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The other day while watching Japanese animation reviews blogs, I found one about a record made by Italian metalheads who had made an album with the songs most representative of Studio Ghibli...I have to be honest, my first thought was "this must be a joke!, theme metal version of Spirited Away?...WTF??
So the first thing I did was look for information about this album. I found several blogs that said basically the same, even some who did not like this idea at all, but I finally found one where described in greater detail was this record. The first thing I noticed is that there were four bands (Disarmonia Mundi, Blood Stain Child, Destrage, and Living Corpse) and two artists I had not heard before (Yoko Hallelujah and Nero Argento), so I thought if Disarmonia Mundi is on this record, then it must be decent, so I downloaded it.
Personally, albums of covers I've always played with caution because you never know how you'll hear that song you love with another band that, most of the time, has a different playing style and disappoints you (did you hear me Anthrax?).
Clarifying the point above is not the case with this album; the songs are not really covers, as it would be the equivalent of Slayer wanting to do a cover of a song from Sesame Street. All the songs are stylized in the form of metal, so these sound like new versions, yet keep the original melody in most of them.
Because Ettore Rigotti is the producer of the album and this is recorded at his studio, most of the songs have the trademark of Disarmonia: many background sounds (electronic loops, synthesizers, etc.), very sharp guitars, various types of voices (clean, guttural, screams, grunts), and this new style of melodic death metal (equally hated and loved).
Also noticeable is the influence of another of the bands involved in this: Blood Stain Child, in the form of the composition and the characteristic sound of Japanese animation, especially by the addition of female voices in the style of J -Pop (Yoko Hallelujah and Sophia Aslanidou). This combination makes the album sound like a soundtrack of any anime, yet keeps that feeling that emanates from the original songs by Studio Ghibli.
The other two bands (Destrage and Living Corpse) involved on this album are Disarmonia compatriots and apparently Mr. Rigotti is also the producer of both. In addition, I had heard neither of them before, but I gave them an opportunity. They played four songs (two each) with their own style. Destrage, in my view, is a band that plays very much like Mundi, but not with so much technology involved and Living Corpse is like metalcore, but slightly heavier. Both are played with Yoko Hallelujah with a sound similar to all the other songs and the essence of them remains.
The album has twelve songs in total and all are among the most famous Ghibli films (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Ponyo, Nausicaä, to name a few). As I said before, the original melody remains as unchanged as possible with the exception of Ponyo played by Destrage, which only until you hear the choirdo you realize which song it is. The track that most resembles the original is Nausicaa Requiem performed by Nero Argento (never heard him before either). This song is the shortest of the entire disk and is more fully electronic music with some guitars and drums in the background as well as the voice of Yoko Hallelujah which makes this song fully resemble the original in regard to the feeling conveyed. A very good song.
Perhaps the only bad thing about this album is to whom it may concern: metalheads who like the movies mentioned above (I include myself in this group), however it is a good experiment as the music is very good, the production is clean, and the sound is good. It might have been better with a little more bass, but overall it is a very good album, however I consider important to mention some points about this album as a warning or "information":
1. This is not a children's album. It is metal and sometimes the songs sound very aggressive, especially for those who like Hayao Miyazaki's films (director and main producer of Studio Ghibli). If you're a fan of these films but not metal, forget this album.
2. If you're a metalhead who does not like Japanese animation in general, forget this album.
3. If you do not like metal versions of songs that are not originally metal, forget this album.
4. If you do not like the style of the bands playing, forget this album.
Otherwise get it, download it, or whatever, but listen to it and give it a try. If you're not included in the four groups mentioned above, I guarantee you'll love this album.
Whoa, a split work by about 4 metal bands in which, the songs are covers from anime theme songs? That is new.
Well, I did hear some of the original versions of the songs, like "Tonari No Totoro"(played in this album by Disarmonia Mundi with Blood Stain Child's female singer, Sophia, who is credited in this song as Sophia Aslanidou), and well, one difference that I can say, was the absence of the words, Totoro 4x in the beginning of the original song. Rather, they did the very aggressive riffs, compared to the original song, which is definitely enjoyable and safe for little kids.
The album, put simply, contains some of the old theme songs from Japanese anime made by Studio Ghibli, which is led by the famous animator Miyazaki Hayao(In Japanese, surname first before given name, thus I write his name in this way, instead of Hayao Miyazaki); but don't expect them to remake them in the same way it was originally made(i. e. safe for little kids to hear and listen to). This is metal. Everything was redone the metal way. Like the first song in the track, for example. The original Tonari no Totoro theme is cute in melody, simple yet catchy. The Tonari no Totoro theme in this album is overwhelmingly full of growls, with some clean vocals.
There are actually 2 female singers in the album, with differing pitch. Sophia's voice is deeper than Yoko Hallelujah, yet their parts are well executed. Yoko's parts sound more or less the same pitch as the voices of J-pop singers, only that it blended well with the aggressive feel of the whole album.
Even though there is Disarmonia Mundi in the albums, I noticed the absence of Bjorn Strid's voice. Didn't he work with the band for this project? I guess, not. It's mainly Claudio Ravinale doing the growls, and in one song, "Country Road", the clean male voice sounds like Ettore Rigotti, who, coincidentally, sounds a little bit like Bjorn Strid.
There are also contributions from bands like Destrage and Living Corpse. I admit, I am not that familiar with those bands, as this album is the first time that I heard their performances. Based on their work on this album, instrumentally, their work is top-notch; but vocally, the singer of Living Corpse sounded more like screaming than growling in "Mononoke Hime"(even though Destrage did the same in "Gake No Ue No Ponyo", but sparingly, compared to Living Corpse).
The songs played by Blood Stain Child in this album, well, it's all Sophia all the way, and if there are growling, that ain't Ryo, I think it's Claudio Ravinale again.
The big surprise however, was the work of Neroargento in "Nausicaa Requiem", with some vocals of Yoko Hallelujah in such song. This cover stood out among the other covers in that it has more synths than the others that it sounded like electronic metal, something like that.
In general, the album is very good, from an anime fan's point of view(consider also, being covers of anime songs, these songs are in Japanese). Recommended for anime fans who are also metalheads, especially fans of anime created by Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki Hayao.