Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: Blood Stain Child - Epsilon

Band: Blood Stain Child
Album: Epsilon
Year: 2011
Country: Japan
Genre: Electronic Melodic Death Metal

The Japanese are known for being really out there when it comes to most things, their music included. If anyone was wondering what happens when you throw electronic music/melodic death metal/metalcore and bits and pieces of what seems like J pop in a blender Blood Stain Child have given you Epsilon. I had heard a song or two previously but I was in for a strange ride when I decided to review this album.

So there is some bad news. A number of the songs on Epsilon are extremely unbalanced when it comes to how much of one style or another they put in a song. Like Dedicated to Violator. Sure it has a cool name but the electronic portion totally pushes all the other instruments to the back of the mix. I mean I wouldn't be surprised to hear this playing in a club somewhere. The same goes for tracks like SOPHIA, Electricity, and the aforementioned Dedicated to Violator. In all these songs the band takes a back seat to the female vocalist and the electronic music.

There are other tracks as well which are more in the vein of proper melodic death metal but with electronic bits present throughout, just not to the degree that the others possess. These types of songs can be put into two camps, the melodic death songs with mostly clean vocals, and with mostly harsh vocals. With female vocals the woman actually has a pretty strong voice and coupled with the heavier music it works completely. La+ is catchy throughout, and Stargazer, and Moon Light Wave all play to the strengths I mentioned before. Catchy music, good vocals, all with strong pop sensibilities.

While growler Ryo is allowed to take part in most of the songs i've mentioned its in very much a back seat kind of way. He can be heard though his screams are usually muffled in order to give the female singer, Sophia, priority over him. Luckily there are a few heavier songs where both he and the music turn it up a few notches. This is pretty much when the band is at their best too, Sirius VI, Forever Free, and for the most part Unlimited Alchemist are all pretty much just good melodic death metal. The band seems to have adopted some of the metalcore riffing start stop kind of thing though which I personally have gotten tired of. Most every band in that genre and way too many melodeath bands do it already.

There are also some songs that just plain suck as well. Sai-Ka-No is a slow boring bit that sounds completely like a pop ballad. Merry-Go-Round is about the same though there is more use of guitars through most of it the over all electronic sounds they use are just yawn inducing. Dedicated to Violator is almost embarrassing to listen to. There are guitars way in the background and screams here and there but its just screaming for effect rather than anything intelligible.

One of the biggest issues I have with Epsilon and BSC is that the album does not flow well. The styles are so jumbled that the album is incredibly disjointed. You could probably separate the songs by what style dominates them and have 3 different EPs worth of music and each would sound rather different. This makes it really hard to listen to. And while the female vocals are good, she is given way too much time over the harsh vox. Sometimes it actually works well like on La+ where the woman does 90% of the singing but its so hit and miss on Epsilon as a whole. They also need to tone down the techno stuff a little, on some songs it overwhelms all the other instruments and even at times the growls its almost like there is no point having the band play when they are washed out by computerized garbage.

Epsilon has a few good songs (La+, Sirius VI, Moon Light Wave, Eternal) but the rest is challenging to listen to because it skips from domineering genres from song to song. The vocals also follows this same pattern. The good stuff here is really good, but the rest is forgettable and mostly annoying and weak. I guess at least BSC can say they tried something new, though it is a moderate failure.

Score: 5.5/10
Standout Track: La+, Eternal, Sirius VI

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