NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST – “UNLEASH” the beast

After the departure of guitarists Cazqui and Daichi NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST disappeared for a little while, but a little more than a year after their last physical release the group returns, this time with Rin as a new guitarist, and a mini-album that -based on the music video that was released earlier already- takes both us as listeners as well as the band in a completely different direction than we’re used to from these guys.

Additionally, the music video in question is for the song “Thank You” this time, and let me tell you, that’s a very sarcastic thank you.
NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST is no stranger to the concept of painfully honest lyrics, with the song “BREAK THIS FAKE” basically serving as a middle finger to the online piracy of not just their music, but music in general. And “V.I.P” is almost pornography by itself, and that’s where I’m going to limit that topic for now.

Like I said, the previous guitarists are now replaced by one guitarist: Rin. And with the addition of a new member and the departure of others it’s only natural that the overall sound of the group is going to change. “UNLEASH” is no exception to this concept, but before we talk about that, let’s get into the mini-album itself first.

 

Prologue

(Music: NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST)
By now you’re probably used to the known concept that NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST use an introduction track on pretty much all of their releases, and the name of the first track suggested as much for this one already. Slowly building up the anticipation, “Prologue” prepares you for the rest of the album to “UNLEASH” itself upon it’s listeners.

 

Thank You

(Words: 尋 (Hiro) / Music: NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST)
Like mentioned in the introduction already, “Thank You” was revealed as the music video for this mini-album before the actual release date already, and it’s definitely on a fitting release name wise, because it unleashes more than just the new look of the group. It’s mainly unleashing the dismay regarding the events before this album. While vocalist 尋 (Hiro) is no stranger to using “painfully honest” lyrics, the inclusion of “Die at least three times and start your life again”, shortly followed by “Actually, die a hundred times, and dare to come back”. While it’s powerful sarcasm is unleashed towards us in a different way than the usual powerful instrumentals or loud screaming vocals the band is known for, it’s more than clear that a door has closed on at least his end, hasn’t it?

 

マッチョ オブ ザ ワールド (Macho of the World)

(Words: 尋 (Hiro) / Music: NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST)
While “Thank You” was a slower start to this mini-album, “マッチョ オブ ザ ワールド” (Macho of the World) picks up the pace and allows new guitarist Rin to show off his skills with powerful riffs, supported by 尋 (Hiro)’s more famous scream-style vocals. A new addition to this mini-album, even though they appeared in the previous song as well already, are the rap-style vocals. It’s not a style 尋 (Hiro) used before, or at least not as prominent as he uses them on this release, but the combination of these vocals and the metalcore sound for the instrumentals combine surprisingly well. It’s still a metalcore song, but it does add an extra element to stand out from the rest.

 

SHOWTIME

(Words: 尋 (Hiro) / Music: NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST)
“SHOWTIME” does honor to it’s name immediately, the tempo is slowed slightly in the instrumental department, but the vocals certainly do not follow this lead. 尋 (Hiro) showcases some of his familiar, sometimes scream-style vocals we know and love, but also makes more use of his clean vocals. Something that’s also a trend on this new release. NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST was always known as a heavier band in the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) genre, but the aesthetic of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) has been dropped almost completely for this album in both the visuals and the style, turning more into the direction of metalcore with each song.

 

Satanic Corner

(Words: 尋 (Hiro) / Music: NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST)
If you’re familiar with 尋 (Hiro)’s range in both the high and low directions when it comes to his screams, this song will bring back memories. It instantly pulls the overall tone back down to the heavier corners of the genre, but at the same time it continues the theme that was already put down by “Thank You” earlier with lyrics like “Why… Why do you always try to make me cry?”, “Aren’t you sorry to me?” and “You are (a) motherfucking bastard!” (Pardon my language by the way, and also, the “(a)” wasn’t included in the original lyrics, but this is a matter regarding grammar.) It’s not as direct as before, but it’s still in the same realm, isn’t it?
At this point “UNLEASH” is showing it’s true colors, while being the new work with a new member it also seems to serve as a way of “closing a chapter” for the members themselves. Both in subtle ways and in very obvious ways.

 

hPa

(Words: 尋 (Hiro) / Music: NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST)
While the album as a whole has been going more into the metalcore direction genre wise, “hPa” reverts back to a formula that is more than familiar for NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST as a group. While the instrumental focus has been on the guitars primarily throughout their career, the drums have also played a very important role in their overall sound, and “hPa” makes use of this formula. Shoving the drums and bass to the front as the main instruments while the guitar moves to the background, but only slightly.
But it’s not just the instrumentals that sound familiar style wise, it’s also 尋 (Hiro)’s vocals themselves, switching between the clean vocals, screams, growls and lower vocals 尋 (Hiro) shows his versatility as a vocalist who is more than fitting for this type of sound.
As a measurement unit “hPa” is often used to measure air pressure, and the hPa for “hPa” is on the heavier side of variable due to the different vocals combined with the heavier but oh so familiar drums and bass sound this song brings.

 

少年時代 (Shounen Jidai)

(Words: 尋 (Hiro) / Music: NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST)
While “UNLEASH” has unleashed itself upon us as listeners up until this point with it’s overall high speed and painfully honest lyrics, the final song on the album is very much a throwback to an earlier time in their career. (Not too surprising, because the title means “boyhood” in English.)
“少年時代” (Shounen Jidai) throws everything that was thrown down by the rest of the mini-album straight out of the window with a ballad that’s “soft” for NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST terms, a real throwback to the “boyhood” time of their band when their sound was … completely different, honestly.
Is it a fitting ending for “UNLEASH”? In my opinion no. It feels like the “obligatory ballad” that was added at the end to complete the tracklist and make it a mini-album instead of a single, but it is one of the better ballads the group has released throughout their career.

 

Conclusion

I’ve referenced it various time in this review already, but something was definitely unleashed with this album. It seems a lot of frustration has gone into this release, but also some form of relief that this frustration is now “gone”.
What happened within the group last year is extremely sad, and I personally expected that the band would announce their disbandment because of it. But instead 尋 (Hiro), Masa and Natsu decided to push through and come back with a new guitarist as well as a new, fresh image for themselves with a heavier sound at the core. Even though the “visual” style has been dropped almost entirely I don’t think this group should rely on the visual aesthetic in the first place. With or without the flashiness that the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) scene is so well known for, NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST will find their way into the heavier side of the music industry regardless.

… Although…
Normally I would wrap up the conclusion then and there, but before this review was finished some new … developments … took place. The guys were getting ready to go on a tour to promote their new release, but then word came out that their new guitarist Rin was arrested! He was caught with cannabis, which is a serious felony in Japan. (I’m from The Netherlands myself, I don’t think I have to explain you about the tolerance here.)
Regardless, Rin was fired from the group almost immediately after this news, the tour was canceled in it’s entirety and the band’s YouTube and social media channels also pulled back on the promotion of “UNLEASH”.

It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that this news hit the members hard, because they immediately retreated back into the shadows once again. We can only hope that the group will get over this enormous setback as well, and find the will to continue within themselves. Only time will tell if there will be another comeback of NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST in the future or not.

 

Release information

Are you interested in supporting the band by getting your own copy of the release? Here is something to get you started:

UNLEASH

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)

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

Note: Normally I would have included the music video for “Thank You” in this review, but because of the band pulling this video from their official channel I have decided to respect their decision and not include it this time for that reason. If you wish to see it, you’ll unfortunately have to search for it yourself…

 

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