Art Of Gradation - Concentration
Here for a good time, not a long time.
As time goes by, it becomes ever clearer what a hotbed of creative energy the power metal band LIGHT BRINGER was. Not that its members’ recent prolificity came as a complete shock. Years before Fuki and friends set their sights on other things, guitarist KAZU – a big part of the band’s first two albums – struck out on his own in 2011.
His first post-
The contents of Concentration - Art Of Gradation's one and only album - fit somewhere in the grey area between power metal, melodic rock and synthpop. Several tracks, including the opening number REAL, bore many hallmarks of LIGHT BRINGER’s early sound: dominant keyboards, soaring female vocals, guitars that feel like part of the rhythm section, and a liberal scattering of orchestra hits.
Unfortunately, REAL isn’t representative of Concentration as a whole. For starters, IBUKI only appears on about half the album’s tracks and never by herself. That’s not to denigrate Michiru’s contribution, as she carries off her solo numbers just fine. All the same, it’s no coincidence that the album is at its strongest when IBUKI’s involved, as those are the moments when Art Of Gradation pull out all the stops.
Take the seven-minute opus SKY!!. Not only does KAZU jump behind the mic himself, resulting in some JAM Project-style three-way harmonies, but he also engages seiya in an eighty-second solo battle. Its sheer scale places it a notch above REAL and the other standout tracks Rain Pain Rain, Our Song and the Reanne-composed Hajimari no sora.
As for IBUKI, her career’s continued on a gradual but steady upward trajectory ever since. In between enough guest appearances to make Pitbull proud, her work with bands Around the Nation and Disqualia eventually led to a solo career that began in 2017 and has recently begun to expand overseas. British label Setsuzoku Records released a special edition of her debut album ExMyself on CD and vinyl on January 29th.
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