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[Album Review] Volfeed - (1995) Majesty - 8.5/10
Artist: Volfeed
Release: Majesty (1995)
Rating: 8.5/10

Not long after I discovered Terra Rosa, I was looking for another female-fronted Japanese band with a similar sound to check out, and Volfeed caught my attention. Although it was presumed as disappointing that they only saw a four-song EP release in the year 1995, I had no idea what was up ahead for me in their music. As soon as I played the first song, "Dreamslave", my ears were immediately hooked by the fast-paced intro riff, reminding me of early Warlock. The rest of the instrumentals kicked in, and then the vocals finally made it all apparent to me that this was right up my alley, so I kept listening. There were a lot of different pieces connecting each other on this one song, giving the aforementioned Warlock vibes a more power metal flavor. What really stuck out for me, though, was the charming, soulful voice of Tomoko Yamamoto, whose range really reminded me of a cross between Doro Pesch and Pat Benatar. She's capable of great vocal harmonies, and it took me many replays of that first song to get it out of my system. Definitely a strong opener that still gets to me, but moving on...

"Get Ready for Your Life", another killer song with plenty of speed to go around. More of a Judas Priest riffing style this time, and the chorus is super catchy stuff. The drums also sound really tight and catchy on this song, and the keyboard playing sticks out a bit more on this one than on "Dreamslave". I really have to say that it's quite a treat to have the famous Starless drummer, Nobuo Horie, guest on this album. He was also on Terra Rosa's The Endless Basis and Yukihisa Kanatani's Eau Rouge, so the quality factor is definitely high. He's not too technical, but he's quite varied in his playing. He can easily bring out the best on a bluesy song, as is the case with the groovy, moody "Anything in Your Heart". The least metal song on the album, but it's a nice break from everything having to be hard or fast. Once again, Yamamoto nails that chorus with a lot of passion. Keyboardist Satomi Fukuoka switches to a Hammond organ sound on this one, and it totally fits the whole mood of this song.

The last song, "Lire", is back to the sped-up aggression of "Dreamslave", albeit with more flash. I really love the lead work that Seiji Higuchi plays throughout this song, and Fukuoka works well with him during the more instrumental parts of the song. I do wish that Yoshitsugu Furui would stand out more on the bass, as he was mostly just following the rest of the band. Good bassist, but anyone else could've filled his shoes. After all, the label, Mandrake Root Records, had a thing for putting together these groups of different musicians from different bands that had some sort of a tie to the label. Fukuoka and Furui would later join forces again on Moon Struck, and unsurprisingly, the band gave their special thanks to Mandrake Root Records.

The production honestly surprised me, being that this is a 1995 release. Definitely has more of an old school sound, albeit without sounding the least bit dated. All the instruments are carefully balanced to avoid drowning any of the players, and the vocals are layered just above them all. With the performances and the songwriting being so consistently good, you can't really find anything to fault this EP for. The only shame is that this band was a one-time deal, although to be able to have stuck around a little longer for a possible full-length album would've been great. For example, Precious existed merely to promote Akira Kajiyama's playing style, although beyond the scope of the two singles that are just the right amount for an EP, there was also a sole full-length album produced. That at least gives us a bit more to work with, and such is destiny for the overlooked talent in the Volfeed camp.

Despite the scarcity of Majesty in the market, it's still possible to track down an affordable copy, if you're patient and play your cards right. Your best bet would be to browse the Yahoo! Japan auctions, and despite having to use a shopping service that comes with its fees to get your orders shipped to you from their Japanese warehouses, it's worth the trouble for a serious collector and music fan. There will most certainly never be an official repress of this release, so I'd advise hunting it down. Three songs off this EP also appeared on Melodical Renaissance, and Mandrake People '97 has the song "Dreamslave".

Good review Painkiller. I just noticed they were pretty closely related to Moon-Struck, interesting.
That's how I discovered Moon Struck, too.
I discovered them through Red-Rum. Pretty solid MCD.
My last.fm | Rate Your Music | CDs for sale: Forum, Ebay, and Discogs
I just showed this review to the keyboardist. She really appreciated that I acknowledged Volfeed.
I just finished listening to my copy of Majesty, which arrived today. Great stuff. Definitely in the same vein as Terra Rosa. I also snagged the Blue Stealer CD, which Tomoko appears on. It just shipped today.

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