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Lifeblood : Shattered Wishes

Japan's Lifeblood offer a great debut effort that showcases a band who have already found their own sound.

I've listened to so many great albums released by legendary Japanese underground label Weird Truth over the years. Mournful Congregation, Worship, Ataraxie, Indesinence the list goes on. As it happens they were even responsible for the very first real CD I was on, Imindain's 'And The Living Shall Envy The Dead' way too long ago when I was a fresh-faced 18 year old (I didn't even have a beard)! To my shame though, I have never heard any of the Japanese bands on their roster until now.

Lifeblood, from Tokyo, have been around for a couple of years now, forming and releasing a demo back in 2013. 'Shattered Wishes' is their proper debut, released back in September last year. The band consist of two full time members covering guitar/vocals and bass, but enlisted the help of a session drummer to record the album, which, as good as programmed drums can sound these days, is always worth it in my book. The overall vibe I get from 'Shattered Wishes' is quite similar to what I feel from the early '90s British Death/Doom bands. However, as each of those bands had their own unique sound, Lifeblood also manage to keep the same feeling without sounding like any of those. They feel rather more like an undiscovered gem from 20 years ago rather than an imitator of any band.

The most interesting aspect for me is that the bass is responsible for the main melody almost throughout. With a totally clean and rounded bass sound it is unambiguously a bass guitar, yet all its lines are what would be played by the lead guitar for most bands. This change in instrumentation makes a surprising amount of difference to the overall sound if the exact same songs were arranged differently, with the lead guitar taking its more traditional role, I would probably be much more likely to accuse the band of being a copycat act! As it stands, the guitar sticks to an anchoring role for the most part, with riffs reminiscent of trancelike Black Metal in slow motion. That's not to say that there aren't moments of more traditional arrangements, but all in all everything is mixed up to enough of an extent to give Lifeblood their own sound.

Vocally, things are pretty consistent throughout. The growls are quite muted-feeling, more of a whispered growl than a screamed in-your-face type. The production is certainly a large factor in the early '90s-esque atmosphere, having that slightly thin and raw quality rather than a crushing wall of sound. The session drummer does a solid job, keeping things tight, but never drawing attention away from the full time members with flashy playing.

This is a great debut effort that showcases a band who have already found their own sound, a sound which is rooted in enough of the genres tropes to feel instantly familiar, but with enough differences to set it out as its own thing. I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys the classic melodic Death/Doom sound as exhibited by the '90s bands, and indeed several of their label mates.

Although Weird Truth's output seems to have slowed down to a crawl of late Lifeblood was the only non-reissue release of 2015 I'm glad to see they are still committed to releasing quality underground Death/Doom records. Although not yet as revered as some of the other artists on the roster, Lifeblood fit in perfectly and ought to get the attention they deserve in the years to come.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Black Rain
2. Still Alive (Not Dead Yet)
3. Numb
4. Stench of Excessive Self-Consciousness
5. Dark Days
6. Vestige of the Past
7. Failed in Life
8. Shattered Wishes

Duration : Approx. 49 minutes

Visit the Lifeblood bandpage.

Reviewed on 2016-02-15 by Kris Clayton
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