ReviewsBridear - Born Again (Psychomanteum Records)

Bridear – Born Again (Psychomanteum Records)

One of Japan’s long-standing metallic exports is that of Bridear, who have championed a balance between NWOBHM influences, Jpop, and modern metalcore into their musical assault since forming in 2011. While to some it may sound like a jarring combination of their influences, Bridear take full advantage of their eclectic approach and embrace it, providing an album in Born Again feels as if the band has really come to know the ins & outs of what they can do and showcase them in the best possible way.

For starters, this time the band went to Sweden to record with Fredrik Nordstrom at Studio Fredman (who worked on their previous live album, released in 2023) as well as received some production help from Dream Evil (Nick Night appears on “Die Like This” as well). All of this leads Bridear to a sound that feels more visceral and ‘worldly’ than ever before. One can hear it in the varied tracks and their presentation. Opening cut “Still Burning” carries a big grooves, some occasional growled vocals, and plenty of frantic energy. But beneath it all is a very classic, melody-driven approach that can be heard through the guitarwork all the way down to the playful extended soloing done later on. This similar contrast makes its way through the second song “Braver Words” in it’s flirtation with pop and rock elements (particularly in the insidiously hook-y chorus) while not shying away from some punchy grooves and rousing metallic guitar melodies.

“Fight it Down” is a frantic, power metal anthem of a track, with galloping riffs and steamroller energy. Complete with the appropriate guitar heroics later on, the album’s shortest cut is its most straight-forward, but it fits quite effectively between the more hook-y “Real is Real,” with its occasional snarl of vocals and drum blasts but undeniably playful melodies shining atop, and the upfront grooves of “No Angels,” where the stomping riffs clash with powerful synths and some injections of poppy melodies. The album’s longest track, “Empty Mind,” takes a more tempered pacing to it’s grooves and laces them with some moody electronics and even some stadium rock “whoas” to make it into a song that feels special within the release.

Compared with some of their contemporaries not only in the Japanese scene, but the world-over, Bridear’s more guitar-centered approach stands out. While Kimi’s vocals are impressive in their own right, the rest of the group doesn’t rest on her laurels. Instead, the classic guitar melodies give the band a distinct feel that merges old with new, and aggressive with melodic. It’s a thoroughly winning approach that Bridear has mastered on Born Again, and it should allow them to easily conquer a more global audience that may not have taken notice before.

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