Released: 2006, Dockyard1
From the land of anime, sushi, and Godzilla comes Blood Stain Child - a rather odd name which really should probably be Bloodstained Child, but nobody ever said translating Japanese into English was easy. Founded in Osaka in 1999 under the name Visionquest, the group went through a few lineup changes before adopting their current moniker in 2000 and signing to Japanese label M&I in 2001. First gaining notoriety in 2001 for having two of their songs used as entrance themes by Japanese pro-wrestler Kensuke Sasaki and a third song as the theme for the 30th anniversary of Japanese pro-wrestling federation NJPW, they have since released three full-length albums: 2002's SILENCE OF NORTHERN HELL, 2004's amusingly-titled MYSTIC YOUR HEART (told you translating wasn't easy...), and 2005's IDOLATOR - the first of their albums to also be released outside Japan when Dockyard 1 put it out in 2006. Produced, mixed, and mastered by Danish knob-twirler Tue Madsen (producer for acts such as Siernia, Aborted, The Haunted, etc) in an attempt to get an in-your-face true "European metal" sound, IDOLATOR does succeed exceptionally well in that aspect.
In fact, on IDOLATOR, Blood Stain Child sounds a good deal like several European bands such as In Flames and Dark Tranquility...and a hell of a lot more like one European metal band in particular, namely Children Of Bodom circa HATECREW DEATHROLL. A good portion of that comparison can be credited to (or blamed on) bassist/vocalist Ryo, whose snarl-screams are a dead ringer for Alexi Laiho's. As for the music, there's no question the machine-gun riffage, overlaid keyboard lines, technical guitar leads, and hammering drums are pure Gothenburg-style melodic death. It's not a total ripoff, though, as the music prominently incorporates elements of techno and electronica in just about every song, frequently breaking down from furious melo-death riffs into dance club music beats provided expertly by keyboardist / mix artist Aki. While I'm hardly what could be called a fan of that style and while I'm not sure it really should stylistically fit when juxtaposed alongside the morbidly depressing lyrics, I must say the group manages to make it work somehow. Cuts like "Final Sky," "Live Inside," and "Trial Spiral" mix ferocity and melody with surgically precise skill while standout cut "Embrace Me" features vicious riffs, hellish screams and effective clean-vocal passages, and a piano theme played over blast-beat drumming...yes, that is every bit as bizarre as it sounds...all in the same song. Unfortunately, there are also parts which are downright "what the...?"-worthy, like the vocal weirdness in parts of the track "Truth," which might well be spoken in Japanese but sounds more like it's being played backwards for some reason. Those segments are few and far between, luckily enough. The promo copy I received from Dockyard1 also seems to be missing a couple tracks that the M&I version has..."Nuclear Trance" and "Life Story"...which is a little disappointing.
Blood Stain Child's mixture of metal and electronica seems to be an interesting combination, and IDOLATOR is a solid dose of melodic death that is mired down only by the fact it sounds far too derivative of its influences. Fans who can't get enough of the Gothenburg style and don't mind hearing a bit of experimentation with techno thrown into the fray should snap this up.