Heralded by many for several years as a group to keep an eye on, the Japanese cyber-metal trio Baal has made quite a name for itself via touring, releasing two appetizer EPs, and collaborating with other artists. Supporting Angelspit on both the Australian and Japanese tours and being unleashed on US audiences more recently opening for Skinny Puppy on select dates, Baal has managed to build considerable anticipation for the full-length debut album, Shurado.
As “Purge” opens the album, its muddled, low-fidelity electronics and nü-metal styled down-tuned guitar riffs may leave a first impression that Baal is simply the latest in a long line of overhyped artists, but when the crisp blistering energy of the vocals hits and the raw energy they convey washes over the listener, those initial impressions are “purged” from the mind. The album’s lo-fi style and sound mix persists throughout, feeling as if a layer of sludge has been cast over the music. While in many tracks this does succeed in accentuating the raw and rough sound that Baal clearly is striving for, tracks such as “Dead Sector” and “The Iron Age” end up too muddled and lack any real personality beyond being awash in low tones. Tracks such as “Evil Collector” and “Outrage” fare much better as they better mix synths with the heavy guitar riffs and don’t get bogged down in nü-metal sludge. There are also tracks like “東京 Schizoid” that act as a full on aural assault with their near limitless energy that best capitalize on Baal’s style and show what the band is capable when firing on all cylinders.
This flawed but exciting debut shows that Baal’s hype is warranted. With Shurado, the band has managed to capture a blistering energy few manage to match, and it leaves the listener fantasizing about what the act’s live performances must be like. While the instrumentation and sound mix may not always be ideal, the flesh-pealing energy of the vocals largely makes up for these issues and elevates the music to a higher level. With this strong of an initial showing, one can’t help but be excited to watch this young act grow and see what it next has in store.
Baal Website http://baaljapan.net
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Baal Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/BAAL-Japan/108566889217008
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Storming the Base CD
Trubie Turner (Flexei)