ARTIST: Asian Typhoon
LABEL: Nightmare Records
SPONSOR: Nightmare Records
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Minoru Niihara - vocals * Fumihiko Kitsutaka - guitars * Tatsuhiko Wasada - bass * Funky Sueyoshi - drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Heavy Road * 02 A Man Has Captured The Sun * 03 I Love Rock And Roll Life * 04 Screamers * 05 I Am Addicted To You * 06 Optimisim - Self Theory * 07 Absolutely Wonderful Night * 08 Incubation * 09 For Whom The Bell Tolls * 10 Wings - Fire Bird (Medley)
My exposure to Japanese metal bands is pretty limited, to be frank. I've heard the likes of Loudness
and Vow Wow
. And to be even franker usually the vocals absolutely sucked. Great musicians, who can stand with anyone, but in the vocal department the Japanese are pretty lacking. How will Asian Typhoon shape up in this department? Well, we have the founding vocalist of Loudness
, Minoru Niihara, with a band he co-founded in 1999 with guitarist Fumihiko Kitsutaka. Personally I prefer the Mike Vescera
years of Loudness
so it was going to take a good effort from Minoru to impress me. In their native Japan the band are know as X.Y.Z..A
, but for this release in the U.S market they have changed their moniker to Asian Typhoon, the title of their first album. So here I was, an Asian Typhoon/X.Y.Z..A virgin.
Based on the first couple of tracks from 'Wings' I was beginning to pray on getting my virginity back.
The album opens with a fairly bland acoustic song 'Heavy Road' and Minoru is less than impressive. Why an acoustic track first up on a heavy rock album I do not know.
The second offering starts in a promising manner with a Malmsteen neoclassical riff, but when you expect it to really get going into the verse the whole thing changes to a rather horrible thrashy bridge. The chorus moves back to stable ground and sounds as good as the beginning. Whoever made the decision to put in the thrash element needs a talking to (I was going to say a bullet, but that might be a bit harsh.. only a bit though). Nothing against thrash, but in the context of this song it just sounded terrible.
'I Love Rock And Roll Life' makes up markedly for the previous two abberations. Guitarist Fumihiko Kitsukata launches into a tonne of Van Halen
phrasing and the chorus is very 80's, but amongst all this there is that bloody thrash sound again. The song isn't completely ruined, but damn it would have been a killer without the chants.
Have to say though that the band hit their straps on 'Screamers'. This is really good stuff with strong neoclassical influences and Kitsukata shows he is quite the deft hand on the guitar. Apparently he is a legend in Japan. I'm beginning to understand why.
A soaring guitar solo and acoustic guitars greet you when 'I Am Addicted To You' opens up. Very tasteful. A bog standard 80's style power ballad but done very well and with the right amount of emotion.
Oh crickey, what the hell is going on with 'Optimism-Self Therapy'? Once again it gets thrashy. This song is all over the place and a real let down after the past couple of good tracks.
Finally the band get it all together on the blistering 'Absolutely Wonderful Night'. The Van Halen
influence shines through again.
Kitsutaka gets to shred himself silly on the instrumental 'Incubation'.
I'm afraid Minoru's vocal weaknesses are exposed again on 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', a plain average heavy rock track.
The album is not rounded out on a great note either with 'Wings/Firebird' medley. At 10 minutes long it lost me after about the 3rd minute mark. The band were going for a grandiose finale but are far off the mark.
When I first listened to this album I was prepared to give it a very harsh mark. Then I listened again and found that there are plenty of good things going on, but then the thrash elements are used in such a way that you have to wonder what the band were thinking. Very disconcerting. I mentioned the vocals, and Minoru's just don't cut it. The album's lyrics are mostly in Japanese, with English phrases interspersed. Regardless of which language he is singing in, it sounds very strained. The production is muddy at times, which doesn't assist the remainder of the band who are very tight. I arrived an Asian Typhoon virgin and left feeling disappointed and wishing I'd kept my trousers on. Not a completely bad album, but there are so many more out there that are so much better and Asian Typhoon do not have enough puff to blow their competitors away.
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