Got my copy earlier ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ last week! Probably will post this late, since I’m trying to have a full opinion (but don’t want to lose the thoughts). I’ll put things under cuts so that it doesn’t take up too much space (I’m not a concise writer ), and also to keep stuff organized into their own bits.
Set 1 thoughts
Super sick to see GDS into The IIID Empire as a non-Mode of Vulgar set opening. I don’t love the recording of the new version of Vestige, but that’s really only a production issue for me - the differences in the arrangement itself I really like, and this is a great performance of it. The new T.D.F.F. sounds sick live too. The performances of Aka into Oboro here are also really powerful and viscerally energetic. I wish THIS is what they sounded like on TIW and Phalaris, especially with Kyo becoming just fully unhinged.
The band is in pretty top form here overall. Die and Kaoru are on point, though there are a few spots where I can tell they aren’t perfectly in-tune with each other (unison riff in The IIID Empire, intro of Hageshisa). I think it’s only on their low strings, which might mean they’re both actually technically in tune, but they’re hitting the strings with different amounts of force. With Kaoru’s nerve issues, it would make sense that he’s not as heavy-handed of a rhythm player anymore, but Die’s hand is always moving with what looks like a fair amount of force, and he could be making the open low string go sharp a little bit as a result. Shinya is doing a great job too, we’d never know it from his face but he’s tight enough throughout that it feels like he cared about this gig going well. Toshiya, as always, comes off as the most rehearsed member of the band, as well as a good deal of energy when it counts.
Kyo is sounding great here. His clean singing is in pretty top form, and his mid-screams and gutturals have more support behind them than the RockMayKan set. Definitely a little thinner than his absolute prime, but still very good. His highs and shrieks however still seem raspy and weak, and I do worry how long he can sustain his voice while doing them.
Set Highlights -
GDS/IIID Empire, audience KILLER LOOP, Aka, Oboro, Ningen wo Kaburu, CLEVER SLEAZOID, C, REIKETSU NARISEBA
Set 2 thoughts
I have to admit: while I first head the band with Vulgar and Wtd, it was the release of Uroboros that really grabbed me, and so I’m one of those fans that always goes crazy for for anything off of it. So I was VERY stoked to see that day 2 opened with Sa Bir into Vinushka, and I was not disappointed by it at all. While the Androgynos performance is still my favorite (it simply feels better for some reason), this is still one of the top examples of how this song should sound like, at least for me. Kyo’s high screams here even sound better than most of the first night, which is pretty insane to me.
Even better though, Kyo doesn’t waste all of his energy on making Vinushka as good as it is on his part. His shrieks go back to sounding as thin as they did the day before, but otherwise he keeps holding steady for the first half of the set.
Aka and Oboro sound just as powerful and visceral here as they do in the first set. Oboro might hit even a bit harder here. I really didn’t care for Aka or Ranunculus when TiW first came out, and it wasn’t until I saw them in NYC on the North American tour that either of those songs truly clicked for me. Similarly, I didn’t love Oboro when the single was released and I found it’s placement and different mix on Phalaris to make me like it even less. The way it’s presented in these shows however really convinces me of the purpose of the song and draws me in. It might be one of my favorite pseudo-ballads of theirs, at least live.
Maybe I’m just not remembering, or maybe I was just a bit too intoxicated, but I don’t remember a proper Inward Scream on day 1. This one here on day 2 is, honestly, pretty average overall, and the cut to full silence right before the opening riser synth of The Final is a little jarring. If they’d jumped from Oboro straight into The Final I think that would’ve worked a bit better, to be honest.
T.D.F.F. shows the whole band having fun, but it’s also where Kyo starts to lose just a bit of steam, I think. Then for most of Utafumi he just seems tired, and it’s a good thing he gets a few minutes to breathe before jumping into Child Prey and the rest of the encore set, where he seems mostly fine. Rastetsukoku is absolutely vicous, and this performance of Sustain the Untruth is probably one of his best.
Ending on Kodou is, for me at least, really special. The first time I saw the band as in Baltimore during the DSS cycle, and they opened the encore set with it, and it has long been my favorite song from Wtd. Others will likely feel different, but I felt it was a perfect song to be the last one ever played at the venue.
Now, some stuff for the audio nerds like me
Overall, everything sounds great. The drums and bass are full and powerful, the guitars are wide and thick and BIG, and Kyo’s voice tonally is sounding great. The background vocals aren’t as buried in the mix as they often are, which is a nice touch.
I continue to be irked by whatever snare sample it is that is being triggered from Shinya’s kit. It has almost no dynamics to it when he does snare rolls, and personally I think it’s overly bright. And there’s times in the day 1 set where I felt the dirty rhythm guitar tones were way way too dry sounding. I believe the boys are using Kemper or Axe-FX live these days, instead of real amps. It makes sense that their rhythm tones would be bone-dry, so as to not have it get mushy when tossed into the venue’s natural reverb. But it would have been an easy thing to add just a little bit to the guitars in post-production for the DVD release!
But that said, the guitar tones are still pretty good overall. And I’m in love with the softer kick sound here than on a lot of previous live releases. Honestly, my BIGGEST gripe, is that I wish there had been more audience noise mixed in to the final release.
The performances seem relatively unedited. It would be easy to go and re-track guitar and bass parts after, since they’re all recorded direct, but there’s signs throughout that they weren’t. The biggest sign to me is the breakdown of Vinushka - where normally the guitars do two triplet chugs on the open strings, Kaoru only hits one or or two chugs each while Die does the full triplet. I suspect this is another symptom of Kaoru’s nerve damage, where that kind of motion is hard to sustain over the course of the entire breakdown with the tension one has in their body in a live scenario. But rather than replace it in the studio afterward, they just left it in there, along with the other minuscule imperfections. I’m sure there was some light editing on the back-end, but at least it seems like nothing was wholly re-recorded after the fact.
While I do wish there had been a few older cuts (and no, the 2011 version of Rasetsukoku doesn’t count), overall these were pretty good setlists, and watching the shows was a really gratifying experience. Glad I picked up a copy