The Japanese rock scene that makes it over to the West is often something that people are talking about whether it’s positive or not. With people more used to hearing about bands like Crossfaith and now Babymetal, another band, Coldrain, have never seemed to have as much impact on the West (at least not here in the UK). Nevertheless, Coldrain are back to change that with their fourth studio album VENA, it features 11 tracks filled with energy, vicious screams and hard hitting melodies; and with a successful UK tour and Download Festival set last year, it might be Coldrain’s turn to take the title of most talked about Japanese band (in the West, of course).
The album opens with the title track, which immediately catches us off guard. It’s violent and although it’s pretty uneventful overall, it has caught our attention and preps us for the rest of the album, which really is filled with a lot of energy. The riffs in tracks such as ‘Wrong’ and ‘Words of Youth’ for example, are particular BIG from the off and drive the tracks. What’s really noticeable about this band is the diverse styles and sounds they have in their arsenal. This is most noticeable with lead singer Masato Hayakawa who is able to go from truly aggressive scream vocals to completely melodic chrooning, and he performs pretty much flawlessly. The second half of the album sees some less aggressive tracks and sees Hayakawa focus on his incredible melodic voice such as in ‘The Story’ and ‘Whole’.
It’s a strong album, there is no doubt about that at all. However, as what seems to be the case with a lot of Asian rock bands who venture towards the Western scene, the album kind of lacks a bit of originality. It’s hard to explain without going through the whole album with you but we feel that we’ve heard a lot of elements of their music before somewhere else. Of course, bands have their influences and idols who they base their sound on but Coldrain come a bit too close to something else, which we can’t quite put our finger on. Some of the tracks are reminiscent of The Used and the more aggressive things could be mixed up with Crossfaith.
The album ends with a pretty big bang with ‘Fire In The Sky’. Rather than go for the epic, long-winded finale like so many bands do, Coldrain have ended with a track that sums them up; a catchy chorus, full of energy, and verses filled with what sounds like some anger that’s been held in for a pretty long time. It’s a strong finish and leaves us with a good impression for the end of our listening. So it might sound a bit unoriginal at times and may have some unmemorable tracks but what this album (and band) does possess is ability to use their diversity and write songs that make you sit up and listen. There’s a new Japanese band in town, and we hope they’re here to stay.22