So back when I used to work part time, one of the new guys randomly approached me and said "you'd like MergingMoon." I did jam hard in public so recommendations and talk of bands weren't exactly unexpected, but this band mention was certainly a cut above the rest. It turns out that my informant received his knowledge from an Anthony Bourdain show which had a segment about underground Japanese death metal. Well I've got to hand it to Bourdain, MergingMoon's second album is genuinely awesome.
Like many of their peers, MergingMoon plays melodeath with a healthy amount of core influence and an overabundance of synthesizers. But upon closer inspection, you'll find a lot of elements that sets them apart from their peers. After the weird electronic intro track, Maleficium kicks off the album in a style that could easily cause listeners to instantly lose all hope in the band. The beginning is basically an example of the much loathed "breecore" consisting of chugging and the mandatory brutal vocals. But I think you'll be quite surprised if you give the song some time. It actually develops rather nicely and flows into a ton of different sections. Actual riffs and leads appear, ton of rhythmic variation occurs, and there's even some progressive elements in the song. In fact, the songwriting here is quite dense and often rather complicated. First impressions can be deceiving after all.
Now there's one thing that I haven't elaborated on yet, and it's arguably the strongest point of the whole album: the vocalist. First of all, U is a girl, but more importantly, she kicks ass. In fact, this album has one of the most ridiculous harsh vocal performances I've ever heard. She can go all over the place: gutturals, screams, brees, and everything in between. There's also some clean vocals from both U and the bassist, Tatsuya. They're both pretty good despite some slight Engrish, and they add good contrast. Vocally, most of the album is rightfully centered around U's harsh delivery which is pretty insane and rather unique.
On the instrumental side, it's pretty impressive and rather technical. Most of the riffs are identifiably melodeath, but the band knows how to phrase them very well in unexpected ways. Surprisingly, the keyboard work is very welcome here and adds a lot of great ornamentation and atmosphere when needed. Admittedly, the keys can be pretty cheesy (there's a lot of core influence after all), but the music is just too good for me to deduct any points. The drumming is quite varied; he knows when to put in a good fill or accentuate with the double bass. Hell, there's even some nice bass slaps and other good bass stuff thrown in at times.
Individually, the elements of the album don't seem too remarkable, but when you put them all together you'll end up finding that Kamikakushi is really quite out there. The album displays a pretty large amount of variety and covers a ton of different material. Agonizing Choice is mostly weird and spacey with bizarre keyboards. The band's most well-known song, Greyen, somehow pulls off great slams and breakdowns while having a very poppy, catchy chorus. In Merging Lives is a really unique, heartfelt ballad that is mostly clean vocals and manages to be rather beautiful at times. Despite the greatness of the previously mentioned tracks, the song that impresses me the most is the 9 minute track, When A Phantom Becomes A Fact. After the eerie electronic intro, it sends you through a maze of musical twists, turns, and surprises while featuring a good amount of progressive elements along the way.
In a nutshell, this album is just pretty goddamn weird, and it's also absolutely excellent. The music mirrors the vocals; it's completely insane. Kamikakushi seems to be all over the place in the way it covers so many different moods and feelings which would be impossible with your run-of-the-mill melodeath album. The way the band can seamlessly go from brutal slams, melodic riffing, and even uplifting choruses is totally unique. The album constantly catches you off guard left and right. Listening to it is a rather exhilarating experience.Rating: 90/100