VAZZY‘s Issa Kizuku goes all out for a set of mesmerizing songs that tap into melancholy in ways he’d never done before.
ROCK DOWN consists of Yukitoshi Kikuchi (leader), Yoshiaki Hasegawa, Takuya Sato, Taito Ban,Takuya Masumoto, Keisuke Koumoto.
Title: 築 一紗-ruby×diamond- Label: Tsukipro/Movic Release date: 24/12/2021 Genre: Rock/Minimalistic electronica/Trap
1 -ドラマ「Adagio」 2 -ドラマ「Vivace」 3 - 嘘つきMasquerade (solo) 4 - JustAnotherDay (duet) 5 - 嘘つきMasquerade -off vocal- 6 - JustAnotherDay -off vocal-
Track by track analysis:
3 – 嘘つきMasquerade
“Usotsuki Masquerade” brings dirty guitar riffs, a violent bassline, and riveting drums on top of a dramatic piano melody.
The verses are intense and extremely bassy, something that, at times, may make the instrumental sound a tad bit murky.
The chorus raises that tension, with a noticeable bump to the tempo, giving way to a faster section in which you get clean guitar riffs on top of that deep bass-driven instrumental.
On the vocal end, Masahiro Yamanaka goes for a performance that has a good balance between drama and intensity.
In a way, he gives off a visual-kei frontman vibe during this performance, something I absolutely love. His mid-tones are full of life, his vibrato adds a bit of nuance to his performance and he carries himself pretty well throughout.
4 – JustAnotherDay
Wrapping up this CD is “JustAnotherDay”, duet song that puts Masahiro Yamanaka and Yukitoshi Kikuchi on the same stage.
This isn’t just another song though.
Distant, distorted synths paint the soundscape in a melancholic vibe, setting the stage for slow-paced, intense hi-hat triplets and finger snaps to take over.
Steadily, the instrumental shows light and darkness in its mix of dreamy and dark, suffocating soundscapes. The first part of the verses is all about light and the last part – leading to the chorus – is pitch black. The pre-chorus introduces rap in this franchise, with quite the lengthy and powerful parts given to both singers.
Now the chorus is all about its slow-burn groove and surprisingly addictive chorus in which you’re overwhelmed by how clean and beautiful the instrumental is at the same time that Yamanaka and Kikuchi confidently showcase their chemistry.
Just from the lineup alone, you have to expect polarizing performances as Yamanaka is a complete baritone with a massive range and Kikuchi is a clean tenor with a unique tone.
Their dynamic is for this song is absolutely divine. Yamanaka goes high in his vocal range and Kikuchi lowered his range, something that you wouldn’t expect.
They end up performing in opposite ranges (to their natural ones) in this song, one that opens the door for one of the most fascinating and challenging performances in the VAZZROCK franchise.
Clean singing from both singers in raising and lowering their natural vocal ranges, rapping in their natural vocal ranges in the pre-chorus, and perfect harmonies in the chorus will make your jaw drop in awe.
Issa Kiduku’s entries in the bi-color CD series are always a treat to listen to both on the solo side as well as for the duets.
Issa’s sound is usually dark and extremely intense, with guitars screaming, drums being loud, and Masahiro Yamanaka on top of it all delivering charismatic performances to no end.
You get exactly that in this release.
“Usotsuki Masquerade” nods at visual-kei rock in its dramatic, muffled rock sound however it is Yamanaka’s performance that immediately sold me to this track. The sheer power and natural charisma in this performance will have you begging for more. Much more.
The instrumental has its good moments. Focusing on bass is always a tricky thing. A bit too much bass and the song ends up sound murky instead of groovy or intense (depending on the melodies being played).
I feel like – and I tested this with both neutral monitoring and bass-driven headphones – is that the bass nudged way over what you can consider “healthy” for a song to sound good and clean (even within its dirty and gritty vibe). It’s still an enjoyable song as a whole but there are times in which the bassline and bass drum were enhanced to stand out in the mix, and that’s where things sound murky to me.
“JustAnotherDay” quickly rose on my list of favorite songs in the VAZZROCK franchise. Leeep composed, wrote, and arranged this song, once again leaving a trail of beauty and darkness behind.
Melancholy takes over in the instrumental, mixing minimalistic electronica with hip-hop (with trap music accents in the pre-chorus), giving way to one of the most impressive soundscapes as well as one of the most technical performances you can find in the VAZZROCK franchise.
Masahiro Yamanaka and Yukitoshi Kikuchi were in absolute synchronization for this song, showcasing that opposites work best together.
But there was more to it, Yamanaka and Kikuchi are performing a big chunk of this song not in their natural vocal ranges and even mix clean singing with rapping.
As far as complete, engaging performances go, they knew what to do to impress.
“ruby×diamond” is the kind of CD you just can’t skip when going through VAZZROCK’s discography. From the powerful visual-kei inspired sound in “Usotsuki Masquerade” to the outstanding technical – and extremely addictive – performance in “JustAnotherDay”, this is a near-flawless entry in the bi-color series, one of the best by Issa Kiduku.
Kizuku Issa -ruby×diamond- is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.