9MM Parabellum Bullet set the bar for themselves pretty high with their debut, Termination, but although Vampire doesn't top its predecessor, they clear the hurdle with confidence. The band still mixes classic metal with non-metal influences, but if their first album was a crossover of Iron Maiden and Hüsker Dü, this one has a folky feel. It's still uncompromising hard rock, performed at a blazing speed and with guitars creating a dense Wall of Sound throughout, but the vocal melodies and the ubiquitous guitar licks have a distinct Eastern quality to them, swinging back and forth around a single note. Besides, the drum patterns recall System of a Down's Toxicity, and that album, for all its ferocity, was chock-full of authentic Armenian rhythms. Vampire is by no means conscious folk metal of the In Extremo kind -- the ethnic vibe feels more like a natural mimicry, the result of a natural search for a way to channel the band's energy, and where 9MM really come from is evidenced by the thrashy staccato in "We Are Innocent" and the instrumental "The Revenge of Surf Queen," which, incidentally, is the best hard rock/surf crossover ever, at least on Japanese soil. The end output is not perfect: when overdone, the folk melody shtick gets goofy ("Living Dying Message"), sounding like an easy cop-out for cases when the band doesn't know where to take a tune. But Vampire still packs enough inspiration, novelty, and honest emotion to back the band's implicit claim to be Japan's best new hard rock band.
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AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko