Sunday, July 21, 2024

Ryujin: A new name in killer Japanese power metal

Rebranding is a make or break event for most bands and Ryujin (formerly GYZE) is no exception, luckily all the powerful energy of GYZE is very much still alive and arguably stronger than ever. 

From the start, it’s very clear that Ryujin are an power metal band that holds their European influences closely without sacrificing the Japanese flair that makes them unique in the landscape of power metal. There’s a strong Children of Bodom influence that is prominent throughout the record on tracks like ‘Gekokujo’ and ‘Dragon, Fly Free’ but it always feels organic and serves the song. 

The chorus of ‘Raijin’ and ‘Fujin’ has been lodged in my brain since first hearing it as have many of the glorious melodies littered throughout this record. Ryujin is full of earworm tracks that never sacrifice intensity for easy consumption. There are some tracks that focus on being cheddar-fueled tracks designed to bore into your skull like ‘The Rainbow Song,’ a mid-tempo chugger with twinkling keyboards and infectious vocal lines that invoke the likes of Power Quest and Twilight Force. 

A personal highlight is the ballad ‘Saigo No Hoshi,’ a beautiful track full of traditional Japanese instrumentals and soulful guitar work that would feel at home on a Dream Theater record. ‘Saigo No Hoshi’ would likely work well as the main theme for an ultra-emotional and melodramatic anime theme (this particular track fits well over the Neon Genesis Evangelion intro). 

Trivium frontman, Matt Heafy, is present throughout a significant chunk of the record and the tracks he features on are some of the highlights. His presence is fairly understated but his presence is felt in the backing vocals and some of the guitar work feels a lot like Trivium, especially on tracks like ‘Guren No Yumiya’

Matt has always been upfront about his respect and admiration for his Japanese heritage and seeing him connect with it in a more direct manner is admirable and hopefully he continues to delve deeper into the Japanese metal scene in the near future. 

Metal is a genre that is free from barriers at the best of times. Language doesn’t matter as long as the riffs and the talent is there and Ryujin have both in massive supply. Ryujin seems set to be the first big record of 2024 and it’s a must listen for fans of power metal and Japanese pop culture in general. 

Ryujin is available January 12th 2024 via Napalm Records.

Lamestream Lydia
Lamestream Lydia
Self-proclaimed journalist, Progressive rock enthusiast and the most American sounding person you're ever likely to meet in the North of England

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