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Ghost Stories Worth Passing Down - 100%

TheHumanChair, February 13th, 2020

Like my other Ningen Isu reviews, since the band's material is all Japanese, I will be using the English "Romaji" for the sake of ease during this review.

Ningen Isu's nineteenth album "Kaidan Soshite Shi to Erosu" very well might be the overall heaviest in their entire career at time of writing. Not that heaviness always means better, but this is an album that takes no prisoners, pulls no punches, and just blasts forward the entire way through. There's nothing particularly fancy with this record, but it's Ningen Isu proving why they're the veteran legends they are the entire way through. It's a near flawless record that just pumps out one good track after another. It's one of my top 5 records of all time, and easily in Ningen Isu's top 3.

"Nemuri Otoko" shows off this album's version of the Ningen Isu classic. Starting off with a mystically eerie intro, Kenichi Suzuki's bass quickly stomps ahead before an explosive riff from Shinji Wajima. The whole way through the song, it alternates between that explosive heaviness and that eerie atmospheric element. Nobu Nakajima's drums perfectly represent both, going from pounding and crashing to using some wonderfully atmospheric toms. The middle solo section combines both of these sections into a perfect blend with an amazing riff prior to the solo where the band are all matching notes. Suzuki shows he's not about to be outdone on this album with "Yoshikazu Junan." Both his vocals and the riff behind it are so angry. I particularly appreciate his range as a singer on this one. Suzuki usually sings either much more melodically, or much more theatrically, but on this track he blends the two very well with a panicked anger. I also adore the Japanese influences the song brings in the form of the chanting harmonized vocals right before the solo.

The following track "Kikka no Kazoe Uta" continues the trend of Japanese influences. The song is pretty much a metal Japanese nursery rhyme, but it's quick and aggressive the whole way through. Wajima also busts out the shamisen later in the song which is almost always a huge bonus for me. This track has one of the more kickass Wajima solos of the album, and the way he layers his verse riffs after the halfway point keeps the short song fresh and interesting. Nobu Nakajima's turn on lead vocals for this album is "Chou Nouryoku no Attanara," which is easily one of the most fun songs of the band's entire career. All of Wajima's riff on this track are bouncing, jumping, energetically electric ones, which Suzuki follows by using a simple but effective bass part. Nakajima is perfect for this song. His raw energy burns through this whole song.The verse vocals are melodic but also gruff, and the chorus is just pure catchy passion. The chorus riff behind it is just as addicting, and this is another song where Wajima delivers a wonderful solo. This is without question a delightful track that is sure to pump you up and fuel you whenever you give it a spin.

Suzuki's greets us with another fun one on "Ookami no Tasogare," although this one isn't fun in the catchy addicting way like "Chou Nouryoku no Attanara" is. This song is another 'fairytale' for Suzuki to tell us. His vocal style on this song is very foreboding and ominous, and his later werewolf calls only further drive that home. Wajima brings a simple but crushing riff and yet another technically catchy solo. His solos all across this album are some of his best ever. This song might not be a long one, but it's a fantastic head-banger with the mythical Ningen Isu spirit flowing through it. "Doro no Ame" tells another story with its bleak mood and atmosphere. Wajima's main riff, supported by Nakajima's powerful drumming, is extremely dark. His miserable sounding vocals that follow on the verses add to the dismal nature this song portrays. The chorus is another fantastically powerful one that captures the bleakness of this song perfectly. This entire track is Ningen Isu writing another textbook on how to make a listener feel certain moods to enhance music without having to be to in-your-face about it.

The album's two longer tracks are also both brilliant ones that are totally worth their run time. "Sanzunokawa" starts off with a grooving Suzuki bassline, and when Wajima's main riff kicks in, the song just trudges and pounds forward with its powerful groove all around. Wajima and Suzuki both really show incredible range and ability with their harmonized chorus. During the solo, Suzuki adds another driving bass part to his tally, and it honestly even overshadows another great solo by Wajima. Nakajima's snare groove heralds in a short, quicker riff, before Wajima basically speeds up his main riff before the song's close. The entire song is just a joyous experience of head-banging grooves and fantastic riffs. The album's closer "Madame Edwarda" is more akin to a traditional Ningen Isu epic, and it easily holds its own. An eerie intro gives us another powerhouse of a riff that is only enhanced by Suzuki matching it on his bass. The entire song has a great variety of switching beats and shuffles from Nakajima, and his versatility helps keep every transition in the song fresh and original. The chorus is another strong yet ominous one that adds a very mystical flavor to the song's theme. The final riff, solo, and calling from Wajima is both heavy and beautiful, and it's a perfect way to end an album that is as close to perfect as you can get.

If I had to nitpick, "Yukionna" is probably the only song on the album I could do without. It's a rather popular track, though, as Ningen Isu often plays this one live, so I might be in the minority on it. I definitely don't dislike it, as it has another very solid groove and flow, and the eerie middle section is also fantastic. The song's main riff and melody just don't hold me as well, though. Especially since literally every other track on this album is so incredible. I might have appreciated this song more on a lesser Ningen Isu album, but it remains for me a solid and enjoyable track that is just completely out of its league on this record.

"Kaidan Soshite Shi to Erosu" is just an album that does everything right. It checks every box I could ever ask of it for my listening preferences, and it's absolutely an album that you need to go out of your way to pick up immediately. All three members of Ningen Isu are at the tip top of their game, despite the fact that this album comes 25 years into their career. This album is a true desert island disc, and I absolutely could not recommend it more.