Album Review: Ryujin – Ryujin

4/5

Samurai metal band Ryujin are set to release their hard hitting, self-titled, debut album January 12 via Napalm Records. Let’s do a quick history check to bring you up to speed. Brothers Ryoji and Shuji Shinomoto formed Suicide Heaven in 2009 before their name change to Gyze in 2011.

Gyze released four albums and several EPs before changing their moniker to Ryujin, named after a Japanese dragon god, in January 2023. The band signed to Napalm Records and aligned with Trivium’s Matt Heafy who stepped into the picture as both peer and mentor. Heafy guests on four tracks and shares production credits on Ryujin’s self-titled record as well.

Ryujin and their debut album have been described as melodic death metal. For this critic, that characterization does them a huge injustice. Like the many scales on a dragon, there’s many musical facets that comprise this band such as power, thrash, melodic death metal, classical, even some Japanese influences too. The strength of this record lies in its inherent diversity of metal and how well Ryujin ties it all altogether in seamless fashion. Even better? How hard and heavy they execute it.

Here’s a few examples of what I’m talking about. The power and speed aspects are showcased in tracks two and three (“Gekokujo” and “Dragon, Fly Free”) while a more straight-forward metal approach takes center stage in track five, “The Rainbow Song” featuring Matt Heafy. All killer, no filler.

Track six, “Kunnecup,” returns the focus back to a speed/power metal style but with somewhat of a classical undertone to it, reminiscent of Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” with its metallic, hard gallop. Throw that fist in the air! Track seven, “Scream Of The Dragon,” is a switch up between melodic death metal and metal in general while track nine, “Saigo No Hoshi,” is closer to a ballad than anything else on this album.

I like this record a lot. Ryujin’s ability to change up style and approach, song to song, keeps their sound fresh and exciting. They’re tight, they’re original, and their music is top notch. Ryujin have a big, soaring quality to it, like it’s the soundtrack to some epic, action, adventure flick which has yet to be made. Go to YouTube and check out a few Ryujin videos, then go buy the record.  It’s a hell of a way to kick off the new year in full metal style.

Photo courtesy of Ryujin

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