[Review] BiSH – THE GUERRiLLA BiSH
My thoughts on “THE GUERRiLLA BiSH”, the second major label album from WACK titans BiSH.
Release Date: November 29th 2017
1. My landscape
3. GiANT KiLLERS
4. SMACK baby SMACK
5. spare of despair
6. Promise The Star
8. Here’s looking at you, kid.
9. Rock n’ Roll no Kamisama
13. FOR HiM
So in an ideal world this review would have gone out shortly after the “guerrilla” release of this album and I’d be focusing on one of the dozen other releases that I somehow have to write about before we get too far into January. The world isn’t ideal though, although I guess if the reason for this review being “late” is me having been in Japan for 3 weeks and doing a bunch of cool shit like actually meeting BiSH then I guess I’ll just have to manage this mess I’ve created for myself somehow.
BiSH sit in a very interesting position in the “Alt Idol” fandom currently. Some people would even debate if they should still be considered “Alt” given their Avex affiliation and modest mainstream success. I think the biggest issue though is perception. It’s a mufti-faceted thing but the fact that people have it in their heads that BiSH should be super edgy as often as possible, coupled with the promotional songs for each of their releases being the ones with shock, horror the most mainstream appeal and you can see where the disconnect is coming from. Seriously though, chill out.
Anyway, hopefully some of you out there care to hear my slightly delayed thoughts on “THE GUERRiLLA BiSH”, the second major label album from BiSH. I saw the song being used to promote it caused a bit of a stir so maybe if you only heard that and wrote off the rest of the album you might care to hear my impressions. The fact you all seem to keep coming back gives me the impression that my opinion holds at least some small amount value so if that means anything to you, let’s see what this album is all about finally.
“My landscape” serves as the opening track on the album, and it’s also being used as the main promotional song so I guess it kinda makes sense in that regard. On the other hand, this song didn’t get such a great reception when it came out from the sub-section of BiSH fans who would really like them to be all edgy and hardcore all the time. It also probably doesn’t help that “My landscape” could also be said to be in a “similar” style to “Promise the Star” and “Orchestra”, two other songs that were less than well received in certain circles. For what it’s worth (you’re the ones reading the review in the first place) I think this is a really good song that does a great job of showcasing all of the individual members’ vocals really well. People also really just need to chill out.
Up next we have “SHARR”…hey, isn’t that from Big Shaq’s viral internet sensation “Man’s Not Hot”? Oh, it isn’t? Well carry on then. This song certainly comes out swinging and despite all of the rules surrounding BiSH lives, I just can’t see how there won’t be mosh pits when this gets played to an arena of passionate, hyped up fans. If you’re someone who complained about “My landscape” but actually decided to listen to the album and not just write it off entirely, this one’s for you I guess. The highlight of the song for me is the harsh vocals which I believe are delivered by Momoko and Lingling but someone feel free to correct me. I think it’s cool they get opportunities to show off like this instead of it being the Aina/Chittiii/Ayuni show all the time. BiSH can still be hardcore and edgy guys, it just doesn’t make sense to do it so blatantly when you’re trying to sell as many CDs to the masses as possible.
We cast our minds back a very short way into history for the next track which is “GiANT KiLLERS”. This one only came out back in June but with how the majority of Idol albums work, it was always going to get featured on here. You can check out my full thoughts on that release by checking out the review I did of it here. The cliff-notes being of course the creepy, unsettling vibe that the song gives off throughout and of course all of the BiSH members pretty much doing what they do best. It’s a catchy enough song but at least for me anyway it didn’t exactly knock my socks off. Then again that entire release felt a bit off for one reason or another, and I’m not just talking about the creepy vibes from “GiANT KiLLERS” when I say that.
I’m pretty sure hitting children was recently made illegal where I live and in most places, but I’m assuming the song “SMACK baby SMACK” might be a Bowie reference or something. In any case, this song has a pretty fun Rock instrumental with a number of guitar riffs that are particularly pleasing to the ear. On the vocal side of things, based on the structure and who does a majority of the singing I’m going to have to assume that Aina played at least some part in the composition of this piece. I’m starting to have mixed feelings about this because a lot of these Aina centric songs are starting to sound a little too similar. She obviously has her strengths, which it makes sense to play to but yeah, I’m not sure. If you love Aina’s vocals then you’ll love this song though, the chorus is also decently catchy so that’s a plus too.
Yeah okay, I totally see what they did there with the song title “spare of despair”. What does it even mean though? You’re just a spare part that’s not good enough to get in on the real despair I guess? Whatever, my real question is “Didn’t BiS just do this song?” Now I’m not sure about you guys, but this one sounds more than a little bit instrumentally similar to “I can’t say NO!!!!!!!” (review here). The song also sounds a little bit too upbeat to have “despair” in the title. Maybe that’s why it’s only a spare of the despair, it’s not very good at its job. Once again we get a decently catchy chorus, which is nice and we’re also treated to some more ear pleasing (to my ears anyway) guitar riffs, so despite my joking around/criticisms this is a pretty good song when all is said and done.
We return to some more “older” material next, with “Promise The Star”. As much as some people hate to admit it, this song and “Orchestra” were instrumental in introducing BiSH to a wider audience so of course this song has to be included on the album book-ending the last year of BiSH material. I wrote a full review of the “Promise The Star” single that you’ve either already read or can do so by clicking here. I dig the piano and violin used in the opening instrumental but still can’t for the life of me figure out how anyone could think this song sounds so similar to “Orchestra”. Aina is pretty much the star of the show again, which you know my feelings on from previous comments made in this review. Still, that doesn’t take away the fact that this is an excellent song even if the vocal minority didn’t think it was edgy enough.
Remember one word English song titles from a few months back? Well looks like they might be making a comeback, if they ever even went away in the first place. Here we have “JAM” which I’ve worked out is either an acronym for something or an ode to the stuff you spread on sandwiches. They’re definitely not talking about the song being “a jam” because this is a bit of a ballad folks. I don’t really mind the inclusion of songs like this and even if I did, the way Idol albums are structured means they usually call for at least a couple of them to be included. There’s some pretty inoffensive vocal performances turned in by the members on this one and that’s matched by the instrumental that’s just sort of hanging out there in the background keeping things ticking along. It’s an alright song, but I guess you could say that it’s just not really…my jam.
I guess there must be some fans of the 1942 movie “Casablanca” over at WACK/BiSH HQ because I just don’t see how you accidentally name one of your songs “Here’s looking at you, kid.” We’re back to the more uptempo style of BiSH song for this one, which I’m pretty happy about seeing as we had a couple of slower, more mellow ones back to back there. I’m getting a lot of Ska/Punk vibes from the instrumental and if you know me, you know that’s an easy way to my heart. Vocally is where things stop working for me, quite a bit actually. On the whole, the vocals just don’t feel like they compliment the instrumental that well. That’s just my opinion of course, and I’m also of the opinion that the chorus while good is definitely missing something that would take it to the next level. An alright song, but it could have been great.
We have a song about God next, well as best I can tell we have a song about the God of Rock n’ Roll at least. As such, the only way to please “Rock n’ Roll no Kamisama” is with an offering of a super catchy, fast paced Rock instrumental. Definitely off to a good start on this one. The lyrics are also pretty fast and catchy, but there did come a point where I felt they started to get a little bit too repetitive. That’s pretty impressive considering this song only clocks in at a lean and trim 2:39 on my phone. Thinking about it, this song kind of feels like an interlude of sorts. Which I suppose is okay on a 13 track album. I feel like I’m probably in the minority on this one but then again I was one of the few who wasn’t particularly fond of “DEADMAN” (review here) either so I do have previous.
Following on from all of that we have “BODiES”. No, not the Drowning Pool song although I’m sure BiSH could probably turn in a decent cover of that if they put their minds to it. I dunno man, again maybe it’s just me but I feel like I might have heard this instrumental before, maybe a couple of songs ago? It certainly does seem like WACK are on some kind of macabre kick for the vibe of their songs right now at least. The vocals on this song are very different though so we’re turning the ship around a little. The chorus specifically is great, which is good because that’s sort of the point of putting one in there in the first place. I feel like I’m probably coming off way too harsh on this one in all honesty. To tell another truth, this is actually one of my favorites on the album.
One word, English song titles. Like, I get it in a lot of cases but “Alls”? How does one even begin to dissect what, if anything that could possibly mean. On a brighter note, this song features some more awesome harsh vocals so if you’re all about that life you should be set with this one. I do have to say that the non-harsh vocals kind of remind me of Momoiro Clover Z for some reason. Anyone else or am I just being a little crazy in this review? Anyway, there’s definitely a chorus in here but once again it’s not exactly blowing me away which BiSH tend to do a decent job at normally. The instrumental isn’t exactly blazing any new trails either, with that punctuated style of drumming coming off as something I’ve heard dozens of other people do way too many times before. The harsh vocals are probably the highlight of this one for me, take that for what you will.
I’m assuming we’re just picking cool sounding English words for song titles at this point because that’s all I can imagine “Pearl” being. Unless Watanabe or Kenta went on Urban Dictionary and used one of the many great meanings for the word located there. Once again I feel like I’m hearing things I’ve heard before, this time with the strumming pattern of the guitar. Maybe I just listen to too much music. Full credit to them for managing to wrap a Ballad up in a vastly more interesting instrumental though. Like I said previously, you need a couple of these songs on most/all Idol album but they just don’t really do it for me. As always, take all of my opinions with a quarry full of salt and especially any opinion relating to these slower style, sappy, Ballad style deals.
We close out the album with “FOR HiM”, which I would like to point out to anyone who still hasn’t noticed is a song named after Pour Lui (Google it, seriously). The instrumental actually sounds like a modernized version of old Pour Lui/BiS material to me so that was pretty cool to hear, even if my brain did just make connections that aren’t there. It was also nice to hear everyone getting a nice share of the vocals, something that doesn’t happen quite as often as I would personally like. I can totally see this being a popular live song, assuming they actually play it more than a couple of times before it disappears into the vaults, only to be trotted out for some crazy show where they play all of their catalog. I also kinda want to hear a Pour Lui version of this song, maybe we could start cooking up another shuffle album with all of the ships…err I mean line-ups people have been clamoring for that announcement was made.
I feel like I’ve probably somehow managed to annoy people on both sides of the BiSH divide with this review. “THE GUERRiLLA BiSH” has a lot of great moments over the course of its 13 tracks, but it also has some flaws/problems/whatever that I just couldn’t ignore. There’s clearly a defined formula now which is fine because it works, but if you’re balls deep in this stuff like I am it’s hard not to notice when things get reused or sound similar to previous material. I’m not even asking for anything like a crazy shake-up, I’m just pointing out things I notice when I listen to this stuff.
This is a really good album by anyone’s standards but unlike previous BiSH works, there wasn’t really an “Oh my God” moment that made me really sit up and take notice. If you wanted exactly what you’ve come to expect from BiSH then this album is probably going to be your favorite thing of 2017. If you were hoping they were going to push on further in their development as a group then you’ll likely be a bit disappointed. I don’t enjoy using the word “safe” to describe music, but that’s kind of what this album feels like to me and I’m not sure what to make of that.