Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Imari Tones - Jesus Wind
   
Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock Produced By: Tak Nakamine & Imari Tones
Record Label: Kitchen Knife Records Country Of Origin: Japan
Year Released: 2017 Artist Website: Imari Tones
Tracks: 15 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 63:22

Imarit Tones - Jesus Wind

A common sentiment during the evaluation of Jesus Wind, the Imari Tones fifth full-length album from the fall of 2017: I like Jesus Wind, a lot.  There is nothing really wrong with it; however, I do not love it either, as in give it a grade in the 85% to 90% range love it.  But that is beyond the point, and all critical analysis aside, what really stands out about Imari Tones is how it is the first Christian metal band from Japan.  Let that settle in for a moment - Imarii-Tones-The-First-Christian-Metal-Band-From-Japan - and this Yokohama based power trio is convinced of its dual role to “reach beyond their culture to make the music they love, and to reach beyond their music to bring Jesus into their culture” (as taken from the Imari Tones press material).

Further insight from the 75% Angelic Warlord review of the group’s previous album from 2014, Revive The World:

According to Wiki, Japan remains one of the most secular nations in the world, with roughly only 500,000 Protestant Christians out of its population of 130 million, which translates to less than 1% in comparison.  In the face of such daunting numbers, a Christian band from Japan is significant in and of itself.  Consider as a result the potential and opportunity for Imari Tones to reach people, particularly in light of its ultimate goal of “making stellar heavy metal music” and to “see their native Japan embrace Christianity”.  Imari Tones best sums up said mission in the following regard: “This world needs a healing. A spiritual healing. We need more Love, not Hate. So this is our spiritual healing in (a musical) form”. 

Jesus Wind factors into this equation as a concept album that focuses on Japanese history from a Christian point of view.  In terms of specifics, the album consists of three parts: Past, Present and Future.  Past focuses on the Samurai code and the Christian influence on early Japanese Buddhism (Google it), while Present deals with World War II and Japan’s economic growth over the last century.  Future comes across dramatic as it details a spiritual revelation and eventual discovery of genuine faith in Japan.

Musically, Jesus Wind represents a change for the group from how it distances itself from the progressive leanings of earlier releases, with their similarities to Rush and Yes, and embraces a joining of straightforward heavy metal and commercial melodic metal.  It initially impresses as bloated with its 15-song track listing, but such a high number of songs also prove necessary in light of a storyline that chronicles literally hundreds of years of history.  Lone downside, on the other hand, is it can make for a cumbersome listen when factoring the volume of material at hand.

Good measure of the problem revolves around the fact Jesus Wind, despite not being exclusive to any chaff or filler, encompasses songs mostly in the above average to very good range.  No, nothing wrong with that, but the album also might be easier to digest - and this goes a long ways towards my ultimately liking but not quite loving Jesus Wind - if it were exclusive to a few more cuts that reached out and grabbed me as above the line great.  That said any 15-song album of which each one is at minimum good is by no means worthy of complaint either!

Instead of one of my standard track-by-track breakdowns, I thought it would work best to break things down by the three time-periods in which the album covers and devote several paragraphs to each.

Past

Jesus Wind opens with one of its heavier cuts in “Jee-You” (meaning Jesus You) to walls of Judas Priest like rhythm guitars and ample doses of showy lead guitar from founding member (and also lead vocalist) Tak Nakamine.  Lone complaint is the slightly ‘off’ feel to backing vocals, a particularly inherent to more than one track here.

Taking a lighter but more melodic heading is “Dying Prophet”, upping energy exponentially while basking in catchy hooks galore, and “God’s People”, slower and bluesy with an animated bass line and plenty of smooth falsettos from Tak.  These two walk a fine line between classic eighties metal and melodic hard rock.

In similar fashion, “Saint’s Seeking Salvation” reinforces the melodic but in a frenetically moving and relentless package and “Bushido” a heavier direction as a sinewy rhythm section and tons of underlining groove play manifold roles.  Do I detect a hint of Bride either way?

Impression left by the albums first part is strengths, referencing guitars and bass, and weakness, noting muffled feel to drums in terms of production.

Present

Imari Tones mellows to AOR territory on first two ‘Present’ cuts “The War” and “The Peace”.  Former blithely maneuvers its length to copious bass and atmospheric guitars in lending an intrepid tone (backing vocals again come across somewhat awkward), while latter lights further with its acoustic lacings and upbeat guitar harmonies (and hints of Bloodgood’s Rock In A Hard Place in the process).  Distinct to both are ample stretches of Tak’s delectable soloing. 

Short (1:10) acoustic instrumental “Remembrance” forms a bridge between the mellower opening ‘Present’ tracks and heavier rocking sentiments to those that follow.

The group returns to melodic hard rock territory on “The Wave”, a front to back hook driven energy burst in which guitars and rhythm section playfully contest to establish a mirthful scene.  Hassy leads the way instrumentally with his dogged bass lines.  Likewise, “When The Nation Falls” touches upon similar musical leanings with an every bit upbeat mentality but greater guitar fortitude in comparison.  Nice backbone provided by timekeeper Jake.

Future

“This Is How Freedom Dies” opens ‘Future’ as an instrumental in which ethereal guitars carry its two and a half minute length.

First vocal cut “Repent” sustains the melodic sentiments, starting to a drum solo before slicing its length to up-tempo hooks as Tak reveals the full breadth to his classic tenor voice.  One reviewer that suggested his vocal abilities as merely ‘serviceable’ understates his abilities.

“Don’t Stop Walking” finds Imari Tones revisiting its previous progressive ways.  The song opens its first minute and a half instrumentally to airy guitars and expansive bass only to maneuver its final two to catchy guitars riffs and albums best produced backing vocals.  I wish there were a few more outside the box tracks like this here.

‘Future’ closes its final two tracks in AOR-ish to melodic hard rock fashion.  “Revolution” fades in to clashing symbols before drifting its remaining mid-paced distance in inviting fashion, only picking up momentum for its energetic instrumental moments.  “New Jerusalem” contrasts with its upbeat proclivities, joyously racing its distance as carefree guitars and the bands vibrant energy decorate the backdrop.

Typically, I do not go into detail regarding lyrics to concept albums for fear of giving away any possible storyline, but with Jesus Wind, however, concept is historical based so there is no real story in which to give away.  Hence, I thought it would be a good idea to touch upon lyrics to one song off each of the albums separate parts. 

“Bushido”:

This sword is my life
That's why I won't use it in vain
It's not brave to fight and kill
The real valiance is to know the time to die

We knew it since the beginning
There was no chance to win
Samurai is made to endure everything
Take it as it is and don't say a word
We pick our life in our death
That's the spirit of Bushido!

“The Wave”:

I always wondered what the end of the world would look like
It's such a shame that I have no one to show it
Yes we've been sleeping in the fabricated story
I got to start my clock again to get a hold of reality

On that day you shouldn't go back to your house to take anything out
People in Judea you better run to a mountain
Just like Noah's age, it shall happen again
Those who try to save their lives, they will lose them

“Repent”:

Fallen! Babylon has fallen
Now she's the home of the evil spirits
We're all drunk with her filthy wine
She's ruled over the kings of the earth

Repent!  Follow the Lamb of God
Blessed are the ones who die in Faith
Repent!  Listen to what the Spirit says
You will have the victory,
New name, crown of life, and morning star

Jesus Wind adds up to a well deserved 80% review.  Nothing in which to complain in that each of its 15 tracks is at a bare minimum good (consistency stands out in this regard) while band performance remains spot on (I have only good things to say regarding Tak’s guitar playing).  I appreciate equally how the albums concept takes a panoramic view of Japanese history.  Lone constructive comment is the lack of material that impresses (at least to these ears) as above the line great.  That said, best manner in which to summarize would be to say Jesus Wind is an overall good, solid album otherwise without flaw I can see those into any form of straightforward to melodic metal embracing.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Jee-You” (4:55), “Dying Prophet” (4:57), “God’s People” (5:04), “Saints Seeking Salvation” (4:33), “Bushido” (3:18), “The War” (6:16), “The Peace” (4:33), “Remembrance” (1:17), “The Wave” (4:34), “When The Nation Falls” (4:41), “This is How Freedom Dies” (2:31), “Repent” (5:06), “Don’t Stop Walking” (3:30), “Revolution” (4:19), “New Jerusalem” (3:48)

Musicians
Tak Nakamine - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Hassy - Bass
Jake - Drums

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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