After announcing their international debut, it seemed fitting to follow up with some thoughts on D‘s recent work. Although D‘s In the name of justice was one of those singles that I didn’t hesitate to acquire as soon as the post-office could deliver it, it’s testament to my monkey-mind lifestyle that it’s taken this many months to get a review up, as obviously it was no fault of the single’s.
In the name of justice takes a slightly different turn from D‘s earlier stuff. The characteristically long-winded, 5+ minute-long shredder sagas, blood-drenched ballads and meandering melodramas are nowhere to be found on the 4-track [note that tracklists vary per version of release] hustle to slay the dragon and save the world.
Industrial, ultra-thick and heavy, the titular track opens with a rolling thunder of drums and bass, and some grungy, aggro guitar work shoves you right into the chorus. The chorus blends the upbeat cheeriness of their sub-silly tracks such as Day By Day with their standard D lilting gloom. The verse is built on the mysterious, sultry progressions everyone knows and respects ASAGI for, and it’s the verse and guitar solo that are the heart of the song. Although I’m not blown away by the chorus, the general disarray of the song and the hearty emphasis on the drums, bass, and vocals made the track a refreshing break from the overdone eight-guitars-ultra- complex-riffs-guitar-hero stuff that has been so prevalent lately.
As with all of their work, the true joy of the title track lies in its details. The finale vocal break and guitar solo were both great. The energy of the piece is phenomenal…and not just in regards to quality. The quality was good, yes, but the amount of power and life that they packed into the brief 3 minutes and 44 seconds made the track like a tornado that tears through quickly, leaving a trail of mass destruction. I enjoyed this aspect of it a lot. Through the entire piece it’s as if you’re emotionally/energetically charging through the dark woods of a Grimm’s grim fairytale on a white stallion, rapier in one hand, microphone in the other, belting it out in Japanese.
By the time the whirlwind of In the name of justice ends, you feel like you accomplished a lot — I hardly did anything today, and after listening to just the first song I feel like I conquered a kingdom, saved the damsel in distress, killed a couple of dragons and discovered my lost twin sister who was raised in the neighboring kingdom to protect our inheritance. And I might almost need to pitch camp before charging right into Nightly Knights, but… somehow I think I can handle the badassness.
The ambient mood-setting opening for Nightly Knights didn’t need to be complicated or shredder-heavy to win me over. The echo effects, again with the focus on rhythm and interesting tribal stuff set up a dungeony stage for ASAGI’s hoarse growl, rollicking drums and intense bass work. Again with easing off the guitars and actually thinking through emphasis in the instrumentation, a move that lead to general interest throughout the piece. The effects and ornamentation were also quite cool and interesting. I particularly enjoyed the vocal layering on the bridge, and the vocals were generally great throughout, breaking from some of the more standard D fare. The chorus was fine, but definitely not my favorite part, as seems to be the case with much of D‘s recent work. That’s probably just me, though. Generally satisfying, and creditably different, the chorus passes the b-grade at least, which is enough to keep D easily in my good books.
The instrumental break and downplayed solo really messed with my head in the best way possible, and again with the way they eased back into the verses with grumpy growls and ethereal layering. The chunky instrumentation behind the deep, focused, serious vocals was pretty hardcore. Contrast to the preceding track, which felt like flailing along on some wild rollercoaster, Nightly Knights felt very knightly and focused indeed.
Moving along at a decent canter, Grand Master follows Nightly Knights without pausing for breath. Another strong opening, with a funky, rockin’ rhythm and a racing tempo to match its predecessors. In contrast to everything I said about their choruses above, Grand Master has a striking, heavy, powerful chorus. The only reason it doesn’t stand out more is because the song has virtually zero, nada, not a single perceptible instrumental change. There are no bridges, no breaks; just hectic, powerful, raw racing forward with reckless abandon.
Wolf howls, thunder and lightning, candlelight and a swollen heartbeat…what more can possibly be said for the PV? Except that whoever choreographed it didn’t, I guess, realize that in chess you technically only have two players, and although we might accept him as our one true king and uphold King Asagi and the Knights of the Round Table, Ruiza will never be able to stomach wearing a pair of pants long enough to ever pass for a Lancelot. That being said, the ridiculously, almost parody-like lack in quality and dimension of their PVs has been my only real issue with D of late. It really has felt like their PVS are getting steadily worse and increasingly more ’90s (and that’s enough of that, needless to say). However, I am glad to see a complete turn-around with In the name of justice. The PV is excellent quality, properly produced, and is so blatantly and unabashedly melodramatically Visual Kei in all its gothicy, neo-historicalness that you can’t help but get psyched over the sheer wonder of the feeling of something utterly stereotypical of that which you worship.
Overall the single is extremely cohesive. It flies by, and feels like each song is about one minute long…The context of the pieces is congruous, which makes it seem almost like varying chapters to one story, rather than just three independent songs put together. The hecticness of the entire thing is raw, fresh, and very new. The message of this single is definitely live fast, die young, and claim the throne. Here’s a white charger, Visualists, now go.