Valkyrie‘s new single impresses with its grandiose instrumentalization and powerful lyrical performances. A breath of fresh air in the middle of the 2.5D unit universe.
If you’re unfamiliar with the game and/or the unit, Valkyrie consists of seiyuu Hiroki Takahashi and Jun Osuka.
Title: Ensemble Stars! Unit Song CD 3rd Series vol.4 Valkyrie Label: Pony Canyon Release date: 06/09/17 Genre: Orchestral pop/Symphonic Rock
1.礼賛歌 2.Last Lament 3.礼賛歌 (off vocal) 4.Last Lament (off vocal)
Track by track analysis:
Synth pads and pianissimo strings set the eerie vibe to this grandiose song. Oboe, trumpets, harp, timpani, and many other orchestral instruments (there are too many to name) complete this instrumental’s lineup. A reminder that there are no drums, bass nor guitars on this song. And, in reality, those are not even necessary to make a song sound as grandiose as this one. The strings set an urgency to the piece while the timpani add drama to the instrumental. It’s incredibly satisfying to come across a song that goes in the complete opposite of today’s “mainstream” music. If the instrumental wasn’t enough to impress, the lyrical performances by Takahashi and Osuka left us in awe. This is just like watching/listening to an historical musical play. The listener can’t ignore the delicate and rich instrumentalization that put the focus on the powerful vocal performances. Thoroughly impressed. 5/5
Melancholic strings mix with a fast paced rock sound. Last Lament changes gears after the solemn 礼賛歌. The song’s pace went up with guitars, drums and bass joining in. Most of the orchestral elements were put aside for this song but there are still remnants of those. The strings are a major plus for a rock song like this, just like the delicate piano melodies looping in the background. The instrumental once again caught our attention. Rock songs and strings 99% of times work incredibly well, especially if the tone is as melodramatic and classy as Valkyrie‘s is. The performances were slightly different from the previous track. There was no need to go overboard with the whole lyrical approach to their singing. In result this performance sounds more comfortable and natural. Last Lament closes this single in impressive fashion. 4.5/5
If you ever wondered what embracing an orchestral and eerie sound would look like for a pop/idol group, then you need to check Valkyrie. Nothing this group does is minimal, everything impacts the listener. The grandiose instrumentalization, the lyrical performances almost as if I was watching a musical performance. This music is created to impact the listener. Most groups would play safe and not embrace this kind of music, and as we can all notice just with a quick look at the 2.5D universe. Groups seldom embrace such a refined and rich sound. The closest we find is GROWTH and even they aren’t embracing something as impressive instrumentally as Valkyrie‘s songs.
Just like with other Ensemble Stars!‘ units, I’ve only just started reviewing this group’s music. Valkyrie caught me by surprise because: I wasn’t expecting this kind of music to even be on an idol game; this group’s lineup didn’t seem like it would work well and I was seriously curious as to why this release ranked so high on Oricon daily and Weekly. I now know why this single ranked so high.
After taking the time to listen to this release in its enterity I can only say that musically, this group is flawless. The music is impressive and grandiose from start to finish. Embracing an orchestral and dramatic sound fits them incredibly well. The vocal performances weren’t bad either, as a matter of fact those were surprisingly good but weren’t at the instrumental’s level. Takahashi sure fits the dramatic/lyrical way of singing and Osuka impressed us with his performance in 礼賛歌. He’s got a pretty interesting vibrato and singing color that works well with Valkyrie‘s dramatic sound as well as with Takahashi‘s deep vocals.
Impressive on both ends, Valkyrie is a fresh and unique group that’s worth looking forward.
“Ensemble Stars! Unit Song CD 3rd Series vol.4 Valkyrie” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.