Or should I say the Big Five? Blame me and my indecisiveness to pick the best out of all those circles...
You know, I haven't seen this kind of thing being done yet - I've seen some crossfades of 'Best Of' for some circles, but I haven't came across one highlighting several circles at once - so I thought, hey, why the heck not? It's not as if I have anything else to do while I'm studying for finals (yeap, I did just that. Good times, man. Good times...)
So let's get on to the reasons why these circles were chosen:
Taka is God, enough said.
OK, the choice of this circle is highly biased - what's with them being the first Touhou circle that I listen to their whole albums - but you gotta admit that Taka does a pretty solid job at laying down some of the best and memorable Touhou metal records.
While Crossfire Barrage and the badass titled Brutal Games For Reminding Of Death are usually cited by Touhou metalheads, I find their southern rock influenced Frozen Frog and neoclassical metal tinged Over The Rainbow to be their best shots (not that I'm implying CB and BGFROD are inferior, mind; that's just my personal taste). And if you want to compare Crossfire and Brutal Games, I like Crossfire more as a whole album, but Brutal Games have more of my favourite tracks (Immortal Madness, Solitude Of Descendant, and Mimetic Flower).
After their last gig at Flowering Night 2009, I'm kinda itching to see Taka & co live performance again. Heck, if they ever released the DVD to Crow'sfest 2011, I'll buy it in a heartbeat.
I'm still getting around with all the metal genres, but Demetori comes off to me as a mix of power metal, speed metal, and progressive metal. They played around with several different styles on their stuff, which is always a good thing.
Nada Upasana Pundarika is my favourite records off them - it is in my opinion their heaviest album, as shown by the opening track of the arrangement of Heian Alien. And the Byakuren arrangement... OH GOD, I get eargasms whenever I listen to that piece. Not even the godly CROW'SCLAW could top that one off. This album is a close competitor to the aforementioned Crossfire Barrage in my humble opinion.
I just wish they'd release some new stuff already. It's been 2 years since we heard anything from the boys...
Well, I'll be honest about these guys: they release so many albums that I find it hard to actually sit down and say, 'yeah, this album is good! and this one is better, as shown by this arrangement!' and so on.
Iron-Chino's guitar playing style is pretty distinct tho, that I think I could recognize his presence on other work (e.g. Thousand Leaves, Sister's Spread-i). His sound is... I don't know how to describe it, but the way his guitar sounds (I think he mostly uses a Jackson Star model?) and his soloing is quite distinct. I don't think I heard any other circles having the same style as he is.
Some of their memorable albums to me would be Dead Heat Refrain, Thunder Concert, Sparking, Vampire Concerto, and Arashi no Hurricane. The thing is, with all his released work, there's bound to be something that will pique your interest - although I suppose most of their music have that old 70s or 80s metal feeling. Neoclassical metal much?
Now this is a tough one. If you include vocal/metal-rock, then Unlucky Morpheus would come next after the previously mentioned circles. But if you're talking about pure instrumental pieces (nevermind From The Bottom Of The Heart and some occasional vocals from Iron), then it comes down to this circle (and another one, which we will get to shortly).
If you think IRON ATTACK! stuff are too much to the point that you can't connect with their songs, then try going through UI-70 releases. I'll testify that I find most of their works to be pretty bland, with the exception of their earlier releases (e.g. Deadly Dancing Butterfly and Vaguely Dreams of Scarlet Fullmoon). They even dabbed into some non rock/metal stuff as well, playing some techno, 8-bit, and jazz. It is also worth noting that they have began producing (Touhou arrangement) albums way back in 2005, when most of the other circles haven't delved into Touhou arrangements yet.
Their masterpiece, The Splendid World, is so... well, splendid, that it changed my perception on them. Who would have thought of covering Touhou musics as stoner rock/doom metal?
Other notable album include their Phantom Ensemble-only arrangement album (2 discs at that), Phantasmagoria of Flower View album (joint album with Demetori), Unidentified Flying Object album, and Imperishable Night album. Looking at their trend to make one whole album for one series, anyone wanna bet that they'd do a Subterranean Animism album later? Or if they're up to date... perhaps a Ten Desires album?
And here comes the second part:
These guys are proficient at playing around with different styles, and they make some pretty not-too-heavy-yet-awesome arrangements (their Nuclear Fusion, Dark Side of Fate, and Phantom Ensemble are among my top favourites). So why didn't they top UI-70 in this list?
If you want to ask my opinion, it is because while they have good individual tracks, but on the whole (in terms of albums), they don't really give me the 'this is awesome!' vibe. I think it's the way how some of their heavier stuff is mixed along with some lighter rock music and even dance-ish stuff, which tend to overshadow their more solid-as-rock (or metal) tracks. So yes, collectively their stuff isn't heavy enough for my liking, though their venture into different style still makes them a worthy metal/rock circle in my book.
Sorry for not being on here much; my final year project is really taking its toll on my ability to just take it easy. I actually have this post planned for a few weeks already, but I never could find the time to post it. It's crazy.
I actually have some topics I'd want to write too, but my current constrain demands me that I channel my thought to more... serious things. So yes, posts will probably be scarce until... early August maybe?
Also, I notice that most fellow bloggers aren't around too much now. Summer/exam/work fever, is it?