power metal with amazing lead guitar riffs, perfectly executed vocals, blazing drums and firey keyboards. They have a unique sense of melody that makes it fairly easy to tell they are Japanese, it almost sounds like the music that would play over the credits of an anime action movie. And the gruff, but still highly melodic vocals of Yama-B scream over every song and take it far away into the galaxy. Think Gamma Ray or Star One write the best Sci-Fi themed metal? You're wrong. Galneryus do. Every moment of this album is absolute perfection, from the rapid fire drum intro of "Struggle For The Freedom Flag" to the perfectly written lead guitar intro of "Beyond Of The Ground" this power metal is so great it makes you want to jump out of your own skin, and have your dripping musculature buy a ticket to Japan just so you can sit there and hope to see them live.
Okay, all histrionics aside this is a perception-altering release. It reminds you that every once in a while, even in a genre as overdone as power metal, an album can come along that can kick your ass up and down the hall even if it doesn't stray from the established guidelines. The ballad of the album isn't quite up to snuff with the rest of the songs, but not nearly enough so to reduce the rating. By the time the final track "United Flag" comes to a halt, you will want to spread the word of Galneryus. My only regret about buying this album is it so badly made me want to have become a Metal-Rules writer in 2003, so I could have put it at the very top of my Best Of 2003 list. This is the best release that you've never heard of, and if I can get just one person to check it out then my mission is well on it's way. These guys need to be recognized throughout the entire scene, and they need to be recognized NOW.