CD Reviews

Area 51 - 'Daemonicus' Hot

Added by James Gaden     April 08, 2010    
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Japanese duo's second album


Taking their name from the US Military facility, Area 51 are Japanese based, and currently operating as a duo. Operating in the Neo-Classical theatre, guitarist Yoichiro Ishino is also an instructor at the Musician’s Institute of Japan, and vocalist Kate Cain was selected from an audition of over 100 singers. ‘Daemonicus’ is the band’s second release, and has actually been available since March 2008.

The album opens with the orchestral instrumental ‘Introitus’, which leads into first track proper ‘Les Anges’, which spirals in on a flurry of notes from Ishino, mirrored by a keyboard, and immediately Yngwie Malmsteen springs to mind, circa the ‘Odyssey’ album. The piece pounds along at breakneck speed, with the vocals punctuated by fiery guitar licks. Kate Cain’s vocals are slightly operatic, but in a lower register, and the lyrics are unusually delivered in French (I think! Language was never my strongest at school!) As to be expected, Ishino’s solos are as good as they come, lightning-quick picking and hammering, but very melodic, and not too over long as to become tedious. Following song ‘Ashes’ keeps up the tempo, but is driven along on a powerful riff, and the licks are kept to a minimum, while Yoichiro Ishino is undoubtedly a talent, he is not overtly flash, so the solos when they arrive are welcome. In complete contrast to the previous pieces, next track ‘Venus’ is a 7-minute classically inspired ballad, piano driven, and with a sweeping orchestral underscore and minimal guitar interludes.

Elsewhere, ‘Close To You And Me’ is a melodic rock anthem; ‘Crimson’ with it’s Gothic overtones brings to mind Nightwish at their most commercial, hugely melodic, and complete with a string interlude and another great guitar solo; ‘Despair’ has a slightly progressive riff and a catchy chorus; and ‘Just Like a Prayer’ is a pounding Metal monster that sounds like Iron Maiden’s classic ‘Aces High’.

But the piece de resistance of the album comes in two parts; the mournful guitar of ‘Requiem’ leading into the 16 minute epic ‘Lord Knows’, which features an awesome contribution from vocal legend Rob Rock (Impellitteri / Axel Rudi Pell etc.) The song moves through a series of complex tempo changes with keyboards and guitar vying for space, before breaking down into a gentle section, then building again to a pounding finale. Kate Cain delivers her parts in French, Rock’s in English, then they harmonize together in English towards the end, and the effect is quite stunning.

A hugely enjoyable album with varied moods, and excellent performances.

Ant Heeks


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