D'espairsRay - MIRROR

review - 03.30.2008 08:00

A review of the US release of D'espairsRay's second full-length album.

Following the release of Coll:set in 2005 and MIRROR in 2007, D'espairsRay's second full-length release has now been released stateside by the JSHOCK label and is sure to surprise with its mix of the band's dark, gothic edge and an experimental pop-rock style.

DAMNED starts the release on an interesting note. Throbbing drum beats and melodic vocals give the track an almost otherworldly sound. The perfect opening, it does the job of getting the listener pumped up for the rest of the album.

Zero's fantastic bass line carries through TRICKSTƏR, a more upbeat song that shows off Hizumi's skill at both beautifully sung and fiercely growled vocals. Tsukasa's drumming and Karyu's guitar work is outstanding and pulls the listener on to the end.

Despite being the album's title, MIЯROR doesn't leave as much of an impact. Quick-paced drumming and sharp guitar riffs dominate the track, a splash of synthesized sounds and varying vocal styles adding interest. Similarly, Lost Scene lacks a little something in comparison to other tunes on the release. Hizumi's superb vocal ability shines against heavy guitar sounds, but there are more impressive songs still to hear.

Two previously released songs, Kogoeru Yoru ni Saita Hana and Closer to Ideal find their places on this CD as well. Kogoeru Yoru ni Saita Hana is an upbeat, pop-rock song that boasts a pulsing bass line and skillful guitar work. Hizumi's vocals are well-suited to this style, the chorus being reason enough for the listener to stand up and dance. Closer to Ideal, reminiscent of earlier D'espairsRay releases, displays each musician's skill, none overpowering the other. A dazzling instrumental break fills out the track.

Tracks from D’espairsRay's most recent single, Squall and SCREEN both include powerfully emotional vocals. SCREEN's melodic start with softly sung lyrics leads into an opportunity for Hizumi to show his range, stunning guitar work providing the perfect backdrop. The optimistic melody and inspiring vocals of Squall give the track a bittersweet feel. Hizumi's heartfelt singing soars in this beautifully played, heartbreakingly uplifting track.

SIXty∞NINe launches with pounding drumming, howling vocals, and synthesized sound effects. Hizumi's voice is seductively velvety with just the right amount of roughness at the edges, the backing vocals adding a completely new dimension to the song. Zero's bass line is subtle, but nice in the mix of other sounds. Hizumi's high and low vocals, used alternately with screaming, are perfect in this track. Another top-notch listen, Hollow features almost cheerfully sung harmonies, adding a largely original sound to this hard rock tune. Turn up the volume and have a good time to this one; it might be different, but most certainly not disappointing.

Heavy drumming, raspy yells, and a strong bass line start off Angeldust. Highlighted by exquisite verses and excellent guitar work, this track is one of the best on this release. A dreamy break with hushed vocals brings the listener down before throwing them back into the song, a complex and unique layering of sounds that comes together flawlessly.

Wrapping up the release, Kaleidoscope's driving guitar and pulsing bass balance nicely with Hizumi's brilliant voice and Tsukasa's masterful drumming. Karyu's shining guitar piece midway is a nicely placed, skillfully played break in this song, a pleasant listen at the end of the album.

Establishing their place as more than the typical visual band, D'espairsRay has definitely grown, expanding their style and honing their skills since the release of their first album. A beautifully distinctive blending of powerful vocals and expertly played instruments, MIRROR was more than worth the wait for long time fans and the perfect introduction to a new stateside audience.
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