Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Feature: NIGHTMARE's SCUMS


With striking visuals seeking to shock and terrify people, NIGHTMARE was born in January 2000--when most of the members were still in high school. Originally starting out as an X Japan and Luna Sea cover band, NIGHTMARE has become one of the most successful bands in the visual kei scene. With their hard rock/gothic roots infused with pop-jazz rhythms, the band continues to explore new sounds, especially in their latest album, SCUMS.

With this album, they continue their musical concept of “Gianizm” which originates from Gian, a character from the Japanese manga and anime series, Doraemon. Gian’s motto is “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.” This concept fuels their songs and this album is no different.

Exploring the realms of electronica and dubstep, NIGHTMARE’s sound ventures into new territory in SCUMS. The following review will primarily focus on NIGHTMARE's experimentation with fusing these electronic effects with their already well-known styles. The question is: Did their experiment succeed?

The album opens with “My Name is SCUM”, which sets the mood for the entire album. The piece starts off with a haunting rhythm with slight tinges of electronic effects before the music picks up around 00:13. After this point, the intensity of the hard rock beats rev up their engines until the song’s abrupt end.

Continuing on with those slight tinges, "ASSaulter" provides a little more substance than "MY Name is SCUM" in terms of vocals and diversity in the arrangement. In the previous song, the slight usage of electronica beat added to a haunting feeling but it did not play a starring role in the arrangement. In "ASSaulter", there is a clear difference as the electric current fuse more with Yomi's vocals and the rest of the arrangement. Though at the same time, it did not overwhelm the piece, instead it added to the intensity of the song. This holds true especially at the end of the piece after 3:17.

Additionally, "ASSaulter" shows off different ranges in Yomi's vocals. The rises and falls in his voice truly make this piece come alive. One of the parts I enjoyed the most in this piece is Sakito's solo at 2:27-2:37. His solo feels like he's moving you deeper into their world before Yomi's vocals sweeps you up and guides you. Another aspect of this song that holds everything together is Ruka's amazing drumming as it slows and intensifies at all the right moments. With all this said, "ASSaulter" is one of my favorite songs on this album.

The third track "mimic" moves away from the realm of distortions. As a whole, "mimic" possesses a slightly more mellowed energy to it even as the beat picks up. It feels as though Yomi is beckoning you into his world, as if you are in a trance. This enchanting feeling leaves you only as the song abruptly comes to complete halt at the end.

In the next track "riddle", the use of electronica comes back--in a very big and noticeable way. Compared to "ASSaulter", which balanced the heavy hard rock rhythm and electronica beats impeccably, "riddle" felt almost overwhelmed by it right from the beginning. The only parts in the song that did not possess a strong electronic charge were while Yomi was singing. During these parts, most noticeably in the first half of the song, Ni~ya's bass accompanies Yomi, which balances out the electric intensity.

Fading away from the intensity of "riddle", Nightmare calms everything down with "AME TO YORU NI OCHITE". From the beginning of this piece, you hear the faint sounds of rain trickling down that soothes your soul before Hitsugi's rhythm guitar enters at 00:13. This feeling of calmness in the beginning carries on throughout the entire piece, even when the rhythm picks up during the choruses and Sakito's heartfelt solo at 3:38-4:08. As a whole, this song creates a magical energy that lifts you up and washes away your worries with the rain.

Moving away from the etherealness of "AME TO YORU NI OCHITE", the next track "DISSEMBLE" allures a hard rock energy that wakes you up with its forceful, hard-hitting strokes and speed. With power and intensity fit for a speed metal band, NIGHTMARE's aggressiveness in this track is strong enough to break down walls. Do not let the build-up in the beginning of the song fool you. After the build-up, there is not a moment of rest for the remainder of the song, as the intensity just keeps flying by in high voltage. This track by itself is a beast of its own nature.

Coming down from the high voltage nature of "DISSEMBLE", "ERRORs" slowly calms down the energy flow. With only light touches of electronica in the beginning and the middle, "ERRORs" possesses a perfect blend of zeal and subtleness. You can feel this the most in the rise and fall of Yomi's vocals along with Ruka's drumming. In particular, one of my favorite parts of this song is at 1:19-1:29, when it sounds as if Yomi is whispering--as if telling us a secret. It adds a nice touch to the song.

Out of all the tracks on this album, I think the most experimental piece is "OWARU SEKAI NO HAJIMARI HA KI NARI". The arrangement brings their electronica adventures to a new level by using auto-tune, dubstep, and distortions. This high energy track speaks for itself and in a way brings this album all together. It blew me away when I first heard it.

The following track is "Droid" which expands upon NIGHTMARE's experiment with auto-tune. Compared to "OWARU SEKAI NO HAJIMARI HA KI NARI” which piled all of their expeditions into one track, "Droid" tastefully uses auto-tune effects and distortions in a moderate fashion. In fact, one of my favorite parts of this song is at 2:13-2:34 where Yomi's slightly auto-tuned vocals sound as if they are gliding through the air. This part almost makes you want to get up and dance.

Though, if I had to pick a song on the album that made you want to get up and dance--it would be "404". With a similar energy as "OWARU SEKAI NO HAJIMARI HA KI NARI", "404"'s playful nature is infectious. The upbeat, popish feeling just fills each and every part of this song. The electronica influx in the beginning of the track and the end starting at 4:00 only add to this playful atmosphere. This song is another favorite of mine on this album.

Feeding off of the energy from "404", "I'm not" takes it down a notch. Though, unlike previous songs, the effects used in this piece do not take away from overall peacefulness, but rather helps fuels it. This peacefulness shows the most through Yomi's smooth vocals as it shines through exquisitely. This piece is something you have to experience for yourselves.

As "I'm not" fades away, a masterpiece in the form of "Deus ex machina" takes hold. With powerful and moving vocals, Yomi effortlessly grabs hold of you and gently guides your heart to safety. From the moment the song began, it feels as though the entire band was moving as one unit. The arrangement in this song is so beautifully executed that it leaves me wanting more.

From the moment that "Deus ex machina" ends, the echoes of "BLACK OUT" begins. Riddled with explosive guitar riffs and bass beats, this song possesses such dark energy that it consumes your soul. Compared to the previous track in which the flow of all instruments came together as one, "BLACK OUT" is a full-on war-- a battle against each other. The war takes a life of its own, but at the end, who wins the war is up to the listener.

The final track on this album is "BEHIND THE MASK" which starts off with an amazingly deep bassline that just take control. The intensity of it is echoed throughout the entire piece from start to finish. With only slight tinges of electronica, this piece is the perfect way to end this experimental journey.

When describing the experience of listening to this album, I would have to say that the band's experiment with the different areas of electronica is successful. Though it is clear that NIGHTMARE is far from forgetting their roots, instead, they evolved. I give this album an 8.5 out of 10 stars.






1.My Name is SCUM
5.雨と夜に墜ちて (ame to yoru ni ochi te)
8.終わる世界の始まりは奇なり (owaru sekai no hajimari wa kinari)
11.I'm Not
12.Deus ex machina


For more information about Nightmare:Official Site | Official Facebook Page


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This Nightmare: SCUMS' featured artist was written by Rita Nokkaew (Ayva Trance)

Edited by Alicia Thomas

Follow me on twitter at @AyvaTrance


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1 comment :

  1. Neil Ronie18/4/14 11:12

    Thanks for writing an in-depth review of SCUMS. I agree with many of your points and really like your review of the album. The experimental side of the songs did not disappoint me as well. I would also like to see you review TO BE OR NOT TO BE if you ever had the chance. I for one also thought that album was quite impressive despite not being as experimental.


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