Mary’s Blood - FATE

review - 09.09.2017 20:01

SAKI reins in her guitar while EYE comes to the fore on Mary's Blood's third album.

The last couple of years were a trying time for Japan’s “girls’ metal” scene. Several bands folded and most of those that didn't had their output stymied by issues both internal and external. Meanwhile, power metal quartet Mary’s Blood marched on, much as they always have done. Since 2011, the band have consistently turned out a new release every year. The most recent addition to their catalogue was October 2016’s FATE, their third full-length album and second since moving labels to Victor.

Musically, FATE is very much a follow-on from 2015's Bloody Palace, which saw Mary's Blood exchange the refined melodic majesty of Countdown to Evolution for a more rough and ready approach. A side effect of this was that it placed vocalist EYE firmly in the spotlight, taking the place of SAKI whose guitar pyrotechnics have become largely confined to her solos. The music hasn't suffered though, especially as EYE has gone without the English lyrical hooks of previous albums that, while catchy, sometimes brought to mind the penmanship of Akimoto Yasushi, the man behind such lyrical masterpieces as HKT48's Melon Juice.

When SAKI is allowed to indulge her talents, it’s mostly in the company of other guitarists. For instance, her solo battle with ex-SEIKIMA-II shredder LUKE TAKAMURA on Chateau de Sable is the best slice of out-and-out guitar porn FATE has to offer. Less sizzling, but still satisfying, is SAKI’s solo-off with SHOW-YA guitarist Igarashi Miki. Though the rumour that the two women are somehow related remains unsubstantiated, the song provides definite proof of some musical chemistry between the two guitar goddesses.

In 2016, drummer MARI’s ex-Clandestined bandmate Okazzy said he thought the rise of all-female metal bands in Japan would be good for the genre’s image, but detrimental to the quality of the music. One can only wonder if he’s been listening to the same bands we have. Whilst FATE can hardly be called Mary’s Blood’s masterpiece – that accolade still belongs to 2014’s Countdown to Evolution – it’s a step up from their last one and another worthy addition to their body of work. May there be many more to come.



A special edition of FATE is now available via British label JPU Records.
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