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Saidan - Onryō II: Her Spirit Eternal review

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Band: Saidan
Album: Onryō II: Her Spirit Eternal
Release date: April 2022

01. Kissed By Lunar’s Silvery Gleam
02. Queen Of The Haunted Dell
03. Girl Hell 1999
04. Kate
05. Pale Imitation
06. Yuki Onna
07. I Am The Witch

Ladies and gentlemen, weeb black metal!

While black metal and weaboo culture are far from isolated, it isn't that often you see a non-Japanese band handling exclusively Japanese themes. Sure, you have the odd album here and there, but having a Tennessee band making music about Japanese folk horror is quite a reach. So enjoyment of Saidan's aesthetic comes less as appreciation of Japanese culture, but a sort of second-hand appreciation of said appreciation. It's like watching a Japanese artist doing a Viking metal album, where the entire appeal is being in awe at how Viking culture is perceived. And with Japanese culture being one of the most overtly beloved overseas, Saidan's whole vibe makes a lot more sense.

And sure, Japanese folk horror is pretty well-renowned. It's not like Saidan makes music about Neon Genesis Evangelion or something. And even taking away the cover arts and the lyrics, there's very little that's actually clearly Japanese themed in Onryō II: Her Spirit Eternal. That II should set you off that there's more Saidan where this came from, but the album I feel is most relevant for the discussion is not the original Onryō EP, but Saidan's only other full length album, 2021's Jigoku. To spell things out, Saidan play raw black metal that is incredibly melodic, but Jigoku especially had a very overt J-rock influence in said melodic side. That's not completely absent on Onryō II, but it doesn't inspire as overt of a Japanese vibe. Which is a pretty good thing, I'd want Saidan to stand on its own feet musically rather than living on borrowed cultures, and that's exactly what it does.

You might remember this other very melodic raw black metal album I reviewed, and I'm getting very similar vibes here as well. Though Spider God relied on melodies literally borrowed from pop songs, further EPs showed a melodic sense that could be applied to original black metal material. And this is what we see in Onryō II too. There's not really any need to be overt in borrowing from an established sound, because Saidan has become so good at the raw/melodic contrast, in which it's not a very out-there observation to say that the melodic part is very pop. And it's all the more fantastic for it. Think about it: pop and black metal are two things that would ideally be on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. Yet, they work so marvelously well together.

Like a point that I made in that review I referenced, maybe there's some questions to be asked about the common nature of the two genres. Melodicism in metal has often tried to very clearly distance itself from actual pop, so to hear it so whole-heartedly embrace the cheesy jovial energy of pop music is still bewildering, especially on an album about ghosts and witches and curses. Where Onryō II is not in how poppy the melodies sound, because it would work really well with a more traditional melodic black metal sound, but in how organically coherent it all sounds even as such, and in how the melodies feel instantly memorable regardless of their overt euphoria.

Saidan continue to spearhead a very odd development in raw black metal, let alone black metal, let alone metal.

Written on 19.04.2022 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 112 users
19.04.2022 - 19:04
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Thanks man to sharing your bad room, is there place for 3?
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
19.04.2022 - 22:57
Rating: 7

The little blackgaze and pop punk detours mid-track give this more character than its first couple of minutes would make you expect. I can't say I picked up much Japanese influence in the instrumentation, but I did enjoy its variety
20.04.2022 - 14:44
Rating: 5

Dude got bullied out of a record deal with Inferna Profundis on Instagram and went back to JEMS. Maybe the label will feel bad for him and make him a toy with Christian metalcore riffing action.

It's pop because the dude was listening to stuff like My Chemical Romance before he discovered Lamp of Momo last year and decided he wanted to try BM. Hard pass. Won't listen, but will laugh at his social media presence.
20.04.2022 - 23:19
i c deaf people
Written by UnknownCheese on 20.04.2022 at 14:44

Hard pass. Won't listen, but will...

...dole out a low rating anyway without even having heard a single note of it?

Well, this comes as no surprise, because your average rating is a pretty clear indication that you're not here for the music. What is really surprising though is that you openly admit it.
signatures = SPAM
21.04.2022 - 17:14
Rating: 8
I really liked this, and the Spider God comparison was spot-on; Black Renditions was an entertaining idea and it got way further in its execution than those ideas usually do (or have any right to), but I know exactly two songs covered on the album so I didn't get the most out of the experience. Saidan solves that problem by just writing original material. Black metal and pop music function surprisingly well in combination and I quite enjoy this particular interpretation.
"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.

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