Metal Storm logo
Blood Stain Child - Metalia review


19 users:
Band: Blood Stain Child
Album: Metalia
Style: Trancecore, Melodic death metal
Release date: May 2024

01. Quintessa
02. Omniverse
03. Wild Horizon
04. Morning Star
05. Estrella
06. Devil's Twilight
07. Night Sky
08. Moonfall
09. Digital Forest
10. Back To The Planet

The whole ‘releasing a double album/releasing two albums that each focus on a different aspect of a band’s sound’ concept is one that’s had contrasting outcomes across the history of metal. Not every attempt needs to be at the level of Deliverance/Damnation, but Blood Stain Child have rather missed the mark here.

I first encountered this Japanese group quite far into a stylistic evolution that developed across multiple albums; their first couple of albums that firmly into extreme power/melodeath territory, with obvious influence from Children Of Bodom and In Flames, but 2007’s Mozaiq shook things up by incorporating elements of trance. 2011’s εpsilon took this fusion to a whole new level, throwing in additional J-pop and other influences while recruiting a new vocalist in Sophia; the end result was an incredibly catchy and energetic album that nailed the ‘pop metal’ concept better than any other I can think of. Blood Stain Child seemed destined to become a widely popular ‘guilty pleasure’ band like Amaranthe or Babymetal (even if ‘guilty pleasure’ undersells the quality of the songwriting on εpsilon), but Sophia’s departure the next year has been followed by a period in which both the rate and quality of their output dried up. While two new albums on the same day have gone some way to counteracting the low volume of new music from the band, sadly the question of quality remains unaddressed.

As mentioned in the beginning, these two records are companion records prioritizing different sides of their style; in the case of Metalia, it is that extreme power/melodeath heritage that they’re focusing on. This is fairly consistent with the approach on Amateras, the one album they’ve released in the 13 years between εpsilon and these new records, which dialled down the trancecore and poppiness. However, Metalia represents a new direction for the group in its use of symphonic arrangements to lend the music an epic feel.

As to how well they accomplish this, the choirs, synths and glitching electronics on opening song “Quintessa” are fairly par for the course for sci-fi concept metal in this vein, but offer some fleetingly catchy moments. They’re more memorable than the metal side at least, which makes little impact outside of a decent solo near the end, and becomes nigh-on inaudible during the chorus due to the sound mix. “Omniverse” is far more on the money when it comes to exciting, hooky riffs and guitar leads, with that melodeath heritage coming through strongly on what is probably the standout song on Metalia (despite the somewhat awkwardly spliced-in mid-section that only feels loosely tethered to the rest of the track).

Across the remainder of the album, the writing frequently tends to prioritize one side over the other. “Wild Horizon” brings the choirs and electronics (as well as some flutes) in abundance for what feels very much like a soundtrack-style song, while “Night Sky” lays the trance synths on heavily, taking the album the closest it gets to trancecore. On the flip side, “Morning Star” and “Estrella” bring the speed and aggression that is fitting for their more overtly melodeath riffs. The two contrasting approaches don’t feel particularly disconnected from one another, so as a collective experience, Metalia sounds fairly cohesive. Unfortunately, that’s about the most it’s got going for it.

There’s two tiers to the issues that I have with Metalia. The former lies with its lack of hooks or memorability; as much as a lot of the attention towards εpsilon was due to the trancecore and pop hooks, Blood Stain Child also managed to write some very solid and satisfying melodeath riffs on it, in addition to the albums preceding it, but that’s not really been carried over to either Amateras or now Metalia. Outside of the aforementioned “Omniverse”, the only songs that really offer much to get stuck in your head are “Morning Star” and brief moments in “Back To The Planet”. Otherwise, most of the tracklist is very lacking in impact; the aforementioned issues with the mixing may be partly to blame for this, since there’s multiple other instances of vocals and synths just drowning out the guitars (see also “Devil’s Twilight”), but the writing in general is just subpar.

That by itself is enough to make Metalia an underwhelming listen; what brings it closer to disaster is its range of vocals. While εpsilon featured only Sophia’s clean singing alongside rasping extreme vocals, their albums either side have had male clean vocals courtesy of Sadew (who left the group between 2010 and 2018). Metalia and Cyberia have the harsh vocals, Sadew’s cleans, and also clean singing from a (from what I can see, uncredited) female vocalist. The female singer only features on a portion of the songs, and her contributions are typically lacking in impact, but it is the male clean singing that really sinks Metalia as a potentially enjoyable listening experience. Above anything else, the tone of his singing is not pleasant to listen to here, but on top of that, there’s too many moments where the singing straight-up sounds off-key, such as in the chorus of “Devil’s Twilight” or during “Moonfall”. The combination of the sound of the voice and the out-of-tune singing is really hard to enjoy, and the prevalence throughout the album of this singing is an even greater obstacle.

I’ve carried a soft spot for Blood Stain Child since I first heard εpsilon, but nothing they've produced since has been in the same postcode of quality. The vocals are a major issue that the band need to tackle if they want to make satisfying music once more going forward, but even looking beyond that, it’s hard to justify the decision to release two full albums when the songwriting isn’t good enough to make even half of one of those albums exciting to listen to.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 4
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 6
Production: 5

Written on 16.05.2024 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 3   Visited by: 87 users
16.05.2024 - 21:55
I take it this is no Ryujin or Nemophila. I've followed Blood Stain Child also since their 2011 and - as much as I dig them for a mostly casual listen - other Japanese melodeath *KER-ImperialCircusDeadDecadence-choo!!sorryALLERGYSEASON* are certainly of a higher standard than the regard I generally hold BSC in...

edit: ok I'm not gonna say this guy's Chris Barnes-bad but... while the female vocals are just fine - this guy sounds like he's voicing a muppet than doing any kind of metal or even rock vocals... his voice, especially when laid bare bereft of instrumental backing - his shakey, pitchy to downright out-of-key cleans straddle the line of unintentional hilarity... his rough vox are relatively fine, n the music is a bit unfocused n goofy... entertaining enough but sometimes for dubious reasons... but it's not leaning enough into silliness for it to succeed on that front, either
No one can fend off 100 multi-colored Draculas
17.05.2024 - 11:39
Both these albums are horrid sounding....
18.05.2024 - 01:26
Yikes, I've recently found Blood Stain Child and have really enjoyed albums like Epsilon but..... the reviews and comments on this album don't paint a pretty picture to say the least.

Hits total: 1279 | This month: 38