GRANRODEO return with their refined and carefully crafted sound for what is one hell of a fantastic release with Pierrot Dancin’.
Title: Pierrot Dancin' Release date: 08/02/2017 Label: Lantis Genre: Hardrock
01. Pierrot Dancin' 02. TRASH CANDY 03. ナミダバナ 04. 君に one way love 05. 日常ホライズン 06. 終わらぬ夢 07. Punky Funky Love 08. Lovers High 09. Fake lover's true heart 10. FAT SHAPER 11. 少年の果て (Shounen no Hate) 12. メモリーズ (Memories) 13. UNDER THE SKY
Track by track analysis:
01. Pierrot Dancin’
Pierrot Dancin’ is an interesting choice for a title track. We’re presented with thunderous guitar riffs, splashy, aggressive drums and that addictive slap bass that has been a staple for GRANRODEO over the years, but that isn’t all, the synths that wink at “Dark Shame“, even if just a little bit, add extra flavor to this hardrock song.
There’s a lot going on in the instrumental for us to dissect yet we’ll refrain from it to give space for those discoveries by the listeners. KISHOW‘s vocal performance is set on a pretty high register, which is rather unusual in the band’s repertoire.
He’s belting high notes right from the start, reaching even higher ones in the chorus. But rest assured, this song was not made to look fancy or anything of the sort so those high notes sound pretty raw from the get-go.
A nice way to kick off this album.
02. TRASH CANDY
[As previously reviewed] Dirty synths and heavy guitar riffs lead the way in “TRASH CANDY“, a track that brings back the excitement and dynamic that GRANRODEO had toned down in the previous releases.
This track borrows a bit from “DARK SHAME” – especially the synths, although not that prominent are a major part of the chorus, adding extra spice to an already powerful chorus. Also some of the parts in this track share some similarities with previous tracks in a kind of awesome way, it seems like GRANRODEO pick all their good points and pieced them together for this track.
Hyped up guitar riffs with a thunderous guitar riff in the bridge, the trademark reverberating, picked bass and the powerful drums giving this song a classic touch with its transitions and variety. KISHOW‘s voice is something that we believe most fans were missing a lot.
He’s back with his vocals on point, “TRASH CANDY” is the engaging and entertaining song mainly because of his performance. The power and precision delivering the lyrics, the hook in the chorus, everything is of top quality.
It has been such a long time since GRANRODEO have released something as heavy and speedy as this song. Although the intro to Namidabana might mislead some people – it’s rather slow and melancholic -, everything suddenly changes and out of nowhere we’re listening to fast paced drums with even faster guitar riffs in the lead.
If you’re a fan of the band’s heavier songs you’re certainly in for a treat. In our opinion the verses stand out more than the chorus, displaying a more listener-friendly way of playing, slowing down a bit the tempo and giving way for more melodic takes on the song to take place. The chorus can be overwhelming, especially at the fast tempo it’s set.
With more attention you’ll notice that there’s a shamisen somewhere in the background adding some traditional touches to the song – but most of the times it’s unnoticeable. Only way to notice this right away is to pay attention to the instrumental in the bridge – while KISHOW is making everyone swoon with both his powerful falsetto and vibrato.
This song has almost everything to be a good one yet the chorus kind of threw us off.
04. 君に one way love
Slowing down things considerably, Kimi ni one way love is a mid-tempo song rooted on melodic guitar riffs, old school synths, snary drums and a simple bassline. Keeping things simple, this song progresses at a nice pace while KISHOW sings with emotion.
The chorus is a major throwback to some of the band’s earlier work, the guitar solo is technical with a major focus on the emotion rather than on speed and KISHOW‘s singing is comfortable with lots of opportunities to stun everyone with his trademark falsetto.
Listening to this song after so many eventful ones might throw some fans off, but this is actually a good breather especially after such a fast paced as the previous one, still it was a nice, welcomed change of pace as we complete the first third of the album.
If you fancy rock with a mix of jazz and blues than this song is up your alley. Nichijo Horizon has a jazz bar vibe to it right from the start. The guitar work is heavily blues influenced whereas the piano goes towards a clear jazzy type of playing.
The mid-tempo splashy drums join the instrumental alongside the reverberating bass – that takes the spotlight alongside the piano melody playing the background.
The vocal work is stunning on this song with the chorus being a major highlight both in terms of performance as well as its craft. This chorus feels so right. A gem of a song.
An eerie, broken melody plays in the background leading the way for this album’s first power ballad. As it’s common sense, GRANRODEO are power ballad masters with some of the most beautiful songs ever. This is yet another one to add to the list.
The slow paced drums set the solemn tone to this song while the strings accentuate it adding just enough emotion to make the song connect better with the listener. If this wasn’t enough to make this instrumental fantastic, we have the melodic guitar riffs and bass helping out in the task. It’s easy to say that this instrumental alone would make someone emotional.
KISHOW‘s performance is once again of top quality. He’s the best one when it comes to add the right emotions to any kind of songs, his specialty being ballads in which his vocal tone fits like a glove, making good use of his versatility in belting high notes as well as delivering stunning vibrato filled mid-tones that render the listener speechless and close to tears.
Owaranu Yume is, hands down, the best song on this album. This is an anthem.
07. Punky Funky Love
[As previously reviewed] Going towards a more alternative rock track, Punky Funky Love makes us remember how awesome was “Brush the scar lemon” and “Crack Star Flash“, it’s a GRANRODEO‘s daring funky rock fill with powerful drumming, the right amount of synths (barely noticeable), impressive guitar riffs and basslines to die for.
It’s lacks a bit in excitement though, like some of their previous hits that had that “hymn” aura with just the first guitar riffs, but e-Zuka compensates that lack with a mesmerizing guitar solo in the outro and KISHOW‘s flawless vocals – those seem to be at their best right now.
08. Lovers High
Lovers High is an odd ball in this release, following a bit the trend set by the over the top Punky Funky Love. Synths take the way from the melodic guitar riffs or speedy drums we’re encountered before, instead we’re faced with a funky pop-rock track that showcases a different side to GRANRODEO‘s sound. It’s not like they haven’t done this type of song before (remember “Y・W・F“?) so it doesn’t sound that new for us only a bit out of place in an album that was full throttle hardrock release.
Still, this song is more interesting than expected, giving way for a complete change in the band’s mindset, now displaying a more simplified sound, giving more spotlight to the bass and synths.
On our end we just need to say that this is clearly better than the previous song but it’s a bit away from the band’s comfort zone, hence it might sound just a bit weird to some.
09. Fake lover’s true heart
More synths welcome us to Fake lover’s true heart, a song that isn’t what you’re expecting. In what is a powerful mix between synths and hardrock in the intro fans are once again surprised with the funky guitar riffs in the verses and mid-tempo drums alongside a rich bassline.
The contrast between the all out mix between jazz and pop in the verses and the rocking, hyped chorus makes it rather easy to understand that this song was made with a live setting in mind. It will be a fantastic live song, on album we have our reservations, especially thanks to the chorus’ arrangement.
Do we even have to say something about the vocal performance? Flawless.
10. FAT SHAPER
Heavy. FAT SHAPER is yet another song crafted for a live setting. The intro begs for the fans chants alongside the band. The dirty guitar riffs and powerful drums are met by KISHOW‘s unusual vocal performance – featuring some gating in the mic, manipulating the vocals for a slight bit.
The guitar riffs are the highlight, especially the parts in the second verse that are with some effects on it, giving it a 90’s industrial rock vibe to it. Once again, this will sound better live than it does on CD, especially the chants part that kind of ruin the song by the end of it.
[As previously reviewed] When it was announced that GRANRODEO would be the ones to perform the ending theme song for the second installment of mecha anime “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans“, people knew that it was going to be a hyped song. Usually GRANRODEO‘s songs are the perfect fit for anime, never failing to impress everyone.
And that’s exactly what Shounen no Hate does. Kicking off with a groovy mid-tempo beat and melodic guitar riffs, this track doesn’t go bonkers trying to keep things fast and heavy like some of the band’s previous endeavors. Keeping it classy, Shounen no Hate is a rocking tune made to make you headbang along.
e-Zuka‘s golden touch in the guitar department takes us back to the 80’s glam/hair metal days with those clean, melodic riffs in the verses. The guitar solo in the bridge is stuff of the legends once again, hyping up the track before the final chorus. KISHOW‘s vocals this time around are incredibly melodic, bringing out the emotions in the track in the best way, engaging the listener with his powerful falsetto and technical mid-tones.
A gem of a track without being too show off.
[As previously reviewed] Memories kicks this album off in the best way, e-Zuka‘s guitar solo right from the beginning of the track leading the listener towards the first verses will grab you attention automatically, if it didn’t grab your attention here just listen to the guitar solo – truly mesmerizing – .
Joining in this hardrock mix we find the powerful drums giving us glimpses of what sounds like a mix of the drum parts in can do and rimfire, two of the band’s greatest singles and some of the singles where the drums really shined a lot. The bass goes thick in the background, shinning in the chorus with its groove.
All of these elements get just the right bits of synths to make this one of the best instrumentals GRANRODEO has released in the past two years. If the instrumental piece didn’t impress you enough, KISHOW‘s vocal performance is just as powerful and energetic as ever, with perfect vocal execution on both mid to high notes.
Mix everything and you get the best track released by GRANRODEO since Henai no Rondo.
13. UNDER THE SKY
After some ups and downs we reach the final song that once again has a misleading intro. Although in the intro it sounds like the song will have a foreboding feel, UNDER THE SKY is nothing like that. It’s a slow tempo, acoustic ballad that completes this album strongly.
The instrumentalization is a bit similar to one of the band’s major hit power ballads – 背徳の鼓動 (Haitoku no Kodo). The similarities in the drums parts during the chorus are uncanny although the rest of the melody changes, with “UNDER THE SKY” holding a slightly brighter tone than the previous one.
This yet another great GRANRODEO album. Although the first half of the album is clearly more powerful the second one, this release is still full of great songs, some of them even worthy of being called top 10 songs in their repertoire.
Following the trend set by Karma to Labyrinth, this album doesn’t really have any major weaknesses. The instrumentals range from high throttle rock songs to playful jazzy ones with a snap of the finger.
There’s even enough space for a little bit of blues and pop as well. Perhaps the biggest change in comparison with the previous album is that synths made their comeback in full force to GRANRODEO‘s releases. Even though they hardly were highlights.
Owaranu yume is a breathtaking power ballad that easily managed to put us close to tears, Namidabana is an energizer from the get-go, Memories, Shounen no Hate and TRASH CANDY capture well the band’s strengths. Overall this is a release full of great songs be it headbangers or ballads. A complete release.
Pierrot Dancin’ is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.