The world of rock and metal from Japan is one that, by and large, has passed the majority of us by until very recently. With the rise to prominence of Crossfaith, Dir en Grey and Sabbat and the quite extraordinary explosion of Babymetal, the genre developed in the Orient is in a much brighter spotlight today than it has ever been before. One of the more obscure bands to come out of the East are duo VAMPS, who are releasing fourth album ‘Bloodsuckers’ at the end of this month via Spinefarm Records, almost five months after it was released in their native country.
As with many bands who have found success outside of their mother country, the majority of the album is sung in English, but in true Japanese culture it’s a very schizophrenic affair; whilst Zero has guitar hooks that wouldn’t be out of place on a U2 album, following track Lips infuses Papa Roach-style riffs and techno pop in a heavy rock moshathon. All the songs share one thing in common, though; they’ve been built for arenas and stadiums. From the driving anthem of Ahead through to the power of Japanese-sung ballad Vampire’s Love, the duo of Hyde and K.A.Z have written and composed these songs to sound as big as possible, which they’ve managed to succeed in doing; they might not be big enough to fill Wembley Arena but you could definitely hear these songs played to 12,000 people with ease. It is, however, a little inconsistent, which seem to be a running problem in the J-rock world. Out of the thirteen songs present, you could count the stand out tracks on one hand, and it’s because VAMPS have tried to tip their hat to as many different styles as possible throughout the album. There are nods to the rock world of Foo Fighters and Manson whilst at the same time areas of techno and pop. It means that, despite the huge sound and impressive production, a number of the songs fall away because there’s too much going on within the space of four to five minutes.
That being said, if you have the time to sit down and take in everything that VAMPS have to offer, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this. If you don’t, then it’s certainly worth a listen as well. It’s just not the most accessible record that’s ever been created.
Hyde – vocals, rhythm guitar
K.A.Z – lead guitar, backing vocals
Ju-ken – support bass, backing vocals
Arimatsu – support drums
Jin – support keyboards
The Jolly Roger