Entertaining is something that Vamps has always been. Their choruses are easy to shout along, their rhythms are surprisingly danceable for a band so loud and the band doesn’t shy away from a little fanservice, which I find laughable rather than rousing, but entertaining nonetheless. I just haven’t been able to enjoy a full album of theirs, because their simple three-chord contemporary alternative Hard Rock ‘n’ Roll lacked depth to keep it interesting. Until ‘Bloodsuckers’, released outside of Japan earlier this year, came out. Suddenly it seems like Hyde and KAZ had a songwriting masterclass in the meantime.
It’s not like ‘Bloodsuckers’ suddenly contains a number of complex Rock songs, but the men behind Vamps have learned a lesson or two about building up tension within songs. That is exactly why I could listen to the album all the way through instead of just skipping through the highlights like I used to do with the band’s records. In addition, the samples and electronics that used to clash with the guitars are much more an integral part of the songs this time around, resulting in a nice Ministry-like industrial Metal vibe in songs like ‘Lips’. It’s like the band finally equipped all of their potential.
However, the band could still use a class or two in song order. ‘Zero’ isn’t a bad track per say, but it does sound like it should have been on a L’Arc-en-Ciel record rather than a Vamps record. The surprising aspect about that is the fact that KAZ, not Hyde, wrote the track. To give credit where credit is due though, the heartfelt, layered semi-ballad that is ‘Inside Myself’ is the perfect closing track for this record. KAZ does a simple, but perfectly fitting guitar solo near the end of the track. There’s a surprising amount of depth to the track.
As for the rest of the album, it mainly contains nice stompers with strong choruses and headbangable riff work. ‘World’s End’ (or ‘Ahead’, if you have the Japanese version) is a fantastic, catchy Rock stomp with a brilliant sense of release in its chorus and some great vocal work by Hyde. His guitar work blends with KAZ’s fantastically as well. ‘Evil’ and the slower ‘Damned’ employ a somewhat darker approach, with especially the former being an exciting track, ‘Get Away’ is a nice battle between synth, guitar and vocals and ‘Ghost’ is the best of the more introspective tracks.
Those who liked Vamps before ‘Bloodsuckers’ will most likely enjoy this album as well, but it’s also a great place to start if you want to know what the band is all about. It’s where the band transformed from a promising audience favorite to something that is musically interesting as well, no matter the simplicity of the material. In a way, these are really loud Pop songs, but they’re good Pop songs to boot. And with just enough variation to make your listen an entertaining fifty minutes.
Recommended tracks: ‘World’s End’, ‘Evil’, ‘Lips’