Wow, I had all the time to make a review today! And I was already planning to make a review on this album after a week of its release but I was kinda busy w/ school life back then. And it is never too late to make a review, isn't it? :D
Seventh Heaven is the debut album of the J-pop group, Kalafina -- an all girl-group project by the famous musician, Yuki Kajiura -- and thus, makes her the over-all producer, composer, arranger, lyricist of this album. If you already have a background of what Kajiura's work has been way back (like her tandem w/ J-pop singer Chiaki Ishikawa to form the group and performed several songs for the famous anime series Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny, and her BGM works for Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, .hack//series w/ the exemption of .hack//Roots since ALI PROJECT did the music scores for its OST of the said anime series), then probably you'll said to yourself, "Wow! It has been a while nee? This 44-y/o talented composer has done a lot since 1992!"
Exactly. This album has nothing but very much innovation of what Kajiura has done for almost 2 decades. And making this group, is very much of an advantage since Kalafina is composed of singers she had worked before (except for Hikaru and Maya) plus their voice are so fluid and it goes smoothly into your ears. And before I proceed to the review proper, for those who are not familiar w/ Kalafina, just like what I've said, it is composed of singers whom Kajiura worked before for making OST's for making anime. At the release of their 1st single oblivious, the group has only composed of:
Wakana Ootaki -- or much known as FictionJunction WAKANA
Keiko Kubota -- FictionJunction KEIKO
Their persona was, at first, hidden until the release of their 2nd single sprinter/ARIA, They were revealed and Kajiura has already recruited two more singers (by helding an Audition together w/ Sony Music way back May 2008) Hikaru and Maya, although the latter was just a "seasonal singer" and only appeared on their 2nd single.
And the final members of Kalafina are: Wakana (left in the pic above), Keiko (center) and Hikaru (right). Sorry for the long intro but the review proper will be after.
Just like what I've said, Seventh Heaven, is the debut album of Kalafina, which was released on March 4, 2009 together with their fourth single, Lacrimosa -- in turn was used as the 2nd ending theme for the anime series Kuroshitsuji. The album peaked at #8 in the Oricon weekly charts and charted for 12 weeks, selling a good 34,668 copies. The single contains 6 new songs including the 7th ending theme to the OVA series Kara no Kyoukai, which is the titular track, seventh heaven. And their 1st-3rd single, including all the other songs containing in those singles are also included! So if you wanted to try out this group, you better start off w/ this album. Try out the album here.
2. oblivious (1st single - Kara no Kyoukai 1st ED)
3. love come down
4. Natsu no Ringo
5. fairytale (3rd single - Kara no Kyoukai 6th ED)
6. ARIA (2nd single - Kara no Kyoukai 4th ED)
7. Mata Kaze ga Tsuyoku Natta
8. Kizuato (contained in 1st single - Kara no Kyoukai 3rd ED)
11. Ashita no Keshiki
12. sprinter (2nd single - Kara no Kyoukai 5th ED)
13. Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Yuku (contained in 1st single - Kara no Kyoukai 2nd ED)
14. seventh heaven (Kara no Kyoukai 7th ED)
When I saw the album cover for the first time, it was so... black and elegant with those bright colors combined. I'd never thought those combination were really something appealing to the naked eye. Plus their outfit are very classy. But if you look into its content, it's very much broad really. Know why? Because the album itself explores many genres, as Kajiura herself is a music enthusiast. But of course, their main genre ethereal wave, is very much prominent with dark aura touches as well.
The album is also influential on the techno, rock, ballad side w/ ethereal wave combined in them. Starting off w/ an overture which serves as an intro to the album -- it lingers very much on the mid-dark sounding synthesizers which is some sort of a reminiscence of the sounds in their mini-album Re/oblivious, plus some faint voice provided by none other Wakana.
After that put-up-the-ethereal-mood intro, booms an ethereal techno track which is most probably the star of the album oblivious, since the said song/single is considered the Kalafina's most selling and successful single. Starts off w/ an eerie-sounding chant (in w/c of course, Kajiura provided), after a while Wakana's voice fills up the into the spotlight together w/ light electric guitar riffs and techno elements making it a danceable track. Wakana and Keiko's voice makes up a great combination especially on this song.
Right after the filling track comes another techno-filled song love come down, after lingering in the dark paradise of oblivious, which makes it a very refreshing track. I certainly recommend this track because of its light-sounding greatness. Plus, the violin and electric guitar (in some parts of the songs) are pure win. With the presence of the new singer Hikaru together w/ the veterans, Wakana and Keiko, it strongly fills up the techno-dance hunger.
What comes after the lively tracks are among the cheesy songs of the album entitled Natsu no Ringo follows up the memorable ethereal ballad fairytale and the dark-ambient midtempo ballad ARIA. I can't really say much about the first ballad track because I don't listen much to it as like the other ones -- I mean it's good but it's gotta be one of the most non-listened tracks because it doesn't sound strong. And like any album, this one's not perfect and it has this flaw.
While fairytale is very serene-sounding and flashes some sad memories, it is still worth listening because Keiko's voice is very attractive here although she has a really deep voice. Can you imagine that thee most prettiest girl of Kalafina having this deep voice?! But it surely is different and makes her unique in such a way, you'll really remember her. While ARIA is one of the interesting ballad among them, it brushes up on the dark side of the story because of the synths Kajiura used on arranging this song. Another factor is that the veterans Wakana and Keiko fills up the chanting process while new singer Hikaru provides the main vocal this time.
And after a pre-emptive ballad hunger, comes a noisy track Mata Kaze ga Tsuyoku Natta. I don't know why but I just realized that woman composers and arrangers a bit fond of making the electric guitar messy-sounding rather than the guys. :P But even though that's the case, the hard-rock attempt was quite successful because it still maintains the dark ethereal feel. The song itself sound "united" and a bit mysterious because of the strings of cello.
After a rock performance, comes downbeat songs again and one of the lovable ballads Kizuato and serenato. What I really like about these ballads are not because they're emotional and whatsoever but because you'll know that it's a "vocal talent" once you heard it. Especially Kizuato which I really felt the sorrowfulness of Wakana's voice when singing the track.
Then the last dark-techno song of the album comes with Ongaku which is kinda unexpected. I was kinda expecting it'll be some sorts of a capella song since it's Ongaku which means "Music". It's not just lively but it's very "speedy" meaning it's a bit faster than the first two techno tracks. And what I love about this song is that Keiko is the main vocal here!! o,o She seldomly gets the main vocal because of her deep voice but I'm glad they gave her a chance to do one, at least here in the album.
Ashita no Keshiki is one of their better ballads as well. Although it kinda portray a sad scenery of tomorrow but it's also a heartfelt piece. sprinter is another rock track from Kalafina and is also considered one of the star tracks of the album because they all sound united with the song because the rock goodness goes with their awesome voices. It's kinda dramatic in a way, but it's much more of a "gratitude" feel song.
And here we go to the last two tracks of the album which ranges from slow to midtempo ballad. And I have to admit that it took me A LOT of listening for me to appreciate these songs because I just realized it's a standard Yuki Kajiura trademark already. It's like no ballad equals boring. XD But really Kimi ga Hikari ni Kaete Yuku is also real vocal talent -- because even if the sounds are a bit faint, yet Wakana and Keiko's voice are the real highlights of the song. Same with seventh heaven -- although the difference is that Hikaru is with them plus the 1:43 part onwards of the song is indeed its strongest part because after a mediocre intro, Hikaru lightens up the 1:43 part while Wakana does the highest part of the song which sounds very lovely.
Overall, 5/5 -- although I did not really give this rating on first try but after a couple of tries, I've began to love the album. And even with flaws, it does deserve to have a high rating like this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and another masterpiece crafted by Yuki Kajiura.