Friday, June 24

Versailles - Holy Grail

Holy Grail


Versailles is a band that has long been known in the West for their unique and classy style of dress more than anything else. Looking like a cross between a cast of anime characters and a group of rather androgynous eighteenth-century European nobles, they are as much standard-bearers of the visual kei genre as they are of power metal. That said, their metal is just as classy as their meticulously crafted attire. They play a very precise form of neoclassical power metal, with a great deal of professionalism and attention to detail.

However, no amount of class or professionalism can make a great album, as evidenced by Versaille's latest work, "Holy Grail." There is nothing noticeably bad here - nothing cringe-worthy or embarrassing - but neither is there anything very memorable. The material here is reasonably good, but "Holy Grail," clocking in at a huge 71 minutes, spreads the ideas far too thin and quickly wears out its welcome. Simply put, Versailles has enough ideas to create a very good 40-minute album, but they have mired these ideas in a sea of rather forgettable stuff and ended up with a long, watered-down, and overall underwhelming album.

"Holy Grail" is not without its share of good moments, though. The opening track, "Masquerade," starts with a brilliantly composed orchestral bit that leads into a fairly high-quality, if unoriginal, power metal song. "Flowery" features a really fun neoclassical guitar solo at the beginning and one of the best bass performances on the album, which jumps all around while still providing a rock-solid foundation for the chord progression. Honestly, there is a reason to recommend every song; the problem is not a lack of good ideas, rather, it is the fact that the ideas present are scattered throughout an immense amount of material and have become lost in the shuffle. At any given point in the album, I could tune in and find it reasonably enjoyable, but there are few moments that stand out as great or memorable. Surprisingly, then, the one song where the band truly shines is the 16-minute "Faith & Decision," a brilliant epic containing perhaps as many strong ideas as the rest of the album, which the band weaves into an immense tapestry of exquisite melodicism and bombastic magnificence. Unfortunately, by the time "Faith & Decision" starts, the album has been playing for almost an hour, and it already feels like it's time to turn on the lights and start rolling the credits.

This is the unfortunate story of "Holy Grail:" there are plenty of good ideas, but not enough to create an engaging 70-minute album. Writing this review was rather frustrating as well; I wanted to give it a good score, but the album was simply far too long for its own good. I guess we can only hope that Versailles will opt for a more concise approach in the future, so we can know them for their music rather than for their effeminate attire.

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Morpheus's Rating: 2.5/5

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