BORN - ProudiA (2011, Japan) Rating: 2/5
Favorite Tracks: Dig Fxxker
I've had so many issues with this band...well, actually, just the label they're under. Seeing the promotional costumes for this single was slowly confirming my predictions of "the GazettE 2.0". "ProudiA" is a slower song than most of the stuff they've been putting out. Before joining PSC, they hardly did tracks like this. Sadly, this is the closest they've gotten to sounding like their old selves and the song isn't even all that spectacular. It's decent, but nothing mindblowing and not quite garbage either. "RAGE OF FACT" picks it back up with some fast pace instrumentals and those damn screams that I'm so sick of! OMG! Will you just quit it already and go back to your old vocals? I will commend them for breaking out the same old structure they've been recycling over and over. "Dig Fxxker" shows some promising opening instrumentals with prominent bass and drums with guitar strings echoing in the back. This song takes a step back to the BORN I know and love. New musical and vocal structure, the screaming isn't annoying and group like, and everything works together for the most part. I want more of this!
Lolita23q - Bad City (2012, Japan) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Bad City, Vital
Have I mention how proud I am of this band's growth? "Bad City" picks up the electronic, fast paced, fun rock of "-Hikari-" and keeps pleasing the fans. This song further proves that the vocal changes weren't such a bad idea. The PV for it isn't that bad either and it's one reason I love this song. "Star Philharmony" goes a different direction by adding some classical Victorian-esque elements. I don't really like this song that much. It reminds me of a really boring Alice Nine. song. If you bought Type B, "Vital" closes out the single by reeling me back in with some strong guitars and headbang worthy drumming. There's some interesting vocal layering and it's a very odd track, but enjoyable for that reason. If you bought Type C, "Fullmetal Night Killer 1888" closes out the single with high energy and features some great guitar work that's borderline old school rock like Seikima energy. I'm still enjoying their direction they're going and I hope they keep it up.
THOMAS - Determination (2011, Japan) Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: Shall we dance?, パルス, Social Puzzle, Determination
Skipping over the "Intro", "Shall we dance?" starts this mini off quietly with some subtle drumming and distant vocals, then slowly picks it up little by little to a funky little groove. "パルス" is a more upbeat track than the first and makes you want to dance along to the playful guitar melody. I really like the odd chorus and the raw vocals, although some notes are a bit strained, but still enjoyable. "Social Puzzle" is a heavier, playful song that I can see Girugamesh or MUCC doing, but the musical transitions are what makes them different. "血の轍" delves into the bass notes a little more for a more prominent rock sound, yet it keeps the tempo high. "Determination" minimizes the heavy sounds and goes back to a more fun rock sound that's very familiar to jrock listeners. It's a little more mainstream, but you can feel all the intensity in the vocals as the music eases along for support.
Sunny Hill - THE GRASSHOPPERS (2012, South Korea) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 나쁜 남자, 베짱이 찬가
After listening to "Pray", I was slowly becoming overwhelmed by all the flawnessness, then this single came out. "나쁜 남자" brings out a range of horns, bongos, drums, and some hip jazz sounds that makes me want to swing dance all over the place. The vocal arrangements are well planned out, even the speaking parts. Although, I wish there was less autotune, especially on Janghyun's part. Everyone's voices are fine without it! "술래잡기" is a strange little electronic track with scratchy acoustic moments...and that dreaded autotune that ruins everything!! The song is kinda fun and all, but it lacks something (or maybe it's just the autotune that ruins it). "베짱이 찬가" was the main promotional push and to this day, I still can't get enough of it. It's still my ringtone. It has so many great elements and seeing it performed on stage is even more beautiful. One compliant...they autotuned Janghyun's precious voice! Everything is so perfect, from the violins, catchy chorus, and the musical pace, then they did that. I'm gonna agree with Jay-Z, kill the autotune, guys, you're way better than that.
Sujk - Arkhelism (2011, Japan) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: The Arkhelist, Twisted Dimension
After the disbandment of one of the greatest j-indies bands DELUHI, Sujk announced that he would be releasing a solo album. Now after hearing high-ball, I was a little nervous on how this would turn out. "The Arkhelist" opens with some transtic drumming and alluring vocals that pull you into a dark, jungle-like atmosphere. It's very inspiring, actually. I really think the track is too short. "One's Weakness" picks up more rock elements and some vocals. It's very intense and high energy. "Arrival Point" continues that high rock energy with some fast paced drumming and growling. "Twisted Dimension" is another instrumental track featuring more atmospheric sounds and jungle like elements to occupy Sujk's drumming. It's probably a good track for yoga. "The Left Hook Of Waccha" has a dark, foggy feel to it that would be featured in an action movie perhaps. It features other instruments such as bass and guitar with hint of leftover DELUHI power. "Till the End" takes a step back some with harder guitar sounds and screaming vocals as well as some electronic vocal distortions. "Doll" features more fast paced instrumentals that are absolutely stunning. Although, I wish someone else was doing the vocals. It's more screaming, but it's completely in English and sounds a bit cheesy. "Believer" sounds a little like some DELUHI song, but it has more annoying screaming vocals. I really like the guitars and the drums aren't that bad either. "Paradoxxx" strips away everything and goes back to that mysterious, dark, yoga like atmosphere. This completely highlights Sujk's skills and sounds like one of those solos in a live. "Try Too Hard" closes out this album with some familiar rock sounds and fast paced music. Of course, more screaming vocals, but they're a little more tolerable than most of the vocal appearances. Perhaps it's Juri on this one, I'm not sure. Nonetheless, unlike Yuusuke with his high-ball venture, Sujk did a pretty good job with this one.
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