Japan has always been fertile ground for hard rock and heavy metal for forty plus years. Area 51, formed by guitarist and instructor at Musician's Institute Yoichiro Ishino, and their latest project Daemonicus follows in the representative tradition of neo-classical based melodic heavy metal. Vocals are provided by the fine siren Kate who performs in the same league as Tarja, Simone Simons, and many others. First released in their native country in 2008, Daemonicus is the second album from Area 51; it's now getting a push in the UK and elsewhere from TSM Promotions.
With Daemonicus, on the opening strains of Introitus you know you're in for music of a grand scale. The general feel of the album is that of a film score to a great epic adventure. Les Anges and Ashes are only two examples of rich sweeping arrangements that effortless blend Ishino's guitar artistry and Kate's soaring vocals. Frankly, it's the balanced composition that makes much of Daemonicus work so well. Ishino could have easily put his fine guitar skill forward, but instead it's measured, even as it is brilliant, against the entire arrangement. Yet there remains some predictability as Daemonicus leans heavily towards galloping power metal throughout especially towards the end, something that is hardly novel. Additionally, though I generally dwell on foreign language vocals, most of Kate's performance appears to be in Japanese, and this may put some listeners off. (If she sings in English at all, you wouldn't know it because you can't understand here) However, on a song as beautiful as Venus croix eternelle it really makes no difference. Veteran metal vocalist Rob Rock makes a guest appearance of the last, and longest piece, Lord Knows, adding a welcome and strong male performance to an epic song.
In summary, Area 51's Daemonicus has everything that makes for great neo-classical epic heavy metal: grand and sweeping arrangements with soaring vocals, vibrant keyboards, and thrilling guitar work. Catch this one if you can.
Area 51's Daemonicus has everything that makes for great neo-classical epic heavy metal: grand and sweeping arrangements with soaring vocals, vibrant keyboards, and thrilling guitar work. Catch this one if you can.