the GazettE - BALLAD BEST ALBUM “TRACES VOL.2”

review - 05.01.2017 10:00

Looking for traces of old times in newly arranged rock ballads.

Fifteen years is a long time for a band and it’s only natural that during this time their music changes and evolves. In comparison to the GazettE’s newest records, their old songs are on a different level of artistic and musical sensibility. How would those songs sound with their present style? The answer can be found on the GazettE’s newest compilation, BALLAD BEST ALBUM “TRACES VOL.2”.

This album contains twelve rock ballads from different stages of their musical career. The oldest is Ito, originally released in 2003. Some of the songs, like reila, Cassis and GUREN, have already appeared on the previous compilation TRACES BEST OF 2005-2009 released in 2011, but this time the band decided to re-record their older tracks to bring them up-to-date with their current style.

The album starts with Kare Uta and its waltz-like interlude and soothing vocals. It’s a wonderful, sentimental opening for the album, but next song, Cassis, brings out even more memories. It was originally released in 2006 on the band’s second full album NIL that brought them to the prestigious Nippon Budokan. This new version has various improvements, like a slightly different piano part at the beginning, some variations on the guitar parts and even small changes to the English parts of the lyrics to correct their grammar.

D.L.N. is darker, powerful and deeply moving. REITA’s bass line is even more distinctive here. Next song, CALM ENVY, on the other hand, is much calmer with female vocals and lovely acoustic guitars. reila is another song that has been significantly changed, especially the guitar lines. A new acoustic interlude has replaced the piano part, but it suits this song very well.

Songs like UNTITLED or WITHOUT A TRACE don’t seem to have changed a lot since their first release, but they are relatively new. Both are slower but powerful thanks to RUKI’s emotional vocals. In PLEDGE on the other hand, his vocal performance is much more delicate and the ballad easily melts the listener’s heart. Guren and Shiroki Yuutsu originally featured on the album DIM, released in 2009. While listening to them, you can feel the moving story hidden between the lines and striking guitar solos.

The album ends with two big surprises: Ito and Taion. As mentioned before, Ito is a very old song, recorded roughly a year after the GazettE’s debut in 2002. There’s no better way to show how the band’s style has changed over the years than to re-record one of their oldest tracks. Of course, the guitar lines and vocals were improved on this new version but at the same time the band managed to capture the song’s unique indie vibe. This track is a real treat for all the GazettE lovers.

Taion on the other hand might surprise listeners due to drastic changes in its structure. Tempo, key, background vocals, guitar solos and even lyrics have all been rearranged so distinctively it could be counted as a new song. Fortunately, characteristic elements like the chorus or AOI’s signature acoustic melody in the background remain unchanged, so you can still find traces of the old Taion in this new arrangement.

Overall, this compilation is a superb example of how the members of the GazettE have changed as musicians. They not only improved in their fields but also became very music-wise. They were able to rearrange the old songs to make them more suitable for their present selves, but also managed to keep the spirit of the times when the songs were created.

TRACES vol. 2 is a real treat for older fans who can find their favourite songs here in new arrangements. New fans have an excellent choice of the band’s ballads which will help them get acquainted with their works from different eras. To those who are not familiar with the GazettE TRACES VOL.2 will be a great compilation of rock ballads that will please their ears.
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