My thoughts on “paradox soar”, the latest album from Yukueshirezutsurezure.
Release Date: August 26th 2020
5. unison ash
7. Odd eye
8. howling hollow
9. Dear Sorrow
11. Grotesque promise and I really hate me
12. Still Roaring
14. Mezzo Forte
15. Existence Metaphysical
After a relative period of calm, changes are once again in motion in the codomomental camp with the agency’s flagship group Zenbu Kimi no Sei da recently having to take something of a hiatus so as to replenish their ranks after the departure of two of the group’s longest serving members. While they were dealing with that it was down to their sister groups to pick up the baton and run with it for a spell. A chance for one or more of the company’s three other Idol properties to take center stage perhaps?
Yukueshirezutsurezure were the first of the three sisters to take a stab at a post/mid-COVID release with the group’s last outing, the double a-sided single “Still Roaring / REDERA” (review here), being their only 2020 offering up to this point. Understandable given recent events but it’s also really hard not to feel like this group has failed to recapture past glories musically after a succession of re-recorded material accompanied several more experimental singles in 2019. I’m all for maturing your sound but recent output has felt like too much of a departure from the norm, even for someone as open-minded as me.
“paradox soar” is the group’s third studio album, comprising of 16 track which sounds impressive on paper but in practice there’s only really 8 new songs as half of the release is comprised of tracks from past singles, along with some I believe slightly reworked versions of Mei and Komachi’s solo songs from the group’s previous album. Still, 8 new tracks is a pretty good showing and it should hopefully give us a good idea of where the group is heading as we start to wind down what has ultimately been a rather forgettable year in a lot of ways. I don’t have super high expectations for this release I suppose but perhaps it will surprise me. Guess there’s only one way to find out, right?
The album kicks off with brand new track “Wish”, which is also being used as the main promotional track for the release with accompanying music video and all of that other good stuff that you’d normally expect such a song to have. I thought the track was going to turn out to be some sort of Piano Rock type of thing from how things initially started out but once the instrumental got into full swing the piano was unfortunately swept aside in favor of an intense, high energy Rock composition which I don’t mind either but it was just a bit odd to me that they sidelined what would have been a very effective melodic component for pretty much the entirety of the rest of the song. Vocally it’s about what you’d probably expect from Tsurezure these days, with some rather nice melodic deliveries being supplemented by mild vocoding which isn’t something I particularly care for when it comes to this group personally but it’s certainly adding a slightly different dimension to things so there’s that. There’s some pretty good lyrical hooks throughout the track too, with the chorus probably being the most standout of the whole piece with its soaring melodies and bright, chaotic instrumental making for some very memorable moments. There’s a little bit of harsh vocals here and there too so if you’re a fan of that then they’re trying to cater to that at least a little bit here too. It’s never going to quite be the same as in what most would consider to be the group’s heyday but the current line-up do a pretty solid job of things nonetheless. This track definitely feels like a Tsurezure song and that makes me very happy considering how many reservations I had coming into this review. Off to a good start here, let’s hope the rest of the new songs can be this enjoyable too.
Two tracks in and we take our first of what is going to be many dips into the Tsurezure backcatalog with “ssixth” being the first track to lead off this particular side of the album. The song was the title track of Tsurezure’s sixth single (see what they did there?) and you can read my initial thoughts here if you didn’t get the chance to at the time of my original review. At the time I believe that I said something to the effect of this track starting off fairly subdued by the group’s standards but given a little over 12 months and a couple more releases since then and I guess this ended up just being what the group is going to sound like these days. Much like the previous track, we’re treated to an uptempo, fairly intense Rock instrumental though several orders of magnitude more powerful than the album’s lead track here. It also dials things up a bit during the choruses in a fairly similar fashion to what we just heard on “Wish” so I guess in this context it might be a little bit harder to ignore some of these similarities between the two tracks. Vocally it’s another strong melodic display with that ethereal quality to things that has been something of a Tsurezure hallmark for quite some time now. There’s also a sprinkling of harsh vocals on this track too, though they’re all fairly heavily modulated which I think is a bit of shame because it could have probably worked just as well without all of that and it’s not like the track is heavily distorted otherwise so it ended up feeling a little out of place to me I suppose. The closing minute or so of the track is still as fantastic as ever though and despite some perhaps much too harsh criticisms on my part I really do think this a pretty darn good song.
More pulling from the archives ensues on the album’s third track “REDERA”, which is one of two featured tracks from the group’s most recent single that came out all the way back in March when things were definitely a lot more “normal” than they are currently. You can read my original review for that release here if you would like to by the way. It’s a rather short track if you’re used to the current trend of Idol songs having to always push that 4 minute 30 mark or beyond but I try not to read too much into stuff like that if I can help it. The instrumental here still very much reminds me of “I can’t say NO!!!!!!!” by BiS, which isn’t a bad thing because I rather like that particular song but there just doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot going on here besides some pretty muddy riffs and that galloping drumbeat. There’s nothing particularly bad about it of course, but there isn’t exactly anything super memorable here either. The vocals aren’t really doing a ton to help the matter either with their downcast, gloomy sort of tone keeping in step with the instrumental very well but not offering that many bright moments outside of some decent melodies on occasion. I said at the time and it remains true now, but the breakdown about two thirds of the way through the track is easily the highlight for me. That’s because we finally got to hear a bit of that cutting edge that Tsurezure are known and loved for with an outpouring of emotion and intensity finally lifting the track from its wallowing. We also got a bit of harsh vocal work too which is always appreciated. Technically there’s nothing really wrong with this one but it’s just a bit too lethargic at times for me and given the depth of Tsurezure’s catalog at this point it’s hard to come back around to when I’m presented with so many other, much more interesting options to choose from.
We venture back further still into the Tsurezure archive to find the album’s fourth track “illCocytus”. This one originally served as a b-side on the group’s “Odd Eye” single which came out last April and much like the previous two songs you’re more than welcome to read my original review of that release here if you have the time. Nice Greek mythology references aside, this track doesn’t give you any time to prepare as it sets about launching an all-out aural assault on the eardrums right from the word go. Pounding drums, crunchy distorted guitar riffs and just an overall chaotic mood are just what the doctor ordered as far as I’m concerned and especially in the context of this album thus far. We do mellow things out ever so slightly to this intense, foot stomping Metal style to give the vocals a bit more room to work with but the tone definitely gets set early and continues throughout the rest of the track. Punchy vocal lines, with just a hint of that original Kaqriyo Terror Architect style add to the mood with good effect even if it makes things feel rather un-Tsurezure as a result. There’s almost an unnerving steadiness to how deliberately the vocals are being presented with the mask slipping every so often to make way for some moments of rather unhinged sounding chatter. They clean things up quite a bit for the choruses however, with the song flipping rather abruptly into this very melodic, much more Pop leaning style. It’s a really effective tonal change and along with the lyrical hooks involved really does help these parts of the song to stand out a lot more than they otherwise could have. A bit different than the traditional idea of what a Tsurezure song should sound like but given how far they’ve drifted away from that on some of their tracks of late I will quite happily take this style here and much more often too if it is at all possible.
We eventually come back around to some new material with the album’s fifth track “unison ash” which features quite the contrast in styles of guitar work as the main features of its opening instrumental. On the one hand, you have this dense chugging dynamic but at the same time you also have this very high pitched, bright noodley style that’s providing a very effective melodic component to things by way of some rather impressive sounding licks. The drumbeat that’s setting the pace for everything does sound a bit hollow to my ears though, which is a little bit odd but it’s definitely not a deal-breaker as there are so many other things going on to serve as a distraction from that minor quirk. Perhaps surprisingly the vocals initially come in in this low, dark Spoken Word style that is very much at odds with where you would think that the song would be heading and it is a little bit hard to make out some lines at times too given the dramatic differences in volume and tone that are present. The instrumental eventually shifts into this stompier rhythm to mark the lead-in to the track’s first chorus which is not what I expected as I figured we might have had some more “normal” sounding verses before that. They do eventually come later though so you are definitely rewarded for sticking with this track. Going back to the choruses and we’re treated to a very melodic burst of emotion which while perhaps the instrumental didn’t exactly need it the vocals sure did. It’s kind of that familiar tone and structuring that you get from a Tsurezure song but it’s as effective as ever so it’s hard to complain too much, especially given the context of the first third of the track or so. After the first chorus the rest of the song does hold onto a lot of the emotion and melody that was introduced, which was a really big boost in my opinion because while I did find the very stark contrast between the vocals and instrumental early on to be rather interesting it wasn’t something I could see myself enjoying for an entire song. They got there in the end though and the end result is a pretty entertaining listen on the whole.
“VERITAS” gets things back on track, with a song that’s much more along the lines of what people would expect from Tsurezure. The instrumental hits hard right out of the gate with pounding drumbeats and distorted guitars unleashing a very intense and fast paced composition into the ears, with just a hint of synthesizer fighting as hard as it can to bring something of a melody into the midst of all of the chaos. The vocals actually do a much better job of bringing in the melodies, with a very strong and emotional Tsurezure performance being what we’re presented with here though with the added twist of some gang vocals which aren’t exactly something that we hear all too often from the group so that was a pretty nice touch I thought. The choruses take these emotions and cranks them up a notch, along with the loudness of the instrumental which is a simple but effective way of bringing even more energy into the track. I really liked how the lyrics were structured and how they flowed together here as it made for some really quick transitions and interesting patterns in how everything was delivered. I also really enjoyed the breakdown that features a little over halfway into the track, it’s easily the most brutal that I’ve heard Tsurezure be in quite some time and proves that they can still pull that sort of thing out on their newer material if they want to. It’s something that I wish we could get a bit more of so hopefully we do further on in this album, but there is something to be said about doing stuff like this sparingly as it did make a pretty big impact on me when I heard it. This is one of the best songs that I’ve heard from the group lately and it more than stacks up against many of the group’s most beloved efforts in my opinion. An early contended for my favorite track from this release for sure.
We’re dipping back into the older material once more for the album’s seventh track. “Odd Eye” is the title track of the same single that featured “illCocytus” which we’ve talked about previously but I’ll mention once again that you can read my initial impressions on that whole single here if you would like to. This song was a big moment in the group’s history as it was the first piece of new material to feature the current line-up so there was quite a heavy weight of expectation on it from many, myself included. The ethereal nature of the song’s opening instrumental remains a very standout feature of the track, with modulated guitars adding a rather different but very compelling dynamic to the group’s usual Hardcore sound. Tsurezure’s signature harsh vocals are also in full effect very early on, with the track almost literally coming screaming into life as they make their presence known. Though they do try to balance all of this stuff out with several more tranquil, almost dreamy moments throughout the track where synthesizers take over as the main driving force behind the instrumental. Both sides play off of each other rather well and the softer, calmer moments are certainly much appreciated given the maelstrom of chaos going on elsewhere on the track. The chorus that features is very catchy, both lyrically and also when it comes to the instrumental that is accompanying them. It’s this really epic sounding, soaring section that really stands out from some of the other already quite impressive and memorable aspects of this track. This is a great example of all of the things that Tsurezure do best and the end result is an emotionally charged epic of a song.
Back once again to the new material next as we mark the midway point of the album with “howling hollow”. I don’t know about you guys, but the fact that song title had the word “howling” in it made me hopeful that we might be getting a harsh vocal masterclass out of this one. So of course I ended up being completely wrong as the songs starts out on this very mellow, dreamy sort of vibe with the instrumental sounding more like something pulled from the Shoegaze or Dream Pop world than the crushing brutality that I was half hoping for here. Don’t get me wrong, I love the atmosphere that’s being created here and the soft, somewhat hazy vocals are also doing a good job of pushing that idea while adding further melody to the song’s structure. Much like on several other tracks from this album, the chorus sees an explosion of brightness and a cranking of the volume on the instrumental side of things, which serves as the perfect backdrop to the soaring vocal performance that Tsurezure have more than proven that they have perfected down to something of an artform at this point. It’s probably not going to be the most memorable thing you’re ever going to hear out of the group but it’s still very technically impressive and enjoyable, plus we even get just a tiny hint of harsh vocals at the end of each chorus for our troubles too so that was cool. The further we get into the track the more the emotions build up so it was nice to hear that kind of progression from where things started out. In the end it makes for this really powerful crescendo where everything just bubbles over and the intensity and emotions just come rushing out in the form of an incredibly beautiful but also rather painful sounding vocal performance that really ends things off on a high. This could have easily been the closing track for this release but we’re only half way through so I can’t wait to hear what else is in store for us here.
Then it’s straight back off on another trip down memory lane for the subsequent track “Dear Sorrow”. This was one of the b-sides on Tsurezure’s “ssxith” single and we’ve already talked about the title track previously in this review. You can still read my initial impressions of both tracks here if you would like to though, granted I’m going to be recapping a lot of it in just a second here anyway. This track is kinda on the short side which doesn’t bother me at all personally but I know a lot of people like their 5 minute epics or whatever. Things start off quite symphonic sounding before the instrumental eventually evolves into this sparkly Piano Rock number which is a pretty enjoyable listening experience all in all. Vocally they keep things fairly light and even whispery at times which works well with the instrumental but there were a few times where I wished that they would have upped the intensity just a little bit. More specifically in the chorus, which does feature some rather catchy lyrics to be fair so it’s not a huge issue for me by any means and the noticeable change in tempo also helped to make things stand out a bit more than on the rest of the track. Things do get a bit pitchy for my tastes at times but again it’s not the end of the world and these moments are few and far between. Much like with “ssixth” the closing sequence of the song is very memorable, this time for its increased intensity and the return of the symphonic elements that we heard starting out. It ties everything together rather nicely in my opinion. On the whole this is a pretty decent but it’s not exactly the sort of thing that I’m putting on Tsurezure to hear necessarily.
I was in two minds when the opening instrumental of the album’s tenth track “memento” began doing its thing. On the one hand it did kinda sound like the sort of thing that I like to hear from Tsurezure but on the other it did rather feel like it was lacking a bit of punch for some reason. The first glimpse of vocals in the song went some way to explaining why I felt that way, given their very melodic, somewhat softly spoken Balled style in which they were being presented. The instrumental does pick up a bit of oomph to it as we move through the track at least but at times it does feel like there isn’t a whole lot else going on besides the rather enjoyable drumbeat being provided. Of course there is actually some nice guitar riffs and such but I don’t know, that’s just kind of the feeling I was left with after having a few listens to the verses on this one I guess. The choruses are a bit more colorful though, sort of taking on this bright, Dream Poppy…Shoegazey style but maintaining and increasing both the tempo and intensity of the beat that’s underpinning everything. The vocals soar melodically as more emotions are dumped into them, also in a very bright and somewhat high pitched tone at times. The flow of the lyrics makes for some catchy lines but at the same time I wouldn’t necessarily be able to pinpoint them if you put me on the spot. This is a bit of a weird one for me because I do really like the track but at the same time I’m struggling to find anything that’s super remarkable about it. It’s a very solid Tsurezure style song that leans a bit more in the Ballad direction so that’s a little different I suppose. Yeah, decent stuff that’s probably best suited to the album spot that it finds itself in here.
While I really don’t like to judge songs, albums, etc on their covers, titles and all of that nonsense it really is hard to look at a song title like “Grotesque promise and I really hate me” and not start to let your imagination run away with you a little bit. Quite the heading for a song that starts out probably sounding even more like a Ballad than the one we were just talking about previously. Granted the instrumental does have its spurts of guitar driven intensity in among all of that lovely piano playing so there’s plenty going on here and the track does build up quite a bit of steam behind it as it gets going too. Very emotionally charged Piano Rock is probably about where I would file this one I think. Vocally things aren’t quite as unstable or intense with much of the song featuring a fairly normal sounding clean delivery with a few nice harmonic parts to supplement the already very pleasant melodic dynamic being provided to the track. They are sat more towards the middle of the mix so if that’s not really your thing then you might not enjoy how surrounded it all sounds by the instrumental at times but I didn’t find myself minding it too much here for what it’s worth. I do kinda feel like they could have done a bit more with the choruses on this one though, not that they’re bad by any means but I just don’t think the mild tempo change was quite enough to really make them stand out, though I suppose once again the closing sequence of the song does sort of address a lot of that criticism so maybe I just need to be a bit more patient when it comes to Tsurezure these days. Another good song, not totally what I’m looking for personally but there was still quite a bit here for me to get my teeth into anyway which is always a plus.
Its been a minute since we featured some previously released material so the album gets right back to that for its twelfth track “Still Roaring”. This was the lead track from Tsurezure’s most recent single, which also featured “REDERA”, and like with that song you can also read my initial thoughts on this one here if you would like to. This one has quite a bit of fuzz going on, be it from the opening piano instrumental or the grainy treatment that’s being applied to a lot of the vocals on the track. This is all offset fairly well by bright, melodic lead guitar parts which really pop as a result and the mild orchestral dynamic that the track takes on shortly after the introduction of the vocals. It does kinda feel like there’s a bit of a lack of energy but originally the thought that perhaps things might be building up to some intense highlight moment, a drop or whatever else kept my interest in the song from waning too much. Of course none of those things ever really ended up materializing which is still pretty disappointing to me but on reflection I do feel like I was perhaps a little bit too harsh in my original review. The chorus is in that familiar, catchy Tsurezure style with the great lyrical flow to everything which I suppose is a highlight in its own right even if now in the context of this album it does feel like we’ve been hearing rather too much of it at this point. Add in the way that once again this track brings everything together for its closing salvo and there isn’t too much to complain about really. It’s not the Tsurezure that I knew and loved but I guess that group hasn’t really existed for a while now and I’m only just now starting to get used to that fact.
To finish out the album Tsurezure have included a collection of solo songs, one for each member. We’ve heard a couple of them before but the first of the bunch “Arrhythmia” sees Takari Takara get her first solo effort as a member of the group. I almost thought the we were going to get this super atmospheric Shoegaze number as the instrumental initially started warming up but a quick tempo drumbeat and some bright, ethereal guitar tones did a pretty good job of putting paid to that particular notion in short order. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy with the atmospheric Rock track that we did get and despite what I always complain about when it comes to distortion and all that jazz, I actually really liked how the drumming muddied things up here as it allowed for both the guitars as well as Takara’s vocals to really shine on the song. Speaking of the vocals, this is a very powerful, emotive performance that’s packing a lot of great melodies during the verses and also during the chorus but I did like how the tone changed a bit there to give a bit of a shift in the mood. We even get a few moments where some harsh vocals make an appearance, something of a rarity these days on newer Tsurezure material it seems, which was really cool to hear and it definitely added to the already rather heavy emotional dynamic of the track. I like pretty much everything going on here honestly, and especially the way the track ascends to its climax before going off screaming into the void. Probably one of the more standout tracks from this album for me, and I’m really not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that really.
Next up we have Kotetsu and her solo track “Mezzo Forte”, which I’m only really familiar with as the name of an anime from back in the day so I’m probably dating myself rather heavily by even making that reference. I have to say, I really like what’s going on with the instrumentation at the start of this track. Some great little scales and synthesizer melodies really made for something interesting to listen to and also something that was very different than pretty much everything else that had been going on on this release up to this point. We eventually settle into a Rock leaning arrangement with a nice steady beat which affords Kotetsu with plenty of room to let her do her thing vocally. I suppose most people probably think of that super high pitched, anime style of vocal when it comes to her but this song is a pretty great example of what Kotetsu can do when she’s singing in a more natural style. The verses feature some really nice, breathy melodies which you would think might be a bit at odds with the energy of the instrumental but it actually makes for quite the effective contrast I thought. Then the choruses hit and we really get to hear what Kotetsu can do as she pours all of her emotion into some really powerful, standout moments. It might be a little bit high pitched for some people I suppose but isn’t that what most would be expecting from a Kotetsu solo in the first place anyway? It matches the increased brightness and intensity of the instrumental during these parts too so I don’t really have any problems with it personally. Granted it takes a few really solid parts and makes heavy use of them so there isn’t a ton of variety to be had throughout the song, but as a showcase of Kotetsu as a vocalist I think this track more than delivers and might just surprise a few people even.
As we begin to wind down the album we finally come to the two solo songs that most of you will probably already be familiar with. First up we have “Existence Metaphysical” from Mare A Komachi, which originally featured on Tsurezure’s last studio album “exFALLEN” and you can read my original thoughts on that release along with this particular song here if you don’t feel like you’ve done enough reading already by now. Heavy use of synthesizers make for a very ambient, fairly chilled out instrumental which if you know Komachi’s personality is a pretty good representation of her in all honesty. Despite the rather understated nature of it all there is actually a pretty nice rhythm to things and several interesting melodies throughout the track that keep the mind from drifting too far as the song dances in the ear. Komachi’s vocal performance is also very typical of her personality, very low tension and a lot of the time it feels more like she’s just having an idle conversation as opposed to performing a solo song. It does all have a really nice flow to it though and there are also times where we’re even treated to some hauntingly beautiful high notes which I thought was really cool to hear too. Definitely a far cry from your typical Tsurezure song, even after the recent trend of the group starting to push their boundaries a bit more. That said, and I said this at the time too, I think it’s pretty cool to let the members do something that’s so different like this if you’re going to go to the trouble of giving them solo songs. Sure it might not jive totally with the group’s image but if people wanted stuff that does then there’s a whole album of that here and a dozen other releases besides that offer that sort of thing.
The honor of closing things out on this album falls to Mei Yui Mei and her solo song “Hue”. As I previously mentioned, you can read my initial impression of this track and the album that it featured on here if you should wish to do so. Acoustic guitar still isn’t something I ever expect to hear out of a Tsurezure instrumental but it’s being made pretty heavy use of here, along with some rather nice piano melodies which probably isn’t what you’re here for if you’re mainly looking for songs with a bit more of a cutting edge to them. I think everything is pretty well executed though for what this song is, it has this pretty nice Indie Pop vibe going on and I don’t mind a bit of that sort of thing from time to time myself. I’m assuming this is something that Mei herself is into when she’s not screaming her lungs out for Tsurezure, which is a pretty interesting disconnect but it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise that she would be into stuff like this in her off-time I suppose. Speaking of Mei, she delivers a really nice clean performance here which I think also shows a different side to her vocal abilities than we might usually get to hear which is pretty cool. She does let her hair down a bit for the song’s choruses however and just about manages to nail some very tricky lines in rather rapid succession, though it is a little bit rough around the edges at times in my personal opinion, though not to any great degree. On the whole a pretty nice way to close things out and I guess they sort of snuck a bit of a Ballad in there at the end, didn’t they? Very clever Tsurezure, very clever.
“paradox soar” is pretty solid album on the whole from Tsurezure. For me personally 16 tracks is a bit much though, and I can’t help but feel like we probably didn’t need almost every track from the group’s last few singles and 4 solo songs to be featured here. It just feels like it’s a bit too much and they could have probably tightened the tracklist up a little and not had it impact too heavily on what they were trying to showcase here. I also wouldn’t have minded a bit more harsh vocals to have been featured but I’m coming to accept that the group isn’t really about that sort of thing these days unfortunately.
There’s still a bit of time left in 2020 and a little bit of catching up to do all things considered, so I could potentially see at least the announcement of Tsurezure’s next release before the end of the year. I’m not really sure what I’d want from it at this point but maybe something that’s really different from what they’ve been doing on this album could be interesting. I feel like the group has its comfort zone where they have a formula that works but it does make for some songs that sound a bit to similar to one another. A bit of experimentation could perhaps freshen things up a bit but then I look at what KAQRIYOTERROR have been doing lately and I find myself in two minds on that front too.