GUILTY was Ayumi Hamasaki’s 9th studio album. Originally released on the Christmas of 07, it was intended to be released on January 1st, 2008. This album reached no. 2 on the charts with 432,000+ copies sold. It would’ve reached no. 1 on the charts with 202,000 copies sold in the first week but fell down to number 2, due to the Oricon charts putting the first two weeks of the new year together, with 22,000 less copies sold than the no. 1 album. In all this album has sold over 568,288+ copies domestically.
2. (don’t) Leave me alone
3. talkin’ 2 myself
7. Together When…
8. Marionette -prelude-
10. The Judgement Day
12. MY ALL
14. untitled ～for her～
Beginning Ayu’s eighth album is Mirror. It starts off with a the dial-up connection sound and quickly turns into a carnival oriented track, backed by electric guitars and drums. The lyrics seem to be asking about the future and if things turned out they way they planned. The vocals sound so fierce especially with the aggressive guitar riffs. Her best intro to date.
One of the three promotional tracks follows, and this time it’s (don’t) Leave Me Alone. This song is an electric guitar powered song filled with many explosive rock elements. The verses were quite interesting, the melody was actually good. And Ayu’s vocals were a bit deeper than usual and they sounded a little fierce but it’s all good. As for the chorus, well it was insanely incredible. Despite it being so short the vocals and music made up for it. I mean the electric guitar, drums, and even the strings made for one hell of a combination. This song truly showcases Ayu’s new rock style.
The album takes a darker turn with the bone chilling talkin’ 2 myself. There’s ominous vibe to this song that’s very dark and desolate. The song itself actually sounds pretty scary at first, but towards it gets better. There are some strong rock elements, an aggressive electric guitar and the intense drums. Her vocals might have been deep, but they were to die for.
decision follows shortly and it continues where the previous song left off. This song is pretty rock oriented too, and is basically a toned down version of talkin’ 2 myself. This song however features the incredible sounds of a piano which really brings the song to life. Although this song also seems to be more electric and synth oriented. Again her vocals were pretty deep but they sound great.
The title track GUILTY follows, and this dark horizon sounds pretty spooky. This song is one of the many other rock oriented songs, but I love how this song uses the bells. Despite all of the dark and grim music, the bells give it somewhat of a church feel, yet the overall feel is still dark and desolate. Most of her title tracks aren’t all that attractive and this one follows that pattern. Don’t get me wrong, I like the song, but it was too slow and the music seemed to be the same for the most part, I mean there was hardly any variety. Not only that but the vocals weren’t all the impressive, although they did get better towards the end, but that repetitive feeling remained. However the little English was a nice addition to the song. But still, this song is quite forgettable, and I had just high hopes for this song.
The album then takes a more gentle and regal side with fated. This song was originally released as a double a-side along with glitter, and is one of the first songs that began the GUILTY Era. fated is also the first ballad on the album, as well as the only rock oriented. The music is very rock oriented yet it’s still serene and beautiful. It’s odd to hear how beautiful and majestic the guitar, drums, and bass can sound. The melody was incredible, as were the vocals which were deep yet again. This song overall is so phenomenal and such a beautiful treat.
One of her more epic ballads is next with Together When… It’s her second ballad of the album and one of the stronger ones. The song was originally released as one of her digital only singles after lackluster physical sales. It ended up with over 1 million downloads, and it’s not hard to see why. The instrumentals include the piano, the guitar, drums, the bass, and the classical strings. It’s really a marvelous ballad that’s somewhat traditional as far as ballads go. Her vocals were great and pretty powerful when they needed to be. And the lyrics were so beautiful, somewhat bittersweet too. This was also one of the sounds used to promote the album.
The first of the three interludes, or in this case preludes, is Marionette -prelude-. This prelude is just so bone chilling, with the music box and the sound of a key being wound up. It creeps me out but it’s still a good instrumental. Towards the end there appears to be a flute, somewhat ending the prelude on a lighter note.
The grand and oh so epic Marionette is next. It’s the final promotional song and it’s pretty dramatic. This song could almost be called a ballad except for the fact that it’s so powerful and rock oriented. It has that same dark vibe like the prelude, except this song is more dramatic and regal. The first set of instrumentals include the piano and some synth elements. But during the chorus which is incredible, the strings and electric guitar take center stage along with the drums. Despite it being mid-tempo it’s catchy sounds destructive. The vocals were so powerful and so strong. The bridge was a work of art, I mean the aggressive electric guitar and some ad-libbing, so intense. One of the more memorable tracks on the album.
The second interlude entitled The Judgement Day follows. At first I thought that this would be a full song, but was disappointed after it turned out to be an interlude. Anyway, initially the song began on a very creepy note with the bells echoing. Then the music started to pick up with an organ playing followed by some ad-libbing. Then out of nowhere the song speeds up and transforms into a fast paced synth interlude that has somewhat of a dance vibe to it. It’s kind of odd to think that this leads into two of the pop oriented songs. I personally think this would make an amazing song
The first of two pop songs is glitter. This song really began the GUILTY Era and it’s pretty memorable. Although initially most people could not stand this song because it’s so up-beat and so happy, I love it. It might not be as great as fairyland or BLUE BIRD per say, but it is incredibly optimistic sounding. As for the song itself, it’s pretty much your basic summer pop song with some synth elements and the electric guitar. There’s even some English during a few of the verses. The chorus was extremely catchy though, makes up for everything that was seemingly bad.
The final up-beat, sugary pop song is entitled MY ALL. And this song immediately begins with a electric guitar intro. While some have said it’s forgettable, I love it, it has a catchy chorus and is quite memorable in my opinion. The music consists of the electric guitar and some synth elements that are pretty fast paced. The vocals sound up-beat and happy and they’re actually soft, not all that deep. I loved how the verses built up to the climax where the chorus takes over. And the chorus was so catchy. The music was light and sweet, not to mention an irresistible melody. Too bad this is the final pop song.
The final interlude on the album is reBiRTH. It’s the perfect interlude to separate sugary pop from a solemn ballad. The music sounds surreal like with the piano and the violin, almost ambient dare I say. After the first thirty seconds though the music does begin to sounds more beautiful and classical. Such a beautiful interlude, and thank god the last.
The final song is a ballad entitled untitled ~for her~ and it’s perhaps the most solemn song on the album. On Ayumi’s album there was a note that stated “This album is dedicated to a dearest person. May she rest in peace … 1976 ~ 2007.” We can assume that this song was written about this person who was very close to her. The song has an orchestra quality and is beautifully written as well as sung. The chorus is breathtaking and Ayumi’s voice is so filled with so much emotion and strength. The bridge is again an electric guitar that oddly enough doesn’t sound so out of place. The acoustic piano and Hammond organ were just perfect in this song. Perhaps one the most moving songs she’s written on any album that I’ve listened to. This was one of the best ways to end her ninth studio album.
Overall Review: GUILTY was an explosive rock album. This is by far one of Ayumi’s most magical and beautiful albums to date. Although this is also one of her most rock oriented albums, it’s still sweet and gentle with the ballads. You can feel all the emotion in these songs and the lyrics with each listen. I really do wish though that the album would’ve had a few more new songs, I mean three interludes, but it’s still a great album. I did feel that the pop sounds sounded so out of place, but thank goodness the arrangement was good. There’s still no better way to begin the third chapter.
Final Grade: 100A+