Category Archives: Music Review

From the Basement

Tokyo based indie pop rockers HEAVENSTAMP are back with a new record, From the Basement, and it doesn’t miss a beat.

After the announcement of joining the SETSUZOKU RECORDS roster in late 2020 and the January release of ‘Sail to Heaven’ setting the tone for the new record, fans have been waiting for the imminent drop. And they weren’t disappointed.

HEAVENSTAMP’s Sally#Cinnamon and Tomoya.S return with their infectious guitar driven vibes after working on new material during the past years lockdown.

Sally#Cinnamon brings her amazing vocals with the same great range and finesse we know. Her voice is incredible; soft and soothing but with a determined focus that let’s the listener know they are part of something special.

Title track Sail to Heaven has that chilled indie vibe HEAVENSTAMP are known for. A groove that builds with lifting vocals, you can feel this is the start of a great musical story.

The pace picks up with Scrap, a guitar driven track with vocals from both Sally#Cinnamon and Tomoya.S. With a rap style vocal, this track really builds in both tempo and beat with a lyrical chorus.

Kumonoito builds on the previous track with added synths and infectious drum beat that will have fans bopping too. Sally#Cinnamon hits that higher range with ease.

Next up is another guitar focused track, Kokoronihiwotsukete. That opening riff is one that will be stuck in your head. The vocals on the build up to the chorus are impeccable, in contrast to the grinding guitar chords. With a blistering guitar solo and that 90s indie rock groove, this is sure to be a favourite live.

Ainiyurai has that indie pop beat and feel to it, with Sally#Cinnamon mixing up her vocal style. It provides a fresh and different feel that is in contrast to the chorus. Sure to be a popular track in the live setting.

Another banging opening for Mind the Gap and a chorus that will have fans singing along. The break inbetween verse and chorus before the opening riff returns shows the complexity in the musicianship.

Tokinotbibito brings a false sense of security with a mellow opening before you are hit with massive harmonised vocals. This track really showcases the vocal element of HEAVENSTAMP, long open voices of both Sally#Cinnamon and Tomoya.S supported by clever drumbeats that give the track that extra edge.

To end, 8 bit synths build the opening for Virtual. Mellow with digital drumbeats and keys, this track has all the hallmarks of HEAVENSTAMP and the massive previous record, LOVE BUILDERS. A perfect end to a great album.

From the Basement is absolutely some of the best music Heavenstamp have delivered. It encompasses their indie pop rock style and groove that they are well known for. We can hope for some live shows in the coming year and enjoy this record in the way it should be.

From the Basement is available now to buy and download on iTunes and Spotify. https://heavenstamp.theshop.jp/

To support HEAVENSTAMP http://www.heavenstamp.net https://twitter.com/_Heavenstamp_ https://twitter.com/Sally_Heaven https://instagram.com/tomoya_heavenstamp

https://www.setsuzokurecords.com/

PassCode: Starry Sky

A review by Tom

Once again, PassCode are back with an all new live album and it is something we all need right now.

Filmed at the iconic KT Zepp, Yokohama back in August’s 2020, PassCode are back with their take on metalcore infused J-pop.

I don’t have to say that 2020 has been a strange year and for live concerts, some things had to change. If you have listened to past PassCode live albums or watched any of the live videos, you will know the audience plays a big part in the sound.

Understandably, due to restrictions that come with the current world situation, there is an audience at the venue but sadly very little crowd interaction can be heard. You can hear some clapping, but for a live PassCode show it is missing that energy the audience brings to make you want to be right there in the middle of the madness.

One thing you notice while listening to the members sing live, is their passion for being live on stage. Even with the audience interaction being minimal, the girls aren’t letting that hold them back. They definitely make up for what is normally missing and you feel the energy that always accompanies a live show.

The one thing I admire about PassCode is the use of their live band. It brings an element of sound that a backing track doesn’t have and really lifts the show to another level. Praise has to be given to the musicians here. The talent they have is second to none and you can feel the energy the band and girls feed to each other.

The setlist from the show included classics like ‘Bite the Bullet’, ‘Maze of Minds’ and ‘Ray’. Not forgetting crowd favourite ‘Miss Unlimited’, and the song that shows the power of Yuna’s voice, ‘Taking You Out’.

There is an excellent mix of songs from classics right through to new releases. My personal stand out song from the show is ‘Sieze Approaching Brand New Era’. I’m sure this is going to become a fan favourite and really is awesome to hear live.

Overall this is a PassCode live show slightly different to the past release. But don’t let that put you off from listening to it. This is truly a live show that we all need at the moment. Powerful and uplifting, it really is a pleasure to listen to.

PassCode – Starry Sky is available now on DVD.

To support PassCode https://twitter.com/passcodeO https://passcode-official.com/ https://instagram.com/passcodeo

All images are gratefully received from the official PassCode Twitter.

Xtopia: JILUKA ARISES

The long awaited release from JILUKA on October 14th, ‘Xtopia’ brings a welcomed return of new music from the visual kei band.

After almost a year since the bands previous release ‘Xanadu’ and the fifth anniversary special DVD ‘The Outis’ back in May 2020, they have come back harder than ever with a new look, a new mini album and an official MV for title track ‘Edifice’. The technical metalcore quartet also embarked on their first domestic one-man live tour, The Integration, in support of the new 7-track release.

Boogie (Ba) Zyean (Dr) Ricko (Vo) Sena (Gt)

Known for their heavy breakdowns and melodic choruses, this mini serving certainly hits hard from the start.

Title track ‘Edifice’ brings the dark sounds of church organs with a quick build up to the heavy guitar and drums we know well from this band. The official MV fits with the sound and theme with a lavish church setting. This track features clean vocals throughout from frontman Ricko, and it’s clear he is able to command the upper range with ease. His melodic vocal is supported by guitarist Sena providing welcomed chaotic runs up and down the fret board, which perfectly sets up the feel for the rest of the album.

It’s not long before we are blessed with building heaviness in third track ‘Menace’, Zyean’s thundering drums never missing a beat. Clean vocals leading into Rickos growls, a feature we have waited for til now. Guitar maestro Sena shows off precise skill throughout. From the heavy minor chord verses into the major melodic chorus, there is balance amongst the chaos.

Boogie provides the heaviest of bass lines throughout this mini offering. The way Boogie and Zyean keep the momentum for each track, each working together to create the dark and heavy breakdowns JILUKA are known for. ‘Flux’ gives us heavy riffage from the start, the bass and drums driving through with ease, giving Sena free reign for impeccable solo work. This is evident in ‘Ignite’, a track that is sure to become a fan favourite.

Each track effortlessly leads to the next, with the welcomed – Prologos – allowing the listener a brief moment of melodic metal with Sena’s perfectly placed guitar work shining through before Xtopia’s final highlight, ‘The Purge’.

This track hits you like no other, and highlights Ricko’s versatile vocal abilities. With a chorus comprising of clean, uplifting vocals and frantic screaming, it is absolutely clear that the frontman has grown in both confidence and proficiency. JILUKAs talent in creating both dark and colourful melody is a stand out attribute, and is perfectly arranged during the course if this record.

‘Xtopia’ brings the best of each member and leaves the listener wanting more. It is clear that JILUKA have matured over their 5 years and show no sign of stopping. The continued evolution and unique identity of this band shines through on this record. And we are grateful for that.

Xtopia is released in two versions, regular and limited edition, with the latter featuring bonus MVs for ‘Elice In Slow Motion’ and ‘Last Faith’.

Tracklist

  1. Xtopia
  2. Edifice
  3. Menace
  4. Flux
  5. Ignite
  6. -Prologos-
  7. The Purge

To support JILUKA

All images gladly recieved from the official JILUKA Twitter account.

Wagakki Band Album Review: Tokyo Singing

An album review by Rosy Baltussen

Since the 14th of August I’ve been waiting for the release of this album. There had been three full songs released already: Ignite, Singin’ For and Sakura Rising. In the end I was very lucky that 9 days before the official release (14th of October) the digital album has been released.

At 2am I sat behind my laptop to give the album a go! I had been waiting to hear this for so long that I was too excited and couldn’t sleep. I shall let you know what my thoughts are of this beautiful album, which in my opinion is a piece of art.

The album starts with the song ‘Calling’ and it took me right in to it. It was the classic Wagakki Band sound I heard, and I was sold inmediately. ‘Calling’ is a real album opener. It’s a song that is between powerful and slow, it’s the perfect way to start.

The second song of the album is one that I already knew, and which they played live in August. Of course it is ‘Ignite’, a very powerful song, which for me has the surprising Machiya “rap” part, he does so amazingly. I loved ‘Ignite’ since the first time I heard it.

Next is a track called ‘Reload Dead’ and I loved this song since I heard the preview of it. It starts powerfully but gets slower in pace right away. I really love the combination of the traditional Japanese instruments with the drums and guitars. It also has the perfect balance between the voices of Yuko and Machiya.

‘Ikitoshi Ikeru Hana’ is next to feature, and has a perfect combination of the intruments: Sakuchachi, Shamisen and Koto which gives this song the traditional Japanese vibe. It’s a really cheerful uplifting song.

The fifth song, ‘Gekka Bijin’ had been released as a preview, including a great animated video. Yuko wrote and produced this song and I think you can really tell it’s her work. It’s such a beautiful and peaceful song. It made me feel very calm when I listened to it. In this song they also used a great combination of the traditional Japanese instruments, but also the guitar in the back gives this song an extra dimension.

Now it’s up to the song that is known by a lot of people now. ‘Sakura Rising’ featuring Amy Lee of Evanescence fame. I have to be honest and I am still getting used to it. I have never been fond of Amy’s voice and I personally still don’t understand the collaboration, but it is a beautiful song. The band and Yuko sound amazing. It is just that Amy’s part is not my cup of tea. I hope I will get used to it the more I listen to this song.

After this song Machiya really hits it with the guitar, another great and powerful song called ‘Guernica’. I really love his voice in this one, it’s a more raw side we have never really heard before in Wagakki Band songs. It still fits perfectly with Yuko’s voice, but I must say I was pretty surprised when I heard Machiya’s voice this way, but it sounds really amazing.

The eighth song on this album is ‘Tokyo Sensation’ and the title actually says it all. It is a sensation listening to the song. It’s a pretty ‘busy’ song, but it really does it justice. When I heard it for the first time I got a party vibe from it, it made me dance!

‘Origami-ism’ is next on the album and we are getting slowly to the end. That doesn’t say a thing because this one is also a great track. I still had the dancing vibe of the last song and they continue giving me this feeling. Another song which has the perfect balance between the guitars and the traditional instruments. I am so happy to hear so many great shamisen parts.

The song that follows is ‘Atena no nai Tegami’ (unadressed letter) which I had a hard time listening too. The way it starts, it’s very calm and serene, Yuko’s whispering voice in the background already give me goosebumps. But the more I heard this song my eyes filled with tears and I really cried my eyes out. I’ve listened to this song multiple times but I keep feeling the same. It is such a beautiful song with a very strong vibe. The Koto sounds so perfectly together with Yuko’s voice. It is also one of the longer songs on the album. I love the fact the song builds from slow and softly to powerful with a great guitar solo in it. Although for me it was hard to listen to, I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs on the album.

Thankfully after this heavy song we’re getting something powerful again. ‘Nichirin’ has a more rock vibe and kicks in right from the start. I love the fact that the song starts with a lot of guitars and drums which gives it that rock sound, but as the song evolves there is this strong array of traditional instruments giving this song the full package.

‘Eclipse’ is the twelfth song on the album. I’m still getting used to the beginning, which is pretty slow in pace but Yuko’s vocal is strong and powerful, but then the feeling completely changes. I like this very much. You can hear that the album is coming to the end, the song builds more, and then the last song arrives (at least for the physical album).

‘Singin’ For’ is the song that was revealed for the first time at the August 14th concert. I got goosebumps and tears flowed when I heard that song for the first time. And thoae goosebumps never left while listening to it. It is such a powerful song, especially during these diffuclt times. People are saying that ‘Sakura Rising’ has this feeling of hope, well for me this is that song! From the start when I hear all the voices of the eight members together, it is such a strong and powerful emotion. It feels like a connection with all of them. I think this is a great ending of the album.

Since I am listening to the release of the digital version of the album, there is a bonus track available. It’s called ‘Roki’ and is a vocaloid cover, it has been a while since Wagakki Band did one of these. But honestly, this song is such a party! It’s so happy, and has this anime sound, even the voices of Yuko and Machiya sound almost like anime characters. It really has the vocaloid vibe and it made me want to dance non-stop. I think it is such a shame this isn’t on the physical cd as a bonus track, because I love it to bits! At least the digital version ends with a big bang!

My overall opnion of this album is, that it is a truly beautiful and amazing piece or work. All of the instruments and voices have great harmony. And the vibe of each of the songs is well balanced, after a powerful song there will be a slower one which will be followed again by another upbeat song.

There are many instrumental solo’s to be found where every member shines and shows what great musicianship they have. The voices of Yuko and Machiya are always great, and fit perfectly together. As for my opnion and experience, the songs really tell a story and are all connected to each other. And that’s why I think it is a masterpiece.

I am so impressed by what they all pulled off together. It may have been an album they have worked on for two and a half years, but it definitely was worth the wait!

There are songs I feel more connected to at this point after hearing it for the first time. But I really can’t name a favorite. Every song has someting that makes it beautiful and special.
I can’t wait until I receive my physical copies and blast the cd through my stereo.

To end my review with the famous internet joke:
What is your favourite song?
Rosy: Yes!



Wagakki Band, thank you once again for your music and hard work. I feel very blessed to be able to expierence this music.



Wagakki Band is:
Vocals: Yuko Suzuhana
Guitars: Machiya
Shamisen: Beni Ninagawa
Bass: Asa
Drums: Wasabi
Wadaiko: Kurona
Koto: Kiyoshi Ibukuro
Sakuhachi: Daisuke Kaminaga

To support Wagakki Band https://twitter.com/WagakkiBand



Tracklist of Tokyo Singing:
1. Calling
2. Ignite
3. Reload dead
4. Ikitoshi Ikeru Hana
5. Gekka Bijin
6. Sakura Rising with Amy Lee of EVANESCENCE
7. Guernica
8. Tokyo Sensation
9. Origami-ism
10. Atena no nai Tegami
11. Nichirin
12. Eclipse
13. Singin’ for…
14. Roki (Bonus Track, Ditigal Edition Only)



The physical album will be released on the 14th of October 2020 in diffrent versions (CD only, CD+DVD/Blu-ray, CD+Book and Fanclub Edition)
http://www.wagakkiband.com

The INVINCIBLE めろん畑a go go can’t be stopped

A music review by Just Panda

めろん畑a go go (Melon Batake A Go Go), the idol from outer space, are back with new single Invincible IDOL (無敵のIDOL) bringing their jpop fifties style fusion with them.

From far across the galaxy, this idol unit have made a name for themselves in the underground scene for the past few years. With a big line- up change in the early part of 2020, they have been working tirelessly. Now with a new single and MV as well as the imminent release of their fourth album, they are ready to take over the idol galaxy!

Dressed in new red outfits with yellow capes, the Melons dance in unison with their identities hidden by masks, in what looks like an abandoned warehouse. That classic fifties rockabilly vibe that they are known for provides a quick and fun pace to the song.

They sing ‘The end will come. Then why sing? The life of IDOL now being questioned’, as they muse the fate of an Idol. Will they be successful? Will they conquer the galaxy? The Melons ask ‘Born underground and die underground, is that the fate of IDOL?’ We have no doubt that our sidekick Idols from outer space will be INVINCIBLE!

After a shaky start to the year with former member Rukatama withdrawing from activities, the Melons continued with arrival of Tomoyo Chiyo and Amino Coromi from sister group The Grateful a Mogaaz. They join Yuffie Sakimura, Soze Nakamura and Run Rutakame to become a five-piece, and the Melons are now ready to take over the galaxy!

The highly anticipated mini album ‘to IDOLS to US to YOU’ is no doubt going to be full of the high energy superhero style we all know and love. MELON BATAKE A GOGO!!!

To support めろん畑a go go.


https://twitter.com/RunKgMelon
https://twitter.com/SozekgMelon
https://twitter.com/Garuda_on
https://twitter.com/chiyogonisu
https://twitter.com/1784Amicoro

Mini album to IDOLS to US to YOU to be released on 19th August 2020

All images from the official Twitter account, with thanks.

Garuda is taking no prisoners. 

A music review by Just Panda.

Yuffie Sakimura aka Garuda hit back yesterday with her brand new single 支配者 (Ruler), armed with her nailed up bat, this time with added flames. 

With those flames as the opening scene to the MV, our industrial idol is seen collapsed on the ground, her well known plague doctor mask cast aside. Crawling to her knees, a latex- laden Neko is commanding a faceless audience while an industrial metal drum sample builds the pace. Firing at the faceless beings with a pistol full of what appears to be blood, The Neko Ruler shows her dominance, while Yuffie-san’s soft voice is in contrast to both the sample and the visuals, creating a dark blend of sound. 

Garuda continues her struggle to reach her mask as the pre-chorus picks up with an electric guitar sitting high above the heavy drums and synth in the mix. The sound drops as the second verse begins, and the faceless audience dressed from head to toe in white, with no more than a painted smile where their face should be. They begin to circle a fallen Yuffie, her head in hands; she reaches for her mask, this time with success.

As we enter the bridge, harmonised vocals are supported by those sampled drum loops, with a continual build before fading out into a softened melody. Here Yuffie takes control, bat in hand she opens a door to streaming white light before we see our idol stand tall on a stage, surrounded by the faceless audience, now strewn on the floor. Garuda removes her mask and looks ahead, triumphant in this battle. 

支配者 is a fitting title song for Garuda’s first solo album, The Battle of Nightmares, which is due for release next month. It is clear that Yuffie is a master of her craft when it comes to her performance. Both visually artistic and with energy, the dark neo-gothic style of the MV fits perfectly. 

Yuffie and Neko on set

It’s been 3 years since Garuda debuted and 2 years since her first single was released, the EDM heavy Soon To Be Snow (もうすぐ雪が).

During that time she has toured with her idol unit, the idol from outer-space めろん畑a go go (Melon Batake a Go Go), both domestically and internationally. In the spring of 2019 Yuffie, alongside Hanako-San (14th Generation Toilet) and 2& (double and) took the UK by storm on the Indie Idol and Infamous tour, where many a new fan was made. 

This first single sets the tone for the upcoming album, not shying away from her industrial roots it is sure to be a fantastic record. 

To support Garuda https://twitter.com/GARUDA_info

To support Neko https://twitter.com/fettiesNEKO

The following thanks are from Garuda’s twitter.

【🌹New MV🌹】
『支配者』
https://t.co/9Q5JcOttJX

Film legion:武子真幸
Camera:倉林和泉
Cast:
Rulelr▷NEKO
Special Thanks to Extras.

2020/09/04 Release
The Battle Of Nightmares
収録曲

Ankimo are far from UNFINISHED.

An album review by Just Panda ~ Beyond Senpai

Technical melodic speed metal titans Unlucky Morpheus returned to the world music platform this month with the highly anticipated album ‘Unfinished’. 

It has been two years since the last full album release, the mammoth Change of Generation. A follow up to this beast was surely to be expected, and our wait has not been in vain. 

Lead single Unending Sorceress premiered with an incredible gothic style MV in the latter days of July, gearing the fan base up for the imminent release of Unfinished. 

Vocalist Fuki has matured in her abilities, mesmerising the listener with her operatic vibrato and incredible range. These clean and impressive vocals are backed up by screamer Shiren, creating a balance of light and dark. Shirens screamer style cuts through the heavy guitar and machine-gun drumming, with moments of brightness coming from Jill and her intricate fiddle work. That is well heard in the opening to Near the End where Shirens vocal abilities are brought to the front of the mix. 

The playful to-and-fro guitar solos of Shiren and Jinya, are both pleasing to the ear and hypnotic in their skill. This is clear in Kago No Tori, where Fukis falsetto work showcases that incredible range we all know she is capable of. The intricate scale work between the heavy, dark chord progressions and purposeful bass work from Hiroyuki Ogawa create the atmosphere that Ankimo are well known for in their field. 

Make Your Choice is a stand out track as it has a vibe like no other on the album. Fumiya on drums powers through with a groove that does this song justice. The hope of this making it onto the live set list is high, sure to be a crowd-pleaser this has ticked all the boxes. 

Gothic chorale track Dogura Magura is an onslaught of chorister vocals and pounding drums. The vocal switching between Fuki and Shiren has been a main feature on this album, with both vocalists working together in harmony. The chord progressions and early key change take this track to another level, with the layering of sound a main focus in the mix. 

Surprise entry has to be Carry On Singing to the Sky, the only song in English. No easy feat but Fukis professionalism to her craft carries her through. Classical musings are called on through Jills superb string work with a shout to Paganini’s 24thCaprice, sure to make any audience take notice. 

In short, Unfinished is undoubtedly some of the best work Unlucky Morpheus has delivered. The musicianship and talent is showcased throughout. This is no thrown-together record. This is months of composing and writing as a unit. And the dedication shows. 

Unfinished is a delight to behold. Both light and heavy, it is on course to being one of the top releases of the year.

Tracklist:
01. Unfinished
02. Unending Sorceress
03. Near The End
04. 籠の鳥
05. Salome
06. Make your choice
07. Top of the “M”
08. Dogura Magura
09. Carry on singing to the sky