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VAMPS - Underwold (Album review)
Date: 2017.08.05
 CD 
Artist:   VAMPS  
 
The Japanese rock band VAMPS has been making quite a name for themselves over the past couple years. Perhaps most notably amongst their efforts was their highly successful American joint tour with Nikki Sixx's band Sixx: A.M a couple years ago. But they also put on a well-reviewed show at the prestigiously satanistic Blackest of the Black Festival this year in May.

VAMPS' newest album, Underworld, dropped in April of this year. How does it measure up?

Underworld: The title track, this is definitely the show-opener on the album. Starts out slow and stays that way, but not in a way that bores you. It's like grinding an axe. Steady as she goes. There's a lot going on here in terms of the way the guitar and drums wind together, and the contrast of the complicated arrangement against Hyde's almost meditative vocals is interesting.

Calling:
The controversial pick to upload to Loudwire's YouTube channel, some of the choosier metalheads were disgruntled by this song being added to the well-respected music magazine's roster. I honestly can't agree with them. This is my jam. You can dance to this track at the same time you can headbang to it. I especially appreciate the drums on this. Fun fact; this song was a result of VAMPS collaborating with Chris from Motionless in White.

Break Free:
Hyde's vocals become a little mumbled here, but it's never to the point where you can't clearly understand the lyrics. That's one thing worth pointing out - despite the fact that Hyde is not a native English speaker, his annunciation is excellent on this album. Another synth drum-heavy track, this one. Fun, especially the lyrics.

Don't Hold Back:
Every track up until this point has been very moderate in terms of tempo. I'd even go so far as to call them mellow. This one grabs you by the face as Hyde really starts belting out. But it still has thoughtful moments that build up to the bound-to-be-neck-breaking headbangers ball of a chorus. Couldn't help but think the tune would have benefitted from simpler lyrics that flowed better with the sound. This one will be very fun live.

Bleed for Me:
Back to slow and sultry. That's actually how I'd describe the whole album at a glance. A stripper could dance to this. The melody line of the vocals slips along with the arrangement like a snake. This is a sexy track, but Hyde still busts out some rough vocals that are surprisingly complimentary to the mood of this tune.

In this Hell:
The opening of this track made me think of flicks like Blade Runner -- sci-fi or suspense thrillers, that kind of atmosphere, but the mood evened out to a moody track that was, you guessed it, relaxed as it built up to the impassioned chorus of this track. Good tune, but this album was really begging for an up-tempo song at this point.

Rise or Die:
Finally. Something a little more upbeat to wake us up from all thse erogenous tunes. Maybe it was all the foreplay building up to the main event. Richard Z. Kruspe worked on this track. You know, from that little band Rammstein. This song is a lot more playful than I would have expected such a collaboration to produce. It's like a call to action.

Sin in Justice:
What a title. Holy crap, is that Apocalyptica? This might be the best track on the whole album, if I may be so bold. It's this perfect blending of broody melodramatic lyrics, and the Northern European collaborator's moody cello is expertly woven into this quasi-ballad. I'm not even sure if what I just described made sense, but any hardened metalhead would appreciate this expertly crafted gem. A must-listen.

B.Y.O.B:
This has got to be the cutest title I've seen in a long time. It stands for Bring Your Own Blood, much to any vampire enthusiast's or pun aficionado's pleasure. The only thing I have to complain about in terms of this track is why the band pushed all the lively tunes to the end of the album. This song has an excellent pace that's gonna really get crowds going and hearts thumping. Hyde's lyrics shine here; they don't feel jammed in. Super fun track.

Rise Up:
This one will get your foot tapping, to say the least. Classic hard-rock tune in the same vein as old school Motley Crue tracks. I know I have said this before, but maybe this is the best track after all? Crystal clear lyrics, excellent drum-guitar compliment to keep the pace up for this excellent blood-pumping song with a surprisingly inspirational message.

Not many Asian bands have broken into the North American rock music market, and VAMPS is certainly a unique contender. They're like if metal and EDM had a lovechild who likes to light incense and read Anne Rice. If that sounds like your jam, give them a try.
Author: M. Minikhiem
last update: 2017-09-19