BAND-MAID「CONQUEROR」~album Talk~ 01
At the drop of a hat
The Dragon Cries
I had a stack of (new & old) records that I couldn't wait to listen to and start talking about for ~album Talk~ on Puro Pages, but...since one of my favorite bands dropped the digital version of their new album a week early, I think it's a perfect occasion to make my first entry in this series the latest from BAND-MAID: CONQUEROR.
Didn't plan on talking about digital albums, but I pre-ordered this album on CD from Japan so it'll be in my player in a couple weeks. The version I bought (there are 3 diff covers) comes with a DVD of the band playing instrumentals so maybe I'll type something up about that when I finally get to check it out.
By the way, go buy the album here.
Let's start from the top. On very first listen, "PAGE" was jarring to me. After the initial play, I realized what they were going for and I've warmed up to this song a little. As an opener, I get the feeling that "PAGE" is supposed to come across as some sort of surprise for better or worse. I can admire that. Coincidentally, I happened to read an interview recently where their main songwriter/guitarist Kanami mentioned that she wrote this song with the intention of being played at weddings and that the lyrics by guitarist/vocalist/band mastermind Miku are about wanting to be pretty forever in contrast to BM's usual take on such a subject. Both reasons definitely explain the rom com vibe of this song. Saiki (lead vocalist) says she loves it and she has veto power in the band, so I can't be mad at it. But...if you aren't feeling this one, move forward to the next track. It's worth it.
"glory" is an excellent track that was previously released as a single late last year. The fun beat and the super-rhythmic arrangement always got me & I listened to it a lot when it came out. The section of new tracks after this seemed underwhelming on first play, but grew on me real quick on repeated listens and I've come to realize that this is first and foremost a pop-rock album. A satisfying one either way (and still pretty heavy). I mention this in comparison to their album "World Domination" from 2018 which is relentless sharp teeth hard rock + 2 ballads for fun (also satisfying).
"endless Story" is a solid arena anthem single with a charming MV. "Mirage" is pop-rock excellence. Your fav 90's bros never could. "Wonderland" is a style bridge into a couple of epic upbeat tracks ("Azure" & "Dilemma"). They played "Wonderland" at the lives they did in LA a couple months ago & the band seemed elated to perform it. That made me keep an ear out for it on the album. Definitely lots of that heavy emotional ballad flexing. Can't complain.
[Saiki - Vocals // Kobato Miku - Gtr/Vo // Kanami - Guitar // MISA - Bass // Akane - Drums]
*photos from co-promotion with Zippo lighters featuring their personalized designs.
"Bubble" is probably my favorite of the singles they put out before the album. This song's style is a window into what is in store for you on Conqueror as a whole. The emotional and confident presence on this track are another huge flex for Kanami's songwriting and how everyone in the band takes those ideas to the next level.
One of the mightiest elements of BM's sound is the rhythm section of Akane and Misa. Even in the most pop-oriented tracks, Akane pounds out catchy heavy beats & Misa uses her signature busy bass playing style to elevate everything.
"The Dragon Cries" is the only single that I haven't warmed up to yet. The band's excitement about collaborating with Tony Visconti on this track made me keep giving it a chance. Still not sure about it. BM pulls this song off with confidence though & I don't want to talk trash, so I'll just leave it at that.
"Flying High" seems spiritually tied to "Dragon Cries" only with a little more fun thrown in. The last three songs are some of my personal favorites on the album. "カタルシス (catharsis)" is another amazing pop-rock song and I can totally hear the Santana influence in Kanami's guitar parts. The breakdown with spoken part reminded of 90's Prince. Crazy & cool.
"Blooming" is a heavy pop punk jam with a cool arrangement. In my mind, a lot of these tracks recall the 90s/early 00s era of J-pop-rock, but updated and injected with the type of style and presence that only BM can deliver. The album closer "輪廻 (RINNE/Reincarnation)" is a big aggressive track that closes the disc nicely. The black cherry on top, exclamation point, etc.
Is Saiki one of the baddest rock vocalists ever? Obviously. Are BAND-MAID one of the best bands of all time? You decide. CONQUEROR is worth your time + their other full length LP's "Just Bring It" & "WORLD DOMINATION" make 3 of the most essential rock records of the decade if you wanna go there (imo). I'm glad I got to spend a rainy LA day walking around the city getting familiar with these songs.
Stream/Get: All the platforms.
<Insert IG vs Reality dummies here>
*I did not take any of these photos & do not own them. All rights belong to their original sources.