maxi-single review – Senkou Type A (Alice Nine)

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.


9 thoughts on “maxi-single review – Senkou Type A (Alice Nine)”

  1. Hm…do you not consider HANA their latest ‘hit’? As I recall, Mirrorball was released kind of a while ago, although the date escapes me at the moment. That being said, what is considered a ‘hit’ or not is slightly subjective unless we go all OriCon in here.

    Thanks for the review. I was looking forward to reading someone’s thoughts on the CD, as I haven’t heard much prior to its release. Honestly, when I first read the previews SENKOU didn’t strike me as being the next Big Thing, but after reading your thoughts on it, I’m fully prepared to give it a better listen.

    Take it easy-

    1. By “previous” I meant a track they have released in the past and not necessarily the one directly preceding Senkou. But thanks for pointing that out. Have revised it now to avoid more confusion. I was battling lethargy when I wrote this piece and was not able to properly proofread 🙂 That said, I like the single because it was riveting enough to release me from stupor even if for just a while. It was energetic without being too cacophonic.

      Do kindly share your thoughts on it once you have a better listen. You know I have high regards for your judgement.

      1. Ah, sorry, I didn’t mean to correct you at all, I was just trying to get perfectly clear on what you meant. That said…did you dislike HANA?

        Thank you. I’ll be sure to share any opinions or revelations I may have once I hear SENKOU.

        Take it easy–

  2. It’s great to see such a positive review about this single especially after reading through many negative comments people made about it being to similar to anime theme songs. I like how your review allowed me to look at most of the songs in a slightly different way. I especially like how you mentioned the rhythm section (bass & drums). Too often, people disregard or don’t talk much about that part of the band and I feel that a review isn’t complete if the foundation of the song is not even talked about!

    But it was kind of funny how you pointed out Shou’s Engrish. I actually listened to the song many times from the pv and noticed a lot of things but not once did I notice Shou’s Engrish. XD But when you mention and I listen out for it, it seems so obvious and a bit awkward. I really like how you point out a lot of things that make people like myself listen out for to give a song another chance before jumping to conclusions about what the song is really like.

    I think that applied to Solar Eclipse for me most. I thought it was pretty bleh that first time I listened to it and I actually skipped to the next song halfway through. But after reading your review on it I listened to it again and I’m glad I did. I especially love the bass in this song. It’s not too fancy because I know Saga does get carried away sometimes and makes the basslines sound much too like guitar but this time it was really…steady? It tight with Nao’s drumming and the consistency was like an underlying heartbeat of the song that complemented the guitars and vocals.

    Kind of sad that Namida no Aru Basho was a downer though. I love ballads but you’re right in saying that this wasn’t that best. I felt that the intro was promising but as it progressed, everything went downhill. I think another that made it a bit disappointing was that it sounded very much like the songs from VANDALIZE and the ballads on VANDALIZE like ‘subaru’ and ‘the beautiful name’ were outstanding compared to it.

    Wah. I’m sorry I got carried away. But I’m glad that you wrote such a great review and shared it. I read someone of your past reviews and I have to say I love your analogies. J

    But thank you for this.

    1. Hi resonanceofloss! I enjoyed reading your comment too. And no, you did not get “carried away” 🙂 I’m euphoric that you think my thoughts on the single are of some significance and that you shared your own thoughts as well.

      One of the main reasons I started SOLILOQUY is to find people of similar interests and to hear what they have to say. You have helped me achieve that and I am most thankful.

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