Bloody Bride isn’t quite Japanese quintet Bridear’s debut album – the band have been trafficking in high-energy power-metal for the better part of a decade, and you’ll find the bulk of their work on streaming services – but it’s true that this latest whirlwind of J-pop hooks, tastefully torched scale runs, and Maiden-worthy guitarmonies marks the first official LP of theirs to be made available in North America without a weighty import price.
All the same, sugary-yet-speedy anthems like Daybreak and metalcore, progressive shred, and pop music amalgam Bloody Bride are priceless introductions to Bridear’s six-string tandem of Misaki and Ayumi.
Speaking with Guitar World, Misaki and Ayumi got into pushing the poles of pop and metalcore even further apart on Bloody Bride, creating an “atmosphere of relentless speed” with their solos, and when they hope to bring their Glorious World around the globe.
While Bridear have been around for quite some time, Bloody Bride is the second Bridear album to feature both Ayumi and Misaki in the line-up. Were there any specific ways either of you felt you wanted to push your respective techniques for this latest record?
Misaki: “I wanted to show my guitar technique and my style, of course, but in a way that matches what the song calls for. This resulted in new guitar phrasings for me in songs like Bloody Bride, Keshin, Glitter, and Boy. These were new and challenging.”
Ayumi: “One of the charms of this album is that there are many songs which are quite melodic, not just heavy. So, it pushed me to play more melodic guitar solos, while the songs allowed me to still use phrasings that work with my style and play to my strengths.”
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the recording sessions?
Misaki: “Each of us recorded our parts for the album on our own. We were not in the studio together – I rarely saw anyone else record their parts! But Bloody Bride is the second album with the current line-up, so I at least had an idea of how everyone would play, and how they would track their parts.”
Ayumi: “Yeah, we all recorded separately. We had fewer opportunities to meet with everyone to discuss the tracks and then record, compared to the previous album’s [2019’s Expose Your Emotions] writing and recording process, but communication was actually really smooth!”
On Ashes it sounds like you’re trading off on solo sections, bouncing quick licks and bends off of each other before linking backup for a triumphant, doubled harmony. Maybe that’s the case with Keshin as well. How did you go about splitting up leads on the record?
Ayumi: “Many of the songs with guitar solos were composed by Misaki, so I let her make the decisions with arrangements, but I talked to her about constructing that solo and also how to approach adding my nuances.”
Misaki: “For the songs that I wrote or cowrote I arranged the guitar parts, but I really thought about how Ayumi and I could bring out the best in each other, so I considered Ayumi’s strengths. For the songs written by other members, Ayumi and I discussed together how to best serve the song.”
Who launches into the lead for Glitter? That’s a particularly wild run that seems to burst apart from the seams after only a few bars. What can you say about tracking this particular solo?
Misaki: “I play that run. I wanted to create an atmosphere of relentless speed, pushing momentum forward from beginning to the end, so I created the solo with that image in mind. The first half of the solo is fast, but it leads to Ayumi and I harmonizing in the second half, which brings it back around to the song’s melodic theme.”
Bridear delivers big on these overjoyed power-metal moments – I’m thinking sections like the chorus to Daybreak – but you likewise aren’t averse to ripping out these chunkier, almost metalcore-style sections throughput pieces like The Moment and Boy. What are you seeking out in terms of either approach, from the brutal to the poppy?
Misaki: “We want to seek balance with both power-metal songs with a solid sense of speed and heaviness, and songs that are melodic hard rock as well.”
Ayumi: “Yes, Bridear is a band which is characterized by a pretty wide musical range – lots of different tastes and influences to balance – and I think we have a wider variety of songs in terms of style on this album than ever before.
“This is especially the case now with the presence of newer members like myself, Misaki – who has been in the band a little longer – and Natsumi on drums. A Glorious World, for example, has a pop arrangement that Bridear has never had before.”
While you’re putting your own twist on the power-metal genre, which guitarists inspired you to step up your shred?
Misaki: “My primary guitar influences are Ritchie Blackmore and Andy Timmons.”
Ayumi: “The way I create the melody within guitar solos is actually influenced by a non-metal player, a Japanese guitarist named Shinichi Ubukata (of pop-punk band Ellegarden and rock band Nothing’s Carved in Stone).
“There is a song called Fake World on the Japanese version of Bloody Bride, and the solo for that track is very influenced by his style, with its slides and pitch bends.”
Ayumi, what drew you towards playing G-Life’s G-Phoenix (opens in new tab) model?
Ayumi: “When I was looking for a guitar to go with Bridear’s sound and varied style, I had a chance to test an instrument from G-Life Guitars. Not too many people know of the brand outside of Japan. I like it because of tone and playability. I feel it expresses the Bridear songs the best out of all the guitars I have – plus it looks really cool!”
Misaki, it looks like you’re currently playing an ESP E-II ST-1. What do you like about the ESPs?
Misaki: “What I like about all ESP guitars is the neck. It fits my left hand pretty well, so, for me, it has such a high degree of playability. It’s a Strat-style from ESP, and I like the fact that the E-II ST-1 doesn't have a weird personality! There isn’t a distinct sound of its own, so it allows me to smoothly customize a lot of tones for a wide variety of songs.”
Both of you are seen rocking ENGL stacks in the Daybreak video. Were those the rigs you primarily used for the Bloody Bride sessions?
Misaki: “I actually used mostly Line 6's Helix multi-effect pedal, but with the ENGL amp model engaged.”
Ayumi: “I've used ENGL stacks many times for live performances in Japan, so I went with it for this album’s tracking. I like them because I am able to quickly create the sound I need.”
Were there any other effects brought into the studio? There’s some interesting texturing to the dive solo on Boy, for instance.
Misaki: “Just Line 6's Helix multi-effects pedal. I play the second half of that Boy solo using the Helix's built-in phaser effect and then just went crazy with the whammy bar at the end.”
One of the sweetest, yet still-shredding songs on the record is A Glorious World. With that sentiment in mind, and considering how COVID-19 impacted the world this past year, what are Bridear’s plans once travel restrictions truly loosen around the globe?
Misaki: “A Glorious World was first brought to us by Natsumi, she’s the primary songwriter of that track; Natsumi's humanity can really be felt in the mellow parts of this song.
“The band have been talking about how we would like to tour Europe first, and then hopefully America and Asia. We have a tour planned for the UK and Europe in the autumn and we’re very hopeful and excited!”
Ayumi: “It was recently announced that we will be touring Europe in October of 2021!
“The number of people infected with Covid is still on the rise in Japan, and we cannot predict when it will completely stop here, but we are looking forward to performing in front of our fans overseas again very soon!”
- BRIDEAR's new album, Bloody Bride, is out now (opens in new tab) via Setsuzoku Records.