Review | B-PROJECT “Supernova”

Despite its ambitious, futuristic concept, B-PROJECT‘sSupernova” suffers from bad mixing, leading to some of the murkiest and weirdest performances to date.

A note: this review includes the songs in Supernova Tokumubu Dai Ichi Yokuryutai ver. and Supernova Shugobu rei Ichi Jukyakutai ver..

  • B-PROJECT Supernova
Title: Supernova
Release date: 02/12/2020
Label: MAGES.
Genre: Pop /Rock

Tracklist:

1 - Supernova Explosion
2 - 創世 Prelude
3 - ROAR

Track by track analysis:

1 – Supernova Explosion

B-PROJECT are back with an intense, synths-driven tune in “Supernova Explosion”.

The song kicks off with a slow-paced beat on top of airy synths and a dirty bassline, creating a spacious soundscape.

The pre-chorus is dirty and getting increasingly intense however never going crazy. And that results into a pulsing chorus with a tight beat that will have you jamming along to in no time.

The addition of electric guitar riffs, heavily processed, fading in and out of scene fits this songs’ pulsing, heavy bass-driven sound.

The vocals are surprisingly well mixed in a way that, despite B-PROJECT having 14 members.

You never feel like the performance is overcrowded. There’s a lot of space for flourishes and ad-libs and some of the team ups are terrific.

This song is proof that you can have electronica, it can be downtempo and not have an intense beat and it stills rocks.

2 – 創世 Prelude

Drone synths hover your ears, leading the way for this EDM tune.

Sousei Prelude” has a 2-parter chorus. The first part is dark, with a hard-hitting beat and pulsing synths in the background. The second is more intense with synths going crazy in the background. It’s not the smoothest transition within parts and it may even sound a bit odd as a second part within the chorus.

The second verse changes things around, with the sound heavily benefiting from an upgrade courtesy of the bass and equally bass-driven beat. The song counts with a weird break with unusual choices of key that make it sound like the synths are off in comparison to the rest of the instrumental.

On the other hand, MooNs and Kitakore team up to deliver a performance filled with energy but mostly muffled behind the heavy bass of “Sousei Prelude”. The vocals would have sounded clearer if they had been brought forward or the bass elements pushed to the background.

3 – ROAR

The tone is dark and urgent in “ROAR“, with a synth closely creeping up to you. And although the instrumental kicks off in a pretty edgy way with aggressive guitar riffs joining in alongside a deep bassline, it sounds incredibly messy.

The beat is too deep, the vocals are, once again, too muffled in the back something that takes the vocals away from the spotlight – and I am talking about the 2 groups with the best vocals in the B-PROJECT franchise so it gets extra weird because of that.

The guitar riffs and synths seem like they were sprinkled on top of the music without following any basics of tempo or rhythm. With a song constantly changing tempo and key, with instruments being thrown at you at weird points into the song, I was tired by the time it ended.

This is far from being an enjoyable song and it lacks in points in which it shouldn’t lack.

Thrive and KiLLER KiNG have been on top of their game in the past couple of releases however, all of a sudden, they don’t sound like they have power or energy in their vocals? Certainly, it is due to the vocals mixing that, once again, should have brought the vocals forward instead of putting them at the same level as the instrumental.

There was so much potential in this song and it’s frustrating that it all went down the drain.


Final considerations

B-PROJECT’s new group song “Supernova Explosion” is exactly the reason I enjoy their music. It is fun, intense but, at the same time, pretty contained in its approach to EDM pop.

As a result, the edge of rock music mixed with the tight EDM beat and melody.

The verses have an ethereal vibe that is enjoyable and, for a change, gives the change for all vocals to shine as there are no instruments overlapping with their voice tones.

The contrast between high notes in the background, the ad-libs in the spotlight and sweet mid-tones made their performance shine like no other.

This is a massive song.

Unfortunately, things go downhill from here.

I’ve already touched upon those issues in some detail in each song but “Sousei Prelude” and “ROAR” have the weirdest of vocals mixing.

Each song features 7 vocals and both songs have a massive bassline driving them. So far, so good.

Now add to that loads of synths in “Sousei Prelude” and guitar parts out-of-nowhere in “ROAR” and you have, in terms of music composition, a crowded instrumental.

All that it’s left for you, as a composer, is to decide which parts deserve the spotlight and at which moments within the song. Then it’s off to mixing in which you will check sound levels, bring elements and vocals to the front or back depending on what you want to achieve.

It seems like most of this was skipped in the production of both songs.

Sousei Prelude” has a good instrumental but the vocals are barely audible even on hi-res headphones. “ROAR” is as murky and messy as it gets because not only are the vocals in the background, but those are not clean. Then the instrumental is bassy – quite deep -, completely covering some of the singers lacking a higher vocal range, basically muting them.

But you still want to listen to everyone clearly?

And composers decided to throw in some random guitar riffs, some of those in a completely different key, to throw you off, and thus, even the awesome vocals by Toshiyuki Toyonaga or Kazuki Kato don’t sound good. Chiba Shoya is barely audible, same thing with Taku Yashiro and even Natsuki Hanae at times.

Well, after a fantastic B-PROJECT song in “Supernova Explosion“, those two songs arrive as a massive disappointment, worse yet because MooNs, Kitakore, KiLLER KiNG and Thrive have all improved a lot on the vocal end and, in normal circumstances, they would be shining had the songs had a better mixing.

All in all, “SUPERNOVA” was ambitious in its premise, teaming up groups within the franchise to deliver unique performances however, not even the best singers in the world could save the mess that was done in the production and mixing of the instrumentals on this one.


Both Supernova drama CDs are available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

 

Supernova is available for streaming on Spotify.

Do not support piracy. Remember to support B-PROJECT by streaming via official outlets.
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Supernova Explosion
創世 Prelude
ROAR
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a big fan of B-Project’s music but lately, their songs are a bit underwhelming? Like B-Pro has one of the most harmonised group ever but it’s getting drowned out by the music itself. Or is it only me? I am probably biased because Skyuu paradise is still my go to song and All this time too. But lately, the vocals are not highlighted as much. Supernova is good after a few listen for me but for the first time listen, I was not hook on it which makes me sad because I do love B-Project. Here’s to hoping the new music will be top tier

    • I dare say massively underwhelming because on the production side, the songs have been really weirdly mixed and the vocals have suffered a lot as a result.

      Just like you, I love S Kyuu Paradise (that’s a banger and one of my go-to songs by the franchise) and it’s been interesting to find all groups improving a lot in their group releases but whenever there has been a B-PROJECT (all groups) release… more often than not, things have gotten weird.

      And believe me, it’s not only you. Those analytical about the music they listen may have noticed the gradual lack of spotlight given to the vocals.

      As an “alll star” group, B-PROJECT have focused on having a deeper EDM sound.
      No problems with that but composers should be aware that the choice itself comes with its challenges.

      Extremely bassy songs are prone to mute singers (if bad mixing or no mixing is done) with a vocal range sitting in the bass and low baritone ranges.
      And tenors have to make a massive effort to stand out in the middle of a song with a heavy bass sound (not just a bassline but a mix of bass + drums + synths, all in bass range like most EDM music has).
      Tenors risk having to be flashy with high notes to stand out or you’ll have singers like Natsuki Hanae, Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Shoya Chiba completely disappearing from the vocals mix (which, unfortunately, happened).

      Poor choices on the production/mixing have genuinely hindered the massively improved vocals by B-Project’s members and let me tell you, it has been frustrating to listen to and review at times.
      These talented groups – and seiyuu – deserve music that highlights their growth.

      Yeah, let’s wish they do improve

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