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Blood Stain Child - Cyberia review


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

01. Unreal World
02. 24H Party
03. Tonight→Delight
04. Epic Over
05. Origami
06. Cyber Shogun
07. Dancing Shikabane
08. Ai Ai Ai
09. Don't Stop Your Life
10. Stone∴Circle

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 fell 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 Cyberia, Blood Stain Child are going all-in on the cyber/trance influences, infusing plenty of EDM into their songwriting. Now, εpsilon is probably the closest I’ve heard a band get to consistently nailing a electronica/pop-metal fusion, but it’s worth considering that as flippantly as ‘electronic metal’ and ‘pop metal’ are used as descriptions for any metal that has lots of synths and catchy choruses, both electronic music and pop music are enormous genre umbrellas encompassing a smorgasbord of different approaches. As it is, Cyberia differs significantly from εpsilon in its take on such an approach, and not for the better.

I’ve reviewed the companion album Metalia, and while doing so I mentioned that the male singing on that album was probably its weakest point. However, the problems I had with those vocals in that setting are exacerbated at times on this album, such as with the spoken word/rapped approach in opening song “Unreal World” that is reminiscent of a style that was used far too often in bad 90s Euro-pop. This song in general differs drastically in approach to the band’s earlier work, eschewing their usual fast tempos for mid-tempo, cheesy, bottom-rung EDM and a bland chorus. Blood Stain Child aim to write trance metal, and there is some distortion and a guitar solo in the second half, but it feels rather disconnected to the rest of the track.

It’s an opener that really sets one’s expectations low for the album to follow; coming straight afterwards, “24H Party”, ups the tempo and brings back a bit of the energy that the band have typically had in the past while balancing the electronics and metal more effectively, even if the writing itself is overly cheesy. It’s not a great rendition of pop metal, but it’s passable for people really keen on the trancecore sound; however, the clean vocals from male singer Sadew and the (from what I can see, unidentified) female singer trade off consistently throughout, and the discrepancy in quality between the two of them has really emphasized how big a drop in quality returning vocalist Sadew is compared with Sophia or any of the other singers the band recruited in the interim.

Moving further forwards into Cyberia, the consistent feeling I have is how tacky many of the songs sound. Although εpsilon used trance synths, there was something to the pop approach on there that felt closer to J-pop than any similar pop I’m familiar with in Europe, and for that or whatever other reason, the catchiness on that album felt charming and authentic, which contributed a lot to that album’s appeal. Here, the writing feels like it draws too much from mediocre turn-of-the-millennium Eurodance, and that is a very questionable source of inspiration. There’s a fair number of rank clangers on Cyberia, including “Tonight→Delight” (the spoken word verses are particularly terrible, but the chorus is garish and the attempts to incorporate metal unsuccessful) and “Cyber Dragon” (which is a horrible synthesis of bad synth beats, erratic cyber glitches, and painful attempts at screamed rapping), but the writing throughout is singularly unenjoyable.

It's hard to find anything much to compliment Cyberia for; there’s a few moments in the final 2 songs in the form of synth melodies, guitar bits or key changes that could maybe be turned into good songs with a lot of reworking, but that’s about the best of it. I feel like out of all metal genre fusions, ‘pop metal’ is the one that most frequently goes wrong (likely because a lot of metal musicians don’t know how to write pop well), but Blood Stain Child were once a band that managed to pull it off remarkably well; unfortunately, that is very much no longer the case.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 5
Songwriting: 3
Originality: 6
Production: 6

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

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