NORMAN — by Doug Hill
Album name: Metalander-Z (2013, Chicken Ranch Records)
Why you should listen: Peelander-Z’s new album is part homage and part left-handed salute to heavy metal music. Last release “Space Vacation” (2012), a trippy concept LP, gave no hint of this newest chapter in the Japanese action comic punk band’s sonic saga.
Bandleader Yellow describes rationale for a metal tribute project in his inimitable fashion: “For beautiful hair metals!” As with everything Peelander-Z touches, it turns to pure entertainment. The disc opens with a brief overture of rolling thunder, portentous guitar and a demonic vocal chorus that recall Black Sabbath at their most pretentious. Recording was beefed-up by temporarily recruiting Electric Eel Shock’s Aki Morimoto to shred alongside regular guitarist Black. Yellow’s vocals reach a height of adorable shrill-shriek frenzy for “Ride on the Shooting Star.” It’s a galloping banshee of a song with he-man backup singing and swirling synthesizer flourishes.
No one familiar with Peelander-Z will be surprised to hear the English alphabet ditty that American grade school children learn transmogrified into a Van Halen style anthem. It even has a kiddy chorus. “Metal Man” begins with a nod to traditional Japanese music. That evaporates in short order, revealing a throbbing electric guitar ode to indestructible steel. It’s as if a robot burst into a tea ceremony. “I’m Metal Man/ you can’t hurt me/ Metal steel you can’t hurt me.”
Yellow’s predilection for honoring his favorite foods has included a record titled “P-Bone Steak” (2003) and the song “Mr. Tea” (he can’t stomach coffee). “My Shake” is this disc’s concluding power ballad glorifying his affection for milkshakes. The song has undeniably strong teeth and bones from being performed and recorded live before an enthusiastic audience numbering in the hundreds of thousands at an outdoor Rio de Janeiro festival. The crowd response is without question a proper salute.