The Japanese music scene is immense, ranging from Teriyaki Boyz to the brain melting Baby Metal, from Dir En Grey through to Exile, there are a huge amount of bands that have sold millions of records, but are hardly known in Europe or the USA. Not all of these bands are based in Japan, with Esprit D’Air being based in London.
Esprit D’Air reformed in June 2016 after a three year hiatus, with guitarist Kai taking on the role of the vocalist, Ellis on bass and Daishi on the drums. Their sound is unique and fresh, bringing together hard-hitting aggression with melodic interludes and blistering guitar solos. Now the band have released their stunning comeback album “Constellations”.
The very first track “Ignition” is loud and brash initially, before delivering some ever so sharp breaks in the sound where I thought there was a buffering problem with the audio. Reassuringly though the track blasts into some precision percussion, with equally tight guitars and some nice synths adding to the mix. Kai’s vocals border on the epic operatic without being too overpowering.
The jump into the fantastic “Rebirth” is sudden, with no let up in pace. The synths carry over for “Ignition”, and although “Rebirth” is standout track there is a logical progression. The fretboard assaults are blistering.
“Guiding light” has more of a swagger to it and is something more of an anthemic track as opposed to a “blow your socks off with pace and technical ability” one. Kai’s vocals are also pushed, with a higher range delivered with confidence during the choruses. Then it’s straight back to some hefty brutal guitar work in “The Hunter”. Again, screaming incoherent vocals aren’t Kai’s style, thankfully.
“Starstorm” has more of an emphasis on the synths, and wouldn’t sound out of place on a “Black Mages” set. “The Awakening” is another one of the more melodic tracks as opposed to the heavy riff bludgeoning being hammered out elsewhere. “Reminisce” has a more aptly contemplative feel while final track “Versus” has an initial barrage of drums that suggest something heavy this way comes, but actually it’s more of a melodic finale.
“Constellations” is a great album, and if you haven’t given “J-rock” a try this would certainly be a great first look.