Welcome to the first entry in a new feature that focuses on the unsigned or unknown. This time of year is when a lot of unsigned, independent, and self releasing artists ramp up the efforts to get noticed and and as a result I modified the contact page to reflect what I’m interested in getting for submissions. Coincidentally enough I received a submission from one Taka Minamino to review the album ‘Blood Rain’. Now one of the caveats to my revised contacts page was that bands had a better chance of success getting through if they were unique. Taka definitely fits the bill.
Imagine an album that has thrash riffs, Yngwie speed but Friedman flow on solos, and a vocalist that is reminiscent of the late David Wayne of Metal Church. I think I’d be intrigued and I was. You see there is more to Blood Rain then what I just described. Taka doesn’t just play guitars on this album but almost everything else. The bass,keyboards, arrangements, and production are all done by Mr. Minamino as well and all parts are exceptionally well done. And they should be considering the people Taka has worked with over the past few years. Having contributed to Derek Sherninian’s (Dream Theater) 6th solo cd and had contributions from people like Jeff Scott Soto on the the first Taka Minamino album “Angel Wing” most likely helped in getting the quality Blood Rain has.
There are 8 tracks to this album with five of them having vocals courtesy of Kevin Jones. Now I’m not familiar with Kevin Jones work but as I stated earlier I was immediately struck on how much he reminded me of Metal Church’s David Wayne which is fine by me. Usually when guitar virtuosos employ singers on their albums the results are very mixed. Part of the problem I had with much of Yngwie Malmsteen’s output in the 90’s is I found his vocalists to be the worst part of his albums. In the case of Blood Rain Kevin’s vocals add an element that I think is unique to a shred album. And make no mistake there is some classically trained shred on this album. Tracks 3 5 and 6 are purely Taka going off in a free flowing and technical display of shredding that I haven’t heard or enjoyed in quite a long time. The truly grabbing element to this album is how it transitions from smooth and elegant classical shredding as in the title track to punishing thrash songs like All My Days Alive. It definitely succeeds in keeping the interest peaked with no two tracks sounding the same.
The realm of the guitar virtuoso seemed to be all but unheard of anymore in today’s world of djent and tech death but from what I’ve heard so far from Taka Minamino this could be the start of something new and fresh and I at least welcome it and recommend you do as well. If you want to check out Taka Minamino’s music yourself you can preview it at Itunes or you can visit his website here.