UVERworld “Ø CHOIR” (Review)

ナノ・セカンド uverworld

UVERworld‘s eight album is already out. “Ø CHOIR” is the band’s latest release, an album that shows UVERworld at full strenght, an album that features the already known “Nano Second” and “Fight for Liberty” or last month’s single release “7日目の決意“.

Ø CHOIR” is an amalgam of genres, styles and tempos. UVERworld are known for not sticking too much to a specific genre and once again they do what they do best: blend their rock with jazz, electronica, pop and deliver another entertaining, eclectic release that only fails in some performances. Not the best UVERworld release to date but still a release worth mention.

SRCL-8554

Album: Ø CHOIR
Release date: 02/07/2014 
Label: Sony Music 
Genre: J-Rock

Tracklist:

1
零HERE ~SE~
2
IMPACT
3
誰が言った
4
ナノ・セカンド (album ver.)
5
Fight For Liberty (album ver.)
6
ENOUGH-1
7
KICKが自由
8
a LOVELY TONE (album ver.)
9
7日目の決意
10
別世界
11
BORN SLIPPY
12
WIZARD CLUB
13
在るべき形
14
0 CHOIR

Track by track analysis:

1 – 零HERE ~SE~

The intro to this album takes the electronica route and goes towards a more dubstep-ish instrumental piece where the sax is king and the rap vocals (a male and female), lead the way in this short warm up track. 

2 – IMPACT

Ladies and gentleman be ready for an eclectic show on this one. The dry drums in the beginning set the pace alongside Takuya‘s vocals, simple but enough to make way for the acoustic guitar to shine as it always does. It’s a unusually slow paced track but with an incredibly rich instrumental piece. The drums set the pace in IMPACT but the bass takes a big bit of the spotlight away from them. The chorus turned out to be an interesting part in the track, there’s no hyped chorus with aggressive guitars or high speed drums. This is the part of the track that really calls out to us to join and sing along. The formula for this track was simple but made enough IMPACT in us. The synths are mostly on the background on this track, adding more to the already rich instrumental. Unique track. 5/5

3 – 誰が言った

The well loved sax makes its appearance in the intro. This is a completely different instrumental track in terms of the chosen elements in the spotlight: the unstoppable drums and the aggressive guitar riffs reign on this track alongside the synths that go all out in the chorus. This is a textbook UVERworld track with a similar instrumental construction as CORE PRIDE. The outro is one of the good sides in this track where the instrumental goes almost quiet giving room for the piano to shine a bit, the bass and sax later join the outro leading to yet another energetic chorus. The vocal work is solid on this track with Takuya hitting all those high notes without any difficulties whatsoever. UVERworld could have done it a bit better since the track doesn’t bring anything new to the table. 4/5

4 – ナノ・セカンド (album ver.)

Nano Second” is an interesting track. Starting off with the sax instead of the harmonica in the single version of this track we can already see that this track has received a “makeover”, and a good one to boot. The bass is more noticeable in this track as well as the sax replacing all those harmonica parts that the single version had. Strong vocal work by Takuya helps building up the song to the explosive drums and guitar riffs. With outstandingly calm verses the song always builds up and completely explodes on the chorus where the guitars and drums go wild. The synth work is pretty good with the pads giving a soothing feel to the track and when we reach the chorus the synths are on top of their game, blending all the instruments showing the incredibly eclectic instrumental drawing such an incredible power from the song. 4.5/5   

5 – Fight For Liberty (album ver.)

An already known track for the fans from their 2013 single Fight For Liberty / Wizard CLUB. It’s a track that resorts to the strings to lead the way alongside with the drums, a track that that has incredibly good changes of pace between the verses and the chorus with the instruments sounding amazingly well, without any distracting elements. It’s a rather simple instrumental resorting more to the rock trifecta alongside the strings provided by the synths. That formula works pretty well in this album, showing once again the band’s versatility and artistry, delivering a solid rock track with Fight For Liberty. 4/5

6 – ENOUGH-1

Starting off slowly with the acoustic guitar, ENOUGH-1 goes towards that jazz side of the band. The instrumental is a mix between jazz and hip-hop with the drums setting the slow pace alongside the jazzy piano hits and the minimal synths in the background. The guitar is melodic alongside with a funky bass, in the chorus the sax takes the spotlight away from the rest of the instrumental. The vocal track has Takuya rapping, which is always a delight to listen to. It’s Takuya‘s stage and he’s certainly making good use of the spotlight delivering each and every verse in the most precise way. 4/5

7 – KICKが自由

Kicking off in a rehearsal kind of way, KICKが自由 resorts mainly to the drums as its support. This is a track where the synths take a big role in the instrumental piece but the drums are king from start to finish. Gradually more and more elements join the instrumental track that initially was only the drums, the guitars (both the acoustic and the electric ones) also make their appearances along the way but are only small “cameos”. It’s a track that lacks edge, enthusiasm or anything really “ear-catchy” to the listener. A track that falls short and fast. 3/5

8 – a LOVELY TONE (album ver.)

Another track featured in 2013’s single Fight For Liberty / Wizard CLUB. The jazzy “a LOVELY TONE” gets a new approach in its album version. This is a simple, emotional, melodic track resorting to the seductiveness of the sax to lead the way in this track almost totally deprived of electric guitars. After a slow, almost quiet beginning, “a LOVELY TONE” gets a richer instrumental when the bass, piano, acoustic and electric guitars makes their appearances in this sweet track. The pace dictated by the previous tracks was completely broken with this track and it couldn’t have been a better way to set a different pace and show a different side to UVERworld‘s sound. Solid, solid work. 4.5/5

9 – 7日目の決意

Starting off with a TAKUYA∞ alongside acoustic guitars,  7日目の決意 is a heartfelt, laidback track, with little to no big, highly elaborated instrumentals. The usual synths and sax don’t make an appearance in this track but it doesn’t mean that its quality has dropped. This is the kind of melodic, technical track that has been missing in UVERworld‘s repertoire. The vocals are piercing but at the same time sweet, full of emotion, the perfect fit for this mild instrumental piece, more focused in the melodic parts, a track that doesn’t need to be highly aggressive, fast or danceable to be this great. The outro brings out some elements that may be missing in this track: it’s the place where the electric guitars make their appearance with a beautifully melodic solo. 5/5

10 – 別世界

Going back to their eclectic sound, 別世界 is a track that goes towards UVERworld‘s usual sound. The synths and sax make their comeback, more electronica elements are blended together to make this instrumental track, one of those tracks that won’t tire you out because there’s so many elements for you to point out and, with each listen, more and more of those elements are isolated in your mind. Incredibly rich instrumental track closing this single and opening the door for next month’s release. 4/5

11 – BORN SLIPPY

Who doesn’t remember Underworld‘s “Born Slippy” the major electro hit in the mid 90’s? For many people of my generation this track was a big part of our youth and there was no one that didn’t know the lyrics to this one. UVERworld come out with an incredibly powerful cover for this iconic track. UVERworld are known for dabbling incredibly well between genres and although their main genre is rock, they nailed this cover. 5/5

12 – WIZARD CLUB

2013’s single Fight For Liberty / Wizard CLUB side track WIZARD CLUB is certainly not a strange to the fans. The unstoppable drums lead the way in track that ups the ante and goes all out in the chorus. The guitars are raging, the sax is as melodic as ever giving a different taste to the track; the synths in the background solidify the instrumental piece around Takuya‘s, solid and precise as ever, vocals. The synths pads in the pre-chorus giving an interesting twist to the track and the acoustic guitar in the outro completes this instrumental, one of the best instrumental tracks in the album. As eclectic as ever and as interesting as ever. 4/5

13 – 在るべき形

Breaking the pace once again comes 在るべき形 with its slow beginning. This is  mid-tempo track where the spotlight is given mainly to the piano that sounds better than in any of the previous tracks. But the focus is not only put on the piano since all the other instruments are going all out in this track. The guitars don’t stop between riffs, the bass is played, as ever, in a slightly aggressive, funky way and the synths blend all those elements together perfectly. This is one of the few tracks in UVERworld‘s repertoire that features a guitar solo in the outro and it turned out pretty well in the end. It’s a track that really gives a launching ramp to Takuya‘s vocals to shine and he doesn’t fail to meet those expectations. 4/5

14 – 0 CHOIR

The title track goes aggressive with the heavy guitar riffs and the fierce drums in the intro but those slowly disappear only to make an appearance later in the track. It’s more than obvious that the electronica elements are with the advantage in this track. The synths give a danceable twist to it and in the pre-chorus we have the drums slowing down to a dubstep-ish tempo. 0 CHOIR is a slow paced track resorting to those almost electronica elements. In the outro we have the guitars taking the spotlight away from the mesmerizing, soothing synths in the background, with a quick solo where the sax makes its appearance, leading to yet another round of the chorus. It’s an interesting track with a lot of elements that might overwhelm the listener in a first listen. It’s definitely a track with an incredibly rich instrumental but it’s kind of a letdown, knowing how well the track itself kicked off. 3.5/5

Final rating: 4/5

Ø CHOIR  is an amalgam of genres, styles and tempos. Overall it’s an interesting release but it fails completely to meet our expectations after a succession of two incredibly solid singles that had few comeback track in this album. It’s kind of weird how one of the band’s most successful singles almost has no tracks featured in the album while on the other side, we have one of UVERworld‘s weakest singles making its appearance with the full “cast”. 2013’s single Fight For Liberty / Wizard CLUB is featured in its entirety in this album. It was a rather weak release without any really remarkable tracks but still they had, once again, their time to try to shine in this release. The album could have been in a higher tier if it had in its stead focused more in the tracks from 2013’s single, Nano Second. It’s was by far a more entertaining single than the already stated above single but, in the end, it turned out to be a choice that made the album lose some of its power.

The highlights in Ø CHOIR  are IMPACTa LOVELY TONE and the cover for Underworld‘s 1996 release “Born Slippy”. Those are the tracks that really have outshined the others, each of those in its way. IMPACT setted an incredible pace and showed us some new elements in a completely unique track, a LOVELY TUNE took a turn towards safe territory with a slow paced, jazzy track and Born Slippy was overwhelming, a mesmerizing performance of an iconic track in the electronica genre. Takuya was as precise as ever in his performance going all over the place in this album. He rapped and sang in tricky parts with a lot of high notes as well and in each and every encounter he managed to deliver a solid performance. Looking at the album as a whole it’s safe to say that UVERworld really know how to make interesting, captivating instrumental pieces, be it the simplest or the most elaborated ones.

Overall UVERworld is capable of much more and better than this and we’re hoping that the next release can really redeem the band.

Ø CHOIR is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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