Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Quick Music Reviews

Ruiza - Abyss (2012, Japan) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Sphere; Crepuscular Rays; Abyss, Deep Blue

Most know Ruiza as the lead guitarist of the visual kei band, D. This isn't his first solo instrumental effort. He previously released a single, Ao no Hahen (2001) and a mini album, Amenity Gain (2006). Serendipity opens this mini-album with a heavy guitar track that will  have D fans sitting up to listen. His influence is clearly evident on the band's sound if this track is any indication. Faith has more abrasive feel provided by the drums. At times, it almost seems as if it's a power struggle between Ruiza's guitar and the drums. Sphere returns to more of the Ruiza that D fans know well; melodic guitar with a heavier flare. Crepuscular Rays has a bit of an interesting Latin influence. It's certainly the song that stood out the most on this mini album for me. Erosion jumps back to his heavy metal roots while still being very listenable. The title track, Abyss, is most likely what I would say is his signature track. Most of his skills are put to work in this one. I'd recommend it to someone interested in hearing his style. Deep Blue is a sweeping piece that nearly begs for some vocalizations. I'd be interested in seeing what he could do with adding vocals and lyrics to it. Perhaps, a feminine voice would compliment it well.

 BENI - Satsuki Ame (2013, Japan) Rating: 5/5
Favorite Tracks: Satsuki Ame; Runaway

Satsuki Ame is exactly what I love from BENI. It's an elegant ballad that showcases her voice perfectly. She has a sweet sound in this one, almost as if she's waiting for a love to return with the rain. The b-side, Runaway, is a cover of Rats & Star (aka The Chanels) debut song. BENI puts her own spin on it, creating an upbeat, catchy pop sound that brightens the single greatly. Runaway was also  used in Coca Cola's Share a Coke and a Song campaign. 

Kaya - Taboo (2013, Japan) Rating: 1/5
Favorite Tracks: Taboo

It's been awhile since I've listened to a Kaya single and really enjoyed it. I went into this one with an open mind. The title track, Taboo, has a dance-pop vibe. It reminds me a bit of something Lady Gaga would put out. The only downfall is that it's not catchy enough to really stand out. The b-side, Infection, feels like a leftover from the Schwarz Stein days. It's a gothic circus gone wrong, but overall, it seems unpolished. The two tracks don't really feel as if they belong in the same release. Kaya's vocals have been turned up on Infection where they felt a bit dialed down on Taboo. I wouldn't skip Taboo came on my ipod. At the same time, I wouldn't be rushing to turn it up and jam along. Sadly, Infection would be skipped quickly.

 The Gazette - Fadeless (2013, Japan) Rating: 1.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Quiet

Fadeless has some odd female vocals that I could have done without. They don't really add anything to the song. There's nothing really outstanding about the song. By the end, it felt like it was stretched out a bit too long. Maybe it would have felt less drawn out if the female vocals had been removed or simply lessened. Quiet sounds more like what I remember of Gazette. It's more along the lines of Reila or Without a Trace. It was nice to really hear Kai's drumming get a bit of a shining moment in this one. Forbidden Beaver goes back to that generic sound from their last releases. This could easily be a song from a dozen visual kei bands. It's highly repetitive with some English thrown in. From this release, the only song I'd want to listen to again is Quiet. 

 Acid Black Cherry - Greed Greed Greed (2013, Japan) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Kagayaki Nagara.... 

This isn't my favorite Acid Black Cherry release. Greed Greed Greed has the heavy rock sound that I expect from Acid Black Cherry. It's not a bad song, but it doesn't stand out to me like some of the past releases have. It feels very repetitive. This single's recreation track is Kagayaki Nagara.... originally by Hideaki Tokunaga is a pop ballad. It's sweet and cute, a fluffy little bit to ease you out of the heavier track. I will say that Yasu has a way of choosing his recreation tracks. I often tend to favor them over the rest of the release.  Both songs together reflect the light and dark play of the cover art. As with Kaya's release, I wouldn't actively seek these out. However, Kagayaki Nagara....gets a higher rating for me.

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