Area51 - Daemonicus 3.5/5
2. Les anges
4. Venus (Croix eternelle)
5. Close to.. you and me
8. Just like a prayer
10. Lord knows
Ever since I got into the excellent Japanese neo-classical power metal band Galneryus, I've been watching for other Japanese bands that are close in style. Recently, I've been acquiring all of the CDs from the similar and long-running Concerto Moon, as well as some newer bands that have just a few CDs in their discography. One of these new bands is Area51, who have a debut 'Ankh' and this 2nd CD 'Daemonicus'.
Area51 shares some similarities with Galneryus and Concerto Moon, in that their style is power metal with neo-classical flourishes (there is some very flashy guitar work), quick and catchy riffs, and just the right amount of keyboard/symphonic highlights. If power metal is your thing, rest assured that Area51 will deliver the goods. In fact, for those who have yet to experience Galneryus, Concerto Moon or similar Japanese bands, know that musically, along with Area51, they're easily competitive in today's power metal world.
The one big difference (regarding comparisons to Galneryus and Concerto Moon) is that Area51 is female fronted, and because of this, a few other bands that have popped up in my head as comparisons are Saeko, Minstrelix, Fairy Mirror and Wizards' Hymn (their debut 'Hymnal' only). Though some Japanese vocalists are far from stellar (at least with my experience), high-pitched vocalist Kate Cain (who's featured as part of the cover artwork and is also pictured many times throughout the booklet) is one of the better Japanese vocalists that I've heard. I wouldn't call her amazing, but she does a very good job on both of the band's CDs. Also, some of the songs on both of their CDs are sung in Japanese (which I've translated), but I don't think she sounds any better with one particular language.
While Area51's debut 'Ankh' is solid, they've already improved, as 'Daemonicus' is certainly a step up in quality. The CD features a satisfying amount of speed, plenty of excellent guitar work, some nice slower moments, and not one song is weak. That said, I feel this band could get even better, as crisper songwriting (combining the vocals and the music a bit better, perhaps) would take them to the next level.
Finally, a special mention must be made of the magnificent and epic closer "Lord knows". Not only is this song powerful and catchy, contains many hooks and changes in tempo throughout its length (which is over 16 minutes), it also features Rob Rock on vocals! You read correctly... Rob gives us a wonderful performance, duet style with Kate. This gem is surely the band's best song, and it has me really looking forward to their future. So check this band out, as they're talented, competitive, and I recommend both of their CDs to those who like female fronted bands and the Japanese power metal style.
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