I remember when I was exploring the Power Metal scene and discovering all of the awesome bands from DragonForce to Kamelot. The combination of fantasy and medieval sounding music caught my attention and I still like a lot of those bands til this day. One of the really cool things that came out of that scene was all the awesome female singers. Some of my favorite female singers came out of this scene, because a lot of them have very opera and classical style voices. You don't always associate these styles of music with metal and rock but these vocalist perfect it. Check out the ones shown below.
I have said before that YouTube can be a great place to discover new music, it is where I discovered my current favorite band ( The Gazette). Every week I come across new songs and new bands and artists. Here is some of the new music I have discovered recently on YouTube.
(I know that the band was called Utari at this time, but the name was short lived and people know them better as Kelun, with that lets get started)
I remember discovering this band through watching the anime called Bleach. Their song called Chu Bura was the 8th opening in the anime and after hearing that intro I looked deeper in the bands catalog and just loved them. These guys have gone on to be one of my favorite Jrock bands, with their uplifting sound and great vocals this makes for one killer band.
First of all, singer/guitarist Ryousuke is a great, I love his voice and while he is not the best guitar player I have ever heard he still produces a great sound that helps build the song. Satou, the bass player is very fast and constant in his playing. At times is seems like his bass is the lead in the song and not the guitar which is a nice change of pace, considering the formula that we are used to. Last but certainly not least is Masahiro the drummer. He is one of the more faster drummers I have heard but it adds to the energy of the song without being distracting and you can still enjoy the song.
The video itself is pretty good. The visuals are nice and it isn't too over the top like some Jpop videos I have seen. Basically, it is perfectly balanced to where you think it's a nice video but you still pay more attention to the song. The bands look is nothing special, they just perform in their normal cloths and, while I feel that look is too generic these days, I don't think much on it. It is their thing and I have no problem with that.
I have to say I like this song a lot, it has high energy and has an uplifting sound and vocals that can help a person get through a bad day. With all this I give Shuna a 4.5 out of 5.
Once when I was watching a top visual kei video I came across this artist named Yohio. To my surprise he wasn't Japanese and didn't have the usual accent that most Japanese artists have when they sing in English. He actually sang English fluently like he was from America. However, Yohio is actually a musician from Sweden who although sings in Japanese he also has a good amount of English songs. Our Story was the first English single he released shortly after his band Seremedy broke up. As far as the song goes the first thing I like about it is the instrumentals in the song. It is heavy but also very melodic and as a result delivers a good power ballad vibe. It is not as good as, but it makes me think of 18 And Life by Skid Row with the heavy and melodic combo. The song makes you emotional and makes you think but still has a very high energy. As for Yohio's vocals I think he is a good singer. His high range vocals work well with the song and help give it a more positive feel.
The video itself is pretty good but nothing new. The video is smooth and allows you to take in the song well. However, it is something that you have seen before and to a lot of people it has become cliche. I don't hold that against Yohio personally because I think that is something that can't be helped when you do a video for a song like this. Your range of options that makes sense to people is pretty small when it comes to ballads and they have all been done before so there isn't really anything new that people can bring to the table when it comes to ballads.
Even though the video is nothing new the song itself if pretty good. It makes great use of the classic power ballad formula and delivers a very enjoyable song. The verdict for this one is 4 out of 5.
Growing up in the 90's if there was one thing I did a lot as a kid was play N64. Aside from the fact that there were a ton of great games on that console there were also a lot of great soundtracks to go along with the games. I touched on some my favorite video game songs in a previous post and while I love all those songs I realized that there was so much more out there to cover. One game soundtrack that still holds a special place in my heart til this day is Jet Force Gemini. It is very diverse and it works well in every level you play through out the game.
1. The Water Ruins
One of my favorite songs in the whole game was the Water Ruins song. This is one of the few levels in the game where you didn't engage in any combat. and at the time the graphics on the lever were beautiful and this song matched it perfectly. It is calm, it is relaxing, it is very nice to here when you spend the majority of this game in intense combat situations. Even after I finished this level I returned to it often just to listen to this relaxing song.
2. SS Anubis
Unlike how the Water Ruins was calm and soothing, this song was intense right out of the gate. The SS Anubis is nothing but a giant battlefield. Every room had enemies and plenty of them. With the tense drums and brass instruments this song provides I was always reminded to be on my guard and was always ready for the many enemies that waited for me in the next room and when a video game song succeeds in that you know it is a good song.
3. Rith Essa
Rith Essa has more of an exploration feel to it then big battles like SS Anubis. While it has some parts that certainly can be used in a battle scenario more often then not it makes me more in a mood to explore and see what treasures are in the level. You can really tell though, if you listen close enough that this song was inspired by Star Wars. Especially the intro it reminded me of Endor which I thought was a nice little thing for them to throw in.
Now Tawfret sounds like it is straight out of a horror movie. Listening to it you get an eerie feel and you start to feel uncomfortable. Very fitting for this level considering that some of the enemies actually look and act like zombies and you spend part of the level exploring a graveyard. I remember as a kid every time I heard this I freaked out and just kept on thinking, how long til this level ends.
5. Mizar's Palace
This is just a good all around song. First off, every part of this songs has a different feel to it. The intro is eerie and then it slowly builds up to a battle feel. Then from that it goes into a fund sounding exploration song. Even though the song has these different feels they blend well together. The song is smooth, it's solid, and even with all the different feels it matches the level perfectly. You feel like you are walking through an ancient sacred temple and the levels look resembles that, making this in my opinion one of the best songs in the whole game.
These are only a few of the great songs that this game has to provide. If you want to check out the rest of the soundtrack check out the video below and if you like it enough there are some great covers on Itunes that sound almost, if not exactly like the real game. Check it out, it will be worth the investment.
Many times we think of the violin as a good classical instrument. However, through the decades many bands have proven that the violin can be a great addition to rock n roll. Here are 10 songs that deliver on that.
10. Yellow Card: Ocean Avenue
9. Kansas: Point of Know Return
8. Dixie Dregs: Pride O Farm
7. Charlie Daniels: The Devil Went Down To Georgia
Earlier this year a new anime movie called Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name in English) was shown at Anime Expo and a short time later in Japan. One of the staples to that movie was the theme song called Zen Zen Zense (Former Front Past) by Radwimps. Normally I am not a big fan of punk/alternative music but this is one song I can easily make an exception for.
First of all, the lead guitar in the song is pretty good. Akira Kuwahara who performs lead guitar for this band creates a very catchy intro lead that gets you more curious about the song and makes you want to listen to it longer. It is not very complex or tricky but it doesn't need to be because as long as it is able to catch your curiosity that is all he needs to do.
I also find the vocals in this song very interesting as well. Sung by singer and rhythm guitarist Yojiro Noda, while I don't think he is the greatest singer in the world he does bring a style that works for this song. I found his pronunciations very fun to listen to and again it helped the song to be catchy and keep you interested in it. I will also say that as far as language goes I actually believe that this is one song that, in my mind, is mean't to sung in Japanese and Japanese alone. For some reason with this particular song I am having a hard time picturing a good sounding English, Spanish, or any other language cover of this song.
Now where I do have some problem is in the music video. At first I liked the video, I thought the bands look was good and watching them playing in the field and doing the ninja and samurai outfits were not bad. However, where the video lost me was during the bridge where it showed the band in ape outfits clapping around a fire. I personally think it would have been better if it was just the band in their normal cloths for that scene. However, aside from the ape outfits the video isn't that bad.
Now, while I don't think this is one of the greatest songs of all time, I had fun with it and enjoyed listening to it. It is one of those songs that I can get enjoyment from while on the road or sitting back at home. Ultimately I will give this song a 3 out of 5.
Many people who know Marty Friedman recognize him for his work on some of Megadeth's most memorable albums such as Rust In Piece and Countdown to Extinction. What some people don't know is that after he left Megadeth he moved to Japan and got really entrenched the music scene there. In these 2 album, Tokyo Jukebox 1 and 2 he showcases that by producing instrumental covers of some of Japans most famous pops songs such as Polyrhythm from Perfume and Ai Takatta from AKB48.
Now I must say upfront that if you are expecting much Megadeth style metal out of these albums you will be disappointed. While he will sometimes bust out some riffs that remind you of his Megadeth era the majority of the albums are much more melodic and slower. Now having said that, it is still metal and rock driven. Marty Friedman still rocks at playing guitar as you would expect from the man leading to a very awesome and well composed pair of instrumental albums.
Now I know I said that he was covering Jpop songs earlier but don't let that make you think he himself is going in that direction with these albums. Even though they are pop songs Marty Friedman truly makes them his own and unless you have listen to the actual songs you will never know that he is covering a pop song.
However, if you are a Jpop fan you might have fun listening to these albums as well. While Marty Friedman does indeed make these songs his own he still keeps the integrity of the original songs and you still get a taste of the songs that you love.
Check some of the music shown below and if it suits your taste I highly recommend you get the albums. You can get these albums on Itunes, Amazon, Ebay, and Half.com.
I know YouTube is not always the best place to find new music. However, I believe that you can find all different kinds of music on YouTube if you just look a little bit. YouTube is how I discovered my current favorite band (The Gazette) and how I have discovered many artists world wide including this group, Love Planet Five.
Love Planet Five was created back in 2007 by the I've music production company in Japan. It was a special project where the label brought together five of their most famous artists to make a theme song for the anime Shakugan No Shana (Burning Eyed Shana in English).The single would come to be pretty successful reaching number 12 on the Oricon charts. Shown below are the members of the group.
I am typically not a big fan of electronic music because a significant amount of the music comes from a machine rather then an actual instrument. I like the synth in the song and think it works well. However, you can clearly tell that the drums are programmed in and I personally would rather hear a real drummer then a computer programming. The vocals on the other hand are a different story.
I like the voices coming from everybody singing in this song. They sound good, there is a good chemistry among them, and no one is overpowering everyone else. Kotoko did a great job with the lyric writing in the song, talking about over coming obstacles in your way and finding self confidence. (The translated lyrics are shown at the end of this post.) Sometimes bringing a bunch of artists together can come out bad because egos and personal ideas can get in the way and kill the project. Fortunately that doesn't happen here and they deliver a good song.
As for the video I would have done it a little different. I get that the video is trying to fit in with the electronic music playing and for the most part they do a good job. However, the one element in the video I have no love for is the dancers. I personally feel that they are an unnecessary addition and are a distraction from what you should be paying attention to which are the singers. I feel that with all the moving animations they were doing through out the video they could have kept it interesting without the dancers.
While I have a few minor problems with the song and video I believe that as a whole both are pretty good. The singers sound great and they deliver a great song making one of the few electronic style songs I love. With that I give the song a 4 out of 5
Song Lyrics (English)
Thrusting into the silent darkness, my blade screams out I'm burdened by this crimson flower, my eyes beginning to throb I chose the path of a distant fate But the flaming chasm engulfed everything in its path And I averted my eyes to the dancing of the dying flames The breath I let out was barely warm And now I believe that This is, without a doubt, what it means to "exist" The time I've been given in this divine place crumbles away But our encounter broke down the door of my resistant heart Just like your tears cannot be changed into untold truths I want to discover within myself a newfound courage At the ends of this glowing sky And surely tomorrow, those who come together to destroy the shadows, change nothing And will merely walk about without hearing the call of life I had quietly stood by your side since times past Your smiling face seemed to know it all But I feigned non-chalance, and turned my back to you You let out a carefree sigh And I feel in my heart That this could possibly be "love" I embrace you tightly as we're unleashed to the heavens above My small shoulders tremble like drops of water But the piercing reality thrusts into my heart And I want to find my courage, unbroken, Like a strong wind Sheltered by the light in the sky, I recover my dreams And a tiny flame is struck up in the bottom of my heart Bursting through the barrier I will become like your wings I want to find our courage bound strongly together At the ends of this glowing sky
I love movie soundtracks, John Williams is my favorite composer and I love his works. To me they are modern day classical music. However, I also love some anime soundtracks as well. One anime that does good emotional music is One Piece. From the emotional orchestra to a simple piano this anime has one of most emotional soundtracks I have ever heard. Check out the video below and see if you like any to the songs in it.
The Winking Owl, sometimes known as the Japanese Paramore has a new album out called Blooming. If you like Paramore or Flyleaf then this a band you should check out. With a good female lead vocalist and a great melodic guitarist this makes for an enjoyable experience. You can get the Album on Itunes, Ebay, and Amazon. Check it out now.
I have stated many times that I am a fan of the visual kei music scene in japan. While I do not always like the look the bands have, the bands still produce good music. I have come to like the scene because of how diverse it is. While each band has their own sound, they are not afraid to experiment and try new things and a lot of the time they do it well. I know their look can be distracting and scary but for me it is about the music. This time I will be counting down my top 3 favorite visual kei bands.
1. THE GAZETTE
I would like to start this off with my favorite band, The Gazette. I remember when I saw these guys at The Wiltern on May 3rd I was blown away by how good they sounded, how good their energy was, and how great they were getting the audience into their music. It was with out a doubt one of the best shows I have ever attended. Unlike most visual kei bands, I actually think these guys have a cool look. Sometimes I feel that their look is over the top and not something I would like but other times I think they look cool and would support it. Musically they are very diverse, depending which album you listen to you will get in your face rock n roll, sometimes you will get dark mysterious music, and sometimes you will get border line soft funk out of them as shown in some of the videos below.
As you can see they are very diverse musically but it is well executed. The singer Ruki, has a good voice, Aoi's solo in gentle lie is very melodic and Uruha's solo in vortex made great use of the whammy bar. Reita is good solid bass player, and Kai's drumming is very energetic and creative. These guys are not the fastest players I have ever heard but for me it is not about the speed it is about the melody and all five of the guys deliver that well.
One of my favorite things about this band is how uplifting they can sound and yet still have a good heavy rock sound to their songs. Also, just like The Gazette they are not speedy musicians upfront but they are very good melodic musicians and that is what matters to me. However, this is one band I have a hard time supporting their look. I don't think the singer looks that bad but the rest of the band I can't support their look. Even with that though I still enjoy this band and love listening to them.
I think that the singer Yui has a good voice that works well with this band. While I don't think he is the greatest singer in the world he has created something that works well for this band that you wouldn't the same feeling with if another singer was in the band. The other great aspect of this band are the guitar players Lin and Shiina. What I like about them is that they don't try to overshoot their skills. They know what they are good at as musicians and they focus on that instead of trying hard to be something they are not.
3. NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST
I am not the biggest fan of death metal and hardcore but this one band that I openly am a fan of. These guys are amazing musicians and in my opinion their lead guitar player should be right up their with Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai. As far as their look goes, while there are a few times I don't think they look that bad I wouldn't support their look overall. With that though they are still very good musicians as seen below.
Like I said, these guys are great musicians and showcase it very well in their music. The singer Hiro, may do a lot of screaming and growling like most Hardcore singers but when he is not screaming he has a good voice which is something I wish he would showcase more often. The lead guitarist Cazqui is amazing, Even though he has the weirdest look of all the other band members his guitar playing is just insane. He is a good shredder and you can tell he is not playing fast just for the sake of looking fast. The guy actually knows his stuff and like I said he should be up their with all the known great guitar players. Even though on the hits he is mainly shredding he is actually very diverse and on alot of their songs that are not as well known he plays nice melodic solos. Last is the drummer Natsu, this guy is one of the fastest drummers I have ever heard. He would fit right in with bands like Megadeth and Dragonforce.
All 3 of these bands I admire a lot and I recommend you give their music a shot. The Gazette and Nocturnal Bloodlust are on Itunes but you can find all CD's and music from all the bands on Amazon, Ebay, and Half.com. Go check them out
When the 90's came along and grunge got big it seemed like the end of 80's metal and 80's metal bands. Some bands made it through the 90's,such as Van Halen and Motley Crue. but ultimately it seemed the genre had run its course. However, with the advent of the internet and festivals a lot of those bands have returned and some have recaptured at least some of their former glory.
One of the big differences that stuck out to everyone is the look. With the 80's it was all about glam and big hair as seen in the photo of Motley Crue shown below.
In the 80's it was all about pleasing the girls and part of the way to do that was to make yourself look pretty. Before these bands came along girls were not really into metal before the 80's but with this era of glam going on it gave girls a way to find it appealing. Throughout the 80's bands dressed in spandex, carried around 2 cans of hair spray for big hair (well maybe only one!), and wore lots of make up. The make up became less of a thing later in the 80's but the type of songs they did stayed the same through the decade.
With grunge it was the other way around. These bands not only did not wear makeup but they didn't really look like they kept themselves together much at all. With their tee shirts, Flannel shirts, and torn up jeans they really never looked clean as seen with this picture of Nirvana.
The grunge seen was really angry and rebellious compared to the bands of the 80's. These bands were seen as misfits and they liked it that way. They didn't want to come off as happy souls they wanted people to see them as tortured souls not wanting to conform to society.
When it comes to music it was simplicity vs complex playing. In the 80's the musicians wanted to be as good at their instruments as they could. So many great guitar players came out of the 80's such as Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Warren DeMartini, George Lynch, and Steve Vai. One of the staples of 80's metal was to bust out killer guitar solos by using speed and tricks as seen in the videos below.
Another staple of the 80's metal music were power ballads. As I've said, this was a time of trying to appeal to the girls and one of ways to do that was through a ballad.
Lyrically they focused on mainly sex and love with some few exceptions. Even though a ballad is good way to show the emotion and human side of a rocker these bands did it so much to the point you couldn't take it seriously, which played a big part in the rise of grunge in the 90's.
Grunge music more closely resembled punk then anything else. The musicians knew very few chords, didn't master scales, and had a reputation of being low level players. If you ever go to see a grunge band expecting an Eddie Van Halen solo you will be very disappointed because these guys didn't believe in that kind of playing, and didn't have do pull it off anyhow.
Now where these bands exceeded was their lyric writing. Unlike how the 80's were all about sex these guys tackled a person's darkest hour. With that it felt like they were being real and authentic which was a big plus with a lot of people.
Also the concerts were different as well. With the 80's it was all about stadiums and playing in front of 30,000 people. If you were a band in the 80's nothing was cooler then playing in front of a ton of people and putting on a big show.
If you were a grunge band that was a terrible thing. Grunge bands would do stadiums and large festivals because they had to promote themselves but the majority of the time they preferred smaller venues with less people
Both genres had their ups and downs. The 80's seemed to produce the better musicians, and their playing was an influence for many current players. However, their song lyrics had a narrow focus and in the end they lacked substance and authenticity. In this respect the 90's seemed to produce much better lyricists than the 80's.
Another problem these bands had was that there were so many bands that it became sickening and people wanted something different. Even though the genre hit rock bottom in the 90's, many of the bands survived and still have a big influence. They influenced bands all over the world in places like Japan where bands like XJapan came along and through that Visual Kei was born. Visual Kei was heavily inspired by the 80's hair bands and it is a very successful music genre in Japan. Also many of those bands that survived the 90's still have a big appeal all over the world.
With grunge you got the sense of authenticity, and felt like the musicians meant what they were singing. They were easier to relate to personally. They were musicians that spoke from the heart and would play a big part in how to some people thought they are a good inspiration because they show that you didn't need to be great to make good music. However that was also one of their problems as well. Because they were not the greatest musicians in the world they created a void where people wanted to hear more advanced music and it would allow bands like Dream Theater and TOOL to gain fame. One of its biggest problems was that is was very short lived in popularity, Once Kurt Cobain died the genre slowly died with him. Pearl Jam took a long break, Sound Garden would break up in 1997 and Alice In Chains took a long break with Layne Staley's death in 2002. However, many of the bands have since reunited and like the 80's still remain popular through out the world.
Personally, I believe that we can learn things from both genres and I will encourage people to listen and find to good things in both and stop having a rivalry between them.
Recently while browsing YouTube I came across this video, Sun Sun Smile from the band Smileberry. I will start off by talking about the music video itself which I am not a big fan of. First off, I really don't like this bands look. I don't think that the drummer and lead guitar player look that bad but I don't really care for the rest bands look. Another thing I don't care for is the rhythm guitar players guitar. That pink half moon with stars on it is not a guitar I would ever play on stage. One last problem I will point out is the lack of energy the lead guitar player has in the video. In my opinion he doesn't look like he is enjoying being there compared to the rest of the band. When you are trying to promote your music at least look like you are enjoying it.
Now as for the music itself I didn't think it was bad. I don't say that lightly, especially since i typically do not like bands like Smileberry. However, this time I will make an exception. The musicians were good and the song was upbeat. I wasn't a big fan of the synth in the song but it wasn't bad enough to push me away from the song. I like the guitar solo in the song and I thought the singer sounded good as well. The combination of heavy rhythm guitar and funky and melodic lead guitar worked well and help brought the song together.
On a video aspect I hate the song. I hate the bands look and I especially hate that pink/star guitar. However, if I am not watching the video and am listening to the song from my IPhone I enjoy it. I don't think it is great but it is enjoyable I would give it a 3 out of 5.
If you are a Motley Crue fan you must check out this movie event they have going on in June. For one night in select theaters they will show a movie called The End. However, it is only one night so don't miss it
On May 3rd, 2016 The Gazette played in California for the first time at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles and man did they put on a good show. The Energy was great, the music was fantastic, the band were great, and the audience were fantastic as well. I remember my friend and I arriving there and seeing a long line wrapping around the building and only getting longer as we joined it. I believe it was 7:30 when they opened door and people started making their way in. Once in we were very excited and could not wait for the show to begin as seen below.
We waited for a little over half an hour before the lights dimmed and the show began. One by one the band members made their way to the stage before kicking things off with the song Dogma.The crowd was energized and wen't crazy once the song started. I was excited from the beginning and even some songs that I were not the biggest fan of I enjoyed.
Which brings me to my first highlight which is first and for most the music. The band sounded great and really solid. From beginning to end every song sounded great and was well executed. My favorite songs were Derangement, Vortex, Filth In Beauty, Agony, Cockroach, and Tomorrow Never Dies. One of my favorite features of The Gazette is how they can combine heavy intense riffs with great melodic solos. One of the best examples is Uruha's solo during Tomorrow Never Dies.
Sorry about the quality, filmed it from my Iphone, but you still get the point. Anyway, things like that I dig, I love it when melodic music and heavy riffs blend together.
Another aspect that was great was the bands energy. You could tell that they were into it and were having fun. At first Aoi seemed a little stiff but he got past if really quickly and was enjoying the show like the rest of the band.
Ruki did a combination of being mysterious and rockin out though out the show and executed it well.
Reita was all over the place, sometimes he would be in his spot on stage, sometimes he would run to one of the 3 platforms, and even jumped on the drum riser and be playing next to Kai.
Uruha would often jump on his platform and look into the crowd while he would be playing the opening riff to the next song and the crowd would go crazy.
Kai may not be able to move around freely like the rest of the band does but the intricacy and fast beats he plays on drums made him energetic in his own way.
The audience were great through out the show. Everybody was really into the music and showed it by throwing their hands in the air or headbanging to the music. The audience were very mature, no one was drunk, or at least appeared drunk, and no instances broke out which made the show a lot more enjoyable.
One of my favorite moments of the show was when the band came out for their encore and Ruki came out with the American flag and wrapped it around himself and then asked the audience if they were ready and the audience went crazy and they kicked their encore off with Agony.
Another great part was when they took their bows and as they were walking off Aoi went up to Uruha's mic and said thank you to the audience. It was unexpected and was a really nice addition to the show's ending as shown in The Gazette Ending link shown below.
This show will be one for the book for me. I have been to a lot of concerts and this is with out a doubt one of the best I have seen. I can't wait for them to come back to LA and if you are a metal head this is a band worth seeing live and checking out their music.