Released: 2017, Warner Music
It is curious how music can trigger memories. I have a little bit of personal history of Galneryus. I just felt like telling this little story, but most people can skip this personal anecdote and go right to the guts of the review in the third paragraph.
This story occurs back in 2003 in Western Canada. In the eternal quest for cool Metal I had heard, or rather read about, Japan’s Galneryus. It was said they were Japan’s Lost Horizon and as any Power Metal will attest that is incredibly high praise. I was going through some rough times with my sadly now deceased wife and I didn’t have a credit card to order this obscure album on-line. Keep in mind ordering stuff on-line back in 2003 was not as common. I borrowed a buddy’s card and bought it from Japan. I clearly remember with shipping, taxes and exchange rate it came out to $50.00 Cdn dollars which is a lot of money for a CD, back then…and still is! The album was FLAG OF PUNISHMENT and was a crown jewel in my collection. Disappointingly, however, I also remembered that it wasn’t as good as the hype. I probably built it up my mind. I had been writing for this site for a couple of years and was going to write a review. I only got to listen to it once. Then it all ended, the relationship, etc and in the transition of moving houses and so on, the CD was lost. I still do not know to this day where the CD ended up. It is gone. Missing now for 15 years. It STILL bugs me because I am incredibly meticulous with my CD’s. I have a massive collection and I track it pretty obsessively and this is the only CD I have ever out and out totally lost. Weird. Later in 2005 another staff member wrote a review of THE FLAG OF PUNISHMENT and since then, we as a site have never followed the band. Our mistake! So now, over the years, I had this sort of subconscious bad taste for Galneryus, the very expensive album was underwhelming (at the time) and so, I just never (probably unfairly) never actively sought-out new Galneryus music. Now, I nearly 2018, this has to change, I think I need to make a New Years Resolution to buy all their albums. Galneryus has gone on to write and record another 12 albums, for a total of 13 albums, almost one a year since 2003! The rest is the proper part of the review, I just needed to get years of my mental anguish off my chest!
I recently bought the latest Galneryus CD, ULTIMATE SACRIFCE and it is superb. It is the bands 13th studio album overall and this productive powerhouse is now on Warner. A Metal band on a major label, times are changing! The packaging is amazing, it comes with a 32 page bonus booklet, four stickers, a slipcase and the regular booklet inside.
Galneyrus is likely Japan’s #1 Power Metal band the new album has made me fall in love with the band. I think you could comfortably position them with Dragonforce (UK), Pathfinder (Poland) and the aforementioned Lost Horizon (Sweden) as among the global elite of speedy, hyper-kinetic Speed/Power Metal. I don’t have a good frame of reference of the band back catalogue but I know the new album is world-class on every level. It has superior production values, as many (most) albums out of Japan do, it just sounds awesome and loud.
One factor I really like about ULTIMATE SACRIFICE is the keyboard tone. It sounds like it came right off of an early House Of Lords album, as the keyboards are featured heavily all across the album. One big change was the departure of drummer Junichi, who had been in the band since the demo days. Newcomer Fumiya does a fine job. The songs are pretty epic in nature, most of them in the six minute range, lots of room for showcasing the excellent musicianship and technical proficiency via jaw-dropping solo segments. The album concludes with two big long songs each about 12 minutes long.
It took a while but I am now 100% committed to this killer band. I’m looking forward to mining their deep back catalogue!