Showtaro Morikubo “FIRE” (Review)

Almost one year after the release of “TRUTH“, Showtaro Morikubo returns with a new single. “FIRE” tries to surpass its predecessor with a mix of slow paced hardrock and punk-rock tunes only to end up slightly failing the mark.  

Single: FIRE
Label: Lantis 
Release date: 29/11/17
Genre: J-Rock


01. FIRE
02. Drive me crazy
03. TRY ME

Track by track analysis: 

01. FIRE

Dressed in a dark and groovy hardrock sound, FIRE steals the show. It’s not often that Morikubo has such a groovy and melodic instrumental in one of his releases, but when he does, it’s usually the kind of song that instantly shines. For this song we have a general focus on a slow tempo coated with bassy drums, heavy guitar riffs that set aside speed and aggressiveness in favor to a more melodic, but still heavy, sound. This instrumental has not only a lot of depth but also has that reminiscing 80’s hardrock vibe that we love. On the vocal end we find Morikubo on his element, delivering a solid, melodic performance that at times gives off a Jonathan Davis’ vibe. FIRE sure lit up this single. 5/5

02. Drive me crazy

Gated guitar riffs open the doors to yet another hardrock tune with a dirty 80’s hardrock feel. The verses are quiet and melodic, with the bass being an essential element to build up the instrumental’s tension to the tight chorus. “Drive me crazy” follows the trend set by “FIRE”. This instrumental is more about the guitars and bass than any other instrument. The drums are kept simple and clean, slowing the pace of the song and ranging between bassier and dirtier, crash filled sections. Even if this performance was rather comfortable on the vocal end, we still find Morikubo adding some rawness in his performance. Solid performance. 4.5/5

03. TRY ME

Morikubo tries to spice this release up with a punk-rock imbued tune. “TRY ME” has a blend of fast paced crash-driven drums in the verses and simple, noticeable simple bassline and loud guitar riffs, much alike what we can easily find in any textbook punk-rock tune. The instrumental is simple at heart, just a clean, fun punk-rock tune to headbang and sing along to. After listening to this song and noticing those chants, it’s easy to notice that this song was made to be played live, or at least that’s the setting in which this song will work best. It has that energy and pull that will fire up the crowd. On record, those chants sound a bit unnecessary and repetitive. On the vocal end Morikubo didn’t change much the way he approached this song as he did with the previous ones, the only difference might be that he’s singing in a more comfortable range. Simple, youthful and perfect for a live setting, on record “TRY ME” fails to impress. 4/5

Final rating: 

Distancing himself from the industrial rock that ruled in “TRUTH“, Showtaro Morikubo brought to the table a 80’s/90’s inspired hardrock single. “FIRE” puts aside all synths and dark guitar riffs and takes things slow, embracing a slower tempo, simpler drumming and putting more focus on the rich guitar and bass sections. For a change there’s no ballad nor a big change in tone between songs. This single feels and sounds fresh and is consistent from start to finish. It’s heavy when it needs to be, but it doesn’t forget to bring into the mix melodic sections with thrilling guitar bridges and skillful vocals. However, there were still some things that were lacking.

The title track was powerful without the need to sound aggressive and loud. “FIRE” relied on a slow paced beat and melodic guitar riffs, a formula that most would say wouldn’t sound powerful. Truth is, it did sound powerful from start to finish. The imposing pace, the vocal deliverance, those guitar riffs that had enough tension to leave us with the feeling that we’d just listen to hard rocking tune. The whole vibe about the song and Morikubo‘s performance – that was slightly different from what we’re used to – made this song all the more enjoyable to listen. Easily the best song on this release.

Drive me crazy” has an 80’s hair metal, dirty rock vibe. Although we were expecting a song like this on this release after listening to the title track, we weren’t expecting that it’d such a nice throwback. The way the instrumental was handled was interesting, putting more focus on guitars and bass.

On the other hand “TRY ME” wasn’t the best song on this release. However it was interesting to have Morikubo bringing a little bit of the speed, simplicity and fun that punk-rock embodies.

The vocal performances are, once again, comfortable. Morikubo doesn’t go out of the box that often, and he doesn’t need to but it’d be interesting change to find him challenging himself vocally. This release felt too comfortable.

We can say that “FIRE” tries to be a middle ground release for those that are fans of Morikubo‘s heavier sound but don’t fancy his radio friendly rock tunes ,as well as those casual fans that like his radio friendly rock tunes but don’t really like the heavier, metal inspired tunes. It features the best of both worlds to please every single one of his fans, as well as capture some new ones along the way.

In the middle of a repertoire that doesn’t lack headbangers and quality rock tunes, “FIRE” fails to surpass the quality of “TRUTH” however it is an essential piece in Showtaro Morikubo‘s repertoire.

Fire” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silva
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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