Saturday, December 19, 2015


Neoclassical Bass Shredding

Imagine you're forming a band with the intention of playing some good old metal. Typically, you follow in the footsteps of the classic bands like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest and recruit an over-the-top vocalist, dual lead guitars and a rhythm section. Well Aresz went for a slightly different approach. Instead of dual lead guitars, why not have a dual lead guitar and bass? This idea lead to the bizarre instrumentation of a lead guitarist, lead bassist, rhythm bassist, drummer and vocalist. 6 string lead bassist virtuoso, Syoi, is actually more subtle than you'd expect and the album's main focus is on delivering headbangable heavy metal.

The guitar here has a very thick, heavy tone, but the music itself is mostly heavy metal with some power and thrash moments here and there. Despite the whole two bassist thing, the driving force of the song is mostly guitarist, Natsuki, who lays down plenty of tasteful riffs and solos. Most of the musical frills come from Syoi who plays a lot of weird tapping melodies to complement the guitar riffs and also contributes in lots of solo sections. As the title alludes, much of the soloing (in both the guitar and bass) is neoclassical in style as typical of Japan. The other bassist, Masami, just plays your regular-old 4 string and mostly follows to rhythm to give a thick undertone. However if you listen closely, you'll notice that there are times where he contributes his own lines but it's much less flashy than the other two guys.

Another interesting feature is vocalist Rumiko. Aresz are a female-fronted band, but don't let that fool you. Rumiko's vocal delivery is very aggressive, gritty and rough much to my surprise. She's still obviously female, but there's no piercing high notes to be found here. She stays pretty solidly in the lower range. Her voice is pretty unique and has tons of character, so there's really no complaints from me. It's just a surprising contrast to most of her fellow countrywomen. A variety of session drummers were used, but it's all pretty similar in style to me: highly aggressive and full of flashy fills.

But ultimately, the real staying power lies with the guitar and gaudy bass playing. The combination of the riffs and unique bass ornamentation really makes Aresz stand out. There's a few moments on the album where the duo lay off the heavy attack and go for a weird spacey vibe while noodling around on their instruments. Occasionally, keyboards/synthesizers pop in to give some background ambiance. Those calmer moments work quite well, but most of album is really just about awesome, heavy riffs and awesome solos. Production-wise, everything is thick and loud to match the rocking vibe the band has going on. My main complaint is that the mix is often a bit muddy and picking out all of details in the instrument playing is not easy. But otherwise, Aresz has created an excellent slab of fairly unique heavy metal.

Rating: 83/100

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