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Reviews » [Review] Amphibian (Jpn) - Doppelgänger (1993)
One of a Kind - 88%

Amphibian were among the very early examples of a visual kei band, sporting ridiculous hair, covered from head to toe in leather everything, and unlike today's pretty boy visual kei bands, they legitimately looked like they would kill you, or at least beat you to a pulp for simply making eye contact with them. Following three demo-tapes Amphibian put forth their sole full-length effort, Doppelgänger, which is certainly one of the lost treasures of the classic visual kei scene.

This album has a huge early visual kei overtone, incorporating various punk as well as Gothic elements (this is something which the visual kei scene picked up on significantly as the 90's continued), but the result is undeniably heavy metal, the only similar band that came before Amphibian that I can think of was Cry-Max who likely were an influence to Amphibian in addition to perhaps some Dead End too, but as good as Cry-Max were, Amphibian built on and perfected Cry-Max's initial idea to make it their own style. This album is one of the most unique things the visual kei scene ever offered.

Doppelgänger is about a third speed metal, a third heavy metal, and a third rock, and features twin guitar solos, an extremely complex yet oddly funky style of guitar which Kazuki and Ko-ichi absolutely nail, but beyond that Katsumi does a fantastic job on bass contributing to the album's oddball charm. Shella's vocals are aggressive, and are delivered in a more of a melodic punk fashion, with plenty of punk-ish shouting, especially on Mujin no Heya which is the album's heaviest song that even features a couple screams, and is just slightly heavier than Maybe though for the most part his vocals are clean throughout the majority of the album. My favorite aspect of this release as good as all the other members are here, would probably be Yayoi's drumming, he puts this band over the top with brilliant drum work nonstop throughout all 45 minutes of music. His buildups and fills between and leading to almost every key moment in every song on the album are spot on, for example just listen to the first 20 second buildup on Mai Hime, or his overall work on Nageki no Juujika.

Doppelgänger was met with seemingly little recognition and respectable but not outstanding sales, making it unfortunately all but forgotten a couple decades later, though apparently they still helped influence bands such as Dir en Grey, who I'm guessing were drawn to Amphibian's quirky elements. If you browse around on the metal archives, most of the visual kei bands from the early 90s that carry the tags heavy, speed, power or thrash are mediocre at best. Amphibian's Doppelgänger is one of the few that had something legitimately fresh and exciting to offer with a sound that differed entirely from their counterparts. After this album there were several metal bands that tried a similar formula such as Das:Vasser or VellaDonna, though Amphibian manages to absolutely blow them off the face of the earth in executing said style, in fact, a mishmash of styles to this degree shouldn't theoretically work at all, but Amphibian proves that wrong.

I'll admit that I quite like some of today's visual kei groups, but the vast majority of current fans of the visual kei scene have all but forgotten just how hugely talented and innovative some of these classic visual kei bands really were, such as Amphibian. If you're a a fan of the old visual kei scene, or are looking for quality bands to get you started in the scene and have never come across Amphibian, this is a great early album to try. It's not your conventional metal album by any means, but evidently throwing all your influences into a blender once in a while can sometimes yield a great product, and Doppelgänger stands as proof of that.

Written by TadakatsuH0nda, re-posted from the Metal Archives.
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