Review by David Cirone
With their latest album, FINAL ATTACK, DAZZLE VISION has finally unleashed Full-Metal Maiko. The band’s trademark split-personality screamo/melodic style is still here, but new guitarist Tony has brought in an electronic element that opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for the band (maybe “screamo-electronic”?). The title track gives you a taste right away, where a grooving hard rock riff jumps suddenly mid-song into a electro-dubstep meltdown.
FINAL ATTACK includes earlier releases “EVOLUTION” and “SECOND”, plus a studio version of “Circle” (a live version was released last year on DAZZLE VISION’s Live in Pittsburgh CD). These are the songs that will get longtime DAZZLE VISION amped up, and “EVOLUTION” still dominates the album as the strongest track.
“A Brand New World” emerges in the middle of the album to give Maiko’s voice a complete auto-tune makeover. It’s a bit difficult to get emotionally involved here, and the excess of technical production made the song feel a bit distant. “Heartless” and “Be Free” get the balance just right, with the programming and electronic keyboard supporting Maiko’s excellent vocal performance and giving the band’s drummer Haru and bassist Takuro some room to cut loose.
“Sphere” is as close as we may ever come to a DAZZLE VISION dance remix, and –dare I say it– throws in an electronic dance groove for good measure. I enjoyed “Sphere”, but finished the song in a state of confusion. “Black Star” continues the mind-bending journey into auto-tune overload, and I had to check my stereo to make sure I hadn’t drifted into Yasutaka Nakata/Capsule territory. Interesting, yes, but to DAZZLE VISION fans it’s an unrecognizable and unexplained detour.
Tony’s guitar work shines throughout the album, and his double-whammy guitar and keyboard solos on “Open The Gate” are impressive and emotionally-charged. FINAL ATTACK delivers a lot of substance and replay value. I think most fans will pick and choose the songs that match their own vision of of DAZZLE VISION, while keeping a watchful eye on whether the electronic elements are a playful experiment or a sign of things to come.