My “Flashback” posts are either articles that were originally written for Askew prior to the magazine’s closure or proposed articles that got passed up that I decided to write anyway.
Immortal by D’espairsRay
To commemorate their tenth anniversary, D’espairsRay has released Immortal. A compilation consisting of handpicked tracks, the album shows the band’s evolution through their eyes. The cover art depicts flowers blooming over a skull—life triumphing over death.
The album opens with the moody “Ori no naka de miru yume”. It’s a slow start, but about midway through, Tsukasa grabs your attention with short drum sequences reminiscent of African or Middle Eastern rhythms. The next song, “MaVERiCK”, explodes with rumbling bass and heavy riffs. Then it’s time for the fan favorite, “Garnet”. It begins ominously with guitars and synthesizers punctuating a steady rhythm. You expect a loud, headbang-inducing song, and that’s what you get. “BORN” is another aggressive track with a chorus made to get a crowd to jump up and down.
The mood drastically changes with “Yami ni furu kiseki”. D’espairsRay shows their gentle side through the addition of acoustic guitar, strings, and piano. Hizumi’s voice is soft until he reaches the chorus, where he passionately cries out vows of eternal love. “Fuyuu shita risou” charges through before coming to an abrupt halt in the middle. It’s a bit disorienting when guitarist Karyu and bassist Zero jump back into pounding out riffs at full speed. “Forbidden” displays the results of experimenting with electronica: an upbeat number that will make concert-goers want to dance as well as headbang.
“Abel and Cain” also contains digital elements, but there won’t be any dancing when it’s live. If the Biblical siblings represent different sounds, then this song would definitely be Cain—violent, defiant, and profane. Brief operatic vocals and synthesizers offer the only hint of the heavenly. In contrast, “Kogoeru yoru ni saita hana” is filled with positive energy. Karyu delivers a lively melody embellished with acoustic guitar and bells. “Closer to ideal” meanders through the most of six minutes but has a catchy hook. Zero produces a calm bassline in “Squall”, as the string-filled melody taking the band to soaring pop-rock heights.
“MIЯROR” follows at a manic pace. Hizumi’s English is noticeably improved here. The next two songs also contain several lines of English. “Cocoon” stands out in having a section with only Tsukasa accompanying Hizumi, a simple but powerful combination. “Scissors” is another digitally-flavored heavy metal number with a blend of death vocals and melodic singing. The final track, “HORIZON”, looks toward the future with optimistic lyrics and a bright sound. Karyu uses his solo to show off technical skills while Hizumi experiments with rapping. It sounds so unlike him that you wonder if you’re still listening to D’espairsRay. Nevertheless, the uplifting conclusion evokes the image on the album cover—life and hope blooms from the darkness.
Immortal gives new fans an opportunity to visit the band’s early days and gives long-time followers a trip down memory lane. The album is available now through Maru Music.
Listening to: “Garnet” by D’espairsRay