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Shion

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Album Review

The 2000s became a time of prosperity for Japanese hard rock bands that don't invent anything new, but combine the old styles in inventive and enjoyable ways. Of those bands, Mucc are one of the most interesting, being both highly proficient in the noble art of writing a simple knockout riff and able to diversify their sound without losing sight of their main goal (i.e., delivering said riffs). Unlike others of this ilk, for instance, D'Espairs Ray or Nightmare, Mucc are more of an industrial than nu-metal band — that is to say, they know how to use synthesizers and dance rhythms to enhance the songs in a variety of ways: "Fukurou No Yurikago" is reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails and "Fuzz" has a disco beat, as well as a killer harmonica intro and the distinction of being the best song on the album. There are other cuts on Shion that sound as if a pop/rock band had to share studio space with the guitarist of Fear Factory, but Mucc can also pull out a proper darker song, be it the oppressive assault of the title track or the intense semi-ballad "Game." This versatility can sometimes work against the band, because of the huge mood swings from heavy pop to gloomy thrash, but every individual song is still good, and now and then they mix approaches with pretty amusing results — see "Shiva," a larger than life speed metal pop hit with growling vocals in the middle. Granted, the band could pay a bit less attention to genre games and more to the arrangements, which sometimes border on superb (the touch of blues in "Fuzz" or the uplifting bridge in "Semishigure"), but are not explored enough. Still, there's plenty of good and open-minded songwriting on Shion, making it an interesting listen. [This edition includes a live version of "Libra" and an enhanced video of "Fuzz" as bonus tracks.]

Customer Reviews

umm... Why?

So iTunes cut out the near minute of silence following the final track, added a live version of "Libra," changed the album cover, and re-released Shion. (While still managing to mess up the name of the 7th track, アンジャベル, which should be read as Anjebel.) To be honest, I much prefer the look of the original album cover. But regardless, this is still a great album. My favorite tracks include "Fuzz," "Anjebel," "Chiisana Mado," and "Shiva."

It's okay...

"Anjelier" is correct for track 7; it's Dutch for carnation. MUCC aren't strangers to using words from other languages (see: Horizont). As to why the katakana reads "anjeberu," who knows? Anyway, definitely one of MUCC's better albums. Great, over-the-top arrangements including strings and horns, and just an overall epic feel that washes over the whole thing.

I don't know who wrote the main blurb...

but clearly they don't know much about Japanese rock. A lot of Japanese rock is waaaay more inventive, original, and intriguing than the garbage currently played on most American airwaves. As for the album, simply put - it's great. There are some harder tracks, lighter tracks, and tracks bordering on dance with Tatsuro's unique singing style and the ever-present amazing bass playing. It's ecclectic and engaging both musically and lyrically. I highly recommend you grab this album, or at the very least some of the more popular standout tracks such as Anjelier, Libra, Fuzz, and more. And see them live if you get the chance...they pop over to America a lot.

Biography

Formed: 1997

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Members of the Japanese visual kei movement of the 2000s, Mucc have managed to stand out from the rest of the pack due to their flexible approach to songwriting, which has incorporated nu-metal, industrial, technical thrash, and even disco, all laden with catchy hooks. The band was formed in 1997 by vocalist Tattoo (in 2000, he changed his stage name to Tatsurou), guitarist Miya, bassist Hiro, and drummer Satochi, and was named after a character from a TV show (they're known as 69 as well, since...
Full Bio
Shion, MUCC
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