Review | Kenichi Suzumura “ROOTS”

Kenichi Suzumura

“ROOTS” is a passionately crafted 3rd mini-album that showcases Kenichi Suzumura’s talents in a refreshing light.

Kenichi Suzumura "ROOTS"
Regular edition
Title: ROOTS
Release date: 24/05/2023
Label: Lantis
Genre: Rock / Citypop / Acoustic

Tracklist:

1 - HERO
2 - 東京
3 - 乗り込め 町中華
4 - 声
5 - 明星

Track by track analysis:

1 – HERO

Legato strings and subdued guitar riffs slowly open the curtains to “HERO”. 

As the intro kicks in, the dynamics change and orchestral elements join in powerful drums and shredding guitar riffs, creating an intense and hopeful tune.

The verses are quiet in the first part in which strings take over, then crank up the tension with the guitars only to slow down again to welcome a choir into the mix.

The listener goes through a rollercoaster of emotions in the verses leading up to the fast-paced chorus. And it is in this part that Kenichi Suzumura blasts his vocals in a way that you won’t help but feel excited about.

This song has the perfect blend of an upbeat pop-style piano melody alongside the robust core rock sound – a trademark of Suzumura’s – and the orchestral elements. This sound helps those emotions in the vocals flourish and overwhelm the listener.

The emotion Suzumura brings in his vocals is something quite impressive. No matter how far you get into the song, his emotions can’t stop building up and by the time this song wraps up, you can’t shake off how passionate his performance is.

2 – 東京 (Tokyo)

“Tokyo” brings citypop to the spotlight with a fancy throwback sound in which guitars are funky, strings bring disco to the spotlight and the bassline is all about its groove.

The verses are dreamy and clean in their presentation, being really funky and punchy however never overshadowing Kenichi Suzumura’s stylish vocals.

As the chorus arrives, listeners are presented with a splash of color in front of them as good vibes spread through those jazzy guitar licks and riffs as well as the shuffle-like beat.

As you listen to this song, it will be hard to not dance along to it and enjoy the good vibes.

I love the guitar solo in this song as it is reminiscent of those of the greats in 80s citypop and goes for quite some time, allowing all the tension to dissipate in a way that only warmth is left behind.

3 – 乗り込め 町中華 (Norikome machi Chuuka)

Kenichi Suzumura teams up with Showtaro Morikubo to perform the rock tune “Norikome machi Chuuka”.

Kicking off with Morikubo’s vocals and shredding guitar riffs, the song evolves into a groovy rock tune in which guitars go low, the bassline is bouncy and the drums have a comfortable tempo.

However, things quickly change around for the pre-chorus. It is quiet, calm, and delicate, something that, within this song, sounds a bit out of place, further fleshing out the wacky vibe of this tune.

The chorus is all about its punk-rock sound, bringing a lot of speed and crazy work on the drums as Kenichi Suzumura keeps up with the tempo while bringing a lot of energy to the mix.

The addition of Showtaro Morikubo as a guest vocal for this song led to one of the most unpredictable songs in Kenichi Suzumura. Quite a fun tune.

4 – 声 (Koe)

“Koe” arrives with glitched synths echoing in the background as a delicate piano adds a layer of emotion to what is an emo-rock tune like no other.

With the intro behind, you are welcomed to a nostalgic soundscape in which overdriven guitar licks play in the background, serving as a complement to the emotional acoustic guitar riffs leading the way.

You can feel how emotionally charged this song is just from the instrumental alone. The minor key riffs, the somber tone in the drums, and the slow-paced bassline create a soundscape that begs for color, for a flower to bloom and as this song progresses, you get to experience seeing that happen.

The chorus is all about its powerful guitar riffs as the dual performance by Kenichi Suzumura and guest performer Showtaro Morikubo. The blend of both vocals with this passionate emo-rock tune will make chills run down your spine as the song reaches the 5-minute mark, approaching its end.

The outro is haunting as the guitar riffs slowly play while the bassline adds a lot of emotion to the song and the choir leads the way for Kenichi Suzumura to wrap up this song in acapella.

Absolutely brilliant tune, a first in this style for Kenichi Suzumura.

5 – 明星 (Myoujou)

And to wrap up this mini-album, Kenichi Suzumura brings a fancy acoustic rock tune to the spotlight with “Myoujou”.

The tempo is fast, the instrumental is intense at all times with the drums not missing a beat as the bassline battles it out with the uptempo piano melodies playing in the background.

Tension rises to the chorus and what you get in there is slightly different. The sound is spread out in the mix in a way that the instruments are far from you, acoustic guitars are not present and, instead, you get splashy drums and a punchy bassline leading the way.

For the second verse, it is worth mentioning the thunderous bassline going on in there. While it doesn’t remain a feature throughout the song, that bit is more than enough to add a lot of excitement to this tune.

In an interesting turn of events, the bridge welcomes a fancy guitar solo alongside riveting drums, as both quiet down, Kenichi Suzumura is left with a piano as his accompaniment, leading up to the final chorus and outro.

As “Myoujou” closes the curtains with its fancy acoustic guitar riff from the intro, I was ready to listen to this mini-album yet again.

Everything came full circle.


Final considerations

Kenichi Suzumura’s music is always a blast to listen to and this time around it was no different with “ROOTS”.

In this mini-album, Suzumura explored his passions, his work, and his origins, all in a condensed 5-track release. You can feel the passion, nostalgia, and pride in his performances across all songs. 

For those of you following Suzumura’s solo career since the start, this mini-album has several songs that wink at the sound in his debut single “INTENTION”. 

At the same time, I love how much his sound has matured over time, getting to a point in which his music carries a lot of weight and experience from its composition to the lyrics and performance style.

Within this release, I was impressed by “Tokyo” and “Koe” and it was exactly because both songs stray away from what you will consider “typical Kenichi Suzumura music”.

“Tokyo” went to the 80s to lend its stylish, groovy sound to citypop, creating one of the funkiest tunes in Suzumura’s repertoire. 

On the other hand, “Koe” is all about its emo-rock sound, having strong acoustic rock and even indie-rock influences in there. That is an unusually long song – over 6 minutes – overflowing with emotion. Fellow seiyuu and solo artist Showtaro Morikubo had his hands in the composition of this tune and you can instantly pick up his trademark guitar sound in the song as well as the strong influences from his heavier, darker rock sound in there.

If there is something I absolutely love are the collaborations between seiyuu artists and this time around Kenichi Suzumura teaming up with Showtaro Morikubo – who is an amazing rocker, albeit underappreciated – was an absolute treat. He brought so much energy to this release, something that you wouldn’t usually associate with Kenichi Suzumura’s music.

All in all, “ROOTS” is a passionate mini-album that shows Kenichi Suzumura’s talents in a completely different light, one that makes him shine even more than usual.


ROOTS” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

ROOTS / Kenichi Suzumura
Kenichi Suzumura
ROOTS / Kenichi Suzumura
Kenichi Suzumura

Roots” is available for streaming on Spotify.


Do not support piracy. Remember to support Kenichi Suzumura by streaming via official outlets.

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

HERO
東京 (Tokyo)
乗り込め 町中華 (Norikome machi Chuuka)
声 (Koe)
明星 (Myoujou)

SUMMARY

Kenichi Suzumura's music never fails to captivate, and his latest release, "ROOTS," is no exception. In this mini-album, Suzumura delves into his passions, his journey, and his origins, all condensed into five compelling tracks. Throughout the album, you can sense his passion, nostalgia, and pride, beautifully reflected in his performances. As someone who appreciates collaborations between seiyuu artists, the collaboration between Kenichi Suzumura and Showtaro Morikubo, was an absolute delight. Morikubo's energy infused the release with a unique vigor, a departure from what one would typically associate with Kenichi Suzumura's music. "ROOTS" is a passionately crafted mini-album that showcases Kenichi Suzumura's talents in a refreshing light. It allows him to shine even brighter than usual, revealing new dimensions to his artistry.

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Kenichi Suzumura's music never fails to captivate, and his latest release, "ROOTS," is no exception. In this mini-album, Suzumura delves into his passions, his journey, and his origins, all condensed into five compelling tracks. Throughout the album, you can sense his passion, nostalgia, and pride, beautifully reflected in his performances. As someone who appreciates collaborations between seiyuu artists, the collaboration between Kenichi Suzumura and Showtaro Morikubo, was an absolute delight. Morikubo's energy infused the release with a unique vigor, a departure from what one would typically associate with Kenichi Suzumura's music. "ROOTS" is a passionately crafted mini-album that showcases Kenichi Suzumura's talents in a refreshing light. It allows him to shine even brighter than usual, revealing new dimensions to his artistry. Review | Kenichi Suzumura "ROOTS"