Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)
People don't typically think of Japan as a Christian country, but it actually has a large Christian population though Buddhism remains the most obvious religious practice in daily life & the Japanese are considered Buddhist by birth until converted. This Buddhist dominance even extends to the artistic culture where the country itself seems more intent on continuing the idea that it's 100% Buddhist rather than accepting the fact that many religions live on its islands & have for a long time. The trio of Imari Tones is working towards breaking this stereotype through positive & inspirational 80's power metal & their claim, though unverifiable, that "they are one of very few bands in the world that can claim true originality. How so? They are the first Christian heavy metal band ever to come out of Japan." Victory In Christ is their latest of 15 releases, all independently recorded/produced ... something not as common in Japan as in America. Imari Tones understand the challenge they are facing, according to their press release, quoting founder/frontman Tak: "There are very few Japanese bands who say 'Hey, we're a Christian band.' A Christian band from Japan almost sounds like a joke, since most people in Japan are Buddhists or Atheists." But, these guys are no joke. Think of Christian rockers Stryper in a meeting with Van Halen & you'll get a feeling of the musical maneuvers being executed by Imari Tones. Highly skilled technical 80's hard rock that draws from the careers of Yngmie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Johnson & all the great power metal rockers of the time. Tak has done his homework well in crafting his soaring solos & an endless variety of riffs. He's also paid attention to song structure & knows that the best of his heros is when they sit back & groove & not aim for one over-the-top hour long solo. Tak & company also shy away from the influence of speed & thrash metal, keeping things firmly melodic & accessible to more than just a minority of metalheads. Sadly, the production quality could be better as the guitar/vocals are upfront but the rhythm section is little low in the mix so their impact is less than it could be. The feeling is of a guitar, with some overdubs, with a basic backing band behind it & not a unified band with a shared spotlight. It would be nice to hear more of what the bassist is playing, along with more experimentation from the drums. Imari Tones likes to compare themselves to Rush in their press release but they could take some lessons from the Rush rhythm section. Just bringing the instruments up in the mix would help a lot towards this. As for the lyrics, Tak's somewhat predictable lyrics of love & Jesus are all in English, good for the international crowd ... as long as nobody minds a typical Japanese accent & a few mispronunciations such as the famed Japanese substitution of 'l' for 'r'. Though, for the folks interested in international sounds, Tak's accent is the only thing that sounds explicitly Japanese on Victory In Christ as this is one of those bands not hemmed in by natural or theoretical borders ... their role model is Jesus & Jesus has no borders.