It seems that we are currently living in a golden age of female Japanese metal bands with BAND-MAID, LOVEBITES and NEMOPHILA all captivating the hearts of Western metalheads. Perhaps the brightest of that bunch, BRIDEAR are no strangers to the UK and, exactly two years since their last visit, have returned to slay London’s Underworld venue.
First up are London-based group, Season Of Ghosts. An industrial metal band with distinctly gothic overtones they open with the aptly titled Genesis, and it’s a hard-hitting, riff-heavy number that provides the perfect vehicle for Sophia’s ethereal vocals. How The Story Ends follows and it’s an epic slab of power metal with guitarist Sam pulling some brutal riffs from his six-string. Season Of Ghosts appear sans drummer but still manage to produce an earth-shaking sound and, as a trio, the band are tighter and mix up a cauldron of sound. Astero(id) appears as if from another dimension while the world premiere of Infinity bodes well for their forthcoming album. Despite a lengthy live hiatus Season Of Ghost show no signs of rust as fan favourite Dream Paralysis caps an impressive set.
Hitting Europe as part of their Into The Dark Forever Tour BRIDEAR are the first Japanese metal band to tour the UK since Covid hit in 2019 so, quite understandably, an air of expectation hangs heavy as we await the band. An intro tape ramps the tension up to an unbearable level and it’s finally released when the band hit the stage. Arriving with the force of a musical tsunami BRIDEAR are all smiles and seem genuinely delighted to be back playing live. Opening with the groove-laden Ghoul the band are a bundle of energy and, like a well-oiled machine, are firing on all cylinders. Not a single second is wasted as 2017 digital single Ignite follows and sets the crowd aflame and, on vocalists Kimi’s command, 200 fists pump the air. The Underworld always furnish visiting bands with a good sound and BRIDEAR put it to good use as they take us back to the Expose Your Emotions album which finds Kimi unleashing some glass-shattering shrieks on MIRROR.
Despite their ferocious sound, BRIDEAR radiate good vibrations and their unbridled enthusiasm reverberate throughout the venue. Their sheer effervescence is addictive as crowd and band fire off each other’s energy. For many in the crowd, this is their first gig in almost two years so we can forgive them if they go a little crazy during The Moment, especially when diminutive bassist Haru delivers some unearthly guttural growls. Tonight’s setlist covers all points of the band’s career with Pray taking us back to their debut album Overturn The Doom while KESHIN (from Bloody Bride) finds Ayumi and Misaki trading blistering guitar solos and they are a pairing who could rival Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray and Adrian Smith.
BRIDEAR deliver a non-stop foot-on-the-monitor, horns-held-high metal fest and it’s not until we reach Brave New World Revisited that we’re granted a breather of sorts. A song of many suites and full of neat time changes its atmospheric and almost progressive in nature as it shapeshifts over seven glorious minutes. It creates a nice central point in the show and ensures the set ebbs and flows perfectly. With no signs of flagging two from the latest album Bloody Bride follow before we get the title track from that record and, bathed in demonic red light, it only serves to increase the overall feeling of insanity that permeates this evening. Light In The Dark brings the set to a suitably frantic conclusion but the crowd demand an encore and it’s granted with a high octane version of Again.
Come back soon BRIDEAR…we’re missing you already!
4. The Moment
7. Brave New World Revisited
12. Bloody Bride
13. Light In The Dark
14. Again (Encore)