ALMONDot – 鋼鉄 – Koutetsu (Sony)

Wednesday, 10th April 2024
Rating: 9/10

Adding into the list of Japanese acts that continue to defiantly blur the genre lines and the expectations associated with them is the industrial metal act ALMONDot. Comprised of literal teenagers, the guitar and vocal combination of Sorai (18) and Ensen (17), respectively, is one that frequently merges sounds that one might not expect, especially given the self-diagnosed ‘industrial metal’ tag. There’s a massive range of sonic landscapes explored here, from the aforementioned industrial angle, to groovy modern metal and hints of even power/prog, to more melodic jpop, rap, funk, and rock to be found. In short, 鋼鉄 – Koutetsu, may be an acquired taste to some, but it’s ambition and young talent on display should win over anyone looking for outside the box musicianship.

At a scant 13-minutes and 5 songs, 鋼鉄 – Koutetsu wastes little time in getting it’s many points across. The most important of which seems to be how out of the box ALMONDot seems to sound. Each song seems to veer in slightly different directions,  with the glue holding everything together being the rumbling guitar work and Ensen’s vocal delivery. For a first release, there’s a very confident sound that comes through the speakers, especially considering how many different influences are on display. Opener “Hell Ring Sham” jumps in with some heavier riffs and near-rapping vocals and punk spark, but it shines brightly with a chorus that swings it into a more pop-ish direction. A later blistering guitar solo nicely bridges the gap between the two sides. First single “I’ll Go First, Sorry” has that more modern industrial metal feel, complete with stomping grooves and electronic injections that lead into a gloriously catchy chorus that only takes one listen to get stuck in your head. “Scharlach-Weiβ” continues the groove-forward approach as one of the heavier songs on the album, leaning into the guitar melodies and the fusion with Ensen’s vocals leads to a frequent feeling that is closer to a power metal anthem crossed with punk attitude and modern trimmings. It’s a real standout track, especially with just how much it packs into less than 3-minutes. “TSUNAMAYO ONIGIRI” is a quick, playful burst of groovy melodies, Ensen’s rapid-fire vocal delivery, and funky riffing that leaves the listener wanting more. Thankfully the final track “U-Zai” really leans in on the previous song’s funky, bouncing attitude and really runs with it alongside some heavier, industrial sounds and a massive breakdown later in the song.

Compared to some of their contemporaries, there sadly hasn’t been as much buzz about ALMONDot as there should be based on the strengths of 鋼鉄 – Koutetsu. Perhaps its just the speed of their roll-out, since “I’ll Go First, Sorry” came out in early January, and the earned accolades will start rolling in as they continue to bang out intriguing songs. Either way, those who dabble in the areas outside of traditional metal territory are sure to find a new favorite in ALMONDot, who leave a lasting impression with what they have accomplished in a mere five songs. With their young age and talent, the potential is brimming to the point of overflow.

ALMONDot official website

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