MAN WITH A MISSION are not your average band. You might think they’re wearing wolf masks in that photo, for example, but in reality they’re wolf-human hybrids created by none other than Jimi Hendrix and were trapped under Antarctic ice until global warming recently freed them. At least, that’s the way they tell it. Frankly, it all makes BABYMETAL’s ongoing tales of the Fox God sound positively prosaic.
Of course, MAN WITH A MISSION’s initial main USP is one big gimmick. If that’s all there was to them it would be worth a quick glance and then time to move on. But thankfully, the music is good enough to live up to the comic book image and ludicrous backstory. This is a band that plays with narrative and visuals and genre-defying mash-ups to make one electrifying and hugely-entertaining whole.
‘AD 2045/The new order seems to come arise/Say hi to A.I. and so long, goodbye to all the humankind,’ they begin on opener 2045. The theme of man against machine has certainly been tackled before by metal bands, but rarely has it had such a banging soundtrack. Buzzsaw guitars cut through pounding electronic beats while Tokyo Tanaka and Jean-Ken Johnny trade soaring clean vocals and quickfire flows that hit perfectly.
Broken People follows in much the same vein, minus the sci-fi, with a driving electro-rock thrust. It comes on like Enter Shikari, or Crossfaith without the crunching metalcore breakdowns, and when the song changes gear it’s from ‘high’ to ‘higher’. Winding Road does slow things down with its melodic breeziness, and MWAM are certainly not afraid to change the tone on occasion. Find You is a Japanese-language power ballad with a Slash-toned solo, while Freak It! gets funky with a song that could be about partying, revolution or both.
It’s a constantly-shifting, multicoloured whirl of an album that mixes and matches a host of different influences. They even take a bilingual approach to the lyrics, intertwining English and Japanese lines in the same songs and sometimes even the same verse or chorus.
Never does it sound disjointed, though, as could so easily be the case. Far from creating a howler, MAN WITH A MISSION blend their varied elements into a seamless, free-flowing whole that twists and bites with abandon. They’ve got big hooks, bigger grooves, and they’re all the better to rock you with.
Words: Paul Travers
This review originally appeared in K!1732.
Chasing The Horizon is out now via Sony. Stream it below.