NECRONOMIDOL – DEATHLESS | ALBUM REVIEW

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Release Date: February 21st, 2017
Label: VELOCITRON
Format: CD, Digital


NECRONOMIDOL’s new album is a journey through darkness not to miss

One of the best things to witness in music, is without a doubt the progression of an artist as it makes its way through different stages of its career. It begins with a concept in mind, followed by experimentation to find the right balance and sound, and then to its conquest.

The “ultra-dark” Idol Unit NECRONOMIDOL is a clear example of this progression. Kicked off in 2014, the project led by producer Richard Wilson made waves in the Alternative Idol niche for its dark and fascinating concept, reflected in a formula that mixed up extreme metal influences with Idol pop bits, in a way that felt natural for the first time ever. From the beginning, the five girls and their team never stopped to improve their formula and build a strong identity: if the unit’s debut album NEMESIS was mostly a compilation of tracks showcasing the initial experimentations of the project, and last year’s EP from chaos born a strong proof of its ability in mixing up different genres, DEATHLESS is the consolidation of the unit’s sound we’ve been waiting for… and not only.

NECRONOMIDOL’s new record is indeed a noticeable improvement in every aspect: the opener END OF DAYS immediately highlights a production that’s much more cleaner and crystalline than before, highlighting dark vibes brought by blast beats and power chords, that coupled with the girls’ delicate and sinister vocals, make this track a perfect opener that showcases the unit’s personality with success. The album’s main achievement, though, lies in the improved fusion between Metal and Electronic influences, that reach an almost perfect balance here: tracks like 4.7L, SKULLS IN THE STARS, and CHUNGKING REDLINE make the mood of the record lighter thanks to Electronic beats and synths, but never go too far on the cheesy side, successfully keeping the dark vibe floating around, and creating a connection between the eight tracks composing the album. The general flow obviously benefits from such a detailed and well structured production, and now more than ever it feels cohesive and solid. Even tracks that follow a precise pattern, like the ballad HEXENNACHT (featuring a nice contrast between Electronic percussions and classic piano strings, first time I didn’t fall asleep on a ballad in a while) and the album closer ITHAQA, loosen the grip on the technical side while elevating the atmospheric factor, with the latter track in particular shining for its catchiness.

With DEATHLESS, NECRONOMIDOL ultimately consolidate their sound, making it more enjoyable than ever. This record is their strongest and most cohesive to date, and it manages to be various while keeping its core personality intact, flowing greatly throughout its eight tracks. The improved production quality and mixing is a big plus too, and makes both the girls’ vocals and instrumentals sound better than ever. All this, and the clear effort that the unit and its team put into this record, makes DEATHLESS Necroma’s best album to date.

Vote: 8.5 / 10

– Alex


NECRONOMIDOL’s new album DEATHLESS will be available in Japanese stores on February 21st, and also worldwide (digitally) on Bandcamp.

Sora tob sakana kicks off 2017 with new track ‘Yakan Hikō’

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Happy new year my friends! Hope you had a nice time during the holidays. I hate holidays, so I’m glad they’re over.

I’m happy to be back here on the blog to write about great Japanese music again. And what better way to kick off Land of the Rising Sound’s 2017 with one of the most surprising artists from last year?

If you read the TOP 5 of my favorite Japanese albums of 2016, you know Alt Idol outfit sora tob sakana rocked the scene hard last year; their first self-titled record was an incredibly good piece of work, with a fresh mixture of Post-rock and Electronic music as highlight, also framed by great vocal lines provided by the four young girls composing this unit, that’s finally taking off after two years of activities.

Sora tob sakana is riding the wave of the popularity boost received from last year’s record, performing live on a regular basis, and, obviously, dropping new music. The unit’s new song Yakan Hikō, premiered live just a few days ago, is indeed now available to listen on Soundcloud, and it’s pretty much everything I was expecting… which is a good thing.

Yakan Hikō pretty much revolves around the formula that made the first album so good, but gives it a new shape and vibe at the same time. Aiming for more atmospheric soundscapes, the track gives more space to layers of synth, while keeping the melodic goodness typical of the Terui Yoshimasa productions slightly distant, but still close enough to give that touch of pleasant catchiness.

I really like this track, and I’m looking forward to more music from sora tob sakana. Their music and live presence is just great, and even people who aren’t really into Idol music in general, are starting to appreciate this unit, which is a great accomplishment for these girls. Hopefully we’ll get to talk about them more often in the future!

– Alex

BiS – Brand New Idol Society 2 | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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You know I love the Alternative Idol scene. Well, damn, I just love Idols in general. So how could I miss the chance to review the comeback record of one of the most influential groups of this niche, and of the Japanese music industry as a whole?

Brand New Idol Society 2 is a record that features both old, re-record classics from the controversial career of the unit, and new songs as well, spicing things up with different influences and entertaining both long-time fans and newcomers alike.

This is a fun and very enjoyable Pop-punk/rock record that I recommend to everyone to get a grasp of what BiS and the Alternative Idol scene is all about. Like it or not, this group of relentless girls shook things up six years ago, and exposed many controversial issues of Japan’s society and music scene. Definitely check it out, and be sure to read my review down here on Electric Bloom Webzine!

Read my review of BiS’ Brand New Idol Society 2 on Electric Bloom Webzine!

See you soon with more reviews and… videos?

– Alex

Maison Book Girl get ready for Major Debut with ‘cloudy irony’

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Alternative Idol unit Maison Book Girl, born from the disbandment of BiS in 2014, is probably one of the most interesting projects of the last few years: bath room was a strong debut record, and this year’s summer continue EP a definitive confirmation of their potential.

As time goes by, Major labels are getting more and more interested in Idol and J-pop acts pushing the boundaries of their genres, trying to expose new and successful concepts to a wider audience. Maison Book Girl is ready to make this transition as well, with a Major debut single titled river, set to be released under Tokuma Japan Communications on November 30th.

In order to promote their mainstream debut, the four girls just released the Music Video for cloudy irony, first track off the upcoming single. In case you’re wondering, the title is not the only thing that sounds familiar here: the track too is pretty much a copy-paste of what the group did so far. Which is good and worrying at the same time.

Good because their sound is strong and enjoyable, something the track successfully represents: loud percussions and layers of acoustic guitars create a solid rhythmical base, where joyful piano melodies and the cold singing of the girls merge together pleasantly, creating a sound that’s fresh and easily enjoyable. What’s worrying, is the fact that the track sounds extremely similar to what these girls have been doing so far, especially in their latest EP, and it’s something that could easily discourage those who’ve been following the group for a while.

Still, it’s an understandable choice: the girls are taking their step in the mainstream world for the first time, and coming up with a track that sounds pure Maison Book Girl is a fair choice, sure that it will do the right job at introducing new fans to their music. Plus, the fact the label didn’t interfere in any way in both their sound and artistic direction is a very positive sign.

It’s clear that Maison Book Girl is playing it safe with this Major Debut single, and it’s totally understandable. After this release, though, fans will probably expect some kind of renovation; Their sound is fresh and easily malleable, so there’s definitely space for creativity. Knowing the talents representing this project, we keep our hopes high its future.

– Alex

Hands on Necronomidol’s “NEMESIS” Vinyl (And a few considerations on the state of Alternative Idol)

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It’s no secret that the Alternative Idol scene, started in 2010 by BiS and BABYMETAL, brought a fresh breeze of air to a genre that was unavoidably getting old. This rebellious concept had such a huge impact in the Idol world, that the overly cheesy up-beat pop that contaminated the entire 2000s became outdated: Throwing a few formulaic melodies here and there, and setting the DAW to 120bpm, just isn’t enough anymore. But most importantly, it doesn’t sell as it used to, which is why groups refusing to adapt to the times (like AKB48) are seeing a huge decrease in popularity.

But as all trends and currents in music, after six years, we came to a point where there are so many “Alternative” Idol groups, that in a few years we won’t probably call them like this anymore: They will just be recognized as regular Idols. And when a niche gets so crowded, it also gets a little bit… same-y. Meaning that groups with plastic Metal riffs, high-pitched synths played at the speed of light, and teenager girls screaming even when they shouldn’t, are slowly becoming a shallow standard lacking personality. It happens all the time in music, and it’s just part of the process.

Luckily, though, this niche can claim an impressive number of talented artists and units, who shine not only for their quality compositions, but also for their strong personality: NECRONOMIDOL is one of them.

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Formed in 2014, the “Ultradark Idol Unit” merges both extreme and classic Metal influences with Idol vocals, in a successful combination with a great balance of sounds as highlight. The unit’s first album, NEMESIS, brings both a collection of previously released songs and new tunes, spacing from classic Heavy Metal all the way to the cruelest 90’s Black Metal. Showcasing all the process that formed the sound of the unit (that later brought them to release the amazing from chaos born EP), NEMESIS is a valid introduction to the sound of NECRONOMIDOL.

I recently got the chance to get my hands on the vinyl version of NEMESIS, thanks to the guys at Specific Recordings: Not only it looks stunning, but listening to LAMINA MALEDICTUM on vinyl made me feel so trve kvlt, that I had to cut off Bibi’s head off and put it on my bed like every good Italian would do.

Just kidding of course. Bibi was my first teddy bear when I was a child. I’d never destroy my childhood like that.

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Jokes aside, if you’re a Necroma fan living outside Japan, then this is the right chance to get a physical copy of their debut album on vinyl without the painfully expensive shipping from Japan (and consequent custom taxes). You can get it on the Specific recordings shop here.

That’s it folks. As you know, I’m always up to support overseas labels trying to spread Japanese Music in the world, and I think it’s important to help them for their great work. So if you love Japanese music… support the artists and the labels bringing these records to us!

– Alex

BiS keep trolling fans with new song “Human After All”

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The rebirth of Alternative Idol group Brand new Idol Society, pioneering act of the niche, is still seen with suspicious eyes from the audience: To this day, many fans still question the necessity of reforming this historical unit, especially when BiSH’s success is growing bigger by the day. The “behavior” shown so far by the newly reformed unit hasn’t helped as well, with new members (recruited by leader Pour Lui) faking horrible vocal performances on stage for months, to then suddenly sing properly from one day to another. Of course, there’s also the story of the “rival group” SiS, who performed live once and then got immediately disbanded, to then be merged with Idol group GANG PARADE.

Simply put: the management behind these groups (a.k.a. Junnosuke Watanabe) just loves to troll and have fun seeing fans going crazy. Which is nothing new, really.

Whatever is going to happen next, for now BiS keeps on going with live shows, and new music as well. The unit just released a new song on Soundcloud, Human after all, which is nothing more than a Halloween-themed song with rock bits here and there: Thanks to a linear progression and a chorus kicking in unexpectedly, the track features a nice contrast, and thanks to a catchy lead melody it somehow works pretty well in being a light-hearted, ironic track. Be sure to listen to it down here.

It may not be what BiS fans were looking forward to, but it’s undeniably a fun track. And probably another joke by the girls and their management.

– Alex

NECRONOMIDOL – from chaos born | EP Review

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Release Date: June 15
Formats: CD (Japan only); Digital (International)
Number of Editions (1): Regular Edition


NECRONOMIDOL delivers a solid and various record that shows the unit’s potential. 

Since the beginning of the Alternative Idol revolution, started with BABYMETAL’s fusion of Metal with Idol pop, and BiS’ provocative concepts, the Japanese scene has been literally invaded by groups bringing formulas influenced by these two acts. It’s a natural flow, and something needed in a scene where the pure image of Idols is unavoidably becoming old, and, in practical terms, isn’t selling as it used to.

Still, only few acts took these influences to create something really unique and striking, both sonically and visually: NECRONOMIDOL is one of them.

The “Ultradark Japanese Idol Unit” is well known in the scene for its impressive art direction and on-stage presence. Still, the winning element of the project lies in the adoption of extreme Metal sonorities to create haunting atmospheres instead of a forced contrast with Idol pop, a trend that became unavoidably abused in the last few years.

After the release of their first album at the beginning of the year, the girls from NECRONOMIDOL are coming back on the scene with a new EP titled from chaos born, that brings six new tracks and a beautiful cover from artist Toshio Maeda; not surprisingly, the quality of these compositions is up to the always impressive artistic direction. From chaos born is indeed a record that doesn’t directly aim at cohesiveness, but instead focuses in showcasing the potential of the unit’s sound and of its variations, with a result that proves a remarkable improvement and fixes the few issues that didn’t work in the past.

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The EP kicks off with psychopomp, a haunting, five-minutes-long Death/Black Metal piece featuring an intriguing contrast between distorted guitars and sinister vocals, serving as a strong opener that will sound particularly familiar to the fans. Similarly, but with a different approach, the shortest (and possibly best) track on the EP, Nyx, adopts Alternative Rock sonorities coupled by layers of profane-sounding synths, delivering dark vibes in a very effective way, and representing the identity of the group the best in this record. Shimin Kaihougun opts for 80’s European Power Metal influences, featuring a remarkable work in arrangement and an intriguing chord progression, while the structure takes the time to properly focus on vocals; It’s a genuinely well done Power Metal track, and the girls sound confident on its myriad solos and shiny melodies.

The second half of the EP slightly leans on the Pop side, and while the synth fest of Tamam Shud does the job right with its catchy singing, Midnight Dominator does it better by taking classic Heavy Metal influences merged with pop-ish vocals, with an output that sounds natural and never forced. Heading towards the end, the group surprisingly brings acoustic layers and electronic bits in Idols Elegy: showing a different (and welcome) side of the group’s sound, the track borrows a lot from Idol Pop in the vocals, which makes for a catchy (and sometimes bizarre) number that shows once again how these girls can adapt to different styles, and still sound genuinely good.

From chaos born is a strong showcase of NECRONOMIDOL’s potential, that exposes the best elements of the group in an effective way: The right balance between Metal and Idol Pop follows the personality of the group, the vocals give relevant contribute to each track, and the attention for each section shows a clear knowledge of the influences adopted. All of this makes for a very enjoyable and various record that will be loved by all Necroma’s fans, and that will undoubtedly conquer newcomers from any part of the world.

Vote: / 10

Shout out to Necroma’s team for providing me with a copy of this EP!


Tracklist:

01. psychopomp
02. Shimin Kaihougun
03. Nyx
04. Tamam Shud
05. Midnight Dominator
06. Idols Elegy

– Alex

NECRONOMIDOL to release new EP “from chaos born”. Darkness awaits.

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Photo credit: Kenta Sotobayashi (also photographer for BiSH and Oyasumi Hologram)

NECRONOMIDOL is one of the groups that grabbed most attention in the new wave of Alternative Idol units that hit the Japanese industry. More than any other unit, the five girls heavily implemented influences from Black, Death and Power Metal in their sound, all merged together with Idol pop sonorities. Their art direction follows this style as well… KHOLAT SYAKHL is probably one of the MVs I loved the most last year, and a clear showcase of the wonderful style of these girls.

That said, I was glad to know that NECRONOMIDOL will be back with a new EP titled from chaos born, featuring six new tracks and set to be released on June 15 physically in Japan, and internationally through iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and pretty much every other digital delivery platform. You can check out some samples of the new tracks on the group’s official website. I like what I’m hearing so far, so I have good expectations for this.

Plus… well…

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This cover kicks ass. Not casually, since it was made by legendary manga artist Toshio Maeda (best known as the creator of Urotsukidoji and La Blue Girl). The girls from NECRONOMIDOL surely know how to promote themselves properly.

You will find a review of the from chaos born EP in the next days here on the blog. In the meanwhile, the girls are getting ready for their biggest show to date at Ebisu Liquidroom, where they will perform the new songs for the first time. Tickets are already available, in case you’re one of the lucky fans that lives in Japan and can attend the concert.

Stay tuned for more!

– Alex

BiSH go punk and destroy everything in “DEADMAN”

Alternative Idol group BiSH released yesterday a new track with respective Music Video titled DEADMAN, and as easily expectable, the girls go wild in this one. As always.

The sound of the group famously spaces between raw sonorities – mostly Rock and Metal – and this time around the short track (barely two minutes long) sees the six girls going into full Punk/Hardcore mode with relentless guitar riffs and alternate verses featuring both clean and harsh filtered vocals. It’s a fast, punchy track that does the job fine and fit the sound and charisma of the group well, and it’s exactly what all the BiSH fans want from these crazy girl.

The video shows the group strolling around Asakusa and Akihabara by night armed with baseball bats, hammers and various tools, “destroying” everything they find with some cool effects that clearly remind of a certain Porter Robinson video. Despite this, several elements from both the track and the MV are a clear tribute to BiS’ infamous track IDOL is DEAD, which is pretty cool and shows once again how BiSH love to pay homage to their predecessors. Also, wait for that ending.

DEADMAN will be released on May 4th as the group’s Major Debut single. Be sure to check it out!

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– Alex