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Spiritualized D

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Album Review

Now here's a band whose name fits — heavenly stoner doom metal that reaches realms of Sabbath-y paradise, thus far untouched by the band's Western world counterparts. You see, Eternal Elysium hails from Japan, not a country most people view as synonymous with obese, oppressive guitar riffing, churning leads that reek of dirty blues, or stinging, emotive, wailing vocals. Spiritualized D is simply a masterpiece of doom; why it has gotten little attention just baffles the mind. Every single track is traditional, in your face, '70s doom, dripping with oblique Sabbath, St. Vitus, Trouble, and Fu Manchu attributes. Take Sabbath's Master of Reality, Penance's Parallel Corners, Cathedral's Soul Sacrifice, Fu Manchu's In Search Of..., and any early Trouble release, fuse them together with Electric Wizard, and serve blisteringly hot. Most bands lack Elysium's musical audacity, unadulterated heaviness, and ability to capture true rock spirit, as they are usually too busy trying to look or sound cool — Electric Wizard being the only worthy exception. This is a serious musical purging, folks. Even genre leaders like Cathedral need to take a few pointers from the dynamic sonic wall built on the Paranoid-like blues of "Trick or Steal" or the sluggish charm of "Floating Downer." The vocals are faint and familiar on opener "W.T.G.B," but somehow impossible to place, yet they are unimportant in the sonic war zone faced on Spiritualized D. The punkish "Stone Wedge" could have been snatched off an old Fu Manchu or C.O.C. record, while "Easygoin'" stirs up memories of "Fairies Wear Boots," minus Ozzy, of course. Iron Maiden's classic "Innocent Exile" is fuzzed-up and tuned down in a brave, surprisingly competent rendition on the album.

Yet, it is the closing pair of instrumentals that push the musical boundaries of the doom genre to new heights. First is a bastard child of England's two prominent '90s doom bands, "Faithful '99," which sounds like Cathedral performing a punishing rocker co-penned by My Dying Bride circa Turn Loose the Swans or Angel and the Dark River. It's virtually unexplainable to deprived ears, as is the haunting, unnamed final track. A quiet, 14-minute piece of traditional Japanese composing, the song recalls the nation's — and possibly the world's, were it not for his unfortunate obscurity — greatest composer, Toru Takemitsu. Takemitsu gained recognition in the '60s, '70s, and '80s as an abstract film composer, who scored for the likes of Akira Kurosawa and several others famous filmmakers. Combining Western classical music with traditional Japanese flutes, percussion instruments, and other strange items, he created an ambient, eerie soundscape, thus far unmatched in classical recording's history (check him out if you are looking for dark classical music). This final hidden track is a brilliant tribute to a true genius of 20th century music, showing a mature, vulnerable, and musically introspective side to the band, which was kept hidden throughout the course of the first nine songs. What a breathtakingly beautiful end to an amazingly punishing masterpiece of an album.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Japan's Eternal Elysium struggled in obscurity throughout much of the 1990s, eventually attaining cult-band status with a batch of extremely rare, but very sought-after singles and compilation tracks before finally finding greater commercial exposure in the 2000s. When his former New Wave of British Heavy Metal-inspired band, Ran-Ja, collapsed in 1991, guitarist Yukito Okazaki founded Eternal Elysium with bassist Atsutoshi Tachimoto and drummer Jiro Murakami. Seeking to spice up their traditional...
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Spiritualized D, Eternal Elysium
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