While most bands in the 80s were focussing on extremities in their music, in terms of speed (Slayer) and heaviness, Gargoyle here from Japan goes into extreme in another form: the craziness in their music and the inclusion of all sorts of influences. Looking at the whole host of musicians present on the recording of this album (ranging from violins to saxophones to crazy guitar), one knows that this will be a crazy ride, yet not know what exactly to expect.
The first track, Destroy, opens with a weird start-stop riff before breaking into a more “normal” tempo, a signal to listeners to know what to expect in the coming 45 minutes of the song. Kiba makes his first entry in the music (“DESTROY!!!”) after the opening riffs, and his vocals is unlike the other practitioners of thrash metal of the time, sounding like a heavy metal vocalist intentionally trying to sing in a gruff manner, and could be a hit-or-miss affair for listeners who are not used to the whole variety of vocals that the Japanese are able to bring about. It is on this track where Gargoyle first displays their “innovation” in the music, with the inclusion of a tasteful lead violin solo in the midst of the adrenaline pumping guitar solo. If you missed this, fret not as such moments are littered throughout the entire album, so there are plenty of chances to get your dose of wackiness from Gargoyle. Often, the violin solo, along with the guitars, play notes reminding the listener of theme songs of animes that come out of Japan.
The Taiko drums on the opening of “Gi” adds a taste of traditional Japan in the music, but soon breaks into the usual ridiculous madness of the band’s music. Even the lyrics are ridiculous, almost like a spelling lesson, backed by a catchy tune that gets the listener bobbing his head unconsciously and catching himself in the act awhile later. The blues guitar solo on Certain Feel pays homage to the original influences of heavy metal, and the saxophone playing at the background of the song adds a slick touch to the music, making the listener almost forget that he’s listening to a heavy metal band but a lounge band instead (of course, I am exaggerating here). The instrumental ballad, Ningyou No Mori, sound almost as if it could come straight out from an X Japan record, if only Toshi’s (X Japan‘s vocalist) voice were layered on top of it.
One downside though: the overall wackiness of the music makes the more “normal” sounding songs such as Purple Heaven sound boring.
While the smooth inclusion of non-conventional instruments in thrash metal of the time are evident of Gargoyle‘s songwriting ability, the further proof is through the inclusion of infectious and singalong parts such as on Bala Bara Vara (sure to confuse people who try to singalong though, considering how fast Kiba is able to sing out his lyrics).
This album sounds like heavy/thrash metal with a dose of Japanese anime and j-rock added in it, making it an extremely fun and addictive record to listen to, and certainly sounded extremely modern for it’s time, easily blending in to music that are released more than 20 years on.