If someone was to approach me and ask what constituted the word ‘epic’, I’d just hand them this CD, Shogunate Macabre. Whispered’s debut release Thousand Swords was already mindblowing; a seamless blend of death metal and Japanese folk that was uniquely beautiful, yet somehow they’ve come back bigger and better with their follow-up and is certainly an album that’s worthy of the title of ‘album of the year’.
We’ve already heard Jikininki back when the band released a music video for it in June, and it’s an atmospherically stunning opener, beginning with whispered vocals before the heaviness kicks in and hits you like a tonne of bricks. Whispered couldn’t have picked a better opener for the album than this, and it leads perfectly into Hold The Sword, which is packed full of massive-sounding melodic sections with powerfully screamed vocals atop. Epic is the only word that does this song justice.
Of course, epic doesn’t even come close to describing Kappa, a track so stunning and engaging that it’s difficult to find the words to truly give this track justice. Almost a minute of atmospheric noise before the track fully gets moving, you can really tell the band have worked hard at making it resonate and the fast-paced melodic main theme is so striking that you’ll actually want to rewind the track midway through to fully drink the track in and appreciate each section of it. The song even has a saxophone solo accompanied by what sounds like a Hammond organ underneath, which perhaps sounds like it shouldn’t work but by god, it does, before the full band kicks in for one last aural assault and the track fades out with Japanese folk instrumentation. A work of art? Most definitely – if you’re going to check out one track from the album, then make sure it’s this one.
Shogunate Macabre closes with Upon My Honour and if you thought that the closing track Blade In The Snow from their previous release was incredible, prepare to be amazed because this track is somehow even better. An ambitious ten-minute number, it absolutely delivers and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Whispered leave no stone unturned and explore countless ideas and melodies within the track’s duration and by the time it finishes, you’re left with shivers down your spine – which is surely the sign that Whispered have done their job and have crafted a wholly engaging and stunning album.
If you like your music with massive-sounding instrumentation and just plain epic, you’ll love Whispered. Shogunate Macabre is an absolutely mindblowing release that summarises exactly what’s great about this band. If you’re going to discover one new band this year, then make sure it’s Whispered: possibly one of Finland’s best kept secrets, but for how much longer?
(Or in a more standard form, 10/10!)
(And if that’s not enough for you, they also covered Backstreet Boys’ Larger Than Life whilst recording the album! Check it out below!)