• "Psychedelic flower power meets tight sweating rock": A review of Ningen-Isu's "Burai Houjou"

    Dear readers of my blog!

    Here comes a rare review of Ningen-Isu's latest full length record "Burai Houjou". The band name of this legendary Japanese heavy metal trio can be translated as "The Human Chair" while their eighteenth record since 1987 is entitled "Luxury of Freedom". This unfairly underrated band is one of the most consistent, talented and tightest bands in any genre from all around the world. If you haven't heard of this diversified band before, you are extremely lucky to find this review and get to know an incredible sound. I hope you enjoy my review and especially Ningen-Isu's music. By the way, it would be nice if you could spread the word about Ningen-Isu. Please feel free to link my review to your personal site. This band really deserves more attention.

    Enjoy your summer and take care!

    Sincerely yours,

    Sebastian Kluth


    Ningen-Isu - Burai Houjou (2014)

    Japan's powerful trio delivers the goods once more on "Burai Houjou", Ningen-Isu's eighteenth studio album in only twenty-four years. The band convinces once more with its mechanical chemistry between the three outstanding musicians, its groovy flow from start to finish and an incredibly tight musicianship. Thirteen new tracks between three and a half and seven and a half minutes vary from rebellious garage rock 'n roll with a slight punk tone over sweating heavy metal riffs to sluggy doom metal influences. The record finds the right balance between honest energy including many little details unfolding with each spin and a nearly hypnotizing flow with a focus on gripping and stunning rhythms.

    My first highlight on this record is the wild up-beat track "Umare Idzuru Tamashii". In the vein of Motörhead's very best compositions, this track starts with a great bass solo before tight drums, hard rocking riffs and charismatic and slightly throaty vocals kick in. The energizing chorus features backing shouts that make you want to raise your fists into the air as if you were assisting a Sex Pistols concert in the late seventies. The middle section shows some variations in pace and style reminding me of Rush's straighter tracks that show the band's stunning musicianship without losing the rebellious guiding line of this outstanding tune. Within five consistent, powerful and precise minutes, this song is a perfect introduction to the world of Ningen-Isu.

    Another track that is quite different and yet represents everything the band stands for and resumes the entire release very well is the longest tune and album closer "Reijuu no Sakebi". The song starts with cumbersome percussions, melancholic guitar chords and mysterious chants that make you feel as if you were on an opium trip while watching a psycho thriller from the seventies. As soon as the track gets slightly heavier, it drags you into psychedelic rock sounds from outer space that create a thousand and one images on your mind. The track gets even more menacing in the slightly discordant and nervous middle section that reminds Black Sabbath's early years but also Voivod's unique progressive metal style. These three patterns are interchangedly employed in an atmospheric and most hypnotizing fashion until the fitting end and right before the track could get too repetitive. Ningen-Isu make each second on their album sound reasoned in a playful manner and the record doesn't get boring at all in more than sixty-seven entertaining minutes.

    The band even manages to break out of its usual sound with the surprising "Ligeia" that shows the band in a way I have never heard before. The trio delivers a psychedelic ballad carried by simple yet melodic and haunting acoustic guitar patterns and appeasing folk rock influences with soft female backing vocals recalling both the flower power movement of the sixties and laid back traditional Japanese pop music of the seventies. The track is magic and unique in its nostalgic simplicity. The vocal effort in this track is inspired, memorable and natural as it manages to send shivers down my spine. The band sounds so perfect in this experimental track that one could believe that they wouldn't play anything else than this. After a twenty-seven year long career, Ningen-Isu still manage to remain relevant and come around with successful experiments like this.

    There are only a few minor reasons why this great album doesn't get an even better rating. First of all, this album took a few more spins to unfold in its entirety if compared to the outstanding predecessor "Mandoro". In my opinion, there are a few less distinctive tracks and some more repitition on this album than on the masterpiece released ten months earlier. The predecessor felt even more diversified, energizing and progressive to me which made the album sound a little bit rounder. Still, "Burai Houjou" is an absolute must have release and an album of the year candidate for any fan of sweating hard rock, menacing heavy and doom metal, psychedelic rock with an honest vintage touch or anything in between these three genres.

    Final verdict: 9,5/10

    Please support the band and check out the following links:

    Blog: http://ningenisu.exblog.jp/

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ninngennisu

    Homepage: http://ningen-isu.com/ 

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