Gonin-Ish - Naishikyo-Sekai
Just by looking at this album art, you can already tell you are about to deal with something out of the ordinary.
Gonin-Ish are one of Japan's more obscure gems, even in the metal world. What we have here is a unique slab of engaging progressive death metal with a slight avant-garde slant that draws from a myriad of influences, ranging from Dream Theater, Opeth, Atheist, Cynic, Arch Enemy, and even traditional Japanese music! Anoji's vocals take some getting used to at first, as she can get quite off kilter, but eventually you'll see that they fit quite nicely. Her growls almost resemble a Japanese Angela Gossow, and her clean vocals manage to be haunting and beautiful at the same time. Guitarwork is handled by both Anoji and Fu-Min Takahashi, with the latter handling most of the leadwork, and boy are they talented guitarists! They manage to lay down plenty of those technical, jazz-influenced metal riffs that wouldn't have been out of place on classics like "Focus", "Human", or "Unquestionable Presence", leading into some breathtaking, John Petrucci-inspired shredding guitar solos, which is all broken up by some good old Opeth style acoustic strumming. The difference here, however, is that they draw from the music of their own country, which really adds to this album's Japanese atmosphere. Masashi Momota's piano and keyboard playing is also of note, as he really gets to shine on some of the tracks, soloing just as much as the guitars do. He too knows when to hold back and be more atmospheric as well, and he contributes a lot to the Asian sound that this album has. The rhythm section, also deserves mention, in particular Jun's jazzy drumming, which creates the architecture for this insane piece of work, providing plenty of time changes and insane fills. Ariga doesn't get too many chances to shine, but his bass playing is solid.
If you are a fan of ANY type of progressive metal, then there's no excuse for you not to check this out!
Nare No Hate
Muge No Hito
I couldn't find "Akai Kioku" on youtube, but if you come across it, check it out as well.