Snippet

So, I've returned. It's been a year since my last post, and though Blogspot tells me I have 3 drafts, none of them were any good so they never got published. After having left Japan in February my life was consumed by work until July, Japan again for the month of August, and since September University for the second time, so my time has been occupied, to say the least.

But, as is traditional by now, I have returned to turn my eye on the highs and lows of a very interesting year, filled as it was in mainstream culture by just about everyone famous dying and everyone else turning racist.

So, we come to the awards. Some of them will be idol-oriented. Some really won't. I won't hold back.

Twat of the Year

Normally this award goes to an idol producer. This year, it's going to go to the entirety of lifeforms known as politicians. From the catastrophe of Brexit to the inability to dispose of Trump, politicians have been fucking useless this year, giving opportunities for themselves to be backstabbed, shot in the foot and other, less pleasant options. For that reason, they all get it. Fuck politicians this year.

Best Music Video of 2016




First time in years it's not been Bowen Staines, but his effort this year, Draconian's Stellar Tombs, was let down by a very unclear plot. Instead, we get the first award of the lot for Kvelertak this year, who have been on fire. Quite literally in this video. A nice little ode to the circular nature of existence. With a triangle moon. Well, why not.

Best Photobook of 2016

None. I have been disappointed this year with the lack of good photobooks. Both the AKB groups and H!P released a few, and while there were some interesting moments in Nishino Nanase's second photobook, I was on the whole left unfulfilled. Meanwhile, in another sphere, HKT's Inoue Yuriya was breaking the mould. In her Google+ Yorimichi collections, she's racked up an impressive number of particularly amazing photoshoots. I dunno who the cameraman is (I think it might be her mother) and it's all shot on an iPhone, but that doesn't make it any less amazing. In fact, HKT are breaking the mould all over the place. Tashima Meru's even started making her own music videos. But yes, here's some of Yuriya's glorious Yorimichi from this year. Long may it continue.




















Best Picture of Dani Filth Looking Like A Spanner In 2016


He looks like someone just painted his corpse paint on a blow-up sexdoll in this picture.

Biggest Disappointment in 2016

I'm gonna go with the horrific and catastrophic loss of members from Poroporo Baroque. Before they debuted, there was Kaname Karen and Hono. Karen then left, Urara joined, then just before debut Mirumo and Miyabi joined. All good. Until I got there. In August, when I went back, I quite enjoyed them. They were playing good music.



Then, after I left, Miyabi quit. Yori joined. Urara quit. Then at the beginning of December Mirumo quit. 3 members lost in 3 months. Not a good track record. They haven't played live since Mirumo quit and I don't know what their future holds. It's a shame, as they were definitely one of the highlights of my August trip. On the other hand, I did get some good pics of them.

What The Fuck Are You Doing? Award of 2016

Momoclo. The two albums they released at the beginning of the year were, honestly, forgettable. I got as far as rating them (Amaranthus got 6.9 and Hakkin no Yoake 6.6, if you're interested), but found them so boring I couldn't be bothered to review them. In addition, The Golden History sucked. They need to give up.

Most Black Metal Video of 2016



Ricky and his dark idols from hell have surpassed themselves here. Shot in darkest Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest, we get this atmospheric and dark PV to destroy all. Of course, with Karen and Hotaru gone my reasons for enjoying them are also gone. Here's hoping Hotaru's replacement will also be a shoe-hating, mind-bending cute little typhoon of destruction.

Most Seemingly Bleak Video of 2016



Ah, Hauptharmonie, how you delight me. Despite losing half their members they've rebounded, gained a load more members, and popped up with two good little EPs and a very good album this year. This video shows the mood of the newfangled Hauptharmonie. Playful and dark. Nice.

Best Trippy Cartoon of 2016



Kvelertak, you killing it this year.

Best Incentive to Not Piss KOTO Off of 2016



Ah, KOTO. Why you so cute?

Best Genre Crash of 2016



5572320 always bring the big guns. Gotta enjoy Ebichuu's more experimental outlook. If only they could drag their big sister group back onto the crazy path. 

Luckiest White Dude Award of 2016



This guy had all of Mabokare chasing him. Lucky fuck. Glad he bites it. Shame that since they went major their song quality took a nosedive though. 

Most Unexpected Tapping Lead of 2016



My word, the intro sweeps, the prechorus tapping and dat solo. Next up, please let Hagane scream.

Why Beethoven, Fancy Seeing You And Chopin Teaming Up To Write An Idol Single of 2016



For fuck's sake Oomori Seiko. Stealing the riffs of amazing composers was always a Berryz thing!

For reference, Chopin's Revolutionary is the beginning bit, followed by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Now why can't some idol composer steal Alkan?

Best "I Wanted More Angry Angerme Dammit" But What I Got Wasn't Too Bad of 2016




Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku is the kind of song that pumps you up, and who cares about the genre. They also did a rather cool 3D version with Sadako.

Best Idol CD Purchase Perk of 2016


That's right, with Guso Drop's Mushi, if you buy one copy, you get... 4 copies? Daichi announced this trolling at last year's one-man live in Blaze, but when it actually happened people still lost their shit.

Runner up is also Guso Drop, with Gushin. Where, to take the piss even further out of idol CD purchase perks, there were 26 versions, all exactly the same with the exception of the cover, which was formed out of one of 26 posters. Limited to 1000 copies. Because fuck commercialism.

Hammond Jizz of 2016



Because fakjea. Hammonds + Hyadain song = winning. I want a Hammond only version of this song.

Best Random Guest Appearance in a PV of 2016




Why yes, that is Maina of Osaka Shunkashuuto fame in a Zekkyou PV. No, I don't know why. But it's definitely cute.

 Best Cameraman Escape From Idol Cannibals of 2016



SKE videos have always been odd, but cameraman using parkour to escape Team E is pretty funny.

Best Method of Remembering Irregular Verbs of 2016



Neru, Neru, Neru. Headbanging is the only way. Here's Neru doing the Periodic Table for dessert.

Best "Why Varg, You Never Told Me You Were Moving Into Costume Design" of 2016


Waffen-SSzaka46?

Best Drama of 2016



The girls of Keyakizaka come into school one morning and find their teacher dead. Common sense dictates you call another teacher or perhaps call the police. Not to Keyakizaka though. They decide to stuff him in a locker and play with his corpse for 12 episodes whilst trying to figure out who killed him. Creepy and cute as fuck, and utterly hilarious in a really black comedic way.

Most Crowd-Participatory PV of 2016



Considering they used the crowd call and response from the show where they recorded the PV in the actual CD recording, it's pretty effective.

Best Video of Bill Nighy Abbath Looking Like a Spanner in 2016



 Abbath begins his quest as a solo artist by doing the exact same thing he's been doing for the last 25 years. Like, every single album. Every single one of them sounds the exact same way this album does. I mean... exactly.

Best Lyrics of 2016



Talk about genius...

Most Actually Disturbing PV of 2016



Deep Girl are not my thing. A bit too overproduced and insincere for my liking. But holy fuck does this PV deliver a very in-your-face portrayal of school bullying.

Biggest TIF Failure of 2016

Tokyo Idol Festival is, as you probably know, a huge idol festival that takes over Odaiba and Aomi in Tokyo every August. It's stupidly hot, stupidly draining and annoyingly spaced far enough apart that, with queuing for certain venues and the distances involved you're almost never going to get to see everything you want to.

Last year, you may have heard that BiSH and PoP were banned due to fan behaviour. How much of that is true and how much is just Watanabe being a troll I don't know, but Cheeky Parade fans were bigger cunts last year and they didn't get banned so yea. What amuses me is that they ban jumping, lifting, crowd-surfing, moshing and stage diving, then specifically invite groups where those types of behaviours are not only common but encouraged, such as the aforementioned Watanabe groups.

Anyway, fast forward a year and TIF came prepared. In addition to their own security, they hired an army. Not a real army, but a bodyguard army. The same bodyguard army that patrol the beaches of Enoshima and Kamakura every year. They're known as BONDS, and while they're chill as fuck, they looked like suntanned bodybuilders instead of bouncers. Suffice to say they were badly outmatched by the hordes of wota. In the Keyakizaka performance the crowd weren't happy with how far back from the stage they were being made to stand (understandable, as basically every other live was up to the actual barricade), so they decided to take matters into their own hands (quite literally) and move the temporary barricades forwards. Wota 1-0 Bonds.

Later, when it was again time for two groups renowned for somewhat outrageous fans, Bellring Shoujo Heart and Passcode, BONDS moved to get their revenge.

As you can see, the lifting in particular was pretty epic from both groups. I was stood just outside the main mass, and the amount of people BONDS dragged fighting and screaming out of it was kinda weird. Some were bleeding. One girl was yelling that the guy had touched her inappropriately.

It didn't get much better. On the third day, even the Babyraids fans were getting in on the act and launching glowsticks like fireworks, so probably next year they'll be banned as well. Even so, to most of the non-pinchike wota BONDS went down as heroes. I was kinda sat on the fence for the whole thing. They were chill enough during the day, but probably because of that during the night they were vicious fuckers. Hopefully next year they'll invite bouncers who intimidate rather than actually assault people. Less annoying.

Best Wota of 2016

Honestly, can't stray from my gut on this one. There are two groups of wota that are so win it's unbelievable. Guso Drop's Guushin are the guys I've spent the most time with, and they're all chill as fuck, though slightly mental. The drinking is fun, the lives are fun, the look of embarassment when members of Ryuuketsu Blizzard get naked in front of some of them... When I went back in August they were still there and still awesome. Never change guys.

Second group is Zekkyou's F. No matter where you go in Japan they're welcoming and friendly. Whenever I go to Aichi for Zekkyou on their home turf I know hardly anyone but despite that everyone still doesn't mind a random foreigner chilling with them. In Tokyo, where I do know a lot of them, hanging out and having random drinking adventures is also always really fun, especially when it involves Hamada, Zekkyou themselves, and I love you Orchestra and Geekstreeks. Best drinking parties ever.

So yea, will be seeing them all again in July, with luck. Fakjea.

Top 10 Albums of 2016

So, bit of a cop out and this is actually 11, because #10 and #11 got the same score. Can't choose between them so fuck it. And whilst last year I did only idol albums, this year it's back to standard practice. If it's good, it's here.

10=. Necronomidol - Nemesis


Song picks: Skulls in the Stars, Lamina Maledictum, Puella Tenebrarum, Sarnath

So, Necroma finally released their first album, and my it's pretty damn sexy. From the black metal wanderings of Atai no Tsumeato and Nayanezgani to the Darkwave Ambience of Skulls in the Stars, NWOBHM of Lamina Maledictum and even some creepy assed ballads, it's all here. Hotaru's mind breaking on Sarnath is also fun.



8.2/10

10=. Devin Townsend Project - Transcendence


Song picks: Stormbending, Transcendence, From the Heart

Devin is back from the relative failure that was Z² and he's all the better for it. Glorious atmospheres and heavy guitars intertwine with Devin's voice and that of Anneke van Giersbergen to make it even more sexy. It's still not up there with the original Ziltoid or his SYL stuff, but it's easily better than Sky Blue or Epicloud.



8.2/10

9. Alcest - Kodama


Song picks: Kodama, Eclosion, Oiseaux De Proie

With Kodama, Alcest have recovered from the somewhat pop sensibility that came over them with Shelter. While even that was a good album, it lacked some of the edge for which Alcest was known as "blackgaze" instead of plain old "shoegaze". In taking inspiration from Mononokehime and other Japanese legends here, Neige gets his act together and goes back to weaving light and darkness with deft strokes. Almost a timely hearken back to Écailles de Lune.



8.6/10

8. Kobushi Factory - Kobushi Sono Ichi


Song picks: Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta, Kenmei Blues, Survivor, Go To The Top!!

What's this? I hear you ask. Krv is picking a Hello! Project album in the top ten? What is going on? What drugs has he taken? Well, none. Kobushi's first album is big. Let's face it, it has 17 tracks and 7 covers on a second disc. To keep my attention for that many tracks... well, you may have seen how that went down with a few AKB albums in the past... Despite that, Kobushi have managed it. No Tsunku? Not a problem. They've worked with some H!P composers and arrangers new and old (Sakura Night Fever was originally a KAN song, who used to do a lot of Manoeri, and DanceMan of basically every amazing Morning Musume track from 1999, 2000 and 2001 arranged it; Hyadain's got a track on here as well) and have come up with an album that has an identity, something recent H!P albums have struggled with. Not that many have been released of late... Even so, Kobushi's positioning as the "new" Berryz mixed with rock influences and hints of everything else gives them the base to make this thing pretty damn good. More plz.

 
(Hammond needs to be higher in the mix though).

8.7/10

7. Haken - Affinity


Song picks: Initiate, 1985, Earthrise, The Endless Knot

Rare to see Haken this far down a top ten list, but after The Mountain it really was gonna be hard for them to rescale those heights. Instead, they gave us something completely different with Affinity, which is basically inspired to hell and back by the 80s with a smattering of 8-string guitars. Proggy as hell, and filled with numerous shout outs to precursors in all genres, everyone's performing on top of their game, and the only reason it isn't higher is the fact that The Mountain was so amazing I can't help but think what could have been had they continued to reach new heights in that direction. Better end these mountain puns now before I get pushed off a cliff...


(Picked this video over Initiate because of Ross's weird dancing)

8.8/10

6. Hauptharmonie - Herz über Kopf


Song picks: BUDDY, Parallel Warp, Alice in Abyss, Old Gaffer's Confession, Lady Far East, Kokuou

Hauptharmonie amaze me. One year after their first (amazing) album, comes another. Despite losing most of their members, hiring a few more, changing their entire wardrobe and seemingly forgetting to include shoes in the shopping list, starting to perform in bikinis, going on hiatus for a month and then adding even more members... what a year for them. The album starts as the last one left off, with ska, adult-oriented dark pop and rock, and crazy. This time they add blues for gloriousness. Buddy, especially, revels in its dirty 12-bar blues form as it gives shoutouts to other idol groups. Everything on this album is sexy. Even Old Gaffer's Confession, which is the most brutal and simultaneously fun thing they've ever done. Lady Far East makes its reappearance after being on the Japanische Madchen Ska EP ages ago. Kokuou isn't even an idol song, just sexy jazz. Haupt amaze me. They should amaze you too.


(Have a full live to be cool).

9/10

5. Babymetal - Metal Resistance


Song picks: Awadama Fever, Yava!, Syncopation, Sis. Anger, Tales of the Destinies

So, Babymetal's sophomore album surprised many by not only being more metal than its predecessor, but also more willing to experiment with diverse realms within it. Whilst Amore and Road of Resistance are pretty straightforward speed power metal, Metataro is some kind of folk metal parody abomination and Tales of the Destinies is prog as fuck. From Dusk Till Dawn is somewhat trip-hoppy, and Sis. Anger is pretty blatantly brutal techdeath. Almost makes me wonder if they got some inspiration from somewhere... On the other hand, The One and No Rain, No Rainbow are pretty meh, and Karate could have been better, but on the whole they've got a bit better since the debut, though it still gets the same mark. Their lives are also a lot more boring now they've blown up. Went to Wembley in April, had people all around me filming shitty video on their phones the entire gig and getting pissed off if I started moshing. Also the DJ was shit. I still think they should use their position as de facto head of the idol metal scene to do some good, like invite Fruitpochette or some other groups on tour with them. Oh well.



9.1/10

4. Kvelertak - Nattesferd


Song picks: 1985, Nattesferd, Berserkr, Heksebrann, Nekrodamus

Kvelertak is back and once more, the main problem with this album is that it doesn't feature Suck My Glock. That's three albums since the demo and it's still not out. Dammit. Anyway, once again Kvelertak give a sexy slice of black metal, heavy metal, punk, rock and roll, or whatever it is at any given time. 1985 is a different song to the Haken one, luckily. We get two great 80s inspired records this year. Some of the fuzz on this album is amazing. The whole feel of this album is just fun, but it keeps it a bit more restrained than on the previous two albums, allowing the musicianship and more drug-hazed music to shine through a little more.



9.2/10

3. Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole of the Law


Song picks: Depravity Favours The Bold, We Will Fucking Kill You, In Flagrante Delicto, On Being A Slave

Anaal Nathrakh have discovered how to make ruthless aggression beautiful. They haven't slowed down for 15 years, and why should they? The brutal mixture of The Berzerker and Thorns, you get deathgrind and industrial black metal heated with cynicism and performed with utmost scorn. Your digestive tract cannot cope with the onslaught of Anaal Nathrakh. Still, it's beautiful. In the same way as getting your throat ripped out by a savage animal.



9.4/10

2. Myrath - Legacy


Song picks: Get Your Freedom Back, Nobody's Lives, The Needle, Endure The Silence,

So, Myrath are back after the long (5 year) wait since Tales of the Sands. And holy shit is it worth the wait. For those who don't know, Myrath are a Tunisian progressive metal band. This gives them an interesting look on the Arabian melodies prog groups sometimes appropriate, and gives them the ability to contain entire songs in these modes and keys. In this album, we go epic. This album is similar in style to Orphaned Land, only being Arabic instead of Israeli, but the genre is basically the same, odd considering Orphaned Land came from Black Metal and Myrath from a Power Metal direction. Still, this album is a modern as hell thing. And that's not bad. Imagine Symphony X meeting a North African folk band and you're there. Kinda. Still, fantastic album.



9.5/10

1. Ihsahn - Arktis.


Song picks: All of them.

Ihsahn has done it again. Just when I think he can't one-up himself yet again, he just... does it. This is at times the heaviest thing he's done since Emperor, and also the least heavy thing he's done since Peccatum. Taking all of the experimentation he did on Das Seelenbrechen, and focusing it down into an artform. Despite disparate genres on display (Disassembled is Ihsahn as Ihsahn gets, Mass Darkness has Matt Heafy as a guest, My Heart Is Of The North is basically Opeth, South Winds is a triphop/metal crossover, In The Vaults has a heavy dose of atmospherics and tension and has a bit which could be Ayreon, Until I Too Dissolve is just so heavy metal it's kinda funny, Pressure is an Emperor song, Frail is a joyful little number with acoustic guitars, weird synths and pianos, Crooked Red Line has Sexy Saxman Saxogram Jørgen Munkeby Sexing His Sexy Sax All Over The Place, and Celestial Violence channels some Enslaved of all people), the album works perfectly. Glorious.



9.8/10

Best of 2017

So before I go, I'm going to make some wide ranging predictions about 2017 and what I think will be amazing. Also what will suck.

1. Ayreon.

So, Arjen has got the band back together. In a big way. Not only is he releasing the 8th Ayreon album, which goes back to the original storyline and avoids the somewhat weird Theory of Everything spinoff, he's got a range of old and new guests lined up, including Floor Fucking Jansen, Michael Fucking Mills, Hansi Fucking Kursch, Tommy Fucking Karevik and Russell Fucking Allen. Also he's got Guthrie Govan and Paul Gilbert doing guitar solos. Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngh. If that wasn't enough, he's doing the first ever Ayreon live shows, 3 nights in a row in Tilburg, NL. With 16 singers. Unfortunately they all sold out long before I had a chance to buy. Dammit. Still. Ayreon. Fakjea!

2. Emperor.

Why it's the 20th Anniversary of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. After Emperor had so much success touring for the 20th anniversary of In The Nightside Eclipse, why wouldn't they do it again for Anthems? Well, they are. And it will be amazing. It always is.

3. AKB Finally Lose To Nogizaka.

It's gonna happen. Nogizaka are gaining on AKB with every single CD release. When it happens and all the AKB wota are sat in a corner crying, remember your pain and sink into the dark side of H!P fan-like passive aggression.

4. Akercocke.

Akercocke are back. Next year they will release a new album. Based on this evidence, it could be epic.



5. Saki leaving Guso Drop to focus on 2&.

Saki's voice has been suffering of late and so she's decided to step back from Guso Drop and focus on 2&. With new music coming from her next year, it could well turn out to be a good choice. Meanwhile, Guso Drop adds 3 new members on January 4th and I'm interested to see what will happened there.

6. Zekkyousuru 60do album with I love you Orchestra.

Now this should be interesting. Zekkyou play normally with 6% Is Mine, and now Montero and Kai have side-projects (with Kai being semi-involved in Montero's). But a joint release with progressive free jazz rock band I love you Orchestra could be a new horizon for them.

7. Trump launches a nuclear war in association with Israel and wipes out the Middle East. Meanwhile China invades Taiwan, North Korea launches missiles at everyone, and Trump, overwhelmed in the Middle East, lacks sufficient resources or inclination to come to the aid of actual democracies in East Asia, leading to WW3.

Because he's a cunt.

And on that downer, it's time to say goodbye. Hopefully I'll blog next year a little more.
So, at the end of this year which has seen me blog basically nothing, I somehow have decided to create a year in review to encapsulate everything.

Obviously, living in Japan means rather than being able to sit and review things I'm usually out doing things, so that's counted against me this year. So to has the fact that I think I've only actually listened to one non-idol album released this year. Not good.

So, to get this underway...

Biggest Twat of 2015

So, this year, being inundated in the underground as much as I am, it's gonna have to be someone in that field. I'll give it to Seiji. If you haven't heard, Alice Project's manager/producer/whatever got embroiled in many, many scandals. Disturbing scandals. It came to light that Steam Girls member Karen's death last September was probably suicide. There were claims of members being forced into sexual service, plus the obvious fact that many were being paid very little.

Many members quit in light of these scandals, and the man himself has disappeared since. Kamen Joshi went from getting a ridiculously high selling single to all but disappearing from the mainstream in the space of months. Many of their long-time fans quit. In light of this I'm not surprised Alice is on a downward spiral. I was kind of tempted to go to Nanaka's birthday just out of nostalgia, but I didn't. It seems like flogging a dead horse.

Alice Project is dead. It's just not stopped moving yet.

Best Music Video of 2015



Bowen Staines. Need I say more? Everything the man touches is magic.

Best Photobook of 2015

Never honestly thought I'd do this.








It's like they hired a professional photographer for a change. Only taken them 11 photobooks.

Biggest Disappointment of 2015

Honestly, Lolisyn. It was all going so well, then in the space of maybe one month it all went shit. At the one-man show in May, they performed so many new songs that no one knew what to do. They were also completely different in style. I tried getting behind it. I failed. Since then I've seen Lolisyn maybe twice. The first time they failed at going to France. The second time they had 7 fans. Since then they've been to America, but now they've announced that second gen is leaving. I can only hope they go onto something better.


Longest Short PV of 2015



Mugen Regina are an adult, actressy kind of idol group. Their music is also pretty much on the metal end of the spectrum, and sometimes they like going rather proggy in their direction. I think I'd like it more if it weren't just 5 riffs repeated in different orders for the 12 minute duration of the song, but the short version PV is 9 minutes long which I think is slightly non sequitur.


Best 80s Throwback PV of 2015



KOTO is fun. I keep meaning to review her album and I just... can't. I know I'll give it a bad rating. I love it but I'll give it a bad rating. Dammit. Her dancing so fun.


Best Genre Crash of Idols in 2015



Now, metal in idols is big now. We can all see that. The whole Kawaii Metal thing has exploded what with the mainstream press attention lavished upon Babymetal, and some other groups have been getting some exposure recently (more on that later), but... Doom Metal? Really? nIo were always kind of on the cutting edge, helping to introduce crazier ideas into other idol groups (including stage crashing at times). But they're from Ishikawa, which despite the new Shinkansen isn't exactly the best location you'd think for idols. Being a subgroup of Oyayubi Princess is also kind of weird. Either way, I kind of dig the song. Channels Pentagram like hell. I love some old Doom.


Most Morbid PV of 2015



Well, cannibalism. Yay.


Most Manly Man In An Idol Group of 2015


Rei would kill Ladybeard in a fight. That's actually a deathmatch I want to see. Also Rei's growls are better. 

Most Fruitless Way To Raise Your Wage



They've already taken you to NYC and LA to film the PV, don't push your luck.

Still a better gimmick than Death Rabbits though. And their songs are better.

Biggest CD Release of 2015


Yes, that is a CD in an LP sleeve. No, I don't know why.


Best Picture of Dani Filth Looking Like A Spanner of 2015



Best Baseball Batting Instruction Video of 2015



Aaaaaah, MONTERO!

Best Ronnie James Dio Impersonation of 2015




Holy fuck, Maina. You got some pipes.

Also mad props for the Bathtime parody.

Most Accessible Idol Group of 2015




I mean in terms of being open, friendly and normal, not the music, which is pretty damn challenging if you just listen to idol pop. I dunno if anyone has heard of Necronomidol, but they're pretty chill. They do many shows with punk and metal bands, their members are all pretty nuts (Sari wears corpsepaint, Hotaru doesn't wear shoes often, Karen is often doing more wotagei than dancing), and their manager is an American with a huge beard. That certainly makes participating in their lives and buppan a hell of a lot easier if you speak no Japanese. They also have basically the most liberal "rules" in the idol world. There's no love ban rule, they're not really banned from doing anything that's not outright illegal. Also at buppan you can basically talk to them until the queue gets big enough for Ricky to bother moving you. Chekis are also ridiculously cheap at 500 yen. Honestly, even though I have groups I like musically more, Necronomidol are definitely always worth sticking around for or going early for if they're on. Or going at midnight, as I did at the weekend. Dammit.

Most Metal Album Artwork of 2015

  

Necronomidol's artwork is always amazing too. Though this is a single rather than an album.
 

Easiest Song To Thundersnake To of 2015

Thundersnake being the wotagei move.



That chorus is just made for it. Also well done ANGERME for finally unleashing your inner anger.


Best Ankle Breaking Dance Move of 2015



I'm surprised and awed that none were hospitalised.

Most Amazingly Non-Sucky English in an Idol Song of 2015



I'm surprised. It actually sounds like English instead of Engrish. Let's leave aside the multiple problems with trying to fit English lyrics into a Japanese melody and just appreciate the effort they made.

Worst Idol Experience of 2015

Has to be Angerme. Went to their release event for the above single, waited in the rain to see a pretty shit performance, then for the handshakes had to go through a ridiculous amount of security, all for 0.002 seconds of interaction. My first H!P experience in Japan, and probably my last. Even 9nine don't fuck over fans that much.

Biggest Idol Surprise of 2015

That Hiroro and Cha-pon from 9nine still remember my name, despite going nearly a year without seeing them, and then a good 6 months. As for Umika... well. She was mildly less frigid than the Antarctic.

Most Experimental AKB Song in a Long Assed Time of 2015



Team 8 are cute. But this has some crazy guitars, weird synths, strange vocal melodies and everything. I'm actually even nearly finding myself liking it.

Most Epic Song of 2015
Most Psychedelic Video of 2015



Oh, Ebichuu. I love this song. I love this video. And it's all for a biscuit commercial. Why can't they be this good at doing their own stuff?


Most Photogenic Idol Group of 2015



Maboroshi Karen GeNE. Only two of their four members but I've not taken pictures of the other two. But these two are really good. Kanami (top one) is tiny and she has a really fun way of acting at both buppan and during photoshoots. She's just chill. Yumino (bottom) is the leader and she's really down-to-earth and easy to talk to. Also she's really good at getting exactly the right pose at exactly the right time, which means I get many more usable photos from much less time.


Top 5 Idol Albums of 2015

As I've not listened to much outside idol music this year, I'm just doing idol albums for a change. And there have been some good ones. Also, despite me loving the Guso Drop disc, it's only got 6 tracks and the length is firmly in EP territory so I'm disqualifying it from the running. If I hadn't it'd be second.


5. Passpo - Beef or Chicken?


When you just really need a happy, cheerful slice of decent to good pop-rock, Passpo deliver. They follow the same kind of formula as usual, but spice it up with some more harder numbers, including American thrash inspired stuff (Not in Theory, Fake), some slower ballad rock that turns into punk (向日葵), actual upbeat pop (Shiny Road), an experimental in mixing dance beats and heavy guitars (High Tension Emotion), and kinda folky funky something (Fairy Tale). Some of the guitar solos are also pretty good. The girls all blend into each other as usual. I've honestly never had any interest in learning who the members of Passpo are. Still, the album is a good little ride. 7.8

4. Passcode - All is Vanity



I've already reviewed this so you can't be too surprised. They impressed me at TIF and I've not seen them since. But the album was a highly toxic, brutal journey through the realms of EDM, Punk, Thrash, and Digital Hardcore. Honestly not much to complain about except what I've previously mentioned. They replaced one of their members. I'm not sure which one. I'm not sure it really matters. Oh well. Still, worth a listen. 8.2

3. Fruitpochette - The Crest of Evil


That is one sexy cover. Fruitpochette released their debut album this year and basically eliminated 90% of their "core" and focused entirely on metal, which was to the good. This album punches hard, but backs it up with good instrumentals, good vocals, and decent production. The style is pretty consistent throughout, but there are some standout moments, notably the entire song of Paradox which is basically guitar sex. There are some more experimental moments that play with synths and acoustic guitars. All around good album. 8.8

2. Hauptharmonie - Hauptharmonie


Hauptharmonie confuse me. Their songs are basically divided into three categories. 1) Post-rock which has some kind of indie sensibilities. 2) Dark, classy adult songs, most of which are ballads. 3) Ska. The third one is the one that originally got me into them but that this album takes all of these diverse styles, presents them alongside each other and still somehow manages to come out with a coherent album is amazing. It starts off in the indie rock/post-rock mode, with some really good songs. Then we move onto a brief ska interlude with Tempting 10 Attempts of Temperance. I love ska. Then we go into dark adult mode for a song, before returning to post-rock with Ictus of Sun, another gorgeous little song. The next two songs fuse the two genres, before we get Bou, the most dirty little seedy song ever. It just oozes sex. The guitars and bass intertwine with piano and the vocals to produce something that sends shivers up your spine. We continue in the kind of adult rock kind of mode for a few more songs, then hit Nikolaus Knopp Platz, a ska-tinged ode to the Japanese cluster in Dusseldorf where their producer used to live. After this we have the slightly more straightforward ska Discovery Kataisi, which is sexy as a really sexy thing. Then, Caterwaul. It screams, it wails, it's ska metal and jazz all together and I love it. After reaching climax it's like the warm glow aftermath with Her Herb's Harvest, and it all ends in glorious lesbianism with Love Likes a Mille-Feuille. Great album. 9.1

1. 2& - Live Idol Artist


It had to happen. 2015 was the year that an idol album finally did what no other idol album had ever done. It made me give it a ten. Seriously, this album has no filler, no wasted seconds, no extraneous shit, no bad moments. This is basically a little diamond that's not been polished to oblivion. It has rough edges, but they add to its charm rather than detract from it. The whole album is beautiful, and with Saki releasing her first new song in nearly a year in February, I'm looking forward very much to where she goes from here. 10


So, next one I'm gonna review is Passcode's All is Vanity, because it's the one that most recently came into my possession. Also because I went to a fuckload of boring shit at Tokyo Idol Festival and after missing 3 of their four sets, Passcode did something good and amazed me.

Usually when I see Passcode it's crammed into a very small venue (Shinjuku Holiday, which is fine for the stuff I usually go to see but strangely when Passcode appear so do lots of fans), but luckily when I saw them this time it was in Zepp Diver City. With about 2000 people. On the other hand Zepp is rather larger (like, 25 times larger) than Holiday, and Holiday probably had about 200 people in it. So this time was quite relaxing by comparison. Also despite the constant death threats and brutality from event security about crowd-surfing, moshing, jumping and lifting, (PoP got banned from the second day because of it) all of these happened during PassCode and the security did fuck all. How weird.

Anyway, to the review.


Preamble: No idols, no real indication of it being an idol album. Definitely doesn't look anything like a metal cover. Looks similar to what those big assed Ministry of Sound compilations look like, with the title usually exploding through something.

Explosions are good.

1. Toxic. There is a technique in recording called the Wall of Sound. This is not it, though at first listen it does seem as if you're being blasted from all sides. This is called Loudness War. And thus, your ears bleed. So techno-y at the start. Then a nice little hook into the main verse. Guitars are pretty good. Vocals are vocodered to all shit. Chorus is still loudness war to fuck. Post chorus has less of the synths and more guitars so doesn't suffer as much, but it's all quite loud. Then after second verse we get instrumental break, techno break and screaming. The whole concept of structure has disappeared. Prechorus only before second chorus. Strange. Some thrash metal pop to end. Damn short. 7/10











2. 激動プログレッシブ. 


Nice and calm to start with, quite children's song-esque and then YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH. Yea, that's Passcode. Techno-lead guitar-heavy pop. Some blastbeats in the verse, which is fun. This unison is grating. Preprechorus sounds megaphoned. Prechorus is nice and soft again, with some solo parts. Chorus mixes nice and evil sort of, with understandable vocals and smashed to brutality music. Post-chorus has some more screaming and sort of a rap. Then dance track with vocoding. Then breakdown. Or drop. Not sure what to call it. It has both metalcore and dubstep elements. Then another verse. Then preprechorus with no tune. Luckily prechorus and chorus save me. Interesting but not amazing. 7/10


3. Kissの花束. What do you mean a perfectly normal pop song? This reminds me (heavily) Himekyun's Koi no Prison. Just, you know, with good recording quality and more blastbeats. The acoustic guitars are nice. The solo vocal parts are nice. The blending of acoustic and electric guitars are nice. The basslines are exquisite. This is actually a pretty nice song. Chorus is nice and calming. Seems strange the more I like a song the less I write about it. Mid-8 has chiptune! Cute chiptune. And banging beats. And sexy basslines. And screaming. Of course. Shame that Passcode's screaming seems a little stripped of humanity, sounds too similar to screamo vocals instead of the metal equivalent. Still, a damn good little song. 10/10

4. Club Kids Never Die. And now we're starting with the chiptune. And big guitars. And some chanted vocals. The synth riffs in Passcode are so hyperspeed sometimes. The verse here is sexy as hell. The riffs and vocals intertwine really well. The prechorus is really short, and the chorus is... well, amazing. Half-speed, big hook, pianos playing through the background. Then screaming. Blastbeat section. Scream battle section. Then breakdown. This is more metalcore so it's a breakdown. Not a bad one. Then more screaming. Chorus makes its glorious return. I love this. Really love it. 10/10

5. XYZ.


Firstly, the PV is rather entertaining in a completely surreal way so I do suggest you check it out. Once more, techno metal (or core) is the way forward, this time with a Southern Metal riff to back it up. Verse has a nice pattern, but the vocal melodies aren't particularly interesting. Prechorus is where it picks up. Some fun. Then the chorus is once again fun. Some synths up top to keep things bright, guitars doing stuff.  Vocals not too bad. Post-chorus has some screaming, which is nice. Second time is pretty similar. Then suddenly some kind of trap music starts. Then insanity. Mid-8 is very good. Chiptune buildup chorus is a nice twist on the trope, especially with chipmonked vocals. Intriguing... but highly disturbing. 9/10

6. Let the revelry begin. Normal rock song? No synths at the beginning. Oooh, nice riff, second one. Then normal rock for verse, with nice vocal melodies. Seems to be mixing influences of Southern Metal and NWOBHM. Good idea. This whole run from start to end of second chorus is perfect. Mixing the genres back and forth. Slight use of vocoding in it, but it's Passcode. Mid-8 is quite nice too, with a sexy bass. Buildup is cool too, but not that far removed from normal. Damn shweet little song. 10/10


7. over there.


Another rock song, this one with a heavy bass again. Kind of ballad-y. Or just slow. More good riffs, and good vocal melodies make this a good one. Chorus is another blinder. These chorus writers are amazing. All of them have been pretty damn good. If only all the verses and stuff were amazing too. What's this? A solo! z0mg! A sexy solo with lots of listenability too. I like. Nothing wrong with this. 10/10


8. アスタリスク.


More cute music. Then screaming and metalcore. Good metalcore though. The riff during the verse is pretty complex. I like it. Also then after the verse is another screaming break. Prechorus is nice and cutesy and has a sexy piano in it. Chorus has synths back, and once again it's a godly chorus. Then a breakdown. True breakdown. Then synths. Then mid-8? Or something. And now for something completely different. Screaming raps. Now a solo on a shakuhachi. And Koto. Then chorus. What the fuck just happened? 9/10

9. Seize the day!! Some more straight up rock here. Sounds good. Until... synths! Guitar driven synthpop is back. And then the verse drops the synths again. So odd. Prechorus has a nice feel. Chorus is, guess what, damn good. May as well just stop saying it. Mid-8 is once again pretty happy and sweet, with some nice beats dragging it along. Guitar solo! Woooo! Nice one too. Buildup chorus takes a loooooooooong pause, so much that I think the song ends there. But they be trolling and they finish with a chorus and outro. How... normal. 9/10



10. Link. Another poppy guitar-piano song. Reminds me of Twinklestars, this one actually. Straight up happiness. Verse starts with just piano and vocals. Some funky guitars and bass drive this upwards, quite high. Chorus is cute as fuck and I love it. Second verse slow down like hell and then buildups up and down, then up and zooms into second chorus. Piano solo! Sexy as hell. Very swing jazz. Then, buildup with guitar leads, and strings help buildup chorus sexy time. 10/10

Overall: I do like PassCode. I like the idea, which is to meld really heavy techno to really heavy guitars and see what happens. They also have good ballads and pop-rock songs which makes them stand out against Fruitpochette and Babymetal who tend to stick with one thing and ride with it. As I said the thing with the screams is a kind of annoyance. There are two girls who scream in the group but I can't tell which of them is doing it at any given time. If you compare and contrast to Guso Drop, the only other group I know where two girls scream, they're both wildly different. They also inject more voice into their screams, but that comes down to Rei being death metal, Saki being kind of thrash metal, and the two Passcode girls being screamo.

8.2/10
So, this is something I've been needing to do for about two years, but I've got like loads idol albums to review. This isn't really a good situation, because some of them are fucking good, and some of them are fucking terrible, and I want to tell people how good or shit they are.

Obviously, last time I reviewed an album I gave it 10. I still stand by it. So the next "album" (it's an EP, actually), is by the same agency and same producer, and one of the same idols. But with 4 extra idols.

It's also a completely different style.

I will now list the albums I need to review because holy shit there are a fuckton of them and I need to remind myself of the gravity of the task facing me.

Bellring Shoujo Heart - Undo the Union
Cheeky Parade - Cheeky Parade I
Denpagumi.inc - WWDD
FRUITPOCHETTE - Shippu Jinrai (EP)
FRUITPOCHETTE - The Crest of Evil
Hauptharmonie - Hauptharmonie
Himekyun Fruits Can - Jounetsu Emotion
Himekyun Fruits Can - Lightning Princess
KOTO - Platonic Planet
nanoCUNE - Tenjou Yuuen
9nine - Magi9 Playground
Party Rockets - Triangle
Passcode - All is Vanity
PASSPO - Jejejejet!!!
PASSPO - Beef or Chicken
Sakura Gakuin - 2013 Kizuna
Sakura Gakuin - 2014 Kimi ni Todoke
Tsubasa Fly - Black and White
Tsuki to Taiyou - 2014 (EP)
Yuikaori - Bunny

Oh shit.


We'll see eh.

So first up...

Preamble: The packaging for this is utterly insane. It's LP sized, which is all well and good if it's an LP. It's a CD. The CD is stuck to the middle of an LP-shaped and sized piece of card that has all the lyrics and liner notes on it. Really weird idea. Takes up a lot of space. Crazy.

1. Level.



Level is a cool song. It starts with techno synths and a buildup of terror, and then the djenty as fuck guitars hit you and everything goes chaotic all at once. This is brutal. The vocals aren't amazing, because the member prefer fucking things up than singing most of the time. Obviously, in the prechorus where Saki sings the level jumps up a lot. Then screaming. From Saki. Chorus is pretty nice, actually, with more screaming. Post-chorus has a really strange part of "look my [body part]" which ends with brains. Then Rei gets in on the screaming, adding a new dimension (Rei's growls are more death metal to Saki's more higher pitched thrash metal screaming). Then rap. Too many genres. Little break with Anna monologue before chorus. Lyrics are pretty funny. All in all, damn good song.
10/10

2. 別に上手じゃなくていいじゃん、たかが音楽なんだから。ねぇ?…刺女△. The song title roughly translates to "It Don't Matter Even If it Ain't Done Well, Because It's Only Music. Right?... Thorn Woman." in case you were wondering. Again, more techno beats from the start, then enter guitars. I can't listen to this song without hearing the wotagei anymore. Dammit. The vocals are still interestingly not amazing, but the music, despite the title is actually quite good. Prechorus just consists of "Toge Onna, oh yay!" Next bit also quite short on lyrics, but very good. Next section once again to Rei-chan fucking the shit out of your ears with death vocals. Then chorus, with some lyrics and a bit of screaming. Then a post-chorus breakdown with slowing down guitars and evil. Ultimately this is a good song and the title is rather redundant.
9/10

3. slow RAIN@東京. Glow umbrellas. That's all you need to know. Fucking glow umbrellas. This is a ballad, ostensibly, but it's a Guso Drop ballad, meaning that it's all wall-of-sound guitars and sexy ambiances. The guitars are sexy as hell. Vocals actually take centre stage here, with all of them trying. Obviously Saki is the best, Yura tries her best, and well... yea. It's a nice change of pace in the EP and in concerts. At least, it stops everyone killing each other for a while. Obviously, it wouldn't be Guso Drop without screaming, so Rei does some before second verse. After second verse, no chorus, there's a ピチピチちゃぷちゃぷらんらん coming in. Everyone gets in a circle and yells it. It's very nice. Community spirit and all that. Then Saki screams. Yea. It's that kind of group. Last chorus sounds nice on the recording. Usually it's just screaming. Yea.
10/10

4. 反抗期熊さんボコボコparadise!! Ah, Kumaboko. Again, brutal guitars. Two-stepping intro with some ska-feel. SKA METAL! Verse has like the only member call in Guso Drop songs (AAAAAAAH! SAKI-CHAN!) after she finishes singing. Usually doesn't happen. Lots of headbanging and two-stepping parts. And then the chorus, which usually involves about 20 people crowdsurfing along with a giant teddy bear which just got murdered recently. It's not bad musically either. After second chorus there's an interesting minimalist (for Guso Drop) with just drums and one guitar riff, which then builds with vocals and bass, then a second harmonising guitar, as the girls look for the teddy bear. Then it usually comes to the stage. Then one of them kills it, with Anna usually screaming in its face. No wonder it's dead. Very energetic and fun song. Even if you usually die.
9/10

5. Level6. So, this is what happens when you Level up. Basically a sequel to Level, it features a Pink-Floyd-esque tape loop of Level before Level 6 starts. Then really brutal guitars. MIX in this is English then Iescraper mix. Weird, I know. Guitars are brutal. I wanna know what pedals Daichi used. Obviously, pre-chorus we get Saki screaming. Chorus is really nice. It isn't often I get to appreciate it, I'm usually being killed in a moshpit. Post-chorus is Anna monologue, which is disturbing as usual. Then headbanging and Shion usually starts spitting water at everyone. Then panic mode with Yura singing. Then comes, honestly, the most glorious thing in idol music. A screaming battle between Saki and Rei. Saki usually rides around the crowd on someone's shoulders and Rei usually takes a baseball bat and kills someone's knees so she can stand on them. The screaming is good. I love this shit.
10/10

6. ド田舎PUNK擬女.



And now for something completely different. Just, you know, a little punk song in the middle of the djentstepdeathtrance. Ultimately it's not a bad punk song. The vocals are suitably poorly sung. Ultimately I think it's the worst song on the EP, but that's only because the others are pretty damn good. It's a good dose of punk and does its job. There are slow bits and fast bits, lots of D-beats and interesting stuff. It's also the longest song on the EP by some measure, which is strange for a punk song. Also, there's whistling because they probably couldn't think of any lyrics. Rei always stagedives near the end. Still, nice way to end.
8/10

Overall:

Honestly, in the past nearly 6 months I've been to maybe 40 or 50 Guso Drop shows. The songs haven't changed all that much. They've recently added Hirari, Hirahira, which is amazing. They also apparently have performed 『I(∵)L』 (pronounced IDOL) when I wasn't there, and have another two tracks, Tearing Teens and a new one called Bousou Shoujo written by Goto Mariko waiting in the wings. You'd think I'd have overdosed on hearing pretty much the same 7 songs that many times, but it doesn't seem that way. Still, I do want them to perform some more new stuff soon.

Anyway, good EP. Try it. You might enjoy it.

9.3/10