Onmyouza – Maou Taiten

maou taiten

Tracklist:

  1. Jokyoku
  2. Maou
  3. Kokui no Tennyo
  4. Fugutaiten
  5. Hadou Ninpouchou
  6. Hyousube
  7. Ookubi
  8. Mukuro
  9. Kuchizuke
  10. Ikiru Koto to Mitsuketari

———————————

1. Jokyoku

The first track is a short introductory piece, with strings played to rolling drums. It kind of sounds like the prelude to a battle, and it’s not really much like anything else on the album, but I suppose it sets the mood if nothing else.

2. Maou

As the first real song of the album, Maou is a furious track with edgy guitar riffs and drums smashing away at the rhythm. Kuroneko starts off with lead and uses some of her deeper vocals. Next Matatabi takes over, powering through and unleashing his vibrato. They harmonise in the chorus with Kuroneko leading, singing fast and excitedly. The song doesn’t particularly have much form, as after the first chorus is the long bridge with Matatabi doing some weird talking and growling. It’s chaotic, but in a good way. I’m a fan of it.

3. Kokui no Tennyo

Kokui no Tennyo begins with some strummed distorted chords and interesting guitar parts going from low to high. Kuroneko sings during the verse, but Matatabi takes the pre-chorus, and they have a short duet. I love how expressive Kuroneko is in the chorus There’s a great interplay of the two singers’ vocals, as there is between the guitars. This song is also pretty good.

4. Fugutaiten

Fugutaiten is just as furious as Maou, if not more so. Matatabi sounds incredibly fierce, spitting out his vocals and combining it with some deep tones. When Kuroneko sings the chorus, she also takes some of the aggression and channels it into her singing, especially on the high notes. There’s some angry shouting in the bridge, before leading into the guitar solo where both Maneki and Karukan get leads. Actually, I like it a bit more than the previous two tracks.

5. Hadou Ninpouchou

Clean guitar starts the track, followed by distorted riffs. I love the verse as Kuroneko sounds fantastic, but I’m not as keen on the chorus. There’s nothing wrong with the singing, but I don’t like of the kick drums going the whole time and it’s on the repetitive side. There’s no guitar solo too, just the same repeated riff as in the rest of the song. Kuroneko’s high part make the last chorus better though. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad song, just could have a bit more going for it.

6. Hyousube

Hyousube is a mid-tempo rock tune with a bit of an old-school style. It’s got this fun feel, with Matatabi and Kuroneko trading lines in the verse, and Kuroneko soloing during the chorus. She even sounds a little cute at times (very little), and is accompanied by a cowbell and animated shouts by the band. I love how Onmyouza can do both hard-hitting tracks and fun ones as well.

7. Ookubi

Contrasting with Hyousube, Ookubi is a slow and evil song. Starting with dark guitar riffs and ghostly noises, the rest of the band then joins for an impressive and powerful introduction. When Kuroneko enters, she has a mysterious tone and sounds like she’s telling a story with her vocals. After a guitar solo with a lighter mood, there comes the bridge. And man, is it sinister! Matatabi’s vocals are seriously vicious, and he sings really low and angrily to bring out an ominous atmosphere (Onmyouza like to play around with some odd timings too, the bridge is in 7/4). This is the stand-out song of the album!

8. Mukuro

I think Mukuro is the fastest song of the album. Matatabi starts the singing with his harshest tones, which don’t really sound that great tbh. Luckily Kuroneko rescues us with her awesome vocals, and when Matatabi has a lead part later his vocals are back to normal, thank goodness. I like the mid-tempo parts of the arrangement, but I don’t like the really fast bits as much. So overall, there’s both good and bad parts about this song.

9. Kuchizuke

Kuchizuke is the ballad of the album, and has an arrangement consisting of drums, strings and clean guitar arpeggios. Well, it’s not the best ballad Onmyouza have done, but it’ll do for a change in pace. Kuroneko’s vocals aren’t half bad, and she expresses herself during the chorus well, although the verse could do with a little more energy. I though the ending was really sudden though. So it’s just an average song.

10. Ikiru Koto to Mitsuketari

And bringing up the rear in style is Ikiru Koto to Mitsuketari. It’s such an exciting song, with the mood uplifting and the band shouting along to Matatabi’s vocals. Kuroneko doesn’t feature in this song, but it doesn’t matter as Matatabi has all the energy and vivacity needed to power the track along. Certainly an awesome way to finish!

Onmyouza’s 8th studio album was a solid release. Apart from Ookubi, none of the songs stood out to me as really great tracks, but then there weren’t really any poor tracks as well. They were just all good and consistent. So not their best album, but Maou Taiten would be a good place to start if you haven’t heard of them before, and their next releases only get better.

And by the way, to summarise Onmyouza’s style in one word, vibrato. They love it. So if you aren’t too fond of huge vibrato, I wouldn’t come too close….

Top Tracks:

  • Ookubi
  • Ikiru Koto to Mitsuketari
  • Fugutaiten
  • Maou

Rating: 8.5/10

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5 Responses to Onmyouza – Maou Taiten

  1. Nat says:

    Ah, I quite liked this album. Kuroneko has an awesome voice. I used to really like Onmyouza, but after some time it seemed like it was getting hard to distinguish their newer stuff from their earlier work, it was all starting to sound the same to me…Do their releases after this album really get better?

    • 123 says:

      I haven’t heard their first few albums, but it seems to me their earlier works were heavily Iron Maiden influenced. The album before this (Garyo Tensei), they started moving away from that sound, but I don’t think they had got it quite right so it was kind of average. Anyway this album and after they go more riff-based and the quality of their recordings is better too and I like it more. I’ll get around to writing reviews for their next three albums sometime. So I think they get better, but maybe if you don’t like them as much it sounds the same? Haha did I answer your question?

      • Nat says:

        Kind of? Haha. Thanks for the response. I get what you mean about them moving to a riff-based sound, but yeah, I guess at the time I was already falling out of love with them and wasn’t too impressed by it. I may check out their more recent stuff, though, and see if I find it enjoyable; I stopped after Chimimouryou. And I’d be interested to read any other Onmyouza reviews from you ^_^

        • 123 says:

          Maybe after a break you’ll find you like them again. Or not. Actually what I meant to say is that personally I found their old stuff similar and their new stuff different (but I started listening to them backwards from their newer work). So maybe our tastes don’t sync with this group. But I though in their latest album Kishibojin they had a few different-experimental-type tracks (an enka one, pop rock, synth ballad) which was pretty cool. So if you do decide to listen to more of their music listen to this one first, it’s my fav!

  2. Nat says:

    I think I will, thanks! Yup, it could be just that our tastes our different. But enka, pop rock and synth ballad from Onmyouza definitely sounds interesting ^_^

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