Following the Gundam connection theme, this next review and latest entry on Project Dora focuses on the THE BACK HORN’s just released album, Asylum. I first heard this band on the soundtrack of Gundam 00 – they did the first ending song, Wana and I found it a good contrast to the opening theme Daybreak’s Bell by of course, L’Arc~en~Ciel. While Daybreak’s Bell was light and breezy, Wana was loud and gritty.
Now on to the review of Asylum.
The album opens with definitely one of the album’s standout tracks. Raiden is a helter skelter of a song that starts with some awesome chanting. The Middle Eastern influence is apparent but THE BACK HORN grunged it up by a mile and the result is really engaging, if not hypnotic.
The second track Rafflesia shifts pacing all too often but it’s the vocals that truly lifts up the song. Yamada’s voice is raspy on some parts as he half shouts-half sings the lyrics and the effect was jarring but pleasant. Tatakau kimi yo, on the other hand, strikes me as the extroverted sibling of Wana. Their intros are a bit similar but Tatakau kimi yo is much more fast paced. It won’t prepare you though for the explosion that is Saisei. Kicking off with badass guitars before being segueing into a nice coordination between bass and drums, Saisei would make you headbang in no time. The longest song in the album at 5 minutes and 11 seconds, Saisei is brimming with energy yet knows fully well when to take it slow only to hyperventilate even more.
THE BACK HORN channels acid black cherry in the next two tracks, Hagoromo and Kaigansen. Hagoromo is a favorite of mine in Asylum. The piano makes it first appearance and it carried the languid mood of the song. It strikes me that every listen to Hagoromo brings forth another level of appreciation for the song. It could be mysterious sometimes and lethally seductive the next. In Kaigansen, THE BACK HORN dabbled with jazzy beats the way acid black cherry did in Recreation 2. It was a commendable effort but dragged too long. The second longest song in the album, it would do Kaigansen good if a few minutes were to be chopped off.
The grunge influence makes a comeback in Persona. The way this song was sung reminds me of Ajikan’s Goto. Unfortunately, Persona is the weakest song in the album it sounds notes where just thrown together in random just as the album’s artwork looks like someone just threw up her alphabet soup. Taiyou no Shiwaza follows suit and it more than makes up for Persona. Just like Saisei, Taiyou no Shiwaza is a guaranteed headbanger. The guitars are awesome, the drums are superb and when the song breaks it down on the second minute, Taiyou no Shiwaza already claims you spirit.
And speaking of spirit, Tozasareta Sekai has plenty of it. A mid-tempo song that is primarily bass driven, Tozasareta Sekai feels like pent-up anger expressed in a very classy way. (The song also serves as the opening theme to Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer). The succeeding song, Yogorenaki Namida also has good bass. It is also the song with the highest sing-along potential in Asylum. It joins Hagoromo and Taiyou no Shiwaza as my favorite songs in the album. The chorus simply begs to be belted out and I am but a willing follower.
Closing the album is Parade and no other song could have done it any better. If you like Ajikan’s HARUKA KANATA then you’ll definitely fall under Parade’s charms. Both songs radiates the same energetic vibe that rouses the crowd. Take a listen to Parade and indulge in your own private moshpit.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Asylum. Different influences are abound but THE BACK HORN was able to weave them together into one cohesive tracklist. Just think, if acid black cherry was a garage band and was into grunge, they would have churned out something like Asylum. If you are fan of either acid black cherry, Asian Kung-fu Generation or above-average alternative music, then Asylum is a definite must listen.