Cyntia's Limit Break
Release Date: February 12th, 2014
Label: Victor Entertainment
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
I am not going to surprise anyone when I say that I am among the many metal-heads that despises the recent trend of Babymetal this year. Normally I do not mind weird acts like that or odd mixes of metal and some other genre, but every time I hear "Chocolate" or any other Babymetal song, I instinctively want to put my fist through a wall. If you listen to Babymetal, well I guess that is fine. I guess. But know there are many better metal bands from Japan that can fill your metal needs and still retain the poppy Japanese vocals, the best of those being Cyntia! I have found many others lately when searching for an answer to all of those Babymetal "fans" out there but none have been so consistently satisfying and exciting as Cyntia, an all-girl Japanese Power Metal/Hard Rock group that formed only three years ago. Since that point, they have garnered quite a following in Japan but are still relatively unknown over hear on the other side of the ocean. Let's fix that, shall we!
Okay so this is the section where I normally talk about the band's background to give you a little more context on the band. Well, this is kind of awkward for me, because I know next-to-nothing about Cyntia, besides the fact that they are an all-female group that has a very stable lineup, only losing one member after the initial demo a couple years ago. After that release, they have released two other albums with this one, Limit Break, being their third and with such a strict release schedule (about 1 album a year), I am surprised they are not at least a little bit worn out. Other than that, well, I know the guitarist Yui had a small stint with Japanese Power Metal singer Liv Moon, but that didn't last long, which is odd because Yui is INCREDIBLY talented and one of my favorite parts of Cyntia. Uhm. That's about it. Oh yeah, except for this: Cyntia ROCKS.
Sample of "閃光ストリングス" or "Senkou Strings"
Okay first thing you need to know is that Victor Entertainment will not put full clips of their songs on Youtube, and from what I can see, they have a problem with anyone else putting Cyntia songs on Youtube as well, claiming copyright to remove the videos or at the very least mute them. So, the songs I will be posting here are the shortened versions that Victor Entertainment allows, which is only a minute and a half of the song, so if you want the rest (and I know you do), check iTunes or Amazon or some other source to hear the rest. Regardless, the song above, "Senkou Strings" or "Senku Strings" (I am sorry, I do not know a lick of Japanese so lets just go with "閃光ストリングス"), will immediately blow you away. It is the first song on the album and it is one HELL of an opener, not wasting any time and throwing you straight into a great Guitar/Keyboard duo, followed by an impressive drum roll and great melodic vocals that fits right into the Power Metal being formed. And make no mistake, this is Power Metal. Uplifting? Check. Speed? Check. Clean soaring vocals? Check. Chorus that makes you want to sing along even though doing so may make you sound like a blubbering fool? Check, check, and check.
Now, why does this show up Babymetal in every respect? Well let's go into Babymetal, and to do so, we need to know a bit about the J-Pop scene. Hey now, before you run for cover, consider this: Most J-Pop is corporate made, and even scarier is that the girls that sing J-Pop "hits" are incredibly young and literally bred for this business. However, once the girls reach a certain age, they "graduate" from the program and are fired or thrown out. Now, some make a mild career afterword but most simply peter out. The three girls in Babymetal were found by a group of men who are actually decent musicians and thought it would be a good idea to mix J-Pop and Heavy Metal, close to Death Metal, actually. Funny concept in theory, not good in practice, especially since before that point, the girls had never even listened to metal before. This band, Cyntia, is made up of five women who know metal inside-and-out, are obviously inspired by greats like Sonata Arctica, and, unlike Babymetal, these girls are increwdibly talented musicians, playing their instruments better than a majority of recent power metal bands, even better than some proven veterans. My personal favorites of the group, at least in my opinion, are Kanoko, the drummer, Ayano, the keyboardist, and Saki, the main vocalist (though they all chip in on the vocals to create big choruses, in true Power Metal fashion).
"Ride on Time"
I have listened to this album over and over again trying to find something wrong with it, a song I don't like, a player I think could be doing better, and I cannot find anything. Limit Break is the biggest surprise album for me this year and my favorite album of a completely new band for me, just barely beating Noble Beast. Every album after this list are from bands I have loved for years but Cyntia is completely new territory for me but I know they will soon be one of my absolute favorites, particularly if they keep putting out material like this. Hell, after this album, they put out another single called "Gonna Gonna Be Hot" and I love that song as well, which is more Poppy, to be honest, but it is still a hell of a lot of fun and enjoyable to listen to, even though I don't know a lick of Japanese and therefore have no idea what they are saying/singing (watch the full video for "Gonna Gonna Be Hot" here). My favorites from this album include "Ride on Time," "閃光ストリングス," "Night Flight," and "エレウテリア," songs that are just so uplifting and fun to listen to that you can't help but rock along with them. They now reside up there with Galneryus and Stereopony for me as my favorite Japanese bands. Cyntia put out one of the best albums of the year, and that's not an opinion, that is a fact. Buy it, because they are very difficult to find otherwise.