Onmyo-Za

Chimimouryo

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

It makes sense to wonder why there are relatively few Japanese power metal bands, seeing as the style has the melody, heaviness, and pomp favored by J-rockers. One explanation may be that the Germans simply got there first, the other that visual kei is pretty much the same thing, only more exuberant; but be that as it may, on Chimimouryo, Onmyoza certainly go the Helloween route, even if the visual kei streak is not entirely absent from their music, the border between the two styles sometimes blurred here to the point of vanishing. Most of the album is filled with classic, not overly speedy metal riffs with a slight hymnlike ring to them, and Onmyoza are actually quite adept at those: the music is neither overblown, much, nor suffers from the airy production quality that makes many power metal albums tame. These are serious and even grim, if melodic, riffs that suggest Grave Digger and even streamlined Queensr├┐che (think Empire with still less prog influence). Also present are the smartly restrained guitar solos and some good strong vocals, both male and female, both wisely sticking to a moderate register without trying to imitate Maria Callas on a Tolkien trip. What the album doesn't have, however, is variety: the torrent of riffs is only broken on the last three songs, and there in a predictable way: the epic 11-minute "Doujouji Kuchinawa No Goku" opens with a quieter segment, "Tamashizume No Uta" is a ballad, and "Nyoro Nyoro" was obviously meant as an uplifting coda, but is short on closure due to its lack of power. The length of Chimimouryo brings down its impact: at 40 minutes, it could have been a strong contender, but at an hour, and no variation, it blends into the background, even if still leaving an impression of a nice piece of work.