Onmyouza – Kishibojin

kishiboshin

Tracklist:

  1. Shuushu
  2. Samayoi
  3. Ubugi
  4. Namasu
  5. Oni Kosae no Uta
  6. Gekkou
  7. Zakuro to Jubaku
  8. Kishibojin
  9. Urami no Hate
  10. Michi
  11. Kourui
  12. Kikoku

———————————

1. Shuushu

The first track is a short, introductory instrumental piece. It begins with the sound of a howling wind, which is followed by piano carrying the main theme of the track Then the band replaces the piano, playing the same theme but with much more power. That’s it.

On another note, the correct title for each of the tracks is Kumikyoku “Kishibojin” ~ Shuushu / Samayoi / whatever (i.e the whole album is a musical suite) but because I want to save space (and I’m lazy) I’ll just keep it as the short title.

2. Samayoi

Samayoi doesn’t waste any time getting started, the guitarists belting out a power chords right from the word go. As the verse begins, the guitars are dropped and we are left with the bass and a synth chord. This drop in instrumentation allows Matatabi’s very low vocals to be put on display. Of course, the guitars aren’t gone for long. When Matatabi takes the melody higher, he is replaced with Kuroneko, their transition blending seamlessly. The chorus is also Matatabi-led, and full of energy and expression. A great track of pure metal, which flows without pause to the next song…

3. Ubugi

Ubugi, whose first chord is also Samayoi’s last.  Although Samayoi is capable of standing on its own, without that last chord. Anyway, Ubugi is a serious change in pace from Samayoi, it’s one of the slowest songs I’ve heard. Especially the chorus. The introduction consists of heavy riffs from the guitarists with an underlying xylophone melody, a similar sound to Soukoku. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out this track was written for the solo purpose of showing off Kuroneko’s vocals, because it certainly accomplishes that! Her tone is perfect, from the lower register in the verse to her flawless switches to her higher register. The guitar solo is very appropriate too, while it isn’t difficult, it suits the nature of the song. Its slowness and the wah-wah allows the guitarist to put some feeling into his work. It’s another top-class song.

4. Namasu

This dark track opens with fearful, pained breathing, immediately setting the mood for the song. Then guitars play some incredibly fierce riffs and drums crash furiously, with the band giving shouts for emphasis. The edgy feel continues in the verse, where the tempo drops and harsh whispering, cackling laughter and the occasional growl make up the vocal component. Then suddenly, Kuroneko’s higher voice soars away through the chorus, a contrast to the malice radiating from the verse. To top it off, the guitar solo has some really awesome shredding and whammy bar usage. After more shouting from Matatabi and the band members, there’s and evil laugh and then metal riffs power the song to its close. Overall, a bit weird but cool nonetheless.

5. Oni Kosae no Uta

For this song, Onmyouza decided to go all experimental and try blending genres. Oni Kosae no Uta opens with a repeated flute melody, clapping and hand drumming, with slightly out-of-time chanting. Then wah-wah guitar explodes out with a funky riff, and Kuroneko comes in with enka-ish vocals, accompanied by a flute in unison. A Matatabi shouting part follows, and the chorus (if you can call it that) is a bit of call-and-response between Kuroneko and the band. At the end, there’s a part where the band is chanting to the beat while playing offbeat. I’m pretty impressed by this, while they probably recorded it separately I’ve seen it them do it live and it’s not that easy.  Not that it really has to do too much with the song itself but yeah. Oni Kosae no Uta is actually a relatively bright song from Onmyouza, the enka vocals, flute, and offbeat drum parts contributing to the atmosphere. There’s still metal there, but it’s perfectly blended with enka to create a very unique experience. I would recommend anyone to listen to this song, just because it’s so unusual yet awesome.

6. Gekkou

Gekkou is the first ballad of the album. It begins with two synths, one with a mysterious feel and having a backing role, and the other with more of a sparkly sound. A slow piano enters, and Kuroneko’s calming vocals grace the scene. It might have been more appropriate to lessen the vibrato with this song, but luckily that doesn’t detract too much. At the halfway point, bas and drums make their appearance, along with a single extremely quiet guitar part. However they don’t have a very large role, they’re more to add substance to the instrumentation. There’s a beautiful piano solo in the bridge, and then Gekkou closes with a brief fadeout after a final chorus. It’s a lovely ballad.

7. Zakuro to Jubaku

Zakuro to Jubaku starts off with acoustic guitar and strings backing in the introduction. Matatabi follows up with his deep voice showing a softer side, sounding especially good on the low notes. It seems like a ballad, but as more instruments enter, it becomes a pop-rock tune – with the Onmyouza twist. Here Kuroneko takes over the lead vocals, singing to clean guitars and a slappin’, funky bassline, accompanied by staccato strings. Synths become more noticeable in the chorus, where there are also short vocal harmonies, the only harmonies in the track. There’s two guitar solos; a distorted one and an acoustic one. The distorted one is cool, but the acoustic one is even better. OK, maybe it’s just my humongous acoustic guitar solo bias. At the end, Zakuro to Jubaku comes full circle, ending with a similar part to the introduction. The final chord is an odd choice, but another good song from them that’s different from their usual metal fare.

8. Kishibojin

Sudden flares of deep strings demonstrate Onmyouza’s dramatic side, making for a menacing opening sequence. Full force metal follows this, complemented by stringsy harmonies, and multiple changes of tempo. The verse is heavy but slow, featuring Kuroneko as the lead vocalist and huge backing roars from the band. The chorus kicks up the speed with pounding drums on every beat, and Matatabi makes an appearance on harmony. While Kuroneko does do a great job on the chorus, I feel that if it was higher then it would be easier to put more energy into it. After a couple of verses and choruses, it’s time for the guitar solo, and what a solo it is! One thing I enjoy about Onmyouza is how well they can construct their solos, and not necessarily need shredding (like this solo). I love the time signature changes too, from 3/4 to 5/4 to maybe 4/4 I can’t tell and then to 12/8. Or possibly 6/8, I have no idea how to tell them apart. Anyway, it’s awesome. Actually, it’s cool how they use 3/4 in a lot of this song, it’s not common to see time signatures apart from 4/4 in metal. After a final chorus, Kuroneko shows how well she can belt high notes… if only she held on to it longer, that would have been great. Interestingly, the final chords of the song are the same as Namasu‘s, maybe there’s a thematic link between the two pieces? As of writing, this is my favourite Onmyouza song. And, I think, their most epic.

9. Urami no Hate

Urami no Hate also has a long introduction, with a lead riff going for a change. It’s also in triplet time, which makes it a bit more upbeat and less serious. Matatabi leads the vocals for nearly the whole song, although Kuroneko has a small part before the chorus. As usual, the vocals are brilliant, Matatabi has good colour in his voice and the vibrato is really consistent. In the chorus, I like his “AH!” on the end of “Urami no…” and “hana…”, they give an emphasised, definitive finish to the notes. And those are actually the only lyrics in the chorus – yes, it’s only a three word chorus. It’s a fairly normal metal song, but like the epitome of normal-sounding songs, know what I mean?

10. Michi

Bringing back a darker air, Michi first uses a slow, lone guitar line, driving up the intensity as the opening instrumental part continues. If you listen carefully you can hear a countermelody of synth strings, faintly harmonising with the crunching guitars. Again, Matatabi starts the vocals, sounding extremely powerful on his solo lines, and letting rip with his vibrato. The glottal strokes on words like “inori” and “oni” are a little annoying, but it’s not such a big deal. By the way, that last note, the extended “akei…” is so awesome, he absolutely conquers its delivery. Also, that last note is my singing nemesis. Whenever I try and sing it, my voice cracks halfway. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that before, but listening to voice cracking is hilarious. Except when the singer is you. So sometimes there’s laughter from Aku no Imouto. Wah. I’LL GET IT ONE DAY! Back to Michi, the song picks up the pace from there, and Kuroneko gets the new verses, while Matatabi has the choruses. The guitar solo is sick. It begins on the slow side with the bends, vibrato and harmonics that characterise Onmyouza guitar-work. Then another guitar enters, and they play harmonies for a while, with a tiny bit of solo shredding. Overall, it’s quite long, and quite awesome.

11. Kourui

Kourui could maybe be called the second ballad of the album, or maybe just a slowish track. It opens with a high lead melody line from one of the guitarists, which I believe is a first for this album. In the rhythm section are piano, strummed guitar and synth chords. The guitars are lighter than previous tracks, and the song has a meandering feel. Which isn’t a good thing. Kourui is an odd track, it sounds like some of their older music which I don’t class as high as Kishibojin-level stuff.  Sadly, it seems like an uninspired throw-on, and not needed for this album. Kuroneko, who’s leading the track, does her best and the vocals are the strong point of the track, but in the end it’s an average piece. Interestingly, I notice at the end the same flute/chanting as in Oni Kosae no Uta – another link perhaps.

12. Kikoku

Kourui leads into the final track, Kikoku, which begins with the same piano/guitar theme as Shuushu. But unlike Shuushu, Kikoku is a full song. Following the opening section, the tempo increases to make it the fastest song of the album. Kuroneko solos this time, using a fierce and deep tone. She reaches some impressively high notes in the chorus too, again cementing her place as one of J-metal’s top vocalists. The main theme returns again before the guitar solo, which is probably the most technically difficult one from this album. It’s also quite drum-heavy, which may be off-putting to some people, although I find it fine. Following the high-note-slaying in the final chorus, the album ends as it begun, with the same piano line. A great way to finish, using the recurring theme.

Kongo Kyuubi was a great album. Kishibojin was an insane album. It was the one that introduced me to Onmyouza, and got me madly into them. Looking out how they’ve progressed over the last five or six albums, they’ve really improved. I honestly cannot wait until they releasing something new, it’s getting close to two years now. I love how they had the standard metal tracks like Samayoi and Michi, but also changed up their style with Oni Kosae no Uta, Gekkou and Zakuro to Jubaku. And of course there was the fantastic title track Kishibojin. I strongly recommend this album.

Top Tracks:

  • Kishibojin
  • Oni Kosae no Uta
  • Michi
  • Zakuro to Jubaku
  • Ubugi

Rating:

starstarstarstarstar

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2 Responses to Onmyouza – Kishibojin

  1. Aku no Imouto says:

    Ha ha… sorry. Perhaps you could get revenge by laughing at my feeble attempts at “Hatenaki Michi”?🙂

  2. 123 says:

    I’m far too nice to do anything like that! But I haven’t heard you do Hatenaki Michi recently, seems you’ve been avoiding it. Hmmm….

    And hey Hatenaki Michi has a “Michi” and I can’t do The Sketchbook’s Michi too. IS THIS A CRUEL CURSE ON OUR FAMILY????

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