The Mortal
I Am Mortal


4.5
superb

Review

by Arche USER (86 Reviews)
November 29th, 2015 | 102 replies


Release Date: 11/11/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Atsushi Sakurai's latest foray away from Buck-Tick places him firmly in the gothic rock territory that has served him so well in the past - and again it yields fantastic results.

Atsushi Sakurai is something of a legend within the visual kei world. The vocalist of seminal group Buck-Tick for 30 years now, he and the Fujioka-based quintet have experimented with a wide range of genres, from post-punk earlier on in their careers through gothic, industrial, electronic and all matter of deviations aside. Embarking on his first project separate from Buck-Tick since his solo album back in 2004, Atsushi finds himself firmly lodged within the gothic-tinged alt-rock plane which suits him best, and combined with a new band this is arguably the best work since 2005's '13kai wa Gekkou' that he has been involved with.

What becomes abundantly clear throughout - if the artistically morose album cover hasn't already yielded a small clue - is that I Am Mortal revels in an atmosphere of brooding soliloquy and dark energy. The combined efforts of guitarists Jake Cloudchair and Yukio Murata form the basis of most tracks, from the slower, reverb-soaked 'Mother' to providing the manic energy characterising 'Tsuki' and 'PAIN DROP - It rains cats & dogs' - and more importantly, they do so while retaining each song's distinct character. Cloudchair's heavy usage of effects accounts for some rather atypical touches, which go a long way to achieve the slightly peculiar feel that I Am Mortal strives so much towards (listen to the middle of Fantomas for a clear example of this). Drummer Takahito Akiyama holds his own, particularly with his effective cymbal work building tension where it's needed, and bassist Ken Miyo has his moments as well, notably during scuzzy punk number 'Barbaric Man' where he creates the majority of the track's momentum with a heavily distorted bass riff.

Atsushi's performance is, expectedly, a brilliant one from start to finish. During some tracks, his voice becomes as much a part of the dense, busy soundscape as the rest of the band - sometimes chorused, sometimes obscured by granular vocal distortion, it fits perfectly HERE. It should be noted at this point that the high usage of effects is not a disguise for loss of singing ability - both of the bookend tracks focus on his largely untampered vocal performance, and it's clear that there, and on tracks like Deep Dream, that he is still an immensely talented vocalist even as he approaches 50.

I Am Mortal's greatest asset as an album, however, are the smaller compositional tweaks that can be found throughout that provide constant points of interest. During opener 'Tenshi', little ambient swells, scrapes and miniscule piano 'breaks' are dotted around the track in a manner that can be seen as contradictorily meticulously and haphazardly. The addition of these flecks of sound work largely in the same way as, say, a set of a stop-motion film; the attention to detail is so great and the complementary nature of them so subtle that ultimately, you have to be actively looking for them to pull them out. They create the atmosphere for the show to take place in, and without them I Am Mortal would not be nearly as effective in the long run.

It sounds like, more than anything else, an awful lot of time went into making this album as perfect for The Mortal as it could be. The more time, effort and importantly enthusiasm is poured into something, the more it tends to translate into a wonderful experience for those listening; I Am Mortal is a clear testament to this theory, with very little, if anything to complain about over its 55 minute running time. If previous examples of Atsushi's work are anything to go by, this will only get better with age.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Archelirion
November 29th 2015


5650 Comments


See Calc, Evo... I can almost get things done in a reasonable amount of time ^_^ A ridiculously good album from this year to mark my 30th review - any comments, corrections etc. as always welcome :]

EvoHavok
November 29th 2015


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Awesome read for a fantastic album! Agreed on so many fronts, hehe. Plus, I think this might just be one of your best reviews, and not only because I love this album!

Digging: Children of Bodom - Hexed

CalculatingInfinity
November 29th 2015


8824 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Now I have an excuse to talk about this all day....AGAIN! Take a break Aaron, you deserve it :3 Also special mention to the drumming here because it rules (especally in Pain Drop).



Archelirion
November 29th 2015


5650 Comments


Yeah, I decided to not talk about the drumming too much because I didn't wanna make a tit of myself... but agreed, it is quite fantastic :3

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
November 29th 2015


11673 Comments


Great review Aaron, from the looks of that rating I'd better get on this.

Just one thing, this sentence is a bit jittery and kind of overlong, I'd maybe break it up? Or try to re-word it to get rid of having so many commas.


"As is frequently the case, the more time, effort and importantly enthusiasm is poured into something, the more it tends to translate into a wonderful experience for those on the outside too; I Am Mortal is a clear testament to this theory, with very little, if anything to complain about over its 55 minute running time."

Digging: Orville Peck - Pony

AnimalsAsSummit
November 29th 2015


3777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the rating gets me hype. gonna jam this asap

Digging: Makai - Millennium

crossparallel
November 29th 2015


91 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Beautiful review. I'll just add that going by the translations on notgreatestsite, the lyrics are also some of Sakurai's most vivid, surreal and I dare say profound.

One minor point of disagreement - Sakurai's first solo album was lukewarmly received... by whom? Sure it is a flawed record that tries to be too many things at once, but most Buck-Tick fans, who were the intended audience really, seem to have a soft spot for it.

ComeToDaddy
November 29th 2015


1793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this is definitely one of your best reviews, pos'd hard. I think this is on par with Buck-Tick's best albums personally

EvoHavok
November 30th 2015


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It is on par with them. Now only if you'd like them somewhat more ;)...

Archelirion
November 30th 2015


5650 Comments


Thanks for pointing that out Scuro, just attacked that now and hopefully it looks better :L
And thanks guys ^.^ I must admit that the bit out Sakurai's solo album was SLIGHTLY conjecture, I'll see about rewording that too.

EvoHavok
November 30th 2015


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I should actually check that out.

CalculatingInfinity
November 30th 2015


8824 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I'd say this is even with One Life, One Life which is to me the 3rd best Buck-Tick album. A big grower just like 13kai.

crossparallel
November 30th 2015


91 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you for taking my nitpicking into account, Aaron. And while I'm at it, thanks again for writing the review. More people need to know of this.

And so happy to see you mention One Life, One Death, CalculatingInfinity! It took it ages to grow on me, but is now my favorite Buck-Tick album. Too underrated.

EvoHavok
November 30th 2015


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One Life was a pretty instant 4.5 for me, but there are a few others I prefer over it. Many fans definitely don't like it enough, though.

crossparallel
November 30th 2015


91 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hahah, well see, it might still sneak on you and overthrow what other albums you like better (: It did that to Six/Nine for me, and I lived and breathed Six/Nine for a while. Not to speak of the certified fan faves that are Kurutta Taiyou and 13kai.

EvoHavok
November 30th 2015


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I really don't see it overthrowing Crazy Sun and 13kai. Those two are just way too fitting for my taste.

crossparallel
November 30th 2015


91 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fair enough (: I guess it does boil down to personal preference in the end.

CalculatingInfinity
November 30th 2015


8824 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

One Life was pretty much a instant 4.5 for me too, atfer track 2 it becomes incredible. Despite how good some of their other albums are, I think Kurutta and 13kai with without the doubt the pinnicles of their career easily.



Also a sincere 2 middle fingers up to the prat who 2'ed this.

Angelboros
November 30th 2015


1357 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"Also a sincere 2 middle fingers up to the prat who 2'ed this."



You could say that the guy who 2'd this LP isn't a mortal :3

EvoHavok
November 30th 2015


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Or rather, he may soon come to terms with his mortality if someone gets upset about it heh.



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