Sadie - The Bullet Storm

review - 20.03.2008 12:00

A look at Sadie's surprising new release: The Bullet Storm.

The Bullet Storm is a departure for Sadie. Although fans disappointed with the new sound may insist earlier releases are exemplars of the "genuine" Sadie sound, the band proves with this album that they are capable of producing hits even while experimenting with new styles. The musical compositions on this album are relatively simple, though no less catchy than their predecessors. Mao's vocals, while more reserved, still show his incredible capacity to convey frustration, disillusionment, fear, and suffering. In particular, the choruses of Deadly Masquerade and Silent Eve offer great anguished notes. Although perhaps not the best of Sadie, the new mini-album maintains a musical sensibility which is unique to them while indicating the future of the band's evolution.

The name of the first track, Obvious Ballade, is misleading: fast, heavy and with a fair amount of screaming, nothing about the song resembles the traditional expectations for a ballad. Vocalist Mao's words are angrily spat out or alternatively whispered, sometimes simultaneously. The chorus is classic Sadie - very catchy, with a beautiful melody despite its loudness, and punctuated at the end with a growling yell and high pitched outburst. In general, the tempo changes frequently, and Sadie does what they're best at: melodic wildness.

Deadly Masquerade rivals Dir en grey's Clever Sleazoid in schizophrenic violence. Like orderly chaos, every space is filled and busy. Shouted interjections are squeezed into the tiny pauses of the fast paced chorus. Aggressive and hyperactive, the song is packed with catchy but mercurial guitar riffs and vocal melodies, words alternating between being fired out quickly and mournfully prolonged. The guitar in the first verse transforms from a busy riff into drum-like punctuation in the second. Mao's voice also demonstrates substantial diversity with him shouting, singing and growling, sometimes all at the same time!

Thank goodness for the relatively quiet third track Silent Eve, which showcases the lighter side of Sadie. Unlike the other songs on the album, Silent Eve has quiet moments with Mao singing near a capella. The noise returns with the chorus and a soul splitting scream after the bridge. What the song lacks in heaviness it makes up for in attitude. Starting out soft and gentle, Kei then steals the show with a quick drum solo before aggressive guitar playing breaks out. And there is also Aki's simple but memorable bass playing during the verses.

What makes Silent Eve the jewel of this album is not just its beautifully haunting chorus but the less noticeable ornamental aspects of the song. Each of Sadie's best compositions has some interesting layering and Silent Eve is no exception. The second half of every verse changes as an additional guitar line enters, and the two soar off in different directions. The second guitar in the last chorus is especially memorable, playing a higher line not heard earlier in the song. Those divergent melodies are a welcome departure from the heavy riffs so prominent in this album, and in general the relative lightness of the song is a pleasant break in the otherwise entirely heavy CD.

Waver in Darkness is the surprise of the album, and not a wholly positive one. What makes the song a disappointment is the chorus, in which the vocals are limited in range. Having said that, there are some redeeming qualities: an interesting opening which resembles a heartbeat, Mao's low voice overlapping with his falsetto singing, and lyrics entirely in English, which work with the song's ominous feeling.

In Blue Irony, Sadie reasserts their mastery over producing poignantly mesmerizing refrains. Fast paced throughout and with alternating light and heavy guitars, the song is very simple structurally but ultimately enchanting.

Though each track on the disc is a hit in its own right, this album does not demonstrate all that Sadie is capable of. Songs from earlier releases have Mao in a higher register, singing-screaming throughout the chorus, rather than the randomly inserted screams and shouts found on this CD. The Bullet Storm may not be Sadie's best work, but it certainly maintains the essential characteristics expected from the band: melodious layers one can get lost in coupled with a dark revelry in sorrow and anguish.
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