Review Summary: An inevitable yet admirable display of maturation.
Following their commendable debut album, Termination, 9mm Parabellum Bullet released Vampire, an album which altered the style of the band and in turn has influenced the sound of their future releases. Toning down their loud alternative/punk sound, the band opted for something perhaps a little calmer and more appealing to the general listener. In doing this, the album has much more variety than their debut but is still a joy to listen to.
‘Wanderland’ is the perfect opener for the album. Abrasive and exciting whilst still maintaining that 9mm catchiness through the soaring chorus, the listener is instantly reminded of the band’s capabilities and lasting appeal. This is followed by ‘Vampiregirl’, a song which is rather different from their previous work. It’s definitely less chaotic but as a 9mm song it is still infectious and certainly one of the standout tracks on the album. Featuring a memorable riff and a nice solo, the song sets the tone for the rest of the album, which is noticeably different from their older material, but not detrimentally so. As a result, songs such as ‘Trigger’ and ‘Supernova’ quickly become some of the band’s best songs, featuring equally catchy riffs and excellent instrumental work overall (indeed, the drumming on the entire album is nothing short of sublime, especially on the latter track).
Yet that is not to say that the rest of the album follows a specific framework. On the contrary, the album is replete with variety which in most cases acts as a major advantage to the album. ‘The Revenge of Surf Queen’, for example, stands out on the album as a catchy surf rock instrumental, whilst the noticeably composed ‘Faust’ proves to be an effective change of pace for the band. Focusing mostly on Sugawara’s improved vocals, the song also displays the band’s overall talent, especially during the atmospheric bridge. There’s even enough room to bring back some of the band’s previous raucousness in ‘Hide and Seek’, an ear-splitting assault which acts as an aggressive reminder of their older material.
However, after this assortment of memorable tracks, the pace seems to wither away, seemingly cutting the album short. ‘Warui Kusuri’ deviates too much from the band’s usual sound, appearing more like funk than the alternative-punk sound the band is great at. Furthermore, the following two tracks come across as somewhat dreary, lacking the catchiness and energy of the previous tracks. Indeed, even the final track fails to hit the mark, especially in comparison to Termination’s closer, ‘Punishment’. Rather than barrage the listener with very, very good noise, it sums up the latter third of the album by coming across as flat and lacklustre.
Despite this, the album is a great follow up to the band’s debut when considered as a whole. Although the guitar is less frenetic and the bass a tad inaudible at times, the vocals and drumming have certainly improved and the whole album demonstrates the band’s abilities successfully. Despite an unconvincing end to the album, Vampire in its entirety never feels mediocre. Although differing in style from their previous album, progression is inevitable in a maturing band and I for one can commend any band that can tamper with a winning formula and still produce something well worth listening to.
‘Vampiregirl’, ‘Wanderland’, ‘Faust’, ‘Supernova’