Sound — 10
The band's sound is hard to define. There's the nu-metal elements, the pop/rock elements, the prog elements, all working together to make something unique. That's always been one of the things that I've loved about J-rock, it's ability to be completely different from anything in the western music industry. The band's sound is like The Pillows playing metal, with some more rock god theatrics. The songs are varied, from lighter rock songs like "Raison D'Etre" to the metal of "Schwein-No Isu." There's no shortage of awesome fretwork on the album, either. Many of the songs contain some awesome guitar solos, heavy riffs, or great chord progressions. The way the guitarists layer their guitar parts reminds me somewhat of Rush's "Vapor Trails" album, in a more "metal" context.
Lyrics — 8
Being almost entirely in Japanese, the lyrics either require reading the translations (usually included with the CD booklets), or a working knowledge of the language. Having neither, I can't really rate the quality of the lyrics, but I can rate the vocal delivery. Their singer has a powerful and diverse voice, and can go from screaming and grunting, to softer, more passionate singing, to spoken-word or even whispered parts. The vocal style fits along with the music very well. About my only gripe is some of the more ambient vocal sounds on some songs, which kind of sound like someone vomiting or writhing in pain, and that doesn't work for me in any context.
Overall Impression — 9
Having downloaded this album immediately after hearing "Raison D'Etre" from a friend, I can honestly say this album is worth buying. The songs are as raw, emotional and powerful as anything you'll find on any Nirvana release, sometimes heavier than any nu-metal, and has enough great guitar work to keep any guitar junkie happy for a while. The album as a whole doesn't compare to any other artist I've ever heard, though some songs ocassionally remind me of bands like Rammstein and '80s era Rush. I can't find a single thing about this album as a whole that really turns me off, though it does have its weak points, as a couple of the longer tunes do tend to drag on too long, and some of the ambient noises are a little tiresome. But it's a small price to pay for an album that does indeed own souls. If it were stolen, I would find the guy who stole it and force him to buy 2 copies, one for me, and another for his-or-herself.