Album of the Week 38-2015: Gargoyle – Tsuki No Toge

Among the most misleading album covers of all time is Gargoyle’s ‘Tuski No Toge’. Okay, the difference in quality between the album and its cover is nowhere near as big as with – let’s say – ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’, but look at the men – yes, I’m sure – in the picture. Would you expect an album chock-full of vicious Thrash riffs, albeit used in a somewhat unconventional manner? And would you expect the guy on the front right to sound like a rabid dog? If you answer both questions negatively, ‘Tsuki No Toge’ may be a surprise for you. It’s among the best Japanese Thrash records ever.

With Kentaro Yokota and Yotaro Yoshida debuting on the album, ‘Tsuki No Toge’ is effectively the first Gargoyle record with a guitar duo. She-ja left the band a year prior to the album and the arrival of two new guitarists is audible immediately. It’s still the same Gargoyle with a barrage of Thrash riffs and a number of melodic leads, but She-ja’s neoclassical style is traded for a more traditional Heavy Metal approach to solos. And though the band was never afraid of a layered guitar approach, it seems to be a more integral part of songwriting this time around.

In addition, Gargoyle’s trademark experiments work a lot better than they have in the past on ‘Tsuki No Toge’. ‘Dokaka De Jimushi Ga Naiteita’ and ‘Karappo’ no longer sound like rather forced attempts at Funk; their more riff driven approach brings to mind Death Angel’s classic ‘Act III’ album. Also, the bleak and brooding ‘Kuroi Hana’ and the more hopeful, yearning ‘Yakusoku No Chi De’ are among the very best ballads the band has ever recorded, really only rivaled by ‘Cogito, Ergo Sum’.

For those who crave a more Metal approach from the Osakan collective, there’s plenty to be enjoyed here as well. ‘Shouryakukeitachi Yo’ and ‘Senzaiteki Genkyoukaku Musabetsu Kakusei Kin Kansensha’ (I’m not making this up) contain the band’s most violent Thrash riffing thus far without losing track of constructing a good song, ‘Piichiku Paachiku’ and ‘Kanzen Na Doku Wo Youkyuu Suru’ combine similar intensity with a more catchy approach and the remarkably upbeat closing track ‘Catharsis’ sounds like a heavier take on Iron Maiden’s early days. And did you ever wonder what a scorching Thrasher would sound like if it was accompanied by metronome that sounds like a gorilla? ‘Fukyo’ will end your wonder!

Despite the fact that Gargoyle has a surprisingly consistent discography, ‘Tsuki No Toge’ stands as one of their most accomplished works. It’s the one where the experimental side of the band works best without going at the expense of the band’s classic blend of Heavy and Thrash Metal. If you want to know what Gargoyle is all about, ‘Tsuki No Toge’ actually is quite a good place to start. If that album cover doesn’t scare you away, that is. It’s well worth seeing beyond that. Beyond that lies a classic Metal album that transcends subgenre borders.

Recommended tracks: ‘Senzaiteki Genkyoukaku Musabetsu Kakusei Kin Kansensha’, ‘Shouryakukeitachi Yo’, ‘Catharsis’

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