SNOW FLAKE – Kioku no Koshuu – (Album Version)
Rakuen Tengoku (Bonus Track)
Songs in bold are previously released singles. Songs in blue (with a link) have already been reviewed. Those songs will, however, be reviewed in context of the album once more.
#5 is FLOW’s sixth album, released on January 28th, 2009. It reached #19 on Oricon. The title refers to the end of their fifth year in the music business.
With the three singles released in this era being a chain, I was expecting them to follow each other, but apparently that was only for the PVs. Nonetheless, the ambience of WORLD END, despite such a depressive name, is perfect to open the album. I think this was the best A-Side of the era, even though SNOW FLAKE – Kioku no Koshiuu – is pretty close to that, and the mix of aggressive guitars and calming sequences make a unique song.
HEAVENLY STARS is somewhat a more aggressive version of the previous song; but the vocals, distinctly apart while usually the two vocalists tend to blend their voice together or sing one sequence after the other, make this song little of an enjoyment. This is a train ride to FLOW’s past work, when their music was more optimistic and, well, immature.
Next comes PULSE, the aggressive second A-Side on the last single of the era. I’ve come to like it a lot more, even though the chorus still annoys me a little bi, but the aggressive guitar riffs at the end of the chorus tend to just let the entire song collapse. Otherwise, the verses are nice and calming, but not enough to make up for the rest of the song.
I liked SNOW FLAKE – Kioku no Koshiuu – (the persistence of memories) when I first heard it, but, much like a lot of the songs on this album, I’ve come to like it even more after a few listens. After the two more powerful singles, this song finally introduced a ballad into the era. It’s very well made and the strings are very nice. The combination of the two vocalists’ voices is at its peak here, and I think it’s FLOW’s most powerful attribute in general. The Album Version extends it a little bit, although I see very little difference.
ANTHEM is one of my favorite new tracks on the album. This song is pretty much a direct confrontation to the overall, more sad, tone of the previous song. The verses could have been better, the problem being the same as with HEAVENLY STARS, the vocals are distinctly apart, but the chorus flows nicely and gives me a feeling of hope and bliss.
The next track is another ride back to FLOW’s earlier stuff, although I think they executed it a lot better than HEAVENLY STARS. BRAND-NEW DAY is another very positive song. The pattern is similar to the previous track, and it has the same problems: the verses could have required some help, but the chorus is catchy.
Akai Siren (red siren) is the more hardcore song on this album, and also one of the worse songs on it. The verses are pretty boring, and the chorus really does nothing for me. It’s one of those songs that has a lot of potential but doesn’t draw that forward.
Next comes a highly contrasting song: Antares is a bizarre mixture of several traditional music styles, one of them is definitely Spain, which is noticeable by the vocals. It’s another of my favorites on this album, in part because it’s one of FLOW’s most unique songs ever.
MUSIC is quite similar to Akai Siren in that it’s quite aggressive, and in this case we have something even worse than Akai Siren. I really think FLOW should stick with songs that are more low-key than this like WORLD END or WORD OF THE VOICE, because it’s what they do best. When they go all-out, it creates pretty annoying songs that hard to sit through.
WORD OF THE VOICE now seems like the worst single of the era, but that’s not that bad considering the other two were amazing. It’s a perfect example of what FLOW are good at and this is a song that I find very easy to listen to because it’s very soothing despite being so instrumentally powerful.
The last song on the album is Butterfly, a song that reminds me a lot of punk bands here in the West. It’s a great way to end the album because it has this feeling of “closing the curtains”, “end of the story”. And here again, we have a song that is powerful but soothing.
The bonus track is little to fret over, because it’s the ridiculously circus-like Rakuen Tengoku (Eden Paradise). It reminds me of Okuru Kotoba (their debut single) in the worst possible of ways and frankly, this song is just a little bonus added to make the CD+DVD version seem a little bit special.
I found #5 to be very enjoyable, in various ways. For one, I think it’s FLOW’s best album to date, as well as their most mature work. It’s a fun album that skips from more nostalgic tracks like SNOW FLAKE – Kioku no Koshuu – and WORD OF THE VOICE to songs that are more on the happy side, like Butterfly and ANTHEM. With the exception of the two more hardcore tracks on this album, Akai Siren and MUSIC, all the new tracks offer something enjoyable even if only a little bit, and I hope that FLOW continues to create stuff like this. It’s not perfect, but I still recommend listening this album to anyone who enjoys rock, even in the slightest bit.