Rachel Mother Goose – Synra Bansho (Album Review)

As soon as I heard of a Japanese band called “Rachel Mother Goose” I decided I needed to check this one out ASAP. I’ve never even seen a band mentioned before. With such a weird name, and hailing from the land that gave us Sigh, Boris, Maximum the Hormone, and other musical delicacies, I was more than curious. Turns out that Nagoya’s Rachel Mother Goose plays Progressive Power Metal with some Symphonic elements, much in the vein in Angra and similars. Still up my alley, so I wasn’t discouraged at all.

The album opens with “Rachel in Wonderland”, an aptly named intro track with tons of symphonic elements and choral voices that perfectly create a very cinematic atmosphere. I actually dig this intro track. The first full song “Under 500 Million” starts right after. This one is a galloping Power Metal anthem with very catchy melodies and intricate instrumentation that keep the song fresh throughout. Sunghoon Kim’s vocals remind me a lot of Fabio Lione’s, which is not a bad thing at all. “Why so Serious?” is next, with its awesome proggy intro riff and clean verses. This one is a hard rocker with great vocal delivery and interesting musical sections. Not as straightforward as the opener but still very enjoyable in a different kind of way. “Kotodamaist” is next, this one is a longer song with heavy Angra vibes, where the Prog influences become even more evident and part of the band’s overall sound. It is a decent song with many different sections and where the musicians show their talent, but I’m not sure all of the parts work perfectly next to each other.

“Amatsu Kaze” comes right after, and here the album starts to derail a bit in my personal opinion. This song is extremely mellow, with very happy sounding melodies and vocal harmonies, and as far away from the “metal” label as one can possibly get before it actually stops being a metal song. I have nothing against happy-sounding metal songs, Freedom Call has been doing them for years with success, but this one just sounds like a kiddy anime opening theme to me. “Summon the Instinct to Fight” comes after and it brings back some heaviness to the table. It has good riffs and vocal harmonies, and a really cool bridge and solo section, but somehow it fails to re-capture the momentum of the album’s first few songs. “My Ascending Day” is a more textbook Prog- Power Metal song with good leads and headbanging riffs (even some gutturals thrown here and there), but some of the musical decisions made for the chorus and bridge make it not as memorable or powerful in the end. “The Clock is Tickin’” comes right after. This song is an extremely cheesy ballad that brings nothing new or interesting to the table in my opinion. The singer does showcase his amazing range, but it just goes for far too long.

After a rather weak mid-section of the album, I was very happy to discover that the album closes with a bang. “The Sixth Sense” is next, and this song rocks. After a longish intro, we get some pounding riffs and a synth lead that take us directly to one of the album’s highlights. A song with very creative riffs, interesting structures, and amazing hooks that will stick with you for a while. “Dainsleif” is next, and this one is without a doubt the best song in the album for me. After a pretty cool Tim Burton-esque intro, we are treated to a fast-paced Prog-Power song with a hard-rockin’ riff and great drumming. The vocals during the verse strongly remind me of early Kamelot albums, so good nostalgia points there. “Tomorrow is another day” is the 2nd ballad in the album. To this one’s advantage, it is much shorter, quirky, and interesting than “The Clock is Tickin’”. It has some Ayreon-style spacey keyboards and it is actually quite enjoyable. “The Earth Bounder” is the last song in this album, and it is a good one. Again bringing some proggy influences to the mix, super tight riffs, and very enjoyable melodies and hooks.

Production-wise, I find this album not as good as it could be, especially for a new release. There are parts where the guitars are a bit buried and drums sound a bit too over everything. It sounds like an album that was released in 1998, which is not amazing for this day and age. Another thing that I noticed is that sometimes the keyboard parts are not 100% quantized, which adds a more organic and “human” feel to the songs, but if it is overdone it could just as easily sound as a mixing or execution mistake.

The album in general is a mixed bag of goods I think. It definitely has some very good songs, especially towards the last 3rd of it, but some of them are tracks that I genuinely would never seek out to listen to ever again. I think in this case the song variety didn’t play to the band’s favor, and instead of that, it makes “Synra Bansho” a quite inconsistent album. An album with very good ideas and some odd ones. I did enjoy the nostalgia trip that it gave me at times to my Power metal listening years of the early 2000s (including the production quality) but I do feel that Rachel Mother Goose is at its best when they play faster, and at their worst when they go full cheesy ballad mood. An interesting album nevertheless, especially if you are into Power, Prog or Symphonic metal.

Album highlights: Under 500 Million, The Sixth Sense, Dainsleif, The Earth Bounder

For fans of: Angra, Pagan’s Mind, Shaman, Vision Divine

Rachel Mother Goose: Facebook

Release Year: 2021
Label: Pride & Joy Music
Category: Album
Country: Japan

Reviewed by Roman Ibarra