Sulfuric Acid – Sulfuric Acid (I think) – 3.5/5
You all had thought my Hizaki worship had ended hadn’t you? Well, I couldn’t have a special on Japanese Power Metal without digging up something from the man who sparked it to begin with. The band he was member of before Versailles, you can clearly see the similarities between the two styles. Less epic and harder hitting than his work to come, his guitar work is less neo-classical shredded in style, working more on providing interesting riffs, which come in no short supply.
You may listen to the first track of this and become confused. Indeed I was, but this craziness is an anomaly in the album, and things quickly settle into a more expected style. Everything has a rawer, more aggressive tone to it, with a hefty guitar focus, the keyboards relegated to backing for the majority, though when they come forth provide a light piano/keyboard infused mood. The drumming comes through prominently, but has something of a tinny tone at times – particularly regarding the snare – and a deeper, earthier tone would be preferred.
The guitar work is a definite highlight, frequently with a harder edge than many Japanese bands, more of a crunchy, almost thrash-like tone at times, his work feels rather fluid, not taking focus from the vocals but supplying more than just a basic complementing riff for the most. The solos are highly melodic and worked well with the track so as to feel complementary to the style at hand, and not just a futile exercise in shredding the scales. Despite this, rather than add a highlight, they feel like a short contrast, a continuation of the song whilst the vocals break. Thus they don’t feel bad, but rather unmemorable. The vocals feel competent, but lacking in power at times. Despite a decent range in pitch, they don’t feel spectacular, though are certainly not a negative aspect.
Compositionally, they provide a number of interesting riffs and tracks, but it’s all too unmemorable. Little manages to stick in your mind, instead it’s largely simply present, and this is my major issue with this album. It feels towards the end that its dragging its heels a little, at an hour long it could perhaps have benefited from being cut down to 40mins or so, because there simply isn’t the versatility to sustain it. Those who enjoyed Versailles and wanted something a little heavier on the guitars may well find plenty here to their liking, but overall I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
Highlights: Track 2, Ravish Lamia, Heaven’s Door