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(53 min, Musea & Poseidon)
TRACK LIST: 1. Sakura I 1:15 2. Life Game 5:15 3. Ceremony for the Evil 5:22 4. The Moon Knows Everything 6:39 5. Insanity 4:17 6. Sakura II 1:26 7. Quappa 3:38 8. Kirin 3:58 9. A Thorny Path 4:48 10. Sakura III 1:31 11. The Power of the Earth 8:25 12. Sakura IV 1:38 13. Rock & Roll Again 4:36 All tracks: by Nishio. Produced by Nishio & Fuji. LINEUP: Yasuhiro Nishio - guitars Hiroaki Fuji - bass Naoki Itoi - drums
Prolusion. Japanese trio Show-Yen is back with their sophomore release, entitled simply: "II". Time runs quickly, unfortunately. It seems to me that I reviewed their eponymous first album not long ago, while in fact, more than two years have passed since then.
Analysis. The new Show-Yen album depicts the trio going farther down the path they paved on their debut effort, with preservation of all their principal stylistic preferences, still ranging from an original and complex heavy stuff, as is in most cases, to a traditional, accessible Hard Rock. The first three of the four pieces having a common title, Sakura (which is a Japanese cherry-tree), don't feature drums. These are kind of brief benefit performances of electric, bass and acoustic guitar respectively, all being good regardless of their brevity. Life Game, Insanity, Quappa, The Power of the Earth and The Moon Knows Everything are fairly dense compositions of astonishing complexity, using not only electric guitar, bass, drums, but also either acoustic or semi-acoustic guitar, plus overdubs. The music is rarely fast, at least basically, but is amazingly intricate and clever. One should be attentive enough to find out a genuinely progressive Cathedral Metal behind the wall of sound that befalls upon him on each of these, though only one of them, The Moon Knows Everything, is busy, heavy and dark throughout, with no elements of classic guitar Art-Rock or place for rest either (my favorite track). It's difficult to say what the influences are. Show-Yen has been more than once labeled as a Japanese Rush, but the statement is unconvincing, as the topic does not correspond to the actual state of affairs. Instead, I'd better cite Dio's most progressive (and, thus, highly underestimated) "Strange Highways" album, after which the band kicked out from the major Vertigo label. Unlike the aforementioned compositions, which are full of eclecticism, the remaining five tracks are immediately accessible, with melody being regarded as of paramount importance. All of them feature numerous repetitions, but only those on Ceremony for the Evil and Kirin seem to be justified. These are Prog-tinged Hard Rock numbers with bright, memorable guitar solos. The other three get boring very quickly. Rock & Roll Again is just what its title suggests, and A Thorny Path and Sakura-IV are pretty sugary mainstream Rock ballads.
Conclusion. These Japanese are gifted musicians, but they are lacking a sense of proportion. If they had an independent producer, he would have never allowed them to put those three potboilers in the album. Without them, the CD would have lasted 42 minutes and would've been excellent.
VM: September 20, 2005
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