Blood Stain Child – Epsilon (2011)

Posted: July 4, 2011 in Music

While still trying to catch on in the United States, dance-metal is at its peak in popularity in Europe and Asia these days. We reviewed Russia’s Xe-None and their latest album Dancefloration a few months back, and today I bring you another of the genre’s current bands – Blood Stain Child.

Hailing from Osaka, Japan, Blood Stain Child has been a prominent member of the asian music scene for the last ten years, releasing five albums along the way. While classified formally as dance metal, the conversations often arise regarding their true style. Some call it cyber-metal, others say electro-melodeath metal, while many (including the band itself) refer to them as hybrid-metal-trance. Regardless what you call it, the sound combines heavy metal guitars and drums with heavy electronic elements such as synthesizers, computer generated beats, digitally distorted vocals, and the like. In the case of Blood Stain Child, the occasional sound of contemporary japanese music can be heard as well. Vocally, there are beautiful female vocals coupled with harsh, screaming male ones, creating a powerful yet beautiful combination of sound.

But such has not always been the case. When the band first formed in 2000, the sound was much more reminiscent of melodic death metal, similar in sound and style to Soilwork, In Flames, and Children of Bodom. With each album, though, the band has crawled closer and closer to an electronic/dance sound, which has resulted in the band’s latest dance metal release, Epsilon.

The metal sound still exists – to a certain degree – but the band’s current release leans far more towards the “pop” end of the spectrum than previous albums. It should come as no surprise, however. Blood Stain Child’s last release – 2007’s Mozaiq – was the first step in the process of the complete transformation to dance metal. The new album completes the process by adding the female vocals of Greece’s Sophia, who actually appears to have taken over the lead vocal duties.

The results are a mixed bag of tracks which, while re-inventing the band’s persona a bit, seem to have the ensemble in a virtual “no-man’s land” of style and sound. There are tracks here that are absolute gems (Sirius VI, Stargazer, Unlimited Alchemist, LA+), a couple of average ones (Electricity and Eternal), and a few that are so far gone from the metal sound that it defies logic (Forever Free, S.O.P.H.I.A., Moon Light Wave).

The instrumentation is strong throughout, but it seems the emphasis this time around was to showcase Sophia’s vocal stylings and to take the electronic elements over the top. For me, I would be lying if I said this was an improvement over their early sound – but change comes in many forms. Who am I to say that this isn’t the style the band likes and wants to portray? After all, it IS mildly catchy and there honestly isn’t a lot of groups out there attempting to take dance metal to the next level.

But if the band’s desire is to embrace the poppy/techno aspect of their sound, I think they would be best served throwing out the metal element all together. When it was present here, it was exceptional – but there was so much other “stuff” happening on most tracks that it got lost. Blood Stain Child has all the pieces together to be a great trance-style band, if that’s their choice. I think this album will catch on with a pretty wide audience, but for those that embrace their earlier works, I think this latest version of the band will have those fans returning to Mystic Your Heart or Idolator to get their fix.

It will be interesting to see where the band goes from here. The next album is sure to tell the tale on their direction and intent – but this one didn’t. It gives us hints that one can only guess at, but until the metal element completely disappears, I’m sticking with them – even if it’s only for a few solid tracks per album.

6/10

Tracklist:
1. Sirius VI
2. Forever Free
3. Stargazer
4. S.O.P.H.I.A.
5. Unlimited Alchemist
6. Electricity
7. Eternal
8. Moon Light Wave
9. Dedicated To Violator
10. Merry-Go-Round
11. LA+
12. Sai-Ka-No
13. Royal Sky (Exclusive Digipak Bonus Track)

http://www.amazon.com/Epsilon/dp/B0055A2M6A/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1308258100&sr=8-3

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link

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