Review Summary: Cyclamen knock it up a gear with Ashura.
For those new to Cyclamen, they are a DIY band founded by Hayato Imanishi. Being the guy that writes, runs and manages everything that goes on in the band it can take its toll -which is why with Ashura, Cyclamen’s second full length LP, there is a stable band of very talented young musicians.
Cyclamen’s first LP ‘Senji’ was a very promising starting point, showing some jaw-dropping guitar shredding and some pretty tasty vocal work. But while it was impressive and enjoyable to listen to, it wasn’t a very consistent effort; blending a lot of different styles that didn’t always payoff, feeling more like an experiment.
The EP ‘Memories, Voices’ that was released in 2012 was another great experiment that concentrated more on vocals rather than instrumental muscle (although, there was still plenty in there to please fans) and turned out to be a solid and enjoyable EP. If it’s one thing Hayato knows it’s how to put a great vocal melody together.
Now that Hayato has, what seems to be permenant members in Cyclamen now, it’s on to making full LP number two.
Ashura is not only Cyclamen’s best album to date, but an impressive display of progression. In retrospect the demo, EP’s and LP seem like stepping stones to bring you this extremely solid album. Where Senji failed in holding a balance in sound, Ashura certainly succeeds in not only keeping it in the same style, but amalgamates the Memories, Voices sound without losing any of the heaviness the album holds; and this is a pretty damn heavy album. Even with the soft vocal melodies in songs like ‘Mugen-Houyou’ the music behind it is heavy.
A personnel favourite of mine is Hyakusetsu-Futou: kicking you right in the face from the moment it starts, then Hayato giving it his all with what I can only describe as ‘System Of A Down’ style vocals, that soon moves into a cool melodic chorus before ending.
It’s the SOAD vocal style that is the hidden weapon on this album and it works very well, because a lot of how the music is written, the vocals just melds together perfectly, creating this monstrous wall of sound. And songs like ‘Gashin-Shoutan’, which follows the same line as Hyakusetsu, where it goes in for that style of fast vocals ends up paying off when it comes to the chorus, which highlights the melodic vocal change.
The album isn’t perfect though, and can suffer from a little bit of repetition, mainly down to the vocals. Guitar work on this album is pretty amazing throughout and does help the vocals through tracks like ‘Mugen-Houyou’ and ‘Hika-Kougai’, but the songs do feel dragged out because of it.
The best song on the album, though, was placed right at the end of the album - and rightfully so. ‘Kusoku-Zeshiki’ starts off slow and soft, with the sound of a clock ticking in the background and Hayato singing softly. Anyone who knows a little about the band will know the Post-Rock band 'Envy' is one of the influences to the bands sound, and throughout the album you might be surprised by the lack of epic Envy build ups on the album, but get to this track and you realise they're throwing the kitchen sink at you with this track. The song builds and builds into this massive epic beast before finishing.
All-in-all, a great way to end the album.
Overall, this is a really, really great album. Minus a couple of little niggles this is an album to be proud of. Every song is at the very least solid and brings something exciting. If you’ve never heard Cyclamen before, look no further, this is the album to start with.