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So, 2017. What a ride that was... wait, what am I even talking about? I can barely remember anything of note that happened this year. Here's some of the stuff I do remember.

Twat of the Year

Probably a tie between Daichi, for sacrificing Guso Drop on the altar of doubt, leaving Saki and Fumimi to their own devices simply because he wanted to stop writing exclusively for only a few groups, only to curtail his freelance career to write exclusively for only two groups; or Watanabe Junnosuke for his continued attempts to make an idol under his auspices commit suicide just for publicity. Tossers, the both of them.


Music Video of 2017



Very rare that I give this award to something Japanese, let alone idol-related, but this year Rie put out something artsy as hell and that makes me happy. Solstafir released two music videos this year, both wonderfully shot but unfortunately not by Bowen Staines and thus lacking the deeper meaning that his videos usually contain, and metal let me down considerably. Thus it was basically between this and another video which will come up later, which this just won out. The music and video actually heavily remind me of the Banvox/Yamabe Miyu collab Umbrella, which was fantasically weird. Either way, with trolleattroll or Hajimetal, Rie's career doesn't look like something as basic as Ladybaby disintegrating will stand in its way.


Best Photobook of 2017

Nagahama Neru's Kokokara. Neru makes me laugh. She's a bit of a spanner and in Keyaki is one of the members that keeps you guessing as to how broken she actually is (I think most of them are pretty broken or emo as it is). Whether being cheerful as hell or emo as hell she's almost wondefully split-personalitied. So the photobook is basically neither, just completely dirty.












Best Picture of Dani Filth Looking Like a Spanner in 2017


THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU! (to keep dressing like a spanner for the foreseeable future)

Most Brutal Chromatic Riff of 2017



That riff at 2:15 is evil. I love it. Actually I love this whole song. The random genre crash and stupidity and ooh colour explosions.

Best Song To Play When You Ragequit Your Job of 2017



Alestorm doing wonders for the "parental advisory" crowd here. But it's so fucking catchy, eh.

Best Deafheaven Ripoff of 2017

Compare and contrast:




Inspired by... lol.
Don't get me wrong, I do love Dots. They break audiences so well. The first time I saw them they did Noise Music and one Dot sat on the stage whilst the others brought her a bunch of panties and she ate them. It's fun. Shame the fans are boring and are basically all kameko (camera-wielding motherfuckers who block everyone else's view). 

Biggest Disappointment of 2017

So many. So, so many. From the deaths of the remainder of all the groups I first started liking when I stumbled across underground idols all those years ago (so long to Next Shoujo Jiken, Tsuki to Taiyou, Guso Drop and Hauptharmonie from my A-list this year) to my return to Japan 4 months ago only to find myself too remote to be able to go to Tokyo frequently to catch the lives I wanted, resulting in me seeing Guso Drop only twice before their demise, and still not having seen Zekkyou due to their ridiculously far-reaching live schedule. In more ridiculous disappointments, still kind of need Haga Akane to evolve into Hagane and release her metal potential.

Strangest Mashup of Holidays of 2017




So, Suzu's back. And she's turning Christmas into Halloween, because that's Suzu. Also the bassist has green strings. That's rad.

Most Randomly Stupid Yet Stupidly Catchy Song of 2017



Honestly that line with 何様だ pisses me off. It basically glorifies Japan's serious problem with unpaid overtime and the resultant deaths by overwork (過労死) that occur due to it. And even despite all that overtime Japan's productivity is stupidly low. It's got to the point where the Japanese government has even designated the last Friday of every month as "Premium Friday" where there's no overtime. As of yet, only public bodies have actually started to do it. That aside, this song is basically Nakajima Terui's tribute to both Stevie Wonder and Love Machine. Henkka's wonderfully polished remix shows the former, whereas the use of Dance☆Man and lyrics related to Japan's place in the world and doing something to improve it hearken heavily back to Love Machine. Also it's damn funky and sexy as all hell with that bass. Can't really look past it as my idol song of 2017. Lyrical stupidity aside, anyway.

Best Use of Magic in a PV of 2017



Angerme left it late in the year to release something I really liked, but when they did, I got this hilarity. Ostensibly the previous Angerme members, having already established themselves as the fucknut group of H!P, have somehow awoken magic and use it to trap their new members in with them until they too become fucknuts. Also harpsichord solo.

Best Idol Group Meltdown of 2017

Kobushi Factory proving you don't need to be an underground idol group with no fans to lose 3 members in a matter of months all for varying degrees of scandal, whilst two other members are also tarred with the same brush.


Best Rock'n'Roll Throwback of 2017



The riffs. The stylings. Then DAT chorus. I love a moving rhythm guitar in a chorus (see Tokyo Girls' Style's Bad Flower for another sexy example), and this is the best example in years. Good stuff.

Manifesto for a New Age of 2017




So, Morning Musume's had a strange 2017. Quite a few new members to integrate, and a new album which ignored every song released in 2015 and 2016 for good measure. However, they did release Brand New Morning, which I found an interesting European club hit in comparison to their other songs this year, which were either Tsunku leftovers which were pretty crap, or upbeat songs which were pretty crap. It also provided a nice basis for Yokoyama and Kaga to take centre stage a bit, and Yokoyama has actually really impressed me this year. It'll be interesting seeing how well Morito beds in, and what the hell is gonna happen with Kudo gone. Still, Tsunku needs to refind his mojo or it's all for naught.

Most Hyper Colourific Weird PV of 2017



Ebichuu on a mission to blind people.

Most Ridiculously Overlong Album of 2017

Keyakizaka's Masshiro na Mono wa Yogoshitakunaru (I want to dirty things that're pure white) has 40 songs and clocks in at nearly 3 hours once you factor in all the different versions. I tried to listen to the whole thing to review it, but but by the time you're finished you can't remember 90% of what happened before. So, fuck it. I thought that would be unassailable, until HKT48 released their first album (after 5 years+ years of existence) which has 51 songs and clocks in at three and a half hours. Fuck you AkiP, can't you just release one album with 12 songs every year instead of 51 songs every 5?

Most Improved Vocals of 2017



Rei is going from strength to strength. She has nodules or something, which are normally pretty simple to remove and result in better vocals overall (see Saki, who had to have them removed in 2015 at some point), and despite ragequitting Ladybaby because of some fight she had with Rie, in Brats at least she has a musical project to maintain her rise to popularity. Shame her guitar playing has got so shit...

Best Use of a Dwarf in an Idol PV of 2017



Also possibly the only use of a dwarf in an idol PV of 2017. Koto's dancing is too fast for the backing dancers to keep up. Also zombie Koto is cute. Still, making a PV for a song that was released two years ago when you recently released a new single is a bit weird.

Best Sadako Tribute PV of 2017



Honestly I find Myrkur somewhat overrated, it's relatively good quality folk black metal but because it was done by a Danish female pop singer suddenly it's the most grim and frostbitten thing ever. Even so, the music video is relatively well done, and there's something trance-like about the choral sections. Plus the aforementioned Sadako shoutout.

Most Eccentric PV of 2017



See what I did there? (Outside Japan you'll probably have to find the Taiwanese version, sorry, that's region blocked for me so won't let me find it even). Eccentric is Keyakizaka's song about funtimes in the rain. Or something. The live version dance is hiliarious, with them taking off one shoe and waving it over their heads, throwing it away, then they all disappear off stage to find them again. Keyakizaka are certainly becoming the most out-there major group.

Best Facial of 2017



Yea, Guso's last giant fuck you to the industry involved them getting spattered in blood and semen. Because why not.

The Most Heavy Genres in One Song of 2017



Let's count. Punk, djent, death metal, pop rock, deathcore, prog metal, punk, pop rock, doom metal, pop, pop rock. Enough?

Most Ludicrous Amount of Injokes in A Double-Header PV of 2017



Saki going gung ho on the references to her own life, Daichi's life, the manager's life, the record label A&R guy's life and everything else in the double-header PV for Chippoke Hero and 3分.

Most Horrific 80s-Inpisred Song of 2017



So, you hire Hyadain to make you a song, then you choose to restrict him by making it a somewhat bastardised semi-cover. Not only do you choose to sample and steal the chorus from possibly the most outrageously sexual 80s song ever created, but also some other 80s stuff, just so you can work with Trevor Horn on the follow-up? Fucking pointless.

Best Liars of 2017

"We're not idols!" claimed Tokyo Girls' Style, who then spent this year doing everything to convince everyone otherwise, from appearing at Tokyo Idol Festival to doing release events for their singles and albums.



Still, their output hasn't been too bad this year.

Best Spanking of 2017



I guess Hina's been a bad girl. Anyway, I digress, this was my second choice for best music video of the year, losing out simply because this is less artsy. Still, very rare two Japanese artists even get close to my #1, let alone idols. So yes, Dawnslayer. From Himari, Sari and Risaki summoning demons to Hina being whipped by some weird person, it's all very occult and very Necroma, and shot gorgeously. Despite losing two of my favourite members in Karen and Hotaru, they've found two very capable replacements and seem to be going from strength to strength, and look set to expand even further next year. For those who haven't read it, I also reviewed the London gig.

Most Disturbing Vocalist of 2017



So, an 11 year old Norwegian girl is channelling the spirit of some chain-smoking New Orleans jazz singer. This isn't even the best one, last year she did a cover of "I Put A Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, inventor of the death growl. Because why not. It's worth noting she won Norway's version of Got Talent, singing Billie Holiday's Gloomy Sunday. When she was 7. Kids are scary.

Cold? I Don't Know Such a Thing... Hardcore Idol of 2017



This Artema Doll video was published in June. However it was recorded in February. It was -2C. Artema Doll's perpetual barefooter Nanaeru wasn't to be deterred however, and did it barefoot anyway. That's what I call devotion to her lifestyle.

Top Five EPs or Mini-Albums of 2017

It's a rare year when I actually find this many EPs or Mini-albums worth rating, let alone making a section about. As ever my definition of these things is a bit odd. I define an album as something which lasts more than 35 minutes. Or, has more than 10 tracks and lasts more than 30 minutes. Or has more than 20 tracks and lasts 25 minutes (just so grindcore actually has albums, not just EPs). Apparently EPs are only supposed to have 4 tracks and be less than 25 minutes but that's bullshit, the first EP I ever listened to (and loved the hell out of) was Cradle of Filth's V Empire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein, which was 36 minutes long and had 6 tracks. It's still my favourite thing Cradle have ever released. Anyway, this year, the top five EPs that have gained my attention...

5= Broken By The Scream - Screaming Rhapsody


Song picks: Hashire! Nadeshiko, Watashi wa Watashi no Mama da yo, Hikari

Maniac turned me onto this, and it is pretty much poppy deathcore. Not really a genre I spend too much time in, but the two screaming vocalists don't even sound slightly wrong. Whereas Saki and Rei in Guso Drop got gradually worse, and Yuna in Passcode had to have surgery due to their technique being wrong, this is technique done correctly. The music, despite it not being a genre I particularly enjoy normally, is well done and surprisingly professional for underground idols. As such it, despite being much lower in score than the 4 EPs above it, makes the list to make it into a top 5.

7.6/10



5= Necronomidol - Dawnslayer

 
Song picks: Dawnslayer, R'lyeh, Abhoth

So, it's not actually a top five but a top six, because 5 had two EPs at the same rating. Necroma's Dawnslayer has three amazing songs on it, and two which I'm not too keen on. As such the rating kind of slipped a bit behind where Necroma releases usually rate but at least they got on here. I'll not bother posting the Dawnslayer video again, but it is amazing. R'lyeh is amazing. Abhoth is amazing. Need more like R'lyeh honestly, that's some super good songwriting. Anyway, more to come on Necroma in a minute.

7.6/10



4. Zekkyousuru 60do x I Love You Orchestra - Hug


Song picks:  Yowamushi no Uta, Susume, Utakata no Ima, Mirai no Kako, Tension

I honestly didn't think I'd get hold of this in time for this post, being so hard to find even living in Japan. As it was, it arrived December 30th. Just in time for me to write this. Now, the collaboration between Zekkyou and I love you Orchestra goes back years, having done so many shows together at Otsuka Hearts+ over the intervening period. They collaborated on a few songs every gig, and that turned into this collaboration. It's a bit far from Zekkyou's normal two-pronged songwriting, that of either 6% is Mine's punk base or Nejishiki's funky pop rock sensibilities, with I love you Orchestra being almost full on technical pop prog with flashes of ska and other random stuff at points. Even so, it works well, with both Montero and Kai having been involved in the creative process it adds more of their character to the lyrics than the Nejishiki stuff. Overall a good little EP, though I'd have preferred it a little longer. Also points for some of the songtitles being fantastic. Especially 泡沫の今,未来の過去。which translates as "The Transient Present, the Past of the Future," and 天志音 which is so many puns I can't even but is pronounced Tension and represents "The sound of aiming for the stars".

8.9/10



3. Hauptharmonie und Tapferkeit Band - Brass! Brass!! Brass!!!


Song picks: Kuchibiru wo Ubai ni Iku, Tokyoite Grim Reaper, Gouyuu

Ah, dearly departed Haupt. They were so amazing and died too soon. For their final farewell they teamed with Tapferkeit Band and released this rock 'n' roll inspired jazzy EP, which is sexy as a sexy thing. Terada Juno's vocals in particular are phenomenal on this release, and the instrumentation, being provided by an actual band rather than hired session musicians is tight as hell and gives a more naturalistic feel to it. Even with the heavier numbers, it never sounds forced. Speaking of the heavier numbers, Gouyuu is the heaviest thing they ever released and it's insane. Grindcore idol jazz. So short but it made me so happy. This is a fitting tribute to their demise, and I love it. Haupt is dead, long live Haupt.

9.1/10



2. Hoshina Fumimi - Mimichic


Song picks: Tsumeaka Gero Happy, Hizaue 15cm,  Sore wa Sore wa Kawaisou na Onnanoko no Monogatari

So, Fumimi's first release is the last one produced by Daichi, but hell, what a tour de force their collaboration brings. Daichi seemed to struggle for a while deciding with Fumimi what direction to take once she joined Aminor, with Vampire Kiss (her first song, which Daichi wrote for her when she was still freelancing) being somewhat removed in style from her later stuff, but when he made up his mind a load of amazing songs came through. Pretty much everything on this mini-album is fantastically written and I love it. As a complete and finished product, I'd say in the all-time Daichi songwriting standard it comes in below 2&'s Live Idol Artist, about equal with Guso Drop's Meshi no Tane and above everything they released thereafter. As someone who was as die-hard into Guso Drop as I was, that's a high standard. But it's good stuff. More people should like Fumimi. She's awesome.

9.3/10



1. Asterism - The Session Vol. 1


Song picks: All of them

Should I, realistically, be putting an EP which has two original tracks and three covers at the top of this list? No. Nonetheless, I am. Why? Because Asterism deserve to be heard. Proving once again that Asia is full of ridiculous talent, Asterism started in 2014 and even now the members are still stupidly young, with the bassist Miyu and guitarist Haruka being 15, and the drummer Mio is 18. I released my first EP around the same age but was nowhere near this level of ability. Their original compositions are thrash metal in the Bathory vein (I know, I'm basically the only person who likes Bathory's thrash output), but the bass mixing is super high and I love a high bass level in thrash metal. Listen to Bathory's Requiem for why. Their covers, on this record of Metallica, Ozzy and Judas Priest, show off their metal roots, and they're on the verge of a major breakthrough despite only playing instrumentals. I saw them live on the 29th of December, and I've never seen a live band play so tight. Despite the tiny venue, and shitty stage management, they overcame the lack of space to play a load of songs from this EP and the next one due out in January, and slayed it. Miyu, the bassist, is particularly insane level, at one point he was playing a 7-string bass. Haruka's way better than any 15 year old has any right to be on guitar, and whilst Mio's drumming is the least flashy of the 3 members, he's rhythmically on point and tight as hell, and in pulling off Rush's YYZ without a hitch that's some compliment. Definitely a band to watch for the future.

9.4/10




Top Ten Albums of 2017

So, this year has been a mixed bag. Already we start off a hell of a lot lower than usual with #10 being a 7.6 as opposed to 8.2 last year. Also only 4 albums made it over 9 this year, in contrast to the six last year. On the other hand, the top three are incredibly closely matched.

10. Enslaved - E


Song picks: Sacred Horse, Hiindsiight, Djupet.

Enslaved have been a force to contend with in the realm of progressive viking black metal for a good 15 years now, and their latest album E (not M), shows no sign of them slowing. For me, I still think they hit their peak with Riitir, but this album is a good slice of everything they do so well. There's the proggy as hell bits, the black metal as hell bits, and a lot more Viking influence than has been apparent of late as well. Not a bad album.

7.6



9. Yanakoto Sotto Mute - Bubble


Song picks: am I, sputnik note, Done

YSM is a group I have never paid attention to. I don't know who the members are. I have never seen them live. But Maniac told me this was a good album so I tried it out. Holy shit it's good. It's an idol album in the nichest sense possible. If you imagine the good old collaboration between Melon Kinenbi and Midori (how the fuck that ever came about I can't even imagine) it's akin to that, but on an album-wide scale. Apparently they're linked to Bellring Shoujo Heart and their successor There There Theres somehow, so that might explain the musical quality. The production, like Bellheart, is basically wall of sound to the extreme, which might turn off some listeners not used to the Phil Spector technique running the hell away. Either way, a nicely produced and performed album, but definitely not for music novices. Looking forward to some improvement for their next one.

7.7/10



8.  Necronomidol - Deathless


Song picks: End of Days, Keres Thanatio, Ithaqua

Yes, this is an album, not an EP or mini-album, by dint of being 19 seconds longer than my arbitrary album length minimum standard. Necoma are back and badder than ever. Despite this getting a lower rating than Nemesis, it's higher in my year end chart because that's just the kind of year 2017 has been. Necroma's strength in depth has only increased here, with the gloriously modern metal meets shoegaze of End of Days to the frankly weird 4.7L (some kind of club hit with guitar chugging) and Chunking Redline (80s synthpop darkwave or something I don't even) added to their normal NWOBHM and Black Metal base, plus the now mandatory-seeming addition of Skulls in the Stars. All in all a good second album and looking forward to what 2018 brings for them, seeing as 2017, with an album and an EP in the top lists, was so successful for them.

7.8/10



7. Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku - Ebicracy


Song picks: Seifuku "Hourensou" Funk, Beni no Uta, Haru no Arashi,

So, Ebichuu have had a tough year. Rina died. Aiai's going to graduate. There was no 五五七二三二○  song. Even so they released Ebicracy, which is damn good. Ebichuu have consistently outdone Momoclo in the past 4 years, by releasing the interesting and crazy music that Momoclo, bound by the restrictions of mainstream success, haven't been able to. Ebicracy is funky, proggy and deranged in just the right amounts. They even touch shoegaze in Kanjou Densha. It is disturbing how quickly shoegaze has gone from something fringey as hell to mainstream in the span of a few years. Even so, a good album and I hope they carry on making crazy music even without Aiai.

8/10



6.  Marty Friedman - Wall of Sound


Song picks: Self Pollution, Whiteworm, Something to Fight

Speaking of wall of sound, here's Marty namechecking the hell out of it. Marty's been on fire since he fully embraced the Japanese side and came out of his mid-2000s funk, and on Wall of Sound he's just as heavy as he was on Inferno. Unfortunately the production this time around is a little less amazing, but there are still a number of fantastic songs and moments which are just glorious. With Sexy Saxman Saxogram Jørgen Munkeby back for some more saxy shredding, as well as Shiv Mehra from Deafheaven and someone from Black Veil Brides, it shows Marty still taking an interest in the new and unexplored reaches metal has gone to in recent years, and trying out some exploration along with his shred. The ambient passages are also really sweet, showing that people thinking Marty is incapable of playing with feeling are full of shit. Good stuff.

8.6/10



5. Akercocke - Renaissance in Extremis



Song picks: Unbound by Sin, First To Leave The Funeral, One Chapter Closing For Another To Begin

So, Akercocke are back. I predicted their album would be on this list last year, and I've proven myself right. It's no Words That Go Unspoken, but nonetheless it's a very good album. Paul Scanlan also made his return, and so a lot of the more grimy riffing that was present on Goat Of Mendes and Chronozon also came back. As someone who enjoyed both albums that's nice for me. It's been likened on some reviews to the Bryan Ferry of Death Metal. Could be. Jason Mendonca's obviously spent his time during Akercocke's demise being an IT professional, but it seems he hasn't stopped practicing with his voice, as his croons are amazing as ever and his death growls are still humanly indecipherable. The drumming is also top notch, but I don't think David Gray's ever appeared on an album where it wasn't. He is Blast Vader after all. Overall a good return for them, and good progressive black/death metal as well. Good times.

8.7/10



4. Septicflesh - Codex Omega


Song picks: Portrait of a Headless Man, Enemy of Truth, The Gospels of Fear

Henkka recommended that I check this out and damn am I glad he did. Septicflesh are a Greek symphonic death metal band, and like every Greek metal band I've ever heard, they do strange and interesting things to the genre that no one outside of Greece seems capable of replicating. In the case of Codex Omega it's basically a full on symphony with death growls. This is almost Wagneresque in its depiction of impending doom through sumptious aural violence. Probably the best death metal album in years, and that's saying quite something. More please.

9.2/10



3. For All We Know - Take Me Home


Song picks: Take Me Home, Let Me Fly, Colours, We Are The Light

The combination of Wudstik and Ruud Jolie is back, and after taking my 2011 Best Album by quite a margin, they're back with the just as amazing Take Me Home. Unfortunately this year the competition was a hell of a lot more fierce at the sharp end of this list, and so they missed out on the top spot by 0.2 points and 2 places. Wudstik has continued his march to becoming basically one of my favourite vocalists of all time by basically doing every vocal style in existence on this album. This album is a lot heavier than the first FAWK record, often channelling a bit of Haken for good measure. The pop sensibilities of Jolie's main band Within Temptation also creep in at parts, and whereas on the first album he was focused (almost too much) on making an album that was proggy as a really proggy thing, this time he's focused on making a damn good album and never mind the influences so much. Hence you get sexy pop hooks followed by 7-string chugging in weird and wonderful time signatures. Wonderful album.

9.5/10



2. Body Count - Bloodlust


Song picks: This Is Why We Ride, No Lives Matter, Black Hoodie

Ice-T and the gang are back and they are pissed. From Dave Mustaine's spoken word intro telling the listener that the US is now in a state of martial law, to the last notes of the album this doesn't let up. It's fast, and actually still sounds dangerous, which a lot of metal has lost these days. In addition, the social commentary on the album is top draw, and makes me think that Ice-T, like Al Jourgensen, writes his best stuff when Republicans are in power. So definitely worth checking out. This album's also one for those who think rap has no place in metal, as it's damn good.

9.6/10



1. Ayreon - The Source


Song picks: All of them

So, Arjen's back. As I predicted at the end of last year, he released something which, in going back to the old Ayreon storyline and being one of the heaviest things he's ever released under the Ayreon name (possibly about equal with Flight of the Migrator) has me jizzing everywhere. So much better than the last Ayreon album it's not even funny, and probably the best album he's done since The Human Equation, even counting the amazing 2nd Star One album. From the guests being on-form and amazing (he specifically called back a lot of the 01011001 cast as being immortal they're basically the same characters) to the music being even more amazing this is an event, not an album. It's even got one of the sexiest guitar solos ever recorded in Planet Y is Alive, played by Guthrie Govan of all people. Paul Gilbert's on here too. It's basically amazing. The whole thing's on Youtube, go check it out, it's worth it.

9.7/10



2018 Predictions:

1. ・・・・・・・・・ First Album 「         」 takes the world by storm. I've heard it and I love it. But despite being "officially" leaked, the "official" release date isn't until January and thus it couldn't make this year's list, so assuming I remember it's a 2018 release it should be on the list next year.

2. Burst Girls will suck. I know, I was a huge Guso Drop fan. When Daichi dropped the bomb that they were gonna end I thought "fuck". Now they announced that Rin, Yura, Rei and Miyako are continuing as Burst Girls. The music, from what I've heard, sounds pretty meh. I'll be honest, once Shion and Saki left Daichi and the fans were the only thing keeping me interested. Without him as the producer, I'm sceptical if any of the songs will be any good.  I would love to be proven wrong, but until I've heard good quality music I'm not going near it.

3. Necronomidol continue to dominate in Japan, and return once more to decimate Europe. This is less of a prediction and more what I've heard. They are touring internationally again, so you can bet your left testicle it's going to be phenomenal.

4. 2& new single is amazing. Again, something I know rather than am guessing. Despite losing Daichi, she's actually done some of the songwriting and production herself, instructing a live band how to play it and such. The two new songs sound amazing. Looking forward to 2& Day and her birthday.

5. Mabokare become my #1 group. Solely through force of their good nature and the fact that they're almost always in Tokyo when I am.

6. Chicken Blow The Idol Blows Chickens With Idols.

7. As it didn't quite come true this year, one from last year: Nogizaka46 overtake AKB's single sales.

8. Nuclear War and devastating nuclear fallout because two twats with penis envy can't shut up.

And if you're still here I'll just link to my band's newest album as it's probably bad form to review your own album even if my bandmate wrote all but one track of the music. Enjoy it if you're geared that way.

Anyway, I'll probably post again in December 2018.

Pozdrav fuckers,
Krv

So, I've returned. It's been a year since my last post, and though Blogspot tells me I have 3 drafts, none of them were any good so they never got published. After having left Japan in February my life was consumed by work until July, Japan again for the month of August, and since September University for the second time, so my time has been occupied, to say the least.

But, as is traditional by now, I have returned to turn my eye on the highs and lows of a very interesting year, filled as it was in mainstream culture by just about everyone famous dying and everyone else turning racist.

So, we come to the awards. Some of them will be idol-oriented. Some really won't. I won't hold back.

Twat of the Year

Normally this award goes to an idol producer. This year, it's going to go to the entirety of lifeforms known as politicians. From the catastrophe of Brexit to the inability to dispose of Trump, politicians have been fucking useless this year, giving opportunities for themselves to be backstabbed, shot in the foot and other, less pleasant options. For that reason, they all get it. Fuck politicians this year.

Best Music Video of 2016




First time in years it's not been Bowen Staines, but his effort this year, Draconian's Stellar Tombs, was let down by a very unclear plot. Instead, we get the first award of the lot for Kvelertak this year, who have been on fire. Quite literally in this video. A nice little ode to the circular nature of existence. With a triangle moon. Well, why not.

Best Photobook of 2016

None. I have been disappointed this year with the lack of good photobooks. Both the AKB groups and H!P released a few, and while there were some interesting moments in Nishino Nanase's second photobook, I was on the whole left unfulfilled. Meanwhile, in another sphere, HKT's Inoue Yuriya was breaking the mould. In her Google+ Yorimichi collections, she's racked up an impressive number of particularly amazing photoshoots. I dunno who the cameraman is (I think it might be her mother) and it's all shot on an iPhone, but that doesn't make it any less amazing. In fact, HKT are breaking the mould all over the place. Tashima Meru's even started making her own music videos. But yes, here's some of Yuriya's glorious Yorimichi from this year. Long may it continue.




















Best Picture of Dani Filth Looking Like A Spanner In 2016


He looks like someone just painted his corpse paint on a blow-up sexdoll in this picture.

Biggest Disappointment in 2016

I'm gonna go with the horrific and catastrophic loss of members from Poroporo Baroque. Before they debuted, there was Kaname Karen and Hono. Karen then left, Urara joined, then just before debut Mirumo and Miyabi joined. All good. Until I got there. In August, when I went back, I quite enjoyed them. They were playing good music.



Then, after I left, Miyabi quit. Yori joined. Urara quit. Then at the beginning of December Mirumo quit. 3 members lost in 3 months. Not a good track record. They haven't played live since Mirumo quit and I don't know what their future holds. It's a shame, as they were definitely one of the highlights of my August trip. On the other hand, I did get some good pics of them.

What The Fuck Are You Doing? Award of 2016

Momoclo. The two albums they released at the beginning of the year were, honestly, forgettable. I got as far as rating them (Amaranthus got 6.9 and Hakkin no Yoake 6.6, if you're interested), but found them so boring I couldn't be bothered to review them. In addition, The Golden History sucked. They need to give up.

Most Black Metal Video of 2016



Ricky and his dark idols from hell have surpassed themselves here. Shot in darkest Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest, we get this atmospheric and dark PV to destroy all. Of course, with Karen and Hotaru gone my reasons for enjoying them are also gone. Here's hoping Hotaru's replacement will also be a shoe-hating, mind-bending cute little typhoon of destruction.

Most Seemingly Bleak Video of 2016



Ah, Hauptharmonie, how you delight me. Despite losing half their members they've rebounded, gained a load more members, and popped up with two good little EPs and a very good album this year. This video shows the mood of the newfangled Hauptharmonie. Playful and dark. Nice.

Best Trippy Cartoon of 2016



Kvelertak, you killing it this year.

Best Incentive to Not Piss KOTO Off of 2016



Ah, KOTO. Why you so cute?

Best Genre Crash of 2016



5572320 always bring the big guns. Gotta enjoy Ebichuu's more experimental outlook. If only they could drag their big sister group back onto the crazy path. 

Luckiest White Dude Award of 2016



This guy had all of Mabokare chasing him. Lucky fuck. Glad he bites it. Shame that since they went major their song quality took a nosedive though. 

Most Unexpected Tapping Lead of 2016



My word, the intro sweeps, the prechorus tapping and dat solo. Next up, please let Hagane scream.

Why Beethoven, Fancy Seeing You And Chopin Teaming Up To Write An Idol Single of 2016



For fuck's sake Oomori Seiko. Stealing the riffs of amazing composers was always a Berryz thing!

For reference, Chopin's Revolutionary is the beginning bit, followed by Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Now why can't some idol composer steal Alkan?

Best "I Wanted More Angry Angerme Dammit" But What I Got Wasn't Too Bad of 2016




Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku is the kind of song that pumps you up, and who cares about the genre. They also did a rather cool 3D version with Sadako.

Best Idol CD Purchase Perk of 2016


That's right, with Guso Drop's Mushi, if you buy one copy, you get... 4 copies? Daichi announced this trolling at last year's one-man live in Blaze, but when it actually happened people still lost their shit.

Runner up is also Guso Drop, with Gushin. Where, to take the piss even further out of idol CD purchase perks, there were 26 versions, all exactly the same with the exception of the cover, which was formed out of one of 26 posters. Limited to 1000 copies. Because fuck commercialism.

Hammond Jizz of 2016



Because fakjea. Hammonds + Hyadain song = winning. I want a Hammond only version of this song.

Best Random Guest Appearance in a PV of 2016




Why yes, that is Maina of Osaka Shunkashuuto fame in a Zekkyou PV. No, I don't know why. But it's definitely cute.

 Best Cameraman Escape From Idol Cannibals of 2016



SKE videos have always been odd, but cameraman using parkour to escape Team E is pretty funny.

Best Method of Remembering Irregular Verbs of 2016



Neru, Neru, Neru. Headbanging is the only way. Here's Neru doing the Periodic Table for dessert.

Best "Why Varg, You Never Told Me You Were Moving Into Costume Design" of 2016


Waffen-SSzaka46?

Best Drama of 2016



The girls of Keyakizaka come into school one morning and find their teacher dead. Common sense dictates you call another teacher or perhaps call the police. Not to Keyakizaka though. They decide to stuff him in a locker and play with his corpse for 12 episodes whilst trying to figure out who killed him. Creepy and cute as fuck, and utterly hilarious in a really black comedic way.

Most Crowd-Participatory PV of 2016



Considering they used the crowd call and response from the show where they recorded the PV in the actual CD recording, it's pretty effective.

Best Video of Bill Nighy Abbath Looking Like a Spanner in 2016



 Abbath begins his quest as a solo artist by doing the exact same thing he's been doing for the last 25 years. Like, every single album. Every single one of them sounds the exact same way this album does. I mean... exactly.

Best Lyrics of 2016



Talk about genius...

Most Actually Disturbing PV of 2016



Deep Girl are not my thing. A bit too overproduced and insincere for my liking. But holy fuck does this PV deliver a very in-your-face portrayal of school bullying.

Biggest TIF Failure of 2016

Tokyo Idol Festival is, as you probably know, a huge idol festival that takes over Odaiba and Aomi in Tokyo every August. It's stupidly hot, stupidly draining and annoyingly spaced far enough apart that, with queuing for certain venues and the distances involved you're almost never going to get to see everything you want to.

Last year, you may have heard that BiSH and PoP were banned due to fan behaviour. How much of that is true and how much is just Watanabe being a troll I don't know, but Cheeky Parade fans were bigger cunts last year and they didn't get banned so yea. What amuses me is that they ban jumping, lifting, crowd-surfing, moshing and stage diving, then specifically invite groups where those types of behaviours are not only common but encouraged, such as the aforementioned Watanabe groups.

Anyway, fast forward a year and TIF came prepared. In addition to their own security, they hired an army. Not a real army, but a bodyguard army. The same bodyguard army that patrol the beaches of Enoshima and Kamakura every year. They're known as BONDS, and while they're chill as fuck, they looked like suntanned bodybuilders instead of bouncers. Suffice to say they were badly outmatched by the hordes of wota. In the Keyakizaka performance the crowd weren't happy with how far back from the stage they were being made to stand (understandable, as basically every other live was up to the actual barricade), so they decided to take matters into their own hands (quite literally) and move the temporary barricades forwards. Wota 1-0 Bonds.

Later, when it was again time for two groups renowned for somewhat outrageous fans, Bellring Shoujo Heart and Passcode, BONDS moved to get their revenge.

As you can see, the lifting in particular was pretty epic from both groups. I was stood just outside the main mass, and the amount of people BONDS dragged fighting and screaming out of it was kinda weird. Some were bleeding. One girl was yelling that the guy had touched her inappropriately.

It didn't get much better. On the third day, even the Babyraids fans were getting in on the act and launching glowsticks like fireworks, so probably next year they'll be banned as well. Even so, to most of the non-pinchike wota BONDS went down as heroes. I was kinda sat on the fence for the whole thing. They were chill enough during the day, but probably because of that during the night they were vicious fuckers. Hopefully next year they'll invite bouncers who intimidate rather than actually assault people. Less annoying.

Best Wota of 2016

Honestly, can't stray from my gut on this one. There are two groups of wota that are so win it's unbelievable. Guso Drop's Guushin are the guys I've spent the most time with, and they're all chill as fuck, though slightly mental. The drinking is fun, the lives are fun, the look of embarassment when members of Ryuuketsu Blizzard get naked in front of some of them... When I went back in August they were still there and still awesome. Never change guys.

Second group is Zekkyou's F. No matter where you go in Japan they're welcoming and friendly. Whenever I go to Aichi for Zekkyou on their home turf I know hardly anyone but despite that everyone still doesn't mind a random foreigner chilling with them. In Tokyo, where I do know a lot of them, hanging out and having random drinking adventures is also always really fun, especially when it involves Hamada, Zekkyou themselves, and I love you Orchestra and Geekstreeks. Best drinking parties ever.

So yea, will be seeing them all again in July, with luck. Fakjea.

Top 10 Albums of 2016

So, bit of a cop out and this is actually 11, because #10 and #11 got the same score. Can't choose between them so fuck it. And whilst last year I did only idol albums, this year it's back to standard practice. If it's good, it's here.

10=. Necronomidol - Nemesis


Song picks: Skulls in the Stars, Lamina Maledictum, Puella Tenebrarum, Sarnath

So, Necroma finally released their first album, and my it's pretty damn sexy. From the black metal wanderings of Atai no Tsumeato and Nayanezgani to the Darkwave Ambience of Skulls in the Stars, NWOBHM of Lamina Maledictum and even some creepy assed ballads, it's all here. Hotaru's mind breaking on Sarnath is also fun.



8.2/10

10=. Devin Townsend Project - Transcendence


Song picks: Stormbending, Transcendence, From the Heart

Devin is back from the relative failure that was Z² and he's all the better for it. Glorious atmospheres and heavy guitars intertwine with Devin's voice and that of Anneke van Giersbergen to make it even more sexy. It's still not up there with the original Ziltoid or his SYL stuff, but it's easily better than Sky Blue or Epicloud.



8.2/10

9. Alcest - Kodama


Song picks: Kodama, Eclosion, Oiseaux De Proie

With Kodama, Alcest have recovered from the somewhat pop sensibility that came over them with Shelter. While even that was a good album, it lacked some of the edge for which Alcest was known as "blackgaze" instead of plain old "shoegaze". In taking inspiration from Mononokehime and other Japanese legends here, Neige gets his act together and goes back to weaving light and darkness with deft strokes. Almost a timely hearken back to Écailles de Lune.



8.6/10

8. Kobushi Factory - Kobushi Sono Ichi


Song picks: Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san no Uta, Kenmei Blues, Survivor, Go To The Top!!

What's this? I hear you ask. Krv is picking a Hello! Project album in the top ten? What is going on? What drugs has he taken? Well, none. Kobushi's first album is big. Let's face it, it has 17 tracks and 7 covers on a second disc. To keep my attention for that many tracks... well, you may have seen how that went down with a few AKB albums in the past... Despite that, Kobushi have managed it. No Tsunku? Not a problem. They've worked with some H!P composers and arrangers new and old (Sakura Night Fever was originally a KAN song, who used to do a lot of Manoeri, and DanceMan of basically every amazing Morning Musume track from 1999, 2000 and 2001 arranged it; Hyadain's got a track on here as well) and have come up with an album that has an identity, something recent H!P albums have struggled with. Not that many have been released of late... Even so, Kobushi's positioning as the "new" Berryz mixed with rock influences and hints of everything else gives them the base to make this thing pretty damn good. More plz.

 
(Hammond needs to be higher in the mix though).

8.7/10

7. Haken - Affinity


Song picks: Initiate, 1985, Earthrise, The Endless Knot

Rare to see Haken this far down a top ten list, but after The Mountain it really was gonna be hard for them to rescale those heights. Instead, they gave us something completely different with Affinity, which is basically inspired to hell and back by the 80s with a smattering of 8-string guitars. Proggy as hell, and filled with numerous shout outs to precursors in all genres, everyone's performing on top of their game, and the only reason it isn't higher is the fact that The Mountain was so amazing I can't help but think what could have been had they continued to reach new heights in that direction. Better end these mountain puns now before I get pushed off a cliff...


(Picked this video over Initiate because of Ross's weird dancing)

8.8/10

6. Hauptharmonie - Herz über Kopf


Song picks: BUDDY, Parallel Warp, Alice in Abyss, Old Gaffer's Confession, Lady Far East, Kokuou

Hauptharmonie amaze me. One year after their first (amazing) album, comes another. Despite losing most of their members, hiring a few more, changing their entire wardrobe and seemingly forgetting to include shoes in the shopping list, starting to perform in bikinis, going on hiatus for a month and then adding even more members... what a year for them. The album starts as the last one left off, with ska, adult-oriented dark pop and rock, and crazy. This time they add blues for gloriousness. Buddy, especially, revels in its dirty 12-bar blues form as it gives shoutouts to other idol groups. Everything on this album is sexy. Even Old Gaffer's Confession, which is the most brutal and simultaneously fun thing they've ever done. Lady Far East makes its reappearance after being on the Japanische Madchen Ska EP ages ago. Kokuou isn't even an idol song, just sexy jazz. Haupt amaze me. They should amaze you too.


(Have a full live to be cool).

9/10

5. Babymetal - Metal Resistance


Song picks: Awadama Fever, Yava!, Syncopation, Sis. Anger, Tales of the Destinies

So, Babymetal's sophomore album surprised many by not only being more metal than its predecessor, but also more willing to experiment with diverse realms within it. Whilst Amore and Road of Resistance are pretty straightforward speed power metal, Metataro is some kind of folk metal parody abomination and Tales of the Destinies is prog as fuck. From Dusk Till Dawn is somewhat trip-hoppy, and Sis. Anger is pretty blatantly brutal techdeath. Almost makes me wonder if they got some inspiration from somewhere... On the other hand, The One and No Rain, No Rainbow are pretty meh, and Karate could have been better, but on the whole they've got a bit better since the debut, though it still gets the same mark. Their lives are also a lot more boring now they've blown up. Went to Wembley in April, had people all around me filming shitty video on their phones the entire gig and getting pissed off if I started moshing. Also the DJ was shit. I still think they should use their position as de facto head of the idol metal scene to do some good, like invite Fruitpochette or some other groups on tour with them. Oh well.



9.1/10

4. Kvelertak - Nattesferd


Song picks: 1985, Nattesferd, Berserkr, Heksebrann, Nekrodamus

Kvelertak is back and once more, the main problem with this album is that it doesn't feature Suck My Glock. That's three albums since the demo and it's still not out. Dammit. Anyway, once again Kvelertak give a sexy slice of black metal, heavy metal, punk, rock and roll, or whatever it is at any given time. 1985 is a different song to the Haken one, luckily. We get two great 80s inspired records this year. Some of the fuzz on this album is amazing. The whole feel of this album is just fun, but it keeps it a bit more restrained than on the previous two albums, allowing the musicianship and more drug-hazed music to shine through a little more.



9.2/10

3. Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole of the Law


Song picks: Depravity Favours The Bold, We Will Fucking Kill You, In Flagrante Delicto, On Being A Slave

Anaal Nathrakh have discovered how to make ruthless aggression beautiful. They haven't slowed down for 15 years, and why should they? The brutal mixture of The Berzerker and Thorns, you get deathgrind and industrial black metal heated with cynicism and performed with utmost scorn. Your digestive tract cannot cope with the onslaught of Anaal Nathrakh. Still, it's beautiful. In the same way as getting your throat ripped out by a savage animal.



9.4/10

2. Myrath - Legacy


Song picks: Get Your Freedom Back, Nobody's Lives, The Needle, Endure The Silence,

So, Myrath are back after the long (5 year) wait since Tales of the Sands. And holy shit is it worth the wait. For those who don't know, Myrath are a Tunisian progressive metal band. This gives them an interesting look on the Arabian melodies prog groups sometimes appropriate, and gives them the ability to contain entire songs in these modes and keys. In this album, we go epic. This album is similar in style to Orphaned Land, only being Arabic instead of Israeli, but the genre is basically the same, odd considering Orphaned Land came from Black Metal and Myrath from a Power Metal direction. Still, this album is a modern as hell thing. And that's not bad. Imagine Symphony X meeting a North African folk band and you're there. Kinda. Still, fantastic album.



9.5/10

1. Ihsahn - Arktis.


Song picks: All of them.

Ihsahn has done it again. Just when I think he can't one-up himself yet again, he just... does it. This is at times the heaviest thing he's done since Emperor, and also the least heavy thing he's done since Peccatum. Taking all of the experimentation he did on Das Seelenbrechen, and focusing it down into an artform. Despite disparate genres on display (Disassembled is Ihsahn as Ihsahn gets, Mass Darkness has Matt Heafy as a guest, My Heart Is Of The North is basically Opeth, South Winds is a triphop/metal crossover, In The Vaults has a heavy dose of atmospherics and tension and has a bit which could be Ayreon, Until I Too Dissolve is just so heavy metal it's kinda funny, Pressure is an Emperor song, Frail is a joyful little number with acoustic guitars, weird synths and pianos, Crooked Red Line has Sexy Saxman Saxogram Jørgen Munkeby Sexing His Sexy Sax All Over The Place, and Celestial Violence channels some Enslaved of all people), the album works perfectly. Glorious.



9.8/10

Best of 2017

So before I go, I'm going to make some wide ranging predictions about 2017 and what I think will be amazing. Also what will suck.

1. Ayreon.

So, Arjen has got the band back together. In a big way. Not only is he releasing the 8th Ayreon album, which goes back to the original storyline and avoids the somewhat weird Theory of Everything spinoff, he's got a range of old and new guests lined up, including Floor Fucking Jansen, Michael Fucking Mills, Hansi Fucking Kursch, Tommy Fucking Karevik and Russell Fucking Allen. Also he's got Guthrie Govan and Paul Gilbert doing guitar solos. Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngh. If that wasn't enough, he's doing the first ever Ayreon live shows, 3 nights in a row in Tilburg, NL. With 16 singers. Unfortunately they all sold out long before I had a chance to buy. Dammit. Still. Ayreon. Fakjea!

2. Emperor.

Why it's the 20th Anniversary of Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. After Emperor had so much success touring for the 20th anniversary of In The Nightside Eclipse, why wouldn't they do it again for Anthems? Well, they are. And it will be amazing. It always is.

3. AKB Finally Lose To Nogizaka.

It's gonna happen. Nogizaka are gaining on AKB with every single CD release. When it happens and all the AKB wota are sat in a corner crying, remember your pain and sink into the dark side of H!P fan-like passive aggression.

4. Akercocke.

Akercocke are back. Next year they will release a new album. Based on this evidence, it could be epic.



5. Saki leaving Guso Drop to focus on 2&.

Saki's voice has been suffering of late and so she's decided to step back from Guso Drop and focus on 2&. With new music coming from her next year, it could well turn out to be a good choice. Meanwhile, Guso Drop adds 3 new members on January 4th and I'm interested to see what will happened there.

6. Zekkyousuru 60do album with I love you Orchestra.

Now this should be interesting. Zekkyou play normally with 6% Is Mine, and now Montero and Kai have side-projects (with Kai being semi-involved in Montero's). But a joint release with progressive free jazz rock band I love you Orchestra could be a new horizon for them.

7. Trump launches a nuclear war in association with Israel and wipes out the Middle East. Meanwhile China invades Taiwan, North Korea launches missiles at everyone, and Trump, overwhelmed in the Middle East, lacks sufficient resources or inclination to come to the aid of actual democracies in East Asia, leading to WW3.

Because he's a cunt.

And on that downer, it's time to say goodbye. Hopefully I'll blog next year a little more.