Welcome! is a fun and enjoyable album, but it’s one of those “something for everyone” type of deals where you probably won’t think that every track is great. It has a large heap of pop-rock, some power metal, and a pop ballad for good measure. I don’t think that I’m normally into all of that, but for some reason, I’m on-board with it here. Perhaps it’s Fuki? I admit to being a total Fuki Fanboy, and I think that her vocals are superb on every track.
It seems that Fuki Commune’s typical style combines uplifting vocals and hard rockin’ music. But the hardness of the rock differs on a track-by-track basis. “月が満ちる前に” (Track 2) and “輝く夜へようこそ!” (Track 3) are examples of a lighter style, and they’re catchy. On the other hand, “I’ll never let you down!” and “Sail on my love” are impressive songs that show a harder, power metal side to the project.
Mao (keyboards) composed most of the songs on this album. He didn’t write two tracks on Welcome!, and they add to the diversity of the album’s sound.
“朝な朝な” (Track 6) is the pop ballad that I mentioned earlier. It’s a good song that has grown on me, but it’s obvious that an outsider wrote it because it’s slower and far softer than the rest of the album.
“狂い咲け雪月華” (Track 7) is another outsider-penned song, but it’s an energetic pop-rock track that fits the rest of the album. (To be honest, I wasn’t sure that it was an outside contribution until I checked the liner notes.)
Everything else was written by Mao. And I was surprised to find out that this included “Liberator”. The rest of his compositions on this album have obvious pop influence with a tiny bit of progressive rock in the mix, but “Liberator” throws that out the window for straight-forward power metal.
I like the large amount of diversity, but Welcome! sounds like a collection of songs rather than a proper album. It is an album of extremes: in the span of three tracks, it goes from power metal to pop-rock to REALLY POP. If you expect Welcome! to be the next instant classic of Japanese power metal, you will be disappointed.
If you’re a fan of Fuki’s music in general and enjoy her pop-friendly side, then getting Welcome! should be a top priority. Otherwise, I recommend listening to “輝く夜へようこそ!” (the lead single for this album) and either “I’ll never let you down!” or “Sail on my love” before committing to buying the album.
I regularly listen to the album, so I must like it! Having said that, I’m not sure how well it will fare on repeated listens. I might update this article in a few months with those views.
(I pre-ordered my copy through CDJapan. Yes, I pre-ordered it. I don’t think that it was necessary at all, but I wanted it in my hands as soon as possible.)
Review of the Limited Edition
The Limited Edition version of Welcome! comes with an different cover and a DVD with the music video for “輝く夜へようこそ!” and a short making-of documentary for that video.
The music video is energetic and focuses on Fuki. But Mao is in it too, doing his usual keyboard wizardry thing. It’s worth checking out on YouTube if you live outside of the US. YouTube blocks it in the US. Anyways, it’s a fun video but not essential viewing.
I skipped around the documentary. There is a whole lot of talking, so much of it won’t be entertaining for someone who doesn’t know Japanese. But I stumbled on a part where Mao plays a keytar so now I’m a little curious about what else I’m missing. But not enough to pop it in again anytime soon.
Unless the Limited Edition is already in your shopping cart, you should probably get the Regular Edition.
Limited Edition DVD Quick Details
DVD Region: 2 (NTSC)
October 2016 Update
Hey, it’s October 2016, and I just figured out that Fuki Commune’s actually a solo project! It dawned on my after reading a few press releases saying as much. I updated the article a bit to reflect this.
What do I think about the album now? I listen to it once a week (or so), and I enjoy it but have some issues with the audio mix. I don’t think much attention was paid to lower frequencies, as the bass guitar sounds muted for the most part. I consider most of the material on this album to be hard rock/metal, but it lacks so much oomph that it often sounds like pop. It bothered me so much that I adjusted EQ settings, and I usually keep it on normal because I like how it sounds. And yeah, this album rocks a little harder if you mess around a little bit.
The weird part? Fuki, Mao, and Daisuke Kuriyama produced Welcome!. If you don’t recognize the third name, he was a producer on Light Bringer’s genesis album (among stuff for non-metal bands). I am not much for speculation, but maybe they wanted the album to sound like it does? If that is the case, it would be an interesting decision but it really could have used more bass in the mix.
That’s my only legitimate complaint! Welcome! rocks! Give it a listen if you haven’t yet!!