My thoughts on “exFallen”, the second album from Yukueshirezutsurezure.
Release Date: August 1st 2018
1. Phantom Kiss （feat. Fronz from Attila）
4. Ways to Die
6. Paradise Lost
7. MISS SINS
10. Primal Three
11. Shiro to Kuro to Uso
12. Loud Asymmetry
13. Hue (Mei Yui Mei solo song)
14. Call my name Miss Felis (Anata Tsuyame solo song)
15. Existence Metaphysical (Mare A Komachi solo song)
16. Kuro Byakuya (Futamaruya Shidare solo song)
Oh baby, Codomomental sure do know how to make me a happy camper. First they released Kaqriyo Terror Architect’s “Cultural Mixing” (review here) earlier in the year, then more recently Zenbu Kimi no Sei da’s latest album “NEORDER NATION” (review here) and now here we are a month later with Yukueshirezutsurezure releasing their new album “exFallen”. They did a bang up job with both KTA and Zenkimi’s new albums, so much so that I can confidently say they’ll be up there on my Top 10 Albums of 2018 list, so I have expectations that they’ll do similar things for Tsurezure here too.
So yeah, “exFallen” is somehow only the second studio album from Tsurezure which seems crazy but apparently it’s true. It’s also the first album and second release over all to feature new member Mei Yui Mei on vocals. Most of you will have seen that several of the songs included on this album are from before she was in the group so naturally things have been updated and rerecorded to reflect the change in line-up (and will probably need to be again, but more on that in a bit). She had a great performance on “Paradise Lost” so I’m not worried about any reworks of some older material, vocally anyway.
As you’ll also have noticed, on the Limited Edition of this album they included solo songs for each of the members. It’s good to see Tsurezure getting this kind of love because they’ve been playing second or even third string to their sister groups in Zenkimi and KTA for what feels like a while now. I had hoped that this album might push the group back to the forefront of Codomomental’s plans but the recent announcement of Anata Tsuyame’s graduation has likely put paid to that once again. It really sucks but we still have this album to talk about and enjoy so let’s do just that.
“exFallen” opens with brand new song “Phantom Kiss” which you’ll have no doubt noticed includes a special guest. It seems like Tsurezure were able to enlist the talents of Fronz, the lead singer of American Metalcore band Attila for a guest spot. This was a contentious issue for several people I know but his contribution appears to be minimal so you can all calm down. Getting to the song itself and is that a piano opening I hear? Already off to a good start and things get even better once the song builds up a bit and really gets into gear. Thundering drumbeats and crunching guitars with a tempo that makes you want to jump around is exactly what I want from a Tsurezure song and that’s what we get here. Vocally they’re taking no prisoners either, with the harsh vocals making themselves known very quickly. The chorus is nice and Poppy though so there’s a good balance in play. Not sure why Shidare couldn’t have done Fronz’s parts but hey, a bit of street cred never hurt anyone. Great start to the album.
Tsurezure go self-titled for the album’s second song with “Yukueshirezutsurezure”…at least I’m pretty sure that’s what it translates to anyway. Self-titled stuff is always tricky because in my mind I feel like it should be something that represents what a group/band/etc is all about. I was a bit worried when the song started out fairly mellow with what almost sounded like Rapping into a metal grate filter but then boy did those harsh vocals hit, and hit hard. It’s not all shouting and screaming though, there’s also plenty of nice melodic sections, so I guess this did actually end up being a pretty good representation of what Tsurezure bring to the table. Considering all of the harsh vocals, the instrumental somehow manages to stay pretty upbeat which is interesting with four girls screaming over it. A lot of the guitar work on this one ended up blurring together so you’ll probably end up hearing a lot of kick drum as a result. Not my favorite instrumental ever but it does the job well enough and the song is very enjoyable.
Three tracks in and we hit our first previously released song. The song in question is “Gaga” which featured as a b-side on the “MISS SINS” single that was released all the way back in March of 2017. You can read my initial impressions of the song in my original review here. Now of course they’ve had a change in vocalist since this song originally came out and the song has been updated accordingly. Well I’m happy to report that Mei Yui Mei fits this song like a glove so no worries there. I don’t want to reiterate too much of my original review but I do still want to buy the composers a drink because the vocal structuring in this song is so ridiculously catchy it’s almost not even fair. Couple all of that with a lively Punk Rock inspired instrumental and you’ve just hit a home run in my ballpark. Easily one of my favorite Tsurezure songs and I’m glad the reworked version is just as good as the original.
Back to the new material for the album’s fourth track “Ways to Die”, which is quite the cheery title they’ve gone with there. The opening instrumental has a very epic, 80s Metal sounding vibe to it but that doesn’t last too long before the insanity once again begins. However, in an unexpected twist the harsh vocals then make way for a very synthesizer heavy instrumental with much more melodic harmonies becoming the focal point. At times it perhaps feels like the instrumental is overpowering the vocals but sitting the vocal track in the middle of the mix just seems to be the popular production technique right now so you’ll have to live with it. Or you can just wait until the back end of the song when things flip back to being more harsh and aggressive. This song feels very bipolar, which I guess isn’t that unusual for Tsurezure songs. Floor filling synthesizers, 80s Metal and harsh vocals aren’t things you’d expect to work very well together but for this song they somehow pulled it off.
We hit a pocket of older material next that begins with the song “Exodus” which originally came out as a b-side on Tsurezure’s “Paradise Lost” single. You can go back and read my original thoughts on the song and that entire single for that matter here. The main guitar riff for this song is still super awesome to my ears and the drumming is particularly effective at punctuating it like I mentioned in my original review. I didn’t mention this in my original article but the guitar solo they used for the bridge is also pretty darn great too. Vocally I still think that this song is a good example of Tsurezure and their producers evolving the group’s sound and using harsh vocals more effectively and with greater impact than on earlier works. This is a really fun song, which isn’t a word most people would expect you to use when describing a Tsurezure song but that’s what this is. Man I love that guitar riff though.
Oh hey speaking of Tsurezure’s “Paradise Lost” single, up next is “Paradise Lost” itself! Once again you’re welcome to go read my original take on this release here. This single was actually Mei Yui Mei’s first release since joining Tsurezure so at that time it was still unknown how she’d fit with the rest of the group. Well we didn’t really have to worry about that in the end, did we? Melancholic, ethereal vocals with the occasional descent into madness combined with the staple Tsurezure Electronicore instrumental makes for a song that not only serves as a reminder why many of us fell in love with this group in the first place but also as a welcome return from a 6 month drought of musical output. Sure the instrumental gets a little repetitive at times but you simply have to listen to the last 30 seconds of this song as it really is a thing of beauty. Back to business indeed.
Our little run of older material ends with “MISS SINS”, a single that Tsurezure released “all the way back” in March of 2017. As always my original review can be found here if you would like to read what I thought about this song at that time. This song features a ton of piano and if you know me then you’ll know that’s something I’ve been pretty big on for the last…quite a while now actually. Coupled with the guitar and drums that also make up the instrumental and you get this oddly soothing but also kinda intense vibe which I thought was pretty fitting for Tsurezure as a group. I said it at the time, and I still feel like the vocals are pretty straightforward and not as flashy as even many of the songs that have appeared on “exFallen” so far, but the harsh vocals are great as always and Mei Yui Mei once again does a bang up of job on a song that wasn’t originally written with her voice in mind.
It’s back to the brand new material for the album’s eighth track “JUDAS”. A biblical reference, now that’s something you don’t see every day from Tsurezure. I digress, I really liked the opening instrumental for this song and the way it built up the song until the vocals eventually came in. It had some nice, solid guitar riffs and did I detect just a hint of piano? Okay, I’ll stop there. There’s actually a good amount of clean vocals on this song which I’m sure will displease some people but fear not! There’s plenty of appropriately placed harsh vocal sections too. Going back to the clean parts though and I thought it was pretty unique to hear some acoustic guitar accompanying them, definitely not something I’m used to from Tsurezure. The back third or so of this song is what really got my attention though, there’s a bunch going on. Choir vocals, pianos, that chorus that kind sounds like the one from “Loud Asymmetry”…yeah, this is a great song and definitely one I would recommend.
Tsurezure’s softer side makes a rare appearance for soul-bearing ninth track “Helpless”. An appropriate title for this emotional Ballad where the girls get to show the sort of vulnerability that doesn’t always come across so well when they’re screaming their hearts out. There’s actually no harsh vocals at all on this song which will likely disappoint many of you, but I do like that it gives the members a chance to really show off their clean vocals without crunching guitars and thunderous drumbeats getting in the way of things. Speaking of the instrumental, as you might have guessed it’s a positively tranquil affair if we’re comparing it to the usual sort of thing we hear out of Tsurezure. A nice radio friendly Rock instrumental is the order of the day here and if I just gave you this song and didn’t tell you what it was you’d probably easily mistake it for something from a more “traditional” Idol group. Likely not what most people are picking up this album for but I thought it provided some nice variety and a nice breather from the almost never ending chaos we’ve been hearing up until now.
“Primal Three” attempts to ease us back into normality by…well, you can’t exactly gently reintroduce harsh vocals to someone’s ears but hopefully you get what I’m trying to say here. This is still a fairly light song but there is a noticeable uptick in both tempo and intensity so those wanting a bit more energy from a Tsurezure song should be happy. The instrumental has a decent amount of synthesizer in it, which goes a good way to rounding off the edges and creating a good mix of Tsurezure’s softer and harsher sides. Vocally things are going pretty well until about the last 40 seconds of the song where things unexpectedly go off the rails. Basically for some reason they decided to have Mei Yui Mei try to hit way too many high notes in a row and its just doesn’t sound good. Considering how well Codomomental usually produce their songs I’m actually a little surprised that this take made it in. I’m not trying to knock anyone as a vocalist but this was a miss for me and I have to wonder if the song wouldn’t have sounded just as good if that last part was sung at a slightly lower octave.
“Shiro to Kuro to Uso” is the album’s penultimate track and also the last new song to be featured (unless you bought the Limited Edition, which you really should have). The opening guitar riff has fairly…spooky vibe to it, sort of like something you could potentially hear on a NECRONOMIDOL track which was unexpected. The song on the whole has a rather unsettling atmosphere to it, kind of like you’re watching a horror movie and just waiting for a monster to jump out and attack the main protagonist. That is actually kind of what happens in the song too, or my imagination is just running wild due to a lack of sleep. Anyway, the vocals on this song are once again very melodic which is a bit of a theme for the last few tracks here. Well, until we get about two thirds of the way through at least and then the harsh vocals create a maelstrom of emotion and put an exclamation point on what was already a very enjoyable and theatrical Heavy Metal composition. Worth it for the guitar riffs alone in my opinion.
Finally, “exFallen” closes out on “Loud Asymmetry” (again unless you bought the Limited Edition, which I obviously did so don’t go anywhere yet). This song was originally released as its own single and you can read my initial thoughts on it here. This was also the last single that Tsurezure released before adding Mei Yui Mei to the line-up so obviously they had to change some stuff around here too. Once again she slots into the song seamlessly, so maybe it’s only new songs where they have a hiccup or two. I jest, anyway like I mentioned in my initial review, this song is pretty loud and not very symmetrical so they definitely named it appropriately. It also has a bit of a Digital Hardcore lean to it, although it’s not played up quite as much as groups like PassCode might for example. Other than that, there’s plenty of great harsh vocals along with some very pleasing melodies, just a great Tsurezure song really. Oh, and that hook at the beginning of the chorus is still awesome by the way.
For those of us who chose to part with a little bit more of our hard earned money and picked up the Limited Edition, we are then treated to 4 solo songs performed by the members of Tsurezure. The first of which is “Hue” and features new addition Mei Yui Mei on vocal duties. The acoustic guitar makes a return on this song along with some rather pleasant piano, which is sure to cause despair for people seeking a sharper edge to things. I think it’s well implemented here and gives the song this kind of trendy Indie Pop feel that is something that is fairly popular in Japan right now. I wonder if that’s something Mei Yui Mei herself is into perhaps? Vocally things are nice and clear, you get to really hear Mei Yui Mei sing which is good because she has a really nice tone to her voice. There’s also no ill-advised high notes which is another good thing given past experiences. Sure it’s not your typical Tsurezure song but the idea of these solos is to show off the girls’ personalities a bit more and this is Mei Yui Mei folks.
Next up we have Anata Tsuyame with her song “Call my name Miss Felis”. Is that supposed to be a reference that I’m just not getting or is it just supposed to sound cool? For her solo outing Tsuyame has gone with a song that opens up like a Rock Ballad of sorts, which if you’re into your Girl Rock bands might interest you. Though there is a fairly weird part to the song about 45 seconds in where they modulate her voice and do some synthesizer stuff to make it sound like you’re underwater but things get back on track fairly quickly after that. The song does end up taking on a bit more of a Pop slant as things go along and there’s a couple more parts like the one I just mentioned so perhaps not the Rock Ballad that was initially advertised. There’s still plenty of great instrumentation though and once again it’s a really good song, it’s just not a Tsurezure song and nor should it be. Oh yeah, Tsuyame also shows off a pretty darn impressive array of vocal skills on this song, including a good amount of harsh vocals to hopefully keep those of you tuning in to hear that kind of thing happy. It’s just unfortunate we’re hardly going to get a chance to see and hear this song performed live.
For the third solo song we have “Existence Metaphysical” sung by Mare A Komachi. That’s quite the title they’ve gone with once again here and well, this is quite the song too. You’ll notice right off the bat that this song is the most synthesizer heavy of the solo song offerings thus far, so we’re getting a good amount of variety out of these things. You definitely get a pretty chilled out, ambient vibe from the instrumental and well if you’ve ever met or seen Komachi interact with anyone then you’ll likely know that this kind of atmosphere fits her personality to a T. If any confirmation was needed of that then you only have to wait until Komachi starts singing…or well, I guess she’s kinda just talking over the instrumental for a good portion of the song isn’t she? She does get a little bit more energetic for the brief moments where we’re treated to some hauntingly beautiful high notes. I really like how Codomomental have let the girls do some material that’s outside the norm for this project.
Last but by certainly no means least we have Futamaruya Shidare with her solo song “Kuro Byakuya”. Shidare is my favorite member of Tsurezure so this is obviously the solo song that I have been most looking forward to. Oh wait, my bias is showing, let me put that away and talk about the song itself. A rather tranquil opening where Shidare shows off her natural, somewhat raspy singing voice almost lulls you into a false sense of security before the real show begins. Oh, you were wanting more harsh vocals were you? Well Shidare hears your prayers and answers them in the way only she knows how. Although a tad on the lighter side than normal, this song certainly wouldn’t sound out of place on “exFallen” at all, which might be a nod to where a fairly big influence for Tsurezure’s music is coming from. I digress, the way Shidare flows between serene clean vocals and chaotic, tortured screams is always impressive and gimmick or not it certainly feels like she’s baring her soul each time she does it. This is definitely one for Tsurezure fans, of which Shidare might be the number one.
They kept us waiting for this album but Yukueshirezutsurezure delivered in a big way with “exFallen”. Mei Yui Mei appears to be a great addition to the group, and truth be told this is the part where I was planning to express my joy that the group seems to finally be getting back on track. Tsuyame’s impending graduation has kinda torpedoed that though and the future looks to remain uncertain for one of my favorite groups. A very unfortunate but understandable situation, it’s Idol folks.
That being said, “exFallen” is still a fantastic album and I’m still looking forward to seeing where Tsurezure goes from here. I’m not sure we’ll get any further musical releases in 2018 but if Kaqriyo Terror Architect can apparently magic two new members out of thin air then maybe Tsurezure can do something similar. Until then they’re out on tour until the end of October and then after that I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.