Tag Archives: V-kei

“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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“Kagerou” – SKULL

The parental advisory label intrigues me.

Okay, you guys. This is my 57th review. Because of a long-standing inside joke with my beloved fiance, (I know you guys are probably tired of me gushin’ over him, right?) 57 is my unlucky number. Thankfully, I can put my superstition to rest for once because of the single I’m reviewing today!

I’m like a Visual Kei amazoness, a hunter who seeks out good bands with a keen sense of smell…. and some basic Twitter skills. I noticed a new friend of mine, Toshi San, praising SKULL, a band I had yet to hear of over the course of several tweets. Naturally my well-honed instincts kicked right in.

They all look like regular j-rockers but they pack a punch, trust me.

Kagerou is a song with a thumping beat and some dark, almost evil guitars. I’ve said it before while yammering about VK. I like when a song makes me feel like I could beat the crap out of someone, looking sexy the entire time and never breaking a sweat. Yeah, this is the real world and I’m a pacifist by nature, but this song transports me into some new kind of persona which I both love and fear. The vocals are actually quite good too. My only complaint? The length. At three minutes, nineteen seconds, there’s not enough time to appreciate the greatness of the song! I usually like songs to be around four and a half minutes. That way they hold my attention and I can savor the song and enjoy it. Listen to Kagerou!

The second track, which I’ve seen as both Blue Fire and Blue Flame (which is correct?) is a little bit better of a melody than the first song and the length is just perfect. The guitar isn’t as intense, but I’m okay with it. There’s also some rapping (?) which worked better than you’d expect.

In Conclusion: Thank you thank you thank you Toshi San for introducing me to this band. I’ll check out their past and future releases for sure. A solid single that stood out to me. This isn’t the best VK I’ve heard, but its darn good which is enough.

~Alisa~

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“Color” – Girugamesh

…but nothing will ever top my favorite Girugamesh song.

The cover is interesting because of its irony. There's not much color to be seen here. The band's pose is epic.

Finally, Girugamesh is back after their ingenious album NOW, released in December 2009. I thought the album was brilliant, at least. (Driving Time ❤ <3) COLOR is their latest single, which to me is a total step down from anything you could have found on NOW.

COLOR is an energetic track with some nice guitars chugging their way through the song. I’ll be honest. I tried and tried and tried again to like this song. I appreciate the energy and I think the emotion in performing the song is genuine, but the melody and instrumentation seem tired, like I’ve heard the same thing from other VK bands many times before. COLOR is a track I’ll keep in my iPod and listen to if it comes up on shuffle, but its not one that I would specifically seek out to listen to.

Sunrise starts with some tribal sounding drums and feels like its going to be a total mess before the guitars come in. Its a fascinating, summery track (because of those crazy drums!) and the call-and-response style yelling makes the track fun to listen to. Some might find the drums awkward, and I was skeptical of them during the first couple listens but somehow they work.

Rounding out the single is Flower which undoubtedly has the best melody of the bunch. The beat is really punk-ish but I liked it. Giru can always make interesting use of instruments which is one thing I’ve liked about them from day one. (I think this single is all about the drums) Flower is the most catchy song on the single and I swear I’ll be humming it later.

In Conclusion: Even though this single was a dud for me, I’m not holding anything against giru and you shouldn’t either. I can still feel they are making a conscious effort to please their fans and that’s good enough. They’ll never lose my support unless they just stop caring and it becomes evident in their music. But it hasn’t happened yet, so why worry about one single that missed the mark?

~Alisa~

P.S.- Happy Tanabata!

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XodiacK’s New Members and New Look

Praise the high heavens, I haven’t destroyed Visual Kei after all!

Swamp.. Monsters? Maybe??

I hope they can impress just as much as they did with “Shinrabansho -Setsuri-”

~Alisa~

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“a:FANTASIA” – Nightmare

This is one of three available covers for the single.

I’m excited to be reviewing a release by my fiance’s favorite band!

Nightmare is back, commemorating their ten year anniversary. Congratulations, guys! Seems like a lot of artists have been observing anniversaries lately. Maybe its just me who notices that. Hmm..

I’ll cut straight to the chase. a:FANTASIA is positively amazing. It builds with a lot of tension and rapid guitar playing and is just totally exhilarating. Yomi, despite his diminutive stature, can definitely sing. He sounds amazing in this song. (by the way, if you’ve ever watched lives of Nightmare/listened to their live album you’ll hear that he sounds just as great live. Actually, he sounds BETTER live to me!) Listen to the song here.

Romeo, like Love Addict on their last single Rem_, also got a PV! I really liked Yomi’s blonde perm and blue contact lense-wearing look in this video. I have to admit that he is one of the better-looking j-rockers. (cringes at Yasu from Acid Black Cherry)

Yomi becomes a member of the Aryan race.

Romeo carries on a:FANTASIA’s hard, fast sound. Overall, I liked it but it didn’t leave as big of an impression on me as the first song. I liked this song’s PV a lot better, though.

Rover closes out the single. Its much slower and completely forgettable but a nice way to end the single because it kind of mellows out the mood presented in the previous two songs.

In Conclusion: I realize that I have been overlooking Nightmare lately, as Majestical Parade and Rem_ were both pretty meh for me. This single was refreshing and I’ve had the a-side in my head for about three days now. Highly recommended to any fan of j-rock!

~Alisa~

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“Kakusei” – Shinko Shukyo Gakudan NoGoD

I admit, I thought this was going to be total crap.

Let’s start off by saying that looks can be deceiving. In a world where tone-deaf oshare kei groups pop up around every corner to rupture my eardrums, I was a bit dissuaded by the cover, PV, and promo pic for this single.

Danchou's Pirate-Jester-King getup bothered me, before I even gave the song a listen. Remember kids. Don't knock it 'til you try it!

Listening to the title track quickly proved to me what a snob I am! Kakusei is hard, frustrated, and slightly cybernetic. I’ve also fallen head over heels for Danchou’s voice. He’s never gonna compete with GACKT or Asagi, but he’s got some talent. I would have never guessed that he could sing based on the way he looked in this song’s PV. I expected something nasal and, well, terrible. I got the opposite, was pleasantly surprised, and was once again showed why judging based on looks is WRONG WRONG WRONG! Kakusei is excellently performed and not too long or too short. Overall, a wonderful VK experience. Enjoy the song for yourself here!

The b-sides aren’t anything fantastic but I appreciated that they all had a unique sound. Wonder World is a much lighter and optimistic piece. Tsuki no Takuto, my personal favorite of the b-sides, is smooth and relaxing. Keiken is another hard song that dabbles in speed metal. Its nothing like Kakusei, but it isn’t bad by any means. Like I said, the b-sides aren’t awful or even mediocre, they’re just somewhat bland. It happens.

In Conclusion: I hope this band keeps up the kind of sound I found on this single. Its so unique while at the same time being familiar and comfortable.

~Alisa~

Reader Question: Have you ever thought you were going to hate a song before you even gave it a chance?

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“Knife” – exist trace

She means business.

“Knife” is the latest release from revolutionary Visual Kei band exist trace. I say “revolutionary” because this is about the only v-kei group where I second guess the gender of some (if not all) members. Why? Because they’re all women! FEMALE women! They’re women who don’t cut corners or sugarcoat their music either. They are true visual kei and can jam with the best of ’em. They can scream, convulse, and seriously blow you away.

The entire single cuts to the core (pun intended) and features absolutely beautiful yet harsh vocals and some serious instrumental talent. I’m not even going to bother going into detail or breaking down each track because they’re all great, they’re all unique.

In Conclusion: I think that as a woman, I’m happy to see other females break into the mostly male dominated world of VK. Not only that, but I’m pleased to see them be good at it without being one of those happy-joy-joy-rainbow-lolita-oshare-blah-blah-blah kind of things. I honestly don’t know where I was going with that one. Uhhh… anywho, “Knife” is a great listen. Its not as hardcore as some of exist trace’s other stuff but it is still awesome nonetheless.

~Alisa~
(can you tell that I’m tired?)

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“Rain” – SID

Get ready for my most overzealous review yet.

After their last single “sleep,” which disappointed me greatly, SID has returned with THEIR BEST SONG EVER. Again, they are providing a theme song for Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, but this time it is an opening rather than an ending. An interesting bit of trivia is that SID provided the first ending (Uso) and the final opening for Brotherhood.

Rain has been featured as FMA’s opening theme since early April, which means that I’ve spent a grueling two months waiting for this to drop. The wait has not gone by quickly either! I love this song because when I hear it, I just think of Fullmetal. The opening is sequenced perfectly along with the song. It took me a while to realize this and I understood it even more as the show progressed just how well SID has captured the “it all ends here” feeling that these final few episodes of Brotherhood have given off. I could barrage you with poignant screencaps of how the opening plays upon the ambiguity of rain falling on someone’s face (as in, are they crying, or is that just the rain?) but I won’t since not every one of my readers is as wild about FMA as me and I’m not a fan of torturing people. If you don’t watch FMA, the song is still an amazing listen, but I firmly believe that watching and having knowledge of the anime and its plot accentuates appreciation of the song. Its a little slow before the chorus, but its got a wonderful and epic chorus and is absolutely heart-wrenching. SID hit the nail on the head with this song, and I highly recommend it to anyone! It is one of the best songs I’ve heard this year, and the best anime theme of all time, to me. If you want to watch the PV, click here.

Cut, the b-side, is significantly more energized than Rain and reminds me of a song from a MegaMan game. I know that probably sounds strange, but you’ll just have to listen to it to understand what I mean.

We also get a live version of Chapter 1 an older song by the band. The audio is horribly muffled. Personally, I’d skip this track altogether. But that’s just me.

In Conclusion: Rain is definitely my favorite song right now and probably will be for quite a while. I don’t see this song becoming stale to me anytime soon. Absolutely amazing. Breathtaking. Dare I say “perfection?”

~Alisa~

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Luzmelt-ing Away the Stress

While the weather outside is starting to heat up, Japanese rock has entered a deep freeze, an ice age if you will. All of us J-rock/V-kei junkies are feeling the chill, as noted by this post on my favorite blog, Secret Garden. I think this has turned us all into brats. I know I’ve found myself surfing videos of bands I’ve never heard of, only to stop listening when I don’t like what I hear after a mere thirty seconds. I’ve lost my patience, and that is no way to operate. I think the constant fear of all visual music turning into this has taken me over. By the way, I am not responsible for what happens to you if you click that last link.

A couple days ago, I happened upon Luzmelt’s newest single “Sacrifice” and began to feel the deep freeze thaw a little. The review for “Sacrifice” can be found here in the event that you haven’t read it yet. I felt a glimmer of hope about this band, something I had not experienced single my lucky encounter with the ill-fated XodiacK back in January. Inspired, I picked up Luzmelt’s two mini-albums, Swallowed Scenery and Luz-Destination.

Swallowed Scenery's Cover

Swallowed Scenery is the first release by Luzmelt, which came out on February 24, 2010. It is obvious that the band was just getting its feet in the water at this point, because the songs all have that tired VK sound that you hear everywhere and no track really stands out. I am glad that I started with a newer release because my snobby self probably would not have given this band a second look after only listening to this. The one song I liked from the mini-album was Isotope because it has just a hint of what their later sound would become.

Luz-Destination's Cover. Very similar to that of Swallowed Scenery, but the content is radically different.

The second mini-album, Luz-Destination is insanely different from Swallowed Scenery. It adopts that (mildly) electro-rock sound that drew me in to Luzmelt’s work to begin with. I love the energy of Grief Color Destination and Dazzle Closet (which sounds like Visual Kei set to Pokemon Battle music, and I LOVE that!) I was also impressed by La Salida because its a calmer style of song and is a wonderful ending to an album that was pulse-pounding from the get-go. La Salida, to me, tied up all the loose ends and made the mini-album all the more refreshing.

IN CONCLUSION: Check this band out! DO IT!!! Not much else to say.

~Alisa~

ARTIST RECOMMENDATION: Light Bringer
Watch the PV for Diamond. Its not too bad. The vocalist (female, I might add) is a tad on the shrill side, but its another song that’s got me energized and feeling good about J-rock again.

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“Sacrifice” – Luzmelt

Okay, y’all. I got about thirty minutes before Between the Lions comes on, and I’m not about to miss my “stories.” Haha.

I stumbled upon this single entirely by chance. I liked the cover so I thought I’d give it a listen. I don’t know if you guys love experiences like that, but I sure do.

Luzmelt is a new-ish visual kei band that I had not heard of until yesterday. But apparently they played at Tekkoshocon back in April. They were right here in the U.S. and I didn’t even know it! They have released two mini albums called “Swallowed Scenery” and “Luz-Destination” which I’m going to check out as soon as I finish this review. “Sacrifice” is their first single.

Sacrifice begins with a slow piano opening, which to me felt like a tip of the hat in the direction of the older style of Japanese rock from the late 80s and early to mid 90s. Then the song explodes into a hard, driven rock paradise with some impressive drums and robotic-sounding vocals. Totally unexpected. The song is a great journey through many styles of music. It moves from classic rock, to some techno elements, and into a comfortable Visual Kei sound. I also have to give props to the vocalist. He seems very talented and for some reason his vocal style reminds me of Hyde in his younger days. The space-oriented PV for the song made me think of XodiacK’s PV for Kimi ni Furu Zetsubou no Ame. I miss XodiacK so much.

Under the Starlight is a nice compliment to the a-side. In fact, I liked this song just as much as Sacrifice. That’s rare for me.

The final song is a remix of a song called Blind Scope which I’m going to assume is on one of the two mini-albums. (Yup, it is. The original is found on Swallowed Scenery.) I liked this remix, but would not feel comfortable saying much else considering that I haven’t heard the original.

In Conclusion: I can’t wait to hear what other songs Luzmelt has to offer. In a world seemingly dominated by Visual Kei bands that all sound the same, its tough to find one that stands out. This band is seriously worth a listen because its not your average v-kei. The borrowed elements from other genres all work perfectly in their songs. Now, I can only hope that this band doesn’t suffer from “XodiacK Syndrome” and suddenly decide to break up as soon as I start listening to them. That would be enough to make me tear my lungs out through my ears. 😛

~Alisa~

Reader Question: What is the best song you’ve ever stumbled upon by chance?

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