鬼 (Oni) by Deviloof

After their very first album having it’s release in November of 2017 a lot of things happened in the lineup of the band. This album is the first full release with the new lineup, and you can definitely hear some differences opposed to the previous album in sounds and style.
The album only came in one edition, which we’ll call “regular” for convenience because it only has a CD despite the album having not one, but two music videos: one for 拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku) and one for Dusky-Vision.
Aside from that the previous single “開花” (Kaika) has also been included onto this album, but as a re-recording.


Tracklist (CD):

01. 拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku)
02. 「開花」 ~鬼の巻~ (「kaika」~oni no maki~)
03. 孤独死 ~鬼の巻~ (Kodoku shi ~oni no maki~)
04. -妖- (-Yo-)
05. アイシテクダサイ (Aishitekudasai)
06. Dusky-Vision
07. Murderous impulse
08. -惑- (-Noun-)
09. 蜘蛛の糸 (Kumo no ito)
10. Creepy
11. 流転 (Ruten)


拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku)
(Composed by 桂佑 (Keisuke), lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
The album immediately throws you into the deep end with one of the two tracks that are actually used for the music videos as well. The song starts off very ominous before it slowly picks up a heavier pace with the guitars and drums in the foreground and eventually 桂佑 (Keisuke)’s vocals join in as powerful as ever, highlighting his range with both his familiar low screams and his just as familiar high screeches throughout the entire song, all while maintaining a heavy undertone throughout.
If you are familiar with the previous releases of Deviloof you might pick up that the overall vibe of this release is different right from the first song already: mostly because of the addition of new 7-strings guitarist 愛朔 (Aisaku) and drummer 幹太 (Kanta) who each bring their own style and influence into the band’s sound and thus changing it slightly. In this case it results in a perfectly arranged composition that is one of the heaviest, yet melodic works by Deviloof so far. It especially highlights 桂佑 (Keisuke)’s voice in a very unique way and gives him new opportunities to try out new things, like a very fast-spoken section which is amazingly well executed. (I really wonder how many re-takes this took, because it certainly is an impressive feat and a tongue twister in the voice he uses for it.)
The music video for this song plays out into the dark woods, giving an ominous vibe to the already ominous introduction to the song itself. Three bodies have been brought to the woods in garbage bags, and are eventually burned by the end of the song while the members show off how well they have mastered the visual kei influence in their looks, but maintain their heavy grindcore sound regardless.

「開花」 ~鬼の巻~ (「kaika」~oni no maki~)
(Composed by 桂佑 (Keisuke) & Seiya, lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
The first of the two songs from the previously released 開花 (Kaika) single. Right when the song starts you’ll notice this is a re-recording of the original version released prior, and it’s hard to say if this second-take is an improvement or not. The vocals have definitely improved, but it sounds like the instruments have toned down slightly and took away a bit of the chaos that was heavily present in the original version. It will come down to a matter of preference if you’d prefer this version or the original version, but it is always interesting to see how a re-recording ends up.

孤独死 ~鬼の巻~ (Kodoku shi ~oni no maki~)
(Composed by 桂佑 (Keisuke) & Seiya, lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
Unfortunately the second track from the 開花 (Kaika) single has been added right after the first, which is a bit of a missed opportunity if you ask me. If you’re familiar with the previous single this is a bit too close to each other, it would have been less “distracting” from the new compositions if it would have been placed a few songs later onto the album, also because it’s not the fastest or the heaviest song, and could be a good song to pick up the pace of an album again.
Just like the previous track, the vocals are brough more into the foreground while the instruments slightly disappear into the background more. The growls and screams used in the song have definitely improved, but the part where 桂佑 (Keisuke) uses his regular singing voice for a brief moment suffered a bit from the re-recording, the original sounded better and more unique vocal wise.

-妖- (-Yo-)
(Composed by  Яyo Trackmaker.)
And just like that, we return back to the new compositions and new influences, where a traditional flute and guitar are thrown into the mix for a quick instrumental track spanning roughly a minute and a half of playtime. While clearly being an interlude, it still fits the theme the music video in particular for 拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku) put down very well, but it also serves for a very good intro for the next song on our list.

アイシテクダサイ (Aishitekudasai)
(Composed by 桂佑 (Keisuke) & Seiya, lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
Taking the influence of the track before it and mixing it with the “heavy” influence of Deviloof we’re familiar with, we’re presented with アイシテクダサイ (Aishitekudasai). While starting off with quite some screams and squeals from 桂佑 (Keisuke), there are also some clean vocals in the chorus which create a unique vibe that tones down the song to a more melodic song for a short period of time before picking up the pace again with the screams, growls and other unique sounds 桂佑 (Keisuke) has demonstrated over the years. It’s definitely not the heaviest song on the album, but it is one I would suggest to showcase the diversity of the band as a whole, because of the unique instruments used as well as the ability to have a decently-high paced guitar and still maintaining this to be a slower song.

Dusky-Vision
(Composed by 桂佑 (Keisuke), lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
Dusky-Vision is the other music video created for this album, and has a completely different theme than 拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku). It’s still one of the heavier tracks found on 鬼 (Oni), but also one of the more melodic ones which is closer to the works of other artists like for instance NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST due to the use of “clean” vocals throughout the song as well as the familiar growls Deviloof should be known for by now. Dusky-Vision is an easy song from the heavy metal genre to get into, and once again a great showcase of the diversity of Deviloof thanks to it’s (new) members. The guitars sound very polished this time around, and combined with the other instruments they really make the song come together as a whole.
The music video itself is still quite influenced by the many different styles of visual kei as a fashion, but at the same time a complete 180 from 拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku), which again gives the band a completely different face.

Murderous impulse
(Composed by 桂佑 (Keisuke), lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
Murderous impulse is probably the biggest “throwback” to the “Devil’s Proof” album I have heard from Deviloof thus far. And I am not the least bit disappointed in hearing so either. It’s a very polished song both in instrumentals that mix with each other perfectly, and the way the different vocals are presented. It’s just that it’s a completely different style than anything 鬼 (Oni) has presented so far, and it feels like this track was actually not fully intended to be on this album, but instead cut from the previously mentioned Devil’s Proof. Regardless, it was quite a surprise to hear something new, yet so familiar.

-惑- (-Noun-)
(Composed by  Яyo Trackmaker.)
Another interlude, this time spanning about 2 minutes of playtime. While Murderous impulse put down a certain type of sound, -惑- (-Noun-) is nothing short of being worthy as a video game soundtrack-type of composition. It immediately brings the atmosphere back to the more ominous side while still being quite melodic at the same time. In a horror game this song would create the creepiest atmosphere, which is quit the achievement.

蜘蛛の糸 (Kumo no ito)
(Composed by Deviloof, lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
蜘蛛の糸 (Kumo no ito) immediately changes what -惑- (-Noun-) just did for the atmosphere by immediately starting off as a heavy, fast-paced metal track which primarily uses growl vocals, but also very deep melodic vocals in the chorus, which does bring the speed down to a heavy, melodic metal track before picking up the pace again with one of 桂佑 (Keisuke)’s signature long growls. If the intro for the song wouldn’t have started off so abruptly, it would have been an almost seamless transition from the previous interlude into this song, which I can only imagine has a very unique live performance. As abruptly as it starts, it also ends, but it leaves you absolutely no time to process because it runs right into the next song.

Creepy
(Composed by 桂佑 (Keisuke), lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
Creepy starts off with and maintains it’s high speed from start to finish, making it one of the fastest tracks on the album instrumentally speaking. There is some influence from Devil’s Proof, but definitely not as much as Murderous impulse had earlier. Creepy is quite an aggressive song overall rather than creepy like the name suggests, but it is the embodiment of the heavier, faster style Deviloof has displayed prior. A definite must-listen for the fans of the genre.

流転 (Ruten)
(Composed by 桂佑 (Keisuke), lyrics by 桂佑 (Keisuke).)
If you are familiar with the work of neo-traditional artists like for instance 己龍 (Kiryu), 游彩 (Yusai) and 浅葱 (ASAGI) and combine this with the style of Deviloof, you pretty much have 流転 (Ruten). It combines the typical style of Deviloof with the traditional influences mostly used in the interlude tracks -妖- (-Yo-) and -惑- (-Noun-), bringing the atmosphere back to the visual style of the dark woods 拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku) initially brought you to in it’s music video and thus back to the theme 鬼 (Oni) as a word and as a folklore stands for. It’s a perfect ending for an album that threw it’s theme around a few times with it’s different styles, but still has a clear start and ending point.


Conclusion:

鬼 (Oni) as an album was quite an adventure due to the different styles used throughout the album as a whole. I’m slightly disappointed that the re-recordings of the 開花 (Kaika) single have been placed where they can be found now because it distracts quite a bit from the rest of the album, but that point aside it was an album I thoroughly enjoyed due to the ominous folklore influence combined with heavy metal and grindcore. Starting off the album with 拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku) was one of he best choices to highlight what Deviloof is all about, and including Dusky-Vision later on in the tracklist only underlines this. The album is less targeted to a specific audience than it’s predecessor Devil’s Proof was due to the more obvious presence of visual kei fashion in the music videos for this release. The use of -妖- (-Yo-) and -惑- (-Noun-) as interludes to return to that folklore and horror style was a perfect yet simple solution to bring your attention back to the main topic, and on their own they proved to be some very amazing compositions too.
If you have some spare time on your hands and are in the mood for something dark and heavy, I’d definitely recommend 鬼 (Oni) as the album to pick up. Just… Ignore the inclusion of the re-recorded 開花 (Kaika) single, since that really is the only negative point I can come up with overall.

Final score: 80/100

Release information:
Artist: Deviloof
Release: 鬼 (Oni) (album)
Release date: June 19, 2019
CD number: NIR-8

Deviloof – 拷訊惨獄 (Goujin Mugogoku) (MV):

Deviloof – Dusky-Vision (MV):

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