Master of Romance by Sadie
Review by: Kyra, on 3rd March 2009
Only a few months after I’m exposed to this band I’m listening to their first ever full length album Master of Romance. To me, Sadie is an incredible and inspirational band. Putting the things people say aside about them sounding almost exactly like dir en grey, they really are an impressive band in their own right.
It’s become almost natural; every band that is first starting out in the industry sounds like someone else. It’s a fact that some people are going to criticize bands for regardless.
Having listened to dir en grey for a few years I listened to all Sadie’s prior releases with an open mind. The first song was an accident really; having seen a fanvideo with clips from Sadie’s Silent Eve, I was attracted to the simple yet emotional video and looked it up. From then on I’ve heard each of their singles, mini-albums and compilation albums.
Imaginary Creature is an interesting track indeed. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect as an opener. Maybe I was expecting something heavy, like some brilliant guitar riff. Perhaps it was the opinion of the ‘dir en grey’ influence that made me think this. Instead I was greeted by something even better. A ballad that starts out slow with piano, stringed-instruments and whispered lyrics, it gradually progresses with intensity and, admittedly, some aggression. With some muted screaming in the background and some banging the lyrics suddenly don’t seem to matter as much as the mood that the song evokes. Imaginary Creature gets a 9/10.
The album truly takes off with Ice Romancer, the latest single before the album. As is true to the style of Sadie this song seems to have a bit of everything in it. It’s the kind of song that would drive you forward throughout your day. With a catchy chorus that starts the song off, a bit of death vocals and Mao’s soothing singing-voice, this sort of song is great to get you moving and it’s a good definition of the kind of style that Sadie plays.
As for the lyrics; in this song I find them rather humorous to be honest. You’d wonder why. Well it’s because JRock vocalists have always been known for their lousy English (or Engrish). In this song a lot of the English lyrics seem to be covered up by death vocals, and since people give such little thought to the lyrics in Japanese death vocals, I honestly find that to be a rather intelligent thing to do. Using rather poetic lyrics though, Mao sings of a very painful love in this song. Ice Romancer gets a 9/10.
Shingai is a little less diverse in style than the previous song. This one is all metal, and with all ranges of demonic-sounding vocals on Mao’s part. This song sounds like something in some of their earlier releases, but just a bit more polished. 8/10.
VIRTUAL FAKEMAN’s chorus reminds me of MAD-ROID for some reason. This song is upbeat and funky. It kind of starts off with dance-like music but the growling and screaming at the beginning makes you think you’re far from having a party. Undeniably though, there’s something I love about it. Whether it’s the impressive guitar riffs or the husky portions of Mao’s vocals, I don’t know, but it makes you move around and just have fun without giving it much thought. This song gets a 7/10.
Scarlet and Ageha no Nakigara blew me away the first time I heard them. The former is a rock track with a slower pace and so much emotion you could probably melt to, and is probably the best damn song on the entire album. With heavy dramatic drums provided by Kei, for once it sounds like it really is the drums and bass driving the song forward, as opposed to the guitars. This ballad is probably one of the most truly romantic tracks on the album; with Mao’s English that really aren’t half bad with singing-vocals you can’t help but fall in love. This song on the album is the first to get a 10/10 from me.
The latter, Ageha no Nakigara, defies any sort of categorization, and that simply makes it all the more interesting. I guess you could call it a ballad of sorts but that’s a little bit too specific and not entirely appropriate anyway. It doesn’t matter: the guitars are beautiful and Mao can apply screams without ruining the whole feel of the song. He truly blends his singing and his harsher screams to make an interesting and refreshing chorus. This song is entirely in Japanese but nonetheless, the emotions come through despite the language barrier some might find.10/10.
Crimson Tear, a previously-released single well-known for its promotional video, is an incredibly cool rock song that screams both rage and pain. Some people found that the low-budget PV ruined the feel of the song but with or without the PV I really really like this song. It’s a little bit raging, all over the place, and full of screaming, but, hey, that’s Sadie for you. This song gets a rocking 8/10.
Kagerou is such a fun and upbeat song with a real swing feeling to it. Or perhaps that’s just what it makes you want to do. There is no doubt that fans would love to bounce around to this song as part of an encore. The slower portions of the song are very melodic, sweet-sounding. The lyrics are similar; sweet and sad. One can imagine that if the if the temp was slowed just a little and the arrangement adjusted slightly it would easily make a poignant ballad. The song is pretty good but somehow I find there’s nothing particularly memorable about it. It’s another fast and heavy track and rather upbeat. I’ll give it an 8/10.
Parasite Scene has a deceptive opener of innocent jazzy keyboard. It soon unleashes the heaviness that is typically Sadie. It’s packed with heavy moody guitars by the well-taught Mizuki and Tsurugi. I was about to compare this to Shingai but the chorus was calling for attention: Mao layers his growling with screaming to make an interesting duet with himself. Sadly, I don’t find the same interesting novelty in the guitars in this song but they bust out some interesting riffs here and there. Parasite Scene gets an 8/10.
This song takes a few listens till you get used to it but once it has grown on you you’ll never stop listening because it really is that good. There’s a reason why Grieving the Dead Soul hit number one on the charts; it rocks. Grieving the Dead Soul has everything you’d hope for from a hard rocking Sadie song; a chorus of ghoulish death vocals, Mao’s trademark sing-scream style, and a refrain that will have you head banging even at your desk. Still, the shining moment is his wrathful screaming, particularly towards the end of the song. The quiet area near the middle of the song substitutes for a solo and is a breather after the two minutes of awesome head-banging that you’d probably been doing without much realization. The best part is probably the lyrics to this song; all the parts in English can be heard clearly, and they’re extremely well-written. It gets a 10/10, despite needing a few listens before you really fall in love with the song.
Swallow Rain is the mid-tempo rock song that ends the album on a lighter but equally emotional level as the rest of the album. The way Mao sings Swallow Rain is the part that stands out most to me, and the rest of the song is equally as emotional. The music leaves a vocalist, or at least a lyricist, which in this case is both Mao, very little and so much to work with at the same time so it’s understandable that he has apparently had some trouble with this song when writing it. 10/10.
That ends Master of Romance. It is easily the kind of album that a Japanese rock fan who appreciates variety can listen to from start to finish each and every time. As though we weren’t aware of it before, in a rock album of twelve tracks, Sadie has reminded us that there are different meanings to ‘romance’.
Ageha no Nakigara
Grieving the dead soul