Review Summary: Fans of the same or similar genres will find a great treat here that holds up very well for multiple listens.
Let’s face it: melodic death metal is an extremely cluttered genre when it comes to how many bands exemplify said style. Of course, a key reason behind this is that many melodic death acts tend to be among the more approachable, sometimes with another genre-generally metalcore-complimenting their accessibility (Scar Symmetry, In Flames, etc.). Other times, however, we’ll get a less conventional influence making its way into a band’s sound which can give it a nice edge to help them stand out from the crowd just enough. Enter Blood Stain Child.
For the uninitiated, Blood Stain Child are a Japanese band who formed about a decade ago under the name Visionquest before changing it to their present title a year later. Now, being from Japan, it might be easy to draw immediate comparisons with the well-established though still lesser-known X Japan. However, the two really don’t belong in the same category with regards to their music, as X Japan have a more progressive style and Blood Stain Child essentially go for melodic death metal with trance and electronic characteristics.
Although mixing metal with techno styles might not sound like a very ideal combination on-paper, the reality is that this is mostly giving the keyboards and its production a more dominant role. Although the keytair-like mix has become an embodiment for bands such as Children of Bodom, Blood Stain Child show what results when the aforementioned instruments contribute even more to the music. Idolator
, the group’s third studio album, proves that this is a surprisingly effective and fun amalgamation. Just listen to “Life Story” to get an idea, which has an ambient, underlying sound eerily resembling part of the Metroid Prime soundtrack.
As with most melodeath bands, the tracks here are almost always frantic with quick playing from all of the band members and their instruments (especially the guitars and keyboards). One notable difference comes from the vocals provided by Ryo (also providing bass work), which alternate in regards to both pitch and frequency. Sometimes the mixing leans more towards the instruments, other times towards Ryo’s vocals, which helps keep the listener on their toes. As for his actual deliveries, they’re adequate and fit the music very well, but he does show his limitations on “Truth,” arguably the only weak track on the album.
Speaking of track quality, Idolator
is a very consistent album, seldom slipping up throughout its entire runtime. Opener “Hyper Sonic” does a perfect job letting the listener know just what to expect and it’s a similar though properly varied path from there on. This also points to one of the album’s few shortcomings: a lack of songs which truly stand out on their own. About the only song which shines among the others is “Embrace Me,” while the rest of the record seems to flow without impressing for a full track. If I had to narrow down the other songs which stand a bit higher, “Void” and “Ag20” would have to be next in line. However, if given the choice, I’d rather an album remain consistently solid than alternate between excellent and mediocre.
gives us an enticing taste of what the Japanese metal scene has to offer from one of the genre’s lesser known bands. We get a core sound which is familiar but some outer traits working their way into the mix helps it avoid being a redundancy. If you’re a fan of melodic death metal and don’t mind some more prominence from the keyboards, then this album should tickle your fancy. But given how the genre tends to stretch among certain bands, electronic traits shouldn’t be a make-or-break factor in the long run.