Review | VS AMBIVALENZ “PreOrder”

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VS AMBIVALENZ challenges itself with the very first unit songs, showcasing the talents of its members through a collection of songs catering to almost all tastes.

Introduction

VS AMBIVALENZ is a 2D music project by NIZISTA (best known for HANDEAD ANTHEM). It has a pretty unique format in which only 7 out of the 14 members will make it to the final group.

And in charge of deciding who makes it to the group is you, the listener.

The cast includes Shintaro Asanuma, Makoto Furukawa, Chiaki Kobayashi, Reiou Tsuchida, Tasuku Hatanaka, Kengo Kawanishi and Ayumu Murase.

To get to know more about this project, please refer to THTFHQ’s extended article about VS AMBIVALENZ.

Review

Title: PreOrder
Release date: 30/03/2022
Label: NIZISTA
Genre: Trap/EDM/Eurobeat/Pop

Tracklist:

1 - PreOrder
2 - Opening Drama Track [Hello, GLANZ!!~vol.2~]
3 - 愛の歌
4 - Fight-or-Flight
5 - Secret Drama Track [2nd mission after party]
6 - Private Drama Track [amidakuji]

Track by track analysis:

1 – PreOrder

Team Cyber’s 39YEAH↗ & REI (CV: Makoto Furukawa) and AUGURI & FUTABA (CV: Ayumu Murase) bring trap, R&B, and rap in “PreOrder”.

The composition for this track is quite complex, morphing into different music genres at times while, at others, only adding accents that hint at those.

The beat is hip-hop inspired, slow-paced, shifting from those hard-hitting triplets that bring trap music to the spotlight, to a simple snare + clap track beat that is more common in EDM music. That shift in beat takes the vocals from R&B to rap (in the build-up to the chorus) and then pop style of performances, respectively.

Then you have the synths that go from dirty in the verses and bridge to the clean, upbeat ones in the chorus.

You have orchestral hits in the background adding another layer of toughness to the track, clearly steering it towards a trap sound.

The 2nd verse is slightly different, sounding more “empty” in its first part as a poly synth paints the background, preparing it for an increase in intensity in this song.

While the transitions between styles were clean and flowed naturally with the help of awesome, barely noticeable, washy synths + drum fills, something is lacking in the delivery when you get to the chorus.

Now, this song shines more on the vocal end than it does in its instrumental. Makoto Furukawa and Ayumu Murase have to tackle clean singing, R&B riffing-style singing, and rapping in this song, making it one of the trickiest performances in this franchise so far.

On top of all that, you got here two ends of the spectrum on the vocal end – with Murase’s delicate tenor vocals and Furukawa’s powerful baritone/bass vocals -, working in perfect sync.

Even if the instrumental leaves a bit to be desired, at least in my opinion, the vocals more than made up for that slightly bland chorus.

3 – 愛の歌

愛の歌 (Ai no Uta) brings castanets, acoustic guitars, and really simple Eurobeat to the spotlight in what is an interesting take on 80s music (it’s more late 90s than 80s but still…).

The verses are uptempo, setting an entertaining tone for this song, with everything about them being brief and straightforward. This is a love song of sorts with a playful yet romantic touch that flows pretty well to the chorus.

In an effort to make this song sound “old”, the beat is really as simple as you can get. It’s a basic clap track, snare, hi-hat beat and it does the job, especially at the mid-tempo it goes. Where this song fails to capture the 80s – and instead captures the 90s – is exactly there. Pop or enka in the 80s didn’t sound like that. That specific style of beat is really characteristically of the late 90s and early 00s.

But if you put that detail aside, the song does a fairly good job of sounding “dated”.

Using the castanets as the main percussion for this song is bloody genius. That’s an instrument that doesn’t get featured that often in pop music so to find it here is not surprising, but having it leading the way in the chorus ends up being quite funny, something I believe was intentional to give that “pop-enka” style. 

On the vocal end, the lineup couldn’t be more interesting. This song is performed by Team 80′‘s LION and KAZU (CV: Tasuku Hatanaka), TAIYO, and SUBARU (CV: Reiou Tsuchida), and what you have here are two incredibly versatile singers. 

Hatanaka is a raspy tenor and Tsuchida has a raspy edge to his baritone vocals. Both are pretty skilled when it comes to hitting high notes and riffing and what you get in this performance is really good. Hatanaka almost took over the song as his, Tsuchida not only kept up with Hatanaka’s energy and technique but also showed a snippet of his smooth baritone vocals and skilled ear for harmonizations.

While the instrumental fails to capture – the whole point of the song – the 80s sound, the vocals yet again stand out for their high quality and energy.

4 – Fight-or-Flight

And wrapping up this CD is “Fight-or-Flight“, song performed by Team Classic‘s NAGOMU and CUC (CV: Shintaro Asanuma), ISSEI, and MIO (CV: Kengo Kawanishi), and JINTARO and CION (CV: Chiaki Kobayashi).

A delicate piano melody paints a melancholic soundscape, leading the way for the strings and hip-hop beat to join in, creating a downtempo chorus with a dreamy edge.

Fight-or-Flight” has a big focus on its dreamy, airy sound, almost like someone picked you up and has let you go in free fall. It is scary and liberating at the same time, something the instrumental perfectly conveys through its instrumental. 

This is the type of soundscape that you’ll want to lose yourself in as it is downright beautiful and delicate while incredibly powerful at its core.

Much love to those piano melodies and strings as those are the heart of this song, making sure you go through all kinds of emotions when listening to “Fight-or-Flight”.

6 voices, 3 of those high, 3 of those are comfortable baritone or low tenor vocals. You have this balance right off the bat in this song.

This is a curious lineup with plenty of higher-toned singers. And what they do together is bloody brilliant. 

The performance in the chorus is the highlight, with tension raising in a way that you only get that satisfaction when those beautiful, crystal clear head voice notes hit you.

This is a perfect way to wrap up this CD, easily the best song on it.


Final considerations

VS AMBIVALENZ tried something new for “PreOrder”, putting its members in special shuffle units in order to showcase their vocals in a “less busy” setting.

And what fans get is a rock-solid CD however one with a couple of hiccups, especially noticeable when you compare “PreOrder” to “Go My Own Way”, the latter being pretty much flawless on all fronts.

The dynamics are different in these 3 units with Team Classic – NAGOMU and CUC (CV: Shintaro Asanuma), ISSEI, and MIO (CV: Kengo Kawanishi), and JINTARO and CION (CV: Chiaki Kobayashi) – stealing the show with “Fight-or-Flight”.

One thing that is particularly exciting about this CD – even with its flaws – is how there is so much variety in terms of the music explored by each unit and the project itself.

You have trap music, hip-hop and R&B in the electrifying “PreOrder”, enka, Eurobeat and pop in “Ai no Uta” and then an emotional EDM-meets-hip-hop tune in “Fight-or-Flight”.

This much variety within a CD is not common yet it was necessary to showcase both the talents of each vocal – and thus unit – as well as to show that VS AMBIVALENZ as a franchise is more than just EDM and pop music.

I’ve already talked plenty about each song so I’ll keep this section to a minimum. 

“PreOrder” had the makings to be THE song in this CD however I feel like, after all that build-up in tension in the verses, the chorus is quite bland. Still, if you want to hear two of the best singers among seiyuu, this song has quite the technical performance you can’t skip.

“Ai no Uta” has its concept as “the 80s” yet it sounds like it was created in the 90s, especially after bringing Eurobeat into the mix. After completely failing to accomplish its concept, the song pulls itself up with an awesome performance by Tasuku Hatanaka and Reiou Tsuchida.

And “Fight-or-Flight” takes the crown as the best song on this CD. Perfect balance between the instrumental, mood, concept, and performance, something all other songs didn’t have. This is a song that captures the sound in the franchise’s first CD and takes it a couple of steps further with an emotional performance on top.

All in all, VS AMBIVALENZ’s “PreOrder” is not a perfect entry, especially when its first CD was quite impressive, but it still has its awesome moments, more quality on the vocals, and music almost for all tastes.


PreOrder” is exclusively available as a physical CD at NIZISTA’s official store.


PreOrder” is available for streaming on Spotify.


Do not support piracy. Remember to support VS AMBIVALENZ by streaming via official outlets.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

PreOrder
愛の歌
Fight-or-Flight

SUMMARY

VS AMBIVALENZ’s “PreOrder” is not a perfect entry, especially when its first CD was quite impressive, but it still has its awesome moments, more quality on the vocals, and music almost for all tastes. You have trap music, hip-hop and R&B in the electrifying “PreOrder”, enka, Eurobeat and pop in “Ai no Uta” and then an emotional EDM-meets-hip-hop tune in “Fight-or-Flight”. And on top there are the cool vocals by all members, some even shining more than the songs they were performing. While not the best CD released by the franchise, it is one that gives a well-needed twist to the format used up until now while putting the focus on all members (still up for voting to join the final group at the time of writing this review).
Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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VS AMBIVALENZ’s “PreOrder” is not a perfect entry, especially when its first CD was quite impressive, but it still has its awesome moments, more quality on the vocals, and music almost for all tastes. You have trap music, hip-hop and R&B in the electrifying “PreOrder”, enka, Eurobeat and pop in “Ai no Uta” and then an emotional EDM-meets-hip-hop tune in “Fight-or-Flight”. And on top there are the cool vocals by all members, some even shining more than the songs they were performing. While not the best CD released by the franchise, it is one that gives a well-needed twist to the format used up until now while putting the focus on all members (still up for voting to join the final group at the time of writing this review).Review | VS AMBIVALENZ "PreOrder"