Album of the Week 46-2015: Raglaia – Creation

After her departure caused Aldious’ fluff levels to increase significantly, one could conclude that Rami was pushing for the heavier side of the band. Raglaia’s debut album – or really even the singles that came out before it – seem to support that conclusion. Rami’s clean voice is supported by intense, heavy riff work that brings to mind contemporary melodic Death Metal more than once. The vocals and the highly catchy choruses keep the material very accessible though. In the end, ‘Creation’ shows a Heavy Metal band that is actually heavy. Combined with strong songwriting, this debut album is better than anything Aldious ever did.

More than half of the material on ‘Creation’ was released earlier this year on singles, so there might not be a whole wealth of suprising material here, especially since I doubt if the “album versions” are really that much different from the previously released versions. It’s easy to see past that though, because the album is a very pleasant listen all the way through. There are nice, heavy riffs and aggressive rhythms all throughout the record, alternated with strong melodic flourishes and the odd ballad. K-A-Z’s lead guitar – with more than a passing Vai resemblance – is just as essential to the songs as Rami’s vocals.

Raglaia shoots right out of the gate with the true riff monsters ‘Outer Dark’ and ‘Aching Memories’, the latter almost sounding like Machine Head with a female singer. ‘Ability’, ‘Break Down’ and ‘Cross’ are just as punishing. The good thing about this very heavy approach, is that it pushes Rami to her most powerful performance yet. She gets her chance to shine in lighter tracks like the stellar contemporary rocker ‘Remember’ and the more poppy – despite the intricate guitar work – ‘Promises’. Only the much too sappy ballad ‘Perfect Half’ disrupts the flow; closing track ‘Strings Of Fate’ and the title track adapt a darker, somewhat progressive ballad approach which is ultimately much more successful.

Another thing that makes ‘Creation’ stand out from other contemporary Metal releases is its extremely bottom heavy production. The riffs by K-A-Z and Youth-K!!!’s drums are supposed to pound your ear drums rather than cut through them. The latter’s drums sound nice and natural as a result; his kicks sound like actual bass drums instead of the clicking pen sound you get on many triggered kits. Rami’s voice, though in perfect shape, is a little too loud in the mix a few times, but that’s really the only downside of the production.

When I wrote the Pre-Album Praise article several months ago, I hadn’t expected ‘Creation’ to come out so soon, but I’m glad it did. The album proves Raglaia to be one of the most interesting new bands to come out of Japan in recent years. Really: as if Machine Head decided to write shorter songs and hire a J-Pop singer. If it’s hard to picture something like that, just listen to ‘Creation’ and tell me it’s not true. One thing is certain: this is Rami’s finest hour both in terms of her vocals and of the music underneath them. Promising stuff!

Recommended tracks: ‘Promises’, ‘Aching Memories’, ‘Remember’, ‘Strings Of Fate’

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