By Carl Begai
One thing Blood Stain Child guitarist Ryu can never be accused of is a lack of creativity. Just like his constantly evolving image – one needs only to glance through promo pictures from the past eleven years for proof – Ryu’s musical vision continues to widen with each album. For the band’s fifth record, Epsilon, he did what nobody expected and added a female lead vocalist to Blood Stain Child’s ranks; his two-part replacement for the departed Sadew. Bassist and original vocalist Ryo is back up front as well, but the present focus is ultimately on Greek singer Sophia, who plays the melodic contrast to his death metal growls. This has added a completely new dimension to the band’s recognizable trance metal sound, raising eyebrows and dropping some jaws as Epsilon continues to circulate. As expected, not everyone has accepted the change with good graces and Sophia has quite naturally been singled out as the cause of the so-called “problem.” She sees no reason to be concerned, however, as her new bandmates would have left her recordings on the cutting room floor had she proven to be incapable of carrying the songs.
“I guess you thought much deeper than I did,” Sophia remarks. “Don’t forget I’m a typical Sagittarian, looking for adventure and new experiences. Also initially, Ryu asked me to ‘sing on a few songs,’ so I basically considered it a participation rather than becoming an actual band member. A couple of months later, though, while I had already started working on the songs he’d given me, Sadew left, so the band had no lead singer anymore. That’s when Ryu simply asked me ‘Do you wanna be the lead singer?’ I was like… (pulls a shocked expression). Before I could even answer firmly, he told me ‘Welcome to the band, everybody’s waiting for you in Osaka (laughs).” Continue reading BLOOD STAIN CHILD – Unlocking Electricity
By Carl Begai
Five albums old, Japanese melodic cyber-death metal outfit Blood Stain Child have made a habit of overhauling their sound from record to record. The symphonic Euro-metal mess of their 2002 debut, Silence Of Northern Hell, evolved into various forms of Scandinavian worship in the years that followed, chanelling a grittier and altogether fugly Children Of Bodom on Mystic Your Heart in 2003. The band officially hit their stride two years later with Idolator and a trance-laced take on melding classic and new age In Flames, which continued on Mozaiq in 2007, albeit with more focus on electronic elements, female backing vocals, and a new singer in the driver’s seat. Blood Stain Child’s fanbase has grown with them in spite of these changes, but nothing could have prepared folks for the metamorphosis that has resulted in arguably the strongest album of their career.
Epsilon sees bassist / original vocalist Ryo back up front, replacing his one-album replacement Sadew, only he now shares duties with Greek female singer Sophia, who has effectively changed the way Blood Stain Child does business. Between the melodic and oft-times pop elements of her voice and pushing mad scientist Aki’s electronica up front, evil genius / guitarist Ryu’s vision of creating something unique have been realized. Call it perplexing and bloody impressive, because Epsilon is one of those albums where steel-chewing metalheads should be screaming bloody murder when confronted with anime inspired techno-pop in the mix, yet it works. Continue reading BLOOD STAIN CHILD – Epsilon
By Carl Begai
Anyone who has spent time trolling around the metal world in recent years is aware of the Visual Kei movement. Consult the know-it-all realm of Wikipedia for a detailed description of what it entails, but in a nutshell Visual Kei is a full-on music-meets-image subculture out of Japan. Call it the Asian answer to the North American ‘80s glam rock / metal scene, only darker yet somehow even more flamboyant, with a hell of a lot more staying power. Unlike the Western world’s short run of guys-with-guitars-will-be-girls, which was snuffed out with the rise of Seattle’s grunge scene, Visual Kei’s origins date back to the birth of a “little” band called X in 1982, taking root in earnest with their 1989 breakthrough. With the recent international rise of countrymen Dir En Grey, Visual Kei migrated from Japan, going from foreign oddity to audio/visual trend in only a few short years.
Admittedly, I had no intention of tackling the subject. Introduced to X in 1993, I was blown away by their music and image, and they became a regular spin on my stereo. There was also a certain amount of I-know-something-you-don’t-know elitist pride in that the band was a non-entity to the general metal population. Fellow metalhead / co-conspirator The Rev and I had several conversations about the band at the time, agreeing that if North American labels had been aware of X’s existence (better known these days as X Japan) the band would have been signed in a heartbeat. Not that they ever needed a foreign record label to gain an international fan following or lay claim to millions of units sold.
Fast forward to 2010 and the Japanese melodic death metal band Blood Stain Child. Four albums young and working on a fifth, they made the surprise move of adding a female vocalist by the name of Sophia to their line-up. Adding to the unexpected news, she hailed from Greece and had an in-your-face Visual Kei look about her. Curiosity led to correspondence, which eventually turned into the opportunity for some unique insight on what is widely regarded as a cultural phenomenon.
A resident of Japan since August 2010, Sophia reveals she’s always had a focus on her current home. Her ongoing love affair with Visual Kei took hold long before she made the move.
“I grew up with Japanese pop culture and I’ve had a strange attraction towards Japan ever since I was a kid,” she reveals. “My mom used to buy me lots of Japanese stuff, take me and my brothers to Asian cuisine restaurants, and encouraged us to start practicing martial arts. Hey, even my first LP was a My Melody song collection (laughs). Moving to Japan came as a natural thing for everybody who knows even a little about me. I’ve always wanted it. The reasons are many, but the catalytic factor was, of course, Blood Stain Child.” Continue reading VISUAL KEI – Inside Looking Out: Metal, Make-Up, And A Walk-In Closet