Azrael (Japan) - Sunrise In The Dreamland
Tokuma Japan Communications
(Happy) European inspired Power Metal
11 songs (47'21)
Release year: 2003
Reviewed by Chris

Well, this album is really the perfect example of an album that could really be something good, but that production and lack of originality is surely holding down. The funny thing is that this album starts with the melody used to be the openers of X-Japan live shows :), what a nice gesture here. But Azrael doesn't really gets its inspiration from X-Japan, even though they are a Japanese band. I'd say they are more influenced by the European Power Metal scene.

While not that bad for a Japanese singer, the accent of the singer is really hard to get by... he too often sound like an old tape you would have left in direct summer sunlight for too many hours :), while I must apologize for the clumsy comparison, it actually do sound like that from time to time. If you like a singer that can sing high (but with not much power), then you'll like Azrael's singer. As for the title, I know, Sunlight In The Dreamland ??? could it have been more cheesy than this ? apparently not. Though rather cheesy from time to time, the album actually is better its title might imply. The opener song, titled after the album, is rather cliché, one of these songs like sound like it came directly from an Insania album... at the exception of high vocals, which might be appreciated by some people but that, I must say, tends to piss me off quickly and surely (way too high most of the time ! ... and let's face it the singer is no Toshi !). The second songs starts really nicely with a riff reminding me of another cool (and I'm sure totally unknown) Japanese metal act : After Image ! But let's face it, Azrael don't have the level of musicianship than a band like After Image, nor the production. This album sounds like everything has been mixed with the medium setting, what a shame. From time to time it simply sounds cacophonous :( !

Funny enough you'll find some moments that could be compared to Edguy (music-wise, as the realization is lacking to say the least). The starting melody of Deep In My Heart or the songs 2 Many Heroes, Love's Lost In Time and the album last track Lay Down Your Guns (that have a has ultra-high vocals) , are what make this album interesting. There are lots of other moments then and there, but most of the time, the band simply intermixes ideas from common power metal acts with overly high vocals and annoying japanese accent (though unlike most japanese singers you can actually understand a word then and there... but it STILL sound very funny and almost ridiculous from time to time).

This band have not invented powder (neither have Heavenly for that matter; but they display their inspirations in such forms that it blows your mind away, but here the result is quite the opposite). An album that could be so much better if it was produced correctly (reminds me the worst Italian productions) and if the songs were more consistent too. but if you like screamingly high vocals on a rather cheesy and cliché power metal, then you might actually like Azrael. I for one was deeply disappointed by this release, especially when my friend who brought me the CD from Japan told me it was the best album of 2003 (so I of course put my hopes high and eagerly waited to see how it weighted against Lost Horizon or Kamelot). Well, I think that Azrael still have millions of light years to travel to even enter into competition with the bands mentioned in this review.. But I'll be sure to keep an eye on them, as they could very well deliver something interesting in the future, some parts of the album surely let one hope for it. I for one would prefer Japanese lyrics than almost ridiculous English... even though I must admit that some high pitch screams are rather cunning. Try before you buy (though I doubt you can find it at your local store, unless you live in Tokyo).

Killing Songs :
2 Many Heroes, Love's Lost In Time & Lay Down Your Guns
Chris quoted 69 / 100
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