Uh oh. It's the dreaded after-the-debut, self-titled album. In the case of Versailles, it would be the last album before their long hiatus (which may or may not be over actually; we'll see). By now, it would only be natural that I would have very high expectations for the group. But after giving the self-titled a listen, I just can't help but feel that it's quite obviously inferior to their past work. As with every Versailles album, the band presents their patented style of power metal with a slightly new twist, but I don't feel the change is for the better this time.
The introduction, Prelude, is the same melody from the identically titled intro to Noble cast with a different arrangement. It gives a nice nostalgic feeling, but the following song, Rose makes it pretty evident that times have changed. There's the familiar power metal fanfare but with a bit more restraint this time. In fact, it's extremely similar to the metal portions of Destiny -The Lovers- from the previous album. Not exactly ideal. Now don't mistake what I'm saying here. It's still a good song that I like, but that's it. Versailles is a band that I want to floor me with amazing songs like Aristocrat's Symphony or Princess -Revival of Church-. This doesn't quite match that level.
But the band does try new things. Edge of the World has some slight nu-metal in it as well as some very impressive slap bass from Masashi. I suppose it's a bit out of left field since the band has never done a song like that before, but it's pretty well-executed. 妖 〜ayakashi〜 also mixes it up a bit with some folk influences and has some nice transition sections and guitar leads. Unfortunately, I feel it's too repetitive for the band, and I'd expect more variation in the songwriting. Paradoxically, my favorite track is probably the half-ballad, Illusion, which features a lot of really nice basswork and interplay between the guitars.
All in all, my main problem with the album is that I'm never really floored. On the past Versailles albums, it was just amazing song after amazing song. Sure, some songs were better than others, but nothing off of the self-titled moves me as much as most of the relatively weaker material off of the first three albums. Even the epic, Created Beauty doesn't come close to long songs the band has done in the past.
There's some pretty nice solos and riffs. Yuki pulls off plenty of good fills. Masashi goes all over the place with his bass. The music is still fairly technical as usual. But despite all of these good ideas, nothing really fits together quite as well as it should. Other than Illusion, there's really not a great or amazing song here. We mostly just stay in that weird lukewarm, good-but-not-that-good territory which is not what I want from Versailles. And given that the band went on hiatus soon after this, it's not really much of a surprise that the self-titled doesn't quite live up to the glories of the previous material.Rating: 70/100