DAZZLE VISION - SHOCKING LOUD VOICE

review - 04.28.2012 20:01

Loud and shocking, but in a good way.

If the words "screamo" and "metal" bring to mind tattoos, black dress code and a face full of pointy metal then you may be somewhat surprised by DAZZLE VISION, if you haven't heard of them already that is. With the twinkly pop princess name, some may not realize that they are a hard rock band fronted by the angel-faced Maiko who is capable of screaming like the devil. She, together with brother and bassist Takuro, formed the band in 2003 and they have enjoyed global popularity, performing at Sakura-con in 2010. SHOCKING LOUD VOICE is their sixth album, and has topped the HMV Japan indie pre-sales chart. It will be out on 4th May.

SHOCKING LOUD VOICE contains mostly tracks that are remastered versions of those from older albums. The first track, SECOND, is new to this release and is certainly one to blow out the cobwebs. Its all pounding drums and metal guitar from the off, with Maiko's first scream erupting in the first ten seconds. The verse features quite rough singing in between her signature screams, as if the words were spat out by someone whilst jogging. The chorus however shows us the power of her very decent, and surprising sweet, singing voice. The huge contrast continues in next track, Child be found of..., which first appeared on 2007 album Camellia Japonica. There are sections of high-pitched pop vocals that sometimes descend into a harsher rock rasp, alternating with the larynx-destroying death voice (for those concerned, she cares for her chords). The effect is that she appears to split into two people. Together with the strong guitar from John and darker atmosphere it is similar in some ways to American rockers Linkin Park, whose lead vocals also possess a dual personality.

The other new track, Take my hand, is less raucous overall than SECOND. It has a quiet opening of plucked electric guitar and simple drumming from Haru. Even so it has as much or even more screaming, which kicks in from the one minute mark. Maiko flip-flops between her vocal styles constantly in what could be called a ballad of sorts, or at least compared with the rest of the tracks. It has a similar mood to the remastered left to cry there. The latter is more interesting in terms of the use of off-beat punctuations and vocal expression, but as emotive rock they both sit companionably side by side.

The band's popularity is evident in the live version of Kuuhaku, where the crowd's roar can constantly be heard despite the loud heavy metal instruments. Maiko's flexible vocals allow her to perform with ethnic Middle-Eastern inflections before the latter half sees the return of the aggressive shouting to even louder cheers.

Winner of the most surprising song goes to Miss Cinderella, although to some it won't be as it also appeared on US release to the next. On an album full of heavy screamo rock the appearance of this jolly piece of jazz is unusual but refreshing, and is musically to SHOCKING LOUD VOICE what Audrey is to DIR EN GREY's MACABRE. With Takuro's bouncy bass line, Haru's rhythmic drumming, John's fun riffs and light vocals from Maiko, it's a bright and bubbly track. It's greatest attribute is an extremely catchy chorus, which if performed live could lead to the unthinkable: a mass outbreak of the twist at a hard rock gig. Just in case fans might not believe it is DAZZLE VISION, slap bang in the middle is a ten second long scream session over 1920's style swing brass for an odd moment that does actually fit. Miss Cinderella really does have a ball in this.

Stand out tunes VISION and HERE are sharper and cleaner in their remastered form. In fact there isn't a great deal of difference between them apart from that, as there haven't been any changes made to the arrangements. These two are good examples of the band's talents in simply producing good melodies, rather than letting the screaming take presidence. In emotionally charged final song Camellia the most noticeable change is the removal of the muting "radio" effect over Maiko's quiet vocal section, so that her voice rings out with new clarity and is a welcome improvement.

For those who don't own any of DAZZLE VISION's back catalogue this would be the perfect place to start as it is essentially a "best of" collection. Even for those who own everything they've ever made, the improved quality of the remastering and of course the new songs make it worth obtaining. The best way to sum up SHOCKING LOUD VOICE would be to describe one of their PVs: the 2010 PV for VISION features Maiko singing and screaming in a forest dressed in a sequined red party dress. It's something that's creative, conspicuous and yet unexpected.

Check out the music video for SECOND below.

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