Tag Archives: Japanese Rock

“Crisis Moment” – Merry

Seems like it has to take something massive to get me to post. Well, here's your massive thing.

With school, work, and an obvious decline in musical releases, (or the quality of them, rather) I’ve really had no time or reason to blog. I am confused, though, as to what on Earth has happened with Japanese music. From the start of the year to the middle of the summer artists were constantly releasing strong singles. Now what? Has everyone fallen under some anesthesia and gone into hibernation? Where’s the good stuff, yo?

Thankfully, Merry came along to pull me out of my slump, as well as prevent me from questioning my faith in J-rock. (something I would hopefully never do) After the The Cry Against…/Monochrome My fiance and I had our interests piqued. His more so than mine, because I’m such a dang skeptic.

The first time I heard Crisis Moment I was ready to skip it after about ten seconds. Why? Because I’m a skeptic! The song starts out really slow and tender, then there’s a ton of screaming. Then it gets all touchy-feely again. THEN, the chorus!

What saves this jumbled mess of a song is its outstanding chorus. I’m really digging Gara’s voice because it’s so unorthodox for j-rock. Normally, you expect some deep, authoritarian, booming, Shao Kahn (sorry, I’ve been playing way too much Mortal Kombat) voice, but Gara’s got a much higher pitch and I can appreciate this diversity. The chorus of Crisis Moment is explosive, angry, and beautiful at the same time. It has a well developed melody as well, instead of just “hey guys, let’s play our instruments as loud as we can and see what happens.”

My only complaint with the song is its length. Merry seems to be terrified of stretching anything past four minutes. Crisis
Moment clocks in at three minutes and fifteen seconds. This is not enough time for the song to establish the links between the mellow and brutal parts so it seems a little forced. In j-pop songs, a 3:15 song is fine because not much change happens. In typical j-rock, you expect to be taken on a music journey of sorts. I would compare Crisis Moment to a roller coaster. You coast up a big hill, go down the hill at warp speed, some messed up crap happens that you barely remember, then its over and you have to go back again just to discern what just happened. Okay, convoluted analogy is over.

Don’t get me wrong, Crisis Moment is the best j-rock song I’ve heard for a while and I’m glad for that. I just would have wished for a little more organization. (as in, MAKE IT LONGER!)

Fleeting Prayer is an entire minute longer than Crisis Moment and a ghostly feel to it. It doesn’t have as sharp or extreme changes as Crisis Moment, but it’s worth listening to. I appreciate that obvious effort was taken with this song. You don’t see a lot of effort put into b-sides normally so this is a refreshing piece.

Finally, we get the unplugged version of Crisis Moment Eeeeeew. This song was not meant to be like this. It’s slow, boring, and should be skipped. Gara sounds terrible and the whole thing is just terrible. Sorry to be a total song-basher but this song made me want to bicycle kick a wall.

In Conclusion: Merry certainly delivered with Crisis Moment. To me, it’s their best single yet and builds off of the epic-ness that their last single had. It’s nice to see growth in a band I’ve overlooked for the longest time. Highly recommended!

~Alisa~

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“Nancy” – SKULL

Welcome back to me, and welcome back to SKULL! This band was introduced to me by Toshi San and I definitely appreciate it. Gaining insight on new VK bands is what I’m all about.

I’m going to probably step on some toes and hurt some feelings when I say that I wasn’t very fond of Nancy. The guitar and the rest of the instruments were great, but I didn’t feel like the vocals matched the intensity of the song and for that I couldn’t really take it seriously. This is one of those songs I will probably have but rarely listen to.

I did, however, find JUMPIT to be really interesting. It’s a fine blend of all sorts of musical elements which come together to make some weird messy thing that works. I would recommend this song to anyone with a varied taste in music, such as myself.

In Conclusion: I didn’t like this single as much as SKULL’s last effort, but they are still a band I’m going to keep up with. I pretty much have to if I’m going to have Toshi San as a friend. 😉

~Alisa~

AAA’s new single will be reviewed next, hopefully in the next couple of days. Ven, you have my permission to begin your cartwheels now.

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“Naked Arms / SWORD SUMMIT” – T.M. Revolution

Takanori can see inside your soul.

T.M.R hasn’t been around for a little while. Takanori himself has been active with abindgon boys school and the field of being awesome, but he hasn’t “made revolution” since 2008’s Resonance, which was a fantastic song. I am still a relatively new T.M.R fan so I’ve had his entire discography to tide me over during the wait for this single. Seasoned fans probably found the wait to be tougher since they had heard it all before. Man, I have good timing.

Naked Arms picks up right where Resonance left off. It’s got attitude! Takanori’s vocals are out of this world. This man can seriously sing. I really liked the unpredictable melody that the songs boasts as well as the fact that the energy never dies out during the song. There isn’t a dull moment. Naturally, the PV for this song is delightfully camp (Takanori seems to really enjoy being on camera, okay?) with an interesting usage of color, or lack thereof. This song wasn’t as good for me as Resonance but it’s still a fresh track and a great reminder that even after two years T.M.R is still going strong.

I still don’t know exactly how I feel about SWORD SUMMIT yet. I like it, but there’s something too perky about it. I’m just waiting for this to turn up on Dance Dance Revolution (alongside GACKT’s Koakuma Heaven, hehe). I definitely dig how the flute was integrated into the song at the instrumental break. This song is DDR-meets-Pokemon-battle. Yep.

In Conclusion: I was blown away by this single. T.M.R is just brilliant, simply put. Naked Arms is an epic win for sure and SWORD SUMMIT grows on me with each listen. Highly recommended!

~Alisa~

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“Departure” – Deluhi

Understand this. My first Deluhi song was Hybrid Truth. That being said, the bar has been set pretty high and the band has yet to blow me away since. After “The Farthest” I was ready to call it quits but something in me never wants to give up faith in a band I at one time really liked. So here I am, giving it another go with Deluhi’s latest one-track single.

Departure begins with some chanting, electronic vocals, and those “machine gun drums” I’ve praised the band for. It starts out sounding like it’s going to be good. I was really thinking I could get into the song. That’s when things began to go downhill. The second I heard a party-over-here-style “whoooa-ooooh” I knew things were about to get very, very bad.

That’s when the chorus hit. The hard kind of electronic sound I was digging from the song’s opening had vanished and instead been replaced with a sort of happy-go-lucky-let’s-toss-beach balls-around-and-enjoy-being-young kind of song that you hear almost every throwaway Disney Channel star record at some point. I think I could headbang easier to the Degrassi theme song and feel less embarrassed. I’m going to be honest with you and say that I only made it about four minutes in to the song. It’s just not worth anyone’s time.

In Conclusion: I’m being so harsh because I know Deluhi has more in them than this. All I want to know is where that potential went. Don’t hand me a track as brutal as Hybrid Truth and then try to follow it up with something that I don’t even consider Visual Kei, alright? I am so disappointed, but I won’t give up. Deluhi has still got some fight in them and I’m sure it has to come out eventually.

~Alisa~

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“EVER” – GACKT

I definitely prefer this cover to the other.

I’ll let you guys in on a little secret. This is probably the most excited I’ve ever (pun intended) been to write a review. Everybody knows by now that GACKT is my favorite artist in el mundo and I have been bursting at the seams to get my hands on this single. After being pushed back repeatedly and sending GACKTophiles like myself into a cold sweat-laced panic, I began to think that G’s move to Avex was a poor choice.

Though this isn’t his first single with Avex (recall that the “Journey” trilogy was released with them, even if G didn’t write any of the songs) I was interested, nauseated, and incredibly nervous to see how he would fare with such a mainstream company. Could GACKT retain his character and uniqueness we all love about him by switching to the most draconian, evil, corrupt, baneful, heinous, vile, pernicious, loathsome, repugnant, sinister mainstream record company in Japan?

You bet your bottom dollar he could.

EVER begins with some hard drumming, and of course the trademark you-know-it’s-a-GACKT-song guitar noise. Is there some kind of story behind that sound? I can think of at least three other GACKT songs with that exact same noise in it somewhere.

Let me say that I can understand why this single was released during the Yellow Fried Chickenz tour. This is the kind of energetic, crowd pleasing song that would be incredible to see live. It’s only natural that G would release and promote it during the tour. (the parts of it when he isn’t unconcious/hospitalized 😦 …)

What I liked most about EVER is that it never slows down or releases its grip. GACKT sounds fierce and empowered in the chorus. Perhaps the move to Avex wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. If his next single comes out on time, then I’ll totally be okay with the label switch.

In all, EVER is outrageously catchy and brilliant. I barely noticed that the song was over five minutes long, because it just keeps blazing through. I loved it.

EVER’s PV carries on the live-house theme of the YFCz tour. The premise of the PV is simple but I found it poignant. Basically, it tells the story of a youngster who experiences and is affected by GACKT’s performance. I would be just like that kid if I saw G live. Unable to speak, only able to gravitate towards him. There is also a bouncer dude (I guess) who seems to really enjoy saying the word “ever.”

GACKT is stellar in this PV. He separates himself from reality by playing the role of a sort of deity. He’s magnetic, captivating, and it’s so hard to believe he is a real, breathing human. He just seems so far above the rest of us. Trust me, you’ll be feeling the same way the little kid in the audience does when you watch this. G’s dancing is a little strange, (not as odd as the dancing in the Vanilla PV though!) he removes and replaces his fedora numerous times, and of course..

Do I really need to say anything else?

We are also given UNCONTROL ♂Kyoukiranbu edition♂ which features.. guess. That same guitar sound! Seriously, am I the only one who pays attention to or notices that? This song is wacky and dissonant. It has a heavy techno sound, but I can understand why this song seems to be popular at lives. It’s a crowd-pleaser and that’s what GACKT is all about: making the fans happy.

In Conclusion: GACKT is a freight train with no intention of stopping. EVER is a fantastic single as a whole, and I could not possibly be happier. I am sure this review is riddled with bias because I’m so hooked on GACKT that… well it’s just not healthy, okay? VERY highly recommended. Excellent work, G.

~Alisa~

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“Akaki Hitsuji Ni Yoru Bansankai” – D

^ I know I messed that title up somewhere.

Hey look! I’m actually going to review something! Could I possibly get a handful of confetti or some balloons for this?

Welcome back, D! The band has returned after their (unfairly prejudged by myself) phenomenal album 7th Rose. Of course I had high hopes for this single because the band is one of my favorites, after all. I was a little fearful when I saw the cover art. The clothes are RIDICULOUS. Yet, I learned after 7th Rose to bide my time and wait.

赤き羊による晩餐会 begins with some whispering from Asagi which sounds really nice. The song initially has a very hard, very D sound to it before it makes a seamless move into a jazzy/swing style a la Mad Tea Party. The drums are wild and Asagi’s breathy cries are enthralling. I have to say, he is one of the best j-rock figures out there. Besides boasting one of the greatest voices imaginable, he has a charisma and uniqueness about him that not many other visual rockers have. He is incredibly recognizable which is great since I always complain that so many VK bands fall into the ordinary.

The PV, or at least the incarnation I saw has the band playing in a Victorian-style room. This was already a hit with me considering I’m a Titanic fanatic and I love Victorian/Edwardian style anything. While the band plays, a vampire who thankfully does not sparkle feasts on a couple of attractive women before going after Asagi who in turn hisses right back at him. We also see Asagi autograph a piece of paper for a steward, who awkwardly sniffs it for about the last fifteen seconds of the video. Very random.

I’ve always loved the PVs D puts out because they are always out-of-the-ordinary. This one, although dark and disturbing had a quirky nature to it as well. Something about seeing a bustier-clad Asagi bopping with silverware and a pepper grinder was rewarding to my tired visual soul.

ひび割れた柘榴石 is a fabulous follow up to the title track. With its operatic opening strains, I was expecting another Snow White but instead got a relaxing rock ballad.

黒竜 was altogether forgettable for me, because there was nothing catchy about the song or the band’s performance. Asagi sounded listless and the band seemed to say “we’re only playing this song to take up space on the CD.”

In Conclusion: Asagi and the boys have started their post-7th Rose era off on the right foot by delivering a solid, fresh single. I’m not disappointed in the least and the single left me wanting more from them. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see this band live…

~Alisa~

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“SHIVER” – The GazettE

Umm..

My second contribution to Visual Kei Heaven!

Hey everybody! I apologize for the inactivity and lack of drive lately. My fiancé has been working quite a bit in the last week, and while this shouldn’t affect me, I became a little catatonic from missing him so much. Seriously, I could write, direct, and produce an entire Lifetime movie from my sob stories. Anyway, in an attempt to shove some dedication down my throat, I turned off my modem to write this review. Don’t get me wrong, I love tweeting with everyone but it can seriously distract me. (BTW, Badymaru, when are we going to start our rush for new gacktpause fan club members?)

SHIVER is the latest single by The GazettE. First off, what is up with that cover? I feel ready for some sort of underground exploration by looking at it.

SHIVER wastes no time getting started. I don’t really like or dislike this song, truthfully. The melody is just average. I don’t know, I think for a song called SHIVER I expected it to be a little more chilling and harsh.

Next we have HESITATING MEANS DEATH. Yes, this title is also in all caps. I’m not just screaming at you via text for my own benefit. This song had that air of brutality that I was yearning for in the previous song. There is also a wicked instrumental break near the 2:30 mark. This song just made me want to kick something over. Not a tripod, though. D’espairs already did that. Maybe I could kick over a vacuum cleaner. Yes. Because that makes perfect sense. Let’s just hope I don’t hesitate before I do so because, you know, that means death.

When I saw the name of the final track was Naraku, I flinched just a little because of some painful memories. If anybody reading this is or was an InuYasha fan, Naraku was the name of the antagonist who JUST WOULDN’T DIE. I personally liked the arrangement of this song. It’s kind of spacey and elegant but still tense. The balance is pulled off really well and it’s an above average tune. That’s the most I can say about this track.

In Conclusion: This single didn’t necessarily blow me away, because I always think it’s unfortunate when the other songs outshine the titular track. I can still respect the single entirely because it was average. I like to always have my Visual Kei glass half full.

~Alisa~

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