bloodthirsty butchers: Guitarist wo Korosanaide

There’s some interesting discussion happening over at the Keikaku message boards about bloodthirsty butchers. Some folks have observed the addition of Number Girl guitarist Tabuchi Hisako has coincided with a wane in the quality of the band’s albums.

It’s an observation I’ve been reluctant to acknowledge myself. Green on Red, the first butchers release to feature Tabuchi, didn’t seem to be the kind of live album I’d picture out of the group, while birdy, her first appearance on a studio album, tended to drag. But banging the drum found the band being adventurous, and the latest album, Guitarist wo Korosanaide, is confounding if not enjoyable.

At the same time, the post-Tabuchi work doesn’t grab the way yamane or Kouya ni Okeru bloodthirsty butchers do.

Guitarist wo Korosanaide has something of a strange identity crisis. There’s a brashness comparable to the band’s early work, but with Tabuchi contributing more backing vocals, it’s imbued with an unprecedented sunniness.

How can happiness sound so angry? Or angst sound so bright?

"official bootleg/let’s rock" is a case in point. Frontman Yoshimura Hideki garbles his way through the song’s chorus, and the band really pounds the hell out of the song. But a dash of Tabuchi’s vocals adds a sweetness to the song that somehow makes it more tense.

A number of tracks on the album show an almost sing-song quality to the melodies. Picture Cocco singing the title track, and it could almost sound like one of her children’s songs. "Ahahan"is a head-bopping tune, but not the back-and-forth thrash of a rock song — more like the side-to-side of a pop song.

Yoshimura sounds like he’s about to get unhinged on "Mushizu to Taikutsu", but before he can, Tabuchi pipes up again to ground the song.

What makes this album confounding is how the band’s hard pummeling — and really, Komatsu Mashiro sounds like he tore through a bunch of drum heads on this album — resolves with the sweeter touches. It’s unfamiliar and perhaps even bizarre. But in some weird way, it works, even though it really shouldn’t.

Despite the more melodic songwriting and the markedly heavier sound, no track really stands out in the same way as "Sanzan" on banging the drum or "lucky man" from Kouya ni Okeru bloodthirsty butchers. At the same time, it’s still a lot better than birdy.

Keikaku ran two reviews on the album, one deeming it a low point in the band’s career, the other fairly pleased with the results. And both are correct.

Guitarist wo Korosanaide won’t knock the band’s best work off of any mantle, but it’s not a complete disaster either. If anything, that tension between dark and light results in a fascinating listen.