Sound — 7
Ever wondered what Gothenburg metal mixed with Japanese trance sounded like? And In Flames' new album doesn't even come close. Blood Stain Child are one of Japan's more esoteric exports, having a massive fanbase within Asia but receiving little recognition outside of said continent. One listen tells all. "Epsilon" is an understated album, because its not just "yet another crazy trance/metal thingy", its the birth of a new genre as a whole. What the genre would be called, I've no idea, but rest assured, its something that's already catching on. Bands like Silent Descent, Lost Eden (hmmm) and, er Enter Shakira (or whatever its called) have been doing some pretty creative genre fusion, but Blood Stain Child are the band who do it the best. After releasing "Mozaiq" nearly 4 years ago, BSC went for a bit of a make-over: one third of the band's a street gang, another seems to be from Escape The Fate with less make-up/more balls and the other third is straight out of a lolita manga. Adding in their new vocalist Sophia and their new drummer Gami has helped them up their game to no end. Its forced the band to be more refined in their respective instruments or roles, for instance, the frontman vocalist Ryo has stuck with a high-pitched scream for most of the album, much in the style of Tomas Lindberg, and has never sounded better. The music itself is probably a bit harder to describe than just "metal + trance". Imagine such a smooth marriage of the two together that none of it sounds out of place at all. The fusion also allows for genre traits to crossover, so for most of the album, the tempos alternate between 120-160, from trance to fast drum'n'bass speed. The guitar work is a balance between typical metal riffs and emotive chord patterns for every chorus, with the odd sweep solo thrown in for added parmesan. The synths are also something to take note of, being incredibly well mixed but also densely layered at the same time, so you get the full blow of melody without it overpowering everything else. The metal base really drives the songs, melodeath is best when played at these tempos as it sounds like unleashed hell. And the production, oh my. Using all the tricks on the book, they've made this album sound intense, especially the drums, which have a lot of clarity but also a full and fat sound. But I guess production is a no-brainer on an album that's %40 electronic. That said, its most definitely not everyone's cup of tea. Although not quite as weird as visual kei or as silly as a lot of Japanese modern music is, there is a huge helping of cheese. Nice cheese, but the sort of cheese that you might cringe at, kind of like Dragonforce cheese, but less homo-erotica and more... Japan.
Lyrics — 8
Vocals are handled by bassist and harsh vocalist Ryo and new female singer Sophia, who have a balanced but somewhat disorganised share of vocals. For instance, Sophia would sing a chorus, then Ryo would start half way through the second line for.. Some reason or another, or if Sophia has been singing for most of the song already, Ryo will then add in a scream or growl that has no business being there. Aside from that, both give a top notch performance without overshadowing each other. Although this does have to be said, they use a lot of autotune. Not the robotic, bloody obvious stuff they use on X-Factor and Kanye West, but subtle use which allows for moderate humanization. Probably used Melodyne. It serves a purpose of course: A band with such a modern sound would use many sounds and effects to fit in with the futuristic sound they play. At least its not Kanye/Akon/some skanky girl/EVERY OTHER HIP HOP ARTIST having a go on the microphone. Lyrically, BSC follow the happier, trancey stuff with a bit of philosophical/metaphorical END OF THE UNIVERSE content that is overall just for singing without having a message that imposes itself on the music (which is annoying whenever I listen to Deadlock, every song is about how evil it is to eat a cow).
Overall Impression — 8
BSC have more or less created a new genre with this album, its the pinnacle of all their previous work with added refinement and Sophia's much needed addition. Obviously it wont appeal to everyone, but if you'd really like to know how well electronic music and extreme metal go together, just have a listen to "Epsilon". Songs to look out for: "Forever Free", "Stargazer", "S.O.P.H.I.A.", "Unlimited Alchemist", "Electricity", "Dedicated To Violator", "La+" (which is the most death-y track on the album), "Sai-Ka-No".