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Overlooked gem from Japan's golden heavy metal years - 80%

kluseba, October 9th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Nexus (Reissue)

Terra Rosa is an unfairly overlooked Japanese melodic heavy metal band that released three records in the late eighties and early nineties that underline how popular the genre was back in those days. Like so many other bands, Terra Rosa split up in the early nineties but reformed in the new millennium. The band hasn't released any new material yet but its discography has been remastered and will be released again in form of a massive boxed set entitled 30th Anniversary Premium Box.

Sase is the band's third and last studio album as we speak and convinces with a combination of traditional heavy metal and melodic keyboard passages that add commercial, progressive and psychedelic vibes to the different tracks. Along with the diverse keyboard play, one has to point out the unusual vocals by Akao Kazue, a female singer who performs with so much power that one could think a classic male front man performs on this release. If you look at a few recent pictures, you will realize that the singer who is actually fifty-eight years old now looks about twenty years younger and her juvenile vocals sound equally timeless on this output.

This release features several outstanding tunes. The adventurous, complex and psychedelic ''Terrible Dream'' which clocks in at almost seven minutes is certainly the most experimental song with diversified vocals, excellent keyboard sounds and technically appealing guitar play. Instrumental tune ''Snake in One's Bosom'' is nowhere close to a filler and rather combines influences varying from Deep Purple to Iron Maiden in one of the album's most dynamic tracks. ''Deathblink'' opens with airy keyboard sounds but evolves into one of the heaviest tracks on the record with pumping bass sounds and relentless drum patterns before the psychedelic chorus goes back to the mysterious vibes of the overture. Even though Terra Rosa plays heavy metal, the band includes numerous other genre elements to keep this album surprising from start to finish without ever sounding odd.

In the end, Terra Rosa's music in general and the record Sase in particular should appeal to any fan of melodic progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal. This album oozes with atmosphere, creativity and energy and has aged very well even though it's obviously a product of the golden years of heavy metal in Japan. If you are familiar with veterans such as Anthem, Loudness and Saber Tiger, you should definitely check out Terra Rosa as well.