Saturday, June 21, 2014

sukekiyo - IMMORTALIS

IMMORTALIS is the first album from sukekiyo, the solo project of DIR EN GREY vocalist kyo. Shortly following its anticipated April 30th release in Japan, the album was released digitally in Europe on June 6th by OKAMI Records. IMMORTALIS hit no.1 on the Japanese charts, and it’s no surprise why. Backed by a four-man band consisting of TAKUMI (ex-RENTRER EN SOI), UTA (ex-9GOATS BLACK OUT), YUCHI (kannivalism) and MIKA (ex-RENTRER EN SOI), kyo has produced a stunning sixteen-track album that is unlike anything you've experienced prior with DIR EN GREY.

Starting off the album is elisabeth addict, which immediately lets you know that you’re in for something different in this album with its dark and foreign sound. The melody created by acoustic guitars in combination with hand drums really accentuates the feeling. Building a sense of anticipation, elisabeth addict causes you to brace yourself as you’re quickly swept into a different world. On its heels, destrudo follows, a gorgeous piano-led instrumental track that feels delicate yet dangerous.

The heat is picked up with the strength of the electric guitar and assertive drumming in latour, contrasting to a melodic backing guitar rhythm. Gradually the bass picks up, becoming more prevalent to the ear, pronouncing kyo’s vocals well. And it’s a sensuous bass melody that stands out as a driving force in the next track, nine melted fiction. This is a song possessing an unexpected groove that will capture you physically, enticing you to dance. The slower, easy tempo picks up during the chorus. kyo’s vocals ranging from high-pitched croons, and husky growls. The song breaks away from that laid-back feeling as the song reaches its close, taking on a harder edge.

zephyr enters next with vocals that are enchanting with an airy quality, mild and pleasant as the winds in which it’s named. The instruments have a nice ebb and flow, complementing it smoothly but also strong enough at times to add a memorable spark.On the heels of zephyr is the sixth track hidden one. There’s something catchy about the rhythmic delivery of the vocals in hidden one. Along with a stunning string melody, there’s a simplicity in the drum beat that really stands out as a highlight for me, the solid, repetitive punch of it backing kyo’s ethereal high notes was very enjoyable.

The seventh track is aftermath, first released as a digital single on January 1st, 2014, it is among my top favorites on the album. A slow-paced, exquisite and utterly captivating song that I never grow tired of. It moves you to your very core with its sophisticated, decadent beauty. Transcending definition, aftermath is truly a masterpiece in its own right and something that you simply must hear with your own ears.

Stepping away from the tranquility of aftermath, you’re reawoken with the dark, haunting sounds of uyuu no sora, another instrumental track filled with eerie wails and husky growls. The melody builds a feeling of tension that will leave you with chills. A more aggressive, fast-paced approach with strong bass makes daemon's cutlery stand out, something about it feels familiar to the ear, especially with kyo’s shrill shrieking and deep growls. None the less I was pleased to note that overall the composition is very different from anything I’ve encountered with DIR EN GREY. scars like velvet too at times gives hints of something that feels familiar, but only brief glimpses of it. Beyond it, you’re swept up in the rhythmic sway of the song, and moved by the impressive guitar work near the close of the track.

kyo’s second poem book, which released in 2004 included a bonus CD with a song called mama. In IMMORTALIS, mama returns in a new and excellent form. The jazzy rhythm has been enhanced with a foot-tapping tempo and kyo’s smooth rapping. Compared to the distant, distorted sound of the original, the song now sounds bright and crisp. While I like both versions, I thoroughly enjoyed the remake of mama. Eerie and intricate, vandal feels like a full-fledged journey in and of itself with all of its different phases, every corner of this song is filled with a surprise and you’re not sure what to expect. Despite all the different elements it masterfully transitions from one phase to the next. Grabbing your attention as you wait in anticipation of what’s to come, vandal has you on the edge of your seat.  hemimetabolism offers you the chance to relax as your ears are graced with tranquility yet again. Very different from aftermath, which maintains throughout, hemimetabolism holds a surprise. With soothing instrumental in the first portion of the song, it later switches gears by adding a sense of eeriness and intensity; gasping wheezes and wailing. Towards the last quarter, the tranquility returns, this time with deep, complimenting vocals.

The serene ambiance continues in kugui; at times this song is almost painfully beautiful. Pulling at your heartstrings, or making your heart soar, it’s all too easy to get lost in the world it creates. There’s a wonderful harmony in kugui that cannot be overlooked. madara ningen is yet another track that impresses me with its rhythmic vocal delivery, and the transitions of the varying phases of the song, both instrumentally and vocally. Last but not least, closing off the album perfectly is in all weathers, with its slower pace and smooth but gradually building intensity. Once it peaks it dwindles back down until nothing but piano keys remain. It somehow seems to summarize IMMORTALIS, leaving you to reflect on the journey you’ve gone through in listening to this album.

IMMORTALIS was a very fulfilling album filled with unexpected twists, it exceeded my expectations with the quality and broad range that it displayed. I can’t think of anything that’s lacking in IMMORTALIS. I give this captivating, album a firm 10/10, and I happily name sukekiyo our featured artist for the month of June. Regardless of whether or not you’re a DIR EN GREY fan, I highly recommend that you pick up this album and experience for yourself all that it has to offer. Set aside any preexisting expectations and enjoy sukekiyo’s unique creativity.

After a successful and sold-out tour in Japan, sukekiyo will venture to Europe in September for an intimate tour of six live performances. We look forward to what the future hold.

Show Dates:
13.09.2014 - PIPL Club - Moscow
15.09.2014 - Nosturi - Helsinki
17.09.2014 - Divan Du Monde - Paris
18.09.2014 - O2 Academy Islington - London
20.09.2014 - Columbia Club - Berlin
21.09.2014 - Zeche - Bochum

sukekiyo OHP

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 sukekiyo IMMORTALIS

Genre: Gothic / Dark
Label: OKAMI Records
Catalog Number: BL883358
Release Date: 06.06.2014
UPC/EAN/JAN: 3610156902775

  1. elisabeth addict

  2. destrudo

  3. latour

  4. nine melted fiction

  5. zephyr

  6. hidden one

  7. aftermath

  8. uyuu no sora

  9. the daemon's cutlery

  10. scars like velvet

  11. mama

  12. vandal

  13. hemimetabolism

  14. kugui

  15. madara ningen

  16. in all weathers

This review was written by Alicia R. Thomas (arthomas), and edited by CMT and Christopher Brown. Many thanks to Gan-Shin for granting us the opportunity to review this album.

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