Alice Nine


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On first impression, Vandalize may be too much: the songs range from annoying anime rock hymns ("Cross Game") to take-no-prisoners thrash metal, heavy blues, and cheesy piano ballads. Alice Nine's previous record, Alpha, consisted of interchangeable songs, but they seem to be overcompensating this time around. However, once the initial "Whuzzat?" reaction subsides, it's possible to see patterns within the album, and the hooks begin to sink in. Alice Nine really attempts a number of out-of-place experiments (although each individual song is good), but the band has also honed both of its best approaches: the larger-than-U2-huge sound and the borderline metalcore stuff that never loses sight of melody. Songs like "Innocence" update the reverberating guitar textures of '80s rock with better production, some power chords, and faster tempos, much to their benefit, and the heavier fare scores by having the occasional dancey beat and by avoiding the sacramental "Why so serious?" question. Vandalize is earnest but positive, coalescing into a bright and romantic lump of plain rock that doesn't have any spectacular stylistic features with big catchy numbers, but is still able to charm with its energy, emotion, and knack for melody (although Shou's voice is an acquired taste). This isn't far from what Alice Nine has been doing all along, but the songs on Vandalize have much more individuality than before, and this improves their impression a lot -- even if the band still has yet to write a tune that wouldn't rely on either some earlier influence or commonplace (if nice) melodies.

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