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Concerto Moon - Ouroboros

Concerto Moon
by Chris Hawkins at 22 July 2019, 7:29 PM

Heavy Metal is assuredly a global phenomenon.  Because of this, sometimes bands fall through the cracks despite being a dedicated fan for several decades.  Such is the case personally for the subject of this review, CONCERTO MOON.  Some twenty-three years ago, the band was formed by guitarist Norifumi Shima in Japan.  In all that time, the band released a whopping fourteen previous full-lengths firmly establishing their legacy as they penned some raging classic Heavy Metal.

CONCERTO MOON has been classified as Power Metal, but after diving deep into their material, this seems to be an unfortunate misnomer.  Power Metal implies an omnipresent influence of bands like MANOWAR, HELLOWEEN, and RIOT.  This could certainly be debated at length by Metal nerds like yours truly and many reading this, but CONCERTO MOON are devoid of any sign of the hammer and definitely do not hold the seven keys.  Instead, the band has a sound strongly – immensely, in fact, shaped by a devotion to the early material of YNGWIE MALMSTEEN.  While that legend’s contribution to Heavy Metal in general helped influence that sub-genre, his music in and of itself is more properly classified as classic Heavy Metal or specifically, Neoclassical Heavy Metal.

CONCERTO MOON is led by a prodigiously talented shredder as previously mentioned, one Norifumi Shima.  The one constant member during the band’s lengthy career, Shima has taken the unleashed fury of YNGWIE (anyone else remember that video?!?) and molded the band’s sound around the BACH and PAGANINI-influenced style.  YNGWIE’s influence is so prominent, in fact, that there is also a profound summoning of Richie Blackmore’s classic work in DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW as well.  Without Blackmore (and JIMI HENDRIX as well), there would be no YNGWIE MALMSTEEN.  The instrumentation found on “Ouroboros” also reflects this 1970s influence, particularly a strong shade of the great Jon Lord which can be heard with the extensive use of powerfully blaring Hammond organ sounds.  One is taken back to the legendary formative years of the genre as the organ/keyboard often doubles Shima’s leads, expands the chordal ideas, and launches into its own thick legato flurry of expertly-placed notes.

A closer look at Shima’s sound and style must be taken to give the band its proper credit.  Propelled by an astonishingly organic tone, his is an honest sound.  Cast aside are the racks upon racks of studio gear in favor of a no-frills sound of a guitar plugged straight into a Marshall stack.  If there is extensive use of effects, then it is a truly convincing affair for the sound is transparent and clear.  The tone is raw, thick with mid-range, a muscle-bound reflection of his blistering Heavy Metal.  The man holds court throughout the record with tight control of his output.  Every note counts as much as the next and the articulation is formidable.  An excellent example of his fluidity would be his work throughout the seventh track, “Run to the Sky” as well as “From Father to Son,” the track that follows, a personal favorite in which one can even hear a bit of Jake E. Lee’s influence in the furious double-picking of the main riff.  Between the fierce picking attack, supreme chord selection, and unbridled expressionistic soloing, Shima qualifies as a most legitimate guitar hero for the ages.

Throughout the album, the songwriting is strong.  Do not be mistaken by thinking this is just another shredder-spotlight album.  From the first track, “Change My Heart,” with its fist-pumping fury to the mid-paced Neoclassical ballad, “Holy Child,” the fourth track, there is a genuine dedicated priority given to quality songwriting.  “Alone in Paradise,” the fifth track, features some devastating double bass, and is the one track that does indeed favor a shade of Power Metal.

The only weak link in the band is the singer.  His vocals are certainly not nails on a chalkboard, but with such a criminally talented instrumental section, one would expect a lead singer that truly stands out.  Simply put, he is more Graham Bonnet than Joe Lynn Turner.  Overall, though, this is an excellent Heavy Metal record that checks off so very many essential boxes that one slightly weaker link does not seem to really matter.  That disparity could also be chalked up to personal taste.  Do not snooze on this album for it is a triumphant compendium of polished Heavy Metal glory!

Songwriting:  8
Originality:  6
Memorability:  7
Production:  8

3 Star Rating

1. Change My Heart
2. Dream Chaser
3. Surrender
4. Holy Child
5. Alone in Paradise
6. Fight to the Death
7. Run to the Sky
8. From Father to Sun
9. Into the Fire
10. It’s Not Over
11. Take You to the Moon

Norifumi Shima – Guitar
Shigeharu Nakayasu - Bass
Atsushi Kawatsuka - Drums
Ryo Miyake – Keyboards
Watashi Haga – Vocals

Record Label: Walküre Records


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