The timing of Matenrou Opera's new EP could not have come at a more surprising time. Recently, original member and guitar-virtuoso, Anzi, departed the band. A shocker in and of itself. What is more astounding is there's barely an official reason to go along with the departure. However, this particular EP must have been in the works with ex-Deluhi guitarist Leda. Not one to shy away from the conceptually obvious, the boys return with a valiant effort known as Phoenix Rising.
|1. The Rising|
3. 愛した人 (Aishita Hito, Lovers)
4. Green Worker
6. 何十年先も今日みたいに (Nanjuunen Sakimo Kyou Mitaini, Today is Like a Thousand Years)
The boys' third EP begins in pretty much your most typical anthemic fashion. There is noticeably more synth carrying the melody right from the beginning. "The Rising" gives you visuals of the fire bird coming back from the ashes of whence it came. It surely blends well into the titular track, "Phoenix." Equally as anthemic, equally as powerful in nature, but with words. The melody seems to harken back to the intro and also is vaguely reminiscent of the Avalon-era style. The lyrics seem rather confident that the band is going to continue on as they have so far, which is excellent news to fans!
"Aishita Hito" is a pretty solid follow up in terms of sheer strength. It's a song that packs a valiant punch to follow the title track and has pretty equal parts synth and guitar carrying the melody. Sono's voice loses nothing in the backdrop of battling instruments. This should be a fairly good representation of how the band is going to work as a unit now, every instrument equally on display. "Green Worker," on the other hand, is pretty reliant on the bass. It's a far more guttural song that is more focused on the lyrics than the melody, as there doesn't seem to be one. Sono has a powerhouse set of pipes, but doesn't utilize their full potential here.
The fifth track, "Mask," is where its at. This song would have been a believable addition to Kassai to Gekijou no Gloria, thematically. It has the same edge in terms of the choral backing vocals and Sono's voice reaching some pretty impressive new heights. The most important distinction of this song is how they put Leda on display. It was very clear that they tried to do this EP without focusing too heavily on guitar up until now and that's what makes this song, in my humble opinion, the best on the album. Does Leda live up to Anzi's precedent? That's for the fans to decide, but Leda is for sure a good rival to his talent. Unfortunately, this is probably where they should've ended the EP. The final track is nowhere near as outstanding as former ballads, power or otherwise. The title is a really cool concept for an EP like this, but the drawback is that it feels more like a thousand years until the end of the song.
The long and short is this: Anzi cannot be replaced. They can only do their best to have another power-metal guitarist fill in. Their instrumentals will never be the same, but if this EP is a good representative of future projects I have every confidence fans will continue to love them.
Please help support these guys by purchasing their EP here or on your country's iTunes.