mayorsIn the opening 30 seconds of Holy Cop, I relate the sound of Mayors of Miyazaki to At the Drive In, Biffy Clyro (Puzzle) and Coheed & Cambria, but vocally they are very much apart from all of the above. To pull one from left field, Holy Cop is like a super-tight, atonal, staccato version of Bis’ Secret Vampire Soundtrack EP, except with better lyrics.

As the album progresses, there are hints of a number of other bands: heavy riffing and loaded chords reminiscent of RATM and Deftones respectively; there are unconventional chord progressions evocative of Soundgarden and Mars Volta, and Mayors of Miyazaki aim for a sound to match all these.

Technically Holy Cop is very well-produced, although it’s brick-walled a little in pursuit of maximum loudness – which with something so rhythmical, syncopated and jerky, means things can seem loud at the wrong times and which sometimes results in the odd unintentional crescendo when other instruments drop out. Sometimes too, it really pushes the balance between making intros and interludes audible (say, over a car engine), and still leaving some room to take the level up when the song really kicks in.

Often down-tempo, but always maintaining high energy levels, Mayors of Miyazaki showcase strong musical abilities, producing a huge sound for a three-piece, and there’s a lot of character in the contrast between the simply-executed parts and the overall complexity of the songs. The instruments are very close and tight but really full-sounding and meaty. They are overlaid by super-clean vocals, split between a male and a female singer – but there seems to be a definite focus on the music being in the driving seat, rather than the vocals.

My main issue with the vocals is that there’s very little here that isn’t shouted. This fits with the atonality and the aggression of the music in general, but it doesn’t really transmit a great deal of emotional content, and for me it’s a missed opportunity to take some of the songs to the next level by changing things up and throwing in some longer-held notes and stronger (more conventional) vocal melodies.

I have found it hard to find many lyrical hooks to latch onto, apart from ‘Dry Palm’s, “We made a case for progress; we made a start on something”, and out of the musical context, that seems fairly bland. There isn’t much in the way of strong imagery, or coherent story structure. It’s still better than Bis, though… “Kandy Pop!”

Unfortunately, Holy Cop is a bit of a one-trick-pony – it doesn’t quite manage to deliver a “breakout” tune, something which stands out and and which puts the other songs into relief, which I think is the hallmark of a great album. It lacks the “exception that proves the rule”, if you like – One Hot Minute‘s ‘My Friends’, Nimrod‘s ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’ or The Downward Spiral‘s ‘Hurt’, for example.

The closest we get on Holy Cop is the two track pinnacle introduced by the positivity, intimacy and (relative) harmony of ‘Dry Palm’, and followed by the satisfying slam back into character of ‘Muy Sexo’, whose intro reminds me of System of a Down’s Toxicity, and which later brings out some riffs that are Dead Kennedy’s and (Nirvana’s) Bleach kind of heavy.

Overall, Holy Cop is abrasive and uncomfortable, but I do feel that rock music that is fit for background is rarely fit for much else. In some ways I think Mayors of Mizaki are right up my street; I’d like to see them live – there’s no doubt that they could rock a room – and I will keep an ear out for their future releases, but Holy Cop isn’t quite going to make it on to regular rotation for me.

It’s a professional record, but doesn’t match up to records of the same style, which have had tens of thousands of dollars more thrown at them. This seems an obvious thing to say, and there’s not really any criticism in it, but Holy Cop doesn’t have any overall outstanding originality about it either, which leaves it in the shade of bigger bands who are already at the forefront of a fairly well-established, (if niche) genre. Most importantly it means that to stand out, to progress, Mayors of Mizaki have to build on the strong foundations they have, and bring some more variety and a few new tricks in to play, to develop their own individual, unique sound.

7 out of 11

Release Date 02/07/2013 (We Be Records)

Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.