Tuesday, September 3, 2013

GOSPEL OF GARGOYLE: Gargoyle - Junreiin

VIII: Seal of Pilgrimage


RATING - 100%

I'm sorry, but this otherwise solid-but-nothing-particularly-special EP is made instantly essential by the mere presence of "Satori".  I mean, the other songs are all good.  They're all quite good, but... none of them are "Satori".  I know it's childish and silly to be this focused on merely one song out of what is clearly an artistic compilation of many different and equally well thought out ideas, but I'd be lying to you if I told that that I didn't see Junreiin as anything other than a 33 minute run-up to that fucking brilliant closing track.  It's all the uplifting genius of their latest crop of album closers, the nardtarding heaviness of "Wa ga Tousou" and "Dilemma", and two of the band's best ever riffs (that first one and the one that plays in between the verses and under the solo).  Seriously, that opening riff gives me such an uncomfortably noticeable stiffy that I leave the room even when nobody is in there but me.  "Satori" is my Viagra, and were I a woman, I'm sure it'd turn my beanhood into a torrid Mordor (and the winner of the "least sexy description of a stimulated vagina" award goes to...!).  Try not air guitaring to the entirety of the song, I fucking dare you.  If the rest of the album was as good as that one last song, this would undoubtedly be their best release, by a galactic mile.

But unfortunately, it's not.  Junreiin is a bit of an oddity in the sense that it's considered an EP despite being as long as plenty of metal albums, it's just held back by the fact that it's only seven tracks long.  Taking that godly "Satori" out of the equation, it's a very solid romp that doesn't leave much to be desired.  It does its job as a Gargoyle release in the sense that it provides big rocking thrashers ("Mark"), cultural and quirky choons ("Shounen A"), soulful softies ("Taiyou No Shita De Ichiban Utsukushiku Ikiru Hito De Iyou"), and big, monolithic "Ruten no Yo Nite" wannabes ("Bokura Wa Yagate Mizu E To Kaeru").  Now, all of these songs are good, with the crushing slow track being the longest the band had written at that point, clocking in at just over eight minutes, but most of it really isn't the most memorable stuff that I feel the band could muster.  I mean, "Bokura..." is alright, but it just kind of trudges along and never takes command of my attention.  It's kind of a shame because this is pretty steadily the most consistently heavy album the band had released in years, and a very welcome effort in the sense that unlike the preceding Natural, it's also very focused.

One of the most immediately obvious changes that this EP brings is the guitar tone.  Fuckafuck it's really goddamn heavy.  Right from the opening notes of "Mark", it makes its presence known with the roughest, dirtiest tone the band has ever utilized.  It contrasts well with the always warm bass and furious percussion, and coagulates into the most suffocatingly dense sound Gargoyle had ever presented.  It's awesome and fits very well with every facet of the band's diverse songwriting, so even if every song sucked (which they don't, clearly) I'd certainly appreciate it for the incredibly well done production.

In the realm of quirky, progressive, melodic thrash, Gargoyle are pretty much always going to be the champs in my eyes, and Junreiin feels like merely another brick in the wall in the grand scheme of things.  There are cool moments (like the numerous fakeout endings of "Eien no Renzoku" or the deep narrated passages in "Moshimo Watashi ga Sekai no Rule Nara"), and it's overall a very heavy and well done album and certainly worthy of the Gargoyle name.  What Kaikoroku was for the experimental Aratama, I feel Junreiin is for the experimental Natural.  I just feel like, despite it being solid, there wouldn't be any reason to seek this out specifically if not for the stunning "Satori".  The only reason I don't ejaculate quite as hard over "Shouryakukeitachi Yo" (which I remind y'all is the best Gargoyle song of all time) is because it's housed on an album with only marginally less perfect tracks, whereas "Satori" is a clear standout amidst a bunch of "pretty good" songs.  Check it out just for "Satori".


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