ZIX “brilliant” (Review)

Tsukipro’s newest unit on the block is ZIX. The duo impressed on their first try with “brilliant”, single that embraces an exciting rock sound filled of bass goodness and solid vocal performances.

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: brilliant
Label: Movic/Sunpro
Release date: 23/03/2018
Genre: J-Rock/Jazz-rock

Tracklist:

1 - ドラマ「昔と今と」
2 - ドラマ「スペシャルゲストのGrowthの昂輝くんと涼太くん」
3 - brilliant
4 - BML
5 - brilliant (off vocal)
6 - BML (off vocal)

Track by track analysis:

3 – brilliant

brilliant” tries its best to impress right from the start. If there’s one thing that easily stands out when you first listen to this song is that everything was composed the bass line. There’s a big emphasis on bass elements, be it from the thunderous lead bass line or the bass drum. In result, the instrumental has a depth that most rock songs in the Tsukipro franchise lack. Heavy guitar riffs join the mix alongside a simple piano melody that plays the perfect contrast to the imposing bass elements. The instrumental is, for the most part, avoiding being an all-out fast paced tune that would overwhelm the listener instead of focusing on its rich elements and the vocals. We still have some interesting tempo changes, particularly between verses and choruses. To spice things up the listener is graced with not one, but two different guitar solos and an all rounded guitar work that ranges from dirty to heavy and melodic riffs and licks, yet another detail that enhances this instrumental’s quality. The vocals are quite possibly one of the things people are more interested in knowing about in ZIX. The contrast between Daiki Hamano’s deep, raw vocals and Takumi Watanabe‘s smooth tone not only plays extremely well with this song, but will also surprise a lot of people. Stellar first track. 5/5

4 – BML

A playful piano melody sets the tone for “BML”, a song that embraces a softer rock sound mixed with jazz elements. Once again, bass elements are at the core of the instrumental, playing an important role in making this whole jazz, classy vibe come to life. Around the noticeable bass elements we find melodic and dirty guitar riffs, adding an edge to this tune, as well as a delicate and upbeat piano melody to complete this simple instrumental. “BML” might not be the best or most intricate jazz rock song we’ve listened to but it’s still a thoroughly entertaining song that will have you singing along in no time – the chorus is especially catchy. The vocals are perhaps the best part of this track. Hamano and Watanabe shone. Their vocals fit best with this kind of instrumental, one that demands smooth, melodic vocals as the final touches. Both were more than up to the challenge – Hamano making good use of his vibrato and Watanabe smoothing everything he sang – and delivered the best vocal performance on this single. 4/5

Final rating:

ZIX come into the Tsukipro franchise introduced as Growth’s rival group, however, more than rivals,  we consider ZIX to be more like the polar opposite of what Growth embodies. Forget any gentleness, harmonies and all those flourishes Growth are known for. ZIX are all about having a mix of raw and smooth delivery on top of bass driven rock instrumentals. Their sound is big, exciting and filled with rich instrumentals despite the overall simplicity of the songs. Heavy guitar riffs, bass and piano make the core trio for all their songs on this release, a trio that was more than enough to impress us.

The vocal department has a lot of power. Hamano is well known for his deep vocals (i.e his work with THE kogadou) however, for this unit he brings a rawer touch to the songs that balances out with his other side as a singer, one that tackles everything smoothly and with emphasis on melodies. He’s rather skilled as a singer, showcasing a solid vibrato, as well as consistency and stability with each performance. Also props to his English pronunciation that was on point. On the other side Watanabe is known to most people as a member of Ryuseitai (Ensemble Stars!), and he also happens to be the best singer on that unit. Those that are unfamiliar with his singing will be surprised with the smoothness with which he tackles every note, it’s as if he’s sliding through everything in style. He’s also incredibly consistent in all his performances, seldom having issues tackling certain notes or performing in certain scales.  He shone in “BML”, a jazzy song in which his smooth, alluring vocals stole the show.

We only got to listen to a glimpse of what they can do on the vocal end. Individually we’re already familiar with both but we’d love to find ZIX venturing towards more complex compositions or, at least, more difficult and technical performances, to push their limits and listen really what they are capable of. For now, we’re pleasantly satisfied with their performances and chemistry. Their vocals complement each other, and both are skilled – yet on complete opposites of the spectrum. Smoothness and rawness are perfectly balanced in their vocal performances.

ZIX are yet another great group to join Tsukipro’s never ending talented lineup. As a whole, “brilliant” is a complete experience, filled with exciting, rich instrumentals and consistent performances. A fantastic first entry in their repertoire, a single we hope will be the first of many great releases from them.

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

brilliant / ZIX
ZIX

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