Thursday, 27 June 2013

Millarca - Drunstall (1996) | 90%

The Nihonzaru Made Me Blush

The musical world is cruel and nasty. It's so immense and not often rewarding. Who's choosing who gets big and well known? Satan? Jesus? Brian Slagel? I have no idea. One thing I know is that Millarca deserved a better fate than this. They released two great demos before falling even deeper into obscurity.  Dig, dig, dig into the ground for some doom sustenance and you'll rarely regret what you'll found.

Surprisingly from Japan, Millarca plays epic doom metal and they were pretty good at it. It's super fun that a bunch of Japanese dudes decided to truly go against the grain and play this kind of music instead of silly Visual Kei, thrash or black metal or anything else that was trendy in the Japanese scene. Released in 1996, the same year Boris released their debut and Corrupted was about to release theirs, this demo is truly interesting. Perhaps we can see that the scene was evolving and getting more varied but I don't want to be an historical revisionist. There's always been pretty unique bands and while Millarca certainly wouldn't had been out of place amidst the American or European doom scenes, they were in Japan.

Drunstall, their second demo is the more potent one. The four songs are all interesting and they really knew how to play their style well. If there's a band that needs a reissue of their stuff, it's them. They're a true gem of the doom underground and a label like Shadow Kingdom should pick them up just like they did with Epic Irae (Quicksand Dream's previous name). It's the second time I mention this label in less than a week but I really like their direction, they're a great benefactor to epic metal. Come on release a compilation of their two demos!

The greatest influence is perhaps Candlemass. The tone of the vocals is definitely an obvious nod to the Swedish giants. Kotetsu Kimura's delivery is exceptional, it's almost a tragedy that he never joined or formed other projects. Nevertheless, you could say ''Hey Tony, a Japanese band with a clean vocalist, it will sound like shit !'' No, dude, not with this project. His vocals on ''Devices'' are stellar. They're not too deep and not too high, he has an awesome non cheesy and clean voice that can convey the dark feel of the music without the need for an harsh throat. You can't really hear a thick accent and the parts where you can, it only adds to the charm of the band and it's in no way distracting or laughable. He has nothing to envy the heavyweights of the genre. 

While the production is something that you could expect from a 1996 doom metal demo, it's really not bad. The vocals could be a bit higher in the mix but they sound totally fine. The clean guitars are nicely recorded, the third  track, the instrumental ballad ''The Road to Drunstall'' is an example of how good the band is at creating vivid soundscapes. You feel at ease in the hot springs with your fellow macaques. It's a bit muddy at time but that's another part of their charm and I wouldn't have it any other way. The bass is still audible such as the start of the opening track ''Into the Forest''. The riffs are melodic and their tone is appreciable and oddly modern for their era. The songwriting and sound wouldn't sound out of place on a epic doom revivalist's album. It's more concise than their first demo (two songs, twenty minutes), this one has twenty five minutes divided into four tracks. Not that the first demo was direction-less but it's much more condensed here. Still, they totally fit as a perfect duo of obscure rocky epic doom. Millarca knew how to compose good riffs and good solos while respecting the de facto rules of doom metal and integrating both originality and grace to their music.

The atmosphere is murky but alluring not dissimilar to early While Heaven Wept with its sense of melody and despair. It's just really fucking good, do yourself a favor and check them out, I have no idea if there's physical copies on the net but it's easily found on download blogs (un)fortunately and that's until someone decides to re-release the demos.


Devices/The Road to Drunstall on Youtube

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