Soma Saito (SolidS) and Sho Nogami (QUELL) are the ones up for another X Lied series face off. After many interesting releases under the X Lied series, how did both of them fare?
Title: SQ X Lied Vol 2. Label: Tsukino-Pro Release date: 26/05/2017 Genre: J-Pop/Rock
1. Shout It Out 2. 紅く染まる空 3. Shout It Out -off vocal- 4. 紅く染まる空 -off vocal-
Track by track analysis:
1. Shout It Out
Soma Saito is the first one up. “Shout It Out” brings out a heavier sound than we’re used to from SolidS. Certainly, this is not the first incursion through a more powerful and edgy sound by the group – at least in their solo series we got glimpses of this -, but it still sounds a bit odd when SolidS playful rock with small bits of electronica turns into a full fledged punk-pop sound. The raging guitar riffs give this song the necessary edge to acquire that punk sound, the bass-driven drums are playful, setting an interesting pace for this song. For those of you that love a good bassline this song is just for you, the verses are filled with bass goodness. Although “Shout It Out” sounds great on a first listen, it’s not up until the bridge that we start feeling that this song got the achievement for “all sorts of crazy” in the instrumental. There’s too much bass going on – both from the drums as well as the bass itself – and the guitar riffs are high pitched to a point that it’s not satisfying to listen to the song.
On another note, Saito‘s vocal performance is as steady as you could get, with him showing that he has rock DNA. He fits better with this music genre rather than SolidS trademark sound. A pity the instrumental went bonkers for the bridge or this song would have gotten full marks. 4/5
We often find him in QUELL doing mostly background work but this time it’s all about Sho Nogami‘s vocal performance. 紅く染まる空 keeps the mood set by the previous song alive. This is a simple rock song with mid-tempo drums and addictive bass work. This song is far from being a trademark song from QUELL, rock is not necessarily their territory, although they have been changing a bit their style over the past few releases. For those that doubted Nogami‘s important role in QUELL, they will be surprised when 75% of the song consists of insanely high notes. Exactly. You read it well. Nogami goes all out with his high notes – something we often find on the group’s releases. Our only issue lies in the fact that it seems like he hasn’t got anything else to offer in this song. His vocal performance sounds impressing on the first verse, but as we progress, it starts getting increasingly difficult to listen to the whole song and deal with the unusual amount of high pitched notes. One thing is to listen 10 to 15 seconds of high notes in a song that has different vocal colors. Another thing is to listen to a 4 minute song and 3 out of those minutes being an all out high note festival. The vocal directing could have gone in a different way, instead relying more on his mid-tones rather than the ultimately annoying barrage of high notes. Yes, it would sound boring, but at least it would be listenable. 3.5/5
Both songs have issues on their own, be it Soma Saito‘s “Shout It Out” and its over-the-top instrumental or Sho Nogami‘s 紅く染まる空 overwhelming high note showcase. In our opinion, this match up left a lot to wonder. While it’s nice to see/hear artists taking on new challenges – especially when both groups aren’t that close to being rock-driven -, it was disappointing when both songs failed to achieve the Tsukipro‘s high quality standards that we’re so used to. Both instrumentals had the potential to be incredible – both relying a lot on good basslines, enriching the instrumentals in exciting ways. “Shout It Out” felt more spontaneous with the punk rock elements being sort of a surprise, and even if we didn’t like that bridge, it had a spontaneous touch. “紅く染まる空” didn’t feel as exciting due to a quieter, simpler instrumental, also driven by the bass, but not as chaotic as the previous song.
If we talk about the vocal performances we only need to say that we expected more from Nogami, not only that odd feat we were presented with but much more. His solo performance was lacking in a lot of ways. We know that he’s the one of the members in charge of high notes in QUELL but there should be more to his voice than just that. It is impressive at first, annoying at second and predictable and annoying for the rest of the song. Regarding Saito‘s performance we don’t have anything to add.
SQ “X Lied” vol.2 was a bit of a messy, unpredictable release with a mix of good and disappointing performances on both ends (instrumentals and vocals).
SQ “X Lied” vol.2 is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.