#38 – EZO by EZO.
I’m not too familiar with this band, other than they were Japanese and the first two songs on this album are played on SiriusXM’s Hair Nation on a good rotation. Those songs are “House of 1,000 Pleasures” and “Flashback Heart Attack.” I did know that Gene Simmons co-produced it. He was doing that kind of thing in 1987 (well, before and after, too). I have to say that I haven’t really been a big fan of the EZO that I had heard. I mean the music is good and the vocals aren’t awful. I give them credit for rocking it. Just can’t get through most of it without laughing.
I’m not making racial stereotypes I’m stating what I hear. I mean this as non-offensively as possible. I always hear them sing “House of one sowsent pressures” and “frashback heart attack.” Now, none of that is bad, again, it’s just what I hear. Get past those two songs, however, and it’s a whole different story. While I say that I wasn’t a big fan of those previous two songs, I didn’t say I hated them. They were decent. But, what follows is well-written and much better quality songs. I really love the heavy pop sound and the vocal style on “Here It Comes,” “Big Changes,” and “I Walk Alone.”
There are some weird things that happen in the middle of songs. In “Here It Comes” and “Big Changes” there are some out-of-the-blue electronic (probably Simmons, the drums, not Gene) drum fills that are more mid-80s new wave than “heavy metal” but it was the 80s and weird stuff was commonplace. Knowing that Gene likes big bombastic drums I can see why some the end-fills on the drums are huge (like “Kiss of Fire”). The majority of the songs, all but two, are co-written by pals of Gene Simmons. Adam Mitchell who worked with KISS on several of their 80s albums co-wrote five of the nine. Jamie St. James, of the band Black ‘N Blue where Tommy Thayer – the current “Spaceman” in KISS – came from, co-wrote two, including “House of 1,000 Pleasures.”
I have to give Masaki Yamada a break on his vocals; English isn’t his first language. I know I talked about the opening two songs, but they’re not bad. I do find his voice grating a good bit of the time, especially as he growls through songs. I feel that is probably to cover up his English-speaking deficiency. His more melodic vocals, though, are pretty good.
Shoyo Iida is a really good guitarist and he burns the fretboard at times. I like his tone (which again, I’m sure is a lot of Gene’s doing) and his chops. Good and fast right-hand work, too, most of the time the fretwork gets all the glory but his picking hand proficiency is prevalent. He has two co-writing credits on the album.
Taro Takahashi’s bass work is solid bottom end. Again, his tone is great. His licks are not just following the guitar around and are standing on their own. He, too, has two songwriting credits. Listen to his fantastic work in “I Walk Alone.”
Hirotsugu Homma is the real deal. Although, on “Flashback,” at the very beginning, I can’t get the fact that there’s a lag in the kick drum beat, how did Gene and Val Garay not notice that? Or, perhaps I’m having a stroke. Either way, I hear it. But, the rest of the time, Hirotsugu is a beast!! Listen closely to his tom riffs and runs. Good stuff. Listen to the intro of “I Walk Alone” and hear what I mean.
So, this was a difficult album to listen to. Not because of it, but its availability. A peek behind the curtain: I listen in the studio using Napster and at home using either Alexa or album if I have it. Up to this point, we’ve not had a problem with getting the albums via streaming, somewhere. But, this one Eug had to get me and I was limited in where to listen, so my normal routine was thrown off. So, where I generally have a six-listen pattern, this was only three times. I heard what I needed to, though.
It’s a decent album that has some really shining moments. I’m glad I heard it and recommend 80s hard rock fans give it a listen, although I’m sure you are already aware of them if you’re into that kind of thing. It’s not my favorite, but I did dig it. Thanks, Eugene for turning us on to it and Jon, we’ll see you soon.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Well, I don’t want to play with fire, won’t be the one to take a fall. Don’t want to walk out on the wire. I see writing on the wall. I wanna stay, I wanna run. I’ve had a taste of what’s to come. She’s got me now and it’s too late. Here it comes, my heart is bleeding. Here it comes, that lonely feeling. Here it comes, I start believing. Here it comes, that lonely feeling again.” – “Here It Comes” (Takahashi/Mitchell)