Blood Stain Child – LAST STARDUST

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Tracklist:

1. LAST STARDUST (Miraisen Hime Slavenire OP)

2. OVER THE GALAXY (Miraisen Hime Slavenire ED)

3. Stargazer -X-

4. LAST STARDUST (Off Vocal)

5. OVER THE GALAXY (Off Vocal)

1. LAST STARDUST

Cold and distant synthage opens the track in a seemingly melodically unfinished sequence, which leads with a single frequency into a simple-sounding metal cadence luring the listener into an explosive mix of hard drumming and and frantically rotating techno. Hard vocals are fit to open the track, but along comes a completely unexpected, extremely eargasming scream of their new vocalist, KiKi, which, calming down, proceeds into the catchy verse with the exchange of singing and growls from both her and Ryo. While the verse has an ambiental, often quiet background, the fast pace and infectious melody bring the choruses, and a contrastingly enormous amount of strain, angst and energy in both the singing and arrangement, with the synths often even covering up the guitars by volume. Only a millisecond pause after the second chorus, a powerful, stone-hard growl-only cadence ensues and a must guitar solo, matching the electronica in speed, and following the synth-only interlude similar to the introduction, the track once again gains tempo and unravels into the final chorus.

Rating: 10

2. OVER THE GALAXY

We are awaited with a more techno-oriented introduction this time, utilizing a softer, less aggressive melody and not as obvious metal backing, being quite similar to the overall style on their album Epsilon. As the first verse arrives, KiKi doesn’t repeat the heavy screaming but Ryo makes up for it as they interchange in sections much clearer in sound than the furious disarray of LAST STARDUST.   The overall tone changes as well, to a somewhat optimistic, and still very catchy melody in the chorus, and quite uplifting lyrics coupled with a fitting instrumentation, but the fast pace is kept as there is no interlude between the first chorus and second verse, and the main melody is varied multiple times, in different tempo, similar to a full trance track. As the second chorus wraps up, the most remarkable cadence in the track arises, as the middle-eight proceeds with a dark, synthy, anarchic sequence with only guitar chords blending in the quickly changing, morphing tempo, until it unravels into the climax of the song with an albeit slower, but far more powerful guitar solo. The instrumentation goes an octave up towards the end, and wraps up the song prominently.

Rating: 10

3. Stargazer -X-

As one of their best songs, Stargazer – X – is a much welcomed remix, this time appearing with more bass in critical, dramatic places and much more kick added with different kinds of synths replacing the old ones. Unfortunately, KiKi doesn’t do justice to Sophia in terms of vocals, especially in the chorus; the soaring and the power is mostly gone, with only the bare melody being sung, and even that is drowned out by the boosted instrumentals, but the new arrangement still makes everything worthwhile; in the previously empty interludes, the electronica continues on the main theme, which is coupled with the earworm melodics and beautiful lyrics. The change is most visible in the middle-eight section, becoming a true trance track for the time being, with deep, sliding frequences and impending synths instead of immediately crossing over to the guitar solo. Since I can personally look over the vocals, the new Stargazer is more of a regular listen that the old one from now, but I still return for the nostalgic and melancholic ambience.

Rating: 9

Blood Stain Child are finally on the scene again, and, even though they’ve succumbed to having a tie-in which promotes them, the quality of their music remains untouched. KiKi’s female screamo is truly a pleasure to the ears, and a welcome addition which I hope they continue to utilize.

Unprofessional fangirling:

OMFG DAT SCREAMO i like the new manipulator hesocute dfgsdGOSURORI RYUUUU <333

My overall rating: 10 – RECOMMENDED 

 

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Yoko Hikasa – Ex:Futurize

Yoko-Hikasa---ExFuturize-[Single]

Tracklist:

1. EX:FUTURIZE (Z/X IGNITION OP)

2. Technoholica

3. EX:FUTURIZE (Instrumental)

4. Technoholica (Instrumental)

1. EX:FUTURIZE

The tricky, impending start filled with violins and a single bells seemingly leads into a softer tone just as fortified synths unravel into the evolved mix of anison techno-rock with a striking instrumentation. Singing along to the catchy melodics, Hikasa has quite a powerful, unfiltered voice, even when put against such an accented background; electric guitars and domesticated dubstep sequences with almost unnoticeable drops during the track show off quite a step out of the expected comfort zone of an anime tie-in nowadays. EX:FUTURIZE by its energy and grittiness reminds of Kakumei Dualism, but with a more polished and elegant edge to contrast a chaotic middle eight section filling the entire hearing width. After the tonality goes down by an octave, the transition is made to the climaxing final chorus.

Rating: 8 

2. Technoholica

Continuing in a similar fashion, Technoholica opens in a dark mid-tempo technopop mixture, which ensues in rich synth harmonies with almost the same instrumentation as the first track, except the absent anison element, making it more dense and focused. As it clocks in something above 3 minutes, the choruses just fly by and transform the style of the song several times, showing off from urban pop similar to Kotoko’s BUCCANEER to heavy, industrial elements, even closer to hard rock near the end. The surprises don’t cease, and the B-side is very much on par with EX:FUTURIZE.

Rating: 7 ½

Yoko Hikasa’s new single is somewhat of a reflection on the overall change in tone of the anison genre recently, which is happily adopting dubstep and co. and combining it with more traditional elements to stay afloat and popular. Neither EX:FUTURIZE nor Technoholica are especially revolutionary, but both are still very pleasing if you’re expecting the right thing.

Other unprofessional thoughts: DAT COVER nice font i like her nails and hair aaaand my self confidence 

My overall rating is: 8 

FictionJunction – elemental

elemental

Tracklist:

1. elemental

2. storytelling

3. Hitorigoto

4. Toki no Mukou Maboroshi no Sora (Okami Kakushi OP)

5. Hitomi no Chikara

6. storm (My-Otome Zwei ED 2)

7. eternal blue (Senritsu no Stratus IN)

8. stone cold (Sacred Seven OP)

9. Nohara

10. Parallel Hearts (Pandora Hearts OP)

11. Gaika

12. Yakusoku

13. Distance (Mobile Suit Gundam SEED HD Remaster IN)

1. elemental

Despite being the title track of the album, elemental and Kajiura with it turned on itself, and became an awkward mix of rock with usual Western chord progressions and oriental melodies already present in numerous Kalafina and FictionJunction songs. An ambiental, minimalistic intro sets off, with the main tones in dysharmony with the background and a very different style of singing from what we can usually hear, until an unskillfully and clumsily done transition brings the guitar-filled chorus which overpowers both vocals and any other instruments. After a while, the violin brings the variety in the middle eight section and a silent section with unison singing, but, aside several bright spots and a catchy tune, elemental is a bit of a disappointment for the music we first hear from the album.

Rating: 6

2. storytelling

Although the song is mostly reigned by strong drums and a single electric guitar line, the exquisite vocals and silent echoes in the background present an instantly recognizable anison melody, which would have worked much better with a more diverse arrangement. From the very beginning, the tempo and rhythm are unchanging, until the bridge to the chorus, in which all four sing equally with a  substantial uprising to the final tone, even though the song doesn’t follow the usual construction but leaves out the second chorus according to Kajiura’s habits. After a section in which everything is brought down but the gritty backdrop, the track unravels into the final chorus and continues off the album in a slightly better fashion.

Rating: 7 ½

3. Hitorigoto

A silent, impending start opens the track as the singing begins immediately, in an ambiental but peaceful and relaxing intro, unlike elemental. As to accommodate the slower tempo, the vocal harmonies aren’t as expressed, not explicitly presenting either a happy or a sad atmosphere, and becoming the background at one point. Along with the reappearing jazz bridge and un-metrical timing, the saxophone adds to the laid-back and meditative surrounding, as a deep piano is included in the second chorus with no clear distinction. Hitorigoto is once or twice a pleasant listen, but, unfortunately, gets boring eventually, just like the first two tracks.

Rating: 6

4. Toki no Mukou Maboroshi no Sora

Medieval fantasy chants akin to those from the Madoka Magica OST accompanied by a single bell line burst up within a few guitar chords and high-pitched violin before settling down in the first verse of a mystical, but slightly uplifting tone. As the first verse is hurried up and quickly escalated with the gradual inclusion of more bells, the dramatic bridge carries the urging strings which unravel in a powerfully striking, emotional chorus with everyone singing either as the main vocalist or in a choral formation. The same guitars from the previous tracks are included but fit much better with the overall mighty instrumentation and quite expressive harmonies, even though the actual speed of the song is mid-tempo, with the illusion of it boosted up by the arrangement.  Following the beautiful vibrato in the middle eight, a sudden vocal-only section comes up and, with a strong drum solo, completes the final chorus ending with another duo of strings and the guitar.

Rating: 9

5. Hitomi no Chikara

A mysterious piano in second intervals and a thin solo vocal open the song with a simple introduction which soon slips into a weak, uninteresting and tedious listen of mild ballad-pop. Although a nicely controlled vibrato at the end of most tones is present, other members of FictionJunction provide a bit of a choral background, in the form of freely singing without lyrics. After the first chorus, as the drums slowly set it, sporadic synths enrich the instrumentation but the enduringly continuing solo act and generic melody overthrow any variety.

Rating: 4

6. storm

After quite an uneventful track, the uncanny music box-like orgel with a single high-pitched synths start off, being joined by peaceful but soaring vocals. As stronger drums are slowly added, utilizing an unusually punctuated rhytmic figure to add to the exoticism, a gliding, dry guitar chord opens the new section and every singer gets involved. The focus is equally shared between the voices and the instruments, as the arrangement has been given enough attention to compete, with deep violins and a powerful, decorated flute interlude provide an enigmatic, striking atmosphere. Except a single distorted guitar, there is no clear backdrop to the instruments, with the song setting in after the final orgel section.

Rating: 8

7. eternal blue

The instantly recognizable, usual, FictionJunction style commences the track, as the guitar strums along with electronic chips and strings. A bit slower and laid-back tempo is present, but the energy still carries enough to make a dramatic transition to the uplifting chorus, even though several alternations in the melody potentially lead to a gloomier overall tone. Contrasting the previous track, synths take the role of the flute, occasionally hitting higher tones than usual to fill in the gap. After a short piano-only section and the robust vocals suddenly flying in, the track unravels into the final chorus. Eternal blue isn’t especially unique, and is shorter than common Kajiura songs, lasting only about 4 and a half minutes, but it still provides an entertaining listen.

Rating: 7

8. stone cold

As one of Kajiura’s rarer approaches to techno, stone cold counts in as a personal favourite, and a unique piece in FictionJunction’s discography. The track opens with a cold, mysterious start, until it gains a trance-like fast tempo, and the adding stoic vocal harmonies bring in cheerlessness. With a deep and haunting techno-rock arrangement and a single melody line, the title fits perfectly just until the chorus, in which the harmonies take an unexpected turn into enormously sad, emotional and nostalgic singing, with a perfect transition between the two, successfully linking polar opposites and providing for an eargasmic experience, along with  matched vocals and Wakana in the lead. After several emotional twists in the track filling up to the 6 minute mark, everything comes down suddenly and the instrumentation is stripped to the most powerful and strangely hollow place in the track, as only deep bass and creepily cruel vocal harmonies remain, making a final turn and making to the outburst of the dramatic symphony in the final chorus. Stone cold is an unquivering blend of robotic insensitivity and fiery passion coupled with an excellent instrumentation, pleasingly showing more development as the track progresses, and deserving one of the best places in Kajiura’s trophy room.

Rating: 10

9. Nohara

With a rest from the electronic influence of the previous few songs, a relaxing piano opens the track as everything becomes silent for a few seconds until, this time Keiko, starts off another seemingly predictable and generic ballad. Unusual vocal techniques are being used several times, with the choral support added in the chorus singles off several voices as particularly strong with the vibrato, and the section end with Keiko’s pleasingly soaring tone, lasting for an unusually long time and almost seeming like it turns into a completely different singer by colour. Nohara may be fairly powerful towards its end, but is still relatively boring, with barely anything to distinguish it from Hitomi no Chikara.

Rating: 5

10. Parallel Hearts

As expected, one of the crown jewels of FictionJunction reappears, and immediately starts off the famous fantasy-anison with the usual Kajiuran arrangement and a powerful intention and expressed harmonies from the very beginning. Jumping off the singers’ vibrato and higher notes, the choruses pick up right from the verses and build up on them, with not too much change in tempo or rhythm, and following the same theme. Unfortunately, with the well-known catchy melody, the arrangement, and especially the strings, isn’t varied as much, as standard patterns are just being copied all over the place, until the unexpected turn after the second verse towards a happier melody; a choral interlude with a mystical backdrop plays as everything is silenced and the rebirth of the melody begins, and the tempo speeds up until it becomes fast enough to turn into the final chorus. Parallel Hearts may be a piece in anison history, but isn’t flawless, and feels quite sped-up and unvaried.

Rating: 8

11. Gaika

Random, irregular sounds after a silent intro unravel into an odd mid-tempo atmosphere, with synths dictating the rhythm and an instant choral backing reappearing. Although not as obvious from the beginning, the stoic and repeated melody similar to stone cold contributes to somewhat strong techno-rock, while the voices do occasionally separate and freely sing, without lyrics. According to the tempo, the construction of verses and chorusses is quite unclear, and there isn’t an actual clear melody line so central to most Kajiura songs. Vocals sing together with rhytmically firing guitars, and  a suddenly deep contrabass violin appears as well, making this the first non tie-in song in the album that actually matches the anime ones in quality. After passing a small section under a great amount of filters and stripping the instrumentation down to only hauntingly sung vocals, the somewhat dark song ends with the sound of a machine being shut down.

Rating: 9

12. Yakusoku

Nostalgically old-sounding electronic chips and a silent singing background open, with the synths following a melody an orgel usually would. After not too long, the piano appears and builds up to an actually quite strong ani-rock track, despite the fact that judging by the title, we’d probably expect a ballad. Emotional solo singing is present, but with the several not very unique guitar solos stretching all across the track, Yakusoku sounds very little like something Kajiura would compose, as it rather reminds me of Elements Garden or other mainstream acts, and is especially unwelcome near the end of the album.

Rating: 6

13. Distance

The album closes the same way it started, with oriental harmonies spread, but this time in a slow tempo and rich arrangement without many guitars involved, and violins replacing them, which is a much welcomed change. Explicit harmonies between the vocals and the constantly stringing violins bring the habitual anison ambient, varying occasionally with choral-only interludes. As the album has had bad ballads precede already, it’s a nice way to end the album, with a quiet and attention-drawing end with more mysterious fantasy bells present at the very beginning of the track as well.

Rating: 7

 

It really is a shame that previously released singles took the spotlight away from the new songs, but I suppose it’s to be expected, since Kajiura is always busy with other anime projects and Kalafina, so the focus isn’t exactly on FictionJunction this time. For big fans though, every new song matters so I suppose it’s like that this time as well.

Favourite songs: stone cold, Toki no Mukou Maboroshi no Sora, Gaika

Least favourite songs: Nohara, Hitomi no Chihara, Hitorigoto

My overall rating is: 71 / 100

 

ALTIMA – Fight 4 Real

ALTIMA - Fight 4 Real [Single]

Tracklist:

1. Fight 4 Real (Strike the Blood OP2)

2. NORADRENALINE

3. Fight 4 Real (Instrumental)

4. NORADRENALINE (Instrumental)

1. Fight 4 Real

Swift drums and gritty guitars along with Motsu’s whisper open the track in chord progressions similar to Maon’s usual rock style, until the trance tempo sets in and unravels into a slightly melancholic melody. Continuing from a short rap section, the calm verse of only the remaining tempo and the piano leads along with the vocals, building up in fluttering synths which fill all hearing lengths and become the, unfortunately, predictable chorus. Maon’s voice throughout the whole track is quite clear and strong, with the ability to switch in colour from dramatic in the chorus to soft, in the beginning of the verses, until it’s replaced in the middle eight entirely with electric guitars and continuous filtered whispers which give off a trance ambient. As soon as we thing the song ends, the singing and instrumentation climb up an octave, utilizing the psychological effect of it to make the ending more memorable, with a single guitar riff closing the track.

Rating: 7

2. NORADRENALINE

Unlike the first track, NORADRENALINE becomes very filtered, including pop synths of various kinds, replacing the overall rock tone with a bit darker and more noir sound, which does actually fit the cover quite well. Although Maon does appear occasionally, mostly providing the single powerful last note at the end of the verses or to add jazzy singing to the background, I’m not a big fan of rap B-sides, but since the focus is not on the vocal harmonies anymore, the arrangement and instrumentation choices are far more creative than those in Fight 4 Real. Interesting chromatically ordered background synths and just regular singing lead right away into the final chorus, which is empowered by another layer of strong electronica on top of that already present.

Rating: 6 ½

After quite a lengthy pause, ALTIMA is back with another significant tie-in, though I must admit that, with Motsu’s activities in m.o.v.e stopping, it was a tad unexpected. The new single is just more of the same, but still a pleasant listen and a treat to their fans.                                                                                        My overall rating is: 7

The Awesome Blog Content (ABC) Award

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Moira from Just Another Heaven  nominated my blog for this award, in spite that I have yet to post content on the revival version of Japanese Melodia, for which I am very grateful for, and will look forward to fulfilling the requirements this award holds.

The rules for acceptance of the award:
1. Download the award image (right click, save as) and add it to your post/about page.
2. Nominate as many other blogs as you want and remember to notify them on their blog about their nomination.
3. Take each letter (A-Z) and write something about yourself that starts with said letter.

As for my alphabetical list:

A – Anison (maybe not obvious at the first sight, but I’m a huge lover of this J-music genre) / Arth3mis (my gaming name)

B – Boys’ Love (hihihi)

C – Chrono Trigger (one of my favourite and unarguably one of the best JRPGs ever)

D – Dragons (I’m a huge lover of the epic fantasy genre)

E – Eargasm (the wave of emotions when I listen to a really good song)

F – Finesse (I guess this would be my reviewing style) / Final Fantasy (my favourite video game series)

G – Garden of Words (If you haven’t yet watched this magnificent anime movie, do so now)

H – Howl’s Moving Castle (I don’t want this to be a ripoff from Austin’s list, but it’s actually a favourite of mine as well)

I – iPod (my most precious device on the planet I wouldn’t bear to lose, my music source)

J – Japan/Japanese (the best country in the world; its products are responsible for who I am today)

K – Kurosaki Maon (one of my best blooming rock and anison singers)

L – LiSA (for those uninitiated, a mention of Sword Art Online is enough)

M – Mizuki Nana (The Anison Legend) / Minori Chihara (another anison legend)

N – Nagato Yuki (that would be me)

O – Obenkyo (my favourite Japanese learning app)

P – Post limit (nobody likes one on Tumblr)

Q – Quiet and reserved (In real life. Just like Yuki.)

R – Rekishi (one of my favourite school subjects, try and guess what it means)

S – Shibuya (the fashion I so desperately desire…)

T – Twitter (which I oh-so desperately don’t use)

U – Unaware and oblivious (so many uke qualities)

V – Vintage and Gothic Lolita (the style I strive for)

W – White (alongside Black is always a good colour)

X – Xanadu (a song by a great doujin gothic band Asriel)

Y – Yousei Teikoku (my favourite band!)

Z – Zoetrope (an awesome rock song from Yanagi Nagi)

And now for the nominations…  of which most have already been nominated even though I did want to do it first (Just Another Heaven, Tsukiyo no Hikari, Hybrid Universe, you know who you are):

Kurayami Monogatari and Anime Instrumentality

Unabridged adventures with my schoolwork

So, I guess everyone has been wondering where the hell I have been for the past month, and why not only I ignored my blog but my Twitter as well (more than I usually ignore it). Being a high school student, going to music school and actively running a blog is way more than one can normally handle, and, as expected, one of them had to drop out. No review for you just yet, and I’ll just glance over the major points in which Japanese Melodia will be changing as a new(ly restarted) blog.

  • Posts will come weekly (unless it’s an urgent matter or I have an abundance of time)
  • Although my target music is still primarily anison, I’ll be doing reviews of purely J-music I like with no anime or similar tie-in (some occasional gothic, doujin, electronic, game)
  • More editorial-oriented posts (mainly themed around either music theory or some aspect of Japanese culture that affects music)
  • This header is currently annoying me, so I’ll see if I can theme Japanese Melodia so it’s clearly a music blog (alike the old one found on Blogger you will still be able to access and read my old reviews on)

Y.N.