The Gazette

Beautiful Deformity

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The Gazette's seventh album finds the band at an interesting place in their career: having effectively polarized their fan base, they now have little to prove, and have been able to simply focus on writing good songs. The strange chimaera on the cover is a good indicator of the contents -- equal parts rock and metal, it's one of their most varied albums, combining styles from all of their previous releases, and the band have taken the strategy of wrongfooting the listener that they began on their previous album Division and have really run with it. The album gets off to a loud, if not particularly auspicious start. The sound is very dense, albeit somewhat more trebly than on previous albums; lead promo track "Inside Beast" is a not-altogether-successful mélange of dubstep and deathcore, and "Until It Burns Out" is rather by-the-numbers, but is redeemed somewhat by its chorus, which is classic Gazette. The album really starts to hit a rich seam of great material with the single "Fadeless," a fun and catchy throwback to the rock & roll-influenced sound of their Stacked Rubbish album, complete with soulful female backing singers. "Redo" is a real surprise, a sweet, swinging, jazzy number that is probably the poppiest song they have ever done, and "Last Heaven," the album's centerpiece, is a gorgeous acoustic-led ballad. "Loss" is one of the album's most interesting tracks, starting off sounding like it's going to be the obligatory epic ballad, before shifting gear halfway through and impressing with a range of really interesting guitar parts and a surprising use of dynamics. After this, the album takes a slight nosedive before righting itself near the end. "The Stupid Tiny Insect" is embarrassingly disposable, while the savage "Karasu" ("Crow") is another throwback to the old school, complete with Korn-esque clicking slap bass. "In Blossom" juxtaposes harsh brutal crunch with one of the album's most beautiful choruses, but "To Dazzling Darkness" is the true album highlight. It combines all that's good about the Gazette into an emotional epic that recalls past glories like "Chizuru" or "Kagefumi," before segueing seamlessly into the stunning outro "Coda," with its expert Spanish guitar work coming to a dead stop that makes you want to push the replay button. The Gazette seem really comfortable here about doing exactly what they want. If it's not the best album they have ever made, it's certainly one of the most interesting, and contains some of the best English lyrics Ruki has yet written. There are a few throwaway filler tracks but, as ever, the band are at their best when they relax a bit and allow their singalong-able melodies and instrumental prowess to shine through.

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