After a two year pause, without any news from them, the GazettE return now with a new album. This time around the band’s comeback is brought to us with a slightly darker image and possibly the same for their “sound”. the GazettE‘s last release was the album Beautiful Deformity, that was well received by most fans, so now it’s time to see what the band created with DOGMA. Without any further ado let’s get this review started.
This album is available in two editions: regular and limited.
Album: DOGMA Label: Sony Music Entertainment Date of release: 26/08/15 Genre: Visual-kei/heavy-metal
Track by track analysis:
With an amazing instrumental piece, that enhances the whole dark concept of this album, we kick off DOGMA. NIHIL has a slight mix between electronic and arabesque elements which by the way are, unexpectedly, a great combo. At the same time we are, little by little, getting prepared to listen to a transition, so well performed that you’ll barely notice it, between this facet into a more dubstep oriented instrumental that clearly shows us some remnants from their previous album Beautiful Deformity. While you thought that you wouldn’t listen to any more of those arabian elements, we get to listen to them yet again, but this time blended in with the dubstep elements. Nice track to introduce us the album.
Picking up from where NIHIL ended, DOGMA‘s instrumental starts off with a piano chord to augment the drama in this intro. With the same dirty synths we’ve had in the previous track and to add something more we have a guitar that’ll make one think you of vampires, because of how it was manipulated. It’s only after this big intro that we have heavy guitar riffs and drums while that guitar from before is still creeping, but now as a secondary element. It takes a really long while until Ruki starts to sing with a macabre tone, if I do say so myself, that overall was a good choice given the instrumental of this track. The only thing that can make one impatient, while listening to the track, is that the intro is so long that you almost lose yourself in it and then when the actual song begins – it would be almost obvious that you would except a heavy and faster instrumental -, but instead you have an ever slow-paced instrumental piece. Although DOGMA‘s instrumental is slower we cannot forget that even with all this, that I explained, its instrumental is really heavy, so it is fair to conclude that they preferred to bet on “heaviness” instead of their usual “speed“. In the pre-chorus we have that guitar from the intro, the ghoulish one, and then, yes, we have some of the speed that we know so well from the GazettE. The guitars and bass really are amazing in the chorus but we cannot forget the drums. I must say, this track is unorganized, especially after the first chorus, we have multiple tempo changes that sound abrupt, and lots of screamo that almost seems out of place and out of nowhere we have Ruki singing in a sweet voice that, once again, does not fit in. The only part that actually saves the track is the bridge where we can remind ourselves of their album DIM mixed with Beautiful Deformity, needless to say that the instrumental, from this point on, looks like it found its way. 3.5/5
Going from a song that was a complete mess we have RAGE that, at first, sounds like it’ll go in the same direction. This is the typical track that starts off with a nice instrumental but quickly turns into a “festival” of screamo and speed-metal, which is good for those of you who like that, but when we think about the GazettE, that’s not something to expect, especially when it sounds like it’s all over the place. We almost cannot tell Reita‘s bass performance apart from the res of the band, that let’s just say, it is/was one of the trademarks of the band. Even the pre-chorus, that was a chance for the instrumental to redeem itself it was wasted, and instead it got even more difficult to bear with. The chorus is a complete circus, we have the same confusion from before plus a “out-of-nowhere” choir that honestly was way better off of this track. This time the chorus is the savior of RAGE when we have a little “taste” of the band’s trademark sound. The bridge is beautiful and it actually sounds blissful after all the previous mess, with an orchestral instrumental and an amazing performance by Kai on the drums but, once again, quickly ruined by the screamo. 4/5
Starting off with all the power needed we have DAWN, with an awesome performance courtesy of Kai and with fast guitars and bass, but unlike the previous tracks, this time the instrumental was well put together, therefore it sounds well. Ruki isn’t resorting too much to screamo in this track which is a plus, and even if the chorus seems a little different from the band’s usual; we can say for sure that it is much better that the previous ones in the album. The bridge is actually different from the rest of the track with a small hint of synths but only for a little while. In this track we can say that before the last chorus we actually listened to Reita‘s bass clearly. In DAWN we can notice that this is the the GazettE that we know from their previous releases, but not enough to impress in a good way. 4/5
DERACINE kicks off with a muted guitar and synths as the main focus of the instrumental piece. In the background we have a fading in piano and then we have the instrumental that is heavy but not going overboard. The guitar is amazing but the chorus really should not have that much screamo. The bass line in this track is really good and if you can bear with the weird choir in the pre-chorus then this track is pretty good. Although this track takes a simplistic approach, compared with the previous ones this is definitely better. Probably one of the best tracks in this album so far. 4.5/5
A complete electronic instrumental sets the stage in BIZARRE, that lives up to its name with the instrumental in the chorus, because otherwise we only have a repetitive synth. The manipulated bass and an awesome guitar that seems a shame to be in this track, because we cannot enjoy it to its enterity; the chorus is the only heavy part of the track, other than that, it’s just a rather unorthodox song for the band. Once again the pre-chorus and the chorus are the saving part of the track. 3.5/5
Reaching the middle of this album we have WASTELAND. Starting with a creepy / eerie approach to Ruki‘s vocal performance, we then have a slow and melodic guitar playing in the background while he’s singing with his high pitched notes, a somewhat rare “sight” in this album. The guitar and bass are the main focus and key points to create this macabre feel going on in this track. The chorus is slow but heavy and this time the choir was not badly used. The guitar solo in this track is top notch, although the rest of the instrumental is slowed down a bit, it really was a good choice to do so, because that way we have all the attention focused on the guitar. One of the best tracks in the album. 4.5/5
Kicking off this track with a powerful instrumental we quickly conclude that this track is returning a little to the bad flow that the first tracks in the album had. Putting that aside, the instrumental piece in the chorus really is powerful and has just the right amount of energy and heaviness to it. It really is a shame though that this song was a little bit ruined in some parts, because otherwise it had all the potential to be one of the best tracks in the album. 4/5
Kicking off with heavy guitar riffs and a fast drum performance, we have LUCY. This instrumental piece is as heavy as you can get. The guitar is powerful and so is the bass, but we definitely cannot forget about the guitar solo, that makes us remember the good old 80’s hardrock/metal – for these we give props to Uruha who did an incredibly good job. We also cannot forget the typical Ruki emphasizing the “R’s” (hat hint of kansai ben) when singing that makes us remind of previous tracks that featured this dialect characteristic. 4/5
GRUDGE kicks off with a fast instrumental, but that really changes to a more melodic one in a blink of an eye. The shifts between melodic parts and heavier ones is constant on this track. The pre-chorus is solid, the guitars, the bass and drums are all doing their drill but, if we take the time to actually focus our attention on one specific element / instrument, those are incredibly unclowded and easily separable for further enjoyment. The fact that the instruments all have time to shine are are not overshadowed is a plus. The trademark female choir was also well blended in the instrumental. This is also one of the candidates for the title of best track in the album. 4/5
Starting off with an overwhelming heavy instrumental and more screamo vocals, we find PARALYSIS. The pre-chorus is melodic and engaging but the actual chorus is way too overcrowded leaving the listener in a daze. The guitars and bass are in “solo-mode” throughout almost all of the track. What could have been a good track turned out to be way too repetitive. As a whole this track fails to impress. 3.5/5
Beginning with erratic guitar riffs and a good bassline backed up by the drums, we have DEUX. Adding an unexpected piano in the intro and a more melodic instrumental we quickly reach the pre-chorus that is, once again, an erratic carnival but, as soon as we reach the chorus, almost everything is saved as the actual chorus is incredibly solid, with a lot of melody as well as drama. Uruha and Aoi‘s expertise on guitars is something that we never get bored with, especially when they are melodic. It really is a shame how the track ends. 4/5
Reaching the end of this album we have BLEMISH, that’s once again powerful with the aggressive guitar riffs and reverberating bass. The way Ruki sings in the chorus makes it sound like their song Gabriel on the gallows. The pre-chorus is exciting with the guitars and bass going on heavy, but the afterwards is a little overwhelming when he vocal part is to much to “digest”. The bridge is melodic and slow-paced with the right bits of power. 3.5/5
To end this album we have OMINOUS, a track that has a peculiar start, with a melodic piano and slow drums, quickly turning the instrumental even more dark and dramatic by the second. The guitar solos that we love so much from the band are here, plus similar guitar riffs to the ones in DOGMA. Even though Ruki doesn’t sing that much in the track we could actually say that this is primarly an instrumental track. The second guitar solo is different from anything we’re used to listen to from the band, but not bad at all. Uruha really gave his best in this track. This track is, by far, the best in the album. 5/5
DOGMA is an album with a lot of inconsistency, not only in a song by song perspective but also analysing the album as a whole. There are tracks like DOGMA, BIZARRE, PARALYSIS and BLEMISH that are completely awful, but with some parts in those tracks that are amazing and could have been real winners, but the over use of techniques like screamo were totally unnecessary and most of the times ruined the instrumental – when it wasn’t the other way around. And I mean the trademark instrumentals that we are used to listen to from the band such as: Reita‘s imposing slap-bass, the technical guitar performances of Uruha and Aoi and the unstoppable drums that are ready for a good speedy metal track as well as good doom metal one by Kai – all these trademark elements were nowhere to be found in most of the tracks, or were simply between all the mess.
This album makes us think: “where is that balance that the GazettE had between all the instruments?“
It’s understandable that the band wants to incorporate more and new elements into their “sound” but when doing so, there should be a preoccupation about it sounding on point as a whole, which didn’t sound like it was the case in most of the tracks that I mentioned above. Even so, after all this barely passable tracks, we have some pretty decent ones such as DERACINE, WASTELAND, GRUDGE, LUCY and OMINOUS, these four being the best in the whole album.
And why is that? Because they managed to not be overpowering or exaggerated and in the case of GRUDGE, the guitars in particular had the best overall performance in this album, something to expect as normal from this band. If the band didn’t want to change so drastically their “sound” then they could’ve managed to make a great album, but like this, we can pretty much say that DOGMA is one of the worst albums in their repertoire.
The only tracks that save it of getting a lower rating are the ones stated before. We just hope that in the future the GazettE overcomes this “creative slump” that they appear to have put themselves in, and that they create something more consistent on a later date.
DOGMA is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.