Now, by no means would you be wrong in calling me an absolute Deviloof fanboy. I am a fan of the music first and foremost. I do not obsess too much over the daily lives of the bandmates. I would be lying, however, if I did not admit I follow some of them on Twitter. With that out of the way, I want to start this review by saying I did not love this album. Take that for what you will. Read ’til the end if you want so you can get a full understanding of what I mean.
Coming off of the absolute banger that was Kaika, Deviloof hits us with their third album, Oni. In the time since they graced us with Kaika, the band has seen a bit more rearranging. The subtle changes in Deviloof’s sound may be attributed to some new input, or simply, we are witnessing the evolution of Deviloof.
Jumping in head first, we are greeted by GOUZINZANGOKU. Easily one of the heavier tracks on the album. this song is killer. It has everything you expect from Deviloof and then some. this is a new team at work, this is absolute chaos at its finest. The cherry on top being the masterful mixing by Ryo of Girugamesh fame. If you don’t believe my praise, just watch Jared Dines of YouTube fame react to it. Better yet, give the track a listen.
Oh hey, it’s Kaika! It’s a little different though. Now it’s Kaika ~Oni no maki~, in other words, the album version. This is something any Japanese rock veteran is used to seeing, re-releases and remasterings. though Kaika is still a rather young song, it makes sense, however, for a single before an album to appear on the album, there are some ever so slight changes to the overall sound of the track. Although, it remains Kaika. I would say some of the grit is gone and we now have a much more refined, honed, edge to the track.
After Kaika we are introduced to what I would consider to be the theme of the album. -You-, is a heavily electronic track utilizing traditional Japanese instruments. It’s an eerie past meets present. Befitting of the Oni album art but somewhat randomly placed.
Next up, we finally have Aishite Kudasai on an official Deviloof-only release. Before, this song was only available on an omnibus titled Yogenkyo. At the same time, it was also a real bitch to hunt down, until CDJapan made it easy to find again. Much like the changes to Kaika, there are some interesting changes to this track. They make for a song that is altogether the same but different. Vocalist Keisuke changes his singing up a bit for some more interesting intonation and quite a few more high notes. The original, still altered, guitar work is accompanied by interesting shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and faint orchestral violins. We also get some group screams that lend themselves well to the overall feel of the track. Moreover, the song has been bathed in the essence of the Oni with hints of traditional Japanese instruments calling back to The previous track, -You-.
Dusky-Vision, a familiar yet foreign song. We were granted a glimpse into this album because of this music video. There isn’t much I can add to this one since you can just go on ahead and listen to this song. The use of clean vocals is a nice change up from what we are used to with Deviloof. Personally, it is not my favorite track of the album. Regardless it is a solid piece with some heart-pounding drum work and guitars that will abort a young fetus.
Murderous Impulse, now here is something I can get behind. Whether it’s the deep pounding drums, the wicked repetition of the words murderous impulse or the murderous impulses this track gives me, I can’t decide what I like most about it. This is some classic Deviloof right here. The track assaults your ears with almost whirring guitar work and absolutely solid vocal work.
Ah, -Waku-, an interlude in the album. The sinister cousin of -You-. A completely instrumental track that brings in an eerie feel just before launching us into the final act of Oni.
Kumo no ito is a perfect example of old meets new. Here we get some of the best clean vocals by Keisuke in this album. They’re mellow, full, and absolutely beautiful in their own haunting way. This is complemented by some amazing changeups and some of that grindcore-esque guitar work fans have come to love and expect from Deviloof. A steady beat and a monstrous track in its own regard.
Creepy borrows a bit from some of the older Deviloof tracks, the guitar work off the bat is reminiscent of something like DESTINATION, however, the track quickly changes into something completely different with some almost rap-like vocal work from Keisuke and some of the other members of the group screaming out. Quasi-break downs and down-tuned guitars coat this track in a coat of devilish paint that gets your head banging and your feet tapping.
Oni closes with Ruten, a track that opens with truly haunting instrumentals. The twang of strings is perfectly cadenced by the sound of a bell over and over again until our ears are outright assaulted. A flurry of guitars and drums lays waste to our ears as some of the most guttural vocals of the album drone on beautifully. These complex vocals then transition into enka-like singing with the accompaniment of distorted Japanese instrumentation before massive launch into the world of heavy metal. Despite being the final track, Ruten, feels as though it is only the beginning of the next chapter for the band that is Deviloof.
Overall, I would not label Oni as a bad album. I have praise for each and every track on here. they are all worth a listen. As an Album, Oni is great. It’s not going to make you want to kill your neighbors (in a good way) but it will get you to bang your head. As a Deviloof release, however, Oni is not as strong as the rest of the offering. It’s not exactly what I expected—since I hold Deviloof to such high regard—however, it still beats out many great releases by other bands in the same sphere. Maybe after a few more listens my opinion might mature. However, with the few I have in now, I stand by my remarks. Listen to it yourself though, then, fight me.
Looking forward to the next one from this phenomenal group of artists.
Buy at CDJapan