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chemicalpictures' favorites of 2016

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What's up everyone! I'm glad we are doing this again, last year was so much fun! So here's my list of best songs of 2016. I had to set a few rules to not overdo it, (and I don't think it worked that well, look at that wall of text below) which were:


- At least one song per month;

- Maximum of 20 songs;

- Maximum of 3 songs per month;


Below the champions there's a few runner ups that kinda deserved to be talked about, but would make this even bigger, so...


Let's go!





DEZERT - A & Seion


So, only having 20 songs to choose from, DEZERT got 2 on january because they fuckin earned it. "A" is a banger that has everything one expects from them: Heavily distorted guitars, chiaki alternating between his regular to screaming like a madman (which by the way, is one of the best screamers on the scene right now.) blunt, almost blowing the amplifier bass lines, strong, loud drums. Top notch recording makes it all sounds like they are playing in your room. All of this packed on a album intro of 2:42, that will leave you dizzied like being sucker punched. That ending is 02:17 is some real moshpit eargasm.


"Seion" shows how diverse they can be. Saikou no Shokutaku is some proof that the boys can do some real emotional stuff without losing their characteristic heaviness. Chiaku lets his mates takes the spot here, miyako, sora and saz kicks so much ass. Highlights to that amazing bridge and mid breakdown, this is some real live anthem.And mad props for their sound engineer, it ain't easy to go full raw, rough-on-the-edges with the instruments and still making it sound clear and equalized.(I'm looking at you, Leda.) This whole album is so tight that if you live under a rock and haven't listened to it yet, do it right now.







NIA is a favorite from years now, both auncia and ANSIA had some killer tunes, and certainly NIA wouldn't disappoint. "PRAYER" is textbook Hikari. The way he makes the orchestral arrangement an integral and cohesive part of the song is why I really appreciate his writing. It starts with Tatsuki almost chanting with some gorgeous feminine vocals, who really contrasts with him, making for a beautiful duo. Jin guitars gently guiding them into a powerful chorus, complementing the experience. The second verse is my absolute favorite part, it's impossible not to start humming along with them. it builds up on a rocker ending, creating a powerful and emotional ending for a real nice contrast. to top it of, some beautiful lyrics will surely make you go all "IIII NEEED YOOOOU HEEEERE" with Tatsuki by the end. My boy Rega really did them good, and its a fuckin shame they went on hiatus this year. But in Hikari we trust!





DIV - sakura yume


March was a bloody good month for japanese music, and was the only one I was adamant on having 3 songs featured. and "Sakura Yume" is the first one to be mentioned. I don't think the mini was as well received as the boys expected, cuz people do tend to freak out on bands trying new sounds. And they shouldn't in this case. "Sakura Yume" is THE PERFECT mix up of vk electronic rock that can make you dance like crazy and still give you all the feels in the world. that bridge, man. I can totally see  the lightwork hitting and leading people into getting WILD when the chorus hits. Chisa SOARS in it, all being guided by some fantastic drum lines, which are not electronic, so props to them for stickin to their rock roots. Keeping it all real while infusing some house music vibes was such a wise decision.  (SIDE RANT: BOO to Sakura and Chobi to quit the band.) This is the higher DIV reached when trying EDR, and I can't wait for what Chisa and Shogo got for us this year.



SuG - Smells Like Virgin Spirit


After BLACK, I never thought SuG would be able to do something as good as. Boy, I was wrong. "Smells Like Virgin Spirit" kicks so much ass I even have a hard time assimilating that this is the same SuG that did shit like "Gimme Gimme". It may not be their hardest song (I think MISSING still gets it), but this is the sweet spot between some raw emotion and punk rock vibes. Great bass lines and drums guides the whole song, while Takeru pours out during the whole song. The woooh oooh is so, so fuckin emotional I dare you not to sing along. Punk influences did a really good number on them, Shinpei drums improved so much, he really sets the foundation for one of SuG's best work so far. This is the side the boys should be exploring, not that embarassing edgy mess that was SHUDDUP.





Oh Boy. Inhale. My mind was blown so hard when I first listened to this. FED certainly had not lived up to the expectations with their album, but such talented musicians could not have forgotten how to do good music. That intro, leading into that AMAZING drums and bass duel, pouring into such powerful vocals is what I've waited for my hole life. He pours his heart entirely in it, going with some AMAZING, real lyrics that resonates in a deep, personal level. I think we call all agree we've experienced what he talks about in some point in our lives, and it goes right in the feels for me. (SIDE RANT TWO: If you think Keita is a bad vocalist, you will totally pick a fight with me. I agree that FED may not get the best from him, but what that boy did in CodeRebirth should serve as enough proof that he is a GOD) There's so many things to talk about here. Leda does not try to steal the show, and guiding the song to more bass-y foundation was the best thing he could do. It really amped-up the emotions here. It has a small problem of of sound engineering decision, which is sometimes make the drums sounds really compressed, like it was all recorded in a bathroom. But this is a Leda trademark, so I think he actually likes it, go figure. But it does not make the song less powerfull. That brilliant chorus goes on, ending in some great shouts by Keita, and Sujk murdering some infidels ass, making up for the greatest FED experience so far. I hope for more Inhale, less Zenith in the future. Please, guys!







We start april with LOKA. While I've always loved Kihiro's vocals, I also always thought LOKA's songs were good, but not really memorable. Until EVO:ERA. This mini really shows the boys stepping up their game. The electronic infusion is a really nice touch, injected life in their compositions that, while may not be that mind-blowing, really does enable Kihiro to show is prowess, and the amazing, AMAZING lyrics (which kinda reminds me of Ken Lloyd's works) makes for such a real, palpable experience that I dare you again to not sing along (thaaaanks @Seraphinne for sharing the scans, you rock!). Shout out to the drumming, kinda DnB-y, again showing that infusing electronic vibes really diversifies their sound. It's really all about the lyrics, guys. Most of the times it does not makes much difference, but here it amps up the song SO MUCH. The whole mini is amazing, so go check it out!



the GazettE - UNDYING


The other april pick is crowd's favorites the GazettE. Following up the not so great "UGLY" and the really great DOGMA, "UNDYING" is the perfect final piece of that project. That intro's soundwall is probably the heaviest GazettE ever done, and it's soooo good. leads to a punk rock inspired verse, that ends in one of my complaints of GazettE writing formula: the unecessary reliance on soft vocals, which does not add that much to the song. But it does not reeeally pull it down, as soon after, a real emotional chorus enters, and makes up for it. the verse on the second park ends in a freaking cathartic breakdown that elevates the whole thing to 11. Amazing drumming, above-the-standards competent guitars makes for a cohesive experience, that probably should have been part of DOGMA, but do hold it's ground as a single.





XENON - Alice da Vinci


In may we had some pretty great releases, but I'll stick which a personal favorite of mine, that most of you probably won't even heard about: XENON's "Alice da Vinci". Yeah, I know it wasn't really released this year, but this is a new recording of it that completely overhauls and gives a new life to it, so it earned its place here. Simple composition and structure, with some classic electronic sprinkle that vk does, but with a special flavor: Leo's voice. The acoustic guitar sweeps nicely on the background, drum setting the stage to Leo shine. The dueling vocals on the bridge prepares for a beauty of a chorus, another sing-a-long (courtesy of Mr. @DarkPaladin, thanks so much for sharing that booklet!) gem that hits right in the feels. Leo's nasal tone may not be for everyone, but if you are familiar with XENON you know the man can sing. And the guys do chorus like few others, of pure, raw emotion. It ends up with some kick-ass heartfelt guitar solo, for an experience that's way shorter than it should be. Boys gotta come back SOON, miss them so much already!







"LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME" secured their spot here mostly because of what this song represents. Some of you should know about Kawashima's hardly fought battle against a recurring brain tumor, that sadly won and took him over way too early from us, this year. But even being severely impaired by his disease, Kawashima was able to leave us a farewell present. Even with everything going on, "LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME" brings a bittersweet message of hope and happiness that, even when everything brings you down, you will get up, you should stand tall. It's a dancey, feelgood electronic song, that does not really convey the sense of grandeur BBS usually goes for, but completely fulfill its mission of celebrating BBS and their fans, urging you to go deep into your joy and cheerfulness, to fly out, just like that kiddo on the PV. We'll forever be BOOM BOOM SATELLITES!



Hakujitsu no Yume - jirei 02 -oinori-


"oinori" almost instantly caught over my attention as soon as I listed to the preview. I was absolutely sure this was the Shounenki I used to love. and I was right. This song conveys everything I love about the boys, specially Kou. While the song structure is partly inspired by the aesthetics of Hakujitsu no Yume (the talking lyrics are interesting, but this song deserved more) that corny, almost teenage-y angst that pours emotion that was Shounenki's mark perfectly describes this chorus. Kou goes over the top, singing his all, nodding all the brilliance previously shown in "WEAKNESS_MY BLOOD". Pretty great drums (PLEASE SHARE THE REAL RIP IF YOU HAVE IT, I BEG YOU), some vk bleep-blop on the right ammount leads to an ending part that is emotional as fuck, and secured my faith that Amai Boryoku's first single was just a bump on the road.





FoLLoW - Ningyohime


I've reviewed "Ningyohime" before here, and the song still keeps getting better and better. When talking of soft, mellow vocalists, Masashi should be high on any vk list you make. Guy is so good. Add the fact that he's a hell of a songwriter, which perfectly sets the ground for him to shine. The way the song starts doesn't seems it will be such an emotional ride, but as soon as the guitar picks up you can feel what's coming. Sweet bass lines gives help Masashi slides through the verse, leading to brilliant, heartfelt chorus. All of that being steadly guided by some rhythmic, simple yet powerful drums, that makes the difference without stealing the show. This is all about Masashi's voice and lyrics that, my god. That's some absolutely great lyrics. (shoutout to @hiroki's INCREDIBLE translation, go check it out!) it all leads up to a classic vk up-in-tempo-second-half, creating a powerful, explosive emotional experience that I'm damn sad I'll never be able to check out in a concert. It's almost a crime Ningyohime wasn't featured on their Full album.



girugamesh - period


period is a song I'll never understand. chimera was not that great, neither was gravitation. How come the guys release such a jaw-dropping piece of music and call its quits right after? "period" is the culmination of the evolution girugamesh went through all these years. absolutely incredible main riff, drums blasting of your face, Satoshi screaming like a goddamn monster. Looks like the band gave all their best on the last release, they've never sounded so cohesive before. The whole heavy, industrial atmosphere, that ranges from Satoshi's sweet chant to all hell breaking lose in the end, taking you from a sweet safe spot to the dread and despair of that soulfelt break down. Jesus Christ. This is a fuckin testament to their skills, a last kick in the guts from a band that, if this indicates anything, had so much more to offer us. A damn shame.





Pinocchio - Zetsubou Drive


This is another tune that probably flew under the radar of most of you. "Zetsubou Drive" is not an mindblowing song by any means, but there are several points here that are real proof of japanese unique catchiness when talking about compositions. Ryuuto's writing style is a mix of vk and mainstream, I feel Pinocchio could drop vk anytime and go full indie that nobody would notice. The way he plays with going on and off, melodic and straightforward with the guitars is so interesting and it's real nice to see a guitarrist focusing so much on bass, it really pump blood in the veins here. lovely guitar on the end finishes the song on a nice note. I get that his voice may not be a good fit for everyone, maybe he would do better forming a band instead of flying solo, but until them, Pinocchio is a treat for those who enjoy indie vibes on their vk tea.



Pentagon - Senkou Hanabi


Zekkyou! was my first time with Pentagon, and I wasn't really feeling it until Senkou Hanabi hit. It was a fun-ish, kinda dorky road until they hit me with some serious, emotional filled song, with some actually really great composition. Instruments here are all tight. probably one of the best bass lines of later 2016. I admit I don't see much appeal on the vocalist tones, but it really does not matter in the bigger picture. You can feel this is an honest, heart to heart piece. Gently guitars contrasting with a somewhat agressive, yet restrained drum line that kicks so much ass. He was REALLY inspired here, the are great in its wholesome, but the solo in the end is as great as it is innovative when talking about vk. just for that you should seriously check this song.





Develop One's Faculties - Kanjou Treatment


Another bloody good tune dropped by the jewel in the crown of VK music, and it does not waste time kicking you ass this time. Already launching it with some nice violins leading to a powerful chorus that hits all the right spots. Johannes, as genious as ever, sets the tempo masterfully, setting the scene for Yuya to double down on the feels with his slick guitar and emotive voice tone. Its quite straightforward piece that goes right to the point: to set an atmosphere of high, elevated feel-goodness that rushs through feelings leaves you dazzled by the end. All hail DOF.



downy - Umi no Shijima


Downy is a band I'm guilty of ignoring in the past, and boy I've been missing out on some incredible shit. absolutely brilliant Off-tempo drums, Robin's mellow voice that sometimes sounds like its talking directly to you, other times it's so cold that doesn't even notice your existence. Guitar lines that sometimes you may even miss and others kicking you in the nuts with their sleekness. I don't think a song can get more atmospheric than this, and I also don't think a band can cooler than downy.





HEROINE - kashuu


While I love nigu for starting this project, I also hate him for making kashuu more of a intro than a full-lenght song. The intro part is amazing as it is, some sweet guitar lines giving a mysterious, yet beautiful vibe. But when he starts singing, the magic happens. Nigu's characteristic low tune voice is quite delicate here, going up and down, bringing you together with everymove. Yuya's guitars indicates something is changing, and oh boy it does. It all comes together and explodes in a brilliant, beautiful chorus. Nigu's vocals, almost like an one-man choir, trancends into a uplifting yet full of sorrow singing that ends the song way too soon, but makes me more than excited for what's coming next.







The first thing that came to my mind when I saw RAZOR in the news was: "Hell yeah, thank god MBHI boys are back". I like Ryouga's vocals alright, but born never did much to me. The song starts already better than half of born's disco. Ryouga machinegunning from 00:34 to 00:48 sold me completely that the problem there was in their compositions. Needless to say Kouryuu SLAYS, man I've missed my djent vk fix. "ANOTHER" serves perfectly as a greeting card, one more hell of a sucker punch, this time MBHI style, to leave you on the floor for what the boys have in store for you.







When everyone tought 2016 couldn't deliver anymore, Juri and the boys give us one last gift. "BE PROUD" is exactly what DELUHI would've become if they lasted longer. The song already starts laying ground for some over usage of melodic shouts, which I warmly welcome. Juri alternates between harsh and clean vocals back and forth, while everyone goes crazy on the back. The chorus is all over the place, but I really don't mind. While the solo guitar is a bit over, the Rhythmic one is fuckin nostalgic, a great nod to pop-punk back in 00's and it absolutely fits. It fits so perfectly that I don't think they've planned that, lol. This song tries too much, I can see that. but it's absolutely honest. It's like the guys are figuring a direction, and you can see several pieces of brilliance here and there. Juri voice is as catchy as ever, chorus stick in your mind like glue, and its probably a banger live. What could you ask more? Can't wait for an official release version and their future releases, they can steal 2017 for them if they try hard enough.



Runner ups:


January: REIGN - Nemurihime / dadaroma - KURT / D=OUT - SM / Pinocchio - HELLO HOLLOW, Ryuusei LYRICAL

February: DALLE - Asphalt / ANOMIY - You Complete Me
March: glamhaze - chippoke na pride / Satsuki - Apocalypse / SHADOWS - Forest / LONDBOY - iris / More - The Hanged Man / LOKA - Half Past Late, Calling
April: Neverland - Daydream / Develop One's Faculties - Seijou Towa, psychedelic modulation
May: SCAPEGOAT - Kokuhaku_tokidoki, ame / sever black paranoia - Trap of Love (feat. Teeda), The Last Vengeance (feat. Kaname Akamine) / GRIMOIRE - Never End
June: Kimi wa Surudoku. - Nabiku DRESS ni Temaneku Juuryoku
July: MIGIMIMI sleep tight - Puputan, Wonder Wave / THE EGOIST - Red Ache
August: ZIZ - Superbsaw[Reincarnate] / Kuroyuri to Kage - Sennou / ZON - Re:Night, Jellyfish / Pentagon - Teenage
September: Buck-Tick - cum uh sol nu -フラスコの別種-, New World / TK from Ling Tosite Sigure - Wonder Palette, Addictive Dancer, White Out / Someday's Gone - She won't forget / SCAPEGOAT - Hedoro
October: Yasutaka Nakata - NANIMONO (feat. Kenshi Yonezu) -extended mix- / MONOEYES - Get Up / Blu-BiLLioN - Kono te ni Aru Mono
November: Dragon Ash - Hikari no Machi / Nothing's Carved In Stone - Adventures / xaa-xaa - Yomei / RAINDIA - Hekiraku no Higanbana / Arimura Ryutaro - Fuyuu / FIXER - Invade / DEZERT - Hentai
December: 88kasyo Junrei - shikou


Edited by chemicalpictures

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Great list!! Some thoughts:


- I'm quite a big fan of ANSIA and still prefer it to NIA, but it hurts to see them go on hiatus. Hopefully they will be back soon!! Hikari's blog wasn't that reassuring, but we can hope right??


- DIV's EDR Tokyo: I felt so bad for leaving this out of my own list due to space constraints. It's sooooo good and I find myself going back to it once in a while, and I'm not even that big of a EDM fanatic. But Chisa is one of a kind both in terms of the tone of his vocals and his songwriting. The PV is also strangely hypnotic - never has the frazzling urban heat been so alluring.


- I don't think I need to add to what you said about Ningyohime haha. Agreed that the song should have been included on their full album but I suspect it might have been due to ownership/copyright issues cos the omnibus albums were supposed to feature unreleased tracks so I won't be surprised if a certain period of time had to elapse before the band can include them in their own releases (just like what happened to Pinocchio)


-Nice to see Pentagon's mini on your list as well :D Senkou Hanabi is a really great ballad. The title refers to sparklers (the hand-held fireworks things) which is a really nice metaphor for life.

I kinda dropped off DOF so I'll need to pick that one up. I can't remember if I've listened to FED but I definitely haven't listened to ZMI and I intend to buy that too (no time for metalcore lolol).


Edited by hiroki

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Thanks for your imputs, @hiroki!


Yeah, I don't think we'll be seing NIA boy back together too... But I'm pretty confident they'll all come back eventually!


Now that you mention, that was probably the reason indeed... and both the full album and the VA here released really close to each other, I guess that could be said aswell...


Senkou Hanabi is brilliant! And I totally did not know the meaning about it and now you made me really curious, lol! When will you start you vk translation blog, again?  :X'D:

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I love this monthly best format. Really cool! 


Its so nice to see artists like Loka and Boom Boom Satellites get some year end love. But also so much of this list hurts my heart with DIV, girugamesh, and FoLLoW all having their final releases here and Kawashima's passing. 2016 was a rough year, for sure.

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hey @doombox glad you enjoyed!


Yeah, I think LOKA is at their all time high with this release, so many great songs, CALLING, HALF PAST LATE, PERFECT ENEMY...


Kawashima's passing was incredibly sad, but also incredibly bittersweet. I really think they've managed it pretty well, allowing him to say his farewell to the fans and still spend time with his family when mattered the most. BBS legacy will live on!


And those were 3 bands that I absolutely think still had so much fuel to burn... go figure...

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On 16/01/2017 at 1:26 AM, CAT5 said:

Duuude! I'm elated to see downy and 88kasyo getting some love!


I enjoyed "UNDYING" as well. I also completely forgot about TK's "wonder palette" - that was definitely my favorite song from his album!


I should totally thank you for 88kasyo, lol! that song and the PV are both brilliant, gotta check more of them!


And yeah, I was reviewing the year and saw that TK had an album this year that I've completely forgotten about. Some very nice songs there!


On 17/01/2017 at 5:38 PM, ghost said:

Digging the monthly format! You can never categorize too much I say.


Two fist-bump pounds for Dezert winning 2 tracks AND a being in the runners-up category.





Hell yeah, the boys deserve it! Saikou no Shokutaku was a mindblowing album, and I'm really excited for what they have in store for us in 2017.!

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On 21/01/2017 at 2:37 PM, Mihi said:

Hurray for XENON and Hakujitsu!!!


IKR!? I fuckin miss XENON so much. They have so many insanely good songs, so little recognition. Good to see a fellow XENON fan around, sometimes I feel like I'm the only one around, lol! I still don't get how LIQUID for example did not get much more praise from folks around here.

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Not sure why I didn't before but I've finally come around and I actually love "RAZOR" and from what we've heard from them so far I think I can safely say 100x better than "BORN". Need to hear more from them before I can truly decide if they are one of the best vk bands going or not. Waiting for "「DNA」" which will only have 3 tracks but this will allow me to judge further. And hoping for an album after this, because so far it seems possible for this band to actually do it. After that I could really determine how good they are.


I wish more vk bands would follow their direction and start with a mini album so we could get a better feel for them from the beginning. I also must commend them for that because it was a much better option for getting a fan base started early on. 


Also on a slightly unrelated note does anyone know if "My BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND" will be disbanding since this band has two members from them? 

Edited by sume7

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Also @chemicalpictures agree with you 100% about girugamesh. Such a fuckin' shame, I would've loved to see just one more album. Just one. I'm not even joking man they've been my favorite band for years and to hear such a fucking epic last song, well it literally brings me to tears sitting here right now.  Maybe a reunion in the future, I'll wait the rest of my life for that to happen.

Edited by sume7

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