Review | Bad Ass Temple vs Matenro

Hypnosis Mic 2nd DRB

Defending a title and fighting with nothing to lose. Bad Ass Temple VS Matenro is a battle to remember.

Title: HypnosisMic 2nd Division Rap Battle "Bad Ass Temple vs Matenro"
Label: EVIL LINE RECORDS
Release date: 10/03/2021
Genre: Hip-Hop

Tracklist:

1 - Light & Shadow (Bad Ass Temple vs Matenro)
2 - 開眼 (Bad Ass Temple)
3 - TOMOSHIBI (Matenro)

Track by track analysis:

1 – Light & Shadow

The duel kicks off with a unique vibe, with a melancholic trombone melody on top of delicate piano melody and urgent strings. “Light & Shadow” feels like a proper stand off however with a dramatic, sad touch to it.

The verses have a good feel, flowing slowly but incisively, with each beat and hit resonating with the listener. This is the kind of instrumental that sinks in, making a big impression when it wraps up.

The chorus is on brand with the drama in the verses, with strings and orchestral elements being more prominent in this section. This section is a cry for war, leaving quite the mark.

As far as rap performances go, Bad Ass Temple and Matenro were on relatively equal quality levels. The transitions between members are seamless, with energy levels never dropping.

Bad Ass Temple sound like a completely different crew this time around. Their rap is incisive and much more robust than previously.

At the same time, Matenro are less intense, with their rap being more poised and thoughtful than in the past.

As reigning champions, they were a bit on the defensive in this track, at least, that’s the overall feeling I got by the end of the song.

At the same time, and with nothing to lose, Bad Ass Temple continued to charge and strike, showing their worth in a powerful performance.

Light & Shadow” not only counts with a spin chilling instrumental but also counts with a really close battle between 2 talented crews. Memorable track.

2 – 開眼

Bad Ass Temple are the first ones up to the stage with “Kaigen“.

A zither-like instrument – a cross between the Koto and Sitar in tonality – does the honors, setting an intense tone to this song.

However, everything changes a couple of seconds into the song, as Bad Ass Temple take all instruments away, with Yuki Sakakihara’s voice resonating in the void that is left.

You that, from this point on, Bad Ass Temple are serious, as the tone changes drastically.

The instrumental is introspective and dark, with the melodies being on lower key, the piano melodies dramatic and the drums slow and explosive. Guitars join in, adding an additional edge and urgency to this song.

I am particularly fond of the instrumental for this song.

Representing Nagoya, Bad Ass Temple do not forget the region’s well known brand of visual-kei rock. There are elements of it throughout the song, with the ominous, suffocating vibe going on in this song being the best expression of that.

At the same time, there’s the traditional touch brought from the core of the group. Although not as noticeable as the visual-kei rock elements, you can find leading the way a koto melody and, in the background there are little percussion hits, gong accents and a couple of other instruments that hint at the group’s traditional side.

On top of such a powerful instrumental lies an even more intense performance.

Right off the bat, “Kaigen” presented the listeners with Sakakihara’s haunting narration, slowly leading to a spine chilling performance of a crew dead on seat on winning this battle. Bad Ass Temple went for it with this performance, their best to date and a highlight in this CD.

3 – TOMOSHIBI

Matenro wrap up this CD with “TOMOSHIBI“, song that brings melancholic piano melodies, lo-fi hits and a dark, deep slow paced beat to the table.

The instrumental is tight, with strings swells adding drama to the track as the emotional lyrics hit you like droplets of water falling on you.

Guitar licks scream, cry, beg to be saved in the background, adding a layer of tragedy and drama to this song, putting you on the edge of your seat.

“TOMOSHIBI” shows glimpses of hope but its introspective tone, on top of the emotional old-school hip-hop instrumental, is what sinks in and stays with you when this song wraps up.

Matenro’s performance is nothing short of amazing and spine-chilling.

Their rap carries a lot of weight and emotion, making each beat, each melody hit harder than expected. The bonds, the struggles, hope and defeat, pride and desperation, all play a role in life, all play a role in Matenro’s road.

Show Hayami, Ryuichi Kijima and Kento Ito delivered a haunting performance that made all those emotions tangible. It is impossible for the listener to not be touched by this song. Masterful performance.


Final considerations

Bad Ass Temple brought the big guns to this battle, sounding nothing alike what we got with their first CD, Bad Ass Temple Funky Sounds. Their rap is more incisive and with a lot of heart, their rhymes flow much better, with Yuki Sakakihara standing out quite a lot this time around.

Their performance in “Light & Shadow” was aggressive and intense. With a slim chance of winning – Matenro is wildly popular as you may be aware -, Bad Ass Temple have nothing to lose and just put all their aces on the table.

As a result, Matenro sounded like they were the whole time on the defensive whereas Bad Ass Temple kept going at it.

Bad Ass Temple nudge a bit past them in terms of performance in this song, not being clear winners, but showing their worth. Showing that they are proper contenders.

And the crew continued to impress, with their performance in “Kaigen” being spine chilling.

Dark and intense, almost in a “mantra” fashion, this song stays with you, it gets to your core. Everything about it draws attention while being rather simplistic about their sound. This is the best performance Bad Ass Temple have pulled off so far.

Matenro played it safe in “Light & Shadow” but their performance in “TOMOSHIBI” more than covered for the lack of fight back in the battle track.

The Matenro – GADORO collaboration keeps on bearing fruit, with the crew standing out for their introspective and pertinent tone in the lyrics. On top of that, the instrumental is dark but always with a glimpse of hope down the tunnel.

This hope of a brighter outcome, of seeing a good side to life, drives Matenro forward in the dark and lonely streets of Shinjuku.

They went big with “TOMOSHIBI”, with this song being the highlight in this CD and one of the best crew songs released so far in the 2nd division rap battle.

Originally, Bad Ass Temple vs Matenro sounded like a straightforward, easy win for the wildly popular Matenro. After listening to this CD, that win doesn’t look as straightforward.

Bad Ass Temple gave their all, nudging past the reigning champions in “Light & Shadow” however, Matenro floored everyone with the emotional “TOMOSHIBI”.

2 spine-chilling performances and 1 unique battle song with no clear winner.

Bad Ass Temple vs Matenro may be the closest battle in this first round of the 2nd division rap battle.

For this entry, the battle was on and both crews went for it, delivering powerful, introspective crew songs and delivering quite the battle song in “Light & Shadow”.

In my opinion, and especially after “TOMOSHIBI” leaving me speechless, the win is Matenro’s.


HypnosisMic 2nd Division Rap Battle “Bad Ass Temple vs Matenro” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


SUMMARY

Bad Ass Temple vs Matenro may be the closest battle in this first round of the 2nd division rap battle. For this entry, the battle was on and both crews went for it, delivering powerful, introspective crew songs and delivering quite the battle song in "Light & Shadow". Bad Ass Temple are like a completely different crew. Their sound is tighter and darker, their rhymes and chemistry is renewed and their want to win is felt in both performances of theirs. Matenro played it safe in "Light & Shadow" but their performance in "TOMOSHIBI" made my jaw drop in awe. Emotional, introspective and lonely, "TOMOSHIBI" has everything that has made Matenro the powerhouse crew in the Hypnosis Mic franchise. Close battle in which both crews gave 110% for a chance at becoming - or remaining - champions.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Light & Shadow
開眼
TOMOSHIBI
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
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).

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