girugamesh - Music Review
Ok, you guys have been waiting for this for a while. You all know since I saw girugamesh at JRR they have been one of my most loved bands, and released what I consider to be one of the best J-Rock albums I've ever heard in their self-titled album. However, with their newest release, Music, they have changed things up considerably. They have added industrial style keyboards ala-old school D-Ray, but more noticeably, turn tables and rapping. So, with people knowing how much I love girugamesh, as well as bands with similar styles to the new album such as Linkin Park and Rage Against The Machine; but detest theGazette for going in that direction, people have been asking my opinion constantly since the album's release. Well, here it is. In short: It's fucking terrible.
This is J-Rock's St. Anger in every conceivable way. A well established band with a well refined sound decided to conform to what was popular at the time and overly simplify things and add elements that are just not them. For Metallica, they conformed to a more nu metal sound. For girugamesh, they went total rap metal on us, which is likely the most annoying genre of music out there (More so than boy bands). Granted, there are always exceptions to the rule. My exceptions being, as mentioned before, Linkin Park and Rage. However, 2 bands does not a genre make, especially when its littered by POD's, Papa Roaches, Limp Bizkits, and (most annoying of all) Crazy Towns. Linkin Park and Rage did something that these guys didn't do. I still to this day can't quite put my finger on it. However, I think it's because they put melody at the forefront. For them, the rapping complimented the music, not dominated it. You will not find this anywhere in Music.
Almost all elements of the music are made to emphasize the new hip-hop influenced style. The songs, while featuring traditional Satoshi screaming that I've come to love, eventually break down into rap stanzas and pre-choruses, lame, uninspired turntables (definitely NOT taking a page from Joe Hahn) annoyingly litter the songs, and the biggest sin of all, one of the biggest rap metal staples, turning Nii's guitar into a percussion instrument. There's just no melody from the band, anywhere. The turntables are especially annoying in that they are a constant in the album. They add nothing to them music. They are just there. They are absolutely useless. Take them completely out, and the songs might sound a bit better. It's like the band is shoving it in your face saying "OOO! LOOK AT THIS! WE HAVE TURNTABLES!! SEE! SEEE!!!!!???? WE CAN DO IT FOR 20 MINUTES, WATCH!!". The only taste of true musical element we get is in the form of the now, more dominate, keyboards. This element I don't mind as much as many bands use this to great effect (D`espairsRay, Suicide Ali, BLOOD), and there are some places where they implement them very well. However, it's not enough to save this.
The writing is just bad. Very bad. All of the songs boil down to a garbled, disjointed mess. From the very first song this is apparent. It starts out like its gonna rock (ala St. Anger again), but then the "ZOMG LOOK" turntables kick in and I cringe a bit. But then it goes back into girugamesh mode, and its cool... for 10 second until the rapping pre-chorus starts. Satoshi's rapping isn't particularly good either. It sounds like a cross between Till Lindemann and Dikembe Mutombo. Then... you get launched into this High and Mighty Color chorus! A majority of the songs follow this format. They start out begging me to like them, but as they progress, very gradually commit seppuku. FREAKS is the biggest example of this. It wants me to break someone's skull. It begs for blood. Exactly what I want in my metal, especially with its chorus. But... outta no where, you get a drum and bass break down, and the stride of the song is completely destroyed by a rap-off bridge. If this song would have launched into a high tempo, guitar frenzy, holy shit it would have been amazing. It could have rivaled Bouzenjishisu. Alas, all we could do is dream now.
Other than the keyboards, the only other saving grace of this album is its production. It SOUNDS fantastic. It's pristine and clear. The bass is crisp and amped up considerably from their previous work. IF only 13's Reborn could have sounded this good. I am literally begging Danger Cure to remaster that album.
There is also a personal reason why I consider this J-Rock's St. Anger. St. Anger came at a time where American music was all but dead to me, and my one saving grace let me down. In this calendar year, there has not been a single J-Rock full length album that I could say was amazing with the exception of BLOOD's The Reaper Behind Me. That was the album BLOOD was born to do, and they delivered with flying colors. It was a fucking masterpiece of goth rock. I did not get that from anyone else this year. Yeah, we had a few good mini-albums here and there, and some excellent singles (Ageha, Stigmata, Glass Skin) but albums have been a total let down. This album totally drove this notion home. I have been very very disappointed in J-Rock this year. What is sad is that this is a year where both Metallica and AC/DC have released their best albums in 20 years, DevilDriver's new album is jaw-dropping awesome, and even a joke band like Dethklok wrote one amazing piece of metal. I haven't listened to UROBOROS yet, but I hear it's pretty much what you'd expect from Deg right now.
I've never had a problem when bands change their sounds. When Metallica went hard rock in Load, it rocked. When Kagrra, stopped rocking in favor for ballads, I appreciated it. When MUCC said it was pop-rock time, they did it so well that I consider Gokusai one of their best. Even though D-Ray's new pop-rock sound bothers me a bit, they are still doing it well enough that I can call Kamikaze and Brilliant good songs. Not to mention, Deg going completely metal was one of the greatest musical flip-flops since Pantera. However, when the transition isn't done well (theGazette going rap-metal, Deathgaze not making any use of the word "death" in their name at all), it has disastrous results to me. I'm all about a band changing themselves for the sake of musical progression, but it needs to be done well. Yes, I grew out of rap metal almost a decade ago, but I still have an open mind enough to give one of my most beloved bands a chance when I found out they went that route. But they failed. Miserably failed. One can only hope they take the more industrial elements from this and focus on that for their next outing, because THAT would be interesting. One can only hope. Until then, I will applaud them for making one of my favorite albums ever, and try to forget that less than a year later, they also released one of the worst.