Review by David Cirone
Onmyouza is a 10-year legend for metal fans in Japan, and they dive deep into their mythological roots for their latest full-length CD “Kongo Kyuubi.” The album takes its title (meaning “Dazzling Nine Tails”) from the Japanese folklore character Tamamo-no-mae, and the jacket art features lead vocalist Kuroneko portraying the evil, nine-tailed fox spirit.
Magical chimes and a haunting male voice (bassist Matatabi) set the tone with opening track “Baku” (a dream-devouring creature in Japanese folklore) before “Aoki Dokugan” pushes the album into top gear.
“Kuzaku Ninpocho” (“Peacock Ninja Stories”) is a dead-on re-creation of the band’s live-show style, and “Izayoi no Ame” is perhaps the most iconic Onmyouza track on this album, with a signature trade-off between Kuroneko’s vocals and the dual guitars.
After a series of fast-paced shredders, Matatabi borrows the vocal spotlight for a soulful performance on “Banka” (“Elegy”), followed by the mixed-vocals of “Soukoku,” (fittingly titled, “Rivalry”). “Doukoku” (“Lamentation”) brings back the magical feeling with a measured, beautiful vocal by Kuroneko.
This theme of shifting balance and the pattern of “3″ is a warm-up for the majestic 20-minute “Nine Tails” Suite (collectively titled “Kumikyoku Kyuubi”). “Tamamonomae” starts out with Kuroneko assuming the title character’s unapologetic point-of-view, and it’s a slow-build setup for “Shoumakyou” (the mirror that shows the true figure of evil). “Shoumakyou” features a fantastic guitar bridge and dual-vocal harmony, shifting into Matatabi’s animal-like growls. (Listen with your headphones to catch some precise drum and bass support on this track.)
“Sesshouseki” (“Killing Stone”) ends the trilogy with escalating guitar solos and a final lament from Tamamonomae before her betrayal is punished. Onmyouza pulls off this dramatic narrative with a confidence that couldn’t be achieved by a younger band, and there are multiple layers to discover with repeated listens.
-”Soukoku” is the opening theme of Nintendo DS game “Inugamike No Ichizoku”
-”Doukoku” is the ending theme of Nintendo DS game “Inugamike No Ichizoku”
-”Aoki Dokugan” is the main theme song for the pachinko game “CR Sengoku Ranbu -Aoki Dokugan-”
Recommended tracks: Aoki Dokugan, Banka, Kumikyoku “Kyuubi” (3 parts)