Review Summary: Safe as houses, but slightly more exciting.
Where Band-Maid's first few albums focused on progressively more energetic and instrumentally impressive songwriting with the odd slower piece scattered here and there, 2019's Conqueror was apparently conceived as a vehicle for vocalist Saiki to slow things down and put the focus squarely on her singing. Whilst there were definitely some standouts, the way the track list constantly switched between fast rager and heartfelt ballad left the record feeling like some kind of identity crisis where the band really weren't sure what direction they wanted to go in as a collective.
2021's Unseen World seeks to rectify this by laying out twelve high octane hard Rock cuts as an apology to a fanbase that Conqueror so thoroughly divided, which kind of works, but also really kind of doesn't.
As one might expect on a fairly homogenous record, the tracks chosen as singles are by far the strongest. 'Afterlife' might be the catchiest thing the band has ever put out, 'Warning!' is yet another explosive opening track that never lets up (a Band-Maid staple) and 'Manners' is the stomping blues jam that Conqueror's 'The Dragon Cries' swung for and missed, but everything after the opening salvo starts to blur together.
This is a real shame as more experimental tracks like Just Bring It's 'Yolo' are missing altogether, and with no ballads whatsoever there's no respite such as the oasis found in World Domination's one-two punch of 'Daydreaming' and 'Anenome'. By trying to back pedal away from Conqueror as hard as possible and take the safe route Band-Maid actually find themselves releasing a record that's almost equally devoid of spark, just in a completely different way.
Whilst this may sound like a negative take this is still a solid hard rock album with some great ideas and immaculate production. I can absolutely confirm that it's perfect background music for a road trip or gym session, you're just unlikely to be checking your device of choice for the track names of most of the back half of the album as, with one or two exceptions, it all sounds kind of the same.
For a band that's been putting out a record every twelve months like clockwork for the last six years it's impressive they have any ideas left at all, but, and I say this as a fanboy, maybe it's time for Band-Maid to take some time out and spend a little longer on the gestation period of the next release.