Dead End – Metamorphosis – 4/5
This being my 300th review (wow, that one sprung up on me) I felt I should take a break from my normal listening, if only temporarily, to bring something more appropriate for a blog intended to have rock and metal as a focus but for the past few months really hasn’t. For those unaware of this artists illustrious past, they were once mentioned in the same breath as X-Japan; pioneers of the Visual Kei scene and clearly influential on the rapidly emerging J-Rock scene, they were in the grand scheme of things very much the “KISS” of the east. Not quite Glam yet not quite Goth; filled with theatricality, catchy chorus lines, epic passages, groove-laden riffs at times encroaching on a Heavy Metal sound that all ended too soon, the band disbanding after only a few years of activity. Until now.
Yes, twenty long years have passed since this quartet got together and their name forgotten to all but a minority but they feel as strong now as they ever did before. In fact if anything they’ve improved with age, the benefits of modern production allowing for a thicker and broader tone to take full advantage of their competency at their instruments. Like X-Japan they too have mellowed a little in their old age, replacing their raw hard edge with an altogether more fluid style of performing but the difference is that here it actually works. It doesn’t just feel like they are incapable of blasting out metal with the best, it feels like they genuinely aren’t trying to, and the music is easily addictive enough to face up to the best in modern rock.
A large part of what impresses me is the sheer diversity they are capable of; in no small part to the vocalist who has added to his raw slightly snarling bark with a perfectly contrasting baritone semi-operatic style, one side slightly dark and demonic whilst the other so much more refined and mournful. The guitars double this up superbly as well, combining any number of slow guitar lines with catchy hooks and dissonant solos that remain melodic yet technical and far from predictable. Creativity not limited here, the constantly shifting drum beats and boisterous bass complement what has already been created, adding further flavourings to the meat of their sound.
The production has been performed to perfection, each instrument with their own independent lines made apparent throughout the tracks composition, which even more impressively seems to differ constantly throughout the album with any number of gothic-tinged, aggressive, catchy, bombastic, epic and melodic styles placed intermittently throughout. With a swagger this release comes out of my speakers, letting me groove along to the riffs with no shortage of sweet and simple solos amidst soaring vocals. There’s nothing revolutionary to be found here, simply proof of one artist still with some unfinished business to take care of, and I for one welcome the return.
Highlights: Dress Burning, Devil Sleep, Princess