Liv Moon – Symphonic Moon
I discovered Liv Moon just over a year ago…how, I don’t exactly remember, but the first song I heard was this one, which I thought was great and was a fantastic introduction to the band and the singer, Akane Liv. I got hold of the album and thought it was very good, and I fell in love with Akane’s voice. Some people I’ve heard refer to her as Japan’s Tarja; it’s an apt comparison. Akane is a classically trained soprano, though in the Japanese theatrical tradition of Takarazuka, which is an all-female theatre troupe. Liv Moon’s previous album, Golden Moon, was a great listen, and I really appreciated Akane’s versatility as a vocalist, and the music was so good I got lost in it even though it was all sung in Japanese.
The band’s newest release, Symphonic Moon, is their third CD since the band’s inception in 2009. I was pretty excited about it and had high expectations. But unfortunately, this CD is a bit of a confusing mess that has too many 80s pop and show tunes-y moments in it, along with too many cheesy lyrics.
Starting off with, “Amen!” which despite its English title is sung in Japanese, we get a suitably heavy, headbanging-worthy intro and the song is catchy. It has a great squealy guitar solo, too. And even track two, “零の天使” is OK – heavy, pounding, and riffy, with some nice acoustic work and another good guitar solo in the middle – and of course Liv’s fantastic voice. But at the end it breaks into an English chorus about “judgement day” that sounds like a completely different tune, and was a very strange and confusing way to end the song.
Unfortunately, things start unraveling most dramatically with song three, “Alchemy.” This is sung in English, and it’s super catchy, but it’s also super poppy and the lyrics are kind of cheesy. It reminds me of bad 80s pop, and the choir repeatedly shouting “alchemy” is quite annoying.
But it’s track four that’s the most egregiously terrible song on the album: “Kiss Me, Kill Me.” It starts off great, with a rollicking, orchestral, choir-oriented intro, and you’re set up for something quite epic. Then Akane starts singing in Japanese, which immediately confused me since the title was in English. But the worst part of the song is the English chorus:
Kiss me, kill me
Love me, hate me
You are my star, shape of my heart
Take off the ring, take off my clothes
Dance with me now
Kiss me, kill me
Love me, hate me
Rolling the dice, do what you want…
Thing is, this is a great song musically – dark, with a heavy Gothic feel with all the orchestrations and choirs – but the English portion of it is really disconnected from the rest of the piece. Dividing the lyrics between languages creates a bit of a gap in emotion of the song, since I perceived that the Japanese lyrics were sung in a more passionate way, and the English lyrics, especially the “racier” ones (“take off my clothes…/Do what you want”) are not conveyed in a very passionate way – they were sung with all the finesse of a nursery rhyme.
Then there’s “Fugitive.” Again, a song with an English title but Japanese lyrics. This song has a bit of an old school rock groove to it at times, but it’s kind of ruined for me by Akane’s tendency to throw in high pitched “aaaahh-ing” at inopportune times.
Track seven, “Black Serenade”, (again with the English title, Japanese lyrics) once again starts off with a promising intro, but I really felt that this song bursts into an almost show-tunes-ish chorus, which is also a problem I had with a few other songs on the album. The ballad “氷の棺” is another example, as is track eight, “心月世”.
In fact, it’s not until track nine that this album seems to find a smoother groove. That song, “The Last Savior”, even though it mixes languages yet again, has a more traditional symphonic power metal feel about it. Song number 10, “堕天使の笑み”, isn’t a bad ballad, but again, the chorus reminds me of show tunes. The final song, which comes after a brief instrumental piece (by this point you might need a break from the norm of this CD), “Masquerade” is sung in English has a grand, waltz-y feel at first, but once more, it breaks down at the chorus and we are treated to another poppy, perhaps even disco-ish song that brings to mind 80s soundtrack music.
This CD is all over the place, a confusing and often jarring mishmash of styles, exacerbated by the mixing of two languages to very poor effect. There are some great compositional moments in here with orchestras and choirs, but with cheesy lyrics and a veritable parade of crappy pop choruses, I found this to be a very frustrating album to listen to, as much as I enjoyed certain elements of it.
Allyson’s rating: 2.0 out of 5