UtsuP was my gateway artist into the world of Vocaloid music, and he has consistently remained one of my favorite producers ever since, with his bass-heavy songs that blend extreme metal, metalcore, J-Pop, and electronic music. Since ALGORITHM in 2014, he’s been less active in the Vocaloid scene, only releasing an EP and remaster album over the past few years. Naturally, I was excited to hear that he was releasing an album (with more wonderful album artwork by hansi) and, despite a few initial disappointments, it’s proven to be a solid release.
First, let’s get my disappointment out of the way. The tracklist is only 9 songs, which isn’t a huge issue on its own as the runtime of the album still goes just above 30 minutes, but one song is more-or-less an intro track, one is a remix, and three aren’t original to the album, leaving the original content of the album to just 4 tracks. I don’t say this to bash the tracks or the album, but I was initially disappointed that we weren’t getting as much new content as I anticipated.
That being said, the songs we do get on this album are UtsuP songs through-and-through. The first track, “Is it bad at the Galapagos Syndrome?” isn’t really significant for me. It makes for a good intro, but the real kickoff is when “Living ghost is alive,” one of my favorite of Utsu’s since it released last year, drops in with its pounding, distorted lead riff. It sounds like he removed some of the vocal harmonies at the beginning of the song and updated the screams to have a lower growl to them, which I think is an improvement.
The hard-hitting tone continues with the speedy opening of “Sugarcoat of Love” and “Ramen Shop ‘GROTESQUE’.” These songs exemplify a sound that Utsu is very proficient with: fun songs with catchy melodies, driven by a heavy, distorted rhythm. EAT and HIKIZURI, the other previously-released songs, also match this style. These two haven’t been significantly changed as far as I can tell, and I’m glad now that they’ve been put on a formal release.
Track 7, “Summer Vacation in the Future,” was my least favorite song on the album (not counting the bonus track) because, as I’ve said many times, I’m simply not usually a fan of slow songs. As I listen more and more, however, I do really enjoy the melody of this track and the soft tuning that is less common in UtsuP’s work. The story is similar with the track “Candies,” but I’ve started to hear some appreciable intensity in the song. Also GUMI. Finally, the bonus track, an electronic remix of “Living ghost is alive,” is alright if only because it remixes a great song. Not really necessary in my opinion, but it seems Utsu likes to do these sometimes.
GALAPAGOS is instrumentally consistent with the skill that UtsuP has displayed throughout his Vocaloid work, with excellent performance, production, and songwriting. I also appreciate the inclusion of multiple Vocaloids. This album features all of the Vocaloids that Utsu has used significantly: Miku, Rin, GUMI, and flower. His use of these different voices has changed over time, as he used to feature Miku heavily but shifted more towards using Rin and GUMI. In GALAPAGOS, Rin does get the most songs, but “Sugarcoat of Love” definitely had some of the vocal sound of his earlier Miku works.
I didn’t get in to this album very much at first, partially because of the aforementioned small tracklist and partially because I was wrapped in a bunch of other releases. I was not in the mood for the pop-like choruses in some of the songs, but I’ve since gotten back into the swing of Utsu’s style enough to appreciate this album. I also noticed that he might have toned down the presence of the electronics in some of these tracks as opposed to some of his other works, which I welcome.
Unfortunately, I don’t think GALAPAGOS holds up to Utsu’s claim in the crossfade that it would be “the heaviest, the violentest,” and “the loudest” album in the Vocaloid scene, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that this album is quite intense and gives us some excellent token UtsuP material. The section of tracks 2 through 5 or 6 is my favorite: all back-to-back high-intensity songs with some rather brutal parts. The softer tone after those is still rather enjoyable, even if it’s not as heart-pulsing and heavy. Overall, I probably give this album a solid 8 or tentative 9 out of 10.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to comment with your opinions and recommendations!