Home > Music > Gargoyle – Tenron (1993)

Gargoyle – Tenron (1993)


I want to say that Gargoyle’s 1993 album Tenron is a mellower and more traditional/power metal influenced take on the Gargoyle sound than its predecessors. Is that accurate? Maybe. Its relatively muted production and obligatory funky soul song thing (“Doumushishubai”) would insist this is the case, but given that Tenron also showcases its share of more intense signature tracks, you could make the case that it’s still a logical step forwards for the band; like Aratama before it, Tenron intensifies through its duration, it refines Kazuhisa “Kiba” Tochihara’s distinct half-growled but half-sung vocals, and it has its share of genre bending wackiness… although this time, just maybe, Gargoyle’s work is more clearly based in rock music?

What makes this album hard to judge from a historical perspective is that it’s more cohesive than previous Gargoyle recordings. Most notably, Tenron‘s stylistic departures have production standards closer to those of the local metal. Whether this is a result of Gargoyle’s guitarists turning down their distortion a bit, or playing more heavy metal and rock riffs everywhere, it’s definitely one way to tie otherwise unrelated works together. My tastes in Gargoyle still run towards the heavier side of their discography (This basically means Furebumi, although Future Drug comes close), so while I’m not always a fan of the mellower sounds on display here, the successful integration of metal elements into the other half has its advantages.

The flipside of this is that Gargoyle also started applying their J-rock lessons more directly to the task of writing power/thrash metal. On previous albums, these ideas were more discrete; here the mixture makes for something of a candy coating that’s sometimes, but not always appropriate (“Shinpan no Hitomi, Unimo Fukezu”). At some point, Gargoyle started rerecording older, heavier songs and occasionally performing as “Battle Gargoyle” when they wanted to ditch the balladeering, so I can imagine that they eventually found the increased melody and consonance often on display here constraining. This is the main weakness of Tenron – while it didn’t take Gargoyle long to successfully incorporate goofy genre bending into their sound, it took them quite a while to really pull off their pop sound. In fact, I’d say 1995’s Natural was probably where that half of the band coalesced; there’s some room for debate, but enough of the pop here is good enough that I’m glad they kept at it.

Ironically, what I’ve found is that the supposedly more accessible Tenron took some acclimation, compared to the instant appeal of its predecessors. If it hadn’t been for its existence, though, I might not have plumed the depths of Gargoyle’s discography…

Highlights: “Amoeba Life”, “Doumushishubai”, “Gekka Ranshou”




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