Monday, May 15, 2017

GOSPEL OF GARGOYLE: Gargoyle - Taburakashi

XXII: Cajolement

After Geshiki pretty much knocked ten points off my IQ score since I headbanged myself into several concussions during its runtime, how could I not be excited for the followup?  I've mentioned before that their album covers are great in their simplicity, but they sometimes don't necessarily give a real indication of what the record is going to contain.  Stuff like Tsuki no Toge, Future Drug, and Geshiki don't necessarily telegraph unending brutality and neck-wrecking fury, but that's absolutely what they deliver.  However, when the details for Taburakashi was revealed in 2016, there was absolutely no fucking mistaking it, this was going to be pure molten steel, nothing but full force razor sharp riffage with no room to breathe.

That's exactly what we got this time.

Taburakashi pulls precisely zero punches and pretty much wrecks faces from the start.  It's got all the ferocity of Future Drug with the single-minded focus of Kemonomichi or Kuromitten, which essentially means it's just like Geshiki, just a little less creative.  That's not to say this is all that much of a step down, because it still smokes.  Gargoyle definitely seems to be in something of a late career renaissance, much like how Judas Priest shat out Painkiller (a Top 5 All Time album of mine, personally) twenty years into their career, Gargoyle started amping up the energy and drive several decades into their career as well.  Right when it starts, "Yaban Kairo" is introduced with a quick shout of the title and then the band explodes.  This is the new "Shi Ni Itaru Kizu" as far as I'm concerned, and I love the shit out of that song.  That's clearly the template they went with for this opening track yet again, and just like all of the opening tracks since "Jet Tiger", it's a Powergoyle classic that lays the melody on so thick that it pretty much smothers it.  There's a pleasant melodicism in Kiba's voice that you don't hear all that often in the chorus here, like he's putting much more effort into truly singing instead of just shouting like an insane person most of the time.  It's sort of a throwback to their wondeful 90s era in that regard.  Granted he's never going to hit the highs of classics like Natural but dammit he's trying, and that's way more than I can say for Kijuu.

This fucking this basically never slows down.  Even the token misplaced ballady song, "Dare Ga Tame ni Ame Wa Furu" just blinks itself out of existence since it's inbetween the monstrous thrasher, "No Entry", and one of the most fucknuts insanely shreddy melodic songs they've ever written in "GO GO GALAPAGOS" (though it does admittedly at least tie "SHIT Shitto SHIT" for their worst song title ever).  There's also "Tada Hitosuji ni Yuku" near the end which also one of their more melodic and pleasant rock songs, but it just sorta happens without me noticing.  So yes, that does mean these are the two weakest songs on display, but the rest of the album sits on such a plateau that I tend to forget they're even featured.

But on that note, that does make this album sorta difficult to describe since it's like most Moderngoyle releases in that it's mostly just one style.  It's crazily heavy and unabashedly melodic thrash/speed metal with power metal influences here and there with a psychotic vocalist who just screams all of his lines like a whacko.  There's a lot of effort put into this release regardless, it really does seem like there's a renewed love for their craft at this point in time for the band.

Don't take that to mean there are no highlights, because this album has motherfucking "Dragon Skull" on it, which is oh god so fucking good.  This is Gargoyle at their thrashiest and heaviest.  I never really found the words to describe what makes their style so different, but I think I'm starting to understand that, especially from Bushin onwards, they've managed to perfect the art of making things fast and thrashy but also heavy.  Like, you're probably thinking of something like Sodom when I say that, but I mean every single note comes off with as much weight and force as a focused breakdown.  Every riff sounds like the break in "Tired and Red" at double speed without thinning out the sound at all.  These riffs sound like assault rifles that fire bazooka shells, they're so fucking meaty and powerful and yet come at you at such a relentless pace that it almost defies explanation.  That's particularly where "Dragon Skull" excels.  That main riff that rips out eight seconds in after the band drops the intro and just shouts "DOO-RA-GUUUUN SKALL" is just unfairly fucking heavy.  Even the fairly light chorus (in comparison to the brutality of the verses) still sounds skull crushing.  I'm completely in love with this song.

There are other magnificent tracks, like the ludicrously fast and drenched-in-melody "Be Daring", straddling the line between their heavy and melodic styles so well that it goes from the speedy and energetic main melody to chest beating blast beats in seconds.  "Crumbling Roar" is another ludicrously crunchy song with a blistering main riff, and the chorus stands out for more of Kiba's actual singing coming through (or at least attempting to), that "Coo-RAAAAMBUUUUUHLING ROOoOoOoOR" is another cool moment of relentlessly heavy melodicism that the band has made their bread and butter over the years.  "GO GO GALAPAGOS" is, as mentioned, crazily shreddy and has some insane leadwork going on, like the band entered the studio and told Kentaro "Alright buddy, for this next song, just do literally anything you want; go as insane as you want to go and we'll try to keep up with you" and he responded by screaming like Speedy Gonzalez and shredding like Skwisgaar Skwigelf. 

I think I've finally run out of words, I've finally reached the point where there's only so much you can say about Gargoyle.  Their highly creative run in the 90s may have petered out, but instead of becoming a dull rehash of previous ideas, Taburakashi shows that they've only refocused themselves and honed in on specific skills throughout their career.  So they may not be the quirky weirdos from Japan who would intersperse hyper fast thrash anthems with cultural oddities and irresistably catchy funky party songs anymore, but they've evolved into one of the most laser-guided ferocious thrash bands on the planet with a penchant for searingly uplifting melodies along with unstoppable charismatic chest-beating bravado.  It's unreal, I've never seen a band remain so good for so long.  Physics shouldn't allow Gargoyle to exist.

But they do.

And they're not going anywhere.

RATING - 87%


HOLY SHIT GUYS I DID IT!   This was a gigantic project for me, and easily the most time consuming one I've ever worked on.  Twenty two reviews for one band can be absolutely draining (hell doing just five for Mastodon was difficult as hell for me), and it's why I've never bothered to do it for any of my other favorite bands (like Running Wild or Cannibal Corpse).  Gargoyle is a different breed and much easier to speak about in a loose, free manner.  Regardless, it was a huge commitment and, even if it took two extended breaks and a total of nearly three and a half years to complete, I'm glad I've finally been able to more or less close the book on this pet project of mine.  Really, I'm peeling back the curtain a bit here, but I don't really drown in views.  I don't really put a whole lot of effort into advertising this site, and the fans/notoriety I may have stems more from the Metal Archives than this site where I have a little more freedom to goof off and go off on extended diatribes about Wintersun.  The point is, a vast majority of my reviews get somewhere from 150-300 views.  They get to much more eyes via MA for sure (since this site's views mainly come from my personal Facebook or people who click the link in my sig on the MA forum) but I don't have the stats for that.  Even though I normally break triple digits for most reviews, this Gargoyle series averages somewhere between 40-70.  Nobody reads this series, but never once did I consider dropping it in favor of something to gain more exposure.  This was a labor of love for sure, this was something I wanted to do simply as a tribute to the most underappreciated metal band on the planet.  Hopefully I did my part.  If anybody has gotten into the band because of this series, then it was worth it to me.

Also yuuuuuge shoutout to Crick, that not-so-mysterious cohort of mine I've mentioned a few times throughout the reviews that introduced me to the band in the first place.  He's been a massive help in feeding me trivia and behind-the-scenes info about the band, and giving me new perspective on several things since our opinions on the band differ greatly at times, despite us both loving them to pieces.  He's the one who noticed the "Enigma" riff is the same as "Creeping Death", he's the one who pointed out that "Doumushishubai" isn't even a real word and the real title was actually "Doumu Lullaby", he's the one who fucking coined the term "Moderngoyle" as far as I know.  None of this could have ever happened without him.

And that's all folks!  I plan on doing some more with this series in the future, but until another canonical full length or EP comes out, the main series is finally and officially finished.  There will be some addendums here and there for some of the other important things I missed (Fuuin, Ububoe, maybe Borderless or the G Manual series), but there's no timeframe and no order, just whenever I get the spark.  There will also be a fun little extra tonight because I fuckin' feel like it, okay?

I love all of you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you for heeding The Gospel.

Final word count: 26880

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