MinstreliX - Memoirs
Self-released
Melodic Speed Metal with Folk and Jazz Moments
12 songs (63'16")
Release year: 2007
minstrelix.fc2web.com
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

There are certainly MR staff members who are more qualified to review MinstreliX than me, but the chance has befallen to yours truly, and I am not going to shy away from it. In truth, it is good once in a while to take a break from my main metal listening pleasures which are dark and rarely vivacious. MinstreliX, the young metal outfit from Osaka, Japan, promises and then delivers a dose of bright and cheerful melodic metal.

Even though the MinstreliX self-stated European melodic speed metal influences are rather obvious, the band presents a significantly more captivating album due to various, often seemingly non-overlapping, influences brought forth. Storytelling in nature, thus fully justifying the “minstrel” claim, Memoirs makes an abundant use of anything, from Japanese folk chords to jazz forays, to keep the listener on edge.

Starting with the intro Amiel ranging from Japanese flute to Army of Lovers Crucified melody, the feeling is on – you are in for an experience. True to the original form and intent, many of the songs (Whispers in the Wind, The Betrayal) rely on bitingly sharp, brisk riffs, spiced with over-the-top shredding leads, some of them bordering on Yngwie self-indulgence (Entropy). An American singer Lola, with her voice shifting from powerful lows (Whispers in the Wind) grabbing some higher notes on the way to boyish dreaminess (Soul of the Breeze), makes the comparison with early Darkmoor and Fatima Hill complete, but with much more voluminous production. From rapid riffing to even faster flattery blasts, MinstreliX never forget about THE melody, sometimes weaving it at a rabid pace (Cruel Mockery). The band’s melodic whirlwinds, rooted in Japanese folk, would be difficult to dislodge once heard (The Betrayal). Most importantly, however, they are best heard on a sunny day, stating and reinforcing the affirmation of life.

Diversity in styles and compositions elevate Memoirs above the declining European power metal fodder. Keyboard arrangements can range from poppish ABBA to forest mysterious to overdramatic, and sometimes in the span of one song. While Moon Sickness begins dreamy and bass laden, Entropy is progressive, jerky, with its rhythms syncopated. The Betrayal and To Immortality insert priceless Spanish flamenco and lounge jazz supplements driving the songs decidedly away from generic. Long Winding Road is reminiscent of Wuthering Heights, with its Celtic folk overtones, hand claps and almost corny la-la-la singing. Even syrupy overture The Sick Rose, movie score ballad The Wanderers and J-Rock closer Awaken do not come off as anti-climactic due to the proper length and track placement.

Very professionally composed and executed Memoirs album demonstrates an excellent attention to detail, from the involved storyline about a young traveler to full color booklet. Firmly keeping its eye on the melodic core, MinstreliX branches out in every possible direction showing a knack for experimentation and versatility. Completely apathetic to the latest Hammerfall, Sonata Arctica and Stratovarious, Memoirs was a dazzling shining elixir for my gloomy metal soul.

Killing Songs :
Whispers in the Wind, The Betrayal, Cruel Mockery
Alex quoted 83 / 100
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