Vazzy “VAZZY vol.1 – shido -” (Review)

Vazzy make their debut with impact. Versatile, rich vocals and quality rock instrumentals to match are their greeting card. Vazzy are far from being just another Tsukipro unit. They are the real deal, another quality addition to the franchise and a breath of fresh air in the 2.5D idol/unit business.

Vazzy, a band with a dangerous and powerful sound/appeal. This band consists of Tarusuke Shingaki (leader), Yusuke Kobayashi, Masahiro Yamanaka, Yusuke Shirai, Tsubasa Sasa and Shun Horie.

Title: VAZZY vol.1 - shido -
Label: Tsukipro/Movic
Release date: 27/04/2018
Genre: Rock

Tracklist:

1. DRAMA「親睦会を開こうか」
2. DRAMA「やるとなったら、熱くなる」
3. DRAMA「同じ鍋を囲めば、OK?」
4. DRAMA「それぞれの夜は更け」
5. DRAMA「それじゃあ、お仕事頑張りますか」
6. DRAMA「VAZZY始動」
7. VAZZY 
8. 激奏D.I.V.E  
9. Warmth

Track by track analysis:

7 – VAZZY

Vazzy’s imposing sound is the first thing to stand out. The band dons a powerful, bass drum driven sound in which fancy synths and raw, aggressive guitar riffs coexist in perfect harmony. “VAZZY” has the best drum work we’ve listened to this year. The snare sounds whole and rich while the bass drum has a tasteful edge to it, bringing an explosive touch to this song. The same can be said about the guitar work. Kicking off with an old-school yet simple guitar solo showed everyone that this group isn’t here to play around. The bass goes unnoticed due to the drums’ heavy focus on its bass drum, however it’s still noticeable during the chorus, propelling the song to greater heights. For those worrying about the synths, don’t. The synth work is minimal and serves more to add an accent to the chorus, all other sections of the song are devoid of synths which makes it easier to focus on the whole band rock instrumental and the strong vocal performances.

On the vocal department there are too many things to note, all of them positive. Consisting mainly of mid and lower toned singers, Vazzy’s performances are filled with energy and authority. Vazzy sound great as an ensemble during the chorus sections and are rather crafty individually. Individually this group impresses with the quality and variety of tones and techniques in their arsenal, however we find Masahiro Yamanaka snatching the spotlight from the other members from the get-go. His unique smooth singing tone has a certain edge and polish that makes him a focal point during this performance. Not saying that the rest of the group isn’t great, they just can’t top Yamanaka’s impressive performance on all ends of the spectrum.

VAZZY” is the perfect greeting card for this group, it had us on the edge of our seat headbanging to it from start to finish. 5/5

 8 – 激奏D.I.V.E

A thunderous bass line and heavy bass drums lead the way for this fast-paced raw and dark rock tune 激奏D.I.V.E. picks up where “VAZZY” left off, however instead of presenting the listeners with just a continuation of what he’d previously listened to, they gave us something edgier and different. The song progresses and develops into darker and heavier territory and there’s plenty of tempo play to entertain the listener. We’re once again met with an imposing soundscape as bass elements take over, setting the stage for raw, dirty and phased guitar riffs to shred everything. The verses are mostly set in mid-tempo but the instrumental progresses naturally, building up to the chorus, moment in which we find raging guitars, aggressive drums and a noticeable bass line keeping up with the dramatic tempo increase, delivering a powerful performance.

Although everyone presented their best for this performance, it was Shingaki, Yamanaka and Shirai that shone on this song. They managed to be in the spotlight from start to finish, displaying great chemistry, even with some moments of genius prior to the bridge – in which they do a sort of canonized performance filled with vibrato – that added a fresh touch to the group’s vocal performance. Horie and Sasa were barely noticeable for this performance, only standing out during their short solo parts. 5/5

9 – Warmth

Toning down a bit this release, we find “Warmth“, a slow paced power ballad that embraces sweet crystalline piano melodies, melancholic guitar riffs, splashy drums and a simple yet impactful bass line to impress the listener. The verses are quiet, with simple guitar licks, a lingering bright piano melody and toms setting the tone and pacing, it is done in a way that the vocals are inevitably the main focus. The instrumental slowly builds up, adding raging guitar riffs – some of those gated -, and cymbals into the mix. Later, the chorus hits the listener with an array of emotions that range from melancholy to longing, delivering a final blow with the stunning vocal performances.

For this song we find some of the vocals that had little spotlight in the previous songs to take the wheel. This song was made to make the smoother and less powerful (in an imposing way) vocals. Yusuke Kobayashi, Tsubasa Sasa and Shun Horie lead the way exemplarily. I was particularly surprised to find Horie and Sasa fighting their way to the spotlight and delivering their strongest performance on this album. The vibrato department was on fire for this performance with Yamanaka, Shirai and Shingaki, being a crucial part behind the song’s powerful emotional delivery. When you thought that this group couldn’t get any better, they deliver a stunning ballad to wrap up this album. 5/5

Final rating:

This was the first time Vazzy’s fans (or fans of the VAZZROCK franchise in general) got the opportunity to listen just how does this group sound and their dynamics.

What I found was something that I was already predicting based on the few “bi-color” singles released so far. Vazzy have strong lineup and their music is as consistent and exciting as their singing.

VAZZY” is easily the best song on this release. Between the stunning drum and guitar work, the composition and the vocals, there was not a single flaw. The instrumental’s imposing vibe is certain to impress the listener within the first notes. Exciting and fresh, this song is the perfect introduction to this group.

激奏D.I.V.E played around with tempo, something that I found quite entertaining. Those tempo changes break away from the usual formula used with 2.5D unit’s rock songs. Although there are some exceptions, whenever 2.5D units venture towards rock territory, there’s little play with tempo and structure of the songs. Sometimes it’s a winner formula to stick with the textbook rock instrumental, that works either because the lyrics were good or just because the performance was off the charts, sometimes it doesn’t work and we get a plain and stale performance. Vazzy could have resorted to sticking to the basic formula, yet they took a punk-rock approach and added speed to their chorus, playing around with tempo to enhance certain parts of the instrumental and / or lyrics, making this song stand out from the others. The chorus was ultimately crafted to hype the listener.

Warmth” is a surprising addition to this album, filled with dark, raw rock songs. Vazzy showcase their gentle side, delivering a rich, emotional performance that is certain to impress most listeners.

From what has been released so far in the “bi-color” series we noticed that each member brings a different flavor to Vazzy’s edgy rock sound. For each song there were two or three members that would take the spotlight, and that shifts from song to song. When the instrumental is heavier and Vazzy want to sound dangerous they put the Shingaki/Yamanaka/Shirai trio on the spotlight. If it is to sound gentle it’s Kobayashi/Horie/Sasa, alluring but still dangerous is Yamanaka/Shingaki/Kobayashi and so on. The combinations between members seem to be endless and the chemistry between members seems to enable for interesting rotations.

And this is all possible because Vazzy have a good core. I mentioned quite a few times these names throughout the review but I’ll say it again, Tarusuke Shingaki, Masahiro Yamanaka and Yusuke Kobayashi are the group’s best assets.

Within Vazzy, Shingaki and Yamanaka were initially the members most people weren’t particularly familiar with. They aren’t easily exposed to young fans, in the way most of the members on this group are, being part in idol projects and having solo/group careers. But don’t underestimate them because when prompted to sing, they are easily the resident powerhouses. The duo has powerful vibrato and falsetto in their arsenal and their rich lower toned / deep vocals make the difference at all times. They bring versatility to the table. I can safely say that Vazzy would lack the punch they pack if these two members weren’t in the lineup. They are Vazzy’s sturdy pillars.

Same can be said about the smooth sailor, Yusuke Kobayashi. If there’s a resident smooth mid-toned singer that does everything in this group, it’s Kobayashi. He brings a sweet yet melancholic twist to Vazzy’s songs, something that I highly appreciated on this release.

Yusuke Shirai and Shun Horie seem to be role singers, not having much spotlight for themselves. Interestingly enough, I found myself enjoying both of their performances and wishing it had been possible to listen more from them. Horie isn’t just that seiyuu from Idolmaster SideM that is stuck to singing in a “cute” way. In reality, his singing tone is a bit raspy and melodic, more mature and alluring than expected. If the opportunity arises, I’d love Vazzy‘s upcoming releases to put more focus on his vocals. Shirai still needs to work a bit on the excess nasalization he adds to his performances. Sometimes it works, others it sounds weird. Although there was no instance in which that quirk posed a threat to the vocal performance’s quality, we all know that Shirai has untapped talent in the singing department – there are instances in which he shows us glimpses of vibrato, falsetto and an ability to hit high notes. If those glimpses turn into something more and he develops more control over his vocals, we might find him sooner than expected, leading the way for this group. Regardless, this release wasn’t as great to bring those talents to the table. Due to that, he was barely noticeable in some of this album’s songs.

Tsubasa Sasa is an interesting addition to this lineup. For some, his performances might sound the weakest on this album. While I agree that he is far from being the best singer on this group, I need to point out that he’s got a lot of potential to grow and his performances weren’t weak, those simply paled in comparison because the quality was already high in the vocal department. He’s got a nice raspy voice, but his tone lacks power or anything unique that might help him stand out from his peers and make the best use of his solo parts. If he works on making his voice special, it’ll be rather interesting. Unfortunately, he was barely noticeable throughout the album, and if it wasn’t for those solo parts throughout the release and his performance in “Warmth“, he would have slipped under the radar.

All in all, Vazzy‘s “VAZZY vol.1 – shido –” not only met but it exceeded my expectations. The group has a surprisingly solid core with versatile, rich vocals and powerful rock instrumentals to match. With so many 2.5D pop idols out there, Vazzy are a breath of fresh air, the group you should be listening to if you’re looking for quality and variety in a setting other than pop music.

VAZZY vol.1 – shido –” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN.

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One response to “Vazzy “VAZZY vol.1 – shido -” (Review)

  1. Pingback: [Oricon Weekly] Ra*bits, Vazzy and more top this week’s chart | The Hand That Feeds HQ·

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