Album Review: Ryujin – Ryujin

Album Review: Ryujin - Ryujin
Reviewed by Tim Finch

Now Ryujin is a band many of you will have not heard of prior to today, although they have been around in various forms; as “Suicide Heaven” from 2009, changing to “Gyse” in 2011 and now taking on their latest name. The self styled “Samurai metal” band, hailing from the Hokkaido region of Japan, have signed with Napalm Records to release the debut record under their new name, released on January 12th.

After the introductory track ‘Hajimari’ has settled you into a groove ‘Gekokujo’ smacks you in the face and brings itself to the listeners attention. A battering ram of black and death metal styled riffs, played at a blistering pace, accompanied by the blood curdling screams; this song attacks the listener from all angles.

However it’s not all a black and death assault, the music switches at will from brutal riffs to technical bridges, akin to the likes of Dragonforce, before returning to the assault once more. At times there are hints of symphonic metal, veering off towards pirate metal (think upbeat, fast paced sea shanty segues) at times. And all of this in that first real song ‘Gekokujo’.

Album Review: Ryujin – Ryujin

As the album progresses the music is tones down slightly, the symphonic stylings melded with the more technical guitar playing take prominence from ‘Dragon, Fly Free’ onwards. There are still elements of black and death mixed in, but less aggressively than the opening barrage.

The vocals switch between clean and harsh regularly, with Trivium frontman Matthew Heafy joining the fray at multiple points. Heafy also produced the album and his influence is heard throughout. The dual voice match up works well for the majority, although in ‘Scream of the Dragon’ the two different styles sing in duet, which doesn’t work the best compared to the alternating style that flowed up until this point.

The album is a technical guitar lovers wet dream, ferociously fast riffs, technical bridges and wonderful melodies all thrown into the melting pot. The product, from Heafy, is near perfect, enhancing the initial impact that this record will have. The juxtaposition of styles from black, death, symphonic, technical, and more, whilst sounding strange on paper actual works well. As a debut album under their current branding it can be seen as a cracking album, album of the year material – maybe not, but there is enough here to build a fan base upon and leaves plenty of room to step it up a level come album number two.

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