Wow, I haven’t done a review in a very long time. I wonder if I still know how to do this.
It’s not that I haven’t heard any decent music, or gotten my hands on any new CDs (well…maybe that is part of it). I think it’s more like, I haven’t really heard anything lately that has given me something to say. I haven’t really listened to anything that has made me think, “Wow.”, or start singing along before even learning the words, or had that quality that when you listen to it makes you feel like you’re living in a PV or movie scene. I hadn’t, that is, until I picked up the first album from the woman I know to be my soulmate: Rampant‘s CHOICE OF LIFE.
Silence opens the album with the eerie wail of sirens which whine their way into the clang of a firebell. The sounds undulated from right ear to left, dizzyingly dark and urbane. The guitar picks up, a grungy chugging riff that leads into more guitar, revving drums, rhythm, bass building it up, up up, churning around, and then the main riff kicks off, headbang-ably catchy. The vocals lift off; HIroko’s smoky alto, that aloof human melody that works effortlessly with the grungy music to enchant for the rest of the album. More or less one of their greatest pieces to date, Silence is overall an epic opener.
Silence fades edgily into Nude, and tinny acoustic strumming. The drums are at the forefront of this track, and rightly so, as they really bring it to life. The bassy, metal drum patterns paired with some tactful death vocals (try not to swoon like I did, guys), and the extremely catchy chorus make this another stand-out song on the album, and a righteous follow-up to Silence.
Try to Alive opens up with the most straight-metal riffs so far. The way that the guitar feels somehow distant and separate from the drum track added multiple dimensions to the piece, and the vocals were really interesting. It was also interesting, because through the verses HIroko is singing in the lower notes of her range, and yet in the chorus she spikes right up into those high notes she hits so beautifully. The slightly awkward spoken vocals in the chorus really added spice to the whole thing and brought everything together. My favorite part of this track was how the elements felt disjointed, and yet still blended into another great track. The gentle break was also awesome, with the finger-picking guitar, and some excellent detailing in HIroko’s ornamentation. The vocals were def the highlight of Try to Alive.
Up next, the titular track, Choice of Life. Strong, edgy opening that drops right into a sparse instrumental backing that highlights each different element interestingly. The instrumental break at about 1:20 was quite unique and awesome, and it sweeps you right into the gloomy chorus for more flying sparks. Slightly more low-key than the preceding tracks, the details are what really make this song awesome. The instrumental accents almost feel Latin-y, although not even, and are really refreshing.
Aqua Hole, another awesome song, slowed things down a bit for a breathy, slow balladic number. More wicked catchy choruses and great instrumentation.
Thirsty cause,Cry pulled my attention back in. The speed-metal guitar and drums and death vocals (from…someone?) brought the energy up again after the slow-paced Aqua Hole. Some really great vocal phrases, catchy lyrics, and the ending instrumental break were my favorite aspects of this one.
All 6 tracks so far have been wicked awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I was ready for Day for Me Day for You when it came. Totally dig the sweet, distant acoustic intro with just a guitar and a cute little vocal melody.
The composition and instrumentation were what I liked most about Take Me Your Way. There are some nice rises and falls, and the guitar solo/instrumental break really stood out, despite being somewhat downplayed. The vocals felt kind of like white-people emo music…but of course, a gorgeous Japanese dame’s take on it.
Track 9, Pain, was another great track. The guitars were especially cool, and the vocals felt like they changed up a bit from the previous few songs. The chorus was kind of raw and unusual.
And, wow, we’re already at the last track? Fighter, the finale, opens with more speed-metal drums and guitars. The soaring, layered chorus was really great, and the verses were so metal- melodic and rowdy. And then…it just sort of ends.
CHOICE OF LIFE is a solid, excellent album with no bad songs. However, my personal favorites were definitely in the first half, with Silence, Nude, Try to Alive, and Choice of Life in the upper rankings. Although each of the later songs had really terrific ‘moments’, they did start to blend together slightly on second listen-through. After a few more listens, though, I have a feeling that the unique personalities of each track will become more apparent as I become, in turn, more familiar with them. I am definitely looking forward to hearing them unfold.
A downplayed, indie sojourn through balladic metal soaring via vocals that would make the broad from Evanescence jealous, and chugging along on chord-progressions that are actually unpredictable, fresh, and at times downright goosebump-raising….Rampant‘s professional production, creative compositions, super strong riffs and ridiculously catchy choruses have you covered from your metal-head moments to your most emo days. I encourage anyone with a mind for metal to make the right choice: CHOICE OF LIFE.
Image: Rampant official myspace