I’ll cut through the chase and zero in directly on Kakera’s crown jewel – track 10: Ni-Kaigi. This song is the jrock equivalent of Tchaikovsky’s Fight of the Bumblebee. It soars, it glides then stings you into utter submission. The drums are solid but it’s really the guitar rifts that carries the whole song. How they managed to make an electric guitar sound like a demon-possessed violin is enthralling. Right off the song’s first few seconds, Ni-Kaigi already hits you with a face-smothering force that would leave you reeling. And by mid-song, there’s a 2 minute instrumental with such carnal intensity it would make you bleed. The guitar solo is simply smashing. Ni-Kaigi is brazenly compelling.
Curiously though, Ni-Kaigi is followed by the lightest song in Kakera: Kimi ni Okuru Itsumademo Kienai Uta. The beat is very simple and the overall vibe is positive. It’s the polar opposite of Ni-Kaigi, if not of all the songs in the album. Kimi ni Okuru Itsumademo Kienai Uta is the type of song that would have everyone swaying along with the guitar in the pv and someone would be driving while the sun is shining oh so brightly. Don’t get me wrong, Kimi ni Okuru Itsumademo Kienai Uta is a wonderful song. It just feels so out of place in an album filled with hardcore metal tracks. While the rest of the songs in Kakera would fit wonderfully in anyone’s VK playlist, Kimi ni Okuru Itsumademo Kienai Uta would be more at home in an alternative rock medley. In fact, try to listen to this song back to back with L’Arc~en~Ciel’s Spirit Dreams Inside and you’d find that they complement each other nicely since they share the same drum beat.
Other notable tracks in Kakera are track 2, 3, 8 and 9 respectively (nevermind the 43 second instrumental Kodou that kicks off the album. They should have just appended it to Shinzou instead of passing it off as a separate track). Shinzou is a guaranteed head-banger that blends fist-pumping beats with frenetic death growls. The energy in this song is contagious and provides the perfect set-up for the succeeding track, Akaki Hi No Chikai. Next to Ni-Kaigi, this is a favorite of mine in the album. If either Need for Speed or Initial D is looking for an addition to its soundtrack then I would totally recommend Akaki Hi No Chikai. The song is fast, furious and the perfect song to listen to while (over)speeding. Kakusei is equally vibrant. Without a doubt this song would sound awesome live. There is good build-up and the guitar solo is superb. Never a dull moment. Kajitsu wa warau, on the other hand, starts off slowly then evolves into a rousing guitar-driven track. A somber mid-tempo song with a kick-ass chorus, Kajitsu wa warau thoroughly showcases the sheer passion of NoGod.
Hands down, Kakera ranks among the best albums I have ever come across recently. It’s a remarkable proof that Shinkou Shuukyo Gakudan NoGod could be one of the most portentous bands to emerge from the VK indie scene. I backtracked to their other pre-major releases and found myself even more impressed. Their song Zesshoku from the album Gokusaishiki is an absolute must listen. The whole of Gokushaishiki is a must listen.
If NoGod would continue to push the envelope and produce songs at the same level as Zesshoku and Ni-Kaigi then by all means, brand me now an atheist.