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It's almost 25 minutes past 2, more flowers please - 91%

Liquid_Braino, June 11th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Black-listed Productions

I've recently been enjoying Raglaia's debut single Breaking Dawn, in which I soon discovered does not actually possess a song with that title. I suppose it can be considered a mini-EP in a sense, with the title representing something along the lines of the band's inception, the dawn of the Raglaia breaking free from its restraints to rock our world or something. This got me thinking of perhaps the motherlode of all "single releases graced with titles that aren't song titles" as far as the current wave of female-fronted Japanese releases go. That would be Profusion. I'm not sure exactly how that title works for a mere three song release plus a vocal-less version of one of the tunes, unless its meaning translates as an abundance of lushness or brilliance within a short time-frame. Most likely it was some random word chosen because it looked nice in that font for the cover sleeve, yet it fits since this is one extravagant single for sure.

If someone asked me where to start as an introduction to Cross Vein, I wouldn't hesitate to respond with Profusion for a second. This is a fantastic little monster of a showcase that displays the band in top form with three individual tracks teeming with personality and serious charm. They are brazenly lavish, and the superb production fucking sparkles. Nothing is mixed too low or up-front, and for such decadent flowery keyboards blooming everywhere on this thing, not only does the music retain absolute clarity, but heaviness as well. Still, this wouldn't exactly be the sort of release I would thrust on those curious about the Japanese power metal scene as a gateway album. That would be like trying to get an uninitiated pal into the heavier branches of metal via Impetuous Ritual. Profusion is not the cheap bouquet of flowers you buy at the street corner on Mother's Day. This is a friggin' mountain of flora featuring every color of the spectrum.

"Forget-me-Not" kicks things off with a somewhat Eastern chord progression boosted by militant rhythms before settling into a catchy yet creative mid-tempo coaster ride. It's one of Cross Vein's best known numbers and sports an easy-to-find promotional video on YouTube where you can witness the band in all their garish and goofy attire. Video aside, it's a well written calling-card that features a great instrumental break that's complex with its shifting tempos and sheer intricacy. It's beautifully performed shit spiced up with a couple of crankin' guitar solos, and the vocal melodies practically ensure memorability. It's also featured on the band's subsequent full-length, Royal Eternity, in which "Forget-me-Not" is without a doubt one of that album's best tracks.

This leads to "Red Star", a much faster number with a shitload of wonderful double bass abuse, yet musically it's also blindingly polished and sleek. Where the real edge for this song comes in is through the vocals of Julia. There are moments when I just cannot believe how high and intense she is singing during this kinetic motherfucker, most poignantly during the second half of the chorus. She is insane. Getting into a shouting match with her would be the end of your fucking life. She's also unquestionably talented and in total control of her pitch, so once I became accustomed to her tone, I could appreciate her gusto at going for notes no human was meant to sing. As much as this song really brings out the crazy side of Julia at times, the rest of the band is on hyper-drive as well, and the enthusiasm and energy on display with its speedy power metal pacing harkens back to the turn of this century in a way, as far as the European style is concerned.

Then there's "Heath". Certainly the most unusual song of the three, the basic structure is composed of a 6/8 time signature for the verses shifting into a 4/4 chorus and back again to 6/8 in a fluid seamless fashion. If "Red Star" is arguably the best example of Julia's prowess, "Heath" really shows that the band itself is far more than some backdrop for their front-woman. There's a ton of care given to the construction of their music, elaborate as hell without actually lurching into progressive metal territory.

Profusion ends with a vocal-less rendition of "Forget-me-Not", an attribute found on a lot of singles, and something I usually don't care for since I have no intentions to attempt a karaoke rendition of that song. I can't imagine that many people in the world could pull off her notes without their vocal chords snapping altogether. Yet in this case, it did present to me just how good the band members are when the obvious focal point is taken out. I don't even skip it when I listen to this single, unlike almost any other single I have bearing this trait.

Cross Vein can be a difficult band to fully digest over the course of a full-length album's running time, as it's delicious at first, but the sugar levels eventually rise in the body to unhealthy levels. Profusion, though, is strong enough to impress the fuck out of me in a short period of time without an ounce of filler. It's over before any possible cavities could ravage the sweet-tooth, leaving a scrumptious impression that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s one yummy cupcake.