Liv Moon is a symphonic power metal band that has what I would call a fairly typical Japanese sound. Their fourth record, Symphonic Moon, opens with electronic samples, cinematic symphonic elements, and variable, slightly theatrical, and powerful female lead vocals. The singer seems to be influenced by singers such as Kate Bush, but also the ABBA singers. The use of sometimes exaggeratedly poetic Japanese lyrics with a few passages in other languages (such as English) is typical for the genre, and so are the topics around dark romanticism. From the first song on, you know exactly what you have to expect for the upcoming fifty-three minutes, and this is very much a “love it or hate it” sort of genre.
The mixture of versatile elements of diverse metal subgenres, along with a commercial touch, is something one can see in many Japanese heavy and power metal bands, particularly in the Visual Kei scene around bands from pioneers X Japan, Concerto Moon, and even MUCC. Similar acts are artists and bands like Alhambra, Cross Vein, and Hamada Mari, but fans of bands such as Seraphim or Nightwish should also check this band out. The catchy “Alchemy” is not a far call from Nightwish’s “Amaranth” and has a lot of hit potential. The sacral elements and vocals in “Kill Me, Kiss Me” or “Datenshino Emi” make think of Krypteria, and this song has tons of hit potential as well.
“Koorino Hitsugi” opens with piano melodies reminding me of HIM’s breakthrough hit “Join Me In Death”, while the rest of the song turns out to be a rather epic ballad with great orchestration that sounds a bit like modern Helloween songs like “Light The Universe” or “Hold Me In Your Arms”. Akane Liv shows her incredible talent in this powerful ballad that puts some warmth in my heart in these cold winter days. My conscience is aware that this kind of music is a bit cheesy and not very unique for some, but my romantic soul really digs this record. If you like this song you will also fall in love with “Shingetsuse”.
The Japanese always know that after such an emotional ballad they must land a harder track and “Fugitive” indeed opens with electronic samples, hard guitar riffs, dominating bass guitar, and a few upper mid-tempo passages. Along with the amazing and powerful “The Last Savior” that even features some male shouts in the chorus and a great guitar solo, it’s probably the fastest track on here. “Black Serenade” follows, sounding like an Anette Olzon song with some influences taken from the “Mission Impossible” title melody.
To keep it short, the band combines energizing power metal with classical symphonic elements to create eleven addicting, reasonably diverse, and energizing anthems plus an interlude. I really can’t find a single weak track on here, but you definitely need to appreciate this kind of music in general to enjoy the album. While the record is not really unique, it’s made with passion and represents Japanese pop metal culture very well. Fans of everything from X Japan to Nightwish, Rondo Veneziano to Evanescence, as well as the Mamma Mia! and Phantom Of The Opera musicals should pick this passionate release up. The warm symphonic sound, the poetic and romantic language, and the powerful female vocals make this the perfect soundtrack for the winter season and Christmas in my opinion.