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Lestat

Brat Prince Lestat's Dearest Of 2016

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To be frank at the beginning, this year was a tedious sit-through when it came down to Japanese music. Having heard most of my favourites by the end of March, the later months were a hit-and-miss, deviating between top-tier acts and absolute distastrous music that I could not find it within myself to swallow. It was therefore a heinous task to collect two handfuls of releases that I appreciated enough, resulting in a high spike of listening hours throughout the month of December where I was desperately scouring and ransacking the internet for things that I had perhaps missed. Doing so for international releases was equally as difficult, as I simply returned to the roots of my listening-experiences too late and began exploring beyond the borders of Japan again somewhere in the midst of August. Catching up and gaining a proper impression of everything wondrous released this year did not lie within my capabilities, as there was too little time left. I therefore worked with what I knew and felt comfortable with, rather than outstretching too far out of my comfort zone to perhaps pick up a few ambigious releases here and there. 

 

 

Japanese Picks:

 


「01. "地球" by 摩天楼オペラ」

 

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Without second thoughts, "地球" may be named 摩天楼オペラ's greatest effort to this very date. There is no smothering the tremendously burgeoning acceleration with which this band grows in power metal's theatric scene — it is therefore as predicted how this group is now making a renowned name for itself outside of visual kei's tight fingers' grip, and continues to conquer the seas beyond Japan, surprising more and more ears around the world.

 

01. PANDORA
02. BURNING SOUL
03. 致命傷
04. YOU&I
05. 君と見る風の行方
06. Good Bye My World
07. 青く透明なこの神秘の海へ
08. FANTASIA
09. SILENT SCREAM
10. ether
11. 讃えよう 母なる地で
12. 地球
13. 嘘のない私で

 

「02. "SOLOIST" by 清春」

 

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This year, a much larger fondness for soloist 清春 grew immensely through the first magical spin that was given to this warm, seasoned record. It provides every bit of a crackling ambience experienced around a large bonfire set on a secluded piece of beach, yet where flames would normally take over, it is the man's very own voice sending tepid musical streams through one's system.

 

01. ナザリー
02. 夢心地メロディー
03. EDEN
04. DIARY
05. ロラ
06. 瑠璃色
07. FUGITIVE
08. MELLOW
09. MOMENT
10. QUIET LIFE
11. 海岸線
12. メゾピアノ
13. 麗しき日々よ

 

「03. "心・技・体" by ダウト」

 

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Issued in January, "心・技・体" remained a durable favourite throughout all of 2016. Holding steadfast to their jazz-influences and soft-rock incentive, ダウト waver not and refuse to yield to the overwhelming turmoil inhabiting visual kei's current questionable, and unstable state. Emotive and tight on the heart's strings, especially the latter half of the album exceeds expectations.

 

01. 心技体
02. OH! MATSURI MONSTER
03. ダァァティィ・ロマンチッカァァ
04. 53
05. 恋ができない
06. 綺麗事
07. 華麗なる外道
08. 傷心パラドックス
09. TAXI
10. おねだり
11. 国立競技党
12. SM

 

「04. "アトム 未来派 No.9" by BUCK-TICK」

 

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The paramount, anointed kings of Japanese music continue their succesful streak of outstanding musicianship without a visible end in sight. Blessed be us, as the legendary BUCK-TICK's presence in our midst would be sorely missed. Fresh and tireless energy pours yet again from "アトム 未来派 No.9", a genuine and heartfelt succession to the veterans' longlasting, exemplary career. 

 

01. cum uh sol nu -フラスコの別種-
02. PINOA ICCHIO -躍るアトム-
03. DEVIL’S WINGS
04. El Dorado
05. 美 NEO Universe
06. BOY septem peccata mortalia
07. 樹海
08. THE SEASIDE STORY
09. FUTURE SONG -未来が通る-
10. 曼珠沙華 manjusaka
11. Cuba Libre
12. 愛の葬列

13. NEW WORLD -beginning-

 

「05. "Baby who wanders" by DECAYS」

 

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Exiting the catastrophic and bitter era of 2016 with an arrangement of fireworks was definitely not too problematic a task for the ambitious movement that DECAYS brings us. Bringing the two further ends of the Japanese music scene together, Die combines a plethora of talents and conjures up the enthusiastic "Baby who wanders", an all-purpose, all-around jewel in the rough. 

 

01. Aesthetics of the transgression
02. Zero Paradise
03. 愛と哀を遺さず… <Baby who wanders Ver.>
04. Drifting litter
05. Where are you going?
06. Vagabond
07. Imprisonment Leaving
08. シークレットモード
09. HELLO! NEW I
10. Eve
11. Rana
12. D/D
13. 綺麗な指

 

「06. "ULTRA" by SCHAFT」

 

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It would be criminal not to include this ambigious industrial outfit awoken from slumber after nearly two decades of what appeared to be eternal hibernation. And awarded we are, for "ULTRA" is packing harsh volume and distortion that the unit composed of the legendary 今井寿 and 藤井麻輝 —who are no longer held by the restraints of an assemblage of guest-musicians— have convincingly made their very own cohesive sound. 

 

01. The loud engine
02. Vice
03. drift
04. SAKASHIMA
05. Der Zauberlehrling
06. Anti-Hedonist
07. ReVive
08. swan dive
09. Adam’s rib
10. Leidenschaft
11.

 

「07. "WILLS" by HOLLOWGRAM」

 

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Ryo and the myth of Midas are two apples from the same tree; everything they touch, turns to pure gold. "WILLS" is a short, yet emotional rollercoaster miraculously withstanding the unquestionable weight that Ryo must be feeling upon his shoulders with the amount of tasks at hand. It floats beautifully and does not stray from its dream-like purpose, not for even a mere second. 

 

01. Lucent room
02. ラブレターレイン
03. indicencia
04. Kalmia
05. Where you go

 

「08. "CORD" by Angelo」

 

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Already anticipating for Angelo's new work to fly far under the radar, there did not happen to arise any bewilderment whatsoever of how disproportionately this album was received. A pity, as the super-group devised a praise-worthy, foot-to-the-ground hard rock record uncompromised by dilly-dallying or any further nonsense. A sublime effort, and uncontested by many of their successors.

 

01. Umbilical cord
02. Cut
03. リテラシー
04. PROTOCOL
05. 嗤う月
06. Sorrow tomorrow
07. JUDGMENT
08. FIELD OF GOD
09. Daybreakers
10. CONNECT

 

「09. "憧憬、睡蓮と向日葵" by cali≠gari」

 

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While appreciating cali≠gari not only for their peculiar oddities and quirks at random, but instead taking to their chance encounters with beautiful simplicity, "憧憬、睡蓮と向日葵" hits the hammer right on the nail's head; with melodies aplenty, the mini-album is a positively upbeat joy that doesn't take too many hours to grow in to, but then again can be repeated for many long evenings.

 

01. 薫風、都会、行き行きて
02. ギラギラ
03. 陽だまり炎
04. 蜃気楼とデジャヴ
05. アレガ☆パラダイス
06. 憧憬、睡蓮と向日葵

 

「10. "Grimoire" by forCroiX-フォークロア-」

 

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Out of thin air, forCroiX-フォークロア- entrusted us with their headmost (and unfortunately, likely determinative) release after a four-year silence. While formed in 2012, the group has lived mostly out of our field of vision (and remains there, for they immediately dove deep yet again) — regrettably so, as their album "Grimoire" bears a courtly sound reminiscent of the magnificent days of a more gothic-redolent age of visual kei. 

 

01. resent
02. Limited Governor
03. Distracture
04. 傀儡destination
05. Rusty
06. Dystopia~断罪の聖堂~
07. Vagrant
08. 月ノ涙

 


International Picks:

 


「01. "Jumalten aika" by Moonsorrow」

 

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With no contestant over the course of the year, "Jumalten aika" easily takes the highest spot in this list, overpowering with immense soundscapes and epic structures stretching far across tundra and frozen lands, reaching not only to the Scandinavian shores, but far beyond. Moonsorrow capture the essence of life and the spirits that give life, doing so through unbelievable legends and tales woven together into yet another Finnish magnum opus.

 

CD-1
01. Jumalten aika
02. Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän päivän kansa
03. Suden tunti
04. Mimisbrunn
05. Ihmisen aika (Kumarrus pimeyteen)
CD-2
01. Soulless (Grave Cover)
02. Non Serviam (Rotting Christ Cover)

 

「02. "Triangle" by Schammasch」

 

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There are no intelligible words for the monstrous enormity that is Schammasch's "Triangle", a superlative journey through the spiritual cosmos and yonder of the mere corporeal body. The avant-garde Swiss ensemble has not merely created a record; the three-way genesis is a bible —with the possibility to change one's view on existence— to those who can decipher its intentions, with an ability to transcend the human mind.

 

CD-1
01. Crepusculum
02. Father's Breath
03. In Dialogue With Death
04. Diluculum
05. Consensus
06. Awakening From The Dream Of Life
CD-2
01. The World Destroyed By Water
02. Satori
03. Metanoia
04. Above The Stars Of God
05. Conclusion
CD-3
01. The Third Ray Of Light
02. Cathartic Confession
03. Jacob's Dream
04. Maelstrom
05. The Empyrean

 

「03. "Dust Bowl Jokies" by Dust Bowl Jokies」

 

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Coming from Sweden are the sleaze-infested Dust Bowl Jokies, but with their hearts lying not far from West Hollywood's notorious Sunset Strip, home to many an 1980's glam rock outfit. As their moniker implies, the young group seems to take inspiration from the dry desert and its gypsy-like superstition and legends — the record therefore has an impeccible design where it serves like a movie script, rather than a mere album alone.

 

01. Mama Cocha
02. The Moon Hanger Grove
03. Borderland
04. Old Fashioned Country Canvas
05. Pink Flamingos
06. Rawbone
07. Bad Juju
08. Hogs And Heifers
09. Son Of The Sun
10. Lulu

 

「04. "Night Hides The World" by Spellcaster」

 

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The fairly recently established juniors in Spellcaster bear the legacy of traditional heavy metal acts upon their backs as if this were a weightless matter. Their most novel endeavor comes by the name of "Night Hides The World", a young take on the traditions of old — and to be fair, the production quality is the one single element separating this group from their mighty predecessors thirty years foregoing.

 

01. Aria 
02. Night Hides The World
03. The Lost Ones 
04. Betrayal 
05. I Live Again
06. The Accuser 
07. The Moon Doors
08. Prophecy 

 

「05. "For Crying Out Loud" by Shiraz Lane」

 

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As an absolute blast from the past, Shiraz Lane have emerged from their Finnish time-machine in long hair, denim shorts and high-top sneakers. With a close absence of modern influences, the group still manages to take hold of an entirely individual style, procuring themselves a place in the hearts of those reminiscent of their youths, and the ones longing back to an era where music, —perhaps— was spoken more truly.

 

01. Wake Up
02. Momma's Boy
03. House Of Cards
04. Begging For Mercy
05. Same Ol’ Blues
06. Mental Slavery
07. Behind The 8-Ball
08. For Crying Out Loud
09. Bleeding
10. M.L.N.W
11. Kill Me (With Your Love)

 

「06. "False Highs, True Lows" by Plebeian Grandstand」

 

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Positively vile and absurd, Plebeian Grandstand might very well be the next sludge-metal act to arise upon the scaffolding they so deserve. While their previous releases were purely chaotic mixtures of hardcore and violence, "False Highs, True Lows" has mutated through an exposure to raw black metal influences, turning it in to an absolutely distraught and murderous apparition from the very depths of the nine circles of hell.

 

01. Mal Du Siecle
02. Low Empire
03. Tributes And Oblivions
04. Volition
05. Mineral Tears
06. Oculi Lac
07. Tame The Shapes
08. Eros Culture

 

「07. "Post Pop Depression" by Iggy Pop」

 

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A tribute to the late David Bowie, or a complete musical interpretation of Iggy Pop's longlasting legacy? Perhaps being a little bit of both, "Post Pop Depression" siphons just that what its title refers to; it is moody, oblique and hypnotic, a middle-finger to the very world and yet so relatable on a multitude of levels (perhaps that being exactly why). What a powerful farewell, what a glorious and complete manifesto.

 

01. Break Into Your Heart
02. Gardenia
03. American Valhalla
04. In The Lobby
05. Sunday
06. Vulture 
07. German Days
08. Chocolate Drops
09. Paraguay

 

「08. "Mystical Future" by Wildernessking」

 

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Black metal from South-Africa — this is a correlation not often predicted, and therefore did Wildernessking meander within the musical scene without too many loud exclamations. However, upon the very first listen to "Mystrical Future", it became clear that these men from below the equator have conjured up something truly unpredictable and magical, something belonging only to themselves.

 

01. White Horses
02. I Will Go To Your Tomb
03. To Transcend
04. With Arms Like Wands
05. If You Leave

 

「09. "The Armor Of Ire" by Eternal Champion」

 

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Eternal Champion are journeying toward their grasp on might and glory, with a sword in their right hand, and a shield in their left. Thunderous and heroic, the epic "The Armor Of Ire" rampages over a battlefield drenched in blood, while it gets ours pumping and running coarser through our veins. The United States have not yet given up on their challenge declared to their contestants in the ancient Europe. 

 

01. I Am The Hammer
02. The Armor Of Ire
03. The Last King Of Pictdom
04. Blood Ice
05. The Cold Sword
06. Invoker
07. Sing A Last Song Of Valdese
08. Shade Gate

 

「10. "Kodama" by Alcest」

 

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One does not have to enjoy atmospheric black metal to understand that the talent behind Alcest is unquestionably a musical mastermind. His subtle handling of musical instruments and ethereal phonetic accentuation give life to transcendental French creations truly as beautiful as thousands of individuals claim. If we had some knowledge on the voices of angels, Neige would come close to turning myth into certainty.

 

01. Kodama
02. Eclosion
03. Je suis d'ailleurs
04. Untouched
05. Oiseaux de proie
06. Onyx
07. Notre sang et nos pensées

Edited by Lestat

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A reason why I love tops is that they're always different and it allows me to discover albums/bands I never heard of. And the potential discoveries on this one are huge! 

 

It feels so good to see someone else giving the due credit to Triangle, as the album deserves. One of the greatest releases in 2016 (clearly the best, for me) and one of the most overlooked ones. Also glad to see Moonsorrow and Spellcaster on your top! 

 

As for Kodama, I couldn't get into it after the first spin (even though it was undeniably good) so I'll be re-listening to it very soon.

 

Great and very well displayed top! 

Edited by Visutox

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I have to agree with you on all the listed releases that I did listen to (thought Matenrou's Chikyuu isn't as good as Kassai to Gekijou no Gloria, imho). You made me want to listen to the other choices on the list. At least the Japanese ones :P 

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Cool list @Lestat. I like that you highlighted your fav tracks from each release.

 

That DECAYS album was surprisingly enjoyable. "Rana" was also one of my favs. The BUCK-TICK album was good, but I just haven't spent enough time with it yet.

 

I should probably also check out  HOLLOWGRAM at some point..

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