Vigilante - Chaos-Pilgrimage


Year of Release: 1999
Label: Massacre Records
Catalog Number: MAS CD 0186
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:13:00

How about this ..... almost an hour of progressive metal from a Japanese band. When was the last time you picked up a disc by a Japanese band who played prog metal, much less prog metal in this particular style? There were many questions going around about this band at Powermad, and I hope that I am able to answer most of them here in this review. Is there hope in the prog metal world from Japan? Check it out.

THE STYLE:

This is not your ordinary prog metal. No Dream Theater driven music here, no Fates Warning type riffs, and no Geoff Tate sound alike. To me, that's not a bad thing anyway, but I know people are always on the lookout for bands that do NOT sound like the founding fathers, so feel safe knowing that Vigilante does not take their influences from those three, but rather take their cues from Angra, mixing in some power metal influences along the way. Sound interesting? Imagine what Angra might sound like if they crossed wires with some well known power metal. Sporting twin guitars, very little keyboards, a high pitched singer (although he does tone it down a lot), and some speedy, strangely structured songs ala Angra, this band strives and succeeds to bring you some fresh, interesting and different sounding prog metal. No catchy melodies, very little warmth, and not many times where you can constantly bang your head due to the tempo changes, the band rarely slows down during the almost hour of music. Clearly the influence is Angra-like, complete with double bass rolls, high pitched singing, soaring guitar work, weird tempo changes, make you feel like the band is actually playing 4-5 songs when they are really still in the same song. Not in a technical sense, just in the tempos, which are constantly changing.

THE BAND:

As stated, twin guitars, bass, drums, vocals, with the bass player doubling up on the keyboard duties, very little that there are. There is no doubting the talent level of this band, as both guitarists take center stage just like the Angra boys, and one of them, or maybe both of them are smoking. Some of the leads are lightning fast, and definitely not your ordinary, run of the mill leads. These guys go out of their way to bring some fresh sounds to the guitar. They make a great duo, and pretty much keep to that dual guitar attack most of the way. The bass player is right up there, with the guitars, keeping pace with the everchanging structures. The drummer is excellent, opting to go with those speedy double bass rolls when he can, and generally creating a never ceasing array of drum patterns to complement the music. It's interesting to see bands in which each player has almost a separate roll, each one creating his own style of the song within the song, so you can almost hear what each instrument is playing instead of trying to pick them out because it all sounds the same. Talent abounds in this band.

THE VOCALS:

Naturally, this is the part where I usually say that this is the weak part of the disc, or that the singer ruined the disc for me, and once again I have to admit that I can't handle the high, irritating, sometimes out of key sounds of this singer. Lots of people found him to be quite talented, and non-irritating, but at times he gets so high that I guess he naturally loses the key. This is noticeable on a few songs. At other times, he sings in a mid-range tone, and maybe due to his accent, it is very difficult to understand the words. If you don't have the lyric sheet in front of you, forget it, because you won't have a clue as to what is being sung. I've pretty much fast forwarded through all of the disc many times, trying to find places where the irritation gets high, and where the lyrics are indescernible, and it's not hard to find such places, too many for me. In his high range, the singer comes close to sounding like Andre Matos, only not nearly as refined. At other times, he sounds like any other ordinary singer in the mid-range area. I'd say that he needs to find a good balance between the two, as he tends to go up and down fast without warning, and thus creates that irritating sensation to the ears. If you don't have a problem with singers, then you won't have a problem with this one. If you are picky about singers, you might want to think twice before buying this one blindly, and I would imagine that this would be the make or break decision for the purchase, as the music is certainly worth every penny if you can get by the singer.

THE PRODUCTION:

Immaculate. Clean, crisp, heavy, punchy and raw. It would be very difficult to find anything wrong with this recording, as every instrument is clearly heard. The guitars are clear and separate. The bass stands out alone. The drums are clean and punchy with plenty of double bass feel, and aside from the word pronounciation problems with the singer, his voice is clearly audible in the mix. According to the booklet, the band produced and mixed the disc, clearly an outstanding achievement. Ok, I'll find a small complaint with the recording; virtually no effects to be found anywhere on the disc. No reverb, no echo, no synths, pretty much what they play is what you get right out of the speaker. As I write this, the band is playing an acoustic ballad, in which it sounds like that the two guitarists and the singer sat down in a room and jammed and recorded it note for note. It's almost primative sounding; that's how raw this sound is. A very minor complaint in an otherwise great sounding disc.

THE COMMENTS:

Personally speaking, had the singer been a bit more to my liking, this would have been a killer disc. Prog / power maniacs could have a field day with this one. If you don't mind the high flying histrionics of the singer, and the raw recording, this one can be a winner. As it is, it's a great sign that the Japanese are producing quality prog metal, and who knows how many other bands are out there in Japan waiting to unleash their interesting brand of prog metal on the rest of the world? Bottom line, if you're tired of the same old style / approach to prog metal, then you would do well with this disc, especially if you like that Angra style. Don't get me wrong, this band is no Angra, but I am hearing many influences taken from that band mixed in with some power metal. About 4 songs into the disc, the singer started to wear on me, and alas I lost the vocal battle once again. However, I really do caution on a blind purchase this time out, because even though I love high pitched singers, I do have my limits and this guy pushes it to the max. I'd definitely hear this one somehow before buying, I'm sure that many will find this singer the make or break decision in the purchase.


Tracklisting:
831 / Chaos-Pilgrimage / Antisocial Manics / Holy Prose / Liars / Raise The Titanic / Fatal Superstition / A Nightprayer / Imprisoned / The Reviving World / Relapse Of Your Privacy

Musicians:
Hideaki Niwa - vocals
Hiroshi Omoto - guitar
Kazuaki Horie - guitar
Makoto Unno - bass
Kazuhisa Yoshimura - drums

Discography:
Choas-Pilgrimmage (1997)
Edge Of Time (1999)
Cosmic Intuition (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin JP

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: members.aol.com/vigiletter
Hits: 644
Language: english

  

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