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Reviews » [Review] Mazeran (Jpn) - Moving Lips [EP] (1987)
Gone Too Soon - 89%

It might sound unreasonable to some people for me to say that a band that only put out a single, an EP, and a couple handout releases were easily one the best bands in Japan's 80s metal scene, but Mazeran were just that. Nearly everything they did manage to release was right up there with the finest heavy metal Japan had to offer at the time. Featuring a drastically different lineup on every release, the only constant being guitarist and band leader Shoji Nemoto. In 1987, the band finally put out not only their first release on a label, but their first containing more than two songs, the Moving Lips EP, which as a bonus also happened to feature collectively the strongest lineup the band would ever have.

There was a truly unique sound Mazeran had built to call their own, despite an activity period of barely over two years. This was achieved first by the band's decision to add Toshio Kitanaka to the fold, formerly of the unknown band Impulse, whose voice has a certain aggression and wildness that when infused with Shoji's brilliant guitar playing, creates a stunning product. The immense distortion of Shoji Nemoto's guitar which reminds me of Dave Mustaine's tone in Megadeth's Hangar 18, but slower and even further distorted, is quite simply fantastic when combined with his play style, centering around hearty, slower riffs, and on top of that, he happens to be incredibly skilled too and demonstrates a proficiency for writing some crushingly-heavy metal songs that just happen to be stupid catchy. A little example to attest to the man's talent is the fact that after Mazeran were gone, he joined the hard rock band Ladies Room, who quickly fired him for being way too skilled saying his ability on guitar outdid anything the band was capable of matching, opting to let him find a project in which he could put his skill to proper use, which he never ended up displaying to the extent that he did on this EP ever again.

Of the six songs here, none ever go any faster than a mid-speed tempo, with Wild Frontier actually slowing it down even further, while managing to stay as heavy as anything else on the album. The other five kick into action with Shoji's signature explosive opening riffs to pull the listener right in and keep them engaged throughout, and stays a safe distance from sounding overly commercial, despite being a very hard-rocking breed of heavy metal. None of the six songs are weak by any stretch, but Danger, Hold On, Let Me Fly, and especially Night Mare are exceptional. There's a couple cheesy touches that it could probably do without, such as the barking dog in the second verse of Night Mare, or the cheap animal effects in Wild Frontier, but they thankfully don't affect the listening experience too badly, they're just a little strange.

Mazeran basically called it quits in 1987 after their tour promoting this EP, though for some reason, Shoji brought the Mazeran name back in 1989 for the release of an ill advised hard rock album with the addition of three Americans to the lineup including yet another vocalist. I assume the idea was to make it a band like Cats in Boots which also feature a mix of Japanese and American members, but the idea was a terrible misstep and is the black sheep of Mazeran's discography, not once coming even remotely close to the caliber of music they demonstrated on everything else. If you give Mazeran's discography a try, this EP is the perfect starting point, don't do what I did by starting with the full length, as that's a terrible example of Mazeran's true sound. Everything else by them is quite difficult to find, so if you start here and enjoy it, then their other rarer songs are all the more enjoyable as you find them.

Written by TadakatsuH0nda, re-posted from the Metal Archives.
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