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Zeus

#115: DEZERT - TODAY

Featured Review Poll 114  

36 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you like TODAY?

    • It's actually really good! I'm liking this new sound in direction more than their old sound.
      6
    • Not what I was expecting, but I can roll with it.
      11
    • I'm lukewarm on it.
      0
    • Not really feeling this one, although a couple of the tracks are cool.
      12
    • No. DEZERT IS DED.
      7


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:_5.5/10_: | What do we say to the god of death?


I'm listening to history repeat itself.

 

A heavy visual kei band is a dime a dozen, but one that can do the gritty D'espairsRay x MUCC x KoЯn sound justice is rare. DEZERT was one of those bands I kept in my rotation off the strength of how well they paid homage to what's becoming an increasingly rare style, but I also felt that there was more room to evolve. DEZERT hasn't really innovated on their previous style since 2011, and if they were going to stamp their legacy on the scene they needed to create a groove all their own. My guess is that they suspected this, and took a huge gamble in changing their sound. The risk in changing your sound is threefold. The first is that you always risk alienating some of your fans. The second is that once the direction changes, bands rarely course correct. The third is that preserving the identity of the band - or the identity the scene has ascribed to you - is nigh impossible, so in some respects it's like starting over.

 

TODAY is the day I relive the nightmare that was 12012's MAR MAROON, when a core band decides to go pop rock. This sudden stylistic shift swings in out of nowhere to blindside even the most ardent fan. I suppose we should have seen it coming since they've been going soft since their second album 最高の食卓 (Saikou no Shokutaku), but it's one of the few times the virulent outrage of the international scene has some merit. The fact that it came without warning adds insult to injury, although one can argue if a band actually owes their fans an explanation for the type of music they want to create. This is the textbook definition of "gunning for the charts", a switch in direction more drastic than D'espairsRay's REDEEMER, and while listening to this album I find myself traveling down a familiar road once more.

 

Notice that I haven't talked about the music yet; that's because, at a primal level, it doesn't really matter.TODAY is musically competent, coherent, and well put together when taken at face value, but I do not find it compelling, interesting, or memorable. I simultaneously respect their musical chops and ability to compose music in a new style while rejecting this style entirely. I am not able to separate old DEZERT from new DEZERT. If I want pop rock, I'll find a pop rock band. If I want metal, I'll find a metal band. When I want messy metalcore, I come to DEZERT. With how fragmented the scene is, there's very little overlap between the fans who would enjoy タイトルなし (Title Nashi) and the fans who would enjoy TODAY. There are songs that hearken back to the old days, such as "普通じゃないIII" (Futsuujanai Ⅲ) and "蛙とバットと機関銃" (Kawasu to BAT to Kikanjuu), but they feel halfhearted, and they are nowhere near as heavy as many fans would want. There's not even a single use of harsh vocals on the entire album! Seeing them leaving their roots, substituting harsh growls and vocal fry for oohs and aahs and abandoning the low end almost entirely, hurts at a deeper level than I'd like to admit.

 

Who is to say if this is the music that DEZERT wants to make, or if they feel pressured to find success, but I'm certain they just lost a lot of fans with this move. I won't be surprised if they drop the visuals entirely, or at least tone it down, since they sound like a totally different band. Perhaps they can come out of this with more fans when they lost and end up better off for it, but with how many times I've seen this scenario play out, I can verify that it rarely ever works. TODAY marks the day that DEZERT disbands for a lot of fans, as they retreat into their back log and stick with cuts such as 「特製・脳味噌絶倫スープ〜生クリーム仕立て〜」 (「Tokusei・Noumiso Zetsurin SOUP~Sei CREAM Shitate~」) and 精神科医(拒食症)のスナッフフィルム集  (Seishinkai (Kyoshokushou) no SNUFF FILM Shuu). It's an incredibly difficult pill to swallow, but that's probably for the best. They aren't going back, and to hold out hope for otherwise is foolish. For those that found a new band to love, I hope they find enough success to deliver more. Even if I take it for what it is, TODAY doesn't do anything for me, and it's a shame because I can sense the band put a lot of energy into this. From now on, I'll be watching out of pure interest, but from a very, very far distance. If this marks even the halfway point of their career, I'll be impressed.

 

All I can say is that it's a blessing in disguise that I never got more invested into this band.

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I've never been familiar with DEZERT (so this review *may* be inaccurate in some parts...), and I liked the album samples a bit, but once I remember that they were compared to the likes of Merry, and many other darker bands, that changes my perspective a bit. Almost every band that joins a bigger label develops a more lighter sound to appeal to the mainstream audience, while alienating their own longtime fans with the sudden style change. It's heartbreaking to see another one bite the dust.

 

The one song that I can recall enjoying a bit was "Hentai", which is obviously not included in this album. The fact that there are NO harsh vocals whatsoever in this album is damning in contrast. I wish DEZERT the very best with their success, but TODAY marks the day when they decided to mesh with other popular bands with the same cookie-cutter pop rock sound as opposed to their more hardcore upbringing.

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While writing this review, it came to my attention by other ORZ members that some of my references are rather dated, and that I can't assume everyone knows what I mean when I reference certain things. Thus, I wrote this section as an extra bit to explain those references in detail, since I think it's important and gives my review and misgivings additional context. What follows is purely my opinion.

 

It all starts with this sentence.

 

On 8/15/2018 at 10:23 PM, Zeus said:

TODAY is the day I relive the nightmare that was 12012's MAR MAROON[...]

 

To give you a quick history lesson for context: 12012 started out as a hard rock band. Vocalist Wataru ended up getting too drunk one night and beating up a female acquaintance of his, and for that they were dragged through the mud by the media. This was shortly after the release of their second album DIAMOND. As a response to his bad behavior the entire band switched directions completely and released MAR MAROON, a pop album, which I guess was supposed to serve was some sort of public apology and repentance. This marked the point the band would forever change their sound, drop their theme and concept, and not go back to hard rock. For a band whose name is a reference to "kyouki shouji", or illegal possession of a firearm, MAR MAROON flies in the face of that concept. There was a very violent backlash - similar to what's happening with DEZERT right now - and MAR MAROON was not received very well. 12012 backslid into their earlier style a bit with future releases such as SEVEN before going full metalcore with 12012, but they never truly returned to their old style. Eventually the band broke up because they lost their identity, their main composer, and couldn't get enough new fans to make future activities worth it. 

 

I've seen the same thing happen with D'espairsRay and REDEEMER. The change wasn't as drastic, but going from the pioneers of the dark and heavy goth sound in visual kei to a slightly heavier L'arc~en~ciel didn't sit well with fans. REDEEMER is by far their weakest album, redeeming absolutely nothing about their sound, and even when they backslid into their earlier sound a bit with MONSTERS, it wasn't a convincing effort. There was more going on under the surface with this band as well, with rumored label debts and Hizumi's illness sealing the deal on this band's legacy.

 

I've also seen the same thing happen with Dir en grey, except these guys went in the opposite direction. It's a long time ago, but I do remember a time in the scene when going dark and heavy was seen as "American metal" and "selling out". Hard to think that was ever the case, eh? But yet again, there was more going on under the surface with Dir en grey that prompted them to switch styles with six Ugly and chase a more mainstream crowd: this time being the American metal scene. They themselves said that they thought they reached the pinnacle of their sound with Kisou, and that there was nowhere left for them to go, and that if they didn't find a way to grow they would have disbanded in a year or two. There was a fissure so loud in the scene that you could hear it crack all the way over here in America, with some fans embracing the change and many other fans denouncing the band and swearing them off entirely. Dir en grey also backslid a bit into their earlier style with single cuts such as OBSCURE and DRAIN AWAY designed to appeal to both the old and new crowds entirely, but once they abandoned their visual gimmicks and visual style after Kisou, they never really went back.

 

I'm sure there are countless other bands that also are great examples of what I'm explaining here, but the point remains. When a band changes their style this drastically at the tip of the hat, there are things bubbling under the surface we can only speculate about, but past bands have shown that when they take this step, it's usually the beginning of the end. Dir en grey is the only exception to this rule AFAIK. That's why I end the review with this snippet:
 

Quote

If this marks even the halfway point of their career, I'll be impressed.


I'm basically saying without saying that I expect disbandment sooner rather than later.

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I agree with this here. When I heard the album previews, I thought to myself "Welp, they pulled a Pierrot" because Pierrot did a similar thing. They started toning down their visuals and going a more pop rock route

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Nice review, this album it's 6/10 for me.

 

Here is some interview translation I did in news thread on why they change style so drastically.

 

"I just read chiaki's new interview on cure, it seems like this album is his answer to this question(why doing music) he kept searching for over a year.

Basically he's in existential crisis right now.

 

Here's a brief translate(Sorry for my bad English):

 

-Why name this album [Today]

Chiaki: How to get through [Today], to me its really difficult for past year. I have insomnia for over a year, can't sleep, don't wanna go out. I know there is no answer but I'm keep searching by hang out with members and go on tour(That explained why their last tour name is"Please save/help chiaki"). Sometime I get a little realization but mostly don't. So it's really difficult for me to live through everyday.

 

Although you might think:"Even though you depressed before bed, you just close your eye and today will end, right?" . The answer is no, it doesn't. Because there are no ways you can experience tomorrow, you can only live in "Today". I wanna get an answer, otherwise  there will be no inner peace in my mind. In order to move forward from this restless state, from now on I will create songs on this premise. I'm not trying to deny our past, I will still write heavy songs when I'm angry, but right now this album is my state of mind.

 

I know a lot of people will think:"wtf are you guys doing, you changed so much", I don't expect this album will reach to everybody, it would be great if I can create something everybody like, but I cant. If there is one moment in the album that can resonate some of you, for me right now, its the happiest thing ever. I expect a lot of backlash, I will take full responsibility, that's how important this album to me. "

 

After read this interview, that explain why they have some thematically change on lyric since live-distributed single ohayou. It changed from grotesque theme to this kind of existential theme.

 

Some of the lyric in ohayou means "I used to be think everything was fine but now every morning I wake up feel like shit,why is that? whats wrong with me? It really suck." "I dont wanna live yet I dont wanna die, I just keep singing" "when can I smile again from bottom of my heart, I wanna go back to that morning" So my guess is his depression start around that time(2016).

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So he can only write heavy, disturbing music when he's happy? Raising funds for Chiaki's therapy and retreat.

 

This album is okay, but it's not the kind of music I'd ever go after myself. If the band needs to find themselves, recover from a rough time or if this resonates with who they are right now then cool. But I'm not sticking around for it. If they go major and Chiaki starts feeling better again, this is the music they'd be putting out anyway so I don't believe illness is the only reason they went down the pop route.

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@deadman Thank you very much for the short translation, it explains a lot and changes my view a little of what he said before! However i do still believe the major label etc. had a do in the change of style too.

 

Contrary to what i expected before - i really like this album. Since the release of the album im actually listening to it non stop and cant remember when i last enjoyed an album this much. I even stoppped listening to DIMLIMs really good album because i listen to this.

I was really dissapointed of the samples and after loving their early stlye i hated they would become another MUCC. But as with MUCC i might tread them just as 2 different bands old DEZERT and "J-Pop" DEZERT (as their label put them in a J-Pop Playlist). What i like is that it still sound very "depressive" for me.

Interestingly, the song most sounding like their old style (for the guitar), 蛙とバットと機関銃, is my least favorite, because it sounds so forced.

Favorites: 沈黙, Hello, オレンジの詩, TODAY.

Rating: Something between 8 or 9/10 (so better than their 2nd album for me).

 

I will enjoy DAMY and DIMLIM and the likes as "heavy" bands and will enjoy this new DEZERT as something different. However always: the intro bass riff on their first album (that one they took from DAMY) : best things they've ever done. (+ that short eroguro style section in 飼育部屋 (01:03-01:18))

 

Offtopic: I actually dont want to go further into the 12012 discussion (i remember 10 years ago or so i was 1 of the 2-3 people on here defending the position 12012 actually didnt change their style (against a "massive" hating crowd), just developed (you can see this when playing their songs on guitar etc. (they changed for their self titled tho, not returned to old style!)) - however im not sure i would have the same position today). But if you want to see a cut it is after their first album and best of with orion and not because of the scandal if it was after their 2nd album (i dont remember when the scandal started). I split them into 4 playlists having similar sound: 2003-2006 (best era for me), 2006 (orion) - 2009 (mar maroon), 2009 (薄紅と雨) - 2010 (SEVEN), 2012-2014. I saw them once live at an event and they played songs from all eras while looking like normal dudes (no makeup costumes). So they didnt ignore their old songs or anything. Oh and they had like no fans caring for them at that live.

 

 

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D'espairsRay and 12012 being dated my lord what time period am I in. 

 

I haven't even begun listening to the album yet. Too scared to find out what horrors await. They should've done something like Inugami Circus Dan and created an alter ego band to go with a different style (how's that for another dated reference). Or maybe start a side project? I'm glad there was a heartfelt reason for this style change according to Chiaki, but he knew there would be consequences. Now, I know going down these routes isn't as simple as "if I can think it, I can do it", but it just sucks to lose another band to itchin-for-a-change-in-direction-itis.

 

P.S. I fully stan heavy comeback 12012! 

Edited by ghost

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4 hours ago, deadman said:

Nice review, this album it's 6/10 for me.

 

Here is some interview translation I did in news thread on why they change style so drastically.

 

"I just read chiaki's new interview on cure, it seems like this album is his answer to this question(why doing music) he kept searching for over a year.

Basically he's in existential crisis right now.

 

Here's a brief translate(Sorry for my bad English):

 

-Why name this album [Today]

Chiaki: How to get through [Today], to me its really difficult for past year. I have insomnia for over a year, can't sleep, don't wanna go out. I know there is no answer but I'm keep searching by hang out with members and go on tour(That explained why their last tour name is"Please save/help chiaki"). Sometime I get a little realization but mostly don't. So it's really difficult for me to live through everyday.

 

Although you might think:"Even though you depressed before bed, you just close your eye and today will end, right?" . The answer is no, it doesn't. Because there are no ways you can experience tomorrow, you can only live in "Today". I wanna get an answer, otherwise  there will be no inner peace in my mind. In order to move forward from this restless state, from now on I will create songs on this premise. I'm not trying to deny our past, I will still write heavy songs when I'm angry, but right now this album is my state of mind.

 

I know a lot of people will think:"wtf are you guys doing, you changed so much", I don't expect this album will reach to everybody, it would be great if I can create something everybody like, but I cant. If there is one moment in the album that can resonate some of you, for me right now, its the happiest thing ever. I expect a lot of backlash, I will take full responsibility, that's how important this album to me. "

 

After read this interview, that explain why they have some thematically change on lyric since live-distributed single ohayou. It changed from grotesque theme to this kind of existential theme.

 

Some of the lyric in ohayou means "I used to be think everything was fine but now every morning I wake up feel like shit,why is that? whats wrong with me? It really suck." "I dont wanna live yet I dont wanna die, I just keep singing" "when can I smile again from bottom of my heart, I wanna go back to that morning" So my guess is his depression start around that time(2016).


See, this is the kind of quality content Monochrome Heaven always can use more of! Thanks for this awesome translation.

 

Reading this does put a lot of their more recent activities into a better context, but unfortunately it doesn't make the album any better for me. It also doesn't make the album any worse. It's not enough for me to completely swear off the band, but if his idea of heavy music is anything like "Futsujanai III", then I have my doubts if that can happen. Making music like old DEZERT and old MUCC comes with a certain mindset, and once you lose that mindset it's hard to recapture that magic.

 

I completely agree with @ghost that it would have been a better move to create an alter ego band (FOREZT or EROZION are two names that come to mind), just to enforce this separation. Not every band is capable of switching styles seamlessly like Boris, nor should every band really try. I wanted to work that into the review, but couldn't fit it in.

1 hour ago, filth_y said:

Offtopic: I actually dont want to go further into the 12012 discussion (i remember 10 years ago or so i was 1 of the 2-3 people on here defending the position 12012 actually didnt change their style (against a "massive" hating crowd), just developed (you can see this when playing their songs on guitar etc. (they changed for their self titled tho, not returned to old style!)) - however im not sure i would have the same position today). But if you want to see a cut it is after their first album and best of with orion and not because of the scandal if it was after their 2nd album (i dont remember when the scandal started). I split them into 4 playlists having similar sound: 2003-2006 (best era for me), 2006 (orion) - 2009 (mar maroon), 2009 (薄紅と雨) - 2010 (SEVEN), 2012-2014. I saw them once live at an event and they played songs from all eras while looking like normal dudes (no makeup costumes). So they didnt ignore their old songs or anything. Oh and they had like no fans caring for them at that live. 

I double checked my sources, and apparently Wataru was arrested in September of 2007, resolved the charges out of court, and issued an apology on his blog in October of 2007. DIAMONDS released in December of that year, but by the time this "incident" happened the album was already done recording. That's why mentally, I attribute this drama to their third album and not their second album, since the first materials they started freshly recording and releasing almost immediately in the beginning of 2008 reflected the tribulations the whole band had to go through when dealing with Wataru's misconduct. But you are right, and the change in direction did start with their materials after PLAY DOLLs and not obtain+1.

 

Good on them for not completely ignoring their old material! I never got to see 12012 live, but it would have been nice to hear "incur..." or "icy~cold city~" at least once in my life.

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I was ready to hate this album, but after giving it a listen, it's okay. I will admit that I'm pressed to like this album because I absolutely love 沈黙 and おやすみ. My problem is not because the songs are soft or "pop" (they've done soft songs in the past and have done it well), or that there's no more screaming; my problem is the compositions. A handful of songs on this album start out promising, but then we get to the chorus and I completely lose interest, examples include 蝶々 and insomnia. I absolutely loathe insomnia just for its chorus. I thought I was going to hate オレンジの詩, but I actually like it, even though it's a throwback to DAMY's 雨音, which is a throwback to Plastic Tree's Melancholic. I liked Hello the first few times I heard it on 撲殺ヒーロー, but in the context of the album, it does not interest me. Since I'm such a tracklist critic, I wonder if 幸福のメロディー would have been a better choice for track 6.

 

When it comes to albums, I'm usually all-or-nothing, but with "TODAY," there are a few tracks that are worth saving and a few that aren't.

 

Another reason I'm not too devastated by DEZERT going soft is because DAMY exists.

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I wholeheartedly disagree with the main points of this review, mainly because I'm pretty confident that this album represents the moment the band is in. I've been saying that if they had released something like 6~8 of those songs and called it a conceptual mini album, the backlash wouldn't be nowhere near what we're seeing. That interview with Chiaki mentioned above only confirmed my claims, this album was necessary for them to evolve as a band, for him as a person, so I'm fine with that. Using the same 12012 as an example, they had to suck hard with DIAMOND and MAR MAROON so we could have SEVEN, their best release IMO. We had to endure the crap that was the self titled to see them finding balance in THE SWAN and XII. Looking at DEZERT discography from afar, TODAY is a great addition. Yeah, may not be what people were expecting after such an amazing album that was Saikou no Shokutaku, but I feel their work will be enriched by it. That's not to say about the composition, cuz shit is tight as ever. There are one or another verses I'm not really fond of, but they always had a few like that. And TODAY is a great song, no matter what DEZERT we are talking about

Edited by chemicalpictures

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9 hours ago, chemicalpictures said:

I've been saying that if they had released something like 6~8 of those songs and called it a conceptual mini album, the backlash wouldn't be nowhere near what we're seeing.

I think that's because by not announcing this as some side project or concept album, it communicates to the fans that this is now the direcion they are headed as a band. And, it's just not at all the same kind of music that fans got into band for in the first place. If I'm optimistic, then yeah I'd hope this is just a phase that will end up enriching the band's music later down the road in ways I couldn't imagine. But other bands' histories of this situation (going from hard music to pop) say otherwise. Examples for me are D'espairsRay, Mucc, Girugamesh. At best, I expect some throwback album in a few years that attempts to "go back to the roots" to please old fans but ends up being a watered down attempt that lacks the punch and nuances of what they're trying to re-capture. The major label bug bites hard.

 

Here's a very extreme and weird analogy. It's like if a bicycle company decided they were selling utensils now. Old customers are either leaving or wondering when they'll make a new bike instead of selling another damned fork. You think, "they've gotta go back to making bikes sometime." Then later on, they decide (to bring old customers back) they're going to release a new bike, the first in years, and it ends up being a fork with wheels. That's only going to cater to a very niche group of people and you end up pleasing no one from old and new customers. They should've just opened a new shop with new branding to separate the two. Kinda weird, I know. But all I'm saying is that bands should similarly stick to a few select genres/styles  and build off of that. Industrial metal and pop really have nothing to do with each other. Unless you're doing something like Babymetal or some other kind of experimentation, it just ends up being jarring and divides fans.

Edited by ghost

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I've never been familiar with the band, I tried to listen when Vivi joined the band: I hated it!

I decided to give the band a second chance when I saw the album and definitely: IT'S MUCH BETTER! I loved how they managed to do something that struck me so much!

The first song is simply wonderful! "蝶々" is so cliche, but I still love it! I am very impressed with them! I just hope they continue on this path!

9/10

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On 8/17/2018 at 3:31 PM, deadman said:

Nice review, this album it's 6/10 for me.

 

Here is some interview translation I did in news thread on why they change style so drastically.

 

"I just read chiaki's new interview on cure, it seems like this album is his answer to this question(why doing music) he kept searching for over a year.

Basically he's in existential crisis right now.

 

Here's a brief translate(Sorry for my bad English):

 

-Why name this album [Today]

Chiaki: How to get through [Today], to me its really difficult for past year. I have insomnia for over a year, can't sleep, don't wanna go out. I know there is no answer but I'm keep searching by hang out with members and go on tour(That explained why their last tour name is"Please save/help chiaki"). Sometime I get a little realization but mostly don't. So it's really difficult for me to live through everyday.

 

Although you might think:"Even though you depressed before bed, you just close your eye and today will end, right?" . The answer is no, it doesn't. Because there are no ways you can experience tomorrow, you can only live in "Today". I wanna get an answer, otherwise  there will be no inner peace in my mind. In order to move forward from this restless state, from now on I will create songs on this premise. I'm not trying to deny our past, I will still write heavy songs when I'm angry, but right now this album is my state of mind.

 

I know a lot of people will think:"wtf are you guys doing, you changed so much", I don't expect this album will reach to everybody, it would be great if I can create something everybody like, but I cant. If there is one moment in the album that can resonate some of you, for me right now, its the happiest thing ever. I expect a lot of backlash, I will take full responsibility, that's how important this album to me. "

 

After read this interview, that explain why they have some thematically change on lyric since live-distributed single ohayou. It changed from grotesque theme to this kind of existential theme.

 

Some of the lyric in ohayou means "I used to be think everything was fine but now every morning I wake up feel like shit,why is that? whats wrong with me? It really suck." "I dont wanna live yet I dont wanna die, I just keep singing" "when can I smile again from bottom of my heart, I wanna go back to that morning" So my guess is his depression start around that time(2016). 

Sorry for this being out of the blue, but in case you have it handy -  could you please say which volume of Cure this is from? I really want to read the full interview but I can't seem to find it.

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