When it comes to female metal bands Japan is blessed with Aldious, Mary’s Blood and Lovebites all blazing a path into Western consciousness. One of the brightest new bands are NEMOPHILA (interview with vocalist mayu here) to whom, like many, my first exposure came via their take on classic rock tunes. Check out their YouTube channel and you’ll discover high octane versions of ‘Aces High’, ‘Detroit Rock City’ and ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’: great fun to watch but there was a danger they could have become a novelty covers band. However, they’ve an impressive discography and have released three singles (only available as expensive imports) which are now collected by JPU Records as OIRAN (Extended Edition).
With a nice circular riff and a rhythm section firing like pistons ‘OIRAN’ was the band’s debut single and it kicks this collection off in the best possible fashion. It immediately evidences a hard hitting, punchy sound that arrives with all fists flying and goes straight for the jugular. The production is top notch with plenty on the bottom end and factor in some demonic screams from vocalist Mayu and you have a pretty heady mix. Nevertheless, for all its sonic fury the band never lose sight of important stuff like melody and song structure which ensures ‘OIRAN’ swings with an inherent groove. With no signs of slowing down ‘MONSTERS’ continues in a similar vein with drummer Tamu becoming a kabuki demon and nails her kit to the studio floor. I always thought keyboards in metal were a bit naff (think Bon Jovi and Europe) but, employed sparingly, they add another dimension here which gives ‘MONSTERS’ a real depth.
It’s not until third track ‘Life’ that we get a breather of sorts with the band delivering a more measured effort which ensures that OIRAN ebbs and flows like a regular album (rather than being a collection of singles). It’s back to the rock action with the bombastic ‘RAITEI’ as the rhythm section rumbles along like a Panzer division before guitarists Saki and Hazuki riff in tandem and trade a couple of blistering solos. With a sound that’s at once antiquated and modern ‘SORAI’ is an earworm of the highest order that’ll crawl around your cranium for several days. With guitars spiralling upwards and full of delicious gang vocals it flits from speaker to speaker like a huge wrecking ball and causes all sorts of damage in between. Bringing things bang up to date is the ferocious ‘DISSENSION’ which features some throat-shredding vocals from Mayu along with the aptly titled ‘FIGHTER’ that throws its weight around like a title contender.
My only real complaint about OIRAN is that, at 35 minutes, it’s too damn short (although an English version of ‘DISSENSION’ bolsters the running time somewhat). However, both the ‘RAITEI’ and ‘DISSENSION’ singles contained instrumental versions of previously released songs so it would have been cool if they’d have been added here as bonus tracks. If you’re already a fan and want all the songs in one place or if your wondering what all the fuss is about then, either way, OIRAN (Extended Edition) is an essential purchase.
- Reviewed by Peter Dennis.
- OIRAN (Extended Edition) is released via JPU Records on 25th June 2021
- Official Website
- DISSENSION (English Version)