[Album Review] Ezra - (1995) 棘 - 9/10
Artist: Ezra
Release: (1995)
Rating: 9/10

Ezra is one of those Japanese metal bands, that kinda vanished, remained unknown after their split and fell into obscurity, just like many more bands of that era. Forming sometimes during the late eighties, they had a run that lasted for almost one decade, spawning few demos, this EP, many videos and one full length album. After giving it a go, I can for sure say that we have a hidden gem of Japanese metal.

Don't go on this release, expecting something different, something never heard of or anything untraditional for the genre, because 棘 is, at the end, a solid heavy metal release, featuring fantastic riffs which quite often can be fast and hard hitting, slow build ups and Ezra's signature distortion, making the albums dark tone and atmosphere which I absolutely cherish.

This EP just continues to show us how nineties independent Japanese metal bands managed to deliver quality content. All of the six songs that are present on 棘, never fail to amaze me. There are no fillers, no instrumentals nor boring songs on this release. The previously mentioned distortion, gave songs thick, dark and muddy atmosphere, almost sounding evil on some parts. The guitars have a thick hard tone to them, but at the same time sound sharp and heavy. This clearly shows that they knew how to get a unique and good sound. Hiroshi definitely knows his instrument. He delivers fantastic riffs and build ups, mixing speed metal, heavy metal and hard rock elements very precise and well in every song. His solos are just as good as his riffs, giving of the same dark, heavy feel which I absolutely love on this album.

Now let's talk vocals for a moment. Aki, through the release, sings constantly amazing and fantastic. There isn't something you could critic on his vocals, nor on the backup vocals, provided by the other members. He mostly sings claim, but as the songs are progressing, he also occasionally delivers screams. His way of singing sharp and on point contributed to the overall tone and theme of the album. It's clear as day that he was an excellent vocalist, and may I say - it was his singing that I enjoyed the most on the album.

On par with the guitar marvelousness of Hiroshi and the great performance by Aki, is the rhythm section of the band. The bass is very audible, hard hitting and as heavy as it can be, completing and enriching the whole musical experience of the album. Jett plays his bass in a typical heavy metal fashion, delivering bass lines on par with the riffs, but having sometimes the spotlight, like in Revenge, or just nailing bass line after bass line, especially in 逆鱗. The praise doesn't just end here. On the contrary, Naoto drumming is just as amazing as the rest of the crew. It's very precise, mainly drumming away with the bass and riffs in harmony, thus giving the songs a solid and strong foundation. What you get here is a classic heavy metal drumming, packed with wacky fills, fast double bass parts and tight execution.

With everything in mind, what could I possibly say as a verdict? 棘 is, in my opinion at least, their best release, having everything that an amazing EP needs to offer: a relatively good production, great instrumentals and likewise singing. Maybe the language barrier could be a problem for new listeners, but if you give it a try, you'll probably find something to like and enjoy.

Score: 9.2/10
Originally posted on MA.
Good review, I remember you posting it to M-A. Definitely a unique band. 7 years is a decently long run for a 90s visual kei band, they thankfully put out quite a bit of stuff in that span, too bad they didn't make more studio releases than they ended up doing though.

On a side note their vocalist while a pretty good frontman is one of the ugliest visual kei musicians I've ever seen, it's mostly the choice of hair. Tongue
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Thanks for the nice comment. I'm still learning how to write good reviews, lol. I agree, they had something special to them, and I really love their unique sound. I find it too bad their demos are virtually nowhere to be found, though.

I kinda like their look overall, all black. lol
Nice review ! That makes me curious about this band.

Also, "棘" is "Toge", right ?
It is in the Gargoyle album title 'Tsuki no Toge', but I wouldn't be surprised if there's multiple words for the kanji.
If you can't get enough of me giving my opinions without having asked for it, you can read more of it on my Kevy Metal weblog.
There's a song from Kuroyume called "棘" ("Toge"), so that's why I've already seen that kanji Smile

Speaking of the band, I've just heard their music, and they make me think about Vasalla (after all, they were on the same label). But the vocals are a bit 'extreme'... Tongue
(12-03-2017, 02:03 PM)Taiji_Burton Wrote: There's a song from Kuroyume called "棘" ("Toge"), so that's why I've already seen that kanji Smile

Speaking of the band, I've just heard their music, and they make me think about Vasalla (after all, they were on the same label). But the vocals are a bit 'extreme'... Tongue

I think "Toge" is correct.
Maybe Vasallas early stuff was influenced by Ezra? lol
I don't know, since I'm more into their later 'era' (from 1995) ; but I remember that early Vasalla (from the very little I heard) is quite brutal !
Good review. I've been meaning to get their EP.

I did a few edits for formatting consistency.

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