This mini-album is the first release of NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST after the departure of Cazqui and Daichi last year and them being replaced with new guitarist Rin. Thanks to the music video for Thank You being released on their YouTube channel in advance we could get a little preview of what the new direction NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST was going to sound like. In a very harsh way, because the “Thank You” in the title was awfully sarcastic. If that was any indication for what the rest of the mini-album was going to be, we would be in for a ride. And a ride we got indeed.
With the addition of Rin the sound of the band changed quite a bit, because of course one guitarist can’t do the work two guitarists normally do. But instead of toning it down, the band has decided to step on the gas with a heavier sound that goes very far into the Metalcore direction with more powerful drums and bass lines, but also a guitar which compliments these. The Visual Kei aesthetics have been dropped almost entirely, but this doesn’t harm the band in any way and there is a sound that I used to hear during the early releases of the band (like the first mini-album Ivy and the Last Relapse single following shortly after that).
02. Thank You
03. マッチョ オブ ザ ワールド (Macho of the world)
05. Satanic Corner
07. 少年時代 (Shounen jidai)
The Prologue, serving as a calm intro to the mini-album, makes you wonder if you even hit the play button, or turned on the volume of your music player, but when it goes from a heartbeat into thunder mixed with drums and symphonic, the anticipation is there immediately, preparing you for the album to “UNLEASH” itself upon you.
Rolling straight into Thank You without any moment of silence the title of the mini does some honour to its name, something is UNLEASHED. While it’s not the heaviest or fastest song on the release, it definitely sets a tone with it’s strong, sarcastic lyrics. “Die at least 3 times and start your life again” and later “Actually, die 100 times, start again, and dare to come back” still have the same impact as the music video variety. (Because I have already reviewed the MV for this song I don’t want to go into this too deeply.)
マッチョ オブ ザ ワールド (Macho of the World) follows immediately after, picking up the pace and showcasing Rin’s guitar skills with powerful riffs before Hiro joins in with his screaming vocals. There are also elements of rap in this song, just like the previous song, a fairly common new sound you’ll find throughout the entire mini. It’s something different that you didn’t find in the previous releases of the band, but the combination of different genres isn’t a bad idea with this release. It adds a lighter element to an otherwise Metalcore-oriented sound. While the Metalcore influence is clearly on top, it’s very nice to hear the diversity Hiro’s voice can actually produce.
Rolling straight into SHOWTIME you know what time it is. It’s showtime alright. The tempo is lowered slightly in terms of the instrumentals, but that doesn’t go for the vocals. Showcasing some familiar (sometimes scream) vocals we’ve heard on previous releases as well as new clean ones he continuously uses on this new album.
If you’re familiar with Hiro’s high pitched scream vocals, Satanic Corner won’t come as a surprise to you. It instantly pulls the tone down to a heavier one, but it also contains lyrics like “Why do you always make me cry?” and “You are a motherfucking bastard.” to prove its point about not joking around. By this time questions are slowly beginning to emerge what exactly has been “unleashed”, since there is a lot of emotion tucked away between the lines of this release… It’s clearly more aggressive than the songs before it, but it also gives off the vibe that there is a conversation going on, of which we can only hear one side.
hPa follows immediately after, and instantly lightens the mood with a happier tone mixed in with the powerful drums provided by Natsu. Additionally it also again showcases some styles of vocals that we’re used to from previous releases, since Hiro has various voices he uses throughout his singing career in order to “switch it up”. hPa is often used as a measurement for air pressure, and it can be said that the air pressure of this particular song is “variable”, because of it switching between a lighter, high paced style and a heavier style constantly, making it quite interesting to listen to, and quite easy to get into, too.
With the final track of the album, 少年時代 (Shounen jidai), I can only say one thing: every album has a ballad. And you’ve guessed it already, this is it. While Hiro primarily uses his scream- and aggressive voices throughout this album, this song is an instant throwback to a much earlier time of NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST in terms of ballads. He exclusively uses his clean vocals for this song, making it more like a Rock-type of song than anything heavier than that, but it is a complete turnaround from the rest of the album, almost like a relief to get all of the previous off of his chest. The entire vibe of the song is different, and very familiar if you’ve heard their previous works. In fact, it even sounds sweet. A surprising, but fitting closure for this mini-album. Where Prologue builds up the anticipation, 少年時代 lets you know exactly this is the end in a calm and relaxed way.
Something was definitely “unleashed” with this album. A lot of hard work went into this release, but it also seems that a ton of frustration has been released through the lyrics. What happened between the members is extremely sad, and I really expected that the departure of both guitarists would lead to the announcement of the band disbanding entirely, but instead, Hiro, Masa and Natsu did the impossible with the help of Rin, by coming back as a stronger unit. The visual appearance and overall feel of the band might have changed, but the return to a heavier core sound seems to be exactly what the band needed to get it’s fire back. Especially for Hiro, who seems to be showing his skills more and more throughout the album. There were a few little things that didn’t appeal to me personally, but these few things didn’t stand in the way of an amazing album. With previous release WHITEOUT in mind, this new direction makes the name NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST as fierce as it should be.
… At least…
This is what I wanted to put as my conclusion originally. Since before I could finish this review the new guitarist Rin was caught while being in the possession of cannabis, which is a serious felony in Japan, only moments before the tour would kick-off. Rin was arrested and eventually ended up withdrawing from the band, leaving NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST in the same broken state as they were before. For a moment it even seemed like the guys wanted to forget the existence of this mini-album by pulling the MV from YouTube, and reverting their social media to a mixture of the visual appearance before Rin joined.
I really hope they can figure things out for themselves, because I do see the potential these guys have, and they’ve already shown that they can come back from something horrible. I just hope that they see this themselves, too. And come back even stronger than they tried to do here.