Kurayami Monogatari

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UVERworld – AS ONE May 24, 2020

Filed under: UVERworld — solarblade @ 7:38 pm

asone

Track Listing

  1. AS ONE
  2. Spreadown
  3. AS ONE (instrumental)

1. AS ONE

I was wondering what I was getting myself into with AS ONE, especially after all the songs that they released for “UNSER”.  AS ONE though continues this experimentation with more synths and unique quirks about it.  Though it does lean towards more like “GOOD and EVIL” with the beautiful combination of the new things and the band’s explosive sound.  Another banger out of this one!

2. Spreadown

As for the B-side, Spreadown sounds a bit more edgier than “AS ONE”, but still carries the band across and fuses a lil less of the synthwork found in the lead track.  Though it is strong sounding and its various sections are cool and unique…it’s just an instrumental track, something UVERworld tends to do on singles.  So it’s good for the band, just could’ve used an actual vocal track.

 

 

As the first single after “UNSER”. AS ONE is OK for the most part I suppose.  Not their strongest offering though.  AS ONE does feel like a track leftover from their last album which is good because of the high praise I gave it and enjoying they’re continuing with that ideal, but it’s literally the only track because Spreadown was just an instrumental (which sounds like it could’ve used some vocals).  Not bad, but I’m hoping for more in their singles.

 

UVERworld – UNSER

Filed under: UVERworld — solarblade @ 6:34 pm

unser

Track Listing

  1. Making it Drive
  2. AFTER LIFE
  3. Touch off
  4. Kyoukai
  5. stay on
  6. First Sight
  7. ODD FUTURE
  8. Muimi ni Naru Yoru
  9. EDEN e
  10. ConneQt
  11. OXYMORON
  12. One Last Time
  13. ROB THE FRONTIER
  14. GOOD and EVIL
  15. UNSER

1. Making it Drive

Wasn’t expecting the album to open up with something a little more electronic like Making it Drive.  Hearing TAKUYA rapping and having a lot of interesting quirks like filters and synths in the track that isn’t the band itself is really interesting and makes me wonder if this album will be something more experimental (especially after a lot of the A-sides showed off this side of UVERworld).  Making it Drive is unique I will give it that and kicks the album off in a unique way.

2. AFTER LIFE

Yeah, next track in is definitely giving me vibes of both “Making it Drive” and “EDEN e” with it’s darker glow and kind of leniency towards the synths and TAKUYA’s raps and vocals.  Though not as powerful as those two tracks, it’s quick-paced lyricism and just ethereal glow really makes it interesting, but I’m happy to hear the band does finally come in towards the end.  Yeah, interesting as well!

3. Touch off

Then we get into our first of the old tracks with the band’s 3rd A-side released, Touch off.  I did appreciate finally hearing SEIKA on the album since he wasn’t really a part of the first two track and Touch off is the first kind of hard-hitting song which is great since I’ve was wanting something more aggressive.  While I was kind of middle of the road when I reviewed the single (especially since it was after 3 amazing A-sides and this tune felt more like what I had come to expect from UVERworld.  On the album, it’s much better to me and the loudness of the song really caught my attention.  The only thing that threw me off was TAKUYA near the end where he’s kind of spittin words out without rapping and it felt like it was a bit out of place for me.  Still, Touch off is pretty good on the album now!

4. Kyoukai

Back to new tracks, Kyoukai takes the band to a more brighter sound for it that’s kind of giving me slight synth/pop/rock vibes like “ODD FUTURE” did, but then you get something like beatboxing included here and the song gets more interesting.  There’s just this thing about this track that catches me off guard and once again makes me think UVERworld is experimenting which is great because it brings out a lot of colorful works such as this.  Though I should mention that it is under 3 minutes which is a bummer.

5. stay on

Next up, stay on brings back the mixture of trap beats and synths on top of TAKUYA’s filtered vocals and cool stylings.  It feels different to me because now the band is also on full force as well, but not too much because the song changes so much throughout, like it’s a combination of many songs that didn’t get elaborated on to make this one lol.  I’m not sure if it mixed together very well to be honest and feels messy IMHO.

6. First Sight

Next up, First Sight pops up and I think for the first time I felt like UVER really felt more poppy than one is to be expected.  I think it’s mostly due to the synths and piano and the more laidback feel I get from the band themselves.  I mean, I don’t mind that aspect from them, just not something I would’ve expected they’d tackle.  It’s not terrible, but it just lacks energy (and maybe that’s what they were going for?).

7. ODD FUTURE

At least the energy is picked up immediately with ODD FUTURE (the first single released for the album).  I had worried it wouldn’t make the cut because it was a part of their 2 best album releases, so I was relieved to see it make its way onto UNSER.  While I thought it was poppy for them (at least until I just heard “First Sight”), hearing this being a theme for My Hero Academia was shocking, but like also badass in its own right.  I still do believe this song really kicked off this experimental kick that the band went through for the album and I mean ODD FUTURE is great because while it has many parts and lots of elements from various songs of this album (poppy/anison flow, quick TAKUYA raps and singing, SEIKA solo, and vocal filters), it just collided into something genius in a song like this!  Still one of my favorite UVERworld songs!

8. Muimi ni Naru Yoru

Getting into the next track, Muimi ni Naru Yoru brings things back down with more of a laidback sound that’s a little funky and jazzy and I’m really happy this tune was able to let TAKUYA rap a little more freely on top letting SEIKA play sax throughout the arrangement.  I will say this chill tone crosses my mind nicely though I will say, it’s a little odd they put it in between “ODD FUTURE” and “EDEN e”.  Still, as a track on its own, I’m really impressed by it and sticks out entirely in a good way.

9. EDEN e

Which goes into one half of the 2nd single UVERworld released for UNSER and EDEN e was another hit for me and I hit myself a lot for not reviewing it when it released initially because it’s just a powerful synth track for the band!  I’m a little beside myself with the sampling from “The Eye” from INFINITE still, but the song is still great and showcased TAKUYA’s vocals in a nice light.  Though I’m surprised it wasn’t somewhere around “Making it Drive” and “AFTER LIFE” because it had similarities, but a bit more loud in places.

10. ConneQt

Though it leads to our next track which was the lone B-side to make the album’s cut.  When I reviewed it on “Touch off”, I felt like ConneQt was decent, but familiar but then hearing it on the album, it reminds me a LOT of “First Sight” and the two could be confused.  I just know the difference because this was the older track.  Not sure why these two songs are making the band feel oddly more poppy, but I don’t think it works as well as they wanted it to be.

11. OXYMORON

Man these low, synths openings always has me curious to where a song leads and so far this album has been doing it in spades.  For OXYMORON, the song’s feel is definitely more inclusive for the band, though I wasn’t expecting strings to be in the tune.  Actually I just wasn’t expecting the tune to be bright and upbeat.  Like as if “EDEN e” was a little more happier.  I kind of found myself just enjoying this one a lot and has a lot of elements and a beautiful synergy between all the experimentation and the band themselves.

12. One Last Time

Seems like we’re back to having TAKUYA doing his rapping for our next new track.  Though after his lengthy verse, he and the band start going and it’s really nice as a chorus as it’s cool.  I mean I do like TAKUYA’s skills for sure, but I feel like we had a LOT of that on this album.  So unfortunately, I wasn’t heavily into this one since it really wasn’t popping out at me.

13. ROB THE FRONTIER

Then we get into the 4th and final single before UNSER released and ROB THE FRONTIER kind of still puts up the same opinions I had for it in the single review.  Though I will give it some points because despite being a pure UVERworld song with a relentless arrangement and heavy use of the band, it doesn’t have the heaps of experimentation that the rest of the album has.  Plus it’s just rockin’ and really pops off a lot better on the album than the single (though I mean it was the only track other than many live versions of past songs on it).

14. GOOD and EVIL

GOOD and EVIL coming after “ROB THE FRONTIER” shows what I mean from the pure rockin’ vibes of the latter and the fruits of the experimentation out of this track.  Yeah, this song is pretty wild and doesn’t suffer the same shenanigans that “stay on” suffered from.  It does slap hard in its own right and I love the arrangement out of this one a lot especially since it’s kind of the more serious UVERworld here.

15. UNSER

Then we get to the album’s outro which is the title track UNSER.  I’m not sure what they were going for here because the outro is definitely the most dance-ish track here with EDM beats and some other quirky things about it.  It’s only 1:40 in length, so it doesn’t leave too much of an impression, but just makes me wonder why it’s an outro.

Tracks Recommended

  • ODD FUTURE
  • EDEN e
  • OXYMORON
  • Muimi ni Naru Yoru
  • GOOD and EVIL

Song of Avoidance

  • stay on

If there’s anything I have to say about UNSER, it’s definitely experimental.  I don’t think I’ve heard UVERworld play around and try new things to this level since “Last” and even then that album had a lot of their usual rock songs.  I just wasn’t expecting them to go light rock here to synth music and of course the best tracks were the singles even Touch off and ROB THE FRONTIER sounded better with the album.  Yeah, this is now my favorite UVER album…I just hope they keep doing this! *RECOMMENDED*

 

Koda Kumi – re(CORD)

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 4:26 pm

record

Track Listing

  1. DO ME
  2. GET NAKED
  3. STRIP
  4. k,
  5. Rich & Famous feat. Sean Paul
  6. again
  7. Merry Go Round
  8. Eh Yo -re(CORD) edit-
  9. GOLDFINGER 2019
  10. Put Your Hands Up!!!
  11. Summer Time
  12. OMG
  13. SHUTOUT
  14. Livin’ La Vida Loca

1. DO ME

Oh?  We’re already jumping into the album super quick with the opening track, DO ME.  It has been a while since I’ve heard Kuu and this kind of attitude-laced performance is kind of eye-raising especially hearing the amount of auto-tune and filters placed here is slightly distracting.  I will say, the track is rather a booty-shaking romp and Kuu seems to really be into this one, interesting way to open the album, kind of miss the opening intros though lol.

2. GET NAKED

I guess the sexy romps continue from the evidently titled, GET NAKED.  While the previous track was a little more in your face, GET NAKED tries to go for the more sly and slick sound, but I’ve noticed for some reason that Kuu sounds a bit different from before, but it’s only in some places.  The tune is more or less how I felt about the opening track, maybe not so much memorable as “DO ME” was.

3. STRIP

Jeeze three in a row?  STRIP isn’t so much a romp, but it has that dark, sexy, glow to it on top of Kuu’s more rap-like verses to the chorus that’s a bit more alive.  I have to say, I do enjoy this track most of the 3 songs here as it has hooks and just sounds like another hit she could’ve had (I mean if she had released singles for the album).  Very cool song, one of the better ones from the album!

4. k,

While I feel like we’re leaving the romps behind, k, is pretty much a slightly toned down cut of “STRIP” as it has some funk vibes in it on top of some sections where she actually sings and not does the pseudo raps (though they’re still present in this one).  I definitely found myself interested in this one a lot and the chorus is interesting (that ~bum, bum, bum~ arpeggio is strange to say the least.

5. Rich & Famous (feat. Sean Paul)

Oh hey, another collaboration with Sean Paul eh?  After “Loaded” from her 2014 album, “Bon Voyage”, it seems we’re seeing these two again and while it doesn’t hit hard as the aforementioned track and Sean Paul doesn’t quite have as much of an appearance (except in his part in the bridge to the end, Rich & Famous’ more R&B tinted sound and mood are smooth and unique and the two sound so good together ironically.  I can see why Kuu wanted to do this again!  Wait, you’re saying it samples stuff from “CHANCES ALL” from her previous album?  That’s a little bizarre considering it wasn’t a main song?

6. again

Things slow down quite heavily for the only ballad on the album, again.  Taking away from the trap beats and sexy sound for this toned down acoustic/piano ballad is a bit strange, but I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve had something like this for Kuu (which is strange because I know she’s had ballads on the last couple of albums).  I mean Kuu sounds good once again and even though this is another case of if you’ve heard one of her ballads you’ve pretty much heard them all, it kind of sticks out on the album nicely in my opinion since it shows she still has the vocal chops for it.  It’s OK in her discography, just not on the higher side of things.

7. Merry Go Round

The mood starts to pick up again for Merry Go Round with it’s heavy summery vibes and it’s overall cute vibes throughout here.  It’s Reggae style really suits things throughout and Kuu sounds exciting here.  It’s probably my favorite so far on the album as it doesn’t rely on those trap beats and has its own identity, something I found more fulfilling here.  Really pleasant track here.

8. Eh Yo -re(CORD) edit-

So it seems like most of this album was released digitally prior to the album’s release and Eh Yo was the first one so for some reason it was the track that given an edit here.  I think most of the edits had went to cleaning up the equalizer and changing some of the elements to not stick out so much like the original did (and somehow shave 10 seconds off too).  Eh Yo is bringing back the energy back with something rockin’ and chant-worthy here.  I kind of dig flow of the song and Kuu sounds OK here too!  Decent track!

9. GOLDFINGER 2019

So I saw that Kuu was doing some covers for the album, GOLDFINGER being a cover of a 1999 Go Hiromi track and I thought I’d take a listen before diving into the track and…it turns out that this song is actually a cover of Ricky Martin’s HUGE hit in the same year, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” which now makes sense why Kuu is covering this song twice lol.  Instead of the latin pop sound of the originals, GOLDFINGER 2019 is a bit more dancey and synthy, but retains a little bit of the horns.  Though that dance break in the bridge didn’t need to be there…it kind of was incredibly out of place and made no sense.  The rest of the song is great though, I dug this!

10. Put Your Hands Up!!!

Are we back with the tropical house theme?  I think the song had something going, but I really couldn’t deal with Kuu under auto-tune here, it felt strange especially since she’s such a great singer that she definitely didn’t need this happening for a summery song such as this.  I think it’s what made me cringe away from the track, should’ve followed the same track that “Merry Go Round” did to be honest, what a shame…

11. Summer Time

I still find it funny Kuu saved the album release to November when there was so many Summer songs (thanks to the digital releasing).  Anyways, Summer Time is definitely what it brings to the table and it’s fun, cute, beach-friendly and whatnot, but I tend to feel after a while that she’s done so many songs like this that it’s also starting to blend into one another (like her ballads do).  It’s fine, it’s just kind of forgettable to me.

12. OMG

Oooh, are we back into the cool side to Kuu?  Wow, this song is definitely buzzing with the heavy beats and futuristic tone that caught my attention and Kuu has a lot of sassy moments which surprised me here.  Plus hearing Kuu say the title in its chorus is kind of humorous, but cool.  This is what I was wanting, something a little more energetic and works with Kuu’s vocals (though that auto-tune can go away).  Yeah, this was pretty damn good!

13. SHUTOUT

As we nearing the end of the album, SHUTOUT kind of brings me the same feeling that I got with “GET NAKED”, but once again the trap beats aren’t as in your face, but I’m wondering what this new timbre Kuu is using in her voice, it’s the 2nd time on the album she sounds like it and I’m not sure what I feel about that tone.  Very interesting song and like “OMG” would love more of to be honest!

14. Livin’ La Vida Loca

So I had a bad feeling when I got to the end of the album because while I think “GOLDFINGER 2019” is a decent cover, I also had to think that yes, Kuu is going to be singing in English again for the actual Ricky Martin cover.  Even since her take on “real Emotion”, Kuu has not really grown in the language much and while I do understand about 70% of what she’s saying, it’s pretty odd to me.  Much better than her take on “Venus”, just saying…As for the song, still the same as the earlier track, including the strange dance break.

Tracks Recommended

  • Merry Go Round
  • OMG
  • SHUTOUT
  • Eh Yo -re(CORD edit)-
  • STRIP

Song of Avoidance

  • Put Your Hands Up!!!

It seems like Kuu is just going through the waves in recent times with her last couple of album and unfortunately I feel pretty much similar to how this album felt.  It’s like the ideas and unique surprises are missing (though there are some to be found).  I will say now that I feel like her trap tracks are just not doing it for me no more and her aggressive sex romps are one too many now.  I will say that I wasn’t expecting the tracklist how it went, again being the lone ballad and a Japanese & English cover of what is a Ricky Martin song was interesting, but I need something new from Kuu…but what could that be?  Hard to say because Kuu has done all sorts of styles…so dance music as a whole next?

 

BABYMETAL – METAL GALAXY May 13, 2020

Filed under: BABYMETAL — solarblade @ 6:35 am

metalgalaxy

Track Listing

CD1

  1. FUTURE METAL
  2. DA DA DANCE (feat. Tak Matsumoto)
  3. Elevator Girl
  4. Shanti Shanti Shanti
  5. Oh! MAJINAI (feat. Joakim Broden)
  6. Brand New Day (feat. Tim Henson & Scott LePage)
  7. ↑↓←→BBAB
  8. Night Night Burn!

CD2

  1. IN THE NAME OF
  2. Distortion (feat. Alissa White-Gluz)
  3. PA PA YA!! (feat. F.HERO)
  4. BxMxC
  5. Kagerou
  6. Starlight
  7. Shine
  8. Arkadia

1. FUTURE METAL

As the opening to the album, FUTURE METAL isn’t the longest track here, but I was immediately here for it when I hear a mix of synths and guitar riffs filter through my headphones.  The fact that it reminds me of recent Final Fantasy sounds here kind of caught me attention and it’s just interesting especially coming from BABYMETAL, though SU-METAL does do some speaking, it’s not much and overall just introduces the album.

2. DA DA DANCE (feat. Tak Matsumoto)

As the first actual track from the album DA DA DANCE was going to be the first taste of the album’s overall feel and I’m kind of surprised this track mixed the metal genre with something a bit more dance-ish here and I’m really kind of surprised since BABYMETAL hasn’t really fused the two together for this mash.  It’s a fun track to say the least and was a good choice to really kick the album off with, I’m sure Tak was the guitarist here so!

3. Elevator Girl

While I haven’t reviewed anything BABYMETAL since “METAL RESISTANCE”, their 2nd album, the group did release 4 digital singles between the releases from 2018 until this album’s 2019 release.  Elevator Girl was the 3rd released and I was interested that the song felt a bit more poppy at the start before the double bass drum kicks on.  I’m also rather surprised it’s short too and hearing SU-METAL singing here.  Actually, it’s not surprising that I only hear SU-METAL (there’s a reason, maybe), but SU has gotten better vocally it seems, another curious wonder for the rest of the album!

4. Shanti Shanti Shanti

Used as the main promotional track from the album, Shanti Shanti Shanti caught me with it’s Arabian sitar-like atmosphere and all of a sudden I actually hear MOAMETAL, but she’s still rather in the back when compared to SU-METAL here.  The unusual arrangement and sound is ear-catching and despite not having a strong metal hook on it, the kind of mix of genres is VERY unique and much praised here!

5. Oh! MAJINAI (feat. Joakim Broden)

I’m surprised the album has a lot of featured artists on it this time around, but with BABYMETAL’s popularity so big, it was bound to happen!  Though I wasn’t expecting European metal musicians to be the choice for some.  Joakim Broden from the Swedish band, Sabaton is featured here.  I’m not sure what I was expecting for this track, but for whatever reason, it’s giving me an Irish Jig kind of feel, though what’s refreshing is hearing Joakim’s gruff vocals in this track since it’s the first track where it literally isn’t just SU-METAL.  It’s an odd mix, I’ll give it that, but I feel excited and almost celebratory with this track.  Then the chorus drops and it’s heavy and hearing SU and Joakim hitting notes low & high is surprisingly good, though it only happens once since the rest is the ~aye yai yai~ hook to the end as it leaves us with Joakim’s voice…really cool track overall!

6. Brand New Day (feat. Tim Henson & Scott LePage)

Another collaborative track, this time two members from the American band, Polyphia was found in this track!  After a couple of experimentive tracks, Brand New Day does sound very American with the way it was handled especially in the arrangement.  I’m kind of surprised that I hear SU & MOA actually singing in tandem with one another which pleases me in so many ways.  Really interesting song and another unique one that sticks out on the album (something this first disc has been doing great so far!).

7. ↑↓←→BBAB

What an interesting title for a track to pop up next right?  Though I wasn’t expecting synths and SU-METAL’s vocals under filters for the intro, but it returns us back into a cool metal sound, but like “DA DA DANCE” fuses the two styles into one for an interesting track that’s once again sticks out, but at the same time keeps the strong riffs and style throughout.  Kind of a strange song because it leans more on its electronic roots more, but I still dig it.

8. Night Night Burn!

As the last track of the first disc, Night Night Burn! closes the disc in a powerful force and funny enough reminds me of “Megitsune!” in some ways especially the guitar riffs here.  I wasn’t expecting the song to kind of have this Latin vibe to it, but I really enjoyed this mixture a lot especially the mood going between the two for sure, hell the pre-chorus is so tight and then it leads into it’s aggressive chorus.  What a great track to come by and may be one of the favorites of the album (although it’s hard since the album so far is so impressive to me!).

CD2

1. IN THE NAME OF

Entering the second disc, IN THE NAME OF opens up quite ominously with some gothic chanting and some foreboding strings which is immediately triggering the idea that this side of the album is much more serious and more like “METAL RESISTANCE” sounding.  I will say the minute-long opening may be long-winded, but the song has a nice heavy sound and there’s low growling vocals here and then it’s just a gremlin-like voice as well.  While I don’t hear any of the singers (unless they’re the low vocals), it’s kind of more or less an instrumental piece, but an interesting start.

2. Distortion (feat. Alissa White-Gluz)

So Distortion was the first of the digital singles released and sadly is the only song YUIMETAL took part in (because she had to leave the group after the release).  Though it never was tagged this way, the album has Alissa White-Gluz from the Swedish metal band, Arch Enemy.  When I first heard this song it was incredibly in your face especially with the double kick bass drums, but this song is really awesome and just felt relentless and now with Alissa doing the growls I’m even more impressed.  I think I could’ve used less of the double kick drums, especially in the 2nd run through the chorus, but this song is powerful and the chorus is amazing especially with SU-METAL probably giving her most soaring vocals yet on this album.  Awesome track~

3. PA PA YA!! (feat. F.HERO)

The 4th digital single released prior to the album, PA PA YA!! feels more at home with BABYMETAL with the metal riffs and chanting that seems to suit lives almsot perfectly.  I kind of enjoy the power behind it, but I could live without the title being chanted so much here.  The featured artist had me a bit worried, a Thai rapper, F.HERO and his appearance in the song doesn’t quite gel as smoothly as other collabs on the album.  Yeah, if anything this might be the first misstep of the album.

4. BxMxC

OK maybe, I thought the experimentation was all on the first disc, but BxMxC is a little like the way of “Elevator Girl” but a bit more harder-edged and it helps that the duo’s vocals are a bit more frenzied and going for some strange notes and some of the trap beats/synth hits are unique.  Very headbanging of a song and interesting track overall.

5. Kagerou

Getting into Kagerou, it’s giving me Western vibes like “Brand New Day” but I think it’s mostly because it’s so straightforward of a song and doesn’t really have many surprises, but relies on it’s powerful arrangement to make it stick out.  It may be kind of that regular metal song of the album, but it’s rather good regardless!  Plus, SU sounds really nice here so there’s that to mention lol!

6. Starlight

Then we enter the 2nd digital single and what would have to be what they’d bring in after the powerhouse that was “Distortion” and the first release without YUIMETAL.  I do like the way the song starts out quietly with vocals from the group before the song kicks in and the tune giving into its headbanging style.  I actually would go and say that this felt like a song that came from “METAL RESISTANCE” in ways because it does sound similar to quite a few tracks from the album.

7. Shine

Kind of interesting we have our longest track up near towards the end of the album and Shine opens up almost as nicely as it should with light vocals and pretty and then it turns into a really nice power ballad of a song that probably should have ended the album lol.  Once again I feel like SU-METAL does a really nice job singing the tune.  I’ve been wondering where an epic song like this would’ve popped up and I’m not disappointed.

8. Arkadia

As we enter the final track of the album, Arkadia ends things off with a bang and once again with the same ominous tone that “IN THE NAME OF” had, but instead of sticking to it for very long, the track just blasts off and the band playing is just so fired up, especially their guitarist here which is giving me so many feels here.  Wild song to end this album with but very much appreciated here.

Tracks Recommended

  • Distortion (feat. Alissa White-Gluz)
  • Night Night Burn!
  • Brand New Day (feat. Tim Henson & Scott LePage)
  • DA DA DANCE (feat. Tak Matsumoto)
  • BxMxC

Song of Avoidance

  • PA PA YA!! (feat. F.HERO)

I have to say hearing about BABYMETAL’s struggle during this era surprised me from their guitarist of the band, Mikio Fujioka passing away to YUIMETAL having to leave the group due to health issues sucked a lot, but it seems the remaining two pushed forward to release METAL GALAXY and it’s definitely their most experimental album yet, even more than their self-titled debut.  There was just a lot of unique and interesting songs and bringing into the guest musicians was a nice move as well adding more to this worldwide feel to the album.  I feel like this is moving BABYMETAL into new territories, but now as the group continue on as a duo, I’m hoping MOAMETAL gets pushed a LOT more, I felt like this was incredibly a SU-METAL show here and I barely heard MOAMETAL..  Hm…Oh and also why was this split in two discs?  Was it because of having both FUTURE METAL and IN THE NAME OF being intro songs?  Not sure if it really was necessary tbh.  Anyways METAL GALAXY was pretty good, did slightly mellow itself out towards the end of the album, but I still pretty much dug it, may even surpass “METAL RESISTANCE”!

 

Nana Mizuki – CANNONBALL RUNNING May 12, 2020

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 4:14 am

cannonballrunning

Track Listing

  1. Higher Dimension
  2. Carpe Diem
  3. Love Fight!
  4. DAYBREAKERS
  5. Knock U down
  6. BLUE ROSE
  7. Sweet Dealer
  8. WHAT YOU WANT
  9. Margaret
  10. METANOIA -Aufwachen Form-
  11. glitch
  12. NEVER SURRENDER
  13. Light Births Shadow
  14. REBELLION
  15. UPSETTER
  16. ALL FOR LOVE
  17. FINAL COMMANDER -Aufwachen Form-
  18. METANOIA (Hi-Res edition only)
  19. FINAL COMMANDER (Hi-Res edition only)

1. Higher Dimension

Something about a marching band opening up Nana’s album just seems right, but I think I wasn’t ready for the song to be rather cute and not as epic as her previous albums had been for sure.  Though I’m kind of surprised Higher Dimension is more of like an intro piece as it’s 2:30 in length.  I really love that Nana is able to have this much space to really showcase her vocal talent and she hits some really sweet high notes in this track, short but sweet and makes me curious to where this album is going.

2. Carpe Diem

Moving to the first full track, Carpe Diem starts off like a fighting game (like Street Fighter) but then really kicks things up with a pretty anime-esque sound but very quickly paced and interesting.  Of course Nana really owns the song because she’s just gives such a great performance and it’s nothing less in this track!  I think I’m really enjoying this track a lot after the first listen which is nice!

3. Love Fight!

Am I getting a Halloween vibe out of the next track here?  I’m also hearing a continuation of the marching sound that was in “Higher Dimension” and wonder why this wasn’t in front of “Carpe Diem” as I feel like it could’ve worked with the intro motif.  I don’t think I’ve heard Nana tackle a style like this and I really dig this kind of darker, hypnotic feel of the song.  It’s another winner here that’s for sure!

4. DAYBREAKERS

So while she did release 3 singles before the album, she also released 6 digital singles (only one of them didn’t make the album cut).  DAYBREAKERS was the 3rd released (and was also on the digital single (6th) that was used as a preview for the album) and wondered why it was a popular song.  Luckily, the song is more along the lines of her synth/anison tracks that I always tend to love so it immediately struck a chord in me!  I’m loving the arrangement of course and the chorus is wide and open as it is.  Really dope song and I wonder what the other digital singles are like now!

5. Knock U down

Changing the tone of the album, Knock U down is more of rockin’ Nana here and I’m not surprised we get something like this, but I don’t know what to think about this song because it’s kind of that old-timey rock’n’roll.  Though I will say that I’m humored by the song with that ~everybody clap your hands, uhhuh, uhhuh~, also the fact there’s like a double voice especially in the verses where Nana sings much lower and it’s strange.  Odd song and I feel like I hear a bit of Ai Otsuka here looool.  Also, odd choice to promote the album honestly…

6. BLUE ROSE

The first of the digital singles released, BLUE ROSE may be a 2018 song, but I kind of hear the sounds of this era in it too (the singles).  It really kind of comes off as your typical Nana Mizuki anison track with those dramatic strings and chords.  Normally I wouldn’t expect this to be on an album as it sounds like immediate B-side work…but I suppose it had to be here?  Not really impressed with this one.

7. Sweet Dealer

It’s been a while since I’ve heard Nana tackle something funky and Sweet Dealer fills the gap really nicely here!  I’m really loving the arrangement and the bass line being so funky and groovy on top of Nana’s more sultry and silky vocals adding that mood with the track.  I just have to say, this definitely is another awesome track for Nana and shows off her cooler vibes!

8. WHAT YOU WANT

It took me a while to remember this one, but it was the good track from the “WONDER QUEST EP” so it’s nice to see this on the album as it was a surprisingly good rock track which immediately went over “Knock U down”.  I really like the ominous intro and then Nana just gets all badass and yelling before the song really lights off.  I’m loving the energy and the chorus is really in your face and just yeah!  Impressive A-side that’s for sure!

9. Margaret

Which makes the next track probably the biggest drop off of the album switching from something hard hitting into Margaret which is a light and airy acoustic track which kind of just caught me off guard because of the mood shift.  I’m not exactly sure why it’s placed in the middle of two exploding songs on the album and it’s not totally all that great making its simplicity rather out of place smack dab in the middle of the album.

10. METANOIA -Aufwachen Form-

So two of the tracks on the album got the “Aufwachen” touch meaning an extended introduction and one of them was the 3rd A-side released for the album and I definitely remembered METANOIA being something similar to “Vitalization” which was also a really awesome song too!  The additional intro is quite elusive and mysterious to me and really gave me some extreme synth feels which is awesome!  Though it does let up into the guitar-centric intro of METANOIA and I really love the mix and makes the song even more memorable to me!  Still cool, heavy, and just totally Nana…great song!

11. glitch

Those guitars would follow into the next new track and glitch is once again not like “Knock U down” isn’t quite strange and felt like it suits more after something like “METANOIA” that’s for sure.  I really like the song’s Western feel and Nana’s wailing is just awesome to listen to.  Pretty good track!

12. NEVER SURRENDER

I also seemed to forget about the 2nd A-side released making its appearance and after reading the single review, I guess I apparantly wasn’t really all the impressed by it because it suffered a bit like “BLUE MOON” in where it sounds like the usual stuff she’d put out like “SCARLET KNIGHT”, “Silent Bible” and even “Destiny’s Prelude”.  The plus is that it’s not bogged down by its single, but regardless it’s pretty much the same ole’, same ole’.

13. Light Births Shadow

Oh well then, I’m surprised we’re getting a technopop track out of Nana on this album and it’s giving me some of the FFXIII vibes with the happier and ethereal flow of synths throughout and I’m enjoying the mood it’s putting me in that’s for sure.  It’s a different kind of feel of a song and it’s really unique in that way and its crystalline sound definitely left a mark on me.

14. REBELLION

Released as the 2nd digital single, REBELLION was a theme for an online RPG and I was kind of not surprised that it like songs like “BLUE MOON” and “NEVER SURRENDER” was going to kind of fit together.  Though I do think REBELLION does a bit more to stand out more than the two aforementioned tracks with its verses and the melody of its chorus being really powerful and tight!  So I guess it’s the best of the 3 anison tracks?

15. UPSETTER

So as we enter the last of the new tracks, I had assumed UPSETTER was going to be another edgy rock tune from Nana, but instead feels like a song that’s more of a cheer track for live tours & performances.  It’s energetic and loud and happy-go-lucky as it should be but it isn’t the final track which makes it slightly strange to me.  Still, a pretty nice track overall and makes for a good closer to lives!

16. ALL FOR LOVE

Yeah, it was part of the 6th digital single (alongside “DAYBREAKERS”) and was curious to see what this song was about.  Though I shouldn’t have been surprised since the other track was upbeat and wild while ALL FOR LOVE was kind of the ballad part of the release.  Well, it does start off like a ballad with the piano, but once the chorus enters, the song opens up with strings and percussion/guitar/bass and it’s an interesting song, but considering the album was lacking ballads, ALL FOR LOVE wanted to be that, but not fully, strange right?  It’s not really all the memorable to me, but since it’s towards the end of the album, I suppose it works?

17. FINAL COMMANDER -Aufwachen Form-

Which brings us to our final track on the album which is another digital single, but unlike the other 4 tracks, FINAL COMMANDER has an extended intro here which once again piqued my curiosity of why it did.  Just like in “METANOIA”, synths open up the new intro, but this feels more like something I’d hear out of “Synchrogazer”, but it’s a lot more shorter before the main track enters the fray and FINAL COMMANDER is that kind of epic song that I was kind of expecting opening the album.  Not bad though and really sounds nice overall and ended the album with a bang!

18. METANOIA

So the album was also released as a High-Resolution release (meaning better sounding?, better than FLAC?) I didn’t grasp the reasoning for a release like that, but more importantly it came with two bonus tracks in METANOIA & “FINAL COMMANDER” without the intros.  I really can’t say too much that I haven’t said in the Aufwachen Form reviews.  METANOIA is still pretty damn good even without the intro.

19. FINAL COMMANDER

Though I had not heard FINAL COMMANDER prior to the album so that’s a thing, but since it is without the album specific intro, FINAL COMMANDER is still pretty decent without it and just feels just as grand and epic as it should.

Tracks Recommended

  • Love Fight!
  • METANOIA -Aufwachen Form-
  • WHAT YOU WANT
  • DAYBREAKERS
  • Light Births Shadow

Song of Avoidance

  • BLUE MOON

Wow, I came into CANNONBALL RUNNING curious, but slightly worried that the album wasn’t going to be much for me considering it has a pattern of new song, old song, new song which meant album flow wasn’t on anyone’s mind (especially with WHAT YOU WANT, Margaret, and METANOIA in that line being awkward).  Still, a LOT of the album was surprisingly great though and stuck out a LOT MORE than “NEOGENE CREATION” did luckily.  Can’t wait to see what’s next!

 

R – Ring May 3, 2020

Filed under: Rina Aiuchi — solarblade @ 6:05 am

ring

Track Listing

  1. CUE!
  2. RISE
  3. NO FADE OUT
  4. WARM PRAYER (Inori ver.)
  5. Mellow
  6. KISS KISS KISS
  7. Meisai
  8. NOPE
  9. PLAY HIGH feat. TKQ
  10. Ring
  11. Mellow (Violin inst.)

1. CUE!

As the first song of the album, I was digging the funky vibes from the intro right from the beginning and it was making me think Rina was going to new styles especially once that tracks kicks in and saxophones and piano join in alongside some bass.  I really enjoyed though, but was more surprised it’s only 2:40 long making it more of a elongated intro more than anything else.  Still, nice way to open the album.

2. RISE

So it seems the album wants to get through the previously released songs before giving us more of the new tracks.  Starting with the lone A-side, I was kind of surprised that after “CUE!” things would immediately slow down for this track, but I still remember enjoying this song because it was like Rina was back in a way.  The verses are very ethereal and spacey, but the chorus was a pop/rock track in a vein to songs from her album, “PLAYGIRL”.  It’s a pretty good track still and made me wonder what she had compiled for this album.

3. NO FADE OUT

While I only got to hear the live version of this from the “RISE” single, NO FADE OUT was one of the two digital singles she released when she returned from her retirement/hiatus.  Hearing the actual studio cut of the song is a little more of the same sound she had in “RISE”, but it’s not quite as in your face as it, but features a good enough range of guitars, piano, and strings (giving it a slight anison feel too).  Not bad here either!

4. WARM PRAYER (Inori ver.)

Seeing it’s the first song she did upon returning to the music scene, WARM PRAYER wasn’t much of a memorable song for me because it was a little too light.  Seeing at it was the only one of the 3 previously released to get edited on the album, made me wonder what changed.  To be honest, the difference between the live version and this Inori take isn’t too broad, maybe added backup vocals behind Rina and some slight instrumentation changes, but it’s still the same track otherwise.  I do like the latter half of the track though since there’s more going on, but it’s nice overall.

5. Mellow

We finally get to the new tracks and I feel if there was one track that felt like it was going to be promoted, it’d be this one (because Mellow returns at the end of the album).  Having Mellow be after “WARM PRAYER” I think did a little more harm because this is more of your standard piano/strings/percussion ballad so I felt like it was a bit too plain for me and lacked the interest that the previous track had.

6. KISS KISS KISS

After zoning out from “Mellow”, KISS KISS KISS tries to wake up somehow, but sadly it kind of falls flat somewhat at doing so.  It isn’t a ballad, but more of a chilled out mid-tempo track with a melody and arrangement that kind of felt like 90’s Pop which wasn’t really all that intriguing to me.  Yeah after a while, I ended up purely zoning this one out too sadly.

7. Meisai

Our next track Meisai didn’t exactly help my boredom at first because the way she opens the track is more ballad, but it flowed a little better than the previous two tracks, but then she twists the song and turns it into this fiery & big band-like entry which REALLY caught my attention as it’s so quick-paced and Rina sounds cute but in a nice way here.  It was a total surprise me and shook the sleep off of me.  I think the intro didn’t need to happen as long as it did, but what we got was exciting and fun!

8. NOPE

Though the craziness continues into NOPE which brings Rina back to move of her past days where her music was more electronic and I instantly dug the atmosphere out of NOPE as it’s more club-like and sassy.  Though what I wasn’t expecting to hear censor bleeps in the chorus, which made me raise my eyebrows at the inclusion.  Though I think the biggest WTF is that at 2:30, the song ends, but then out pops a cutesy technopop song just finishes the rest of the song…what?  This is random at its finest and I’m not sure what she was going for between these two ideas.  That said, the two ideas are really nice…just wtf…

9. PLAY HIGH feat. TKQ

Another dance track comes next with PLAY HIGH and I was wondering what she was going to pull off.  TKQ seems to be the male vocalist that’s featured in the song and he seems to be heard in the verses (under that vocal filter, which sounds cool), but Rina somehow kind of doesn’t fit in the song since her voice isn’t as rough or exudes cool in a track like this.  I do like how Rina and TKQ play off each other in those verses, but Rina by herself in the chorus is kind of weak.  Still, I kind of like the edgier sound?

10. Ring

As the album draws closer to the end, we have the title track and I’m kind of surprised that Ring is a ballad here.  Though it does make it more sense since it is near the end.  As a simple piano ballad, Ring doesn’t bring too much to the table besides Rina’s vocals which actually sound nice here over “Mellow”.  After a bit, strings and other instrumentation makes it grow better (like “WARM PRAYER” and gives me the same good vibes out of it).

11. Mellow (Violin inst.)

Though the album actually ends with a near 3 minutes outro based on Mellow with the violin playing the melody of the track.  Not sure why the album needed this especially since “Ring” made for an appropriate conclusion to the album.  I do like the violin, but I think this could’ve been somewhere in the main version and not needed this tacked at the end.

Tracks Recommended

  • Meisai
  • NOPE
  • RISE
  • NO FADE OUT
  • PLAY HIGH feat. TKQ

Song of Avoidance

  • Mellow

Wow, it’s great to see Rina return with an album (especially since her last album “LAST SCENE” was released back in 2010, almost 10 years ago).  I will say Ring is definitely a lot more memorable than I thought her last album and “THANX” was as well.  Lot of variety here to enjoy, but there are some boring songs and her indies status is showing since some of the songs sound slightly cheap.  All I wanna know was what the hell was the idea behind NOPE…how ridiculous!

 

KOTOKO – tears cyclone -Sei- May 2, 2020

Filed under: KOTOKO — solarblade @ 6:21 am

tearscyclonesei

Track Listing

  1. Sei -metallic tears-
  2. Minazuki no Koi ~mimetic memory~
  3. Thank you Birthday!!
  4. scale ~Henho Tanchou no Love Letter~
  5. Fukigen na Ningyo
  6. Asu e no Namida -timeless tear mix-
  7. Bug
  8. ・HACHI・=Flunky puppy “Eight”
  9. Tobiuo
  10. azure blue ~Amairo no Kakuusen~
  11. Namida no Enough
  12. Opal

CD2

  1. agony -Dark of Crystal arrange-

1. Sei -metallic tears-

Opening the album, Sei -metallic tears- starts off with a guitar riff, but quickly changes gears with those dance beats.  I kind of was curious to see where the song would go and while the verses are a bit dull, the chorus makes up for it in spaces by going quicker and the beats electronic beats are more aggressive and something KOTOKO would pull off in spades, hell the switch-up in the bridge was neat too!  Yeah, this is actually a pretty solid way to kick the album off!

2. Minazuki no Koi ~mimetic memory~

Moving on, we enter Minazuki no Koi and already we’re slowing the field down to more of a mid-tempo track here.  I’m surprised the verses take it even further down almost going into a ballad-like state.  I do like the minimalistic arrangement there, but once she goes in further and the slowish dance beats return, the song feels almost boring in a way (especially compared to “Sei -metallic tears-“).  I think I would’ve appreciated this if it was more towards the end of the album and not at the front.

3. Thank you Birthday!!

I’ve never been the biggest fan of KOTOKO’s more cuter vocals and just from the title alone, I was thinking this would be a song that she’d use those vocals and it ended up being true.  Though it’s not as bad as her “SHORT CIRCUIT” days, but Thank you Birthday!! feels like something I heard in her last two albums which may be why I’m not really into it.  At least the song is a bit more energetic taking that cute anison rock sound here.  Seems odd of a song to include it in this album, but whatever lol.

4. scale ~Henho Tanchou no Love Letter~

After that, scale comes next and I wondered where this song was going to take KOTOKO next and it seems it’s more of that anison rock here and KOTOKO continues to sing in her cutesy voice and this is another song I felt (like “Minazuki no Koi”) that should’ve been placed more towards the end because it also feels like a song that would close an album out to be honest.  I think I do like this a little more than the previous track, but just barely.

5. Fukigen na Ningyo

At least with the next track, we’re back to electro-queen KOTOKO and it’s definitely synth heavy and reminds me of stuff from the past (her peak stuff).  I’ve always enjoyed KOTOKO’s deeper vocals and I definitely missed it when it’s mixed with this synthy anison stuff like in “Suppuration -core-” and “SCREW”.  While I’m not sure where it lands in her electro works, I actually enjoyed this one a lot!

6. Asu e no Namida -timeless tear mix-

I didn’t think KOTOKO would actually cover a fellow I’ve Sound member’s song but here we are with her covering Mami Kawada’s song that she released on a collaboration single with KOTOKO back in 2003.  I enjoyed the original a lot and was a just really pleasant and sucked it never got to appear on a major release until her best album, though seeing KOTOKO covering this is interesting too.  The song itself is a bit more upbeat with the beats and such and of course KOTOKO’s unique vocals filter into the song.  While I think her voice doesn’t quite suit the song much, she did a good enough job to give the song life throughout.  Not bad.

7. Bug

Back to new tracks, Bug was one of the tracks that caught my attention because of the darker nature of the word.  Bug though turns out to be one of the more attention-grabbing songs as the intro is pretty gritty and dark.  Though it seems to lighten up during the verses and even the chorus where that dark mood is kind of erased, but still kind of rockin’.  Though what caught me is when the first chorus is over, it sounds like it just restarts the song like abruptly.  It’s strange, but I wish it was more of the darker MELL-like sound and not what the rest of the song ended up being.  Still, I kind of dig it over a lot of the album.

8. ・HACHI・=Flunky puppy “Eight”

What is it with this title?  Seems so random and feels VERY “SHORT CIRCUIT”-like.  Boy was I right because KOTOKO is back to using that whiny cute voice, but unlike “Thank you Birthday!!”, the arrangement is kind of going into more of cute pop/rock sound with KOTOKO singing fast lyrics in its chorus.  Just as random as that title is, HACHI just doesn’t quite sit well on the album.

9. Tobiuo

The next tune on the album seems to drive things back with more of a forward-sounding rock song with Tobiuo.  It’s just purely in your face with the guitarwork and loud band sound here.  I kind of enjoyed its free spirit in the song and KOTOKO sounds pretty decent and keeping up with the aggressive arrangement.  Not bad of a song and one of the better rock tracks she’s done.

10. azure blue ~Amairo no Kakuusen~

Things slow down a bit again for azure blue, but still keeping that pop/rock sound in mind which kind of feels like once again something I heard on her last album, or the last couple of singles she did.  I think the word that comes to mind with this song is generic because it doesn’t really stand out to me and just feels vanilla of a song, especially for KOTOKO.

11. Namida no Enough

As we near the ending of the album, Namida no Enough is kind of good where it is on the album as it still is rockin’ but the mood is a bit slower and a tad darker which is nice compared to other tracks.  KOTOKO sounds fine, but like a couple other tracks, I feel like it drags a bit and like “azure blue” feels slightly generic, but maybe a little more harder?  It’s just kind of missing the mark.

12. Opal

As the last track, Opal made sense to be the actual ballad of the album and I like that it doesn’t sound like the rest of the album with it’s piano/acoustic guitar arrangement.  KOTOKO still doesn’t quite seem that great of a ballad singer, but this song is relaxing and gentle which is nice.  Nothing terribly special in the long run, but I enjoyed its presence.

CD2

1. agony -Dark of Crystal arrange-

So just like her previous album, it comes with a bonus disc with an extra track (which I still feel is a waste of a compact disc), we have a remix of agony (the B-side from KOTOKO’s biggest single, “Re-Sublimity”).  While agony was the weakest track from the single IMO, I love that it was brought back and updated because it was definitely needing it.  The trance-like atmosphere is still there and it’s still cool to listen to and KOTOKO just works with this almost perfectly.   Yeah this is pretty good!~

Tracks Recommended

  • Fukigen na Ningyo
  • agony -Dark of Crystal arrange-
  • Sei -metallic tears-
  • Tobiuo
  • Bug

Song of Avoidance

  • azure blue ~Amairo no Kakuusen~

Since this album and her previous album, “tears cyclone -Kai-” were in this representation of KOTOKO’s anniversary, I feel the two albums are connected.  Though I have to say that I think Sei played safer than Kai and for that while there were OK songs, but there were some boring songs on this album too.  The electro tracks are still the best the album has to offer luckily, but eh I dunno.