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Fly to Sexual World. Enough Said. - 65%

TheStormIRide, June 28th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Hells Headbangers Records

Those following the illustrious and alcohol drenched career of Barbatos should certainly have noticed by now the not-so-gradual shift from a blackened thrash metal meets punk amalgamation into something that is basically punk with a bunch of rocking speed metal influence and just a tinge of the blackened histrionics that used to be so woven through their sound. Formed in 1996 by one of Abigail’s masterminds, Yasuyuki Suzuki, Barbatos is a Japanese band that, for lack of a better phrase, rocks the fuck out. The band’s fifth full length album, Straight Metal War, released in 2015 through Hells Headbangers, sees the band creating more distance from the blackened thrash roots of the early albums.

While the band’s early material basically plays through like a whiskey drenched and blackened street metal assault, Straight Metal War owes more to the rollicking sounds of Motörhead than it does to any type of black metal, albeit with a strange, never-in-tune Misfits meets Loudness meets black metal vocal amalgamation. Most of the tracks feature punk rock power chord progressions firing away as mostly basic rock beats drive the rhythm section forward, but the band does break into a few fast paced double kicks and d-beat segments. When not bringing simplistic power chord runs, Barbots uses filthy, bar-ridden bursts of speed metal riffing, but it’s usually short lived. There’s also tons of sloppy yet mildly entertaining rock ‘n’ roll soloing slathered throughout the entire album; as intros, loaded between verses, on bridges and as closing licks.

Barbatos is widely hailed as one of the greatest purveyors of broken English lyrical compositions and, without a doubt, Straight Metal War continues to deliver. “Tokyo Rock ‘n’ Roll Show” and “Fly to Sexual World” are loaded with comedic gems. Yasuyuki has pretty much abandoned all traces of black metal styled vocals here: aside from the occasional raspy trail, the vocals are extremely sloppy mid-ranged punk style that wavers between sounding like bad Danzig karaoke and sneering UK street punk. While it’s mindlessly fun, there really seems to be zero effort given to the vocals time around.

Despite the sloppy vocal approach and seemingly haphazard musical styling, Straight Metal War is an enjoyable effort: enjoyable in that kind of mindless, turn your brain off and just rock out kind of way. This is dirty and sloppy, even by Barbatos standards, even if the production is rather punchy for the style. This definitely isn’t the band’s greatest output, even with the nine year wait between full length albums, but it’s good to hear Yasuyuki rocking out again. File under purposely sloppy Japanese street metal.

Written for The Metal Observer.