album review – Missa (L’eprica)

l_eprica It was truly an epic moment the first time I heard the band L’eprica. It was Tuesday morning and I was in a cramped train, still groggy due to lack of sleep. My earphones were streaming the latest addition to my  playlist: XVIII File Vol. 1, an omnibus album I mistakenly downloaded the day before. I was about to doze off when I heard the initial strains of the song, Sephirothic Tree. It was simple, it was poignant…it was perfect. By the time the song reached its chorus, I was already picking up my jaw from the floor.

I remember spending a good chunk of that morning searching for anything I could find on the band who sang it. Unfortunately, the internet reveals nothing much about L’eprica. I’ve learned that the band is still quite young, having been formed only in 2004, thus they are still in the process of building up a respectable discography and fanbase. But if the 3 singles and 1 mini-album they’ve released so far are any indication, I firmly believe that this band will receive the recognition they deserve in no time.

The album Missa regrettably does not contain my personal favorite Sephirothic Tree. Still, it is a powerhouse compilation of 8 tracks strong enough to stand on their own.

As with any VK album, Missa is opened by an instrumental track, FALL ‘prologue’. Its intro is somehow reminiscent of MUCC’s haunting ballad Sanbika. But 40-seconds into the song and all comparisons end. FALL ‘prologue’ is a great opening track, aptly setting the heart-wrenchingly emotional mood reverberated by the whole album. Heavy drum beats and guitar riffs signal the start of the second track, Ruin. It is without a doubt a showcase song, should there ever be a term, as it successfully displays the band’s capabilities. Ruin starts off as a power ballad only to change pace mid-song as a head-banging treat. All throughout, vocalist Raya’s strong voice effortless rises above the heavy beats. Even at this point, it is already established that Raya’s voice is one of this young band’s main advantages. Devoid of any histrionics and the usual growls associated with the VK sound, Raya’s heartfelt vocals is refreshing indeed.

missa

glossy is one of the Missa’s fast paced songs. The guitar solo halfway into the song sets this track apart. I personally think of glossy as an effective perk me up song, perfect for mornings when you just have no choice but to bolt out of bed. The song though pales in comparison to the next track, Arch. Undoubtedly the gem of this album, Arch is distinguished by its groovy beats that would have one dancing. If glossy could get you out of bed, Arch could definitely get you through the entire morning in a good mood.

Easing the album back to the somber mood is calm sea. To me, calm sea parallels Sephirothic Tree  in intensity and quality. Listening to both songs is truly a cathartic experience. Draw Pain follows suit and admittedly, I have misgivings about this song. If Missa would have a weak spot, Draw Pain would be it. I can’t quite pinpoint what is wrong with it, only that the track seems all over the place.

Fortunately, L’eprica more than makes up for it by the second to the last track, follow a dark road. I could listen to this song repeatedly and not get tired of it. It begins with a choir-like sound (think Versailles) then Raya’s voice softly blends in…slowly…a guitar rift is heard then drum beats…and the whole adventure begins. If there’s one word to describe follow a dark road, it could only be “glorious”. All the elements in the song effortlessly blend in to a soaring finish. I particularly like the last few seconds of the track that had Raya singing “この せかい で、せかい で” repeatedly.

Closing the album is rubble. One could truly feel the angst in this one. Raya’s voice actually breaks in some parts but it only proves the very emotional tone of this track. rubble is an interesting song, no doubt. Still, follow a dark road would have been more effective as a closing song.

Overall, Missa is a fantastic album that had certainly made me wanting for more of what L’eprica can offer. With bated breath, I look forward to their next release comforted by the fact that things could only get better.

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