Review

BLACKNAZARENE - ADMIRATION

10/06/2020 2020-06-10 14:00:00 JaME Author: ChrisN

BLACKNAZARENE - ADMIRATION

More kawaii than thug.


© BLACKNAZARENE. All rights reserved.
BLACKNAZARENE ’s debut is a bit more than the mini-album it’s billed as. It’s also an example of the Japanese music industry’s creative, some would say cynical, approach to maximising income. The standard six-track CD version is accompanied by the exciting retail opportunity of a further five editions which include a different additional bonus track and individual covers for each of the group’s members, Mikako Murata, Kiko Kiyano, Izumi Nasaki, Aiku Fuyuno and Corone Toda. Fortunately, international fans don’t have to go through the aggravation and expense of importing six CDs as Spotify have posted ADMIRATION as a full 11-track album for the bargain price of absolutely free.

BLACKNAZARENE’s ‘THUG x kawaii’ concept might suggest a sound at the hardcore screamo end of the idol rock spectrum but their tunes are more ‘kawaii’ than thug, chock full of strong melodies and catchy pop hooks. Straight out of the gate they hit you with stray straight and BLACK SUPERNOVA, a one-two blast of their trademark high-energy pop-rock. While this opening sets you up for BLACKNAZARENE’s sparky, up-tempo style there’s a magpie collection of sounds and influences chucked into the mix to keep things interesting.

GAME pairs quick-fire breakbeat-style drums with rock guitars, punctuated with some squally prog effects while Ibara no kanmuri mixes beefy 70s guitar riffs with EDM beats, 80s synths and anisong vocals, yet somehow manages to pull it off. There’s a liberal sprinkling of piano over tracks like First Light and 7/7 that lightens things up, and the power metal licks in officialfake and Hangyaku starmine add some aggression. It might sound like a proper mixed bag of ingredients but they’re artfully combined for a consistent sound throughout the album.


It would be unkind to label her the thug amongst her kawaii groupmates but it’s Izumi’s vocals that give BLACKNAZARENE their edge. It makes for an interesting dynamic as the conventionally cute idol voices are cut with Izumi’s distinctly grown up style. She shines through on Last Hymn and Obsidian, where her powerful, yet sensitive vocals add emotional weight. She’s performed as a lead singer with pop project Garas previously, so you can’t help but wonder if BLACKNAZARENE is a profile-raising stop on her way to a solo career.


Anybody late to BLACKNAZARENE will have no problem catching up with them. ADMIRATION does the job, sweeping up pretty much all of their previous releases, making it a debut and greatest hits all rolled into one. The first year’s output rounded up here is a strong start for the group and producer/composer Rika Miduki certainly knows her way around a catchy tune. Hopefully there’s more to come from these kawaii thugs.
 Listen to "ADMIRATION" on Spotify
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