There is never a bad moment when it comes to listening to J-rock. The sheer vitality is ever so contagious, leaving you with bursts of energy that will last you for days. It is lively, unapologetic, and motivating, and recently people have taken notice of this. Admittedly, I am one to browse YouTube for reaction videos – seeing people listen, react, and reflect on music that I tend to enjoy has always been a curiosity for me (I can’t help but to ask myself the why’s of things; thanks, Psychology degree!). Needless to say, I stumbled upon BAND-MAID through these reaction videos. This is a band I was certainly aware of by name – having heard a couple of their songs here and there – but never took the time to listen to them. Well, I did just that and, let me tell you, Unseen World was quite a proper introduction to them!
With a trajectory spanning six studio records, Unseen World sees the maid café-inspired BAND-MAID further polishing their sparkling sound, albeit with a stronger eagerness to quest for power and speed. While still adopting the basic blues and rock influences, the band opts to amplify their delivery with the urgency of metal. Thundering bass and obliterating double-pedal rhythms enclose the song structures already brimming with infectious melodies, as evidenced on the opener “Warning!”. With this all killer, no filler approach, you’re constantly on the edge track after track. This is mostly thanks to the great chemistry between the members, instantly noticeable throughout the record. It is a type of vibe where you know they had fun investing time in conceptualizing and recording this newest release.
Of course, Unseen World is not 44 minutes of pure frenzy. There are tracks and passages here that keep the record interesting, further pulling you in and making you wonder how the next track is going to be like. Whether it is the post-hardcore jam “After Life” or the feet-stomping rocker “Chemical Reaction” that would make someone like Corey Taylor jealous of not coming up with it first, the band succeed in keeping things varied and purposeful; nothing is thrown into the record out of the need to fill gaps.
What I found exciting while listening to this record were the colors laid out in the production, which allow BAND-MAID to transcend their gimmick and provide a glimpse of their personality. While the record is bombastic at face value, for me the highlights are found in the details, introducing a young-spirited, laid-back character to the otherwise fast-paced sound. A track like “No God” is positively sporadic, opening with a slurred sample that gives way to a song structure flowing between dissonance and catchiness (topped with a sick bass solo!). Similarly, on “Why Why Why”, vocalist Atsumi Saiki clears her throat to prepare to soar gleefully throughout the track, packed with attitude, emotion, and overall confidence, coupled with a gorgeous middle section that also goes down as a personal standout moment of the record.
I am once again on the edge as I am revisiting the record while writing this piece; how couldn’t I? Unseen World is like waking up on the right side of the bed translated into sound waves. The unfiltered energy radiating throughout produces enough stamina to send you running around your neighborhood, and then some. As elating and ecstatic as this record is, however, BAND-MAID showcase their ability to craft anthemic songs without being afraid to delve into the unconventional. With music as action-packed as theirs, the language barrier should not be an inconvenience whatsoever (shouldn’t be in the first place!). Go ahead and give the record a listen, regardless of your genre preferences; it has put a big fat smile on the faces of a whole internet community, and it has certainly put one on mine. I can assure you that you too will end up with a smile after listening to it.