The 69 of 2014

Review

by Leela McMullen, chi.yow, Aki, Amy, posted January 1, 2015

AlbumsSingles

amber gris – across the blow

In 2014, amber gris followed up their maxi single release with a mini album, across the blow. This is a release consisting of six songs, each packed with the distinctive atmosphere amber gris boast—though listeners familiar with this band may be surprised by the style thy have chosen to experiment with in across the blow.

The mini album begins with the unusual opener, “different of stain.” The song starts with a striking storming of instruments proceeded by a melodious note in the contrast of temari’s clean vocals. The alternation of strong versus mellow continues throughout the number, escalating with the layered vocals.

The next song, “Circus ga tsureteyuku,” starts with jazzy bass and a unique guitar sound with marching drums that evoke the ambiance of a circus, a theme further encouraged in the lyrics. Even so, there is an overall aspect of melancholy to the tune. On the other hand, playfulness may be a good word to describe “Fuzoroi no cutlery” which features an intoxicating guitar intro to lure listeners in. The fun is in the winding, distorted guitars that can be heard throughout the song yet temari utilizes a sensual tone which would not have been applied to his vocals in the past, putting the final touch on this addictive music.

While the previous two numbers were written by wayne, next come the gentler, cleaner stylings of kaname, complete with catchy melodies. Distributed via iTunes previous to this release, “from mouth” is the representative song of this album with a music video to promote it. It’s a good show of amber gris’ newest style, expressing the new while retaining the old in its foundations. It starts with clean guitar arpeggios but that calm is lost in the gradually rising speed as the main melody flows dramatically. Even so, amber gris’ main virtue is in their ballads and “The sad things” stills the mini album with a its opening guitar. Completing the wistful tone, temari’s lengthened vocals give a strong impression as the instruments quietly play in the background.

The final track may be surprising to fans of amber gris as “alone≠” rushes in with massive energy of speeding drums and guitars. Though that stormy introduction kicks things off unexpectedly, the main portion of the song is comprised of melodious sections that link through to the primary melody in which those rushing instruments revive. The challenging repetition of that contract develops throughout the number, making it a heavy and satisfying conclusion to the release.

While they continue to pursue a specific basic style, amber gris’ passion to experiment can be felt in these songs. As a whole, across the blow brings new expectations to the table for this band who will be kicking off 2015 with a oneman tour to fully present these songs live.

6 track CD

Track list

  1. different of stain
  2. Circus ga tsureteyuku
  3. Fuzoroi no cultry
  4. from mouth
  5. The sad things
  6. alone≠

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

Chi’s interest in visual kei stems from her love of art. The unique aesthetics in combination with the wide range of musical styles within the genre have been what has kept her interest in the visual kei scene for over a decade. The main image her friends and classmates have of her is with a camera in hand, face behind the viewfinder or screen. This image is also occasionally combined with memories of running around her to avoid getting into her panorama shots.

Aki is an adventurous soul and an artistic jack of all trades who has followed her heart and dreams to Japan. Here she has found a way to combine her deeply rooted love for rock and metal with her ever growing love for artistic expression. She has long since confessed to being a helpless music addict with a strong preference for Japanese visual rock and metal, and writing for Rokkyuu has become another way for her to share what she loves with the world.

Amy happened across Dir en grey on a used computer and became enamored by the aesthetics and androgyny of visual kei. Amy studied Japanese at university, including a year studying abroad in Tokyo. Interests include anime and manga, reading, learning languages, playing guitar, and holding on to the futile dream of one day meeting Johnny Depp. Amy hopes to bring the overseas fans closer to the bands they love by translating material related to them.

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