Review | ZIX “Z.I.X.A.G.”

ZIX

ZIX more than delivered with a powerful “Z.I.X.A.G.”. Their sound is polished, their performances much more intense.

ZIX consist on Makoto Sugai, voiced by Daiki Hamano and Mitsuru Hishida, voiced by Takumi Watanabe. This unit is signed under Sun Promotion Entertainment (Sunpro), Tsukipro‘s rival entertainment company.


Title: Z.I.X.A.G.
Label: Movic
Release date: 11/09/2020
Genre: Electro-Rock / Rock

Tracklist:

1 - Z.I.X.A.G.
2 - アウトサイダーダンス
3 - Z.I.X.A.G. -off vocal-
4 - アウトサイダーダンス -off vocal-

Track by track analysis:

1 – Z.I.X.A.G.

Heavily processed electric guitar riffs and dirty synths set quite the intense vibe to Z.I.X.A.G..

The verses ride on a slow paced, hard-hitting bass drum-centric beat, capitalizing on its downtempo to make the bass and guitars sound unusually powerful.

I love the atmosphere that is created by that rich drum fill and those distant guitar riffs in the pre-chorus, setting the tone perfectly to a build up towards a powerful chorus.

The chorus is made to the dancefloor, not counting with any lyrics – in the 1st chorus – and, instead, focusing on those dirty, muffled synths and deep bass line to make a strong impression with the listener.

The vocals are insanely groovy in the verses, with Daiki Hamano and Takumi Watanabe delivering a simple yet memorable performance filled with power and flair.

Their harmonies in the bridge and breathy touches to the tails of the words stood out as pretty awesome details in what is a massive performance.

2 – アウトサイダーダンス

The duo puts synths behind their backs for “Outsider Dance”, song that capitalizes on overdriven guitar riffs and a deep snare driven drums that set quite the cool and edgy vibe.

The verses are powerful and engaging, with shredding guitars, a reverberating bassline and powerful drums leading the way.

That overdriven guitar melody in the chorus carries over – however in a different key – to the verses, leaving a trail of exciting rock in its wake.

Two nice touches in this song come from the bass, that goes on an awesome groovy solo making the perfect bridge to an incisive guitar solo that has is exactly of the perfect length. If you’re a rock fan this sequence of events will have you on the edge of your seat. Awesome stuff by ZIX.

ZIX’s vocals embrace a free, rocker style for this performance. Hamano and Watanabe overflow with energy, seamlessly tackling their parts in the verses and into the chorus.

The chorus is performed in unison, something that I usually do not fancy but, in the right circumstances and if the instrumental begs for it, it is something that I end up appreciating a whole lot. Such is the case in this song.

Outsider Dance” makes a bang in this release.


Final considerations

ZIX are not kidding around with their sound.

Z.I.X.A.G. – the single is a massive improvement over their debut single “brilliant”, this time around embracing an intense, dancefloor driven sound that has a tough, dirty rock edge to it.

Their electro-rock sound is flashy and imposing at all times, impressing quite a lot in the title track.

Z.I.X.A.G.the songdoesn’t leave any margin for doubt. This is a charismatic and catchy song with genuinely intense chorus parts.

I write “chorus parts” because, well, this song has 3 completely different choruses.

The 1st one doesn’t count with vocals. The 2nd one goes all out by bring vocals to the spotlight to deliver a powerful performance and the 3rd chorus does feature vocals but those are minimalistic.

That many changes keep the song fresh, especially in an environment in which it could get boring pretty quickly (that’s the bane of existence of EDM), leading to a performance that keeps the listener interested throughout.

The vocals in this song are one of the highlights with Daiki Hamano and Takumi Watanabe showcasing an improved chemistry as well as a big bump in their individual skills.

Watanabe’s smooth, slightly nasal vocals give off a similar vibe to those of Naozumi Takahashi (which is to say, yet another detail I love about this performance).

Hamano is an absolute beast in this performance, delivering each line with an intensity and, at the same time, charisma that will make it impossible to not want to focus on him.

Outsider Dance” doesn’t shy away from its powerful rock sound, with an electric guitar always shredding in the background while the drums pound and the bass delivers a bouncy groove.

All in all, Z.I.X.A.G is a fantastic release for ZIX, a single that improved on what they were already doing well plus erased any weaknesses they had.

Although highly underrated, this is a single worth your attention.


Z.I.X.A.G. is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

Z.I.X.A.G / ZIX
ZIX
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Z.I.X.A.G.
アウトサイダーダンス
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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