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Saturday, April 11, 2009

CD Review: Hemoptysis - Who Needs a Shepherd? EP

Hemoptysis - Who Needs a Shepherd? EP
2008 self-released
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Phoenix is starting to warm up, and I'm not talking about the temperatures or the Cardinals who made a spectacular run towards a barely-missed championship. Metal is kicking up dirt and scorpions in a hurry throughout Arizona and one of its up-and-comers is a hybrid death-classic power metal band called Hemoptysis.

Vocalist/guitarist Masaki Murashita leads this motivated band with raspy, spit-choked yelps and a wicked flying-V that he wields trustily like a thunder God of the past, i.e. Loudness' Akira Takasaki or Accept's Wolf Hoffmann. Though Hemoptysis' lead guitarist as of this five-track recording Brian Bieganski has long since hit the bricks, the group's somewhat raw debut EP Who Needs a Shepherd? indicates something way cool brewing in their future.

If Who Needs a Shepherd? has any real qualms, it's merely an occasional mistime on transitions between drummer Travis Thune (who is overall quite excellent, particularly on his double-trick mosh flights) and the rest of his band. There's also a minute choppiness to the songs, particularly on "A Traitor," however Hemoptysis can consider themselves ahead of the curve, this being their homebrewed debut.

What works best about Who Needs a Shepherd? is the distinctive marriage of vintage eighties power crunch ala Armored Saint, Loudness and Racer X bonded to the death metal anti-spirit skulking beneath the overall thrum of "And the World Dies," "Shadows of Death" and "All of You."

Groovy shredding, sparkly solos, a keen sense of melody and snarling vocals gives Who Needs a Shepherd? long-toothed fang. The capable bass work of Sunao Arai is left a bit astray soundwise in the mix of Hemoptysis' arrangements, but some tightening up on future albums should cure that immediately. In fact, give Hemoptysis a shoo-in vote as an inevitable radar band. What they've got going on right now is the groundwork upon which to build something truly great.

Rating: ***

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