Sound — 8
Coldrain are the latest band from Japan to make their mark on the International scene. Formed in 2007, the band hail from Nagoya and have put out (at the time of this review) 3 albums and a couple EPs. While being Japanese, their singer, Masato, is half American and half Japanese, which allows the band to put out strong and coherent English lyrics, while maintaining that Japanese feel to the music. After touring with Bullet For My Valentine, the band finally made an impact in Europe, signing a record deal with Hopeless Records for their releases outside of Japan.
"Through Clarity" was released late Summer 2012 in Japan, however it was released earlier this year internationally. The 6 track album was produced all in America, under the watchful eye of recording legend David Bendeth and features a heavier feel to their previous work that is bound to get the fans of post-hardcore (and metal) interested in their work.
The EP starts with "No Escape," which starts with a drum line by drummer Katsuma that is bound to make you jump, and a guitar part by lead guitarist Yokochi, which then follows up into the riffs by rhythm guitarist Sugi. The moment the into stops, you're greeted by Masato with the screams of "There is a weight on my shoulders..." straight into the gang vocals of "there's no escape." The band manages to show off their melodies and cleans vocals with the chorus, showing off their skills in the entire track. Coldrain and not just a band with heavy riffs and impressive solos, they bring a lot of melody into their work.
The EP moves onto "Persona," which is a classic style from the band. After start of heavy riffs and screaming, all of the sudden the band kicks the speed up for the chorus, while all the time Masato keeping the cleans and screams going with no change.
Track 3 of the EP is a slower song by the band "The Future," showing off that they are not just all heavy riffs and screams. Its a slow song that keeps you listening with impressive drum work and lead guitar. A shout out to Ryo, the bassist, as this is the first track on the EP you can really hear his work thanks to the slower verses. The future may be the weakest track on the album, but its still one that delivers and has a strong meaning for the band.
The second half of the album brings out the best of the band, with solos and strong melodies. "Six Feet Under" is a song that brings out the best in both Yokochi and Sugi, with strong riff work throughout the track, leading up to a great breakdown with Masato screaming "save me" right into a solo by Yokochi which is perhaps the best solo off the EP.
"Never Look Away" can be described as a classic track from the band. It fits the post-hardcore style: the start of the track is full of melodies, once the first chorus ends, you're greeted with this change up into the song into heavier, faster work with the addition of screams from band and more impressive kick drums from Katsuma.
The EP ends with "Inside of Me," which in terms of tempo is the opposite of "Persona," the track starts with a slow intro, again with great work by the guitars and bass, straight into fast work and screams from the band, diving straight in with "we will not surrender." The chorus goes back to the cleans of Masato and the backing vocals to give you that stop gap from thrashing around the room, headbanging.
Lyrics — 7
When you hear "Japanese band," you're first thoughts are usually A) they won't speak a single bit of English in the lyrics and B) if they speak English, it will be broken which will be hard to hear.
Coldrain are the opposite of this. Masato, as I mentioned before, is half American and half Japanese, which gives him the freedom of both languages, which he decides to to use English. When you compare the band to the latest big hit from Japan to make it outside of the country: Crossfaith, you can see a clear difference in the pronunciations of the lyrics. The lyrics are composed by Masato and Yokochi, with Sugi giving his input on a couple of the songs on the album. While the lyrics may not move you, the energy of the lyrics can be felt through Masato's vocals.
The lyrics can sometimes be described as basic, a great way to describe it is take a line that Mike from Linkin Park once said "the lyrics wrote themselves." It's a fitting way to sum up the lyrics, with lines like "You make believe, Its all better on a screen, I'm gonna have to disagree" from "Persona," and then "every time I try to see, see outside the lines, I see you staring back at me, telling me there's so much more" from "Six Feet Under."
While the lyrics may lack what a lot of people look for, the vocals are just impressive. Masato loves the music, on stage you can see that, and in the studio you can tell. His screams are crisp and not over done. They're not too deep to go "this is inaudible," and their not too light to go "this is weak." But his strongest part of his vocal spectrum is his cleans vocals, I overhead someone after one of their shows before say "if they didn't scream it would be a great singer." Masato doesn't hit high notes but he is able to bring out heart moving vocals. With the fact he is able to provide clear English vocals, it allows the non-Japanese fans to appreciate the vocals.
Overall Impression — 8
While this is not Coldrain's first album/EP, "Through Clarity" is the first work that the rest of the world has been able to get their hands on without going the length to import their music from Japan (like I do). While its only 6 tracks, the half an hour you spend listening to the EP makes you want to listen again to the tracks to hear the impressive drum work, the smooth lead guitar work and those riffs they produce. Add this with the amazing vocals from Masato. Coldrain are bound to make a huge hit in Europe and America. And with their place at Download and Rock Am/Im Ring this summer, once their International release of the latest album "The Revelation" hits the shelf's, the band should already be a group that fans of metal and post-hardcore should be already aware of. If you are able to pick up this EP and their old work, then you are in for a treat. "Through Clarity" is a portal into the world of Japanese Rock music, showing that it's not all BABYMETAL and light J-pop. This band is hear to stay and make an impact around the world.