Review Summary: Utsu-P successfully transcends the digital anime girl gimmick and makes a metal record with teeth.Warufuzake
, loosely translated to “horseplay”, is, interestingly enough, the dark horse in producer Utsu-P’s freakshow of a discography. After he dove into mixing computerized anime girl vocals with black and nu-metal, Utsu-P casually began to close the uncanny valley that was always prevalent in the very idea of “Vocaloid metal.” There was always something very jarring behind the eerily on-pitch vocals of the Miku Hatsune program with metal surrounding it, and over time, Utsu-P seemed comfortable with letting this obvious gimmick run his creative direction. With Warufuzake
, however, the gimmick no longer stands tallest. Somehow, someway, Warufuzake
isn’t just a transcendence of gimmick. It’s also a very enjoyable metal record.
uses the same Vocaloid metal twist that Utsu-P has become known for. Amongst slamming guitar riffs and metal solos, you’ll hear high-pitched digital anime divas providing the vocals. It’s still as bizarre and borderline outrageous as it sounds, but unlike many other albums Utsu-P has released, Warufuzake
is one of the few that actually sounds like a metal record. A real, fully competent metal record. The gimmick is there, clearly, but the rock influences are much more prevalent than on DIARRHEA
and certainly ALGORITHM
. The bass-slapping twang of “The Idiot Admires Anomaly” is a gritty punch, while “Parasite” is a punk-paced rocker. One of the best tracks on the album, “Corpse Attack!!”, is the clearest example of the upped focus on metal, with a superb guitar solo and crunching riffs. The gimmick isn’t a crutch; these are metal tracks that can stand on their own.
But the catchy Vocaloid vocals are still there, and with them, a good degree of accessibility. Three different programs provide vocals on Warufuzake
, and while that doesn’t sound like much, Utsu-P makes each track sound distinctive, mixing up the vocal stylings in the process. The shrieks of the Miku program in “Corpse Attack!!” boldly contrast the smoother croons of GUMI in “Ghost Under the Umbrella”, while three programs combine in the vocal brew of “The Pretty Girl’s Prank.” Utsu-P makes a powerful effort to mix up the vocals with distorted screams as well, and while not every example of that is performed ideally or even definitively, this is a record that clearly illustrates its highs with unique and distinctive musical and vocal direction.
Aside from the obvious love-it-or-hate-it computerized female vocals, Warufuzake
’s only real lows are the brief moments of lazy songwriting. “Corona” and “Cold” just feel like blurs amongst the striking “Adult’s Toy” and “B-Class Heroes”, mostly because the musical direction lacks standout moments and the vocal melodies are weak. The bonus track is sure to polarize for its sparkling pop sound, which is clearly a jab from Utsu-P himself. Not every song in Warufuzake
is memorable, but the ones that work are bold statements, marking either superb vocal melodies, a focused attention on metal aesthetic, or in most cases, both.
is without question the gem in Utsu-P’s discography. It’s where he shows the most conviction to his metal path, with the kind of gritty riffs hand-in-hand with ghoulish computer voices. It has the accessibility of a radio rock record, yet still has enough rock texture to appeal to those with more metal sensibilities. Sure, the Vocaloid metal gimmick is still firmly in play (and depending on your tolerance for the kind of vocals, that might already turn you off), but Utsu-P has left his bitterness toward these fictional divas aside, and made an album that transcends the cynicism that surrounds it. Not every track is a winner, and some feel outright lazy, but this isn’t just a cheap shot at Vocaloid culture. There are some really great productions on this LP. Don’t let the anime girls fool you: this is a metal album that’s more than the sum of its parts.