The 69 of 2014

Review

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

AlbumsSingles

AWOI – Futekigou na Ringo

Awoi’s Futekigou na Ringo brings six fresh interpretations of the darker side of the current state of humanity for fans to sink their teeth into. This mini album release deals with the concept of non-conformity, as well as the transformation from ‘pure beings’ into ‘human beings’; spinning a creative tale of chaos with bits of psychological thrill.

The downfall begins with “Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame,” opening with rapid drum beats that lead to slightly demonic, growled chanting before Otogi dives into soaring vocals. It’s a swift descent into corruption, while the relentless drumming as well as distorted bass have marked presences in the song, hinting at the possibility for violent choreography for lives. Next up is the jazzy rock-blues tune “Yume” that similarly starts with a commanding drum and bass intro. The catchy yet somewhat dark groove not only shows Awoi’s diversity of musical ideas, but additionally Otogi’s range from operatic-like singing to falsetto notes. The guitar work is extremely catchy in a way that will get listeners dancing to the ironically named piece that weaves a gloomy story quite opposite to the regular positive thoughts of ‘dreams.’

If one ever needed a song to let out all frustration and anger to, “SAW” would be a choice song. There is no hesitation in the escalation of aggression as the heavy song is packed with a multitude of death screams and growls among the fierce guitar work and relentless pounding of drums. Much like the tool that horror movies of the gruesome variety have elevated in hazardous implications, the song cuts through and shreds any ideas of happy endings, finishing with a haunting whisper.  “Gozen Renji no Ari to Shortcake” continues to draw on obscure elements, a small cackle the only warning before listeners are launched into a world of twisted and discordant madness. This is only amplified by the unsavory and unsettling lyrics, alluding to images of ants and shortcake. The title reference to this is not for the faint of heart or stomach. The drum work carries the composition which is punctuated by guttural growls and barks.

The following song may come as a surprise to fans, as “Eve” has a relatively calming quality in the intro in comparison to the series of aggressions preceding. Otogi croons the first verses smoothly as a soft waltz plays out. As soothing as the music may be, the lyrics still carry heavy meanings of reflection on and regret for the past, adding a touch of melancholy. This song is an interesting experiment of softer ballads for the traditionally dark band. If one of the limited editions are purchased, the sedate tune is what concludes the mini album. However, if the regular edition is what one has in their CD player, “bakemono” serves to bring back the never-ending darkness that slowly creeps in with carefully chosen guitar notes. These are kept brief as the other instruments return in what seems to be an initially random and especially chaotic mix. However, as one keeps listening, there are ‘Easter eggs’ of hidden meanings and sounds to look for around Otogi’s vocals that range from long and haunting to direct and aggressive once more, simultaneously expressing misery and rage. An interlude of violins lure one into a false sense of security before the guitars interject again alongside eerie and haunting vocals, coming to a swift conclusion of silence.

Awoi has always been a reliable source of darkness in the visual kei world. Futekigou na Ringo does not disappoint those who have come to expect this, while providing surprises with a few new experiments with sound. One of their last releases before an unfortunate, impending break-up, the mini album serves as a solid representation of the band’s concepts of corruption in humanity, allowing Awoi to go out in a world of black chaos that is unique from the majority of the current visual kei scene and will remain a treasure to hold onto.

Limited Edition A 5 track CD + DVD

Track list

  1. Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame
  2. Yume
  3. SAW
  4. Gozen 0ji no Ari to Shortcake
  5. Eve

DVD

Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame PV + making of footage

  Limited Edition B 5 track CD + DVD

Track list

  1. Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame
  2. Yume
  3. SAW
  4. Gozen 0ji no Ari to Shortcake
  5. Eve

DVD

Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame PV + member solo recordings

  Regular Edition 6 track CD

Track list

  1. Haikei, Itoshiku mo Tsumetai Zetsubou no Ame
  2. Yume
  3. SAW
  4. Gozen 0ji no Ari to Shortcake
  5. Eve
  6. bakemono

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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