review - 18.03.2019 00:01

Despite their gothic name, VAMPIRE PLEDGE played a surprisingly raw brand of power metal.

Keeping a metal band going is a tall order anywhere in the world. Even in Japan’s decades-old metal scene, a crowded marketplace and limited touring opportunities (overseas travel is a fantasy for most groups) mean survival is never assured. That said, where short-lived Western acts might leave a rough demo or two in their wake, even the most ephemeral Japanese acts tend to leave behind a polished single or two. Some even manage a full-blown album, VAMPIRE PLEDGE amongst them. Formed in mid-2010, the quintet promptly put out their full-length debut VAMPIRE LIBRARY in August the same year.

Considering the gothic imagery the band’s name conjures up, VAMPIRE PLEDGE played a surprisingly raw brand of power metal. There were also vestiges of a neoclassical influence, with guitarists Kyosuke and Tsukahsa seizing every opportunity they could to showboat. One vivid example of this excess is Dead or Alive, where the intro rolls on for over a minute before the vocals kick in. It wasn't all tedious shredding though, as both showed a real flair for melody.

While the musicianship on VAMPIRE LIBRARY is hard to fault, the compliment can’t be extended to the vocals. It’s not that Sayu was a bad singer. She simply lacked the range to hit some of the towering high notes the music demanded. The effect is comparable to Blaze Bayley’s tenure as the frontman of Iron Maiden — he often found himself called upon to sing parts written with a more limber-lunged singer in mind.

So, why didn't VAMPIRE PLEDGE last? Well, the band seems to have been more of a mutual side project for the various members. When the group formed, bassist Ami was still with DESTROSE and drummer GIGA THRASHER was already playing in LIGHTNING. What’s more, in 2011, Kyosuke and Tsukahsa joined NAKED SPY. The quintet continued to perform live until 2013, when Sayu and Kyosuke left in quick succession.

Following his departure from NAKED SPY later that year, Tsukahsa attempted a revival of VAMPIRE PLEDGE with an all-new line-up with ex-DESTROSE and Mary’s Blood guitarist Eri on vocals. Alas, this rebooted band’s first concert at Kichijoji Crescendo in August 2013 was also its last.

VAMPIRE LIBRARY is still available worldwide via iTunes and Apple Music.
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