Friday, May 12, 2017

GOSPEL OF GARGOYLE: Gargoyle - Niji Yuugou

XIX: Rainbow Fusion

Remember how I said Super Battle Gargoyle almost seemed like a statement that they were leaving their past behind them because they've been getting simpler and thrashier for years and capped off that EP with heavier rerecordings of a longtime fan favorite ("Dogma") and possibly the most iconic lighthearted horn-filled funk song ("Hito no Tame")?  Well you could be forgiven for thinking that Niji Yuugou was a continuation or possibly more definitive reiteration of that statement, considering it's an album of rerecordings of songs from (mostly) the 90s era.

The difference is that this sounds a hell of a lot less like "This is who we are now, bow to us", and a hell of a lot more like "We haven't forgotten about you crazy fucks who have been around since the beginning, so this is a tribute to you, we love you."  You simply do not write a track like "Niji Yuugou" without putting a shitload of effort into it.  This is full of heart, full of energy, and loaded with the best performances the individual members have delivered in years.  It's weird, they actually sound somewhat rejuvenated by reaching back into the early days of their oeuvre for inspiration.

And when I say they reach, I mean they reach.  How deep does this tribute to fans go?  So deep that there are two songs I've never even heard of on here.  The first, "Guuzen To Hitsuzen No Tochuu" previously existed only on the obscure Lightning and Thunder split with five other Japanese metal bands from 1998, and the second, "Mannequin, Mushikui, Coup d'etat, Ishikoro" coming from I don't fucking know.  According to MA, it's earliest appearance is on a VHS from Rockin' F's "Zeta Special Characters" series featuring a random set from 1991.  Its only other appearances are on huge discography spanning compilations and the lip flapping insane 7 VHS set where they played every single song they ever recorded in a 10 and a half hour, 93 song marathon set on New Years Eve shortly after Gaia came out.  The point is, they dug deep as hell for this album, and they struck gold, because both of these "new" songs (for people who have been following their career according to this series) are fucking awesome.  They both sound like updated versions of songs written in their most fertile period of creativity, which I'm well aware they both literally are, but they're muscular kicks in the teeth here that might as well be entirely new songs for how fucking buried they were previously.

The songs that we actually know that they chose to rerecord are all excellent choices, as they show several sides of the band.  "Tokimeki" may be faster and heavier than the Furebumi original, but it actually retains the upbeat lightness of the bygone era.  Kiba's vocals are even sung in a higher register than he's managed in years, calling to mind the era from whence this all originally came.  "Execute" has been quadrupled in length and holy shit did they do a good job with it, because what was previously a one minute explosion of frantic thrash riffs hasn't just been lengthened via repetition, it's been expanded by taking the original song and basically using it as an intro to a more fully fleshed out song that utilizes all the same themes and riffs from the original.  Gargoyle has always been at their best when their songs have time to breathe and develop, and that's why their shorter ones are kinda hit and miss throughout their career while nearly everything in the "normal" range of song length is some of the best metal ever laid to tape.   "Gi" is somehow better than the madcap lunacy of the Misogi original by somehow being even more insane and balls-to-the-wall ridiculous.  Everything maintains the lighthearded fun of the originals (if they call for it) while simultaneously making them heavier and faster and grittier.  Gargoyle has evolved since then, no doubt, but they certainly haven't lost any of their spirit.

Really though, there's one true highlight here, and it's the main reason anybody should be listening to this album, and that's the title track.  "Niji Yuugou" is something of a pun, literally translating to "Rainbow Fusion", and sounding similar to the Japanese word for "25" (Ni-Juu-Go), alluding to the fact that this is their 25th anniversary celebratory release and the fact that this song is basically a fusion of all their best songs ever.  Seriously, run through this with me, let's see how much effort they put into this medley.

Okay, the song starts off heavy as fuck, something like a slow, churning Battle Gargoyle song before morphing into a brutal stomp.  Then hold up, wait... what's this?  Holy shit is that the intro riff to "GUSH!!"?  Holy fuck yes, barely twenty seconds in and they're already referencing one of my favorite songs of theirs!  If that doesn't set the stage, I don't know what will.  Then we get a staple of Moderngoyle shoehorned into this throwback with the prominent soaring harmonized lead melody that will carry the so-... hold up, this main melody is the fucking solo to "Algolagnia"!  Jesus they're getting creative as shit here, morphing these old elements into something entirely new to fit their new style while paying homage to the old.  It's like a thrash metal DJ.  Then the verse riffs rips forth and GOD YES IT'S THE RIFF FROM "SHOURYAKUKEITACHI YO" THAT I NEVER STOP GUSHING ABOUT!

I need to take a break to finish masturbating at this point.

It never stops, it just throws nostalgic firebombs at you every couple seconds and never feels like a disjointed mishmash of disparate elements from different eras fighting for attention, even though that's exactly what it is at its core.  There are featured moments from all across their career as well, with bits of the solo being lifted straight from "Atama ga Kowareta" and "Fugutaiten" from Aratama and even "Spark" from Ronpuu, the chorus riff is the verse riff from "Ese Gari" from Future Drug, the old bridge riff from the OG "Dogma" appears (which you need to realize is hugely significant since the emergence of "Super Dogma" erased that original version, so them reaching back for a riff that they've deliberately and intentionally whitewashed out of their history is a huge sign of gratitude towards the fans), the lyrics in the chorus reference "holding a pistol with no bullets", which is a phrase that appears in "Kaze no Machi", a friend of mine swears there's a riff from "Fire King" in here somewhere, et cetera forever.  I can't get over how well done this song is.  They took so many different elements from so many different songs and created something entirely new out of it, to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't notice any of these riffs were previously used decades before (I didn't even realize the riff from "Ese Gari" until maybe a year after this album came out, for instance), and they all come at you so fast and they're all so expertly handled.  This may be underselling the band somewhat considering this is a song quite literally made up of the best parts of previous classics, but this is one of the most definitive Moderngoyle songs you'll ever hear.

I don't even care about the rest of this.  "Nounai Jisatsu" is just as furious as it was before, "Kaze no Machi" sounds incredible with its soaring choirs and power metal elements being updated with the new production and heavier guitar tone, "Shi Ni Itaru Kizu" may be a decidedly new song but even then they run in the other direction and transmute it into a soothing acoustic campfire song.  It doesn't matter that this is entirely old material given a facelift for the new millennium, this is absolutely canon in their discography and holds its own as a standalone release.  It's one of their best albums, and that's not a joke.  Do not sleep on Niji Yuugou.

RATING - 91%

No comments:

Post a Comment