Review

IRON ATTACK! - Dim.STARLIGHT

10/04/2015 2015-04-10 00:01:00 JaME Author: Ruchesko

IRON ATTACK! - Dim.STARLIGHT

IRON-CHINO saved his best for last in 2014.


© 2015 IRON ATTACK! All rights reserved.
Album CD

Dim.STARLIGHT

IRON ATTACK!

Last year was a busy one for IRON ATTACK!, even by IRON-CHINO's prolific standards. The project produced no less than six new albums in 2014. Dim.STARLIGHT and Sono jun tsumu ni akaki chi wo sasage ~Raise a flag~, released simultaneously on December 30th at Comiket 87, were the band's 40th and 41st releases respectively. Dim.STARLIGHT was also CHINO's 35th offering of "Touhou metal" - heavy metal reworkings of synthesized background music from the "Touhou Project" video games, originally composed by series creator ZUN.

The album opens in classic IRON ATTACK! fashion: with a ten-minute barrage of high-speed power metal. Proceedings kick off with the explosive title track Dim.STARLIGHT , which LIGHTNING singer Yuma announces his presence upon with a roar of "Starlight!" before delivering one of the finest performances of his career. IRON ATTACK! have a history of strong title tracks, and this one's right up there with Scarlet Furor and Heaven's Sword.

The second song Magic Geyser is shorter and snappier than the first, but lacks a compelling vocal hook. Meanwhile, Cry for the past nostalgic days benefits from an opening riff similar to the irresistible intro of ODIN's Wind. Then, the tempo dips considerably as the album takes an unusual turn. Tsuki no Refugee is a rock ballad reminiscent of the works of Gary Moore. While it's nothing spectacular, the song is the latest example of IRON-CHINO's newfound willingness to diversify IRON ATTACK!'s musical palette beyond melodic power metal. It's also a rare opportunity to hear Yuma singing a ballad.

Invasion, a subdued instrumental, brings this calmer interlude to a close as a wailing guitar marks the start of In The Black Sea. Dim.STARLIGHT's fourth and final power metal offering, it can't quite match the quality of the title track but nevertheless gives Yuma a satisfying last hurrah. Then, the record takes another unexpected twist, albeit a less drastic one than before.

DIVINE WIND ought to be a treat for many longtime fans of Japanese metal, as it features vocals by none other than ex-Galneryus frontman YAMA-B. The song marks his second appearance on an IRON ATTACK! release, and it's quite a different affair from 2012's Heaven's Sword. Really, DIVINE WIND sounds more like the work of YAMA-B's band AXBITES. CHINO takes a backseat on the track, confining his flashy guitar antics to a brief solo and permitting his vocalist to dominate the listeners' attention. Unusual for a Touhou metal song, DIVINE WIND is sung entirely in English.

There's only one glaring musical flaw on Dim.STARLIGHT; the seemingly random appearance of a twinkling music box at various points on the album. It's actually used to quite good effect in the intro of DIVINE WIND, but its inclusion on earlier songs, especially the title track, slightly undermines the raw aggression of Yuma's husky vocals. This gripe aside, this album still manages to surpass Icicle Fall, a Touhou metal release from August, as IRON ATTACK!'s strongest release of 2014.

Below you can listen to a crossfade preview of Dim.STARLIGHT, and JaME's recent interview with IRON-CHINO can be read here.

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