The sound of shredding guitars, the impact of the drum sticks on a tight snare, the mesmerizing bass lines that add groove and depth, the powerful vocals. Rock is an amazing and versatile music genre in which creative freedom is respected and showing one’s unique colors is more than welcomed.
Few seiyuu venture completely to careers as rock frontman and or singer-songwriters but the few that there are have made us proud of being rock and metalheads, shining plenty of times, showing everyone that there is nothing cooler than a shredding guitar solo, imposing guitars and raw or fancy vocals. And it gets even cooler when the said seiyuu enjoys the music he is creating and or is being crafted for his project.
Below we take a look at the Best Rock songs of the Decade, a collection of songs chosen by our team featuring obscure and b-side tracks by popular artists and some obvious choices.
2012 was here and GRANRODEO were experiencing a major popularity boost mainly thanks to their single Can do including the opening theme to the hit sports anime, Kuroko no Basket.
In this single was one of the best rock in GRANRODEO’s repertoire, Mesmerize. At first, and with the craze there was about this single, Mesmerize was the kind of song that people paid the least attention to. However, this headbanging tune wrapped up the single in style, showcasing the talents of this rock band.
Guitars scream in the verses, the drums are powerful yet simple and the chorus is one of the most explosive and groovy the band has composed and performed. KISHOW‘s powerful vibrato shines in this song, his sustained notes dazzle and, on the instrumental side, and e-ZUKA gave us a lesson on fancy guitar solos with a solo that still has us on the edge of our seat.
While it is true that GRANRODEO have a repertoire filled with great songs, it is also true that this gem, by many forgotten, is one of their best rock songs released in this decade.
Takuma Terashima “nightmare”
Still in the same year, Takuma Terashima made his debut as a solo artist under Lantis. Although he kicked off his career leaning towards electronica, soon, fans got to experience a change in his sound and a new approach to his solo career.
The album NEW GAME, released in 2012, introduced us to poignant, eerie rock tracks that showcased Terashima’s versatility as a solo artist and his potential as a rock performer.
Up until now, Terashima has never managed to release a song as quite well performed and with such a vast yet suffocating soundscape that pulls the listener in with just the first mysterious notes on the piano.
Muffled guitars with riveting broken riffs, a slap bass that still echoes in our eardrums and deep, bass-driven drums created an imposing and unique track that stands out in his repertoire and is easily one of our favorite rock songs of the decade.
For many, MEDICODE is a name that does not ring any bells.
Truth is, FlyMe Project‘s ambitious visual-kei project never really got the love it deserved back in 2015 and not even in 2017 when the bands – MEDICODE and DRINK Me – made their comeback. As fans of rock music though, this was one of the most exciting and unique projects that we’ve covered in this decade.
With “visual-kei” as its flag, both bands went on completely different takes on what visual-kei entails (it is more than a music genre, it is a visual style with particular characteristics on the vocal end). As good as DRINK Me are – with the amazing vocals of Daiki Yamashita -, it was the demanding vocals in MEDICODE‘s songs that earned them a spot in this feature.
It is not often for seiyuu to test the limits of their vocals and go for screamo, especially with no prior experience at it. It is also not often that seiyuu embrace dramatic rock performances with that flair that visual-kei fans instantly recognize.
MEDICODE‘s Carma was released in 2015 and back then people were split between asking “Who the hell is Soma Saito?” and “What is this? Sounds good.“. Soma Saito had only recently made his return to the seiyuu industry after a 2-year hiatus and he was only then tackling his first singing projects so he was a fairly unknown name. MEDICODE were as fresh as they were eager to show how cool visual-kei and rock is despite the lack of interest in the project.
Carma is a poignant rock song with uptempo drums, aggressive punk-rock guitar riffs, a thunderous bass line and what we consider to be the craftiest and most difficult performance a seiyuu has managed to pull off while performing as a character.
The list of the trickiest things to perform for this song was insane: rolling “Rs” typical of Kansai’s visual-kei bands, tackling screamo parts, exude menace and drama in his vocals without exaggerating, and shifting from his normal tenor range to a faux-baritone range. It was no easy feat but in the end, Soma Saito pulled it off and MEDICODE stood out as the most exciting outfit in FlyMe Project. A pity that the project has gone silent since 2017.
OSIRIS stood out as one of the best rock bands of the decade with exciting releases, a fresh take on rock and visual-kei, and an outstanding frontman in Masanori Kobayashi, seiyuu, and seasoned visual-kei singer. The band has a well-fleshed-out rock sound that is exciting and classy at the same time, with the Desire being the highlight of the band’s career.
Desire brought to the table the drama in the piano and strings melodies and added to it a sweet-sounding snare, shredding guitars, and a lot of visual-kei flair in the powerful mix of faux-baritone and tenor performance by Masanori Kobayashi.
OSIRIS is a band missed by many for how unique they sounded and how each of their songs is memorable. This is but a THTFHQ team choice but any of their songs could feature here, such is their quality.
Showtaro Morikubo “TRUTH”
Easily the heaviest song on this feature, Showtaro Morikubo‘s 2016 TRUTH is a pearl among rock releases in this decade.
Incisive, aggressive, not wasting a beat or a guitar shred to impact the listener, drawing us to an alluring darkness that comes to life through a menacing bass line, high-pitched string hits and eerie atmospheric synths.
Showtaro Morikubo’s performance is strangely soothing in the verses but he gets darker and darker as the song progresses making it for a memorable performance.
This high octane hardrock tune is an absolute headbanger.
UNDEAD “Darkness 4”
Since 2011, 2D music projects have delved into rock either releasing the occasional rock song by a group or by making at least 1 – out of the often 4 or more groups that a 2D music project usually counts with – to completely embrace the music genre as a way to sound edgy and or cater to rock fans in a way.
While these are completely valid options to make a project showcase variety or to make rock music sound good and appealing to what are usually pop music fans, there are few projects in the early 10s that could have a mention in this feature. The second half of the decade however brought to us plenty of good rock music, some even from 2D groups.
UNDEAD are a good example of a 2D group that explores rock and jazz music and does so most of the time with high quality and in a tasteful way. Particularly Darkness 4, song released in the 2017 unit album, Destruction Road, is a song that will never get out of our head. This is a power ballad, a slow-paced song with a major focus on piano melodies in the verses but, as the song progresses, rock takes over, and emotional, shredding guitars take over and we are presented with a powerful and unique rock track.
On the vocal end, UNDEAD are more than covered. They have a versatile lineup that is able to pull off a natural rock performance filled with the emotional charge that Darkness 4 packs. Those shredding guitar riffs in the chorus still echo in our heads. Masterclass performance by UNDEAD.
Soma Saito “Kesho Sekai”
We shift a bit the focus from power ballads and hard-hitting rock tunes into shock-rock and acoustic rock.
Soma Saito‘s quantum stranger, album that explores various rock sub-genres throughout its flawless 13-song lineup, features one of those tracks that are instantly nostalgic to those that grew up in the 90s and experienced the evolution of shock-rock by the hands of Marilyn Manson and the rise of Brit-rock during that decade.
Kessho Sekai explores contrasting themes and makes those come to life through dark, ominous changes in tone in the instrumental with screaming guitars, muffled with pedal effects in charge of the dark bits of the track and minimalist piano, bass and slow drums in charge of the polarizing brighter side. The outro guitar solo and haunting vocals that go along will make sure this song is unforgettable.
The is a song with a “final” vibe that is sure to make you delve into those lyrics and unearth the rich story created for this rock tune.
SOARA “LIFE IS AMAZING”
SOARA is a rock outfit from the TSUKIPRO franchise. Since their debut in 2015, the band has released a wide variety of exciting, youthful rock songs but few were as powerful and unusually addictive, and upbeat as LIFE IS AMAZING.
LIFE IS AMAZING is one of those strange cases of rock music done with a flair of the 80s and a mix of the 10s that works perfectly to create a song as addictive as any pop tune currently in rotation on the radio.
Everything about this song is loud and big, taking the listener on a rollercoaster for a whole 5:14 minutes. Add to this song the all-rounded and energetic vocals of SOARA’s members and you will be jamming to this track without knowing.
SolidS “DOPE ROCK”
Still from the franchise come the sexy pop-rockers, SolidS.
With fiery passion as their greeting card, we could expect almost anything from them. Although they debuted in a slightly clumsy way, the group picked up their stride, and by late 2015, they were already a proper pop-rock outfit with several memorable songs under their belt.
SolidS (Takuya Eguchi, Soma Saito, Natsuki Hanae, and Yuichiro Umehara) having been in peek form for the last two years and the release of DOPE ROCK only managed to further solidify the group as one of the best in the business.
DOPE ROCK explores the dark and gritty corners of industrial rock and does so in a tasteful way, putting to use their underlying alluring vibe to good use to create a dirty rock song with distorted guitar riffs and breaking synths that sound cool and strangely addictive.
OLDCODEX “Follow the Graph”
OLDCODEX‘s Follow the Graph is our final addition to this feature, a song that represents this decade in the best way possible.
In this decade, OLDCODEX have undergone lineup changes and experienced a wide variety of rock sub-genres before finding their colors in 2018. Since then, the band has been on a successful run of releases that, this past summer culminated in the release of LADDERLESS, the band’s best album to date.
Follow the Graph is not a fast-paced song nor an aggressive punk rock tune like many of the band’s songs are. For this song, the band strayed away from all that and did something that they actually excel in ballads.
This song thrives on its atmospheric synths to create a distant and dreamy soundscape in which melancholy is the key, moving all instruments forward into a memorable, power ballad-inspired chorus. This is the kind of song that has an introspective side and, at the same time, serves to showcase the versatility that this band has on both the composition and performance ends.
A memorable track in the band’s repertoire. One of the songs that marked 2019 and this decade that is coming to an end in just a couple of days.
Organized by release date, here are the Best Rock songs of the Decade (2010-2019):
- 2012| GRANRODEO “Mesmerize”
- 2012| Takuma Terashima “nightmare”
- 2015| MEDICODE “Carma”
- 2016| OSIRIS “Desire”
- 2016| Showtaro Morikubo “TRUTH”
- 2017| UNDEAD “Darkness 4”
- 2018| Soma Saito “Kesho Sekai”
- 2018| SOARA “LIFE IS AMAZING”
- 2019| SolidS “DOPE ROCK”
- 2019| OLDCODEX “Follow the Graph”