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Quest For Blood - "Quest For Blood With Yukihiro Isso" (CD)

Quest For Blood - "Quest For Blood With Yukihiro Isso" CD cover image

"Quest For Blood With Yukihiro Isso" track listing:

5.Kosi No Emshiw
8.Rakuseki Kakugo

Reviewed by on August 13, 2008

"They're probably a cabal of demon worshipping sorcerers sentenced to community service in a bar band."

If Quest For Blood aren't a thirteen member black metal super group, or a loose collective of Japanese head bangers spreading their wings into classical and free jazz, then they're probably a cabal of demon worshipping sorcerers sentenced to community service in a bar band. The English part of their ultra low bandwidth website, nothing but crimson text against black, informs us that “Contemporary ghosts have forgotten their own blood and soil. They lost their way and have to wander around to Quest For Blood.”

In less than forty minutes, “Quest For Blood With Yukihiro Isso” bombards you with more musical ideas than most bands muster in their entire careers. Their mostly instrumental style features grindcore blast beats, pared down and razor sharp, and a traditional Japanese flute getting torn into at breakneck speed. Along with two more traditional instruments, a massive, gut wrenching bass and stinging electric guitar, straight from the arsenal of a great black metal band, Quest For Blood offer up a creepily atonal piano that sounds like Bach's taking turns with a Neanderthal warrior.

Yukihiro Isso's flute jumps around at the dead center of every composition, and it's not a gimmick, nothing like a folk or classical styled flute stuck overtop metal songs. It's something I've never heard before, an honest to God grindcore flute, and Quest For Blood's amazing musical chemistry ensures that the instrument actually fits. At times it sounds like piercing feedback, or banshee screams, but more often Isso genuinely shreds, dominating the music with crazy, cart wheeling solos.

Quest For Blood would be a cold hearted and misanthropic grindcore band, but just when everything's at its sickest, out come ragtime piano licks or chanted vocals that sound like a monk's rice bowl got spiked with ecstasy. They would be a bunch of mystical prog rockers jamming away, like Can or the Flower Travelling Band, except they're finding their way through intricate black metal labyrinths every time you blink. Quest For Blood are superb improvisers. A lesser band might milk a Quest For Blood riff for an entire song, but half the riffs on this album are frantically taken apart and explored the instant they're played. But they're too composed and coordinated, and too addicted to ridiculously complicated structures, to be an improv jazz group for long.

Quest For Blood could be mistaken for a genre shifting band like Mr. Bungle, swapping musical styles many times throughout a given song. But they're a rarer sort of mutant, more akin to trailblazers like Painkiller, Ephel Duath, and Maudlin of the Well. They brew up a completely new genre somewhere between extreme metal, free jazz, and classical Japanese Noh music. If you like any of the three, probably you'll be first confused, then offended, and finally entranced. Quest For Blood have obviously paid a lot of attention to their influences, but do a great job at ignoring them.

Highs: Metal that escapes every metal stereotype and label.

Lows: Before you get the hang of listening, it sounds like disorienting chaos.

Bottom line: Pure innovation and power. Sounds like nothing you've ever heard.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)