Hiroshi Kamiya “Hareroku” (Review)

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“Hareroku” is Hiroshi Kamiya‘s new mini-album. Picking up several songs from other artists and give them his twist proved to be an interesting feat. Going back in time with his debut song “My diary” was something incredible. And why is that? Check this flash review for more on Kamiya‘s new mini-album.

Regular edition
Regular edition
Mini-album: Hareroku
Label: Kiramune
Release date: 26/08/15
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

1. CONNECT (Heart laid Boogie) 
2. 流れ星 (Starry BEAT) 
3. JAM packed TRAIN (Switch Back) 
4. my life my time (GLIND HOP) 
5. Runaway Train (Not fade away)
6. my diary (New chapter)
[Since this is a covers mini-album we’ll not rate the tracks but only reffer them as whole. Final rating will be a ponderation of the new mixes/arrangements quality, approach to the lyrics and mini-album as a whole.]

Kamiya Hiroshi celebrates on 26/08 two crucial things: the date when he officially debuted with his first single “ハレノヒ” back in 2009. On the other hand it’s also the same date as the one when Kamiya had a traffic accident that left him comatose in a fight for his life back in 2007.

The symbology behind the mini-album’s title is also interesting: it can be interpreted as Harerock (from the katakana ロク that stands for rock) and can count as being 6 years since Kamiya’s debut (in 2009). This is left open for interpretation.

So with so much symbolism on this date Kamiya celebrates it with a mini-album that, not only is wrecking havoc on the Oricon charts (currently at #1 in from of Japanese heavy metal giants the GazettE) but is also an awesome project to see in the ranks of Kiramune.

kamiya
Source: Oricon.co.jp

With a covers mini-album featuring Kamiya‘s renditions of some of Kiramune‘s artists we get: the funky jam CONNECT (Heart laid Boogie) by seiyuu duo CONNECT that takes a higher step than the original to deliver this jazzy rock song with custom fit for Kamiya’s vocals (that are performing lyrics that were specifically made for two singers – Mitsuo Iwata and Kenichi Suzumura). It’s funky, addictive and sounds as great as the original in terms of the vocal execution. A perfect way to kick off this mini-album.

Following it we have Miyu Irino‘s 流れ星(Starry BEAT), a track that needed an arrangement and that was exactly what it got. It’s faster, more aggressive with it’s power guitar riffs. In its core it’s a brighter song in comparison with all the others in this mini-album but it goes slightly in the same direction as some of Kamiya‘s previous songs. So it was an “easy to pull off track“, sounded great as a whole but the vocals were lacking that lower toned punch that only Miyu can add to the tracks.

Next we find JAM packed TRAIN (Switch Back), original track featured in Daisuke Namikawa‘s UTAO. As we all know, until a few years back Namikawa was the only fully operational “rocker” in the Kiramune roster. His mid-tempo rock tracks, his headbangers were the invitational card for anyone willing to give a listen to his sound. But his bright songs are another thing that attracts the masses. Kamiya picks this song up and is presented with a rock arrangement of that exact song. It’s a slow-paced jam, sounding a heavier and without any synths. It’s impressive how only a different mix of a song can make miracles. The original track was way too bright, relied too much on synths, Kamiya‘s rendition of the lyrics took an interesting turn in comparison with the original – but it sounds better than the later.

The impressive and completely unexpected new mix for for Tetsuya Kakihara‘s “my time my life” turned out to leave behind that bright, innocent pop vibe. Transforming into an almost unrecognisable track with its rap-rock groove, this is one of the biggest changes in the covered tracks, we don’t know why but it sounds so good that we actually want Tetsuya Kakihara to start using this mix on his live shows.

CONNECT get the props for being feature twice on this mini-album, this time it was “Runaway Train (Not fade away)” that received a face lift. This was the perfect way to mix the song, the harmonies, the guitar riffs, the pin point drums and the vocals – everything seem to be on its rightful place.

And the track that set Kamiya for a solo career back in 2009, “my diary” receives an all out transformation. You might remember that mellow, acoustic track – that barely managed to grab our attention at the time. The same can’t be said of this new arrangement. It’s melodic, way more laidback, matured and eye catching. By the way, that acoustic guitar solo in the bridge mesmerized us. Also take your time to compare both tracks and listen to how much Kamiya‘s vocals have improved over the years. It’s impressive to listen to this tremedous improvement in only six years. For someone who hated singing, he’s sounding great these days.

As we reach the final seconds of this mini-album something inside us tells us to “play it again“. And we’ll most certainly do it.

Hareroku” turned out to be a complete surprise – the “cover songs” premise wasn’t sounding that good a few months ago, but now we’re completely surrendered to the concept, the mixes / new arrangements and the performances.

Final rating: 4.5 stars

Hareroku” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

Hareroku / Hiroshi Kamiya
Hiroshi Kamiya

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