Nightmare: Killer Show
by Rachael Carothers,
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It's a safe bet that most anime fans know Nightmare from the first opening and ending themes to the Death Note anime series. However, the band has done so much more. Besides performing the theme songs to two more anime series, they also have a radio program and most of the band's members write monthly columns in various music magazines. On May 21, 2008, they released their fifth studio album Killer Show.
While the vocals on the first track, “Pandora,” tend to be a little on the whiny side, it doesn't detract from the awesome sound. The two different guitar lines mix with the drums and bass to form a base that supports the vocals instead of overpowering them. This mixture allows us to forgive the whiny parts of the vocals and truly appreciate the strong chorus that brings it all together.
“DIRTY,” the theme song for the Majin Tantei Nōgami Neuro anime series, comes blasting in next. Despite the hard opening led by the drums and bass, the rest of the song is rather catchy. Both the drums and the bass back off a bit for the chorus, which ends up having a sort of rolling feel to it. Then that is contradicted by a rocking guitar solo in the bridge before coming back to the verses. It's easy to see why this became an anime theme song. The lyrics are catchy, the instrumentals are varied enough to keep them interesting and it all comes together to give you something that makes you want to sing along.
Changing up the entire sound of the album, “the LAST SHOW” brings in some brass instruments to give us a jazzy swing song. The way the trumpets mix with the drums showcases the band's amazing musical ability. Add in the semi-fast vocals and you are left with a great dance song. For those that only know Nightmare from their Death Note songs, this is the perfect example of the band's talent.
Heading back into the world of rock, “TrickSTAR” turns back to the classic drum and guitar combination. Almost everything about this track screams classic rock. However, that doesn't make it boring. In fact, the fast-paced lyrics matched with the slower-paced guitar line give the song a little something extra that keeps it interesting. Fans of both rock and pop should fall in love with this one.
Jazz takes over once more with “Mebius no Yuuutsu” (“Mobius’ Dejection”). Even though the brass instruments from “the LAST SHOW” are missing, the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals are more than enough to keep you snapping along. As a matter of fact, the drums start out a little too hard for a typical jazz song, giving it a bit of a rock edge. They do back down just a bit to let the jazz flow but it is still just a tiny bit more rock than one would expect from a jazz track.
“Konoha” (“Foliage”) slows things down with a light piano beginning. Once the piano ends, the song speeds up slightly to become a fast-paced ballad. So far, this is the least interesting song on the album. It is just a bit more typical than we've come to expect from Nightmare.
The second anime opening theme song on this album, “Raison d'être” (“Reason To Be”), appears next. Featured in Claymore, this song is more bass-driven than anything we've heard in the first half of Killer Show. Yet the song still has a mysterious feel to it. Of course, that makes it the perfect opening song for Claymore.
With some heavy breathing and a very heavy bass line, “WORST” roars into the eighth spot on the album. Everything about this song is dark. Even the vocal line stays in the lower range. Despite the song's name, this isn't the worst track on the album. On the contrary, the dark sounds with the raspy overlays make you want to listen to it over and over.
Next up is “Gianism Hachi” (“Gianism Eight”). Nightmare has this series of songs called ‘Gianism’ based on the Doraemon character Gian. This would be the eighth song in the series. Following the footsteps that “WORST” lay down, this song is still on the dark side of things. This is highlighted in the talk box guitar solo, which transforms the solo into something more menacing but that is what makes this song so awesome.
“General” mostly keeps up with the fast pace that has been set by the previous songs. There are a few spots where it slows a little but not enough to classify the song as actually being slow. I almost want to say that this song was titled “General” because it is generally boring. It started out promising with a thrumming guitar line and a hard-hitting drum but it slowly peters out into a very standard rock song. Like all of the songs that came before, this song isn't bad. It's just boring.
As we get to the beginning of the end, “White Room” gives us a song that is both fast and slow. Confusing, I know. The instrumentals stay with a faster pace while the vocals slow down. This weird combination actually comes together pretty well. It definitely sounds like something that might catch your ear if you heard it on the radio. There's even a bit of piano and a whispering overlay tacked on at the end, which gives it just a little something special.
“Cloudy dayz” comes in with guitar-led rock song. This is where you will hear how much the guys love to just rock out with their bad selves. If the rest of the album was showing off their musical ability, this song would be the fun track where they just jammed all night and recorded the aftermath. The result is a great song that lets you bang your head a bit.
The final track, “Yasoukyoku” (“Nocturne”), is a sweet ballad. There are one or two harder spots in the song but, for the most part, all of the instruments and the vocals are kept sounding soft. It almost sounds like this would be the lullaby you want to hear after a really tough day. In my opinion, this is the perfect ending for the album.
When I bought this CD, I didn't know what to expect. Like many others, I mostly knew them from the Death Note themes. As a result, I expected this album to sound the same from beginning to end. Instead, the band surprised me with almost every track. Each song was slightly different – whether it was the genre of music or how a particular instrument was handled. I just might need to buy the rest of their albums now.
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