Gonin-Ish - Naishikyo-Sekai
Season Of Mist
Progressive Metal, Avant-Garde
6 songs (55:42)
Release year: 2008
Gonin-Ish, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

Hailing from Japan and counting Sigh drummer Junichi amongst their ranks, Prog Metal five-piece Gonin-Ish play at what first seems like a typically Dream Theater-y type of music, to the point where thoughts like ‘what a rip-off!’ start swirling around your head. Give it time, however, and the elements soon rearrange themselves into a peculiarly Eastern style, starting with the varied and vibrant vocals of Anoji Matsuoka, the female vocalist and guitarist. She growls, howls, squeals and sings, seemingly randomly on initial listens, but once you’re used to this odd new sound it makes a strange sort of sense.

Indeed, opening and shortest song Tokoyami Kairou runs in at just over two minutes, but the mix of keyboards and guitar riffs is a fantastic one, and sets the album up well. You can hear the Eastern elements at once, mysterious melodies dancing briefly before the track fades, and a brief drum solo kicks Nare No Hate off. It’s an immediately compelling track, Anoji like a female Mike Patton as the music rises and falls, her singing switching to manic growls as Junichi’s reasoned battery keeps tension high. Other instruments swirl over the top; it’s impossible to describe the sheer number of time changes, different melodies and solos that come at you over the course of the nearly nine-minute track, but it’s always gripping, impossible to stop listening. Heck, give it long enough and the catchy Pop song that’s at the heart of it will come into view, an excellent foundation to build upon.

Although no two tracks are alike, they follow a similar enough style to make dissecting them difficult. The band are equally at home with classic Prog as they are with more unhinged and Avant-Garde sections (the way that Shagan No Tou switches between said madness and catchy, uplifting Thrash-Pop sections is astonishing) and anyone with a taste for the Progressive will find much to enjoy. There aren’t really highlight sections, since it’s all wonderful stuff – lead guitarist Fumio Takahashi and keyboardist Masashi Momota are little short of amazingly technical and brilliant players, and a singer as talented as Anoji is the cherry on the top, her singing as soulful and beautiful (Jinbaika is practically lounge-jazz at moments) as her growling is harsh and demented. Don’t expect to understand any lyrics, incidentally, since the band writes in an ancient form of Japanese that even modern speakers will have little comprehension of.

We can’t forget Junichi, either, a very talented drummer from his showing here; never content to just back the music, there are plenty of Prog-Rock fills and interesting rhythms throughout the album. Just one example; the opening section of Muge No Hito sounds like Death Metal with a Latin-style rhythm section, and has plenty of strange percussion in the chant-heavy later part of the song. All this is nothing, of course, when compared with the amazing finale track Akai Kioku. Coming in at over nineteen minutes long, it features just about everything you can imagine, a brutally intense ride through soundscapes light and dark. Some of Anoji’s demented sounds may put the more reserved Prog-Metaller off, but stick with Naishikyo-Sekai and it’ll reward your time tenfold. Interestingly, this was actually released in 2005 in its native country, Season Of Mist doing the western world a great favour with this worldwide release. An excellent release that’s sure to find a space on my ‘albums of the year’ list.

Killing Songs :
Nare No Hate, Shagan No Tou, Jinbaika, Muge No Hito, Akai Kioku
Goat quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Gonin-Ish that we have reviewed:
Gonin-Ish - Gonin-Ish reviewed by Crash and quoted 90 / 100
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