Power metal fans should know about Concerto Moon, who have been around since 1996, and who are about to release their tenth studio record entitled Black Flame in a couple of days. The three remaining band members from Kagawa, Japan form one of the genre’s most active bands in terms of releases, as we can also count four live records, two EPs and two compilations among their vast and continuously growing discography. Before trying out the upcoming release, I thought it would be interesting to analyze the band’s most recent ninth studio effort, Savior Never Cry, that came out two years ago. And don’t worry, the band’s English lyrics are better than their band name or album title might suggest.
The opener and title track makes quite clear what this band is about. They take no prisoners and offer a melodic, up-tempo track that should immediately appeal to fans of early Edguy or HammerFall, though Concerto Moon may have a few more edges. While the band includes a neoclassical shredding solo Timo Tolkki would be proud of and mixes an epic feeling with a massive dose of energy, the most outstanding thing about this band is probably the new vocalist. After Ozaki Takao (who sung on the band’s first three albums) and Inoue Takashi (who was present on albums four to eight), the volatile band line-up changed again, and new powerhouse singer Kuze Atsushi joined the band. He has a very powerful voice that compares favorably to the harder singers of the power metal genre like Tim “Ripper” Owens, Jorn Lande, or Jon Oliva. Sometimes he screams more than he sings, but this unrestrained energy fits well to the music, and it makes him sound rather unique. That’s what I call power metal with power! But these vocals are definitely a make-it or break-it element. You either really like the voice, or you may have some serious problems to really dig this band. Choose your camp.
The band also has its softer side, of course. While the first two songs sound like a perfect mixture of American and European power metal, the third track “The Shining Light Of The Moon” shows the band’s true origins. This song is a lot more theatrical, and offers a diversified and emotional vocal performance. The verses remain more aggressive, and the powerhouse drumming is even present in the chorus, but the opening and the chorus itself are much more melodic and…kitschy. These elements are something I have often heard in Japanese music, and this mixture works very well from a commercial point of view over there. Aggressive sections meet almost childish melodies, and the vocals driven by emotions and are quite dramatic and often overdone. This song could be the title song of a new anime series, but it could also be played in a Japanese metal pub. If you like bands such as X Japan, you will adore this song, almost without a doubt.
Throughout the entire album, the band mixes great melodies and stunning guitar solos with a few harder riffs and fairly straightforward songwriting with truly emotional and unique vocals. Even the bonus track, “Slash The Lights”, takes no prisoners and shows all of the aforementioned elements in one single killer anthem. Other bands would normally be proud to have this kind of song on their regular release, but Concerto Moon’s high quality release allows them to offer this strong piece of music as a bonus song only. If you feel some power metal bands are recently lacking power but you are still a fan of charming melodies, a few epic moments, fast shredding solos, powerful drumming, and all the other traditional trademarks, this band is for you. Keep your seat belt fasten and please enjoy your rollercoaster ride!