Garden of the Lilium - Garden of the Lilium
An unorthodox introduction to the new ‘girls metal’ supergroup.
As ‘girls metal’ – a movement of Japanese all-female metal bands which roared to life in the late 2000s – progresses further into its second decade, it looks more and more likely to avoid the kind of steep decline Japan’s all-female rock scene endured in the mid-1990s. This stability is thanks in part to the staying power of the movement’s godmothers, the founders of the first wave of ‘girls metal’ bands.
The triumphs and travails of Mina and Miki, the women behind DESTROSE and G∀LMET respectively, are well-known. Less storied (but no less remarkable) is the career of Yuri, from her beginnings in 2006 with Tengusakura, through the tempestuous tenure of Albion, onto her current role fronting self-styled ‘Japanesque metal’ band Rakshasa.
Though the Rakshasa gig had technically put her on the periphery of the ‘girls metal’ scene since 2016, Yuri returned to the fray earlier this year with the new supergroup Garden of the Lilium. Her partners in this new venture are Vanquiet guitarist Asap☆, an eight-year veteran of the ‘girls rock’ scene; ex-ZETTAI CLUB bassist Ichinose, now active with her solo project Aoiro-Ichigou; and drummer Kanako, adding yet another band to her resume on top of HAGANE and Ryoko.
Garden of the Lilium’s self-titled debut single, produced in collaboration with an enigmatic Los Angeles-based composer by the name of Yoshinori, was released digitally on August 5th. Its two tracks are so unorthodox in structure, they feel more like fragments of a larger concept album than standalone songs.
It’s a little ironic that Yuri’s first band without an official keyboardist would be so heavily influenced by symphonic metal. These elements are especially prominent in the title track, during a melancholic interlude between two rousing choruses in which everyone but Yuri falls silent for close to a minute.
With its delectably crunchy intro, Dawn After Dark initially sounds like it will follow a more conventional blueprint. However, it quickly becomes clear Yuri and Yoshinori have other plans. The rest of the band are more involved on this track – Asap☆ even gets to reel off a solo in the extended bridge – but the song’s most striking aspect is Yuri’s octave-jumping vocal workout.
In the band's defence, symphonic metal bands without keyboardists are nothing new in Japan. It’s certainly never done Versailles any harm. However, if Garden of the Lilium’s future releases are in the same mould as their debut, skimping on a keyboardist may lead to awkward moments on stage, with everyone else standing idle while Yuri sings to a backing track. Not that it will necessarily impact audiences' enjoyment: the lady can sing.
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