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The Animetal Just Don't STOP! - 95%

corviderrant, February 16th, 2006

It is no secret by now on this board that I am a major fan of this band, and I will review all of their CDs I own to expose more readers to their musical genius. That said, let it rip!

As per usual, this album blazes by in a nearly seamless wall of constant riffing with plenty of classic metal riffs sneaked in here and there to make sure you’re paying attention, a common Animetal trait on all their albums. Heavy on the Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, for that extra classy old school feel, of course, and they’re used as segue way riffs to avoid copyright infringement, not to mention often played in different keys as well. As the title implies, this is a tribute to the venerable Japanese production company Tsuburaya Productions, who are best known for the long string of “Ultraman” TV shows they’ve made since 1966. All the Ultra shows up until “Ultraman Dyna” (this is a 1998 release) are covered, with a heaping portion of other, lesser-known Tsuburaya shows along for the ride.

Guitarist She-Ja covers lots of ground with an abundance of riffing and crazed soloing to insure that you will certainly not forget about him, and bass monster Masaki really starts stepping out on this album. He was always an active player, but on this album he really starts to make his presence known with his deep and resonant tone enhancing his furious slapping, popping, and tapping. The drumming is as always rock solid and tasteful, and Eizo Sakamoto mans the mike with his usual authoritative aplomb. Some will find his vocals an acquired taste with his high, raspy screams (and the lyrics being 99% in Japanese with occasional words and lines of “Engrish” here and there will be a sticking point for many), but I enjoy his passionate abandon, myself. Not to mention the production is excellent; the drum sound especially stands out with punchy yet solid kick drums pounding away minus the clattering triggered sound I’ve come to dislike so.

The album starts out on a menacing, mid-tempo note with the “Ultra Q” theme (the predecessor to the original “Ultraman” series)—dissonant chords and sinister low-string single note riffs and roars into a spirited high speed metal gear with “Ultraman”, “Song of Ultra Seven”, “Ultra Seven” and “Mighty Jack’s Song”. After an opening salvo like that, it slows down and gets funky for a minute before the pedal gets put back down to the metal, with frequent Ultra sound effects punctuating the music—the trademark karate yells of the Ultras as they go into battle. This is some potent, catchy, high-energy and uplifting music, as the band is so into what they’re doing you can’t help but get swept up into the fray with a big grin on your face whether you understand the language or not.

A whole slew of other more obscure Tsuburaya shows get the Animetal treatment as well into the bargain (“Fire Man”, “Red Man”, “Gridman” AKA “Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad” in America, to name a few), and pretty much all are like a boot to the head in rapid succession. A good thing in this context, I have to say. The hidden track of children’s show theme song “Kaiju Booska” (kind of like a 1960s ancestor of “Barney”) is amusing--after the ending of “Ultraman Dyna” and a few moments of the band clowning around in Japanese it begins as a loopy carnival song that rapidly morphs into a thrashing onslaught with a decidedly humorous edge a la S.O.D. in their prime. Amazing double kick drumming on this one, with even a tantalizingly brief blast beat rearing its head.

Once again, Animetal win a solid round of accolades for this release, even though it is the 80s-style shredding that is so out of fashion in this country these days. Fuck that, I say, and fuck the nu-metal swill that kids think is so cool with its Neanderthal power chord bashing and mono-rhythm thudding and misuse of 7-string guitars for no more than low end noise. Eizo Sakamoto and friends deserve a fair shake for their enthusiasm and fervent delivery as well as their surgically precise shredding, as it is obvious that the 80s are still alive and well in Japan if nowhere else. Is this a bad thing? Hell no, not in my universe anyway. Plus, this music is so uplifting with its high energy level and positive vibe it’s amazing. Feeling down? This will lighten your mood in a jiffy!