2014 was rough for Destrose. Early in the year, longtime vocalist Marina Hebiishi left in what appears to have been a less than amicable split. The band quickly recruited a new singer, stabilizing their lineup long enough to record this EP. No sooner was The Prologue released, though, when it was announced that their longtime drummer, Haruna, would be departing the band. Mina’s lineup problems seem to be chronic, but you have to give her credit for pushing onward in the face of adversity. I don’t know if there’s some lingering bitterness between Marina and the rest of Destrose, but this EP was recorded and released very quickly, thrown out there in what appeared to be an attempt to steal the thunder from Marina’s new band, Mardelas, who would be releasing their debut EP a month later. I don’t know for sure if this is exactly what happened, but it would explain why this EP came out when it did and also why it doesn’t sound nearly as good as their last release, 2013’s 霖 -Rin-/MAZE EP (the last recording they did with Marina on vocals). In a lot of ways, The Prologue is where Destrose is trying to find a new identity. Of the three songs on 霖 -Rin-/MAZE, two of them were written by Marina, and in a very big way, she defined what the Destrose sound was. Without her, the rest of the band has to figure out who they are. The lack of solid identity makes The Prologue something of an interesting listen. The music has kind of a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach that isn’t all bad because all of the songs still have something of the old Destrose sound to them. Still, there are some rough patches, uneven songwriting and the sound isn’t nearly as powerful as it could have been. The guitars should have been louder and more prominent because there are times when you can’t hear the riffing properly. Mina and Narumi can both shred like it’s nobody’s business, but their impact is blunted because the vocals are so much louder than everything else. Part of the reason for this is because Marina’s replacement, Lisa, isn’t nearly as strong a vocalist. Compared to her predecessors, Lisa has a weak voice. This isn’t to say that she can’t sing. She has a good range and her sense of melody is in the right place, but when it comes to delivering the goods, she lacks the strength and presence that former Destrose vocalists Eye (now Mary’s Blood) and Marina (now Mardelas) have. Hell, Su-Metal (Suzuka Nakamoto) from Babymetal wipes the floor with her, and when you consider that Su-Metal is originally from an Idol Pop group (Sakura Gakuin) that sings sappy Dance tunes, that says a lot. In a way, Lisa’s voice has more versatility, but her tone and style is more suited for Pop music. It doesn’t help that the songs themselves lack consistency. Each of the members of Destrose contributes a song to this EP, and while they’re mostly in the Destrose vein, they go all over the place in terms of style. It seems that each member has a slightly different idea about what makes up the Destrose sound. The track that stands out as the most out of place is the fourth one, “悠遠” (which Google translates roughly to “Distant” or “Remote”). It’s not bad, it’s just a ballad sandwiched between two more aggressive songs. Maybe placing it at the end might have been better, but in this tracklist, it sticks out as an anomaly. Still, when things get done right, Destrose kicks ass. The standout for me was the closing track, “Rewrite the Curse,” which has a driving bass line and it’s arguably the most aggressive and musically like what Destrose is supposed to sound like when their songs are properly produced. Lisa was more in the background and the instruments, particularly the guitars, were more audible. It had strong melody and the intensity level is higher, both of which made the song stand out. One thing that remains unresolved for me , though, is what direction Destrose is going to go now that Marina is gone. I’ve heard the new EP by Mardelas and I know what direction Marina is going - and that direction involves leaving a path of destruction ten miles wide. The Prologue is too unfocused and uneven, flailing about and trying to latch on to anything, but never really finding that special “something” to define their sound going forward. I think that Mina and company really need to figure out what Destrose is supposed to sound like. Once they know who they are and what they want to sound like, they can get back to kicking ass like they did on their previous releases. I haven’t given up on them, and I hope that their next release will show a refocused Destrose that delivers concussions and severe neck damage like I know they can.
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