I first got a glimpse of Gyze when I caught them supporting Battle Beast last year. Despite playing to a selection patrons whose numbers never threatened to break intro triple figures, they put on a blistering set under the stewardship of shape throwing axeman Ryoji Shinomoto. The charisma and energy they displayed that night is ever present in their studio material and continues to be a vital component on their latest single “The Rising Dragon”, a release supporting the Hokkaido 150th Anniversary Project.
Gyze are one the leading bands in a blossoming melodic death metal scene in Japan. A large part of their sound is derived from the Finnish scene that was spearheaded by Children of Bodom back in the late ’90s, although I’d say they have more in common with Bodom’s compatriots Norther, whose melodies and atmosphere always felt more lush and easier on the ear. Unlike either Finnish act though, Gyze circumvent any sort of distinguishable riffing and go full on with the melodies. Songs are built around their harmonies, with the riffs instead being utilised on a purely supportive basis. This is probably why the guitar tone is a bit thin and flimsy at times (particularly on opener “Japanese Elegy”), as the riffs play a minimal role in the grand scheme of things, so don’t need to be a prominent part of the mix. This actually works in their favour as far as their live shows are concerned, as they are a three piece with no one to play rhythm guitar, so you don’t tend to miss what is barely there anyway (one listen to “Dragon Calling” on this single is evidence of this.) Conversely, leads are pushed front and centre, as they are the most important part in the sonic landscape that Gyze create.
All three songs on offer have a folky, Japanese flair to the melodies that help to distinguish them from any European contemporaries. “Japanese Elegy” is the lesser of the two studio tracks, but is still a solid composition with great hooks. The title really is the star of the show though, with some sublime melodies and leads and the sort of epic feel that many power metal bands would kill to recreate. This is a styles that has always had its share of power metal influence, and this comparison is only furthered by Marc Hudson’s appearance on an alternate take of the song. The Dragonforce vocalist does a good rendition, although I’m not a big fan of the layered approach in the chorus, as the competing lines almost cancel each other out (this is more a production issue however).”Dragon Calling” is a live rendition of a yet to be released track and again has all the Gyze hallmarks. The recording itself is a little rough around the edges and a few of the finer details are likely lost due to this, with the lack of clarity adding to its charm in a world where many live releases are polished and overdubbed to within an inch of their life. It’s another well composed song with an incredibly lengthy, chaotic solo section, and an eventual studio recording is sure to be hotly anticipated by fans.
It’s only a brief affair, but “The Rising Dragon” is a superb exhibition of what Gyze bring to the table. Their songwriting skills, melodic sensibilities and all round performances make them a delight to listen to, and there’s no doubt in my mind that fans of melodeath and folk metal should enjoy the songs that make up this EP. Be sure to keep an eye on Gyze, as they’ve got everything they need to become a worldwide name in the genre. Here’s hoping they get the break they deserve.
Highlights: “Japanese Elegy”, “The Rising Dragon”
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The Rising Dragon is available now via Howling Bull Records.