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POIL

RIO/Avant-Prog • France


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PoiL biography
Founded in Lyon, France in 2005

POIL were formed as an experimental rock trio by the frontman Antoine ARNERA (keyboards, voices; Le GRAND SBAM), Boris CASSONE (bass, voices), and Guihem MEIER (drums, voices; UKANDANZ). Without any limitations, prohibitions, nor traditions, they've combined raw madness and virtuosity evoking thoughts of avantgarde-progressive basis like Frank ZAPPA, classic essence like Frederic CHOPIN or Igor STRAVINSKY, and theatrical approaches like Charlie CHAPLIN according to what they say. Their debut album "L'ire Des Papes" has been released in 2008, during massive gig shower.

POIL Videos (YouTube and more)


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POIL discography


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POIL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 6 ratings
L'Ire Des Papes
2008
3.77 | 17 ratings
Dins O Cuol
2012
4.20 | 82 ratings
BrossaKlitt
2014
3.99 | 63 ratings
Sus
2019
3.84 | 29 ratings
PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda)
2023
4.30 | 9 ratings
Yoshitsune (as PoiL Ueda)
2023

POIL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

POIL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

POIL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.33 | 3 ratings
L'ire Des Papes / Dins O Cuol
2017

POIL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.40 | 5 ratings
Mula PoiL (split)
2018
3.05 | 2 ratings
Dan no ura
2021

POIL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Yoshitsune (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.30 | 9 ratings

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Yoshitsune (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars The first four albums from French avant garde outfit PoiL featured the trio of Antoine Arnera (keyboards, vocals), Boris Cassone (guitar, vocals) and Guilhem Meier (drums, vocals), but since then they have been joined by Benoit Lecomte on bass, a role previously also undertaken by Boris, but in early 2023 a new outfit came together called Poil Ueda which also includes Japanese musician Junko Ueda (satsuma biwa, vocals). Their debut self-titled release was very enjoyable indeed as they mixed European avant-garde with Japanese styles to create a new artform with two genres crashing into each other to tell a traditional Japanese tale. This time around we have the epic story of samurai hero Yo[&*!#]sune. At the naval battle of Dan-no-Ura, he brought victory to the Genji clan in the long war against the Heike clan. Yoritomo, Genji general and Yo[&*!#]sune's elder brother, suspects that our hero secretly intends to seize power, and orders his assassination. Despite Yo[&*!#]sune's heroic service and solemn oath, he and his loyal vassal Benkei are forced into exile.

Okay, I took that from the press release and have no idea if there is any information contained within the booklet in English, but what I do know is that yet again this is an album which in many ways should never work, but somehow does, brilliantly. I have been fortunate enough to hear quite a few Japanese prog albums over the years as once upon a time the Poseidon label used to send me everything they released, with my favourite probably being Quikion (their 2005 DVD is well worth grabbing). But none of them sounded like this, as here we have a well-known experimental band joining forces with a leading figure in Japanese medieval epic storytelling to create something which is quite unlike anything else around. This is not easy to listen to, and with the vocals in Japanese I have no idea what is going on so instead treat them as an additional instrument while the use of the Japanese plucked lute provides a very different and almost Buddhist feel of the music as two cultures try to work out how to combine, give up, and create something very different indeed.

This will not be to everyone's tastes, but as soon as I started listening to this, I knew it was yet another indispensable release from Dur et Doux.

 PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 29 ratings

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PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Grumpyprogfan

2 stars Definitely not for me. First tune is a one chord chant with the vocalist singing an Asian melody. Not sure if these are words in a language I don't know or not. Quite repetitive and dull. Second tune, more of the same but a bit of percussion is added. The guitar on the third track, for the first few minutes, sounds like it's a copy of something Adrian Belew did in King Crimson. Interesting at times but the vocal melodies are brutal to listen to. Fourth tune has many musical changes complete with noise and general weirdness. The grating vocals are still prevalent. Final tune is another chant.

This album is rated highly by many, but I don't get it.

 Yoshitsune (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.30 | 9 ratings

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Yoshitsune (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

5 stars PoiL is back for a second round of collaboration with Japanese musician Junko Ueda. I thought their last album?PoiL Ueda, from March of this year?would simply be a quirky, one-off thing. I was certainly hoping for more, as my one real gripe about PoiL Ueda was that, at only 31 minutes, it felt kind of short. I really liked the madcap fusion of PoiL's avant-garde RIO stylings with Ueda's singular vocal style and sharply-plucked biwa.

Yo[&*!#]sune picks up where PoiL Ueda ended, both lyrically and musically. Taking place after the naval battle described on their last album in "Dan-no-Ura", this album tells the story of Minamoto no Yo[&*!#]sune, a military commander forced into exile.

The album opens with the three-part 13-minute "Kumo". It's got an eerie, unsettling feel, with biwa, distant vocals, and slow-swelling drums. The pace picks up, and soon it's a bizarre, jittery bit with rubbery bass and plinking guitar and biwa as the main elements. Ueda's voice is as striking as ever, and the musicianship is all top-notch. Things do feel less lush than on PoiL Ueda; keyboards are less prominent here. This decision works well though, as it allows the other elements room to breathe.

Around the midpoint of this suite, things slow down a bit. Oddball guitar chords, twangy biwa, and an unusual meter converge to create a distinctive, disorienting atmosphere. Ominous synth pads emerge as the guitar gains some grit, and the tension of Yo[&*!#]sune's flight from Tokyo is palpable. PoiL's backing vocals, serving as the voices of the ghosts pursuing Yo[&*!#]sune, add to the anxiety of it all.

"Omine-san" comes next, and it's a stark shift. "Kumo"'s conclusion is sudden and jarring, and this cut opens on a slow-moving, woozy guitar line. This song develops something of a ritualistic feel, aided by a steady drumbeat and distant chimes.

"Yoshino" opens with some biwa noodling and a distant, sinister synth growl. Momentum builds, and several competing high-energy instrumental lines converge into something twisting, unorthodox, and shockingly groovy. The energy ebbs and flows, and there's a sense of trepidation to much of this song. Synths finally gain some prominence here, and I love the textural variation they provide.

Next comes "Ataka", a solo performance by Ueda. The spare arrangement is attention-grabbing, and it's a great showcase of her biwa playing style. Despite being nearly five minutes long, this piece feels much shorter.

Yo[&*!#]sune ends on the two-part "Koko". A bubbling synth tone underpins Ueda's voice in the opening movement. The first half of this piece is dedicated primarily to a build-up of momentum. There's a sense of barely-restrained kinetic energy, and when it finally bursts free, it reminds me a lot of certain Between the Buried and Me songs, just non-metallic. The playing is technical, speedy, and absolutely dizzying. Everything converges into a beautiful maelstrom of rock instrumentation and Ueda's biwa and voice.

Yo[&*!#]sune is a fantastic record. In the months since PoiL Ueda has come out, I've found myself wanting more, and this delivers exactly what I was craving. It's cohesive, it's weird, and it's exciting.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2023/11/06/album-review-poil-ueda-yo[&*!#]sune/

 PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 29 ratings

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PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 4.5 stars. This will be high on my "Best of 2023" list. I have such an appreciation for POIL a trio out of France who play such a hyper, punkish, start and stop on a dime approach to their music. All things I'm not into but they make it work for me. Well on this latest release they have brought in a female from Japan named Junko Ueda who plays satsuma biwa and chants. She is an expert on Japanese mythology and is a story teller. Her instrument is like a lute and she holds it upright usually on her lap when she plays.

I think it's so cool that they brought in NI's bass player as well, so the POIL bass player plays guitar here. A five piece! This is otherworldly music that is mysterious and the only band I thought of was BONDAGE FRUIT I believe their "II" release but only briefly. We basically get two compositions divided into sections even though each piece blends as one. This is only a 31 plus minute album.

The "Kujo Shakujo" suite to open the record is around 18 minutes and divided into three songs. A lot of repetitive chanting on this one and a ton of atmosphere at times while the powerful sections come and go. That last section features some theatrical vocals, a lot of intensity and almost overwhelming atmosphere after 6 minutes. "Dan No Ura" is over 13 minutes and divided into two parts and puts more of the focus on her satsuma biwa but again plenty of vocals and a powerful and unique sound. I mean check it out at 7 minutes. Oh my! They slow it down on part 2 but lots of depth and a powerful undercurrent.

This is different in a good way and I'm so glad I got my hands on this. Love at first listen.

 PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 29 ratings

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PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Here we have the latest project from RIO outfit PoiL, who have combined forces with Junko Ueda, a vocalist and satsuma-biwa player from Japan, to create a new work based on the 13th-century Japanese epic tale "Heike- Monogatari." Ueda is well-known exponent of Japanese medieval epic storytelling, and here we have his vocals and stylings over the top of the complex experimentation we have all come to expect from PoiL, who have now moved to a quartet with Antoine Arnera (keyboards, vocals), Boris Cassone (guitar, vocals), and Guilhem Meier (drums, vocals) bringing in Benoit Lecomte on acoustic bass. I know nothing about traditional Japanese music and even had to look up what a satsuma-biwa is (a pear-shaped lute in case you were wondering), so in many ways this album seems almost other-worldly to me.

There is no way this should work, as there are two distinct and distinctive musical style crashing into each other, but while this may seem somewhat sacrilegious to connoisseurs of the Japanese style, to my Western untrained ears this comes across as incredibly powerful indeed. "Kuj˘ Shakuj˘ - Part 3" is nothing short of a triumph with crunching and crashing RIO from a band on the top of their game somehow blending in with the Ueda to create something which is driving, dynamic, reflective and incredibly powerful. I do wonder how the album was put together, as both parts are quite separate from each other yet somehow make total sense at the same time.

PoiL Ueda have been touring, and there will be a live album released later this year, which based on this, promises to be very special indeed and is something I am already looking forward to. This will certainly not be to everyone's tastes, but for those who are willing to look beyond expected norms then this is something to be savoured.

 PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 29 ratings

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PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars After four years, PoiL returns with another daring, angular, madcap album. 2019's Sus was a fantastic release, and it saw the band both focus its songwriting after the sprawling Brossaklitt and stretch out with a pair of 20-minute suites. On this release, the band has teamed up with biwa player and singer Junko Ueda.

I'm hardly an expert in traditional Japanese music. I knew what a biwa was before writing this review, so I'm probably ahead of most Americans, but not by much. According to Ueda's website, she specializes in "biwa storytelling" and shomyo, a type of Buddhist chant. My primary source of knowledge of Japanese folk music prior to this was Osamu Kitajima's seminal Benzaiten, a sublime synthesis of progressive rock and an array of Japonic styles.

Much like Sus, PoiL Ueda is made up of a pair of large suites, each of which typifies one of Ueda's professed specialities.

Side A of PoiL Ueda is the three-part " Kuj˘ Shakuj˘", which covers the shomyo style. This suite opens with a reedy organ drone as Ueda stretches out prolonged vocal notes. As this opening movement progresses, weird synth bloops and growls burble. It's a meditative piece that focuses primarily on atmosphere, and I can absolutely see how this composition may have its stylistic roots in monastic mantras.

In its second movement, this suite sees jittery guitar arpeggios join the fray. Ueda's vocals remain drawn-out and deliberate, but the rest of the band has an eager, nervous energy. The bass is bouncy, and keys jump and jitter.

The meditative mood falls apart near the end of part two, with the emergence ofá flavors of RIO and zeuhl. There's an underlying sense of tension to this track. It feels like it wants to burst free, but it's somehow restrained. This tension of restraint and exuberance pays great dividends as complex percussion, rubbery bass, twangy guitar, and oddball keyboard arrangements all dance around each other.

Ueda's vocals are restrained but powerful, and the gradual ascent from this epic's quiet opening is immensely satisfying.

The second composition on PoiL Ueda is "Dan No Ura", and it prominently features Ueda's biwa. It kicks off with her unique vocal performance as the biwa and piano cultivate a tense atmosphere.

Twisting, Yes-inspired riffs are paired alongside traditional Japanese modes and plinking chimes. It's a wonderfully artful and natural integration of Western and Japanese musical traditions.The backing riff builds to an impressive intensity, and a metallic aggression is evident as well.

Abrasive, start-stop blasts of guitar and synth lend this composition power and weight.

The second part of this piece features subdued but evocative instrumentation as Ueda weaves enthralling vocal lines. "Dan No Ura" is a bit on the short side, at only about 13 minutes. Despite this runtime, it's an impressive piece which demonstrates great skill at blending disparate musical styles.

PoiL Ueda is an impressive album. The distinctly Japanese and European flavors meld in a natural manner, and this is a cohesive and intelligent record. There are some bold musical decisions on this LP, but they all pay off. This release is an instant contender for my 2023 album of the year.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2023/02/27/album-review-poil-ueda-poil-ueda/

 Sus by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.99 | 63 ratings

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Sus
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

5 stars I've written before of France's unique place in the world of progressive rock. Of the countries with distinct national sounds, theirs has always been the most unashamedly weird, fusing progressive rock with jazz and avant-garde music. Zeuhl was an almost-exclusively-French genre for the first twenty or so years of its existence, and two of the five founders of the Rock in Opposition (RIO) scene were Francophone. (Univers Zero were from the French-speaking Wallonia region of Belgium.) PoiL, the experimental Lyonnais trio, are one of the most prominent contemporary bands carrying on this tradition.

Last year, PoiL fused with the band Ni to become three-sevenths of the supergroup PinioL. Ni's particular brand of experimental rock music has frequently bordered on metal, and on Sus, it sounds as if some of that may have rubbed off on the guys in PoiL. PoiL lacks a guitar player, but that doesn't stop the band from laying down their heaviest music to date. The bass on this album crunches and snarls; the electric piano pounds out weird, dissonant chords; and the drumming is downright virtuosic.

Sus is nominally split into five songs, but functionally, it is more accurately described as a pair of 20-minute suites. "Sus la peýra" opens the first of these two suites with thundering bass and squealing synthesizer while the drums and a steady electric piano arpeggio keep the intro from devolving into an unfocused morass. The lyrics, sung delicately in contrast to the instrumental bombast, draw from Occitan poetry. The gentle vocals eventually become more of a somber chant in between moments of instrumental weirdness that almost sounds like a bizarre, jazzy version of Rage Against the Machine with its sudden starts, stops, and octave-wide oscillations.

After that 12-minute salvo, the brief "Lo potz" acts as breather. It's barely a minute long and a cappella. It's a nice glimpse into just how pretty the Occitan language is, sounding closer to Italian or Spanish than to French. This opening suite ends on "Luses Fadas" and showcases PoiL's most obvious Magma influences. Ostinato bass and hypnotic piano lines undergird chanting vocals. The bass and piano lines gradually grow more complex in the instrumental moments, and the vocals alternate between Spanish-flavored chanting and rapidfire, funky, babbling syllabics.

"GrŔu Martire" opens the second suite with off-kilter instrumental interplay. It's something I'd expect from a daring math rock band, with its uneven, jerky rhythm and atonality. That song acts as a setup to the real meat of this suite, "Chin f˛u". The vocals are dramatic and once more tinged with Spanish/Moorish influences. Despite a continually-odd rhythm, the song flows well, with the vocals trading the spotlight with some impressive soloing.

With Sus, PoiL have released a challenging, yet engaging, work. The music here lurches and roars in fits and stops, and the harmonized vocals contrast and complement it. They've channeled France's long history of artistic experimentalism and avant-garde leanings in rock music. To that history, they've added a modern, metallic edge, and that intensity is what really makes this such an enthralling album.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2019/05/19/album-review-poil-sus/

 PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 29 ratings

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PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars One of the most unexpected collaborative efforts of 2023 so far has to be the hyperactive avant-prog band PoiL who comes from Lyon, France teaming up with the traditional Japanese musical arts master and Tokyo based Junko Ueda who together have released an album simply titled POIL / UEDA. How one of the most spazzed out modern-day brutal prog bands could collaborate with a transcendental medieval Japanese version of a troubadour was something i could not fathom until i finally pushed play and let it all roll out!

PoiL has carved out a unique niche in the world of avant-prog with a zany zolo-esque hyperactivity fortified with Zappa-like quirkiness. Add some heavy brutal bombast and psychedelic excesses and PoiL has taken things to extremes. Each and every album adopts a different approach but there is no denying it is PoiL. Junko Ueda on the other hand is a classical artist who brings the medieval Japanese art forms of heikyoku and shōmyō to the modern world. Heikyoku is one of the oldest Japanese traditional music forms that features a bard who narrates a tale whereas the shōmyō is a type of Buddhist chant used primarily in the Tendai and Shingon sects.

Perhaps nothing should surprise fans regarding PoiL's next musical adventures as the band seems more open-minded than the average prog band but i'd bet no one saw this one coming! The album is on the short side only slinking over the 31-minute mark and basically features two themes with multiple parts. "Kuj˘ shakuj˘" is a three part build up of musical mojo which is based on a Buddhist shōmyō that is practiced to ward off evil spirits. The two-part "Dan no ura" shifts gears completely and narrates a naval battle which led to the decline of the imperial Heike clan after facing off with the Genji clan. Lyrics are exclusively in the Japanese language.

While PoiL has traditionally been an unhinged untamable and unapologetically wild prog band, on this collaborative effort they seem utterly hypnotized by the soft spoken Japanese lyrics that remind me of European yodeling at times. Likewise Junko Ueda performs on the traditional Japanese instrument called the satsuma biwa which is a short-necked lute used in narrative storytelling in the Japanese culture. Ueda is the star of the show here with PoiL's rock instrumentation firmly adhering to the melodic developments suavely propelled by the chants and accompanying Japanese musical scales. Although confined on a leash so to speak, PoiL still has plenty of room to strut their proggy stuff much like a post-rock band improvises around a cyclical groove.

While such collaborations are not unheard of, it seems that the cross-pollination of cultures continues as do the mixing of the spiritual with the profane much like Ray Charles fusing gospel with American soul back in the 1950s although more of this is happening on a global scale with ever greater complexities. For anyone longing for a frenetic avant-prog display as heard on "Brossaklitt," this is not the album for you. This is an avant-garde take on ancient Japanese musical traditionals unlike anything done before. The music is relaxing and mesmerizing and even when PoiL is allowed to add the rock heft to build up deafening crescendoes, the musical flow is still very much strictly adhered to. An anomaly in the canon of both artists, this one is an amazingly satisfying of the ancient meeting the modern day developments in prog. Brilliant.

 PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 29 ratings

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PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by runciblemoon

4 stars On this collaborative album PoiL joins forces with Japanese vocalist and satsuma-biwa player Junko Ueda. Is avant- prog and traditional Japanese court music an awkward mix? In lesser hands, maybe, but somehow PoiL and Ueda seem to make it work seamlessly from the off. For their part, PoiL pull no punches here, serving up an instrumental backdrop that veers between sinister, abstracted soundscapes and the kind of gutsy, gleefully contorted avant-rock we've come to expect from them. Meanwhile Ueda's powerful, throaty vocals and biwa seem to glide over and seep into every nook and cranny left by the band. The result is music that is at times ethereal and enchanting, at others aggressive and alien, but consistently engaging and bursting with detail.

At barely over 30 minutes, you'd be forgiven for feeling a little shortchanged, but there is so much densely packed music within that runtime that I'm personally quite thankful that this album doesn't push its luck and risk tipping over from exhilarating to exhausting. Mind you, a second release from this collaboration would certainly not be unwelcome.

 PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda) by POIL album cover Studio Album, 2023
3.84 | 29 ratings

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PoiL Ueda (as PoiL Ueda)
PoiL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Harold Needle

4 stars IT'S BEEN THREE YEARS. For three, painfully long years, I've been waiting for this record to drop. Indeed, PoiL still remains my favourite music act of all time, and there's no one from whom I'd anticipate new music more than these guys. For this album PoiL joins forces with traditional Japanese singer/satsuma-biwa player Junko Ueda, as well as ni's bass player Benoit Lecomte. The album is finally here, my long wait is over - but does it deliver to my expectations?

Well... yes and no. To be honest, I feel quite disappointed - not by the music, mind you, but rather by the lack of it. Let me explain.

If you attended PoiL Ueda live shows or watched some of them online, you might be aware that the band has prepared at least an hour of new material. Meanwhile, this album lasts for 30 minutes and includes just two tracks - one of which being a single released almost two years ago. So, before listening to the album, I already knew almost half of it!

So where is the rest of the material? There were at least three more 10+ minutes compositions that did not make it on the album. What happened? I can only speculate, but at the end of the day, it is really saddening to not see them on the tracklist - especially since these three omitted tracks contained a lot of fun, experimental madness I love the band for.

The music that DID make it to the record however is excellent nonetheless. Kuj' Shakuj' is an energetic, yet soothing jazz fusion-like take on a buddhist chant that's supposed to eliminate any evil spirits. Even though the level of crazyness is not though the roof, I still like this track very much. There's almost a celestial feel to it - very relaxing and full of fun at the same time. There's also a lot of phenomenal sound design thoughout the track - most likely the courtesy of Guilhem Meier's extended drum kit. Excellent!

Dan No Ura has been teased (as a demo version) all the way back in 2021, and now can be heard in a more polished, detailed version. Another excellent track, full of solid grooves and bombastic energy. I'm really impressed by how well Junko's voice is incorporated into the avant-prog sound of the band - amazing stuff!

Overall - this album would easily make for a masterpiece and my personal AOTY, had the remaining compositions made it to the tracklist. Instead, all I'm left with is a hunger for MOREEEE. I really hope that the rest of the material will get recorded and released eventually - losing it would truly be a shame.

Consider my ranking as incomplete 5 stars for an incomplete 5 star album.

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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