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Japan is no hotbed of power metal, but Galneryus are a convincing (if derivative) answer to European overlords of pomp and chugging riffs such as Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, whose sound is mixed with a dash of visual kei of the X-Japan variety (a band whose own style wasn't that far away from Euro-metal, either). Galneryus stick to English lyrics, although they began to add songs in their native tongue in the late 2000s.
The band was formed in 2001 by guitarist Syu and vocalist Yama-B, both experienced hands with eight previous projects between them, including Valkyr and Animetal for Syu and AxBites for Yama-B. Teaming up with a rotating cast of session musicians, the duo began to play live and recorded the demo United Flag, which got them a slot with the indie label Iron Shock. It released Galneryus' maxi-single Rebel Flag. The band continued to perform live, touring Japan with Dragonland, and they eventually got signed by VAP, which allowed them to record their debut full-length The Flag of Punishment (2003) featuring re-recorded old songs; the artwork was created by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D fame. At that time, Syu and Yama-B completed the lineup by recruiting Tsui (bass), Yuhki (keyboards), and Junichi Satoh (drums). A period of stable work followed in 2003-2006, when Galneryus released two more albums, but in 2007 Tsui left. He was replaced by Yu-To from Deluhi; the lineup shift did not deter the band's fourth album, One for All, All for One, which arrived in 2007. Soon, the band went global, offering their catalog digitally; in 2008, their songs "Alsatia" and "Cause Disarray" also got featured in the anime series Mnemosyne. However, during the recording sessions for their fifth album, Reincarnation, Yama-B left, citing musical differences. Reincarnation was delivered in 2008, and Masatoshi Ono took over the vocals. Yu-To quit and was replaced by Taka in 2009. ~ Alexey Eremenko