Review Backlog Clearout #2: Passcode - All is Vanity

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.


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