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Coldrain deliver a stellar EP, but have we heard it before?

by Lisa Wallin

Special To The Japan Times

The buzz surrounding metal idols Babymetal and the success of metalcore act Crossfaith has brought more attention to Japan’s heavy-music scene. Nagoya-based post-hardcore band Coldrain has been quick to take advantage of this with an EP titled “Until the End” — a six-song release that comes on the back of an international version of the LP “Revelation,” which was released in Japan a year ago.

“Until the End” demonstrates more maturity and experimentation than the band’s three previous albums (including “Revelation”) and two EPs, and shows the band is heading in an interesting direction. This may be in large part due to vocalist Masato Hayakawa’s active involvement in the musical composition of the tracks, not just writing the lyrics. Opener “Aware and Awake” is a melodic powerhouse that highlights one of Coldrain’s strengths: Hayakawa’s emotional vocals, which alternate between growls and screams with ease. The vocals are also a highlight on “You Lie,” an earworm-inducing track that features poplike choruses and venomous lyrics: “You lie, you lie so much that you don’t know anymore.” The drums are heavy on “Evolve,” which rips straight into a battering of guitar and bass, matched only by the onslaught of Hayakwa’s voice.

“March On” ends up being the one weak point on an otherwise impressive EP. Having it placed between the incredibly catchy “You Lie” and the well-balanced “Fade Away” probably doesn’t do it any favors. Hayakawa doesn’t have the widest vocal range, and while he’s in fine form on “Aware and Awake,” “March On” seems just outside his comfort zone. It’s not until two-thirds of the way into the song that he’s finally in his element — but by that time it’s a bit too late.

“House of Cards” is as close to a ballad as the band has ever come. With its melancholic piano-scattered melody, it ends up as a surprisingly satisfying finish to the whole EP.

The only real sticking point with this otherwise stellar EP is that five of the six songs — all but “House of Cards” — are taken from the international release of “The Revelation,” repackaged and resold as leftovers to the Japanese fan base. In today’s digital market, this approach doesn’t make much sense.