Minstrelix – Reflections – 4/5
So we’ve had Japanese women fronting a band with Europeans, and epically fluffy proportions, so time for some contrast. With an American vocalist, this Japanese band plays what can best be described as Power/Speed, with the occasional splashing of a folk-esque tone. Intriguingly, they aren’t quite like most Power Metal bands, there is some odd unique character to the manner in which they play that whilst not altogether unfamiliar, lends a unique tone. Straddling a line between excessive keyboard use and high tempo guitar playing, it succeeds in being oddly uplifting and melodic despite having no short stock of neo-classical shredding.
The vocals are all in English, though the manner in which they are sung makes it difficult to discern specific lyrics. Unlike many vocalists, she spends most over her time working comfortably at a low to mid ranged pitch, never reaching the high notes many associate with the genre. Like a female version of Dio she combines a great vocal range with soaring power whilst not overusing falsetto, providing an upbeat and boisterous tone to the proceedings and doing a great deal to making this so unique. The guitars too assist greatly in this manner, with two major tones, the fast-paced neo-classical riffs and solos combing with a more melodic style, lending an almost boisterous folk tone to much of the proceedings.
Often working the back melody, the keyboards often present themselves as the short fill-ins of diversity. Used to constantly supply a variety of sounds, they are mainly used in one of three manners; providing an ‘epic’ toned backing layer, as short piano interludes (or occasionally, made to sound more akin to a set of pipes or violin), or playing off the guitars in a ‘keytar’ style solo. Whilst their appearances are often brief, it supplies a constant source of little touches to maintain the tracks flow in an original manner.
The bass is barely possible to hear throughout the proceedings and the drumming is problematic. His speed is excellent, and despite an over-tendency to use blast beats he at times shows his creativity. Unfortunately, it all sounds triggered. There’s no earthiness to it, sounding mechanical and lifeless, in this situation it more often than not feels like a glorified metronome, working wonders at keeping a beat but doing little more. The glimmers of creativity presented giving hope for the future, but certainly this is one aspect that needs attention.
Despite the issue with the drumming, it detracts little from the end result. There are a number of ideas presented here (including me doing a double-take during the last track, but I’ll leave you to explore that one), and the wealth of talent between the vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist makes me think there is potential here; a potential which this band has yet to reach, and I eagerly await the day my expectations can be met.
Highlights: Spiritus Mundi, Thirst For, Sky Flame
BONUS: Minstrelix - Memoirs - 3.5/5
Another request, It must be said I wasn't as keen on this album. There was nothing particularly done wrong, but gave off the impression of a band still trying to fully find their sound. Its rather slower in pace, more melodic and at times more progressive. Still, a decent enough effort from an artist that quickly captured my attention that is worthy of attention from fans.