Straightener

Immortal

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    8
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Japanese bands have a habit of releasing albums that clock well over 60 or even 70 minutes, probably an effort to compensate for the country's exorbitant CD prices. Straightener, however, opted for a smarter scheme in 2007, splitting their musical output into a relatively short album (Linear) and this EP -- thus avoiding the danger of overloading the audience with music, as well as boosting the revenues a little. The contents of Immortal could have fit on Linear without anyone batting an eyelid -- it's the same alternative rock with bass as a main driving force, which gives it a pretty idiosyncratic sound, especially since the band never goes for simple solutions like funky rhythms or nu-metal start-stop rumble: Straightener craft bass patterns specifically to match their own emotive tunes, rather than following the clich├ęs. This is not to say Immortal is some Primus-fest -- there are plenty of guitars, and the trademark Japanese feel for melody is in full force here, with most of the songs recalling a smarter, grown-up version of emo -- too heartfelt for post-grunge, but never maudlin enough to fit the Fall Out Boy/Tokio Hotel bill, not to mention being too complex and professional for an emo band. "Snooze" is a bit darker than the rest of the tracks, and "Tribute" may be called a semi-ballad, but on the whole, Immortal sports no serious stylistic surprises. However, it's also far from being a rummage through the band's songwriting dustbin, offering as good an example of Straightener's music as any other record the group has released at least since 2004, and that means it's well worth the attention.