New FictionJunction Album "Parade" (Release April 19, 2023) [MV out on YT!]

Ok, here my review of the Album:
Prologue: It’s nice, although probably my least favorite “prelude-type” of track she has ever done, but that comes from someone who really loves all the ones she has already done for Kalafina, as well as those for Aimer and JAM-Project, so this doesn’t mean much.

Koto no hoka yawarakai: Ok, hands down my favorite track on the album right out of the gate! The initial verses are really cool and I think Joelle’s voice really fits this song, especially at the beginning in the verse. I agree that the first, exclusively instrumental part of the bridge is not all that interesting, but as soon as the vocals start to kick back in, it starts to get really cool again. The darker edge to it is very much appreciated. Awesome track!

Yako Toryo: This is type of song is not really my cup of tea. I still like it well enough for what it is but it certainly doesn’t excite me. Very Saeko Chiba-ish.

Beginning: And now the first actual Saeko Chiba cover. I already liked the original, so I like this one too. To me, the bass-lines were cooler and more standout in the original, but this version is still superior overall for the vocals and the updated arrangement.

Mo kimi no koto wo mita kunai: The album continues with retro-style Kajiura. This one sounds a bit like See-Saw, which is definitely not a bad thing, but I find the keyboard sounds here (which certainly add to the “retro feel” of the song) rather distracting. I preferred the live version in terms of arrangement. The vocals are better here though than in the live version.

Kai: This might be an unpopular opinion, but this one caught me by surprise in a positive way. I’m (like many people here) not a big fan of Aimer’s voice but the undeniably heartfelt way she sings here does really elevate this track beyond just the compositional value. So does the piano. Excellently and simply beautifully played by Sakurada! The bridge section towards the end almost got me emotional. Very mizu no akashi-ish, but still different enough to not bother me.

Sokyuu no fanfare: Another unpopular opinion, but I really like this song and I actually appreciate ReoNa’s voice here, I think it brings something unique to the song. The chorus is by far my least favorite part of the song, but I dig everything else. And yes, the bridge sounds in parts almost exactly like asa no kuru’s but it doesn’t bother me enough to spill my enjoyment of the song.

Hachigatsu no organ: For some reason, I find myself enjoying this one a lot more now on the album. It sonds like it could’ve been a Kalafina song. For some reason it especially reminds me of musunde hiraku, even though it is not extremely similar. Maybe because I feel the same way about it: It slightly overstays its welcome but is still very nice overall.

Sore wa chiisana hikari no you na: Finally, a studio version of this song that doesn’t cause ear cancer! Not to mention the upgrade from Sayuri to Keiko… It’s great from start to finish, as was already the live version. I’ve got nothing more to say than that I love it.

From the edge: Another unpopular opinion, but I’ve always liked this song. Yes, the instrumental main theme insert at the end of the bridge doesn’t really fit, but the whole rest of the song is great. Also, is it just me, or did they remaster this song for this album? For some reason, it sounds a lot better to me here.

Moonlight melody: I certainly would’ve preferred if they had covered mo hitotsu mawashite but I know that moonlight melody is apparently more liked by most people. It’s much better than the original though and fits well into the album as a showcase of Kajiura’s waltzy tendencies. haha

Seikai no hate: The second Saeko Chiba cover. I never cared for the original, but this version surprised me positively, even though, the arrangement is kept quite close to the original. Maybe it’s Yuuki Airas delivery, or again the piano, but the song really worked for me.

Parade: Yeah, my least favorite track on the album. I really can’t put my finger on it, but this song just doesn’t connect with me. The arrangement is very expertly done, but melodically it just doesn’t want to klick with me. I do quite like the very end of the song though, when the instruments make a brief comeback and we get that last choir part. At least I now found something about it, that I like, I guess. I think, this is the first time for me, that a Kajiura album closer (or even a title track for that matter) was a complete miss.

Overall thoughts:

I think this album is a lot more than the sum of its parts. To me, it feels like it takes you on a journey through Kajiura’s musical world and along the way you visit all the different styles and varieties of her musical creations from the last decades. And it achieves that, without being a best-of album or anything like that. In my opinion this album is an exceptionally tasteful representation of her musical style as a whole and while it leaned a bit too heavily to her old style for my own taste, I do think it’s fitting for Kajiura’s 30th anniversary. Additionally, it also always helps when the music sounds good production wise which, sadly, was not always the case recently (I’m looking at you Akeboshi, Shirogane and Koi Kogare). Good album overall! I’ll have to listen to it more to be able to compare it fairly to the two previous FictionJunction albums though. I guess Everlasting Songs is out of reach, but it can definitely compete with elemental I’d say.

Well, going in I wouldn’t have thought to come out with such a positive impression!
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Oh yea, I forgot to add that the booklet doesn't have anything other than lyrics and credits for the CD and bluray.
Pretty sure all the artwork in the booklet is also used on the fictionjunction-parade website.
My quick shit takes:
will probably be listening again:
(no strings, upbeat, cheerful)​
(no strings, woo; agreed about processing being overdone here on Yuriko's parts but I might get used to it. Having the other singers do harmonies, which were missing in the live, does address some of my worries about the need of a studio version of this cover prior to hearing it. Oh yea, I dislike that Keiko and Kaori pronunce "story" differently.)​
(Kinda same thoughts as live - I like the verses but when the instrumental kicks in hard, my mind starts wandering...)​

won't mind listening when it comes on:
(I like Aimer, she milks it for all it's worth. Piano is kinda basic.)​
(No real change from my PV comments.)​
(Don't care for rito, but the arrangement saves it.)​

will most likely skip when it comes on:
moonlight melody​
(Would I listen to this over the seiyuu version? Yes... Is the flute a welcome addition? Yes... but it's still not a song I feel the need to listen to.)​
from the edge​
(I mean... if you like this basket of Kajiura songs... it's fine...)​
(I like it even less than the live and I didn't like the live, lol - it's the only track that I wanted to skip in the middle during my first listen of the album)​
(This might be an unpopular opinion, it's not that I even hate it but there's several reasons why it's below even from the edge: 1) it does nothing to differentiate itself from the original, IMHO; 2) I really dislike how Aira Yuuki sounds when she's more intense in the refrains - she bumps and rolls every single syllable separately; 3) I am annoyed that Kajiura brought her back for a cover and not a new song; tldr: original FTW.)​

you'd have to pay me to listen to it again:
Sokyu no FANFARE​
(karaoke booth swordland)​
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My thoughts about the new album:

Prologue - not my favorite prelude theme for an album, but it fits with the entire album. I really liked how all the girls have some protagonism here. I thought I would be a Yuriko Kaida's song.
Koto no hoka yawarakai - OMG! For me, the best song of the album, and one of the best FJ songs. Was it Joelle at the beginning? I though it was Keiko, yet if it was Joelle, please keep singing on that tone, it was absolutely fantastic. Yuriko also had her leading parts, so I'm happy. The song reminds me a lot to Kalafina, specially Magnolia.
Yako Toryo - I was expecting something quite different, specially when both Kajiura and ASCA mentioned that they tried to use ASCA's adult voice, and it totally disappointed me. I mean, the song is cute, but not for ASCA in my opinion. Kaori/Yuriko would have been nice here.
Beginning - I loved the arrangement since YK #16, and my opinion is still the same. Love the harmonies in Keiko's part.
Mo kimi no koto wo mita kunai - the album arrangement took my by surprise, specially because the only thing I liked from the live version was the "ahh ahh" from Joelle and Yuriko. Yet, the album arrangement is very decent. I'll probably won't skip it everytime it appears on spotify.
Kai - Mizu no Akashi version 2. Aimer did great, Kajiura really knows how to work with her voice. The song is lovely, but I could only think of mizu no akashi when I listed to it.
Sokyuu no fanfare - I get to like the song a little more every time I listen to it. My only problem are ASCA, Reona and Aoi Eir, they really don't make justice to the song. I'm hoping for a FJ version on this tour (finger crossed).
Hachigatsu no ORGAN - I fall in love with this song on YK #17, and this version is very similar to the live version, so its a yay for me.
Sore wa chiisana hikari no you na - WOW, Kajiura put this album version in a different level. The live version was spectacular, so I was expecting the same from that live, and it exceeded my expectation. The voice effects, and the melody, both spectacular. It resembles a lot the cover of the album.
from the edge - I liked the song, so meh, nothing to say. Still waiting for a live version.
moonlight melody - same as from the edge. Just to say it again, I like having Yuriko leading on more songs.
Seikai no hate - never listened to Saeko's version, so I can compare it. The song is very cute, and it fits Asuka's voice perfectly. More Asuka please.
Parade - I was expecting a Joelle/Kaori formula, so no surprises when I watched the MV. Still think the name of the song and the song itself don't match, even if they say parade on every phrase. Yet, the song is nice.

Overall, the album is quite good, a 7/10 from my perspective, but maybe because I had my expectations way to high.
Favorite: Koto no hoka yawarakai & Sore wa chiisana hikari you na
Throwing in my two cents. Very lukewarm overall. It's like tap water - it's just monumentally fine.

1. Prologue
I like that it contains melodies from each song in the album, but there's nothing too memorable overall. It's nice, but really that's it. Definitely not as good as the other "prologue" tracks she did for Kalafina.

2. ことのほかやわらかい
FictionJunction's Ongaku. I don't know why people are so averse to saying the name of the song it's very clearly referencing (the melody in the chorus). The violin solo is just plagiarised from sandpiper. I actually love this song though, I instantly liked it upon my first listen. Can't wait for the live version.

3. 夜光塗料 feat. ASCA
I'm not impressed. I never liked cutesy voices and ASCA singing it this way is not something I like. The song is pretty meh overall too.

4. Beginning
More processed than the live version, but I still prefer the live version. Keiko just sounded fuller and more emotive there. It's a good song, just one we heard before.

5. もう君のことを見たくない
Eh, I didn't like it too much when ti first came out and this didn't change my opinion much. I think rito has improved her delivery since then (less constantly loud all the time with more dynamic range in her singing). It's fine.

6. feat. Aimer
I like it. I prefer Aimer in an acoustic setting anyway and this is close to it. As much as others dislike her voice, the song wouldn't be nearly as interesting without her delivery.

7. 蒼穹のファンファーレ feat. 藍井エイル & ASCA & ReoNa

8. 八月のオルガン feat. LINO LEIA
Better than the live version solely because she actually enuniciates her words here (I could barely pick up the lyrics when she sang it live in vol. 17). The beginning section before the instruments kick in is the strongest part of the song, by far - I miss Kajiura doing songs like this. The ending drags on and on though, did we really need it in the studio version?

9. それは小さな光のような feat. KEIKO
Still love Keiko's version of this so much more than Sayuri. I do prefer the live version, but I appreciate the little touches Kajiura added in the studio version.

10. from the edge feat. LiSA
"If LiSA sang a song that was made for Kalafina" is what this song is. It's in the same vein as believe/ring your bell/blaze, which I don't dislike. Certainly better than Gurenge.

11. moonlight melody
I love the FJ version to death and this isn't any different. It's just that I've heard it a million times by now. I'm still upset this is one of the few Yuriko solos on the album, smh.

12. 世界の果て feat. AIRA Yuuki
Eh. Asuka sounds a LOT like Yuuka here. Not a fan, I prefer Asuka when she's emulating Chiaki Ishikawa's voice much more (Uta from vol. 10 is still a favourite of mine).

13. Parade
Said it before, it's just Kajiura on autopilot.

I give this album a C+ at worst and a B- at best. Far too many self-covers and the original songs don't have enough oomph to stand out on their own.
As much as others dislike her voice, the song wouldn't be nearly as interesting without her delivery.
Agreed with you here. Said the same when Hana no Uta first came out. And her live piano performances of that song without Kajiura are also the superior versions.
Agree that "Koto no Hoka Yawarakai" slaps, great warm-up to the album. I wish the entire album was like this. But I would have prefered a great solo, instead of those strings!!!

Then... I almost fell up asleep during the rest of the album despite a special connection with the lyrics of "Mou Kimi no Koto wa Mitakunai".
So much covers and old tunes as fillers, imo out of place in a "new" album especially after 9 years.

"Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no you na" is top notch, even if I found it more impactful live. Well, obviously...

I don't mind "Parade" and don't care much for the title. I'm more worried about the artwork that evocates some world inspiration, lacking from these compositions. Where's the arabic style inspired tracks such as "destination" or "elemental"? Where are those crazy riffs that only Kajiura could do such as in "nostalgia" ? That's what made the previous albums so unique.
Where's the arabic style inspired tracks such as "destination" or "elemental"? Where are those crazy riffs that only Kajiura could do such as in "nostalgia" ? That's what made the previous albums so unique.
This so much. I miss when Kajiura was experimental and had so much diversity and range in her repertoire.

Bringing up Kalafina again, but we had so many genres she experimented with, from hard rock (Destination Unknown) to waltz (Kimi no Gin no Niwa) to folk (Hikari no Senristu) to new age (Fairytale) to electronic (oblivious). So much diversity from a single group, but since Kalafina's disbandment, there has not been a single new song that's half as interesting as your average Kalafina song.
Um, not even I beg you ? Or you talk only about FJ ?

Also i think its not fair to compare 10 years of new single every 3 months with 3 years of 3 songs per year.
Her anime songs depend heavily on the director / sound director request. But i really dunno why she decided to cover Saeko songs esp Beginning, instead of making more new album songs.

Off Topic: seems HIGHWAY STAR is giving rito a solo project... I hope they won't sign her under a different label because it would complicate things lol
Apparently she had released some sort of single since last year
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So much diversity from a single group, but since Kalafina's disbandment, there has not been a single new song that's half as interesting as your average Kalafina song.
As far as I'm concerned Hibari, wonderland and I beg you (and even Akeboshi if I cut out the refrains) were all better/more enjoyable than any track on "far on the water". So your average Kalafina song is not my average Kalafina song. ;P
As far as I'm concerned Hibari, wonderland and I beg you (and even Akeboshi if I cut out the refrains) were all better/more enjoyable than any track on "far on the water". So your average Kalafina song is not my average Kalafina song. ;P
I forgot Hibari was post-Kalafina. There's one I guess, I actually love Hibari.

wonderland is a bit of a mess. All over the place with no clear direction.

I used to like I beg you, until I heard Aimer sing it live on vol16 and kinda went "huh".
Just my thought but « Koto no Hoka Yawarakai » should have been saved as an insert song in this season of KNY (with different title and lyrics ofc). Not only would it make sense why the album was postponed, but the song sounds hype, cinematic and that climatic part at 2:02 synced with a sasuga moment would have driven the crowd crazy. 100 million views, FictionJunction trending and Nippon Budokan sold-out at midnight. You would also probably want to take your next tickets for Makuhari Messe or Tokyo Dome.
As far as I'm concerned Hibari, wonderland and I beg you (and even Akeboshi if I cut out the refrains) were all better/more enjoyable than any track on "far on the water". So your average Kalafina song is not my average Kalafina song. ;P
Cut out wonderland and I'd agree. I'd put Haru wa Yuku in actually, after listening to the live vol. 16 of it that song grew on me a lot. And I think it's kinda unfair that you'd compare them to the Kalafina tracks on far on the water, that album was on the lower bar for Kalafina lol. Btw I still really want Gogatsu no Mahou and Usumurasaki instrumental (aka the only 2 good tracks on far on the water album).
I was taken by surprise how much i enjoyed this album, i won't mind listening to it from time to time.

some thoughts:

* tracks 3,4&5: the FJYUUKA nostalgia really shook me, yakou toryou was made for her :spotlight:. In my opinion, the best song in the album.
* ongaku 2.0 was a good opening track for the album
* aimer was great in a slower song, but my mind was singing mizu no akashi
* hachigatsu no organ is a kalafina orphan, you can't change my mind :listen: I'm not a fan of the upbeat instrumental.
* i warmed up to parade, it makes sense in the album's context
* i never cared for erased, so i welcome the cover. Keiko sounds great as usual.
* my hatred for SAO is very alive and this time there's no exception
* the rest is ok

I'm curious about the live video: i saw kioku no mori and yakusoku in the setlist, who dared to did them? :knife:
And I think it's kinda unfair that you'd compare them to the Kalafina tracks on far on the water, that album was on the lower bar for Kalafina lol.
It's not unfair to use that album because I was addressing a post of Saber's, who had an "unpopular opinion" on that album. (And no, I was not trying to be a dick, it was just easier to use one set of songs as an example than singling out tracks from 80 Kalafina songs.)

To add to it, I was also responding to Saber saying that "not a single song since Kalafina's disbandment was half as interesting than your average Kalafina". I'm not even arguing that Kalafina had more diversity of songs across their entire run than PARADE - or even maybe all songs since Kalafina BUT outside of this album (and I guess wonderland), all post-Kalafina songs have been anime tieins and that comes with some level of generic that Kalafina absolutely objectively also shared and suffered from.

We still wait for the full "fairy game" but it's certainly promising on the variety and quality meters.

Edit: I guess I was in Sony mode and forgot "Taiyo no Kouro". I would also single it out in that post of mine above as a song I personally enjoy.
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