Issa Kizuku “ruby” (Review)

The newest installment in the bi-color series is here. “ruby” had everything to be a top release, introducing nu-metal to this series, however almost everything fell down due to lack of consistency and some vocal issues in the duet song.

Updated intro to this series with some spoilers in the mix:

VAZZROCK is the newest 2.5D project by Tsukipro. The cast includes 12 characters split into 2 bands: Vazzy and Rock Down. Those 12 characters represent different precious stones. Besides this and in regards to the interactions between this series and others under Tsukipro, it is mentioned that VAZZROCK‘s members are on good terms (some even friends) with some members of SQ and ALIVE. VAZZROCKSQ and ALIVE all share the same dormitory. Vazzy and Rock Down‘s leaders were once part of the same group with SolidS‘ Shiki Takamura and QUELL‘s Shu Izumi.

Title:  築 一紗-ruby-
Label: Tsukipro/Movic
Release date: 25/05/2018
Genre: Alternative Rock/Nu-metal


1 - DRAMA「お騒がせは、朝にやってくる」
2 - DRAMA「お兄ちゃん」 
3 - DRAMA「いざ、勝負!」 
4 - Blurry Sorrow 
5 - Time is Now...
6 - Blurry Sorrow -off vocal- 
7 - Time is Now... -off vocal-

Track by track analysis:

4 – Blurry Sorrow

We kick off this release with a massive throwback to the early 00’s nu-metal era. In an exciting turn of events in the bi-color series, “Blurry Sorrow” delivers the heaviest instrumentalization – so far – in the series. Slow paced raw guitar riffs, thunderous, bassy drums and a dirty slap bass are the core for this instrumental. The instrumental also features some synths/piano parts that helped setting the dark atmosphere that took this song over. There’s a major focus on bass elements as it can be heard through the deep, groovy verses that stole the spotlight. The tempo doesn’t change as much from the verses to the chorus. The chorus keeps it all heavy and slow paced, consistent with the song’s dark vibe. Aside from all these aggressive guitar riffs and powerful drums, we still find some precious bits of melodic guitar riffs and a shredding guitar solo. The finishing touches were given by Masahiro Yamanaka‘s vibrato-ed vocals. He was up to the challenge, delivering a powerful and exciting performance that is meant to impress. His vocals are the polar opposite of the instrumental, clear and clean, and he showed an impressive control over his tone in this performance. As a whole, “Blurry Sorrow” sits pretty high among the best songs released so far in the bi-color series. 5/5 

5 – Time is Now…

Masahiro Yamanaka and Tsubasa Sasa team up for “Time is Now…“, an alternative rock tune that brings synths and heavy guitar riffs to the spotlight. The dark vibe from the previous song is ditched in favor of a simpler rock sound. The song has a simple structure with fast paced choruses, hyped verses and an explosive bridge. Once again there’s focus on a bass-driven sound. Nevertheless, the spotlight lies somewhere else. The guitar solo in the bridge has a great 80’s rock vibe that fits well with this song, packing the right amount of tension while setting up perfectly the stage for the last chorus. All this excitement unfortunately doesn’t make up for the fact that this instrumental doesn’t sound as interesting as previous duet songs did. On vocal duty we find Masahiro Yamanaka and Tsubasa Sasa. This is an odd pair. It’s easily noticeable the gap in quality between their vocals, while Yamanaka is incredibly technical in his performance, showing great control over his mid-toned vocals, Tsubasa Sasa lacks a bit of control, and his tone continues to be far from a good match with rock music. It’s impossible to shake off the feeling that “Time is Now…” is, at best, an okay song. You listen to it once but it’s not memorable, nor catchy. Ended up being blander than I expected. 4/5

Final rating:

Up until now, we’ve listened to almost every sub-genre of rock from this bi-color series. This entry however, turned it up a notch the tension and dark vibes and went back in time to revive “nu-metal”. Yep. Nu-metal. Forget jazz, blues, dance, acoustic-rock, this song is heavy, the heaviest so far in the series. “Blurry Sorrow” came out of nowhere to embrace nu-metal however, this song might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you don’t like metal, rap-metal or nu-metal, than this song isn’t for you. However if you’re that kind of person to whom “the heavier, the better” or lived the whole nu-metal era passionately, you’re in for a treat. Everything about this song is heavy. The instrumentalization is aggressive, with slow, dirty guitar riffs, slap bass and fast paced double-bass drums. It doesn’t get any better than this. This instrumental is reminiscing of good old-school Korn. Make sure to warm up your neck, you’re going to headbang a lot to this song. Wasn’t sure at first if Yamanaka would be able to tackle such as song, especially when his vocals are clearly far from being deep or aggressive as the song demanded, but his performance ended up being pleasantly surprising. What he doesn’t have/show in his range, he compensates with technicality and vibrato, which made his performance shine.

Gears changed with the duet song, “Time is Now…“. The dark vibe and heavy instrumentalization was replaced with a simpler rock sound, exciting and filled with interesting bits. And quality took a hit in the process. After listening to several duet songs in the bi-color series, I can’t help but compare this with those. One, two, three listens to this song didn’t make it sound any better. This is clearly the weakest duet song – so far – released in the bi-color series. Yes, it’s exciting at times, has some highlights (those guitar riffs and solo) but it doesn’t really introduce anything new to impress the listener. It’s far from being memorable like, for example, “TRICK TRAP TRICK” is. On the vocal end it seemed like Yamanaka was carrying Sasa on his back throughout the performance. The gap between their talent is like night and day, which also made their performance take a hit.

All in all, “ruby” is an ambitious release that slightly failed the mark. Given how much we’ve been spoiled with several high quality releases in the bi-color series, it’s easy to rank this one beneath them. There was lack of consistency between songs and although Yamanaka is a force to be reckoned with in the vocal department, he wasn’t enough to save this release. The title track is flawless, and I’d rank it among the best in the franchise, but the tie-up track dragged this release down with a forgettable instrumental and inconsistent vocals. Was expecting much more from this release.

VAZZROCK” bi-color Series (4) “Issa Kizuku – ruby –” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN.

"VAZZROCK" bi-color Series / Issa Kizuku (Masahiro Yamanaka) & Naosuke Oyama (Tsubasa Sasa)
Issa Kizuku (Masahiro Yamanaka) & Naosuke Oyama (Tsubasa Sasa)


Vanessa Silva
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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