Hotei has sold more than 40 million records in his native Japan but outside of his homeland, his name is not too familiar, yet the theme song `Battle Without Honor or Humanity’ will be instantly recognisable, even though Hotei’s name may not be.
`Strangers’ is Hotei’s big push into the world outside Japanese record industry, armed to the back teeth a bunch of hard rocking friends including Richard Z. Kruspe of Rammstein through to Matt Tuck of Bullet For My Valentine and the recognisable talents of Iggy Pop are scattered through `Strangers’ to help spice up the proceedings.
The album opens with an instrumental that’s pretty solid, it’s nothing to really shout home about and perhaps we’ve been spoilt by the likes of Steve Vai or Joe Satriani so when we hear a guitar instrumental it doesn’t grab us by the family jewels and excite us.
Still the album as a whole is pretty decent from hearing Iggy Pop’s demented vocal talents on `How The Cookie Crumbles’ or `Walking Through The Night’ still manages to send shivers up the spine or Matt Tuck’s more sooth appealing vocals on `Kill To Love You’ can be the gateway for Hotei’s push.
Without doubt one of the most expressive songs on the album is `Texas Groove’, a raunchy blues number with the A* pipes of Shea Seger who shows off a tonne of swing, grit and passion in her voice and is a real stomper on the album. The album finishes with what should be the instantly recognisable theme from Kill Bill and conjures up vivid memories of a bloody Uma Thurman.
Excuse the pun, but this is a strange album indeed, the main issue with it is simply being that Hotei for me personally is an unknown and how this album works in his canon is an unknown aspect. Yet, listening through the 11 tracks, it took a few listens but it’s a grower certainly, it’s expansive and has a cinematic feel which I suppose is obvious when he wrote the theme song for Kill Bill.
8/10- A grower of an album and one picks up pace as it speeds along.
Stand out tracks:
`Kill To Love You’, `Texas Groove’ and `Battle Without Honor Or Humanity'
2. How The Cookie Crumbles
3. Move It
4. Barrel Of My Own Gun
5. Kill To Love You
7. Walking Through The Night
8. Texas Groove
9. Into The Light
11. Battle Without Honor Or Humanity
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