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Found 26 results

  1. This is the worst release Sadie has ever put out. It's inconsistent, repetitive, and unmemorable. The first problem is that every track overstays its welcome. More than half the album is over 4 minutes, most going almost up to 5. While you might think that's actually a good thing, it isn't. There are plenty of tracks that would be fine if they ended about halfway through, especially the heavier ones, but they keep going and going repeating the same elements. It really drags the album down. The inconsistency in this album is no secret. You've got tracks where M to the ao tries the rapping thing (2 only actually), a few that sound more like a poor rendition of a middle school jazz play soundtrack, one that tries to implement electronics and synth for that fun and poppy yet heavy sound, a heavy alternative song (that sounds somewhat like Yellow Card's "Lights and Sound"), an uplifting pop ballad, a "Spirited Away" instrumental piano track, and a majority of songs that feature Sadie's typical chug a chug who gives a shrug style. I'm not even disappointed that the album doesn't incorporate any "gangsta" elements. I just at least expect a uniform sound throughout the album. The album is all over the place and has absolutely no idea what its identity is. I found "Madrigal de Maria" to be a poor album, but it still had a uniform sound between all the songs and you can tell they're all from the same album. But not using the gangster elements is another thing. If you're going to call your album "Gangsta" and even have a few tracks where you try to implement things like rap, why are there only 2 tracks that you do this on? What is the point to all this? You take these 2 songs out and you're left with nothing that relates to the title. Either go full out or don't do it at all. Make a choice and stick with it. * * I found barely anything worth listening to on this natural born trash CD that is only good as orange rotted. -Shoot the targets, hidden in your mind - there's a lovely melancholy guitar break 2:40-2:50. The actual break is longer than that but when Mao comes in his vocals ruin it. -Gesshoku - It sounds like Mao says "I scream for you p***y". It's kinda (kinda) funny. -I find Tokyo Gypsy to be the only song I can listen to (the last guitar melody actually kind of sounds like something off the GazettE's Disorder. Tokyo Shinjuu, Tokyo Gypsy. Coincidence?...maybe?) All in all there's about 5:04 worth of stuff I would listen to on this album. Sadie needs to stop releasing material for a while and really think about what to do with their music. I think this album proves that they have no idea. Gangsta is a prolonged cluttered wreck that needs to be banned and cut off from all access to consumers. In fact, someone needs to take every copy and
  2. For the second week in a row I reference the Gazette during a review of some new VK. This time while reviewing ゴシップ's new single. This is @inartistic's excellent post about Ains/Yukika I referenced in the vid:
  3. This is my first review guys, so I hope I do a good job of it! >~< *DISCLAIMER* Everything stated in this review is solely my own opinion, if you'd like me to review more things I'd like to, but I'd appreciate feedback before I write more, enjoy! So, MIZTAVLA are a new band, they came on to the scene around mid-late 2016. MIZTAVLA consists of: Riuki (Vocals) Hiryu (Guitar) Kou (Guitar) Yuri (Bass) Fumiya (Drums) Their 1st mini album consists of 5 tracks: 01. 「Untitled」 02. 絶望宣言 (Zetsubou sengen) 03. Psycho Creature 04. 黒と赤 (Kuro to aka) 05. 喪失の雨 (Soushitsu no ame) So without further ado, let's begin this review! I'll try keep entries per song relatively short and digestible so it's not a tl;dr situation. 「Untitled」 This track is an SE, it's pretty good, I don't have much thought on it as it's an SE, but I seem to remember it fitting with the next track. 絶望宣言 (Zetsubou sengen) This song definitely has the opening track feel to it, it's relatively fast paced and full of energy. To me, it feels like a mixture of the songs [DIS] and The $ocial Riot Machine$ by 'The Gazette', the similarity was apparent to me upon the first listen. It's as if it takes the thrashy sections of [DIS] and has the same style chorus as The $ocial Riot Machine$, whether it's a coincidence or not I don't know, and I hope that there is no plagiarism here because I do like this song, however, the song itself doesn't feel like something fresh. Psycho Creature 'Psycho Creature' was a really good listen for me, I really enjoyed it. I'm not usually a fan of songs that implement electronic aspects, but I feel this song pulls it off well, it really adds to the energy. Add this to the insanely catchy chorus which gets stuck in my head for days upon listening to the song. To top off this song I must say that Riuki has some amazing vocal talent, showing his ability to scream and sing, I was impressed by the energy present in his vocals. This song was one of the best on the mini album in my opinion. 黒と赤 (Kuro to aka) Kuro to aka is that song that shows the listener that they aren't just capable of one genre, Kuro to aka is the jazzy song of the album, and shows off Yuri's bass skills and Fumiya's drum skills. I really enjoy the bass and drums in this song, they stand out to me as the bass is really energetic and I'm partial to jazzy drums. This song is also the first on the album that doesn't feature Riuki screaming, and I must say Riuki has a very impressive vocal range, judging from other songs on the album Riuki can go from really deep to really high. Kuro to aka, like the previous songs are bursting with energy, and you can't get tired of them because of this. It's not the best song on the album, but I still enjoyed it nevertheless. 喪失の雨 (Soushitsu no ame) "Wow" is all I can say about this song, I love this song and I believe it makes the mini album, literally what a finisher! It's a ballad track, and starts off really quiet, Hiryu and Kou play minimal guitar from the beginning of this track, but as it progresses they get louder and have that ballady feel, particularly in the solo, the solo is very impressive, and the song further boasts Riuki's vocal range. As far as ballads go, this is one of my favourite ballads I have ever listened to, I'm not too fond of ballads, but this just did it for me, it was stunning. Overall, I give 'Adramelech' This is VERY good as far as debut's go imo, I think MIZTAVLA have potential to go places, let's just hope they don't get hit by the disbandment train like many bands did in 2016.
  4. Reviewing Fatima's best single; M:I-44. Mostly driving by corn fields.
  5. Driving home from work and talking about the ambitious new mini-album from VK upstarts Insanity Injection. Let me know what you think! I don't think everyone will like this mini, but I do think everyone should give it a listen.
  6. Cruisin' around and talking about Emmuree's new single, Red. I said the wrong track was called 'red', but the text on screen is correct haha. Let me know what ya'll think now that you've had a chance to listen! Shoutout to @r... for spreading the Emmuree love.
  7. Rev Reviews - AvelCain's 輪廻転生 I feel like I stumbled upon some good scenery near the end of this video. And to advertise the fact that I'm inundating the forums with Avelcain shit today... check out my live report from their show on June 8th!
  8. Reviewing Holyclock's newest release, Shinshou Aquarium.
  9. 1. UNDYING - This song didn't really give me a deep impression until reading the lyrics which Ruki wrote. At first listen, it sounded like the GazettE were trying hard to be heavy and dark but in a good way. Then I had the impression they were trying to put lots of dark and anger elements in one song - the screams, melodic choruses, piano breakdown which gave the song an eerie sadness feeling. At first line of the lyrics, I realized that this song is a sequel to OMINOUS from their album DOGMA. What Ruki wrote was really heavy, deep, angry, and dark. The line which gave me the most impact was "許されぬ願いに夢を見た", which I can only roughly translate as "Saw my impermissible wish in a dream", because I often dreamt of dreams that I wasn't able to accomplish myself. 2. MALUM - The meaning of this song matches quite well with the music. It's full of anger and hate because the first person character in the lyrics wanted revenge to someone who killed a girl (probably lover) close to him (or maybe her). However, despite of all the hate, Ruki wrote well in the last lines, saying that killing someone back was just emptiness no matter where you went and the reason to live also became was to revenge. This actually reminds me of the morality topic which was raised by several authors in Japan these years, which was about if imprisonment and death penalty was really enough for paying back the death of victims of murderers. (off-topic: Japanese author 東野圭吾 (Higashino Keigo)'s book "虚ろな十字架(Uturonajuuzika)" nailed the topic's contradiction well in his book.) 3. VACANT - This song, as with the lyrics, is less heavy than the other songs in the single. I interpreted that the lyrics of the song was about the emptiness left from a broken relationship. The melody and Ruki's voice flows well throughout the whole song, and the guitar solo gave a sad atmosphere....but that's it. I guess it's a safe song to put into the single as B side. Overall: It's actually been some time since I really tried to delve into Ruki's lyrics and I'm glad I did. It just added lots of meaning and fun while listening to the music. But then, I'm personally getting a bit tired of their dark music campaign which has gone to a bit elitist feel and I really miss the old, fun Gazetto times. Music and lyrics-wise, the is a decent single.
  10. DADAROMA 「スタンチク」(Stanczyk) 01 オープニング (Opening) 02 「リズリーサーカス」 (Risley Circus) 03 「最終電車」 (saishuu densha) 04 トレンドアイデンティティ (Trend Identity) 05 融け込めないざらざらな芸術を君が殺してくれないか (tokekomenai zarazara na geijutsu wo kimi ga koroshitekurenai ka) 06 「雨のワルツ」 (ame no waltz) 07 ベルカとストレルカ (Velka & Strelka) (Re recording Ver.) 08 モルヒネ♯1 (Morphine 1) 09 モルヒネ♯2 (Morphine 2) 10 SEX!! 11 「溺れる魚」 (oboreru sakana) 12 MONEY 13 月のうた (tsuki no uta) 14 imitation hero. 15 「ルシッド•ドリーム」 (Lucid Dream) <16 KURT (piano Ver.)> Before we begin I’d like to note that I picked up both versions of this album at the band’s tour final last week, so it’s already had plenty of spins for me to base my opinion on. Now that the rest of you guys can hear it, I figured it's a good time to post my thoughts. So here we are at last – a full album release from one of the fastest growing bands in recent memory, DADAROMA. Led by frontman Yoshiatsu, who also has the talent of knowing exactly how to market his band to maximise interest, these guys appeared on the scene last January with nothing but a music video for their first song, ‘oboreru sakana’. The heavy but dramatic introduction to this mysterious new band drew the interest of many both within and without the visual kei community. However, unluckily for even national fans, their first mini album was and remained limited to sales at lives: a strategy that undoubtedly helped the young group take off by tempting fans to head on over to their lives and pick up a copy, but equally alienated those who couldn’t attend, especially foreign fans with no way to acquire this rare debut release. But of course, this is the age of the internet, and it wasn’t too long before ‘dadaism 1’ was available to all to hear free of charge, if not exactly legally. And this is my main cause of disappointment, not in ‘Stanczyk’ and DADAROMA’s decision to include that entire first release, which is itself commendable to please their ever-growing fanbase, but in the community which lessened the value of it, and by extension of this so-called ‘best album’ that is unfortunately fairly packed with tracks we’ve heard before. The album opens with a short introduction that sets up lead track ‘Risley Circus’, named for 19th century performer Richard Risley Carlisle, who pioneered the act of juggling with feet rather than hands. Indeed, Yoshiatsu packs many intriguing cultural references into DADAROMA’s songs, with the album itself a nod to the possibly mythical Polish jester Stanczyk and a generally pierrot-inspired theme running through both the band’s visual stylings and the lyrics of several songs. Risley displays some experimentation with electronic sounds and vocal distortion which may divide fans, but it’s undeniable that the catchy chorus will stay with you even after the track ends. Next comes single track ‘saishuu densha’ (Last Train), which is notorious for its highly erotic promotional video being removed from YouTube not once but twice, despite the band’s efforts to pixelate offensive material. DADAROMA have dabbled in jazz a fair amount, but this is in my opinion one of their best attempts (see also: the sensual ‘urei libido’ from the ‘ame no waltz’ single). Once again a catchy chorus and a steady pace held by the percussion parts make for a memorable track. ‘Trend Identity’ is the shortest track the band have produced to date. It recalls ‘kusatta mikan no houteishiki’ with the heavy riff matched with synth stylings, and was clearly made for live performance, but it sets itself apart a little with Yoshiatsu’s first attempt at something approaching a rap. Not particularly memorable itself, but it was fun at the tour final last week. Next we have a ridiculously long title that I can’t be bothered to type out again, but which is important to the album as a whole because it relates to the theme of art (Yoshiatsu’s final screams ‘kore wa geijutsu/this is art’ adorn the album’s obi strip). The bell-like motif immediately creates an interesting atmosphere as Yoshiatsu whispers his way through the verses, and from there the song builds into a powerful chorus. While initially the verse portions didn’t do a great deal for me, I do really enjoy said chorus and this track has grown on me a lot with repeat listens. Single number two, the red herring ‘ame no waltz’ that, quite unlike a waltz, breaks out of the soft music box and raindrop opening into a brutal chugging guitar riff, fits pretty well here after the raw scream that ended the last track. Somehow this song made its way onto a Japanese TV drama as the ending theme, which is somewhat of a mystery to me but I appreciate it nevertheless as the sole DADAROMA song that actually appears at karaoke. I have an ambivalent relationship with this track – it’s a good song, but sometimes I just want to skip it and get on to something else. YMMV but at any rate it's another song we've heard before. At this point we enter the cluster of tracks that is just ‘dadaism 1’ in a different order. While I appreciate that now fans who couldn’t get hold of that first live limited release (ie most fans) can now hear all those songs they’ve been playing for 18 months, it’s a little disappointing that they didn’t try and blend them more into the tracklist rather than just dumping them all together. For this reason long-time fans such as myself may be tempted to skip through this portion of the album, at least to the songs they like the most. This unfortunate situation is compounded by the fact that in this day and age it’s impossible to keep that limited CD from appearing on the internet sooner or later, diminishing the novelty of finally hearing these songs for the first time for many. DADAROMA have made some attempt to change things up a bit though. The most obvious of these is the re-recording of ‘Velka & Strelka’, one of my personal favourite songs the band has released so far. However, for me the original is still the superior as it takes more vocal talent to reach and hold those notes at the end than the re-recording, which is easier on Yoshiatsu’s highs (and fair enough; if you’ve seen him live, he can struggle with them on a rough night). This retake of the vocal track is just slightly lazier, and ultimately it seems as though little other than the clean vocals has actually been re-recorded. There are subtle changes in the other ‘dadaism 1’ tracks though. All of them have seen some editing at the mixing desk that brings the production more in line with the new tracks – the guitar is slightly less crisp at times and more distorted in the style of ‘Risley Circus’, but on the other hand the bass is more prominent, including a couple of additional samples Tomo seems to have recorded for this album, especially the final note of ‘Morphine 1’ that was particularly conspicuous. As to which version of each track is better, YMMV; ‘oboreru sakana’ and ‘SEX!!’ benefit somewhat from the changes in mixing, but I personally like the cleaner guitar in ‘MONEY’ much better on ‘dadaism 1’. We return to new material with one of my favourite tracks on ‘Stanczyk’, ‘tsuki no uta’. It’s an emotional ballad that retains its energy through the steady drum beats and powerful chords that support Yoshiatsu’s gorgeous vocals in the chorus. Despite lyrically presenting itself as a ballad, it’s a surprisingly short track that lends itself well to repeat listens. As an aside, I think this was the only new song the band didn’t play at their tour final; I look forward to the opportunity to hear it live some time in the future. ‘imitation hero.’ didn’t quite capture my attention in the same way as ‘tsuki no uta’, but it’s also an accomplished ballad in its own right. For me this is a rare case of the composition in the verse being far stronger and more enjoyable than the chorus. The always present piano is a welcome change to the common electronic elements in the rest of the album, and Yusuke’s confident drumming is one of the song’s strongest parts. DADAROMA’s first full album draws to a close with the dramatic masterpiece that is ‘Lucid Dream’. Easily one of my favourite tracks from the young group, the balance of head banging downtuned guitar chugs and a powerful chorus makes this a stellar composition in my eyes. It also wonderfully displays Yoshiatsu’s vocal prowess in both cleans and screams, comprising a wide range in the former and a variety of styles of the latter. Despite the surprising lack of pretty much any kind of audience participation at the band’s recent one man, it was a truly amazing ending to the main set when the band left the stage in awed silence as the last of the fake snow drifted to the ground. Of course, this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the bonus track on the regular edition of the album. The piano verison of ‘KURT’ amplifies the emotion in Yoshiatsu’s clear voice, while retaining the best of the instrumental support in a beautiful piano arrangement. I would actually love to hear a purely instrumental piano solo of this track at some point. It’s a fitting, end-credits-style addition to round off DADAROMA’s ‘best’ album. Ultimately I’m divided when it comes to giving this release some kind of score. On the one hand, there’s a lot of old material in here, but none of it is just there to pad out the run time, and in any case it’s all great material. As someone who has been a fan of DADAROMA since the very beginning, and also bought all of their releases and listened to them countless times over, it’s easy to act like we deserved more new material with ‘Stanczyk’. It wouldn’t even be unreasonable to be disappointed that live limited songs like ‘neji’ didn’t make the cut (although to be fair there’s still copies of that sitting on the goods stand at their concerts). However, if I were to imagine this album as my introduction to DADAROMA, this is easily a contender for album of the year.
  11. If I do this again I feel like I'll need a cool name for the series.... suggestions are welcome! This video ends slightly abruptly because my phone ran out of space about 30 seconds before I was done! You're not missing any essential insight haha. (And at least one more time... shoutout to jrocknyc shoutbox-er Ken who did some ride along reviews/reflections on VK that I'm shamelessly copying)
  12. After weeks of listening to lynch.'s new album I've come to the conclusion that "D.A.R.K. -In the name of evil-" ranks among the best of lynch.'s repertoire. Seriously, I haven't had this much fun listening to a lynch. album since "I BELIEVE IN ME". Let's get right into it. INTRODUCTION is nothing special but does a good enough job as a transitional piece. It's just a group of strings playing louder and louder until it climaxes into the next song. D.A.R.K. starts out just as you might think: Heavy and, well, dark. But, the song becomes softer going into the chorus. Hazuki's melody is melancholic and the addition of piano adds a soft beauty. The song is a steady back and forth between the heavy and soft sections but it all gels quite nicely. There's no time to take it easy though as ANTARES ramps up the energy. Immediately, I hear remnants of "Inferiority Complex" in the guitars and the steady "boom-chuck" cadence of the drums. Personally, I'm not a fan of that style but all can be forgiven if the chorus is awesome. Unfortunately, the chorus is weak and uninspired and just doesn't seem to fit the tone of the album set so far. It sounds too bright. However, a little over halfway the song a break down comes out of nowhere and shakes up the place. It's just too bad it doesn't last longer. In fact, because it's so abrupt it breaks the flow of the song and I question if it might have been better had they left it out. In the end, it just feels like lynch. took a weak "Inferiority Complex" era song and re-purposed it for "-In the name of evil-". If the last track didn't get you pumped though, EVOKE hits hard and keeps the momentum going. Hazuki lets out a visceral yell as the drums are relentlessly blasting and guitars are riffing. The chorus melody is really catchy and ranks among one of my favorites and, there's another amazing breakdown in this song. Next up is the medium-tempo jazzy rock track GHOST. While it's nothing jaw dropping, it's refreshing to hear the band do something different for a change. I don't like that it's right after EVOKE though as the change in pace drags the album down. For circus music lovers and radio listeners, lynch. starts out ILLUMINATI with a "crossing-a-tightrope-type" song played on timpani and organs under a radio filter. But, don't worry. If you're not a fan of either, the song launches back into their heavy and dark style. This is another song with a fantastic chorus and the use of Hazuki's backup screams add some brutality. The band is holding back no punches and hits us with another break down but this time with more discord and ferocity. We finally get to our first ballad, ETERNITY. There's not too much to say except that it's all beautiful: The pulsing bass, rolling toms, articulate piano, swirling guitars, and the heartfelt vocals. Quadruple kick drum is the name of the game with FALLEN. It's a straight forward song with great melodies but the quadruple kick cadence in the drums helps add some extra emphasis to really drive those melodies through the song. It's a nice more energetic extension of ETERNITY. BEAST brings the tempo back up with some awesome riffs and screaming. The chorus is simple but well built and memorable. It's actually similar to ANTARES as Hazuki even uses the same "whooah-ooh-oh"s for the backup vocals in the chorus. lynch. might have been better off renaming the album "D.A.R.K. -In the name of break downs-" because another great one is featured here. Initially I had problems with the length and felt that thet song could've have used more sections, but I've grown to enjoy the length and even its repetitive nature. At least it's not as short as INVADER. Clocking in at 1:27 we have the shortest song here on the album (I think maybe even the shortest lynch. song ever). As a result, all I have to say is it's a fast, heavy song with some great slap bass action and a decent chorus. COSMOS was one of my most anticipated songs on the album. Part of that anticipation can be attributed to the amazing guitar riff heard in the preview. However, it ended up falling short of expectations. I just wanted the song to revolve around the awesome riff, but it takes another 2 minutes from the beginning of the chorus to get there again (aka the end of the song). I think the problem is that they approached this song like GALLOWS where the first half is heavy, the second half is chorus, and the ending is back to heavy. The track could've have benefited from being shorter or being written to sprinkle the riff in more throughout the song. MELANCHOLIC is another wonderful ballad that manages to stay a different flavor than the previous two before it (FALLEN is a ballad right?....Power ballad maybe?...). Again, not much to say except that it's beautiful. We finally come to the last track MOON. First off, I just want to say I love that it extends from the last song by using similar guitar effects/sounds. Basically, I'm just trying to say it really sounds like the perfect song after MELANCHOLIC. It's a really upbeat track and ends the album nicely. Essentially, it's like all the other lynch. album closers (seriously, all lynch. albums end on a more upbeat note). But, it did make me think. Nearly 80% of the album was upbeat like MOON. D.A.R.K., ILLUMINATI, and maybe COSMOS were really the only tracks that delivered that dark and evil theme. All the other songs were either just heavy but not dark/nefarious, or ballads. I enjoyed the album a lot, but I'm thinking maybe the album was misnamed. Still, I regard "D.A.R.K. -In the name of evil-" as one of lynch.'s best works. Most of the songs are fantastic, the pacing of the album is spot on for the most part, and the variety of song types keeps every listen enjoyable. I swear the album only gets better with each listen.
  13. Hello! I can't write such well in English, so I decided to just make a list. There are VK bands and non VK. Since I saw greats best of 2015 I decided to make my What I meant with "Bands that grew the most" are bands that I had been following before, but in 2015 made incredible materials, each release was perfect! Unsurprisingly my favorite album was BLACK, but feel free to post your opinion! Album / Mini Album BLACK - SuG Result - ANGELO Factor - ANGELO PLANETARY SECRET - Baroque VENA - Coldrain EPHEMERAL - AKi REVOLUTION - IGGY LAYOUT - Vistlip TONICK DIZAIN - Far East Dizain Royale - GOTCHAROCKA Rebellion - DIAWOLF dadaism♯1 - DADAROMA Corpse Reviver - MORRIGAN Sirus - DaizyStripper Providence of BIONIC - The Lotus MIMIC - My BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND Honne to Tatemae - Yeti Single / Maxi Single SICK'S - SuG Providence - Nocturnal Bloodlust Paradigm Paradox - MEJIBRAY Sennen Dive!! - An Cafe Ikenai KISS - DIV Burn Your Soul - WING WORKS Waruagaki - Codomo Dragon Calling - Loka DTM - Back-on Split EP - The Legendary Six Nine WEAKNESS_MY BLOOD - Shounenki Heads up! - ZON Koi ga Dekinai - D=OUT Subcul - RAVE Gozensanji no kanjousen - Belle LIQUID - Xenon V.A. Family Party - Kiryu, Royz, Codomo Dragon Best new bands GUTS AND DEATH FAR EAST DIZAIN AKi DIAWOLF ZON IGGY Bands that grew the most Angelo Vistlip Shounenki Baroque
  14. 3.9 out of 5 This is my first purchase from Royz and I wasn't too disapointed but not too amazed. 1. Supernova Despite listening to the first track multiple times, I will admit it's good but my first instinct was tha they may be trying something new or back to their roots but it sounds too predictable/generic almost. I thought the song would be at a faster pace for some reason with viewing commercials and a preview PV before the release date. Overall it's good. Somewhat energized 2. ALIVE Starts off with a slow startup then drumming kicks in followed by good guitar riffs I'll say. I mainly liked the lyrics from the song, pretty good tempo I'll add. There's not much to say about this song minus the vocal version beats the instrumental version from my pov. 3. twilight memory I was expecting this track to be a slow melody song with some sadness incorporated into it due to the title. Threw me off a bit nonetheless, a lot of guitar riffs within the right ear, the bass was on a pretty good level. Not to where you couldn't hear it or it was too overpowered. Despite not knowing the lyrics, I suspect this song is more of a mid tone not being focused on sadness or happiness. To add the instrumental or??? Overall, the single gets a decent, 3.9 out of 5. I really like the instrumental tracks ^^
  15. 12012 - XII 12012 have been rolling with a new style since one of their guitarists left them before the release of their self-titled. Overall, it's been a hit-and-miss with every new record since then, but the thing that remained constant in this transformation is that their music, regardless of whether or not it was bad or good, featured some very memorable content. I'm not too familiar with 12012's earlier years or even their mar maroon & Seven eras, but I will say that, within the context of these newer albums, I believe XI to be their best release yet. I will start out by saying that this album does not feature 12012's current heavy style (minus red). The album starts with vicious of absolution, which begins with an intro reminiscent of their last album The Swan. It quickly picks up into a slick guitar line and Wataru later joins in with a smooth and flowing melody. This pattern continues throughout the song until its short yet efficient ending. If I were to describe the track in two words it would be simple and eloquent. story of a different dimension kicks things up a notch with heavier fast paced drums and features some tight and distorted guitar playing. Even with this upbeat change, the song features a melancholy string solo and, almost, Gothic choir sequence. The best thing about the track though is definitely the guitars: They're charismatic and also played in a variety of styles keeping things interesting. The album finally gets more into the band's recent hardcore sound with the red. It's what you'd expect from a recent 12012 heavy song except that it's much cleaner in execution and Wataru's screams are done much better without delving into ridiculous loud shouting and vomit noise territory. There's even a short acoustic Spanish guitar break that's oh so sweet. It does begin to feel too long near the end with the song being just 3 seconds shy of 6 minutes. A lot of this, I feel, is contributed from a weak second melodic chorus. It gets especially sigh inducing the second time around when it transitions/becomes the climax of the song but just kinda stays the same. Still, this can be forgiven because of the catchy main guitar riff. alone is a sweet upbeat ballad that's somewhat of a throwback to their mar maroon/Seven era (at least in terms of the more poppy nature of the song). I find the bridge and chorus to be one of the more catchy melodic lines they've thrown at us in a while and just can't get enough of it. One thing I never really noticed in other songs but did in this one is the deep and rich tone of Wataru's voice. I usually don't notice this because he sings so high but alone really makes his voice shine. We now come to the final and longest song on the album, aqua. The first thing I'll say is that it's way too long. This song did not need to be over 9 minutes. Basically, it's the main chorus repeated again and again. The chorus is sung softly at first until the climax when everything is played at full force and then slowly fades out. I don't like the way the song fades out on this part because nothing is really happening in the music; it makes for a weak and unmemorable ending. Couple of suggestions: -If the song went into the climax after the piano break, I think it would've been much more tolerable. -Take out the bass solo (too flat and adds too much time) -Place the guitar solo at the end of the song to create a much more interesting fade out and keep the listener engaged. I think its fine as the closer to the album, but these few qualities really take away from the impact the track could have had. The songs individually are fairly strong, but I don't feel like that's where the strength of the album lies. Rather, I remember XII as a whole. I find it to be a fairly solid album from the start to finish having a smooth flow between songs, a uniform sound despite all songs being written by different members, and overall strong compositions. This is something their last few mini-albums lacked. Yes, the album doesn't have that recent hardcore and intense 12012 sound, but I'll trade a softer more refined album for a messy execution of a style that doesn't really match with them. I feel like this is a stable balance between their heavy and poppy sides. The album is brighter than Decida of Silence and The Swan but still retains a serious dark tone. I'm glad they're going on hiatus so they can take a break and perhaps think about what direction to go next, but I definitely don't want them to disband. I hope that they'll return with a fresh new release that continues to build on this style. [Kudos if you can guess where the skeleton image is from]
  16. Screw manages to roll out another mediocre album. Where there's potential, they take that and go their usual route, which makes for a less than thrilling ride. It's only been about a month and CDJapan is already selling it for 10% off. That should tell you what to anticipate. Nearly every song tries to be heavy or hardcore and they all begin to sound the same. They try to incorporate different elements like jazz and electronic/dub-step, but they aren't very well executed and distract more than add to the experience. Burst Forth, for example, is fast and intense mostly throughout but will have these short jazzy moments. But, they're too short and infrequent that it just seems out of place. Calvacade is another example where the electronic breakdowns don't have much to do with the rest of the song and in fact drag it down. These sections don't work because they're too distinct and sudden. I can understand changing the mood of a song but Screw's execution is choppy and awkward. A quick note on Eternal Flame, I'm all for the use of auto tune but Byo uses it throughout the entire song and it gets old fast. Calvacade also featured some auto tune but it was only used in some parts and much better executed. Also, evil passions sounds like the GazettE's my devil on the bed. The voice department especially falls flat as Byou just can not deliver the right vocals to back up the songs. His vocals don't have any power behind them and he sings some of the most unforgettable melodies. Also, his use of filters to add an harsh edge is as unsuccessful as ever. Not to say he can't sing entirely because sometimes he does sing well. I've been ripping apart this album head to toe but there are some nice moments. - mellow is a refreshing upbeat ballad that's a throwback to older Screw and reminds me of tracks like Celestial Bliss and Dearest Wish. Byo does a fine job here too. - The use of piano in Burst Forth, while very short, is beautiful. They should have pushed the piano instead of the jazzy parts. - オブセッション is a pretty neat track that mixes traditional Japanese sounds with a heavy vk style. - Helter Skelter has a decent chorus and breakdown. - 絶望の讃美歌's back up vocals in the chorus slightly remind me of BABY STAR. Overall, It's a weak album. There's not much variety and when the variety happens it's usually sloppy and unfitting. With tracks like mellow, though, a little bit of hope is restored and I'm now in a place where I look forward to their next release.....But not that much. Final Opinion 3/10 *edit 5/10 (some of the album really stuck with me even after about a week. I admit the album has more staying power than I initially gave it credit for. I still say.....)
  17. | Well at least you tried a little more. So after writing a rather positive review on Alice Nine's new single, a terribly unfunny review of a rather depressing release couldn't be left unpublished. I am very sceptical about the new 12012. I wasn't a big fan of their music before they lost their main composer, but when he was still around there were plenty of individual enjoyable songs that got a definite spot in my music library. When I heard the previews for this mini-album I slowly started to gain hope. The PV totally ruined that image, but that left aside, I had somewhat promising expectations when trying this mini after the shitfest that was their self-titled and CUNNING KILLER. Obviously, I was wrong. 身千切りの莟、奇しくも恍惚の桜 is a progressive track that sounds pretty nice up until the 2:40 mark, the rather annoying chugging left aside at some parts. However, when 2:40 kicks in, I just cringe. The heavier section did not match the feeling of the song, was completely unnecessary and Wataru still doesn't know how to properly use harsh vocals. Luckily this section is rather short, so I am able to forgive them for that. If you look past the few irritations this track has, it's fairly enjoyable. They actually seemed to have tried on this one. DEICIDA OF SILENCE was not much different from the average track on their self-titled, apart from the fact that they at least tried a little harder than on most of the formerly mentioned tracks. What I noticed in this mini-album is that the heavier sections always start at around the same point in the song, regardless of length. That falls more into the category of shitting out the same song five times in a row...not cool. Whatever happens at 2:00 I don't even know. Whether he's having a seizure or trying to summon the dramatic overlord Xenu I'm not sure of, but I do know for sure that even though it matches the song it just doesn't sound very healthy. That single section destroys anything slightly decent that the song had. CHABOO-CHABOO was one of my least favourite previews. I don't have much to say about it, it's a typical metalcore song with bad harsh vocals, countless chugging and the overly annoying CLICKCLICKCLICK. 夢喰い was my favourite when it came to the previews. It starts and ends very well. The focus is more on the melodic parts than on trying to sound overly heavy and brutal...until once again they think it's necessary to incorporate a heavy section into a song that doesn't NEED a section like that in order to sound good or give it a darker feeling. I get the feeling that 12012 is convinced that they can't make "heavy" songs without having to put in countless amounts of chugging, blastbeats and awful grunting. And with heavy I mean dark songs, strong guitars...like drone, basically. Correct me if I'm wrong, please, I'm not an expert. Anyway, this would've been a great track and probably the best one on the mini if only they would've let that heavy section out. But like with the first track it's fairly short, so I'm willing to forgive them and look past it...again. DOOR TO THE SKY has the same problem as 夢喰い has, misplaced metalcore elements. Overall it's decent with good parts here and there. The thing with these tracks is that you can hear on what parts they actually tried and on what parts they were like "how do we continue this? I don't know, let's just chug and abuse the bass pedals for around 30 seconds and then we'll be able to close it off without having to do anything remotely interesting." 12012 still hasn't found their way in their new direction and I don't think they will for the upcoming time. I just hope they realize they can also do the style they want to go for without overabusing the same elements time after time. It's not as bad as CUNNING KILLER or their self-titled, but in all honesty, that's not very hard. I hope at least some people will be able to enjoy this release though. -------- SILLINESS BEYOND THIS POINT, BEWARE! SO. I said this was going to be unfunny. As I'm still slightly torn on the fact I didn't get a flawless victory for my DIVISION review, I'm going to give a brief review of this mini-album in gifs. I am bored once again and my explanation on why I thought this mini wasn't very good has already been written down. 身千切りの莟、奇しくも恍惚の桜 DEICIDA OF SILENCE CHABOO-CHABOO 夢喰い DOOR TO THE SKY
  18. This is my first time ever writing a review, so I may not be the best at this, but here it goes... I received my copy of 蒼-AO-'s 3rd maxi-single, "Afterglow" today. I've been a fan of theirs since they first started, and they have improved greatly in sound production quality and overall music. This single shows that very well in my opinion. The first song, "Afterglow" starts off with a symphonic, almost operatic melody that quickly turns into symphonic power metal with heavy guitar riffs. The song continues with this melody, throwing in long, nice guitar solos here and there (obviously from ShuN, their guitarist who composes all the music). NEON sings clearly and powerfully with the music; I feel he has adapted his singing style to the symphonic power metal 蒼-AO- wants to play. (in their first single, it seemed like he wasn't sure how to sing along with the music.) The second song, "Insane Rose" is similar in how it starts out but is a heavier song than the previous one with faster guitar riffs. Again, NEON's voice compliments the music, singing about the struggles one experiences from a breakup. Overall, I think this single is the best they've released yet. It seems they've figured out where they want to go musically, sticking to symphonic metal and their theme of love and loss. I'm looking forward to what 蒼-AO- has in store for the future.
  19. Let me go ahead and say that the one downfall to this single is the instrumental of Shooting Star. It's lovely but during the A-melo, there isn't much going on besides the drums and the electronically distorted guitar...unless that's Saga. On the second verse you can hear Tora playing really quietly in the back. Shooting Star wasn't what everyone was expecting, but it's exactly as I predicted. Out of the 3 title tracks, Daybreak was going to be loved, Shadowplay would be the crown track, and Shooting Star would be in 3rd ranking. I, personally, love the song. It is rather relaxing and it does sound a little R&B but Shou sounds lovely and I'm not one to focus on Shou. Last time that happened was Hanagasumi from [9]. While I do love it, it is my least favorite of the 3 singles. Affection is a step in the right direction. This is the rock Alice Nine that I constantly want. There are some badass riffs, Shou sounds a little aggressive in his own way, there are some really awesome bass lines, and that guitar solo from Tora is just full of energy. I know most aren't going to like the auto-tuned "Come on, Come on, Come on" but I don't mind, I think Shou uses it very playfully here. I also love that the chorus isn't a chord progression but more of a riff than anything. I love the live version of Kasumi so that just bumped this single up a lot!
  20. Now I'm not in the mood to really write a huge in depth review or anything like that, but, I would just like to say that this album was my entry to this band. This album is the first thing I have listened to from coldrain, a band who I had previously avoided due to some pretty dumb reasons. This album was absolutely amazing to me, it had some pretty amazing songs: The Revelation, The War is On, Time Bomb, Chasing Dreams. All the other songs to me were all pretty good but not amazing. This album has some really amazing choruses which are just the highlights of most songs and I love that this album isn't full of heavy breakdowns all around, but it includes some pretty great, yet short, guitar solos or awesome melodic breaks between the songs. I went back to their previous releases such as The Enemy Inside and Through Clarity, my favorite song from Coldrain has to be Inside of Me from Through Clarity (it even helped inspire some new songwriting for me). I can definitely tell that in their new album, the drums sound a lot tighter, and the guitars are most focused on a melody than trying to keep the rhythm of the song with riffs. All in all, I have found an amazing new band to follow, some great new songs to jam out to, and an addition to my "Top albums of 2013"
  21. A very good release, best album they have put out so far (This is their second album LOL) This album was coming in with expectations I had from their past 3 singles. The title tracks didn't attract me as much like Starry Heaven and NOAH, but INNOCENCE was really badass. The only thing exciting me was the thought of getting more songs like the final track on the Starry Heaven single or SHADOWS from INNOCENCE. The preview for Tears got me a little down cause it sounded like they were doing some poppy ballad type song, but, it wasn't entirely that and I ended up loving it. The one thing I have always loved about Royz, besides the crazy melodies that are almost unexpected in most songs, is Subaru's voice. It has a sort of soothing lullaby to it and the fact that he can growl makes him and the band a lot more interesting. Kind of like with SuG and Howling Magic, once you heard Takeru growl, you kind of felt like: "Holy shit, maybe this might start getting good" Royz was already good but they just got better. This album brought forth some really amazing songs, and unlike their first album, I don't find myself skipping songs to find the good ones and listen to the rest later. アルカロイド was the first step towards more INNOCENCE type songs, 糜楼 was their next heavy sided song, claiming the spot as my Favorite song of this album, followed up by FlashBack which to me resembled SHADOWS a lot. We got some great ballads such as アテナ with such a calming slow acoustic melody in the melody, and then you get an uplifting, cheesy if I might add, song right after which gains the spot as my least favorite song. Don't be mislead though, it's still good, it's just not my cup of tea. Why the hell didn't I have 恋花火 on my iPod beforehand? I thought I had their whole disco, amazing song. Very nice fast tempo that gets me energized. The final song Aerial Cord gave me some hope with a name that awesome. I was hoping for a fast song but it was more in the mid-tempo style of songs. That's not a problem here. Sorry if my reviews aren't as astounding as Zess but my hope is that some people read my reviews on these amazing bands and decide to give them a try.
  22. I secretly expected this thread to have popped up already (because Augie usually starts Alice Nine review threads), but since it hasn't, I figured I'd open up a review thread for the second instalment of Alice Nine's 3 month-consecutive single releases. I liked DAYBREAK for what it was, a more mellow side of Alice Nine that successfully showed their progress as musicians. It wasn't their best, but it was a nice single. When I heard Shou would be the one composing the A-side for SHADOWPLAY, I was a bit worried. Shou has only composed one track for the band so far and that one is one of my least favourite Alice Nine A-sides of the past few years. Needless to say, Shou really outdid himself on this one. SHADOWPLAY is a song that I'd put in line with their GEMINI album. It's a bit difficult to get into at first, but when it hits, it HITS. The piano in the background was a nice add to the general feeling of the song and doesn't mindlessly play in the background as some songs usually tend to have. It's a vital part of the song and I love how they incorporated it. The guitar solo is probably one of the best solos of theirs I heard since GEMINI and the general atmosphere of the song is just very epic and powerful. Scarlet is a song I hadn't heard before but apparently has been played live before the release. Scarlet matches the atmosphere of the A-side. It's dark, more distorted and overall rather powerful. The bass shines in this song, and listening to it really gives you the idea that they really thought this through. I personally prefer SHADOWPLAY over Scarlet, but Scarlet is still a good song. The guitarwork after the solo is the best part of the song in my opinion, it really shows how well Hiroto and Tora can blend together. My final rating for the single: I prefer it over DAYBREAK, and I'm really excited for their third single now!
  23. I'm sorry, is this what we should expect from Alice Nine now? This single trumped every past single for me and it only had 2 new songs. Daybreak is just an upbeat joy to my ears that had me smiling the whole way and the instrumental is lovely as well. Heavenly Tale live is awesome, want to hear the rest of the songs on the single. 秘密 can take the cake as the jazziest, rock song of theirs for me. That acoustic intro is majestic, Shou's voice has improved greatly. The bass is MMM and the guitars are insanely cool. The only downfall is that there are only 2 new songs but at least I don't have to wait long for the next 2 months. Himitsu is the new Alice NIne favorite for me. I honestly cannot wait to hear what Shadowplay will be like and its B-side
  24. Well done, 摩天楼オペラ, absolutely spectacular! The -overture- sort of brings you in to what you know is coming next already. It's a great SE and it transitions nicely into GLORIA. Plastic Lover is a very nice song, absolutely in the style that I was expecting more of the songs to sound like in this album~ 悪魔の翼、just by the previews alone, had already made it as the most anticipated song for me on this album. The intro just pumped me up, the chorus is rather abruptly put in but the majestic-ness to it just overcame that. There's a beautiful calm spot between the song that was just elegantly added. The fact that 2 single songs came after this was kind of boring but Freesia and Camel are two good songs so it wasn't all too bad. Merry Drinker is a very powerful song, love the energy that goes along with it, gets me headbanging along to it for some reason. Both the guitar solo after the Chorus and the outro solo was just pure Anzi love~ SWORD as i expected is a very strong sound. Yuu really likes to get that bass drum going the whole time huh? He does the same thing all throughout the final song, 喝采と激情のグロリア. MY GOD, that BASS in SWORD just made my ears jizz!!! Great song, definitely my #2 on this album. Somethingのブルー, by the length alone, was looking to be the album's ballad this time around. It's got a very nice orchestral background and the chorus is really something beautiful. The small guitar melody after the 1st chorus somewhat reminded me of a GALNERYUS melody(calm down, not saying they are copying them or anything). The fact that the songs fades into a piano melody was just the best ending for this song! Midnight fanfare just transitions beautifully from the previous song. Clearly, this the album's instrumental. Blasts forth into the instruments rather abruptly though. It would have been nice for some buildup but the instruments are too good to give a damn. Just be Myself(JUSTICE) was very badass but there was a lot of repetition in it with some small changes in melody every now and then. This song has a structure similar to a regular song. The song plays a chorus, Aメロ, chorus, guitar -keyboard solo. Bメロ, and then the outro. 喝采と激情のグロリア sounded just amazing from the previews, I knew I was in for a treat. Guitar is absolutely the best thing about this song, and the piano sections in the Bメロ is just exceptional with the perfect pace to it. This was the best song to finish the album with, can't think of any other that would have fit this spot. All of the new songs were just absolutely amazing and they picked the best songs from their singles to add to this album (Although Psychic Paradise would have been better instead of CAMEL). Thank you, 摩天楼オペラ!
  25. I'm a million years late, but as they say, "better late than never!" 2012 was been a wonderful year for Japanese music & abroad. Here are my personal favorite albums and EPs of 2012. I've divided them into 2 parts - Japanese and non-Japanese! I've also provided full sample tracks from each album. Please feel free to leave any comments! Japanese Picks! ATATA - TATAT tags: alternative, emo, post-rock Sample song: General Headquarters After releasing a string of demos, ATATA has finally released their first full length and it is thoroughly fantastic! Consisting of ex. Bandwagon, nenem, Retromania, Mirror, Holstein, and 3cm tour members, ATATA combines all of the punk, post-rock, and emo/hardcore elements from these bands into one seriously rocking package! ar - YON tags: rock, indie-pop, electronic, folk Sample song: breakin' Mama&Papa sleepy.ab is usually regarded as Japan's answer to radiohead, but the lesser known ar is also very noticeably influenced by them as well. However, such a simple comparison doesn't do ar's sound any justice. They're much more colorful and adventurous than the aforementioned bands, manage to span several genres within the same album, and yet they somehow maintain their own unique sound. The aptly named "YON" is the ar's 4th full album and does a wonderful job of showcasing the band's highly imaginative musical palette. COgeNdshE - cogency tags: post-rock, experimental, female vocals Sample song: un deux trois Zankyo records is well respected amongst fans of indie and post-rock due to their impressive roster of quality bands (mudy on the 昨晩, the cabs, and te' to name a few), and COgeNdshE is a welcome addition to the label. Their music isn't as easy to digest as some of their label-mates, however. Cogency has a dark, often brooding quality to it and is chock-full of unusual rhythms and time signatures. In addition, the hauntingly melodic female vocals provide a stark contrast to the music itself. The band focuses more on creating a solid atmosphere as a single unit as opposed to employing overly flashy instrumentation in an attempt to highlight themselves as individual musicians. This album is perhaps a bit more left-field than most Monochromians are accustomed to and may require several listens to truly wrap your head around, but it's a rewarding listen if you're willing to give it a try...or two! ESNO - Visionary tags: electronic, jazz, female cocals Sample song: RR Debut album from ESNO, the new project of jazz/hip hop producer Kenichiro Nishihara. In contrast to his normal material, Nishihara has taken a decidedly electronic approach on this album and it's quite possibly his best work to date. FilFla - Fliptap tags: electronic, folktronica Sample song: Morse Mall 4th album from FilFla, one of Keiichi Sugimoto's many monikers, and the the latest addition to the "’10 Songs In 20 Minutes’ series by music label Someone Good. Given the duration, Fliptap emphasizes the essentials of FilFla's sound - a stunning mishmash of organic elements like acoustic guitars and field recordings, and vibrant electronic programming. Short, but oh so sweet! fresh! - What Are You Doing In This Confusion? tags: hardcore, avant-garde, progressive, instrumental Sample song: ハイビスカス fresh! have been around for a few of years performing on the Japanese underground circuit, but have finally released their first proper album - the aptly titled "What Are You Doing In This Confusion?". This album is one nonstop cacophony of hectic drumming, disharmonic guitar noodling and obnoxious saxophone screeching. fresh! fits right in with bands like NATSUMEN and PANICSMILE. I can only imagine how killer their lives shows are! GAGLE×Ovall - GAGLE×Ovall tags: hip-hop, smooth-jazz, soul Sample song: Heaven Feat. Shea Soul For those that follow the non-mainstream Japanese hip hop world, GAGLE×Ovall is a match made in heaven! The amount of talent between the 2 groups is undeniable. Gagle (consisting of MC Hunger, DJ Mu-R, and DJ Mitsu the Beats) is already a powerhouse, but with the added abilities of Ovall (Shingo Suzuki, Mabanua, and Shingo Sekiguchi/Vusik) these guys are pretty much incapable of producing anything less than quality. JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra - NO MORE PATIENT tags: afrobeat, funk Sample song: No More Patient Prt 1&2 Along with KINGDOM AFROCKS, JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra is one of the Japan's premiere afrobeat bands in a small, but flourishing scene. Their last album "Mediacracy" ALMOST made my list for 2011, but the production value wasn't quite as dynamic as I'd hoped for. Thankfully, that's been rectified on this new album and JAA's grooves are more sonically tangible than ever! Jimanica - Torso tags: electronic, experimental, instrumental Sample song: Walking Behind Jimanica is a drummer and laptop musician who is one-third of the trio "d.v.d" (drums visuals drums) and also 'partners in sound' with fellow electronic musician, Ametsub. Torso is Jimanica's 3rd solo album is a dynamic assortment of live drumming, electronics, and fractured vocal lines (provided by Anna Yamada, Hitomitoi, and Koshi Miura). KATUSI from EL SKUNK DI YAWDIE & EXTRAVAGANZA - Rhythm Messenger tags: reggae, jazz, acoustic Sample song: マチマチ feat. CHAN-MIKA&長崎真吾 As you can somewhat gather from his name, KATUSI is the drummer/percussionist from the little-known bands EL SKUNK DI YAWDIE & EXTRAVAGANZA!. Rhythm Messenger is KATUSI's solo effort in which he features various musicians and singers over his Cajon playing/Drumming. In addition to reggae and jazz, there's a variety of "organic" genres to be found throughout the album. Some awesome features include Likkle Mai, EKD, CHAN-MIKA, and 千尋 (Chihiro)! KINGDOM☆AFROCKS - SanSanNaNa tags: afrobeat, funk, jazz Sample song: No Son Tuyas (Not Yours) SanSanNaNa is the 2nd studio album from Japanese afrobeaters, KINGDOM☆AFROCKS. Their first studio album Fanfare made it on my list last year, but the grooves here are just as prominent and uplifting! LAGITAGIDA - CartaMarina tags: instrumental, progressive-rock Sample song: Yellow Shark Just a few months after their first EP, instrumental prog-rockers LAGITAGIDA have returned with their 2nd EP and they mean business! The band consists of members from the now defunct bands mahiruno, Green Milk From The Planet Orange, and school food punishment. They site their major influences as Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Can, The Mars Volta, Battles, Metallica, Slayer, and Melt-Banana. CartaMarina is intense from beginning to end and proves that LAGITAGIDA is worthy of sharing the stage with Japan's best instrumental bands. LITE - PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE tags: math-rock, post-rock, female vocals Sample song: Bond LITE is no doubt one of Japan's finest instrumental acts, and their latest EP, PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE offers a glimpse into the band's evolution over the years. From their humble beginnings as a traditional post-rock band to their more experimental, vocal-driven compositions that strive to defy classification. Matryoshka - Laideronnette tags: modern classical, ambient, IDM, female vocals Sample song: Cut All Trees Absolutely gorgeous modern classical pieces embroidered with subtle electronic glitches and angelic female vocals. The tone of Laideronnette is epic and highly emotional - captivating from start to finish. middle 9 - Cettia Diphone tags: post-rock, jazz Sample song: Deja Cettia Diphone is middle 9's third album and continues the band's tradition of immaculately fusing jazz and post-rock. With only five tracks spanning about 30 minutes, I only wish this one were a bit longer! M-KODA - Inga tags: idm, electronic, ambient Sample song: Glow Only in his early 20's, M-KODA (real name Satoshi Kodama) is young, but already producing music like a seasoned pro. Inga is his 2nd full album and it exhibits just the right amount of minimalism - not overly melodic, but not subtle to the point that it's boring either. mmm (ミーマイモー) - ほーひ tags: folk, indie, female vocals Sample song: 無題 2nd full album from the indie-folkstress, mmm (pronouced me-my-mo)! Fortunately, she hasn't fallen into a sophomore slump - in fact, she's managed to produce an even better folk album than her first! With her unique voice, memorable songwriting, and endless charm, I don't think this woman is capable of doing any wrong. ;3 Moe and ghosts - 幽霊たち tags: hip hop, experimental, indie, female vocals Sample song: ルー=ガルーガール Splendid debut album from the enigmatic underground hip hop unit, Moe and Ghosts, who unsurprisingly, describe themselves as a "ghost coast hip hop group from Japan". The production on 幽霊たち has a distinct "underground" feel with many experimental liberties taken, while the rapping/vocals are all handled by the equally interesting female known as Moe (萌); who has a remarkably dynamic flow and style. The tone of moe's voice is also atypical for hip hop, but then again, this is not your typical hip hop album. : ) nego - SANSARA tags: dub, psychedelic, tribal, experimental, club Sample song: Raga Naja Sophomore album from the fascinating, hybrid-band, NEGO. Mixed and mastered by none other than KASHIWA Daisuke, SANSARA (meaning "metempsychosis" in Sanskrit) is a riveting album that utilizes simplicity and repetition at the core, and builds around that core a diverse wall of sound that is utterly entrancing! Members from bands like sgt., kacica, ROVO, egoistic 4 leaves, and WUJA BIN BIN have all given praise to NEGO and this album! Re-Trick - re:Re-Trick tags: jazz, club-jazz Sample song: Regeneration While some of the more popular of acts of Japan's jazz scene have been on a steady decline (quasimode and jabberloop come to mind), Re-Trick has only been improving! After the release of their last album in 2010, the band went on hiatus for about 15 months, but they haven't missed a beat. As the title of the album implies, re:Re-Trick is a bit of a self-cover album since half of the tracks are re-recordings of early tracks. However, each of those tracks have been redone masterfully and in most cases, aren't even identical to the originals. And of course, the new tracks maintain re-trick's originality and technical prowess. Hands down, my favorite jazz album of 2012! ROTH BART BARON - 化け物山と合唱団 tags: folk, indie Sample song: Campfire I was initially introduced to this band by MH's resident Japanese folk expert, Aion, a year or 2 ago and I've been following them ever since. The world of Japanese folk music is vast and saturated with mediocrity, so it's easy to point out the greats from the fakes - and ROTH BART BARON is the former. Their music has a simplistic beauty to it and it's evocative without being either overly sappy or too depressive. Hopefully, these guys will release a full length one day! Tam Tam - Meteorite tags: dub, reggae, alternative, female vocals Sample song: dry ride Meteorite is the first full album from the obscure, reggae/dub outfit, Tam Tam. While they employ a lot of traditional elements from reggae/dub, their sound also incorporates pop and alternative sensibilities - giving them a young and fresh appeal. THE★米騒動 - 十九歳でぜんぶ終わる tags: rock, garage, female vocals Sample song: ストランゲーゼ30番地 2nd mini album from the young garage rock trio, The rice panic. They have a fantastic, raw energy that's reminiscent of MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS' more agressive side. TK from 凛として時雨 - flowering tags: alternative, indie-rock Sample song: flower Solo album from Rin Toshite Shigure vocalist and distinguished guitarist, TK (Toru Kitajima). Even with the ensemble of strings, piano, and additional electronics, flowering isn't much of a departure from rin toshite's sound. In fact, it shows just how much influence TK has over the band. Though this isn't much of a gripe considering the consistently high quality of rin toshite albums. Naturally, TK remains above par. Wienners - UTOPIA tags: punk, hardcore, pop, electronic Sample song: 三原山の怪獣 2nd full album from wienners! Wild, zany, and fun punk that sporadically fuses elements of pop, hardcore, and electronica. Highly energetic with hardly ever a dull moment. Wuja Bin Bin - Wuja Bin Bin tags: jazz, avant-garde Sample song: Middle Age Riot Wuja Bin Bin is the new project of ex. ex-BEAT CRUSADERS' keyboardist, KEITAIMO, but this is no ordinary project. WBB is more like a super-group of superb indie and "under the radar" musicians. Within the line-up you have achico (on button down/KAREN), jazz trumpeter Shinpei Ruike, Satoru Takeshima (EGO-WRAPPIN & THE GOSSIP OF JAXX), Takuji Nomura (goodluckheiwa/natsumen/sakerock), Keisaku Nakamura (toe/hotel new tokyo/stim/kowloon) and more! Wuja Bin Bin's debut is an amazing mix of jazz, progressive, and experimental elements. アルカラ - ドラマ tags: indie-rock, alternative Sample song: 踊れやフリーダ I consider Arukara the flag-bearers of a particular brand of rock in Japan that see bands blending traditional elements of "indie-rock" with pop sensibilities. While many attempt this style, trying to appease the indie/DIY fans and exert mass appeal at the same time, Arukara simply excels at it. Whether they're doing ballads, instrumental tracks, or simply rocking out, they always manage to remain catchy and melodic without compromising their skills as musicians. Drama does a wonderful job at showcasing the band at their best. キリコ - Greyhound... tags: hip-hop, underground, female vocals Sample song: Layered subenoana is one of my favorite Japanese indie labels, as they're constantly releasing some of the most interesting, abstract and experimental Japanese hip hop. Although kiriko is usually very left-field, his new album features a more accessible sound full of soul and jazz-laden samples (courtesy of DJ OLDFASHION) and a host of female rapper/singer collaborations. Kiriko's flow and style remain very off-kilter though, which makes for a unique and refreshing listen. コトリンゴ - La memoire de mon bandwagon EP tags: pop, singer-songwriter, female vocals Sample song: Ghost Dance Stunning EP from Ryuichi Sakamoto's handpicked protege, Kotoringo! For this EP, Kotoringo formed a trio with Shige Murata (□□□, Cubismo Grafico Five, Circle Darko) on bass and Jumpei Kamiya (Akai Kutsu) on drums - and of course, herself on piano. As always, kotoringo has managed to produce some of the most exquisite pop music around and proves that she is in a league of her own. スガダイロー - 春風 tags: free-jazz, avant-garde Sample song: 不屈 New album from the insanely talented avant-garde pianist, Suga Dairo. His previous album actually made it onto my BEST-OF 2011 list; however, this work is almost entirely different. 46 minutes of pure piano work without the accompaniment of bass, drums, or vocals. Replete with broken melodies and meandering improvisation, this album may not be the easiest listen for some, but may be rewarding to those with an ear for the uncanny. トクマルシューゴ - In Focus? tags: folk, indie-pop Sample song: Helictite (LeSeMoDe) 5th album from singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Shugo Tokumaru. Extravagant and meticulously crafted folk-music with a cartoon-ish flare. Superb~! ハイスイノナサ - 動物の身体 tags: math-rock, post-rock, indie, female vocals Sample song: logos haisuinonasa's first full album is every bit as fabulous as their previous 2 mini albums suggested it would be. While the band has always mixed several genres (math-rock, post-rock, electronic, etc), they've really been able to let loose and expand their musical prowess to new areas on this full length. At this point, trying to dissect their music into genres would be futile. Despite the varying elements, their sound is so cohesive that it's nearly indescribable. Whatever haisuinonasa has become, I only have one word for them - EXQUISITE. 伊集院幸希 - THIS IS MY STORY 憐情のメロディ tags: soul, pop, doo-wop, female vocals Sample song: 家に帰ろう First full album from the obscure, but lovely singer-songwriter, Ijuuin Yuki. THIS IS MY STORY is like a blast from the 50's/60's past - even the production of the album is tailored to suit Yuki's impeccable retro-pop sound. Vocally, she sounds similar to early 90's Bonnie Pink, who also had a retro vibe around that time. All-around great tunes~ 八十八ヶ所巡礼 - ○△□ tags: rock, progressive, experimental Sample song: ((((未練)))) ○△□ is 88kasyo's 3rd full album, with their previous 2 albums being released in 2011 and 2010 respectively (all in the month of August btw). With releases so close together, you'd think it would be hard for a band to maintain the quality of their work, but that hasn't been the case with this trio. 88kasyo has only improved and grown even wilder with each release. Their skills are simply undeniable (srsly, their guitarist does more on his guitar in one song than some bands with 2 guitarists do in an entire album *cough*thegazette*cough*). But more importantly than their skills as musicians is their ability to craft songs that are unique, refreshing, and keep your ears craving more. Their previous album made my into my top picks of 2011, and they've managed to do so again this year. 小南泰葉 - 嘘憑キズム tags: pop-rock, female vocals Sample song: ルポルタージュ精神病棟 Impressive major debut from the up-and-coming singer/songwriter, Kominami Yasuha. She plays an edgy, yet radio-friendly brand of pop-rock that harkens back to early "Muzai Moratorium" days of Shiina Ringo. It's not often that you come across quality major artists, but Kominami is definitely one worth keeping an eye on! 空きっ腹に酒 - 僕の血 tags: indie-rock, punk, hip hop Sample song: 記憶 Imagine throwing bands like qomolangma tomato, usotsuki barbie, and UHNELLYS into a blender - you'll likely end up with a concoction like this band. "Boku no chi" is Sukipparanisake's first full album and is a spastic mix of indie-rock, punk, and hip hop with just enough craziness to keep your ears excited from start to finish. 緋と陽 - タイヨウニホエロ tags: hardcore, emo, post-rock Sample song: いざ沙らば hitohi's first EP made my best-of list last year, and their new EP is equally as deserving. While the band's songwriting seemed to meander aimlessly a few times on the last EP, they've made noticeable progress in streamlining their "mathy-proggy-postrockish-folky-hardcore" sound. Unfortunately, this EP is only 4 tracks long, but each one is epic in it's own right! ; ) 鎮座DOPENESS & DOPING BAND- だいぶ気持ちいいね! tags: hip-hop, alternative, experimental Sample song: ヒップ ホップ IS... With the bulk of Japan's hip hop culture filtered through the likes of MTV, it's tough to find Japanese rappers that really understand the essence of hip hop, but thankfully, CHINZA DOPENESS knows what hip hop is all about! CHINZA has formed a band (THE DOPING BAND), which consists of the up-and coming reggae songstress, CHAN-MIKA, percussionist and producer, IZPON (from KINGDOM☆AFROCKS, Panorama Steel Orchestra, and Orquesta, Nudge! ) with the rest of the members coming from the disbanded reggae/dub outfit 犬式 a.k.a Dogggystyle. This is anything but your typical rap record, as CHINZA and the DOPING BAND play a diverse array of styles including funk, jazz, reggae/dub, as well as your more traditional, old-school hip hop numbers. CHINZA and the DOPING BAND aren't out to talk about their swag or brag about material riches, they simply want to show you a good time! 高橋征司 - N41° tags: ambient, glitch, minimal Sample song: first report This album nearly flew under my radar, as it was released under an obscure, fledgeling label called Te Pito Records. Seiji Takahashi's first album, N41° is only the 3rd release from this label. I bought this on a whim, but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of it! Incredibly soothing ambient soundscapes!