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Ningen-Isu - Sakura No Mori No Mankai No Shita CD (album) cover

SAKURA NO MORI NO MANKAI NO SHITA

Ningen-Isu

 

Heavy Prog

3.05 | 2 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I'll begin this review with a disclaimer. If you are looking for PROGRESSIVE rock or heavy PROG then you will likely be disappointed with this album that I have rated with three stars. Ningen Isu are described as a stoner metal/doom metal/hard rock/progressive rock band and you can add to that from what I gather from reviews elsewhere that they are also a bit psychedelic on some albums. Yes, the prog factor is raised depending on the album, and even the album before this one, which I reviewed on PA, leans a bit more in that direction than this album. So, if you are looking for something truly in the prog camp, move along. If, however, you enjoy a good bit of stoner metal that harkens back to the glory days of Budgie and Black Sabbath, read on'

'Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita' (Beneath the Full Bloom of the Cherry Blossom Forest) is the second full-length album by the Japanese heavy rock/heavy metal power trio, Ningen Isu. Though the band's style is still very much rooted the early years of heavy rock, the sound of the guitars is a little more updated from the debut.

The opening track, 'Bakudan Shinkohkyoku' (Bomb Marching Song) is simply a straight up heavy rocker that charges furiously. The opening riff alone convinced me that this was a band I would love. There is a breakdown in the middle that emulates a rudimentary marching song but it seems to be executed in an intentionally exaggerated way in order to fit the intensity of the rest of the song.

'Yuutsu Jidai' (Depression Period) features a really groovy bass and guitar riff and a bluesy acoustic guitar solo. There's also that retro call and response between the bass and drums and the lead guitar.

'Tokyo Bondage' is yet another grooving, heavy rock number. In a rare English interview I read on The Metal Observer, band members Shinji Wajima and Ken'ichi Suzuki stated that they usually try to find the groove in the riff. As such, many of their songs really capture that essence of Black Sabbath, Budgie and even early Pentagram or Bang.

The songs on this album go a bit further into metal territory than the debut, something you'll notice on 'Yuigonjoh Hohsoh' (Testament Broadcast) which is quite a speedy hard rocker or 'Kokoro no Kaji' (Fire of the Heart - in this case 'fire' meaning like a house fire), which is speedy and heavy enough to sound like Anvil or early Anthrax. It does have a cool middle part that resembles something from a Wolfmother album. The closing track, 'Taiyoh Kuroten' (Sun Blackspot) crosses slow and heavy Black Sabbath-like riffs with a speedy, almost thrash middle part.

Songs that stand out for offering something not totally in the heavy metal camp are 'Sumo no Uta' (The Sumo Song) because it begins with a traditional Japanese hand drum that is played like one might hear in the sumo ring (?) maybe (?); 'Kohjohsenjoh no Maria' (Maria of the Thyroid Gland? I'm not sure what that song is about!) because it is picked clean electric guitar and vocals only; and 'Yasha ga Ike' (Pond of the Yasha, them being Buddhist guardian deities according to Weblio). This track features acoustic guitar and I think shakuhachi (a traditional Japanese flute) or some kind of flute and is played more like an old traditional Japanese ditty for the first 2:20 before a strummed acoustic guitar makes the song more uplifting and positive. Drums and clean electric guitar come in and add colour. Then from 3:30, from the left channel, the heavy band fades in and soon it becomes like an early-eighties metal- inspired track, similar to early eighties Loudness, I think.

Yes, the prog factor sounds rather low on this one. Perhaps Rick Beato would be able to tell me about some unusual chords, chord structures, or time signatures. But for me this is just a really good heavy rock album. I rate it three stars for Prog Archives, though I will point out that it is not as interesting with regards to heavy prog as the debut album, "Ningen Shikkaku".

FragileKings | 3/5 |

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