GRANRODEO “Karma to Labyrinth” (Review)


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GRANRODEO‘s fifth album is finally out. “Karma to Labyrinth” is the band’s 5th album and it’s a powerful album that brings us not only the already known tracks like “The Other Self“, “DARK SHAME“, “baby bad boy“, “DOWN GATE” and 偏愛の輪舞曲 but also an incredible set of new tracks, ready to blow our minds starting off with the mesmerizing “Blue Pandora Box“. “Karma to Labyrinth” has certainly impressed and is, without a doubt their best album to date.

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Album: Karma to Labyrinth 
Label: Lantis
Release date: 24/09/14
Genre: J-Rock

Tracklist:

01. Blue Pandora Box
02. silence
03. 変幻自在のマジカルスター
04. ボルケーノ
05. DARK SHAME
06. baby bad boy
07. The Other self
08. 桜色第2ボタン
09. 偏愛の輪舞曲
10. 絶頂ポイズン
11. Pink Phantom
12. wonder color
13. DAWN GATE

Track by track analysis:

01. Blue Pandora Box

There are a lot of ways to kick off an album, some start it off quietly while others start it as amped up as they can to grab the listeners’ attention from the very start. GRANRODEO go the way around and manage to deliver a fabulous intro piece to this album. Blue Pandora Box is a mysterious, grandiose and minimal track that, enveloped by the strings with latin percussion as its background, leaves almost no interference for the vocals to shine. The combined vocal work between KISHOW and e-Zuka in this track really goes over the top – to fit with this mesmerizing instrumental piece – with the chorus having more of e-Zuka‘s presence than KISHOW‘S. A prefect intro for an album that shows great promise. 5/5

02. silence

An electrifying track with powerful guitar riffs as the main dish, bass to die for and drums that will blow you away. “silence” gives off a grandiose vibe with the strings that occasionally appear in the track but maintains, most of the time, the full throttle aggressive instrumental as its main characteristic. It’s a track quite reminiscing of epic gothic metal, an unsual track in GRANRODEO‘s repertoire that will be, without a doubt, a track that won’t be marked slow rhythms. The vocal track is as powerful as the instrumental track with KISHOW showing that he’s always in top form in each and every GRANRODEO release. 5/5

03. 変幻自在のマジカルスター

Phantasmagoric Magical Star” is the single featured as the opening theme for “Kuroko’s Basketball” anime. KISHOW’s vocals reverberates in our ears in the intro leading to the aggressive guitar playing provided by e-ZUKA. With a slightly less aggressive instrumental when in comparison with the previous single “The Other Self”, this track guides us through their rock to a highly enthralling chorus like what we’re already used to listen to when we hear the name GRANRODEO. Overall a good track that shows us that, not only GR knows how to make good uptempo songs but their can also manage to make interesting mid tempo ones. 5/5

04. ボルケーノ

Slowing down the pace a bit but keeping up with the energetic, captivating instrumentals and addictive lyrics, “Vulcano” keeps things fresh and entertaining. It’s not an excessively amped up track or a really mellow one, balancing well between each of those opposites and delivering, in the end, a solid instrumental with benefiting vocal work. Fun track that’ll make you want to join the party. 4/5

05. DARK SHAME

We’d be lying if we said that this track isn’t already one of the most known tracks that GRANRODEO has released so far. DARK SHAME was featured as the opening theme for 2012’s anime CODE: BREAKER. Kicking off with the synths this track takes things to the epic status with a textbook rock track. e-Zuka’s guitar playing is the main engine in this track with great riffs and awe inspiring guitar solos, DARK SHAME is a track that really gets on your skin with no intentions of leaving and never gets old with how much you listen to it. It’s has been more than a two years since this track was released but it’s as fresh and relevant as when it was first released. Innovative and addictive track that, not only it never gets old, it also has reached the status of top GRANRODEO track. 5/5

06. baby bad boy 

This is a rock anthem right here. Top notch guitar work as expected by e-Zuka and the instrumental piece in its whole is amazing. Double-bass drums, the bassline and the fast pace of the song along with the usual perfect vocal work by KISHOW make this song easily one of the best on the band’s repertoire. The arrangement is beyond words. I could go on and on about this song because this one is the best hardrock songs heard so far in this year. 5/5

07. The Other self

The Other Self” is an ingenious song, fast paced with an amped chorus just like GRANRODEO has showed us time after time and it never gets old. KISHOW’s vocals are as flawless as ever, when he hits those high notes is pure goosebumps right there. Addictive song with powerful chorus and the outro as perfect as you could get, e-Zuka’s mastery with the guitar is beyond anything I’ve seen and his performance overall on the song is pretty much amazing and I’m not even referring his solo (that simply takes the song to another level).  5/5

08. 桜色第2ボタン

The first mild track in this single is 桜色第2ボタン. This track was first featured in 2013’s single “Henai no Rondo” and it really impressed by how sweet of a rock track it is. e-Zuka‘s melodic guitar playing, the arrangement behind the whole track, KISHOW‘s powerful lyrics and vocal performance to match make this track a sure entertaining listen, a track that even has a children’s choir in the outro, taking things to the epic level right here. 5/5

09. 偏愛の輪舞曲 

Henai no rondo was the opening theme for fantasy anime “Karneval“. This is, quite possibly, one of the most innovative tracks in GRANRODEO‘s repertoire. Going towards a french touch with the accordions as the main entrance to the track, Henai no Rondo is still is a typica GRANRODEO track. Reverberating bass, unstoppable technical drum playing, melodic as well as heavy guitar riffs and piercing vocals with a touch of KISHOW‘s trademarks: the falsettos and the vibratos. A track full of energy and epicness be it in the instrumental piece as a whole or by taking bits and pieces of it and isolating the instruments. The guitar is, as always, what makes GRANRODEO‘s sound be as amazing as it is. This time the powerful riffs and splendid guitar solo do the job and what a job in this track! Regarding the vocals we don’t have nothing to criticise, KISHOW does his job in the best way possible – so it’s nearly close to perfection – and impresses time after time. 5/5

10. 絶頂ポイズン

With a jazzy bassline and a complete change from GRANRODEO’s usual style of playing, 絶頂ポイズン impresses not because it’s an amazing song with great solos like “The Other Self”, amped choruses (the band’s trademark) or even because of the great vocal work (well, there is great vocal work throughout the single but that I guess it’s unquestionable). It’s because this is such an unusual track on GR’s repertoire that it stands out in its way, being a great addition to the single showing yet another side to GRANRODEO’s versatileness juggling between different kinds of playing especially with on guitar and bass. Impressive bass work. 4/5

11. Pink Phantom

Picking up the high voltage rock dictated by the first tracks, “Pink Phantom“, besides it’s title, it’s not as unusual and as you might think. This is a solid rock track keeping things simple and smooth. The amalgam of instruments featured in the instrumental track are once again arranged in a way to draw out their potential and, besides not presenting an overly aggressive or extremely speedy instrumental, the fact that the track kept things simple opting for a mid-tempo instrumental was the best way to keep this song cohesive, engaging and surprisingly entertaining until the end. The vocals are once again incredibly good or would we be talking about KISHOW, a jack of all trades. 5/5

12. wonder color

Going towards a completely different route than the previous tracks, “wonder color” makes us focus all of our attention in the funky guitar playing and the mesmerizing bass line. Please pay attention to this bass line, it’s something completely amazing and overwhelming in the track. Besides that “wonder color” turned out to be the weakest track in the album besides the fact that it’s a good track. It’s peculiar in its own way with the multiple background vocals appearing here and there throughout the track, a somehow simple instrumental mainly focused in the bass and guitar, but with the piano making its way through the track and giving it a fifties vibe. The guitar solo alongside the flawless bass work turned the outro into something incredible, closing this track in a fantastic way. 4/5

13. DAWN GATE

BASSLINE! That bassline throughout the song has the finest “slap bass” playing I’ve listened in a long time. A typical 80’s rock on this one. The synth pads throughout the verses leading to the chorus are incredibly soothing but as soon as we get closer to the chorus the song grows in quality and turns out to be a great rock tune. I’ve been very fond of this bands’ choruses, this is one of those bands that excel into making great choruses and this one is no exception. Incredibly catchy and impressive with KISHOW hitting those high notes like it’s no problem at all. 5/5

Final rating: 4.5 stars

Karma to Labyrinth is a mesmerizing album with lots of new material but also all those tracks that have made us beg for more in these past few years. The tracks that made their comeback in these album are all as fresh as when they were released, and if there’s something GRANRODEO knows how to do well is to keep tracks timeless. Regarding the new additions: it’s good to see GRANRODEO not sticking to a single way of doing things. From speedy rock to melodramatic ballads and even visiting a bit of funk and electronica, this band has shown a lot of improvement and a never ending potential to grow into something even more sensational. Karma to Labyrinth has incredible guitar solos, addictive choruses, powerful lyrics and performances, funky bass playing, unusual elements fused together, with a perfect final blend. KISHOW has shown that he is undoubtedly, the best seiyuu in terms of singing while e-Zuka has proven, once again, that he’s a guitar genius. In the end, Karma to Labyrinth has claimed the top spot as GRANRODEO‘s best album to date. A release that impresses from the very first moment with the exotic “Blue Pandora Box” until the end delivered by the powerful “DAWN GATE“. A complete release that makes us beg for more.

Karma to Labyrinth is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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