Overkill – Scorched14th April 2023
MMXX – The Next Wave17th April 2023
Label: Hi-PLY Records / Release Date: 25th March 2023
Senshi are Serbian in origin, but they describe themselves as a band that plays “… a unique blend of ragga metal fused with traditional Japanese instruments”. I’m picturing Benji Webbe eating goulash in a kimono and I’m more than a bit terrified. There’s so many potential pitfalls here, but you can’t help but admire the guts on these gents. Their debut album, Senshi no Seishin, was intriguing and made you want more, but it failed to really showcase Senshi’s own sound. The debut proved they were good musicians, but I’m going into their second-effort, Rise Again, with the hope that Senshi will really find solid ground.
Rise Again starts with a beautiful and atmospheric intro which really sets the tone, but I have one tiny problem with it: why does it not flow straight into the next song? It just feels like the perfect opportunity and letting the intro die down and thus leave track two to sort of start again, seems like a bit of a waste. Now, this might seem like nit-picking to you and you’re right. The only “problem” is that I have very few criticisms of this album beyond said nit.
Rise Again is an absolute triumph from beginning to end, even if you include the slightly wasted intro track. Track two, “Rise Again”, sets the tone for the entire album by being led by solid riffing, strong Ragga-vocals and excellent breakdowns. Instead of slowing the song down, the breakdowns work perfectly in simply shifting the scene. The incorporation of what the band only describes as “traditional Japanese instruments” is also meticulously executed. Instead of becoming tacky and a gimmick, the “traditional instruments” serve to amplify and beef up the riffs as well as chorus. “Rise Again” even features some female Japanese vocals and it just ends up being a glorious start.
The first two tracks truly set an amazing tone, but it’s really after the third song, “Evil In Dem Eyes” that you realize you’re in for something truly unique. This one swings between Caribbean grooves and genuinely furious, unforgiving and downright heavy metal. “Evil In Dem Eyes” is perfectly executed, “serious” metal, but it’s also sublimely playful and tongue-in-cheek.
And after that, there’s really no looking back. Rise Again goes from strength to strength and whilst it’s predominantly led by tight riffing and melodic Ragga-vocals, there’s plenty of Prog and even moments of 90-s Skate Punk. Track 9, “Run Dem Over” is the latest single from the album and it’s a perfect mosh pit anthem, but Senshi’s quality is proved by how they follow it up. We’ve just sat through a super-catchy single with tight riffs, so they follow it up with “Femicore Killer”, which is an unholy mix of Ragga, anime, alternative metal and something I can’t put my finger on. Unholy, but still bloody perfect.
“Piece of Light” is more stuttering and less driven, but that just adds a tiny dose of jazziness to the mix as it never feels like these guys are in doubt about where they’re going. Even when this song entirely changes direction and introduces male Japanese-vocals along with very prog-rock inspired sections, it still works. It ends up being the perfect closer.
I am aware that it is currently April, but I don’t care: Rise Again by Senshi is a pure triumph and it will definitely be in or around my top 10 come the end of the year. Senshi no Seishin was a decent album but failed to really leave a mark. Well, the feet have been planted and the mark has been made. All I want is more of the same from these guys.