[Album Review] Buck Tick - (2018) No. 0 - 8.5/10
#1
Another new review on The Sushi Times, translated to English for your enjoyment.

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Artist: Buck-Tick
Release: No. 0
Rating: 8.5/10
Label: Lingua Sounda/Victor

Buck-Tick has been experiencing something of a second youth ever since the release of 'Jusankai wa Gekko' (2005) and frankly, I prefer that one to their actual youth. Not that Buck-Tick didn't release any good music during their heyday; 'Aku no Hana' (1990) and 'Kurutta Taiyo' (1991) are fantastic albums. However, they have never been as stable as the visual kei pioneers have shown themselves since 2005.

That year was a turning point, because the band from Gunma shook off the overly busy industrial productions from the preceding years and started focusing on what they're really good at: writing catchy rock songs and performing them energetically. On 'Arui wa Anarchy' (2014) and 'Atom Miraiha No. 9' (2016), the electronics and samples popped up again, albeit more subtly than before and as a part of the compositions rather than the productions. Specifically, that means they are part of the melodies and the structures instead of being tossed on top of them.

This direction is continued on 'No. 0', though it should be noted that the synthesizers, samples and electronics are a bit more prominent this time around. The excellent first single Babel suggested that Buck-Tick might be moving back into more gothic territories, but 'No. 0' is once again filled to the brim with catchy rock songs with electronic overtones. As a whole, 'No. 0' is slightly less convincing than 'Atom Miraiha No. 9', but Buck-Tick deserves all the praise they can get for releasing such a fresh, inspired rock record 35 years after their foundation.

Peak

Though the electronic sounds leave their mark on 'No. 0', they never get too prominent, although the ballad Moon Sayonara wa Oshiete would probably have profited from a more organic sound and the dancey passages of Gustave are borderline too much. And yet, the latter has too many recognizable moments to call it a dud. Baraido Jujidan -Rosen Kreuzer- is a notable track, because it has been written by Hidehiko Hoshino. His approach is usually a little more traditional than that of his fellow guitarist Hisashi Imai, who is generally responsible for the more electonically tinged, dissonant songs.

Furthermore, it is notable that the better songs of the album mainly appear in clusters. With Salome -femme fatale- a three song peak commences. The song has a tensive structure and a grandiose climax. Following that one immediately is the melancholic semi-ballad Ophelia. Atsushi Sakurai's voice is the most important reason why Buck-Tick is better than many similar bands anyway, but dark ballads like Opheliap in particular are an opportunity for his deep, emotional voice to excel. Next up is Hikari no Teikoku, which profits optimally from the interaction between the dense verses and the more open, almost U2-like chorus.

Later on, Babel appears and reminds its listeners how good Buck-Tick is at its most gothic. That trajectory is continued on Guernica no Yoru, a sober, minimalistic ballad in which Sakurai once again shows his best side. It also has, yet again, a marvellous chorus. The contrast with Tainai Kaiku almost could not be bigger, as it closes 'No. 0' in a remarkably positive sounding manner.

Dangerous

The presence of those two peaks of course doesn't mean that there is nothing else to enjoy on 'No. 0'. Bisshu Love is a stomping rocker filled with the erotic bravado that is so typical for Buck-Tick, while Reishiki 13-gata "Ai" is the sort of dangerous, sultry opener that could only be the brain child of Hisashi Imai. Sure, it can't quite equal the brooding tension of cum uh sol nu -Fresco no Besshu- from 'Atom Miraiha No. 9', but that was an inimitable masterpiece. Reishiki 13-gata "Ai" rather profits from its almost militaristic rhythms.

Between the two aforementioned peaks, two of Hisashi Imai's rather aggressive cyberpunk songs can be found: Nostalgia -Vita Mechanicalis- and Igniter. These two appear to be meant as compensation for anyone who prefers late nineties Buck-Tick, but it's a fact that they are delivered with conviction. Both songs would not sound out of place as an intro theme to a sci-fi thriller.

Consistent

On their 21st album, Buck-Tick shows that they have too many powerful rockers and gorgeous ballads up their sleeves to call it a day anytime soon. Peers of the quintet release albums that can't even begin to equal their heyday, if they haven't given up altogether already or have been promising a new album for years. For that reason alone, Buck-Tick already deserves every compiment you can give them. Besides, I personally think their albums are much more consistent these days than they used to be.

About Atsushi Sakurai, I can be brief: what an amazing singer. He has always been one of the better singers of the Japanese rock scene, but it sounds like he's getting better with age. For some people, it may be disappointing that the innocence of his early years has just about disappeared, but it is a fact that the number of Japanese singers who can carry the gravitas of a sorrowful ballad as well as Sakurai does is very limited.

'No. 0' has been released in 4 different versions. First of all, there's the cd version with only the 13 songs on the album. The other three versions have the videos of Bisshu Love, Ophelia and Igniter on DVD, BluRay or even as virtual reality videos with the viewer included.
If you can't get enough of me giving my opinions without having asked for it, you can read more of it on my Kevy Metal weblog.
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#2
Good review. I know I dropped this after the trailer, but at least someone liked the album. Tongue
Occasionally, I write music reviews.
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#3
Thanks! I'm sure it became another bestseller, but that doesn't necessarily say anything about its quality of course Wink

I think the trailer somewhat misrepresented the album. Yes, it is a tad more electronic than its predecessors, but as a whole, it is far more "rocky" than the trailer suggested.
If you can't get enough of me giving my opinions without having asked for it, you can read more of it on my Kevy Metal weblog.
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