Alice Nine’s latest release is a fast-paced song marked by jaw-dropping guitar solos complemented with a vertigo-inducing pv to boot. Gritty and downright full of energy, Senkou stands as the malevolent twin to the band’s 2008 single, Mirrorball.
Save for the early inclusion of drumbeats in Senkou, the two songs seem to share the same intro. However, the comparison ends there. While Mirrorball was a soaring number infused with tempered pop sensibilities, Senkou is a genuine head-banger. Nao pounds on the drum like there’s no tomorrow while Hiroto and Tora outdo each other in letting loose rifts from hell. A few moments after Senkou hits its second minute, all semblance of restraint dissipates and we are treated to an aural orgy of awesomeness. I do have one pet-peeve though: Shou blundered his way singing the English lyrics but they are more discomfiting when read: “When swan sings lost song / The time for walk with you, I loved…… When I sings your song / At the end of the world, I loved…… When swan sings lost song / The time for walk with you, I loved.” (I swear that’s how exactly there were written in the booklet).
The second track, Le Grand Bleu picks up where Senkou lefts off. Frenetic drumming and guitar rifts open the song before launching into a full assault on the senses. Le Grand Bleu takes you in, dangles you all around, slows down by a notch then goes all out again. Furthermore, the addition of a second voice right around the chorus provides a very fascinating contrast. It’s an effort keeping up with the song’s helterskelter vibe but overall, Le Grand Bleu is a very rousing number and an apt progress from Senkou.
Solar Eclipse, on the other hand, features a prominent bass and some nifty guitar shredding but for some reason, I’m drawn to this song because of Shou’s vocals. To be honest, I’ve always been ambivalent towards his singing. Sometimes he sounds as if there’s something in his throat. In Solar Eclipse though, he is in full control. It’s difficult to stand out when you have guitarists dueling around you but Shou managed to hold his ground. I’m impressed by how he was able to shift from soft vocals to a more commanding one, even more so when he let out that high note 3:16 into the song.
The final track, Namida no Aru Basho, is a bit of a downer and it’s not because it’s a ballad. Alice Nine has released emotionally-charged slows songs before but this one sounds uninspired and dragging in some parts. Suffice it is to say, Namida no Aru Basho felt already empty even before catharsis sets in. After all the exhilaration provoked by the first 3 tracks, it would have been nice if a powerful yet soothing track winds it all down. Unfortunately, Namida no Aru Basho didn’t quite live up to it.
That aside, Senkou the maxi-single is a highly recommended release. It’s not just a glint. It’s a glistening fireball.