The Super Sentai are a team of superheroes who protect planet Earth from the relentless onslaught of assorted evil beings while sporting tight, really tight, brightly coloured, super tight costumes. Though you might not have heard of the Super Sentai despite their essential work, I assume you know of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, who are their Western counterparts. The Power Rangers derive the Power in their title from an insanely righteous theme tune, so obviously on reading the name Pseudo/Sentai, I feel compelled to head straight to Youtube to slap “Go Go Power Rangers” on a loop for the rest of the afternoon. Pseudo/Sentai‘s first challenge, then, is to convince me to break out of this cycle of awesomeness so I can give their tunes a chance. While most bands would fail miserably at this task, Pseudo/Sentai‘s previous album Bansheeface was an unexpected gem that not only tore me away from my nostalgia-loop, but had me raving about it on these very pages. Less than a year later, the false Sentai are back with another prog punk explosion, and such was my excitement I stuck it on immediately without even considering Ron Wasserman’s classic theme.
Enter the Sentai does not disappoint, picking up where Bansheeface left off and perfecting its unique blend of indie, prog, punk and metal: think The Mars Volta, King Crimson, Hammers of Misfortune, Mastodon, and Cardiacs1 condensed together into remarkably unpretentious bursts of creative ecstasy. But while Bansheeface eased you into Pseudo/Sentai‘s crazy world with an almost soothing opening pair of songs, Enter the Sentai launches straight into the chaotic cacophony that is its title track, rapid drum flurries cascading against Spanish-flavoured guitar lines, powerful synths, and huge vocal harmonies with all the determination of a band who really do believe they are trying to save the world from evil. This strong sense of urgency persists for the remainder of the album, ensuring Enter the Sentai works well as a cohesive whole in contrast to Bansheeface‘s collection of excellent individual songs.
This is quite an achievement given the diversity of influences on display. Each track, whether it is the complex indie-prog of “Code Ocean” or “Adaptive Manipulator,” the angular hardcore of “Belle of the Cabal,” the melodic metal of “Crown of the Crow King” or the stoner groove of “Werewolf Casey,” is jam-packed with the kind of inventive musical ideas that Pseudo/Sentai have made their trademark. There is so much going on it is sometimes hard to keep up, and serious concentration is required to get the most out of the album. Despite this underlying complexity, Enter the Sentai is brimming with catchy hooks. “Desert Dessert” and “The Man-The Mill-The Machine” in particular benefit from massive choruses that will set up camp in your brain for weeks.
Unfortunately, Colin Marston’s production does not lend itself well to such dense compositions. Though I appreciate the record’s roughness – the great natural drum sound in particular – the busier arrangements become very difficult to pick apart under a general haze of distortion. I much prefer this gritty sound to the hyper-polished nonsense of so much modern prog, but given their compositional style they have sacrificed a little too much clarity for edginess. Greater dynamic range might also have allowed the heavier sections to have a bigger impact.
Really though, the production is the only thing I can find to criticise. Enter the Sentai would be a fantastic achievement for any band, let alone an unsigned bunch of manga-freaks who are – get this – giving the album away for nothing. Make sure you stick July 8th in your calendar so you can take the afternoon off to bask freely in Pseudo/Sentai‘s magical music undisturbed. Go Go Power Rangers indeed.