A tragic story lies at the core of Fantôme Iris’ “Pierrot” however, what awaits you in its 3 songs will blow your mind.
Fantôme Iris consists of Arthur Lounsbery (on vocals), Wada Masaya, Jun Fukuyama, Tsubasa Yonaga and Taiyo Ayukawa.
Title: ピエロ Label: Bushiroad Music Release date: 22/12/2021 Genre: Visual-kei rock
1 - ピエロ 2 - Into the Flame 3 - Spooky Halloween Night
Track by track analysis:
1 – ピエロ
Orchestral instrumentalization opens the curtains for “Pierrot”.
The intro may lead you to think that you’ll be in for a circus-y song however the song quickly changes its tone, bringing low, aggressive guitar riffs, bassy drums, and a thunderous bassline to the spotlight.
The pre-chorus does have that circus vibe, with what seems like a music box with glitchy guitar riffs playing off-tune in the background.
And then, the chorus brings forth quite the intense instrumentalization with guitars screaming, drums hitting harder and harder with an addictive groove at its core, bassline reverberating throughout, and some synths playing in the background to balance things out what is, without it, a really bass-centric instrumental.
This circus theme in “Pierrot” is way darker and broken than initially expected and how well does this song? Way too good.
The bridge goes dark and quiet for a couple of seconds before a high tension, exciting double guitar solo paints the soundscape black. A neat detail is found right at the end of the outro, with the drums going ballistic on the double bass pedal.
Arthur Lounsbery goes theatrical for this performance, with vibrato playing an important role in fleshing out the drama in the lyrics.
When this song wraps you, you’ll be left wanting more.
2 – Into the Flame
Low and dirty, “Into the Flame” brings fast-paced, punk-rock-inspired guitar riffs, bassy drums, and dramatic strings to the spotlight.
Its intro is quite intense however the verses have a quieter edge to them, toning down enough to give off a jazzy vibe as Lounsbery goes all melodic for this performance with a mix of clean vocals, vibrato, and head voice that stands out.
The intensity cranks up to the chorus, with the drums going bonkers, completely changing the tempo to the song to an upbeat shredding rock tune that will have you wanting to jump around, scream the lyrics or go absolutely crazy.
“Into the Flame” is not an easy song to tackle on the vocal end. Arthur Lounsbery is singing insanely fast in the chorus in parts that are a mouthful, even for native Japanese speakers. Really. Lounsbery is matching the ridiculously fast tempo on the drums with his performance. That’s no easy feat.
And he went through those lyrics with energy, intensity, and clarity that impress. His energy kept going on and on. When the song wraps up, you’ll be left drained but really satisfied.
3 – Spooky Halloween Night
And to complete this shredding single is “Spooky Halloween Night”, a song that is perfect for the Halloween season.
A piano melody sets an eerie tone to this song, slowly giving way for melodic guitar riffs to further flesh out that vibe, creating quite an impactful tune.
On top of those guitar riffs comes a punchy bassline, playful bassy drums, and dramatic string hits to accentuate the spooky vibe of this song. Well, is this really a spooky vibe or more like a theatrical, almost like twistedly playful take on Halloween? I feel like it is more the latter.
The chorus is big and surprisingly playful, with its bassy sound complementing Lounsbery’s mid-tones. While in the verses the guitars were playing melodies in staccato, in the chorus those are free, leading to a more “traditional” style of playing and thus, a constant, legato melody that adds the final touches to this haunted house-themed soundscape.
And the vocals by Arthur Lounsbery are so much fun. For this song, he went slightly low on his vocal range, something that, alongside the mischievous tone in his performance, ended up taking this song a level up.
“Pierrot” is an absolute banger – both the song and the single as a whole – counting with shredding tunes, plenty of theatrical performances, and even some spooky fun in the middle.
It’s really hard to pick a favorite song in this single as all tracks stand out on their own.
The single starts really hard and aggressive with the title track. “Pierrot” has at its core the decadent motifs of “Pierrot” and “clown”.
This is quite the heavy rock song, with violent guitar riffs and pounding drums contrasting with the underlying unsettling vibe to the song.
For those that may not be aware, Pierrot is a character in the classic theatre piece from Commedia dell’Arte (16th – 18th-century Italian theatre). This is a character known for being a “sad clown” that is in love with a character – Columbine – that ends up breaking his heart. This is a tragic story that has inspired a lot of artists over the years and, ultimately, is the perfect material for a theatrical performance that the visual-kei scene loves to adapt and embrace elements from.
So, to find the classic Pierrot story in a Fantôme Iris song was not surprising. It was a question of time as this is a classic theme in the visual-kei scene, especially for bands heavily inspired by 16th and 18th century European aesthetics like Fantôme Iris is.
More than being a circus-y song, “Pierrot” embraces the feelings in that tragic story and runs with those, leading to this violent rock tune with an incredibly dramatic performance on top.
“Into the Flame” strayed a bit away from that aggressive sound however, cranked up the speed, fully embracing a fast-paced punk-rock sound. Of course, since this is a Fantôme Iris song, don’t expect the song to just be mindlessly fast. There’s more to it.
The verses have a unique edge, being quiet and even mildly jazzy, something that is provided by Arthur Lounsbery, showcasing his control and technique.
“Spooky Halloween Night” is THE Halloween song.
Everything about its sound evokes the season and while there are plenty of Halloween-themed songs out there, this one really does sound unique. There’s a mischievous twist to it brought by Lounsbery’s performance, something I absolutely love.
All in all, “Pierrot” is Fantôme Iris’s best single to date. It is theatrical, aggressive, and playful in the right measures, leading up to a set of hard-hitting tunes that will grab your attention.
“Pierrot” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
“Pierrot” is available for streaming on Spotify.
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