Day 42: Ali Project – “Reijyo Bara Zukan” Review

Day1Day2Day3 was a project blog that has since then been discontinued. For my new stuff, check out www.boldlydelicious.com!

Day 42: Ali Project – “Reijyo Bara Zukan” (2013)

ALI_PROJECT_Reijou_Bara_Zukan

Genre: Anison / Rock / Darkwave / Symphonic Metal

Tracklist: 令嬢薔薇図鑑 / ローズ家の双子達 / 隼の白バラ / 薔薇娼館 / 朗読する女中と小さな令嬢 / 少女と水蜜桃 / 黒百合隠密カゲキダン / 南無地獄大菩薩 / 見ぬ友へ / いにしへひとの言葉

There’s really no way around Ali Project if you’re talking about influential Anison groups. Their music, a unique combination of electronic, metal and classical influences, has turned them into one of the Anison acts with the most lasting popularity. And rightfully so. 令嬢薔薇図鑑 is their latest album, released last year.

The title track doubles as opening track, beginning on synths before breaking down into a strings-backed opera-influenced melody. It is very much the kind of twisted experience you expect on their albums, a catchy upbeat, highly complex melody layered on top of dramatic orchestral instruments. The track is beautifully fragile all while retaining a sense of drama, opening the album on a high note.

Be prepared for more rough, unexpected mood-shifts in ローズ家の双子達, a track that has a surprising amount of hit potential by employing a simpler, more optimistic melody. Seriously, try getting that chorus melody out of your head! The back and forth, up and down the scale, the playful triplets, the song is just plain wonderful, never sacrificing integrity for appeal, yet still reaching just that commercial appeal.

隼の白バラ is more downtempo and dramatic, with heavy drums pushing the song forward. It’s a gorgeous song, but just slightly forgettable, somewhat staying in one place for too long and getting a bit messy at times. It’s a high quality album filler, but still feels like filler.

An introduction that sounds straight out of soft rock gives way to 薔薇娼館, an ethereal, mellow experience. I’m not sure how I feel about the chorus, it seems to counteract the general feeling of the composition a bit, but it’s a very nice song nonetheless, gorgeously orchestrated.

朗読する女中と小さな令嬢 is a song close to Ali Project’s roots. A song controlled by its narrative (rather than the other way round), a heavy classical influence in the composition, used to add incredible depth to a modern arrangement and modern production choices. A perfect symbioses, combining the best of both worlds.

Another low-key (as low-key as the genre mix can possibly get) song, 少女と水蜜桃 survives entirely on its stunning arrangement. It’s not as good as the best songs on the record, but successfully stands on its own, even if the chorus is messy and too over-the-top.

A common complaint with Ali Project albums is that they get a bit tiring, essentially rehashing a similar style for every song. And I can see that point, I used to think similarly…until I gave every song my full attention and discovered the sheer quality of the composition, arrangement and production. These people don’t need to show stylistic diversity, because the compositional depth is just so great. 黒百合隠密カゲキダン is an example of a track that is relatively easy to mix up with some of their other upbeat, slightly poppy tracks. There’s changes in style, speed and mood throughout the song, all expertly crafted and put together, yet it works as one coherent whole – that’s an accomplishment, even if it may have superficial similarities with other songs.

I can see the appeal of 南無地獄大菩薩, the self-destructive feeling, the frantic despair, yet somehow, the track doesn’t seem to work for me. The displaced vocals, the fearful melody, the exquisite arrangement, the lively production. Individually they are all fantastic, but as one song it just doesn’t hold my attention as I feel it should. And I honestly don’t know why, but it just doesn’t. I highly appreciate and respect the song, it’s rather experimental and seems to have involved a lot of thought, but it just isn’t for me.

見ぬ友へ almost has the feeling of a classical dance, swaying along gracefully, yet intensely. It’s a nice change of the usual formula, allowing for odd instrumental choices and a heavily accented arrangement. I like it.

The final track hinges on a celebratory, but grieving note. いにしへひとの言葉 has the feeling of an album ender down, a grand orchestral score that seems straight out of a movie soundtrack. It’s an instrumental track to send us off – and a gorgeous, expressive one at that! I would have wished for some vocals on the grand finale, but I can’t complain.

Reijyo Bara Zukan is a great album. Ali Project have an ear for quality, not allowing any songs on an album that aren’t top notch, impressive compositions with delicate arrangements. Finishing everything off with excellent production and striking vocal work. This album isn’t for everyone – but neither is the group by itself. Some people will find it a bit boring and repetitive, others will fall head over heels in love. I’m in the latter group, but can still see the conflict of interest this album can easily face by being too coherent.

Rating: 4/5

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