Came Out of the Grave
~review by Basim

The esteemed 18th century French author Balzac once said, “"All happiness depends on courage and work, I have had many periods of wretchedness, but with energy and above all with illusions, I pulled through them all." Pretty upbeat for a man whose thankless task of defining literary movement left him enduring a life of poverty, don’t you think? Similarly, we have Japanese punk rockers, Balzac. This is a band that really strives to do the best they can. Their live shows are so great, I know people who’d actually sit through a set of the Merchfits to see them. The band even learns their English lyrics phonetically, because they honestly don’t know more than a few words. 
But I should really be getting to the music. If you’ve heard of Balzac before, you’ve probably seen them described with unfair words like... “Misfits clones”.

Unlike most horror punk bands, this music isn’t just kitsch or formulaic. You won’t find the obligatory 1950s “ironic” anthem dedicated to the undead. What you will find is an interesting mix of bleak noise dirges vivisected with throat blistering sing-along punk anthems. Certain albums, like The Damned’s Phantasmagoria, or TSOL’s Change Today, have a song for every mood. This is one of those timeless masterpieces. 

What really impressed me was the approach to their noise/industrial songs. Noise is one of those genres that leave me floundering, wondering “why?” when I’m stuck listening to a “song” of it. The Balzac species of it is an evolution of their dark punk style. There’s just enough grinding rock in the noise pieces to give them momentum, but not enough to degenerate it into “Industrial Rock”. The overall effect is either grating in that grisly post-punk way I know most of you like so much.
The top of the food chain is ruled by their predatorial punk anthems. I don’t think I’ve heard murder music played so gleefully in my life. You know those Exploited gutter anthems about Brotherhood? Well, imagine songs like that, but interesting to listen to. There’s some blazing guitar work that borders on being metal in that happy Maiden/Helloween way. This album’s chock full of pinch harmonics, and dazzling solos. Guitarist, Atsushi, is great at veering out of the way when the rock songs need tension, and hitting you like freighter when the digital noise needs structure. There’s some neat, and pleasantly brief shredding here and there, which works ALOT better than it sounds. Drummer Takayuki and Bassist Akio form a formidable rhythm section. These players know the virtue of exploring the thematic possibilities from song to song. You get tempo changes, and Akio has that magical sense that cues him into sliding his bass notes at the perfect moments. You know, when the bass slides and you wince because you can’t imagine how awesome it sounds? You’ll be doing alot of wincing when listening to this album. 

Oh, and the vocals.

The vocals will destroy you. This band can contend with punk rock royalty when it comes to big, three part vocal choruses. Buy this album, if your tastes can be plotted somewhere between the Punk and Gothic spectrum, you will find something to love here.

1. Grave- Dreizehn
2. Japanese Title
3. Season Of The Dead
4. Inside My Eyes
5. Japanese Title
6. Pain Is All Around
7. Came Out Of The Grave
8. Beyond Evil 308
9. Art Of Dying
10. World Without End
11. Pain Is Not Around
12. I'm Losing You
13. Beware Of Darkness
14. I Know 

Balzac is...
Vocals – Hirosuke
Guitar – Atsushi
Bass – Akio
Drums – Takayuki