Review Summary: A solid debut for the Yokohama quartet.
As far as Japanese bands go, 9mm Parabellum Bullet is one of the most accessible bands around. Rather than delving into the realm of Visual Kei, the band plays straight up rock music and does so with style. Many people are deterred by Japanese music due to the language barrier and the radically different styles of music. However, it doesn’t take a Japanese dictionary to appreciate some good old rock and roll. If you are looking for something raucous yet catchy, with impressive instrumental work and a non-cutesy Japanese vocalist, you’ve come to the right band and indeed the right album.
As the name suggests, the band plays fast. Very fast. From ‘Psychopolis’ to ‘Punishment’, their talent shines through, with a liberal application of each instrument within each song. ‘Punishment’, the album’s closer, best sums up the fusion of this talent as it is filled to the brim with frenetic shredding, rapid drumming, and a very tasty bass line. It acts as a release valve for the album, squeezing out every last shred of noise and ounce of ability the band has to offer. However, that’s not to say the rest of the album is reserved. From the marching bass line of ‘Sleepwalk’ to the thunderous end of ‘Butterfly Effect’, the album strives to pronounce its energy at every turn, which is certainly refreshing in an age of mostly substandard albums from mostly substandard bands. Songs such as ‘Sundome’ and ‘Battle March’, featured halfway through the album, show no sign of the album dwindling into a creative blackhole, instead maintaining the frenetic and energetic pace set by the catchier ‘Psychopolis’ and ‘Discommunication’ found at the start of the album.
That’s not to say that the slower songs are not equally impressive, however. The more radio-friendly ‘Suna no Wakusei’ and ‘Heart-Shaped Gear’ definitely take the band’s speed and aggression down a notch and yet they stand out, rather than simply acting as filler tracks. Both tunes are mainly driven by the amazing drum and bass work, which instantly makes them both catchy and memorable, which is an achievement given the louder nature of the rest of the album. With bands such as this, it’s rare to appreciate the more subdued tracks from their albums, but this is certainly not the case here.
The album as a whole is solid and pretty much flawless, despite being a debut. If there absolutely had to be a cause for complaint, it would be Sugawara’s singing, which at times appears weak or flat. Regardless, the album is catchy throughout and yet never gets tiring or mechanical (listen to ‘Discommunication’ and deny the urge to drum or strum along. I dare you). Every song has its own unique charm, which demands a repeat listen. As far as replayability goes, the album gets a 10, especially bearing in mind the language barrier, which is made irrelevant due to the accessibility of the band. Genre-wise, the band lies between rock and metal. It’s fast and features the trademark distorted shout from bassist Nakamura but it can’t be deemed heavy or off-putting for the general rock fan. For a debut, it’s surprisingly tight and devoid of any filler material, whilst fully utilising the talents of the band. It’s a nice introduction to Japanese rock, and a recommended album for those who are looking for something new.
‘Discommunication’, ‘Punishment’, ‘Sleepwalk’, ‘Suna no Wakusei’.