The mind of man is capable of producing such great things. However, it can take them away just as easily. Two differing visions paint the possibilities of two distant futures. So which will it be? Dystopia or Utopia?
“Dystopia” is the name of the debut effort from solo artist Jun Mitsui (not to be confused with the architect of the same name). Hailing from the Philippines, he crafts large scale Progressive Metal music that’s not afraid to shift focus from track to track (or many times on any given track!). He’s also not afraid to bring a number of other talented musicians along for the ride! We’ll dig into all of this and more through the process of this review.
The full record clocks in at over a half an hour’s worth of content between its 6 tracks. For being an EP, “Dystopia” is actually longer than some albums that have been on the market! Speaking of the market, this record is currently available for streaming and purchase through platforms such as Bandcamp, Spotify, and iTunes. You can also scope out the streaming options and press play down below.
Now, we must bring up the primary question behind this review…. Is this particular “Dystopia” completely painted by darkness or do rays of light bleed in through the clouds, bringing the hope of a new day? Let’s find out!
This is largely a technical and heavy tour de force that, at the same time, isn’t afraid to show a lighter side on its other hand. There’s plenty of variation and ideas strewn across this particular “Dystopia”. It very quickly becomes clear that Jun’s compositional style doesn’t tend to stay still. This largely unpredictable and sometimes raw approach yields some interesting results.
The EP opens through the twisting complexities of an electronic soundscape that is soon met with the slap of a groovy, metallic riff which, likewise, twists in upon itself. This instrumental opener “Asegufurtenelutur” spares no time in showing many sides to Jun Mitsui’s music, including the likes of blastbeats and mathy breakdowns! All in all, it makes for a great face melter of an opening to the EP!
This trend of variance does not stop on the first track as things take another sidestep into track #2 “Utopia”. This includes the sung vocals of producer Nick Mavromatis and doesn’t sound too far off from something a band like Periphery would make. It has several cleaner elements in comparison to the opener and, in that way, really does reflect the concept of Utopia – despite some impactful heaviness later on.
“Malfunction” is another instrumental number. This time around, it features the guitar goods of Kyle Schaefer who also puts in work through the impressive Progressive Rock unit Archaeologist. This track serves as a grooooovin’ riff monster with a number of spirals and awesome guitar solos to boot!
Vocals come crashing back in on “Hollow” which boasts the monster talents of Andrew Patterson (of the bands Lunaform, Design of Destiny, and Cortexiphan). This is definitely one of the heavier numbers on the record but not necessarily one of my personal favorites. Some parts are just looser than others. However, when it hits – it really hits. For example, I really liked the guitar solo gracing the track’s second half before smacking listeners with the heavy once again.
“Isolation” keeps up this hard edge as a ripper of an instrumental track. It brings the listener through a new set of depths with some interesting electronic accents lining the pummeling instrumentation. This backs into a strange soundscape about halfway through before exploding into a dissonant kaleidoscope of sound and ultimately landing on a devastating and mathy end.
The EPs namesake closes out the proceedings on the dark side. It quite literally serves as the black yin to “Utopia’s” yang, making for a cool, little conceptual side to the EP. It starts as the opposite in a number of ways from the tonality to just the fact that it doesn’t include vocals. Then it absolutely explodes into a series of musical fireworks that need to be heard! For this reason, it’s probably also my favorite track on the whole record! Give a listen and you may very well see why…
Though it largely sounds good, the overall sound of this EP could be cleaner. This appears to have come from the engineering / mixing end of the equation. Jun actually worked with Adam Bentley to master the EP and that guy frankly always does a great job. Like I said though, it does largely sound good and doesn’t really hurt the overall record.
Jun proudly wears his influences upon his sleeve. The good news here is that he appears to have a great many influences making for some interesting combinations within his overall sound. For the most part I wouldn’t say that he’s broken into something that can definitively be called “the Jun Mitsui sound” but everything put forth on this EP is certainly entertaining and well done. In a good way, listening to “Dystopia” kind of felt like going back to listen to old Bulb demos.
It definitely feels like a debut for a number of reasons. It packs all the high energy and raw potential one would hope to hear from a Progressive Metal debut. However, it also feels like all of its ideas aren’t quite gathered yet. Speaking of which, I think one of the best parts of Jun Mitsui’s work so far is the very pure potential of where it could land next. There’s a lot of room for growth but the project already feels big all things considered.
When the smoke clears, the time comes to look upon the “Dystopia” and what made it that way… And for being a dystopia, things really aren’t bad at all! They’re actually really good and closer to the vision of a utopia for the most part. While listening, my mind kept placing this record around a 7 and a 7.5 out of 10. It’s definitely a good start to Jun’s promising career and I look forward to hearing more!
Also, if you’d like to see the bright places Jun goes from here, you can follow along with his work via social media. He’s stationed on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Go give a follow and brace yourselves for what comes next!