Iâll admit that my knowledge of the Japanese metal scene is somewhat limited. Occasionally Iâll have a look at obscure power metal bands that are whispered around the internet as âthe best thing to come out of Japan since ninjasâ but Iâm only really aware of the weird, genre spanning monster that is Dir En Grey and overlords of the slightly worrying metal/hip hop/idol genre Babymetal. In fact, it was on one of Babymetalâs hilarious videos that I first heard of Blood Stain Child, pitched in the comments as an alternative that didnât include the exploitation of pre-pubescent girls.
Blood Stain Child are primarily known for their relatively unique trance metal sound, mixing melodic death metal in the style of Soundtrack To Your Escape era In Flames with the synths and electronics of trance. If youâve ever listened to Silent Descent youâve got the basic idea behind their approach down, but if you havenât the nearest points of comparison are probably Sonic Syndicate or Amaranthe â purveyors of pretty catchy but not particularly heavy or compulsive melo-death. Fortunately Blood Stain Child donât have the same sort of throwaway quality that those bands do, thereâs enough going on and enough variation on their central theme to keep you interested throughout the album. They are at their most compelling when they really drop the hammer like they do in âLa+â. Driving guitars compete with frantic synths for dominance in the mix before opening up into the eye of the storm â a chorus which provides a moment of respite before the next verse crashes into your face. Sure, itâs still not massively heavy, but it gets the job done. Theyâre also pretty good in the more chilled out tracks like ‘Merry-Go-Round’, which is more J-Rock anthem than mosh pit fare.
The band has an intriguing twin vocal approach, but unfortunately it isnât completely successful. Bassist Ryo has a good line in screams but recently departed vocalist Sophia suffers from having her voice excessively Auto-Tuned and vocodered throughout the album. Itâs a real shame, the electronics choke all feeling out of her vocals and when they temporarily release their stranglehold like they do in the verses of âDedicated to VIOLATORâ you can hear that they are completely unnecessary.
All in all, Epsilon is a successful continuation of Blood Stain Childâs experimentation on their hybrid child. I wouldnât call it essential, but in my increasingly homogenised iTunes library it stands out as pleasingly distinct. If youâre up for hearing a slightly different method of injecting melody into death metal and can put up with the kind of overengineered female vocals that fill the charts then you should definitely give it a try.