Crazy, messy, uncool
In every country, there’ll be certain bands who are huge on native soil, hit the half a million mark for record sales and then attempt to venture out of the safe surroundings, to break their band and emulate their homeland success elsewhere in the world. This is precisely what Brahman is trying to do. One of Japan’s biggest rock bands (presumably alongside techno rock/metal hybrid behemoths Mad Capsule Markets), they have licensed ‘A Forlorn Hope’ to the über-cool Revelation Records (Shai Hulud, Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower’, etc) in the States. The artwork and logo are suitably Revelation and judging a book by its cover, it was with some anticipated glee that this CD was put into the stereo.
But truth is, this is a pretty poor record. It explains why UK artists often have such difficulty breaking places like the States, some things just don’t translate well no matter what language they are. Only rare artists like Muse it seems can truly break through all barriers, cultures and countries. And like Rammstein choose to record in German, Brahman stick to their Japanese tongue, or at least it sounds like it for the majority of this album. Vocalist Toshi-Lo sounds scarily like the Japanese version of Puddle Of Mudd’s nasal vocalist Wes Scanlin. And that must be one of the most unpleasant thoughts ever. But there are people buying this record in Japan, so they must be doing something right.
Musically, it is inconsistent and patchy. One minute sounding like a stadium Rock band, then the next like some god awful Ska band, the next like Spacehog. Yes. Really. Often in the space of a single song, such as ‘Box’ or ‘Shadow Play’. Further down the track listing, ‘Plastic Smile’ and ‘Mis 16’ have an almost Latin feel to them. ‘Bed Space Requiem’ is either their version of ‘Under The Bridge’ (Chili Peppers, not All Saints) or ‘Run’ (Snow Patrol), I can’t quite decide. Until it then becomes a Weezer-copyist band and then a tribute to The Offspring. It’s all too much to bear.
With repeated listens, it doesn’t get much better and you truly have to wonder what Revelation thought by licensing this and how they envisioned the band’s career working outside of its own territory. It is baffling how a band like this has sold over 500,000 of this record in a single country. But by the same token it is just as baffling how other such painfully dull bands like The Libertines or Jet or Kasabian or Keane manage any kind of success. Just like so many UK artists fail to make an impact overseas, this is definitely one that surely the Japanese crowds alone can understand.