Out now on Triumph Records
Ninth studio album from Japanese metallers Concerto Moon. Gone for the most part is the overly neo-classical sound that ran throughout the earlier days of the bands career. “Angel Of Chaos” sees the transition that first started wth 2003’s “Life On The Wire” towards a more direct metal sound, this bore dividends on 2004’s excellent “After The Double Cross” and to a slightly lesser extent on 2008’s “Rise From Ashes”. The new album sees the band stripped down to a four piece with the departure of long time keyboardist Toshiyuki Koike, who one suspects left after seeing his once key role in the band diminish with Norifumi Shima’s excellent guitar work taking more and more of the spotlight. So whilst the new album might not be as quite full of textures as in days gone past there is still an awful lot to enjoy.
A short instrumental paves the way for the title track with its big riffs, fast frantic delivery, a strong opening track yet arguably the weakest on offer to these ears. The album really hits top gear with “Lost In The Dark”; an all round stunning delivery with superb vocal melodies with the normal mix of Japanese verses and English choruses. The track is propelled by impassioned guitar work from Shima who has captured a truly magnificent performance here from start to finish. “Right Here, Right Now” continues the superb work with a drop D tuned riff, darker yet just as exciting. Vocalist Takashi Inoue’s also delivers a very strong vocal performance. Melodic mid-tempo waters are catered for with “Gone” which possesses a chorus hook line the likes of Joe Lynn Turner would kill for. Shima further brings the magic out in the track with a sublime guitar solo, with rich melodic themes, harmonised lines and bends brimming with emotion. The tempo ups for “Dance With Ghosts”, a 16 note bass drum charger which borders on the verge of vintage Malmsteen. Next up is the complex instrumental “Plectrum” which further, should evidence be needed, of Shima’s guitar prowess. “Let Me Stay Here” is back to melodic metal waters with more rich hooks and is another highlight. “Live To Win” comes at you like a baseball bat the face, drop D tuning again leads to fantastic chugging riff, I defy any metal head to not get a kick out of this. Another instrumental “Just Before Midniught”, this time in a minor blues fashion allows Shima to once again wow the listener before closing number “Stand Up And Fight” closes the album with the fastest tempo on the album and its another strong hitter.
If that wasn’t enough to satisfy the ltd edition bonus DVD showcases the making of the album, Shima talking and playing examples from each track (sadly in Japanese – no subtitles) but its compulsive viewing for any Concerto Moon fan.
Quite how the band have managed to keep their quality of output so consistently high throughout their career is worthy of praise indeed, and I view it as a crime that the band have never caught on in a bigger way outside their native country (granted the language barrier is I suspect the main issue here). If you like extremely well crafted metal with first rate instrumentation and a penchant for strong vocal melodies then you owe it yourself to grab hold of “Angel Of Chaos”. Even with the import price tag this is still value for money.
Rating – 95%