Review Summary: "Damn it, guys, we wrote the whole EP about anime."
"Tales of Symphonia isn't an-"
Weeaboos playing instruments. Considerably well.
When I think of someone who regularly watches anime and is actively involved its culture, despite the recent surge of popularity in Anime and surrounding Japanese culture, my first thought is certainly not of someone in a hardcore outfit such as Gilliam. Rather, I imagine a (sometimes) sweaty nerd who is more often than not stationed in front of their computer smiling at their Bakemonogatari statues to relieve the pain onset by the recent shutdown of Nyaa. Ahem.
Gilliam is a four piece emo/hardcore outfit from St. Charles, Missouri, who appear to have dedicated their musical ventures to the infinitely deep culture of anime. Consisting of Alex Layton (lead vocals), Jesse Bader (drums), Michael Highfill (bass), and Blake Unnerstall (guitars), the outfit released this interestingly short EP (which clocks in at 9 minutes and 14 seconds) on April 20th, better known to some as 4/20. Given their bandcamp URL (gilliam420), there’s no doubt that this was intentional, but as Anthony Fantano put it, it isn’t about the substance the songwriter(s) is ingesting; it’s about the songwriter(s) themself. Gilliam aptly support this notion with their short but oh-so-sweet EP, supposing these indicators are more than aesthetic.
The album opens with “Kamina”, which, to those familiar with the thematic elements at work, is very straight forward in its meaning. The song details the story of Gurren Lagann, an extremely popular anime series released in 2007 by the studio that brought you Neon Genesis Evangelion (which, incidentally, the band covers in the following track). The opening line, “This sun shines as bright as our spirits, To think that we never knew it existed. This outside world existed only in our dreams, But what we found was a nightmare.” are accompanied by an appropriately sunny, gleaming riff and a bright front-and-center bassline. However, the song descends quickly into chaos - systematic, at that. The bright demeanor wears thin as Layton wails “Even if it means Bloodshed, dead friends, open wound, my heart - I won’t” with the insanity looming as the track leads into its next verse. Again, to those familiar with the topic in question, it is worth noting that this progression is a very accurate translation of the series to a single, three-minute song. The song reaches a peak after the line “Royal Capital Teppelin will fall… By my hands!” bursts forth from his lips, piercing the heavens, and falls into a relaxing lull during which the listener can almost witness individual cherry blossoms float gently to the feet of this track.
The second track, “Adam, The Seed”, is (unfortunately) not entirely worth dedicating an entire paragraph to due in part to its