[Review] NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST – UNLEASH

This mini-album is the first release of NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST after the departure of guitarists Cazqui and Daichi last year and them being replaced with new guitarist Rin. Thanks to the music video for Thank You being released on their YouTube channel prior to the official release of this mini-album we could get a little preview of what the new direction NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST was going to sound like. In a very harsh way, because the “Thank You” in the title was awfully sarcastic. If that was any indication for what the rest of the mini was going to be, we would be in for a ride. And a ride we got indeed.

With Rin being added to the lineup the sound of the band changed quite a bit, because of course one guitarist can’t do the work two guitarists normally do. But instead of toning it down, the band has decided to turn it up a notch with a heavier sound that goes very far into the metalcore direction due to it’s more powerful drums and bass lines, but also a guitar which compliments these. The visual kei aesthetics have been dropped almost entirely, but this doesn’t harm the band in any way and I actually hear a sound that I used to hear during the early releases of the band (like the first mini-album Ivy and the Last Relapse single following shortly after that).

Tracklist:
01. Prologue
02. Thank You
03. マッチョ オブ ザ ワールド (Macho of the world)
04. SHOWTIME
05. Satanic Corner
06. hPa
07. 少年時代 (Shounen jidai)


Prologue

(Composed by NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST.)
Sneaky, but anticipating, the opening track of the mini might make you wonder if you even hit the play button, or if your music player is muted somehow. It starts off with a heartbeat, but goes into the sound of thunder mixed with drums and a symphonic sound, all to prepare you for the rest of the album “UNLEASH”ing itself upon you.

Thank You
(Composed by NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST, lyrics by 尋 (Hiro).)
Rolling straight into track two without any moment of silence, Thank You definitely honors the title of the album in terms of how it comes at you. Despite it not being the fastest nor the heaviest song you’ll find on this release, it is powerful. Powerful in sarcasm, if anything. With lyrics like “Die at least 3 times and start your life again”, followed by “Actually, die 100 times, start again, and dare to come back” the song displays a completely different form of power than heavy instrumentals or loud screaming vocals.

マッチョ オブ ザ ワールド (Macho of the world)
(Composed by NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST, lyrics by 尋 (Hiro).)
Following immediately after Thank You ends, マッチョ オブ ザ ワールド (Macho of the world) picks up the pace and gives Rin the opportunity to showcase his guitar skills with powerful riffs before Hiro quickly joins in with his screaming type of vocals. One thing you’ll find to be more prominent here, although found throughout most of the mini, are rap-style vocals. It’s something different Hiro hasn’t used before in his previous works, but the combination of rap and metalcore has never disappointed me before, so while the metalcore is still on top, it does add an extra element to Hiro’s already impressive vocal style reportoire.

SHOWTIME
(Composed by NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST, lyrics by 尋 (Hiro).)
The moment this song starts you know exactly what time it is. It’s showtime alright. The tempo is slowed a little bit in terms of the instrumentals, but the vocals certainly are not. While Hiro showcases some familiar (sometimes scream) styles of vocals we’re already familiar with, he also reverts to the new way of him using his clean vocals, something he uses throughout this album continously.

Satanic Corner
(Composed by NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST, lyrics by 尋 (Hiro).)
If you’re familiar with how high-pitched Hiro’s screams can go, this song will bring you back immediately. Instantly pulling the overall tone back down to the heavier corners of the genre, but at the same time there are also lyrics like “Why… why do you always try to make me cry? Aren’t you sorry to me? You are (a) motherfucking bastard.” (pardon my language by the way, also the “a” between brackets wasn’t included, but it’s already impressive how much English these guys actually use in their lyrics) to show that we’re not joking around here. At this point of the mini I’m starting to wonder what was actually “unleashed” on us, the listener, because there is an insane amount of emotions and feelings that have been put in this album, especially in the lyrics department. It just takes some reading between the lines to actually see it. While clearly being more aggressive than the songs before it, there’s also the suggestion of a conversation being held, either to another individual or a mirror, but regardless, we’re only able to make out one side of this conversation.

hPa
(Composed by NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST, lyrics by 尋 (Hiro).)
Now we’re getting to some different territory. While hPa showcases vocals that we’re very familiar with from previous releases, there’s also a happier tone mixed throughout the entire song, albeit occasionally being overshadowed by Natsu’s drums. Hiro has quite some “voices” he has used throughout his career to mix it up and keep it diverse, and he’s using quite a few of them in this song, making it quite interesting to listen to.
“hPa” is often used as a measurement unit for air pressure, and I can say that the readings here are “variable” due to the switch between a lighter, high paced style and a heavier one being used constantly. Overall, it ensures that you’re being pulled into the song more easily, and it is an interesting listening experience to say the least.

少年時代 (Shounen jidai)
(Composed by NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST, lyrics by 尋 (Hiro).)
I’ve said this several times before. Every album needs a ballad. And you’ve probably guessed already at this point: this is it for UNLEASH.
The entire album Hiro has primarily used his scream- and more aggressive voices and vocal styles, but all of those go straight out of the window with this song. Being a complete throwback to earlier times of the band and overall more of a rock song than anything else, it’s a complete turnaround from the rest of the album. Almost as if it was a relief to get all of the previous songs off his chest, only to close it off with a not-sarcastic, but hidden “thank you” with this song. A surprising, but regardless fitting closure to this album.


Conclusion:

Something was definitely “unleashed” with this album. Next to a lot of hard work, it also seems a lot of frustration has gone into this release. As well as some form of relief to be able to talk about it openly. What happened last year is extremely sad, and I actually expected the band to announce their disbandment after Cazqui and Daichi officially departed. But instead, Hiro, Masa and Natsu came back even stronger. With the help of Rin they have created a new, fresh image for themselves with a heavier core sound. Even though they’ve dropped their “visual” style almost entirely, I don’t think this does any harm to the sound of the band in the slightest. Especially for Hiro, who has shown some new skills through this release. There were a few things that didn’t appeal to me personally, but even so those didn’t stand in the way of me giving this album a very positive review. With the previous release WHITEOUT still in the back of my head, UNLEASH gives the name NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST the credit it deserves in terms of being as fierce as it should be.

… Although…
That is what I originally wanted to say as a conclusion. Before I could finish this review some new … developments … took place in the world of NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST. While the guys were getting ready to kick off their new tour to promote this release, their newest addition Rin was caught by the police while in possession of cannabis. Something that is considered a serious felony in Japan. Much more than I am used to here in The Netherlands. Regardless, Rin was arrested and stepped down as a guitarist shortly after, the tour was canceled in it’s entirety last minute, and the music video for Thank You was pulled from the band’s official YouTube channel while the other social media were reverted to a mixture of old and new styles. Almost as if they wanted to forget the existence of this release entirely.
I really, really hope Hiro, Masa and Natsu will be able to figure stuff out, because they have shown a unique form of determination and potential with this release. They’ve shown that they can come back from a terrible experience, only to be punched in the face by fate yet again. All I can hope is that they see their own potential and have enough determination to go through with it despite this enormous setback. And of course, that they’ll come back even stronger than they tried to here, just now.


Final score:
85/100

Release information:
Artist:
NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST
Release: UNLEASH (mini-album)
Release date: July 24, 2019
CD number: DCCA-74

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