Undead Corporation – Shinsoku (2014 Bonsai Bonus) – Undead Corporation is the one band that will make people who believe Japan is nothing more than BabyMetal shit themselves. I’ve been waiting a long time to review this extreme Touhou metal album, which is definitely one of the heaviest approaches I’ve ever heard in the genre period.
For those who aren’t aware, Touhou is an insanely popular series of Japanese shmups similar to Raiden, albeit the character plays a shrine maiden and must dodge literally thousands of enemy bullets. Touhou is known as a danmaku or “bullet hell” game and has spawned thousands of fan materials, as well as a slew of fighting games similar to Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. But what Touhou is most famous for is its musical compositions, which are composed by one man by the name of Zun, who is also responsible for programming these wildly popular games. Some are even coming to the west for the first time ever, so you’ll see what I am talking about soon enough. At any rate, Touhou is considered an entire genre of music in Japan, which spawns all styles including metal.
Undead Corporation are known for the more extreme renditions, which seem to shine pretty well here. Most people won’t even know that the tracks here were adapted from Touhou compositions. “Megalomania 4:34” begins our album with absolutely pummeling drums, as well raspy scowls and operatic female backing vocals. It’s quite catchy and evokes a sort of extreme gothic atmosphere that most certainly works as an album opener.
Next we have “Fairy Dance 4:20” which is mostly female-fronted metal and should appeal more to fans of Nightwish, but it just goes to show you that Undead Corporation don’t stick to any one genre. “Malicious Maggots 4:19” opens with an almost gore-influenced vocal, some core elements and obvious melodic death metal riffs. A great deal of vocal gravel and brutal death metal influence is utilized here, but there’s still enough room for a fantastically bright solo piece and we’re thankful for it.
“Ghost In Starlight 3:54” features more of a melodic deathcore sound, replete with twinkling synths and even some djent influence which I don’t truly care for, but at least they offer more on one album than most bands do with twenty. “Behind The Wonderland 4:43” brings back the extreme gothic feeling of the album opener, as “The Wrath 3:15” leaves me wondering how Cryptopsy got in here. Yes, I am not lying to you. Go listen to the fucking track yourself.
If you don’t think it sounds like classic Cryptopsy than you’re clearly inebriated. What’s it doing on this album? I have no idea, but will not in any way complain.
The record ends with “Belial Drive 4:10” which offers more double bass blasts, twinkly keyboards and harsh vocal rasps. As you may have noticed, the band does have and utilize a female vocalist, so that might be a turn off for you. But you’ll still have to agree that this stuff has a lot more punch than BabyMetal and proves that Japan is far more than “Gimme, Gimme Chocolate.”
Most of all, the drummer is an absolute beast, so you’ll absolutely love his performance on this unexpected outlier in the Touhou music community. I definitely recommend the unexpected sporadity of Shinsoku. You’ve probably never heard anything like it. Especially when it’s based on young shrine maidens with magical abilities.
(7 Tracks, 29:00 – Also contains instrumental versions and another mix of “Malicious Maggots”)