Hi there, it’s the Raucous Rocker with some more underground metal reviews. Now I specialize in bad reviews. What can I say? For me, they’re just easier and more enjoyable to write, and more interesting to read. But I feel that often I spend so much time trying to be amusing and destroying bands that are way below my standards that I forget that there are so many underground and mostly unrecognized bands out there that deserve much better. Sure, me showering compliments on a band is not as interesting as ripping a band to shreds.
At least for today, I am going to concentrate on only good bands, ones that have gone beyond my expectations and presented me with a very pleasant listening experience. Today’s bands are Kadenzza and Crimfall, both nonsensical words that now make me giddy whenever I read or hear them. But don’t worry, I’ll find something wrong with these bands; it’s what I do best, after all!
So our first band is one of those one-man projects, which is a bad sign because those usually don’t do too well. But this group surprisingly succeeds, sort of like Wintersun. It’s a heavy metal band from Japan, but it’s hard to classify it in a genre because it doesn’t really stick to any boundaries. Most places I’ve seen call it symphonic black metal. I call it orchestral thrash with death metal vocals.
The first surprise is that this band is from Japan. Wow, I just realized this is the only band from Japan that I actually like. Even bands such as Sigh that you would think I would like just don’t do it for me. Don’t know why, but Japan doesn’t really seem to be up to par on good metal; even freaking Luxembourg has a larger number of decent bands, and it’s the size of Rhode Island!
Anyway, this band has two albums and the first one is completely forgettable. I listened to it just a few months ago, and there’s only one track I remember, and I don’t even remember the music, just the name (“Wheel of Fortune”), probably because it reminds me of that game show that just won’t die.
The second one is Second Renaissance, and let me tell you, this is probably the biggest musical improvement I have ever seen from any band (except for maybe In Flames and their second album), and I’m being serious. Not only is everything better, but it is memorable as well, with perfect quality, amazing musicianship, masterful writing, everything. The orchestral instruments are the best part of this album. They range from organs, violins, and pianos to a full blown orchestra (although I’m pretty sure most of it was recorded on a keyboard) on certain tracks. The guitar playing was good but hard to get into. It always seems to be overpowered by the orchestral elements. The drumming was the same, and the bass didn’t do anything but provide some rhythm. I can’t really recall specifically hearing it.
Kadenzza is a really fun band. It contains a really talented musician who has excellent knowledge on how to start a song and keep it going. If I had to say one bad thing about this band, it would be that the guitar is not prominent enough. It always seems to be in the background, and except for a few solos, I wasn’t too impressed by it. All in all, Kadenzza is the true definition of a diamond in the rough and you should check it out.
This band is a lot like Kadenzza in many ways—so many ways that I don’t have that much to say. It’s a folk/symphonic/black/power metal band, kind of like Ensiferum but with more symphonics and folk instruments. Like Kadenzza, it also has only two albums, one of which was released just a few months ago. Unlike Kadenzza, both of the albums are awesome. They both attempt the same style of music, but seem to go off in their own separate ways and come out in the end as very different albums. The first album seems to go all over the place and tries different styles of music—even some Middle Eastern style melodies make an appearance on it. The second is much more straightforward, establishing itself as a symphonic folk metal release.
Now both of these albums are a lot of fun, but they do get somewhat repetitive and aren’t groundbreaking. First off, the vocals aren’t amazing; we have a guy who does black metal growls and a girl who does some pseudo-operatic vocals like a weaker version of Tarja Turunen from Nightwish. While they both get the job done, neither of them sound inspired, and although they don’t annoy me, I don’t love either of them. Likewise, the guitars were not very impressive either and mostly resorted to playing heavy riffs—they never do solos. This band’s sound is dominated by the symphonics, so if you don’t like those, this is another band you can count out.
Now for some compliments. Even though the band does not try too hard to do anything new, it really delivers at what it attempts to create. The keyboards are very impressive, and both set the atmosphere and lead the songs well. The production quality is good, so it is easy to appreciate these symphonic instruments.
In a nutshell, this band doesn’t cover any new ground, but in the folk metal scene I would rate these guys (in enjoyability) up there with Turisas and Finntroll, but not as high as bands like Ensiferum or Korpiklaani. However, if it could iron out a few of its flaws and step into some new territory, heck, Crimfall could be my favorite folk band.
So those are my bands for today. If you’re into this kind of stuff, check them out. Both are very enjoyable and talented at what they do. I would say the better band here is Kadenzza; it just goes the extra step and ventures out of its comfort zone, and really delivers. Crimfall just doesn’t do that, and although its albums are very good, I wasn’t blown away. Even the first one, which did try out several different musical styles, never really left the place where it started; it just didn’t take the extra step and felt like it was going in circles. Enjoy listening to both bands, although I would advise you to stay away from Kadenzza’s first album!