Masheen Messiah 2019
Japanese art-rockers hit their stride and venture into brightly lit future.
It took this ensemble exactly one album, their 2016 debut "For The Light Unseen" that established MASHEEN MESSIAH as a viable entity, to shake off the shades of obvious influences and become quite special. Whereas there’s still classic prog rock blueprint at play, the group always wrap obligatory complexity in pop confection when a chorus is concerned – befitting a record that begins with the triumphant “Turning The Page” and signs off with the soul-colored title track, offering to explore the concept of expectancy. As a result, here’s an aural book one would want to delve in at full volume and savor even the quietest moments.
The songs on the collective’s sophomore effort are rather spectacular, and if the bombast behind “Fanfare For The Eastern Feast” should slightly abate once six-string riffs let Matsumi Tanamura’s voice come to the fore and Mark Murdock’s belligerent beat anchor the mellifluousness of Yoshihide Akiyama’s ivories, joie de vivre oozing out of it all feels irresistible. More so, the cymbals-caressed splashes of “Flying High (Learn To Be Afraid)” drive rockin’ an’ rollin’ controversy towards the tuneful drift until Yasushi Tsuruma’s funky bass and Tatsuo Inoue’s flamenco lace turn the tide and unfold romantic vista in front of the listener. Emotional contrast increased, “This Greatest Ride” has carnivalesque rapture smeared over vocal harmonies and tight-but-loose instrumental interplay – suffused with percussion detail and cosmic delight yet…
All of it is but a build-up to “A New Beginning” whose epic, almost symphonic scope paints hope over the lyrical landscape before soaring to celestial heights so, while Murdock’s drum stage a storm, flute licks soften the drama by adding folk sensibility to the flow, and setting the scene for the infectious “I Will Hold On” which could top any AOR chart. Away from arena sway, “New Day Messiah” may adhere to prog formula, but the number’s interplay and delivery are too playful for genuine art-rock, despite synthesizers galore and guitar fever, and the tempered anxiety of “Peace (Is The Word)” climaxes with a bittersweet, choral bliss to banish any genre notions from the record’s context. After that, the finale sounds a bit superficial, yet flipping a page to the future has rarely been as exciting.