MARCH 6th 2012

Review By: Barretticus

Somehow how I knew that this was going to be a killer album. Was it because the artist is Japanese? Probably. I have lived in Japan and was in a metal band with a group of Japanese guys, so I'm pretty familiar with the Japanese level of hard work and dedication. They don't do anything half-assed.     

The album is called Blood Rain and is Taka MinaMino's second solo album. He has some pretty big accomplishments for a young and very talented musician, being invited to compete at the Guitar Player Competition, San Francisco in to 2007, and finished top ten performing in front of superstar judges including Joe Satriani and Mike Varney, among others. He played his own composition for them, which was the title track AngelWing, for his first album which he was recording at the same time as the competition. He had some big names help him out on his first recording such as Jeff Scott Soto, Derek Sherinian (keyboards for Dream Theatre) and Jeff Bowders (drummer for Paul Gilbert). AngelWing was released in 2009, and Taka immediately went to work on this album.
I love the sound Taka achieves in these recordings. His guitar sounds like he strung it with crane cable. It's heavy, deep, rich with a slightly tin overlay. There are crushing, grinding tracks to sweeping arpeggio solos and operatic monstrosities. There is lots diversity and changes here in each songs as well as between each song. Songs will contain grind-core chugging, almost black-metal-sounding shredding riffs, and technical solos. Then the next track will be a four or five minute solo of orchestral power and rising octaves in the vein of Yngwie Malmsteen (minus the ego and airborne guitar). The album flows flawlessly from track to track considering all of the different sounds, styles and solos.

Taka plays most of the instruments on the album; aside from his fantastic guitar, he also played Bass, keyboards and violin (Which he has started playing at age 4), as well as did all the orchestral arrangements, mixing and mastering himself. The vocals, performed by Kevin Jones, lie somewhere between Pavarotti and Corpsegrinder. In the opening track, Woke Up Dead, I found them to take a little bit away from the song but in Lost forever and Set Me free, they are very complimentary to the music. Atma Anur's drums are thundering and precise, but I usually like the mastering to be more clear and crisp sounding.

Blood Rain is only available digitally on iTunes, which I actually think is a really smart move for an indie musician, forgoing the cost of cd production and difficulties of getting those cd's to the world wide public. Selling for a few cents under $8, it is a solid purchase and because the average song is over 4 minutes, the value is pretty good.

I really enjoyed this album and I'll be checking out AngelWing right away. When listening to Blood Rain, be careful to not hurt yourself whilst banging your head.