Review | Fantôme Iris “histoire”

Fantôme Iris

Fantôme Iris show their cards in an intense and classy, histoire.

Fantôme Iris consists on Arthur Lounsbery (on vocals), Wada Masaya (Guitar), Jun Fukuyama (guitar), Tsubasa Yonaga (bass) and Taiyo Ayukawa (drums).


Fantôme Iris histoire
Title: histoire
Label: Bushiroad Music 
Release date: 25/09/2020 
Genre: Visual-Kei rock / Rock

Tracklist:

1 - histoire
2 - モノクロのキス
3 - VOICE DRAMA「histoire des vampires」

Track by track analysis:

1 – histoire

Acoustic guitars and delicate strings do the honors for histoire. The song flows in classic SID fashion – MAO and Shinji are in the composer and lyricists team –, with groovy verses and classy plus catchy choruses.

The instrumental brings jazz vibes, mixing those with rock and classic elements. Strings have the spotlight in this song, shifting from legato to pizzicato to enhance certain phrases.

Once again, the strings + acoustic guitar combo does it for me. It gives a rustic and classic touch to the song without mellowing it too much. As a result, the song flows smoothly and seamlessly from verses to chorus and into the engaging guitar solo in the bridge.

I can’t stress enough how much I like the whole vibe about this song.

On the vocal end, Arthur Lounsbery goes for a pretty complete performance. Not only does he do it with flair – spreading a bit of his magic with vibrato and falsetto throughout the song – but he also showcases a confidence as the frontman that really impresses me.

Not many seiyuu can say that they have attempted to perform visual-kei and ended up sounding like the real deal (aside from Fantôme Iris’ Arthur Lounsbery, and a shout out to FlyME Project’s MEDICODE and DRINK ME and Band Yarouze!’s OSIRIS) and not just a seiyuu singing along to a visual-kei song.

Visual-kei, aside from the looks, is a movement that, when imbued into music, demands a certain delivery, a certain theatricality that is hard to capture. Top marks for both Lounsbery’s performance and the awesome instrumental that serves as his stage.


2 – モノクロのキス

Fantôme Iris cover the classic hit song by SID, Monokuro no Kiss.

This is quite easily one of my favorite SID songs and one that closely ties to my first memories watching anime openings that weren’t dubbed into my native language. I am also a massive fan of the Black Butler manga and anime so I may be a bit bias towards this song.

If there is one thing that I really love about SID and that Fantôme Iris emulated to perfection in this cover, is that underlying mystique and allure in this song.

There is a major focus on the strings in the intro, something that is not that accented in the original version. The overdriven guitars are also a new addition.

The drums are slightly faster – only slightly -, with more groove added by the hi-hat and rounded snare. I particularly love the toms work in the 2nd verse. Awesome accent added to the track.

And as you must already know, SID’s Shinji is awesome on guitar and Monokuro no Kiss features an insanely good two-part guitar solo.

That two-part solo is played in a different style for this cover however, it still retains its awesomeness. Nice job in the muted guitar solo part, as it is hard to master those muted notes and deliver those in such a technical and emotional way.

I’d say that Fantôme Iris, in a way, updated the solo to fit a bit better with the slight increase in tempo and intensity of their cover.

It is safe to say that emulating MAO on vocals is no easy feat. He does have a really unique raspy touch to his vocals which makes him really hard to mimic.

Of course, what Arthur Lounsbery went for with his performance was not mimicking but giving his own, unique, twist to the classic.

Still, in the opening seconds of the song, he was pretty close to MAO’s singing tone, only straying away when he started to add more intensity to his performance.

This is a really good take on the original. As a fan of SID, I felt that this cover not only captured the band’s unique style, but also showed that Fantôme Iris are insanely talented as a band.


Final considerations:

Well, there is a lot I can write in here about the release.

First off, as a long-time fan of visual-kei rock, it is a relief as well as a delight that we are back to having an active visual-kei band in the 2D music industry (on male seiyuu side).

OSIRIS have been on and off – more away than actually actively releasing music – and FlyME Project’s MEDICODE and DRINK ME are nowhere to be found since 2017 which is odd, to say the least.

Fantôme Iris come fill in the void and breathe fresh air into it, showcasing a polished technique as a band as well as their confidence. Yes, they have a powerful and confident frontman in their ranks.

Arthur Lounsbery fully embraced his role and shows the class and technique as a visual-kei rock frontman in this release. I love how he just goes for it with flourishes – vibrato and falsetto – but keeps those minimal, adding them for extra theatricality or as accents to certain phrases. He does so in a natural way too.

Never, during his performances, did he sound strained. He sounds really comfortable performing songs like these which is, once again, a relief, because few seiyuu can proudly say that they can nail an intense visual-kei rock performance as he did.

Of course, some will say “but SID aren’t known for being intense”.

If you mean the instrumentals, then I agree with you. They are more of an acid-jazz band with an occasional rock song or two. But if you’re talking about the vocals not being intense, then we agree to disagree.

MAO is one of the most intense and technical singers among visual-kei frontmen. And he does so without ever shouting or screaming like some visual-kei frontmen do. His intensity is difficult to grasp much less to emulate.

So, for Lounsbery to grasp that intensity, make it his own and deliver a really good performance that, despite sounding obviously different, it oddly, at the same time, sounds similar, which is a feat.

I know this is just the start but I’d love to hear, somewhere down the line, Fantôme Iris’ take on Kamijo, Lynch. or even the GazettE’s songs in the future. Hopefully, there comes a time for the band to cover their songs.

As it is, Fantôme Iris’ histoire is one for the books. From start to finish, it is flawless. Outstanding job by the whole band.


REVIEW OVERVIEW
histoire
モノクロのキス
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. A year later, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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