Aruta – Bass/Vocals
Han-Nya – Drums
Shinkai – Guitars/Programming
Ryoji – Vocals/Guitars/Keyboards
01. Far Eastern Land
02. Asian Chaos
03. Eastern Spirits
04. King Kamuy
05. Dragon Calling
07. Japanese Elegy
08. The Rising Dragon (Reiwa – feat. Marc Hudson)
09. The White Territories
10. 1945 Hiroshima
11. Asian Chaos (Far Eastern Mix)
12. Chopin Revolutionary Étude (Bonus Track)
Self styled as a Japanese “northern, nostalgic metal band” Gyze have been putting out technically proficient power metal since 2009.
Initially performing under the moniker Suicide Heaven, they changed their name to Gyze after the 2011 earthquakes in Tōhoku; since then, they have continued to produce a sound every bit as dramatic and formidable as the resulting tsunamis that prompted their name change.
Significantly, for those who may be looking for something a little extra to pique their interest, Gyze’s brand of metal is peppered with traditional Japanese folk influences. There is a conscious effort here to fuse their hi-gain shredding with the ancient sounds of the musicians’ homeland. In amongst the riffs, Gyze have made use of Gagaku, a traditional, orchestral sound that has its roots in centuries-old Buddhist practice. Among the sweeping guitar passages, you will hear flutes, percussion and strings. It’s an admirable effort to create something that is genuinely original, and by Ryoji Shinomoto’s (vocals/guitar) own account, it sets Gyze apart from a swathe of Japanese bands who are trying to recreate the sounds of western metal.
From the start it is clear that these orchestral influences have been liberally applied. The opening fanfare of Far Eastern Land could have been lifted from an epic cinema soundtrack. It is a majestic opening that initially holds back its heavy metal attack, opting instead to build it in via an extended, melodic solo that crescendos into the pummelling title track.
Asian Chaos sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s a speed metal thrash-out that showcases Gyze as significantly accomplished musicians. If you enjoy bands like DragonForce (singer Marc Hudson makes a guest appearance) and Hammerfall for their demanding performances, delivered with deft proficiency, then you will find much to get your teeth into here.
Ryoji’s aggressive vocal delivery is offset with plenty of melodic guitar work, and the solos are peeled off with jaw-dropping dexterity. It’s breathless stuff.
One reservation I do have is that up until the middle of the album, the band sound a little straight-faced. With all the cross genre fusion activity going on, I’d hope the band would sound a little more like they are having fun… which they eventually do, but it takes a few tracks before they shake off their earnest presentation. Once they hit a more playful gear, tracks like Dragon Calling and Camellia really take off and stand out as highlights.
Overall the band should be applauded for using their musical prowess to deliver an album that is not only chock full of impressively furious flourishes and arrangements, but also genuinely offers a unique take on the thrash/speed metal genre.
It won’t be for everyone. But, if dragons, samurai legends and rampant power metal gets your adrenaline up, then this should nestle quite nicely into your collection.