So, Manga-referencing imagery and theatrical lore over straight-lace heavy metal themes are en vogue once more eh?
Well yes, if Pseudo/Sentai have anything to say about it. That’s right friends, we’re bound once more for prog territory and in the case of Enter The Sentai it’s accompanied by a conceptual backstory that would make Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson nod and stroke his beard in sage approval (that is if Anderson dug Power Rangers, Godzilla and Babymetal).
The backdrop revolves around two characters named [RED] and [BLUE], the former of which was given a weapon to…. uh, make some kind of blazing inferno… thwart enemies and all that good stuff. Then you’ve got [BLUE]. He was given a battle-axe by a wildebeest and apparently did some stuff with shadows once. [PINK] turned up afterward with her kinetic blades because, you know: gender equality and all that. The rest, as they say… is history of a time to come.
Yeah, okay we didn’t read the story that closely, but what did make us sit up and take notice is the fact that Pseudo/Sentai are gloriously odd-ball and Enter The Sentai is a whole bong-load of 70’s prog meets Leviathan/Blood Mountain era Mastodon fun. You’ll find minimal screwing about here, just venue-filling riffs, twiddling harmonies and occasional washes of Mellotron over organic drumming that reeks of rehearsal room rather than drum synth and Pro Tools. But, unusually for a metal band (whatever that means these days), it’s on the vocal front that Pseudo/Sentai really kick the competition square in the kinetic blades. This guy goes – hiiiiigghhh – on first standout moment, “Desert Dessert (The Fever)” and there aren’t just touches of Mike Patton and Papa Emeritus on there but Jon Davison and Peter Gabriel too.
Most of the songs on Enter The Sentai are pretty complex with manifold break downs, build-ups, changes of feel and tack. But that said, it’s accessible to anyone – not just metalheads. If the world was a different kind of place, we could almost hear “The Code Ocean” as a ‘single’ – Pseudo/Sentai’s answer to “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, perhaps? “The Man/The Mill/The Machina” too comes with an inhumanly catchy main refrain and an almost reggae rhythm; at once familiar and yet completely and utterly fresh. Actually, “Baron Wasteland” is excellent too, screw it: there’s just loads of good stuff on here!
You could argue that hi-concept, slightly comedic rock music is a dodgy line to walk and it’s easy to end up sitting on the dickhead step next to Electric Six, but in reality Pseudo/Sensai are far more challenging and musically, on a completely different plane of existence to such chancers. Here, even without the campy backstory and mad lyrics, you still have an impressive body of work. To be honest, had they substituted a little of the ever-twiddling guitar melodies for a few more straight ahead riffs we would have unreservedly lauded this as an utterly outstanding album. As things stand, for sheer audacity, execution and originality: 8/10