Listening to Japanese power metal is always an interesting experience, as made obvious by their curious - by our Nordic standards - cultural takes on not just metal, but music as a whole. One will surely think first and foremost of Babymetal, but following in their wake will be a myriad of more or less talented outfits taking influence from a multitude of sources. Since their beginnings in 2008, power metal outfit Aldious have made something of a name for themselves, Unlimited Diffusion being their sixth full length album since starting out almost ten years ago. Ever since debut album Deep Exceed (2010), they’ve been an eclectic band taking influence from European power metal masters Helloween and their ilk, as well as the American rock scene and certainly various Japanese outfits, both within metal and pop. Led by vocalist Rino “Re:NO” Nikaidou, they focus not so much on the innate heaviness of the music, but more on a happy upbeat feeling so well known to power metal fans, incorporating a number of influences on this, their sixth album.
Though vocal centric, with Re:NO slightly too high in the mix, the music does feature some truly riveting guitar parts. Take for instance the main riff of In This World, the furious melodic leads of Lose Control, the softer melodic parts of 梅華, or the softer, emotive touch of closing track Fragile; the guitars are a clear driving point and are played with perfect aim by Yoshiba “Yoshi” Hoshizaki and “Toki” in their dual axes approach. The guitar tone itself is reminiscent at times of your average flower power metal band, and at times - such as in Without You - of some upbeat alt rock outfit (had it been sung in English you can bet it’d garner some radio play). Take at that Re:NO’s constantly melodic and happy vocal approach, which can at times break the feel established by the rhythm guitars and the boom bass, and at other times take everything to epic new heights. She’s a highly capable vocalist, sugary and sweet as you please, yet still handling the speedier metallic parts of Aldious’ style with seemingly little effort.
Furthermore, In This World slaps on a deep sounding bass solo that’s both captivating and emotive while staying true to the upbeat style of the music. In fact, bassist “Sawa” makes a more than solid album, her bass lines driving and resounding throughout the playtime, as well as prominent enough in the mix to make an impact - her highlight being found in what might just be a future power anthem in opening track Utopia. Starting off on a blistering high note with the aforementioned Utopia, the album seems to gradually lose momentum as well as speed, as each song goes by, with some not so interesting slow material in the very middle. The slow rhythmic chugging of マリーゴールド or the uninspired melodic parts of Alright, neither are very interesting or captivating. Instead, you’ll find the album is bookended by its very best tracks; opener Utopia with its sugary Freedom Call feel and speedy In This World being the obvious highlights for any fan of traditional power metal. Had the guitars been given a more prominent place in the mix, the best sides of this album might be truly stellar. As is however, the album, while not the band’s best, is a stable effort regardless of the slower mid album tracks. Though it might not appeal to everyone those interested in Japanese power metal and J-rock fusion should definitely give Unlimited Diffusion a spin.
Standout tracks: Utopia, In This World