2017 has been full of good music for me, and I’m glad that a nice little piece of it came from the Vocaloid scene. As the title says, I’ll be going over my top 5 Vocaloid albums of the year. I include releases from the very end of 2016, just as releases at the end of this year will count for 2018 (and based on what I’m seeing for Comiket 93, there will be some great ones soon). Additionally, I mostly only count full-length releases from an artist and not EPs or compilations. Before the top 5, here are a couple of honorable mentions that didn’t quite make it.
Masa – ALCATRAZ
I’m very glad that Masa has been releasing albums, starting with last year’s Adult and continuing this year with Alcatraz. I’ve been a fan of his work for a while, especially his horror-themed songs. This release is Masa by the books, with gawdy electronic rap, traditional Japanese-style music mixed with rap, and some of his older rock works. Nearly all of the album is singles from a while back, but good material nonetheless. Stream here.
ODDEEO + Karma Wears White Ties – Wesley Dreamers
I reviewed this album very favorably this year, but it’s become overshadowed by more recent and stickier albums. I still think it’s a great collaboration, but it didn’t hook me as much as the top 5. A unique and well-executed album; I hope to see more of this sound in the Vocaloid scene going forward. Stream/purchase here.
One more I’d recommend that doesn’t fit the bill for the list is Teddyloid‘s Silent Planet 2 EP Vol. 5 feat. IA. Technically, there’s only one original song on the EP, but it’s quite good, and his cover of KOHH’s “I Don’t Work” is great. Stream here.
Now for my top 5 Vocaloid albums of 2017:
5. Annyahoo – DISORDER
This album really sold me on annyahoo’s metal-fusion sound that he’s been pursuing through his Blatophobia circle. It’s filled with equally-excellent heavy and catchy cuts. I’d been hoping he would stick more to his thrash sound after APOCALYPSE, but this release proved to me that this is a great direction as well. There are a couple of not-so-great tracks, but I can’t ignore how much I listened to this in 2017.
Favorite songs: DISORDER, Suikyou na Liberal to Nichou Kenjuu, Gendai Hades Remix, FUJIYAMA. Purchase here.
4. Yunosuke – Black or White
After Yunosuke’s huge hit last year, Pathos, I didn’t think we’d be seeing another album from him in 2017, but Black or White showed up by surprise. While not quite on the level of Pathos for me, this album has a lot of songs I liked as singles before its release, with all of the same prime production quality and Osamu’s pristine tuning. Yunosuke is continually proving to be one of the best new electronic producers out there.
Favorite songs: Black or White, Coppelia, Spiral, PaIII.INCEPTION. Stream/purchase here.
3. Nayutan Alien – Object Y from Star Nayutan
Another name that’s blown up in recent years, Nayutan Alien has quickly become a favorite of mine, with both Object X and Object Y from Star Nayutan landing numerous great singles. Both albums carry their quirky electro-pop-rock sound in a very refreshing way, complete with cute vocals and snaggy melodies that always make me wanna dance. While Object Y is arguably more of the same as Object X, the sound is so fun and the songs so unique that it doesn’t ever feel rehashed, and I doubt it’ll get old soon.
Favorite songs: Gekkou Music, Solar System Disco, Aerial Combat Exhibition, Dance Robot Dance. Purchase here.
2. UtsuP – GALAPAGOS
My disappointment at the brevity of this album was short-lived. It contains some of Utsu’s most fun and intense material yet, delivering one banger after another. Listening to these songs always makes my heart itch for a Vocaloid metal concert (we’re certainly far from that, but I can dream). Great production as always, with Utsu’s usual pounding bass, and the remaster of “Living ghost is alive” definitely improves the vocals. I’m incredibly glad Utsu is still thinking of his Vocaloid fans.
Favorite songs: Ramen Shop “GROTESQUE”, Sugarcoat of Love, EAT, Living ghost is alive. Purchase here.
I know it may be cheating to include two in the top, but I figured it’s okay if they’re by the same artist. I honestly couldn’t put these albums anywhere else, and I enjoy them for very different reasons.
Let’s start with ENIGMA, which came out at the very beginning of 2017 and contains some of Xenon’s heaviest and fastest material to-date alongside his usual mix of simple power metal riffs and extremely technical soloing. He also throws in some cheery, poppy music and ballads, as he’s known to do sometimes, which break up the flow of the tracklist a bit. Nonetheless, I love this album for its gripping standard-length songs that hook me with equal shares of technical mastery, catchy writing, and raw intensity (there’s also a 18-minute suite that’s also amazing, but most of the album is shorter cuts).
Contrast that with IMMIGRATION, the third and final installment in Xenon’s series of space epic albums, which finds its strength as a cohesive work rather than in individual tracks. With its cast of 11 different vocalists, IMMIGRATION tells the story of an interplanetary journey through orchestral power metal, and the music conveys that story just as well as the words themselves as it rises and falls with the narrative. It’s an album I always listen to in its entirety.
I love that XenonP incorporates new sounds into his usual power metal style in these albums: you can see progressive elements like odd rhythms in “The Evil Play” and cuts of “Find the FRONTIER II out”, as well as the Dream Theater-inspired Dance of the Voiceless, while “Nightmare Insect” pushes into speed metal with pounding blast beats over high-speed guiterword. Xenon’s skillful writing, masterful instrumentation, and innovative vocals have managed to place two of his albums as my favorite Vocaloid releases of the year.
Favorite ENIGMA songs: Watch Me!, Nightmare Insect, Dance of the Voiceless, The Evil Play, Enigma Suite.
Favorite IMMIGRATION songs: Find the FRONTIER II out, Save the Sole Survivor, Dead or Alive, Chains of Will.
Purchase ENIGMA here and IMMIGRATION here.
Do yourself a favor and check out any of the albums on this list! Also stay tuned for the new Kikuo and KurageP albums coming out soon!
Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think of these albums and tell me your favorite Vocaloid music of 2017 in the comments!
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