Review Summary: A well-rounded album from one of Japan's most critically acclaimed, successful, and downright diverse, rock bands.
Very few bands have been as diverse, and incredibly successful, as Dragon Ash have. Having albums that focus on straight punk ("Mustang!"), straight hip hop ("Viva la Revolution"), shameless nu metal ("Lily of da Valley") and, even Spanish-based rock ("Rio de Emocion"), Dragon Ash have been one of the most diverse groups to invade the Japanese mainstream time-and-time again. On their appropriately titled ninth full length album, "Mixture", Dragon Ash further push their diversity to unseen heights, as they attempt to balance all of the aforementioned influences, and more, to great success.
"Rampage" is a chaotic-sounding mixture of punk-esqued guitars and tropical-ska tinges thrown in for good measure. The screwball of a track is a worthy explanation of how the album measures out: a mash-up of various world sounds, with a tight-knit sense of musicianship holding it together. "Sociable Destruction" is a punk-edged song with a feisty feel to it, with frontman KJ's vocals giving the song a complete rebellious tone. The energy of the song is contagious, and is sure to attract the pure inner rowdiness within the listener. "Ambitious" is arguably the album's greatest moment, and has a feelgood, jungle-meets-D&B tone to it, with KJ's vocals encouraging the listener to be all they can be, with the song accurately presuming the role of being the war cry of the modern Japanese generation. A splendid listen, "Ambitious" ends up being one of Dragon Ash's most impressive songs, period. "Time of Your Life" revisits the hip hop past of Dragon Ash, and, in-all, is not one of album's most impressive moments. In fact, it looks incredibly dull in terms of substance in comparison to the album's superior track, "Ambitious". However, the song's chorus gives it an urban power pop feel, and, all-in-all, winds up not being that bad of a track. Just a cut above average. "Rebels" is an all-out punk song that reflects the band's earlier moments, more particularly the "The Day Dragged On" & "Public Garden" EP's. A pretty damn good punk song at that, which captivates the band's undeniable energy and charisma, as KJ shouts and restlessly keeps up with the song's penetrative feel. "Fire Song" is the album's semi-ballad track, and has a gentle guitar line, with KJ's carefree, melodious raps bubbling on the surface. However, the song's reggae-esqued bridge gives the song overwhelming structure, and brings it up notches-upon-notches above a typical ballad track. In fact, "Fire Song" nearly breaks into a progressive style, with all of the song's sudden, yet welcoming, progressions orchestrated within the near-5 minute track. "Slash" is the track that revisits the brief nu metal exploration of Dragon Ash. What makes "Slash" not shameless, however, is it is not a flashy track. Rather, it is a bareboned nu metal track with emotion flooding all throughout the track. While the tracks on "Lily of da Valley" were more flashy, nu metal songs with no real substance, "Slash" is a song that continues the impressive experimentation within the "Mixture" album, only with a nu metal front. The album's final song, "Rock Band", features up-and-coming rappers, Satoshi and Ko-ji Zero Three, and has a fantastic progressive-alternative feel to it. Full of emotion, "Rock Band" ends up being one of the album's strongest songs, and works wonders as an album closer.
An album rich in diversity and influences, "Mixture" is an album that lives up to its title: a mixture of tones, influences, feels and a superb revisiting of Dragon Ash's various eras throughout its years. "Mixture" may just be one of the band's most solid efforts in terms of substance, and gives more than enough for fans to gnaw on. The album, at the end of the day, solidifies Dragon Ash's position as being one of the most impressive bands to capture the Japanese mainstream today.