Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – gritty emotional rock never died, especially at the hands of coldrain’s ‘Vena’.
Like it or not, Japanese contributions to the rock and metal genres are often over-hyped. Crossfaith this, Babymetal that, coldrain the other. Compared to their western counterparts, however, it’s easy to blindly ignore the toil and brand management involved in the construction of a Japanese hit. However, taken objectively, coldrain’s fourth studio effort proves to be a carbon copy of their predecessors with an added advantage of hindsight and smart marketing.
Beyond the eventless brevity of chaotic opening title track, vocalist Masato Hayakawa pours every ounce of anguish behind melodic cleans and suffering screams throughout ‘Wrong’, just the start of a cleverly produced record depicting the damage of a broken heart and a broken mind. Instrumental blueprints laid by their Hopeless Records neighbours The Used burst through the distortion-laden ‘Divine’, while the sassy and dominant ‘Pretty Little Liar’ stands tall despite drawing more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned’s ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’.
Innovating at least one thing, the instant groove-inducing claps of ‘Gone’ somewhat unexpectedly herald a traditionally gritty rock ethos, lamenting giving itself away to a love that walked away. Similarly, but with much more appropriate tact, ‘Words of the Youth’s blood-curdling screams and heart-wrenching melodic cleans become pliable in the hands of guitarist Yokochi‘s captivating fretwork.
Facing its proverbial demons head-on, ‘The Story’ showcases Masato’s multi-faceted talents, making an assured declaration that emotions will no longer remain the rulers of their lives. Whether this is to be taken literally or not lies in its successor, ‘Whole’ – subdued, heartfelt and conflicted to the last. Introducing a techy infusion through ‘Runaway’, Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix makes a guest appearance that feels as if he was the missing piece to the puzzle all along – a force for cementing their style, forging an anthemic ode to the emotional last chance saloon.
Carrying the weight of its responsibility on its shoulders, their demographic becomes the focal point of ‘Heart of the Young’ as Masato wraps his chops around a larger than life melody, while its follow-up ‘Fire in the Sky’ presents an authoritative call to arms which holds its purpose close to its chest – “We’ll keep on dreaming til we die, so don’t you even try to stop us.”
Despite harbouring lyrics that wouldn’t exactly sound out of place on the next One Direction chart-topper, coldrain haven’t done a bad job here. But in the words of ‘Whole’, “say what’s on your mind now, before it’s too late.” With that in mind, here goes nothing – might want to ease off on the Used rip-off.
’Vena’ by coldrain is released on 23rd October on Hopeless Records.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)