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Stunning! - 83%

DeathRiderDoom, January 14th, 2010

As I’ve said before in my review of Kuni’s previous offering ‘Masque’ – this is impressive shit. Kuni was a Japanese guitar virtuoso, and like one time KISS guitarist Vinny Vincent was able to transform his skills into an awesome melodic, commercially tinged heavy metal outfit, like said guitarist done with Vinny Vincent Invasion. Kuni himself didn’t take the centre stage, masturbatory egomaniacal approach to his music like certain other virtuoso’s done, instead he writes material, which though featuring brilliant guitars, and dazzling displays of talent, doesn’t revolve simply around guitar-wank, but genuinely songs written and performed holistically. Kuni’s music also features an array of heavy metal and hard rock superstars, this time round Jeff Scott Soto, who was fresh from tremendous performances on Malmsteen’s first two solo albums. Superstar drummer Mike Terrana (who has drummed for acts as famous and diverse as Masterplan, Axel Rudi Pell, Not Fragile, Rage & of course Yngwie Malmsteen) steps in for the album too.

Overall this a very strong offering from Kuni, serving as a successful follow up to his hard to follow debut album, which is a longtime favourite of mine; more excellent melodic heavy metal anthemism, laden in brilliant hooks, strong instrumental performances, and genuinely well written music. Commercially tinged, with a heavy reliance on big hooks, and polished, massive production jobs, Kuni’s sound here is much the same as in it’s predecessor, with a sound somewhat akin to Dokken. The title track is a fairly fat paced aggressive, though commercial sounding track that revolves around the awesomely powerful hook chorus “Lookin for Action!!! (Action)!!!” which is heavily repeated, and used heavy production touches. The production job, done by none other than Dana Strum from successful glam rock outfit Slaughter, actually manages to stay heavy, and of course, keep guitars well at the forefront, while having that overall commercially polished sound, cashing in on extra effects, and keeping the drums heavily reverbed and guitars incredibly crisp.

Production aside, this album features many great songs, and phenomenal guitar performances by the man himself. ‘Say Goodbye’ is another huge anthem, with massive hooks. It sounds very commercial, with an excellent, emotional delivery by Jeff Scott Soto with a tone of voice that here remind me of Grim Reaper’s Steve Grimmett or Don Dokken himself. Kuni’s guitar riffs in this Dokkenesque love song are absolutely fantastic, and his passionate solos and licks are phenomenal. The song is production heavy again, using sonic effects on the huge backup choir, while bass guitar is very crisp and prominent. Kuni’s guitars are very metal, and he feature’s great scaley riffs in this song, and even in the light-hearted commercial track ‘All Night Long’ which features brutal and technical displays of guitar prowess.

Brilliant melodic heavy metal with a sound similar somewhat to Dokken or to a lesser extent Crystal Roxx. A very metal guitarist here displays endless talent of technical, and very much heavy metal style play, that manages to couple brilliantly, with a slightly more commercial, and very melodic style of music. In this sense Kuni is very much like George Lynch as a player. Both are able to execute this task incredibly well; dazzling metalheads and providing tones of heaviness and technicality, while writing and performing music with other superstars that is essentially very melodic and somewhat commercial, to a degree. This album has plenty going for it, and this artist is criminally overlooked and forgotten. Tracks like ‘Reckless’ pound along in speed metal fashion and feature shredding leadwork, though maintaining a crisp, clear production job and sounding almost commercial; it’s brilliant. My favourite Japanese heavy metal outfit, right here. Do yourself a favour and pick it up.

-DeathRiderDoom