Review | Gaku Oguro “hematite×ruby”

VAZZROCK

With a perfect balance between a dark rock tune and a retro dance tune, Gaku Oguro’s “hematite×ruby” impresses.

VAZZY consists of Tarusuke Shingaki (leader), Yusuke Kobayashi, Masahiro Yamanaka, Yusuke Shirai, Tsubasa Sasa, Shun Horie.

ROCK DOWN consists of Yukitoshi Kikuchi (leader), Yoshiaki Hasegawa, Takuya Sato, Taito Ban,Takuya Masumoto, Keisuke Koumoto.


Title: 大黒 岳-hematite×ruby-
Label: Tsukipro/Movic 
Release date: 27/08/2021
Genre: Rock/Dance

Tracklist:

1 - ドラマ
2 - Strong Belief 
3 - R.I.P.PLES ~リプルス~ 
4 - Strong Belief -off vocal-
5 - R.I.P.PLES ~リプルス~ -off vocal-

Track by track analysis:

2 – Strong Belief

A dirty bassline welcomes the listener to this rocking tune. “Strong Belief” carries an intensity and darkness in its instrumental that is striking.

The guitars are low and low, the drums groovy and splashy and the bassline blasts its way through the instrumental, building up the hype to the explosive chorus waiting for you.

When you get to the chorus, guitars scream, drums pick up the pace and the bassline goes absolutely bonkers alongside the atmospheric synths.

You’ll want to sing along to this chorus given how hyped up, brief and strong it is.

Takuya Masumoto goes for a powerful performance relying on his lower vocal range, adding a bit of depth and edge to the song itself.

The charismatic – almost effortlessly cool – way in which he tackles this intense performance is quite impressive. This is, easily, Masumoto’s best performance to date.

3 – R.I.P.PLES ~リプルス~

And to wrap up this CD is “R.I.P.PLES”, song featuring vocals by Takuya Masumoto and Masahiro Yamanaka.

A distant, distorted atmospheric synth leads the way, glitching into a loungy downtempo dance track. The verses have a gentle, almost dreamy vibe to them, almost as if droplets of water are falling down.

A simple beat, acoustic guitar riffs, and a multitude of dreamy, loungy synths add a unique life to this track. There is power but, at the same time, a fickle twist to the soundscape in front of you.

I know I’ve mentioned the acoustic guitar riffs buts those are really minimalistic and set really in the back of the sound mix. You can catch glimpses of those in the verses but those are mostly inaudible in the chorus.

One thing I absolutely love in this song is the retro touch to the instrumental, giving off strong late 80s, early 90s synthwave vibes in there before embracing a more contemporary sound, bringing forth a dubstep fill.

And this chorus is pure bliss. From the vocals progression to the way the chorus opens, leaving a wide soundscape in front of you, even down to the retro touch to it, this is a groovy and addictive chorus.

Masumoto and Yamanaka do have similar intensity as performers – to an extent – but while both always deliver powerful performances as Gaku and Issa (respectively), here you’ll find an interesting dynamic. There is power in Masumoto’s performance but so is a unique warmth.

There is intensity in Yamanaka’s performance but there’s also beauty. This balance between both baritone vocals instantly grabbed my attention (and I believe I’m not the only one finding their duet incredibly pleasing).


Final considerations

Gaku Oguro knows how to make an entrance.

While not an all-out shredding rock tune, the darkness and dirty sound in “Strong Belief” left quite the big impression.

This is a fearless, straightforward rock song made to have you singing along in no time. The dark vibe to the instrumental arrived as a pleasant surprise, showing that good – and impactful – performances need a good setting, a good soundscape in which to go wild creatively.

Wrapping up this CD is a song I wasn’t expecting, especially with the duo that is in charge of performing it.

R.I.P.PLES” is a dance track. There is no rock in there, just pure retro-meets-contemporary electronica, giving way to a song that glitches its way through sections, pays homage to the groovy dance-pop/synthwave sound from the late 80s, early 90s, and then gives a short of reality to the listener with heavy, bass-driven dubstep fills.

If you’re not that fond of dubstep, don’t worry. Those fills are just that, “fills”. Those elements never take the spotlight in this song.

Takuya Masumoto continues to showcase his control and consistency with each performance that is requested of him. In this CD, you even have him tapping into different parts of his vocal register, with “Strong Belief” being all about its bass, low-frequency sound – to make an impact – however, by the time “R.I.P.PLES” kicks off, you notice Masumoto’s voice now is honeyed, buttery smooth.

And when Masahiro Yamanaka joins in… the quality level raises even more, with Yamanaka making his powerful smooth vibrato shine while adding a layer of beauty to the performance.

All in all, “hematite×ruby” is a perfectly balanced CD, including two polarizing songs that showcase, in the best light, Gaku Oguro’s colors and put the spotlight on how rock solid Takuya Masumoto is as a singer.


Oguro Gaku -hematite×ruby- is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Strong Belief
R.I.P.PLES ~リプルス~

SUMMARY

Gaku Oguro goes for yet another powerful entry in the bi-color series, this time around impressing with his consistency across two polarizing songs. From the dark and intense "Strong Belief", a song in which Takuya Masumoto's performance is in a lower key, focused on bringing out an impactful bass sound; to the loungy; to the mellow, smooth approach to his singing in the loungy dance tune "R.I.P.PLES", Masumoto did a little bit of everything. This is a CD that shows Gaku Oguro’s colors in the best light, leaving me quite excited for his participation in the next season of the bi-color CD series.

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Gaku Oguro goes for yet another powerful entry in the bi-color series, this time around impressing with his consistency across two polarizing songs. From the dark and intense "Strong Belief", a song in which Takuya Masumoto's performance is in a lower key, focused on bringing out an impactful bass sound; to the loungy; to the mellow, smooth approach to his singing in the loungy dance tune "R.I.P.PLES", Masumoto did a little bit of everything. This is a CD that shows Gaku Oguro’s colors in the best light, leaving me quite excited for his participation in the next season of the bi-color CD series. Review | Gaku Oguro "hematite×ruby"