Saturday, May 3, 2014

Destrose - Destrose


I am a man who likes manly things.  In my free time, I like to chop down trees and oil my beard (which is approaching three feet in length).  I chew on car tires because it helps strengthen  my jaws, which is imperative when I participate in my bi-weekly bear wrestling matches.  Those fuckers may be strong and fierce, but it doesn't matter what species you are, a bite to the nipple is a bite to the nipple regardless.  There are no real rules in underground bear wrestling circuits, it may seem like a dirty tactic, but there's no honor where your opponents are concerned, believe me.

And amidst all the grime and bear blood and Motorhead, there's Destrose, the cutest fucking thing I've ever seen.

I've long stopped caring about the outside perspective on my taste in music, and it's that kind of detached apathy that is almost required before delving into a group like Destrose.  I've voiced my love of sugary Japanese power metal in the past, and Destrose's self titled first album is no exception, but unlike... say, Light Bringer, this is more than just sugary or light.  This shit is... just... fucking cute.  I don't know any other way to describe it, just look at the band members!  They're all dressed like Rozen Maiden characters and have the most innocent faces I've ever seen, I had no choice but to fall in love at first sight.  I want to buy all of them ice cream.

But pushing the obvious gimmick aside, this is an alleged metal album, right?  Therefore, the music should be the focus, and it's clear from looking at the album cover that the aesthetics definitely came first with Destrose.  Well... actually, I don't know how true that is, because the music contained is actually really, really good.  I don't mean solely in the realm of giggly J-pop, because of course anything with heavy guitars would stand out (why do you think Baby Metal has been making such waves lately?), I mean standing alone as a heavy metal album, Destrose does an extraordinarily great job of letting the music stand on its own merits.  You're not going to find any riffs as brilliant as on Don't Break the Oath or something, but everything here ranges from serviceable to great, and then amps everything up with a massive jolt of energy.  For a band so clearly designed as a marketing gimmick, it really shouldn't even be allowed to be this strong.

Like most heavy/power metal, the melodies are the main attraction here.  That's not to say the rhythm section isn't impressive, but they don't stand out nearly as much as the subtle keys and soaring guitar lines.  The vocals are a huge draw as well, but if you take them away, there's nothing that would clue you in to the band's image or country of origin.  Really, these riffs can get surprisingly dirty (check "Sword of Avenger", "Lifer 13" or "Hakai no Bara"), and there are big heaps of punkish aggression peeking through select songs, especially near the end of the album.  Overall the band leans more towards the "heavy" side of "heavy/power metal", and it helps set them apart from the countless Nightwish clones of the world who think that a pretty voice can only be accompanied with light, easy to listen to music.  The shredding solos sprinkled liberally across the duration are another huge plus for any fan of metal in general, as it keeps any given section from growing dull and shows that Mina has got some chops to go alone with that adorable visage.

I'm doing my damnedest not to keep mentioning the band's image or stereotypes associated with their country of origin, but dammit it's just too much of an elephant in the room to avoid.  The vocals are very much that style of saccharine-smooth giggliness you would normally associate with J-pop, so even though the music is 100% hard and heavy, her voice will almost always be involuntarily knocking your mind back into that sparkly mindset that you really should do everything in your power to avoid.  Despite that, she's still a damn good vocalist, with some killer range and a totally wicked vibrato.  She has a shitload of control over such a powerful wail, and it's very impressive.  It helps that her technical skill meshes so brilliantly with the music on hand.  In another universe, Doro Pesch could be behind this album with very little changes (maybe a little less keys and a dirtier tone), but this girl instead commands your attention with a very clean, precise, and voluminous wail.  Hell, she even gets in some Doro-esque snarliness on the "Hakai no Bara", so she's not only impressive and ear catching, but sports some unexpected variety as well.

Overall Destrose is an album that could (and likely will) be defined by western audiences by its gimmick of populating the band with the five most adorable women in Japan, but in a just world, the sharp hooks and catchy choruses would propel the music past the far too easy to criticize image.  Alas, it's a very solid heavy metal album with a thin veneer of melodic power metal looming over the traditional riffage.  It's admittedly a very niche sound it's catering to, but apparently I have just enough of the spirit of a little girl to be totally into it.

Also the bassist and drummer are so fucking cute I just wanna hug them and aaaaaaahhhhhh!

RATING - 85%


  1. I've intermittently had Headless Godless and Sword of Avenger stuck on repeat for close to a year now. I can't help it. That pair of tracks just manages to embody the perfect combination of saccharine ear worms and technical versitude which this album presents. Unfortunately, it looks like Marina, whose vocal performance was one of the prime draws of this band, won't be a part of the follow-up to this masterpiece as she has already been dropped and replaced this year. I suppose we can only hope her successor can successfully fill the void of Marina's departure a la Galneryus rather than another example of what happened with Alduous' new singer.

  2. Marina has a solo project called Mardelas and going from the 2 demos posted, its pretty similar to the songs she wrote for Destrose. If I remember correctly, 霖 -Rin-, Maze, Sword of Avenger, Romancer, Fenixx, and Nostphillia she wrote.

    They have an upcoming mini-album due for a Sept 24th release, and each member of the band composed a song.

    I don't have any issues with Re:NO, but Rami definitely fit Aldious' sound better. I do think Re:NO is a bit of an acquired taste, and she seems to fit better on "Dazed and Delight" than "District Zero". I'm more upset that Rami isn't singing period than anything (she left due to health reasons).