Kalafina – After Eden

after eden

Tracklist:

  1. Eden
  2. Sandpiper
  3. Magia
  4. Kugatsu
  5. In Your Eyes
  6. Destination Unknown
  7. Neverending
  8. Kotonoha
  9. Magnolia
  10. Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa
  11. Mune no Yukue
  12. Snow Falling
  13. Symphonia

———————————

1. Eden

The (semi)-title track begins with some lovely chanting, and a peaceful flute melody. Hikaru leads the vocals in the verse, and is accompanied by a soft dance-like beat and light guitars. Later, Wakana takes up the lead as the dynamics of the track increase. There’s certainly an infectious sense of joy running through this song. I also love the slight folk influences with the strings and flute. However, it is a bit repetitive, and I feel there could be more distinction between the verse and chorus. Still, Eden is good song and not bad by any means.

2. Sandpiper

To me, Sandpiper is like “Serenato Version 2”. It has similar percussion and Middle Eastern influenced acoustic guitar like the aforementioned track, and carries the same languid feel. Naturally, there are differences too. Hikaru leads the verse as opposed to Wakana, and she gives her performance very passionately, but Wakana takes over in the chorus. There’s a lovely strings section in the middle with electric guitar complementing nicely. Although it may be hard to notice at first, there’s quite a few guitar parts which layer underneath the other instruments to produce the Middle Eastern undertones. This is a quality track!

3. Magia

When I first heard Magia, I though to myself “Yeah, this is a dark song”. Then when I watched Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, I thought “This is a REALLY dark song”.  Actually, it seemed fiercer in the anime, but whatever. Starting with a ringing gong, Kajiuran chants follow over a percussive guitar sound and violin. Hikaru is the main vocalist for Magia, and she does an excellent job.We see a very mature side to Hikaru’s vocals, demonstrated by her deep tone, edge to her voice and aggression in lines such “taorareta hana no yaiba”. Oooh it makes me shiver that line is so good!! The guitars are very metal, the strings are epic and bells and other orchestral percussion just make the track even more majestic. Also, the drums used are mostly toms while cymbals are used sparingly, which I reckon makes the song darker. By far, it’s the best track of the album.

4. Kugatsu

Kugatsu is lovely, short ballad. Piano and high xylophone begin the arrangement, and Hikaru leads the vocals for the first part. I’m very impressed with Hikaru’s control and she has a lighter tone which fits the gentle arrangement. Wakana leads for the second part as instrumentation in percussion, bass guitar and electric guitar come in. Following is a flute and choral part, the highest energy part of the song. The final chorus returns to soft as the song ends in a peaceful manner. A strong ballad here.

5. In Your Eyes

Opening with hand drums and an uber-cool bassline, scratchy guitar and percussion then join (and remind me of Te to Te to Me to Me). Again, Hikaru is the lead singer, injecting vibe and passion to her vocals at every opportunities. There’s also a little Keiko (yay!) on some of the lower sections, but for the most part Hikaru is the driving force behind this song. Wakana sings the second chorus though, it’s always nice to hear her demonstrating the meaning of perfection. We see sitar in the bridge to emphasise the Middle Eastern influences, which is wonderful if you ask me! Lovin’ this song!!!

6. Destination Unknown

Destination Unknown starts off in a subdued rock manner, with the bass drums, flickering guitar chords and a bassline running all over the place. But quickly the tempo jumps to the fastest I’ve heard from Kalafina. I really like how it slows down at first when the song reaches the chorus, although it speeds up later. Hikaru leads for the beginning, using a tone of voice not unlike Mata Kaze ga Tsuyoku Natta. After the first chorus, we get some Keiko which is really awesome as she sounds all powerful and deep. As it’s a rock song, there’s a great guitar solo as well, though the lead guitar sounds a little thin. Being so fast, it seems messy at times but I like it very much.

7. Neverending

Neverending could be described as an uplifting ballad. Hikaru  leads at first to a simple arrangement of acoustic guitar, bass and drums, Wakana sings the chorus, and Keiko has a short solo afterwards. It’s nice and inoffensive, but doesn’t interest me too much. The arrangement is a lot simpler compared to their other tracks, and I feel it lacks substance, maybe because of its happier nature. So not the best Kalafina track here, although I give it a listen now and then.

8. Kotonoha

As an interlude track, Kotonoha has a quiet arrangement reminiscent of Intermezzo from Red Moon. Wakana’s calm vocals suit the track’s soft manner and goes well with the piano and xylophone. A lovely break between songs.

9. Magnolia

As the only dance track of the album, Magnolia takes an edgier route than similar tracks on previous albums. Keiko leads the low vocals for a while against synths and repeated guitar chords, and Hikaru leads the higher parts. Wakana is the main vocalist at the chorus, as the dark mood continues. Chord progressions in the song are typical of rock and metal songs, though the song in no way resembles a track that heavy. The beats are also slower than their other dance tracks. At the bridge, the guitarist gets a solo, which is outside the box like many Kalafina guitar solos. I like how this song isn’t typical Kajiuran dance, so it’s another one of my favourites.

10. Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa

The second ballad on After Eden uses mournful violin against piano to build a setting to the track Wakana and Keiko begin, with Wakana on lead and Keiko providing lower harmonies. They continue their duet to the end of the first chorus, keeping with the sad feeling of the song. After that, the epic factor appears with the addition of electric guitars and drums in the rhythm section, and chorusing vocals with shivering flute as the main melody. Hikaru gets a lead part, but she doesn’t feature at all until the song is 3/4 through. She sounds very raw and emotional, which is a point in her favour, but on the other hand the rawness removes some of her vocal quality. Nonetheless, Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa is an excellent ballad which I would recommend.

11. Mune no Yukue

Mune no Yukue is similar to Neverending in that it’s a slow uplifting song. Synths reminiscent of I Have A Dream begin the track, and Keiko starts with the lead role, singing higher than usual. The verse goes on for quite a while and gets pretty repetitive, but the chorus is lovely. The Kalafina girls’ English is very good, and the chorus is really peaceful and full of backing harmonies. Hikaru takes the next verse, and I prefer her vocals to Keiko’s in this song. There are some fantastic parts to this song, but I found Keiko’s verses repetitive and the track is also too long.

12. Snow Falling

Snow Falling is a re-arranged version of the similarly named Snow is Falling from one of the Kara no Kyoukai OSTs. A ballad, it opens with Wakana singing with simple piano in the background. It moves along slowly, with Hikaru then replacing Wakana. Hikaru could sound a bit better at times in her verse but for the most part I’m happy with it. However, I’m not keen on Hikaru’s part in the bridge around “kasa no kage de sotto” as her vocals sound childish and don’t suit the song. The instrumentation is piano and strings, and it’s fine but I wish they had kept the Seventh Heaven-theme strings part of the original. Not Kalafina’s best ballad, but a relaxing and mellow track anyway.

13. Symphonia

If you crossed ARIA and Seventh Heaven I’d imagine you’d get something like Symphonia. Keiko’s deep voice gets the vocals underway to a dreamy strings arrangement. The tempo increases as the bass drums set a beat which starts slower but picks up as Wakana lead part begins. Because of all the strings, it sounds like something off Seventh Heaven which is definitely a good thing! Unusually for Kalafina, there’s sections with brass as well, making the track even better. The vocals are consistently good too, an awesome way to end the album.

Eh, this is my least favourite Kalafina album. Which isn’t saying much as I rated it 9.5. Now, there were many good songs, just not as many 10s and a few tracks that were more average like Neverending and Snow Falling. There’s a lot of Hikaru, which isn’t bad but I wish Keiko got a bit more. Well despite that, it’s still a seriously strong album and I’d definitely recommend it like their other works.

Top Tracks:

  • Magia
  • Symphonia
  • In Your Eyes
  • Magnolia
  • Sandpiper

Rating: 9.5/10

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3 Responses to Kalafina – After Eden

  1. Artemis says:

    This is definitely my least favourite Kalafina album as well (although as you pointed out, that just means it’s great as opposed to excellent). And I agree, Magia is by far the strongest track on here – it’s so dark and rich. I think Kalafina probaby do their best work when they’re trading on either a really creepy or else really mournful atmosphere (which is probably why Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa is my second favourite song from this album). That said, I also adore Eden and Neverending.

    • 123 says:

      I completely agree that Kalafina are at their best when they are doing dark or mournful pieces (I think many artists produce the best work when it’s in those moods). With Eden and Everending, partly because they’re on the poppy side, but I can’t get onto them as much.

      • And I just noticed sandpiper sounds so similar to KOKIA but in the songs of REAL WORLD (like Road to glory and Saishuu Jouei). Then…could this mean…..
        Kokia with Kajiura D:

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