THE GRIM TOWER REVIEWS: Galneryus – Vetelgyus (2014 Bonsai Bonus)

Galneryus – Vetelgyus (2014 Bonsai Bonus) – Though there are numerous power metal bands in Japan, Galneryus is by far one of the very best that I’ve ever heard. But not just in the country of Japan, rather I’m talking about the entire world. Admittedly, I was first turned onto the band during one of their watershed moments in an anime opening for the still unwatched “Rin Daughters Of Mnemosyne.”

The single in question, Alsatia/Cause Disarray was a bit more contemporary than the grandiose compositions that they were originally known for but it got me intrigued enough to check out their earlier work, which begins all of the way back to 2003’s classic, The Flag Of Punishment. From here up to 2008’s lackluster Reincarnation, Yama-B fronted the band. But closer to the end of his days as a vocalist, it seemed that he wanted to take them into a different territory which felt a little more contemporary and was far removed from the power metal of the past. This was also the point in which they constructed the single that originally got me interested in them, oddly enough.

After Yama-B left the band, Matsatoshi Ono took the vocals as he single-handedly brought the band back to speed with 2009’s Resurrection, 2011’s Phoenix Rising, 2012’s monolithic Angel Of Salvation and two compilations of re-recorded classics in 2014 entitled The IronHearted Flag Vol.1 & 2 (Regeneration Side & Reformation Side respectively.) So as you can see, the band are truly proud of Ono-san’s work and Vetelgyus is even more a reassurance of his amazing talent. Not only are the songs filled with metric tons of melody, grandeur and keyboard acrobatics, but Syu proves that he’s still just as great of a guitar virtuoso now than he was when the band first started.

The album’s title cut (8:06) proves that masterfully, nearly bringing a tear to my eye as Yuhki’s incomparable neoclassical-influenced keyboard antics duel head to head with Syu’s incredible shredding skills. People that love soundtracks to games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue will be very happy to hear this amount of guitar muscle and beauty, which definitely pounds as heavily as it swoons romantically.

Though unlike the band’s previous albums, Vetelgyus heads gently into commercial territory with the up-tempo keyboard antics of “There’s No Escape 5:19” (which I actually feel is much better than the song that got me into them, “Alsatia”) and the soft ballad, “Attitude To Life 5:59.” Not surprisingly, the latter is also the title of the band’s live concert video recording, which shows you how much stock they’ve put into this incredibly awesome ballad.

It’s quite surprising to me that I’ve never heard their music in any games or visual novels, especially when a cut of this nature could do rather well to decorate the satisfying ending credits of either. As a gamer and reader of visual novels, I find that the song featured in the ending credits usually feels like the most important moment of closure and can make or break that final experience. An incredible ballad like this could work with any genre of fiction really, but the quality of the work would have to be paramount to suit such an intriguing piece.

As for “Secret Love 6:58” well, I’m waiting to hear that in the opening an anime or game. It just feels like the sort of thing you might hear in the beginning to get you pumped for the adventure. Despite all this, Vetelgyus still offers the kind of wondrous neoclassical influenced power metal that we’ve always expected from them. Galneryus did not simply throw these songs together as you can see how deeply intricate and incredibly rewarding they are to listen to in just an audio format alone.

Even though the album isn’t quite as heavy as some of the band’s previous releases, it still sounds like Galneryus and brings their sound into a completely new and possibly more rewarding horizon. If they are indeed trying to take another stab into the mainstream, Vetelgyus would most certainly be the way to do it and I think it holds up much better than their earlier attempts at this with One For All – All For One and of course, Reincarnation.

In short, this is definitely the kind of Reincarnation that I can get behind. I feel that fans of high-energy metal excursions and passionate rock ballads will each be able to find something that they like on the recording and that’s certainly not a bad thing in my book. The Grim Tower highly recommends yet another wonderful output from Japan’s Galneryus and you should definitely pick it up if you are able. They truly are a Japanese treasure.

(12 Tracks, 71:00)

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