MEDICODE “GABBY” (Review)

MEDICODE revamped their sound with the help of DIAURA’s Kei, entering into darker and dramatic territory. It’s not often that you find a music release as exciting and jaw dropping as this one.

MEDICODE consist of Soma Saito (vocals), Yuichiro Umehara, Takuya Eguchi and Yoshitaka Yamaya. The band is part of the FlyMe Project created by Exit Tunes and Xarts, bringing together seiyuu and real visual-kei artists. The band debuted in 2015.

Title: GABBY
Label: Exit Tunes
Release date: 06/12/2017
Genre: Visual-kei Rock

Tracklist:

01.GABBY
02.ROSA
03.GABBY -instrumental-
04.ROSA -instrumental-
05.テントの里 [DRAMA TRACK]
06.蜂谷と蜂谷  [DRAMA TRACK]
07.蝉丸の失踪  [DRAMA TRACK]
08.翳の隠滅  [DRAMA TRACK]

Track by track analysis:

01.GABBY 

Changes to MEDICODE‘s sound are immediately noticeable as we have ominous synths and overdriven guitar licks setting a darker tone to this track. Despite its slow start, the instrumental picks up the pace and turns into an exciting brand of rock, focusing on bass-driven instrumentalization, hard-hitting snary drums, a deeper bass line and more aggressive guitar work however, without being as loud as previous entries in MEDICODE‘s repertoire. The instrumental will sound heavy at times and have a danceable touch in others – especially in the chorus -. Most of all, this instrumental is heavy enough to have us headbanging while, at the same time, is catchy enough to have it on repeat and never get tired of it.

It’s no secret that visual-kei singers use the most varied and tricky techniques to sound like someone they aren’t. That’s part of the magic in visual-kei. For a seasoned visual-kei frontman singing in an overdramatic tone, using a lot of vibrato and performing in faux baritone is an easy task. However, for a seiyuu with no visual-kei background (that we know of) and is especially known for his tenor singing, this outstanding performance will make your jaw drop. “GABBY” has one of the trickiest vocal performances not only within FlyMe project, but also among other 2.5D projects (whether their focus is in rock, hip-hop, pop, etc). A quick listen to this song and you’ll find Saito performing in an overdramatic tone, putting emphasis on vibrato and singing in a lower register than usual. His performance is emotional and dramatic, yet with some underlying aggression that will wink at his performances in MEDICODE‘s first single. It’s hard to say what’s the best thing about this song but one thing is certain, this is one impressive performance. 5/5 

02.ROSA

MEDICODE fuse tragedy and romance and take it to a whole other level with this hard-hitting, dramatic rock performance. Tempo fluctuates between sections of the instrumental, shifting swiftly and smoothly from the slow paced intro to the mid-tempo verses and the fast paced chorus. In result, all sections, no matter the tempo, sound exciting and are attention gripping. Aggressive guitar licks, dramatic strings, a delicate yet barely noticeable piano melody, complemented by a powerful bass sound provided by the snare + bass drum oriented drums and a noticeable bass line complete this instrumental. It sounds like a marriage between Love Metal’s romantic view of dark themes and the dramatic edge, characteristical of symphonic Metal (much in the likes of Kamijo) but through a visual-kei approach. Soothing synth pads gave an ethereal touch to the instrumental, enhancing the quality of the song, while adding tasteful touches to the intro and choruses.

The vocal performance is the biggest highlight in this single. Saito delivered a deeper and rougher performance than it could have been expected. Performing in a faux baritone technique made him unrecognizable. This is certainly the first time listeners get to experience him performing a song in such an unnatural register. That falsetto right before the ending of the song will initially catch the listener off guard, mainly because Saito is not the kind of singer to constantly tackle falsetto. That brief part in his performance is the culmination of a powerful song with a lingering yearning feel. “ROSA” easily stands as MEDICODE’s best song released to date. 5/5

Final rating:

DIAURA’s talented guitarist Kei was in charge of the instrumentals for this release, completely shifting MEDICODE’s music direction and overall vibe.

The rawness, speed and aggression in MEDICODE’s homonymous release is no more in “GABBY”, at least not executed in that fashion. For this release it was put emphasis on it sounding dramatic and grandiose without all the apparatus of having orchestral instrumentalization (usually associated to “grandiose” sounding music) in the mix. The instrumentals for both songs included strings and ominous synths for the first time in MEDICODE’s repertoire, creating the perfect soundscape befitting of the single’s romance/tragedy tone.

As it is expected of Kei, the guitar work – from licks to riffs and even the solos – is of stellar quality. He knows how to pull in the listener with his guitar playing and convey the feelings in the lyrics in a unique way. His guitar work in “GABBY” is a highlight, especially that exciting solo. One thing this single highly benefited from was having only one composer for the whole release. MEDICODE’s homonymous single, released back in 2015, had LM.C and NIGHTMARE’s guitarists working in two completely different songs and, in result, the single lacked a bit of consistency as impressive at is was (and still is). However, while listening to this single, it felt like there was a swift transition between songs, sharing the same motifs and tone, even if “GABBY” and “ROSA”, in essence, sound nothing alike.

This is the most challenging collection of songs Soma Saito has performed. We might not have the screamo and Kansai’s trademark rolled Rs, something that was common on the band’s first single. This single managed to keep everything interesting by pushing his singing to a whole different level. In return, we find what is quite possibly one of the most unusual and impressive performances among all 2.5D projects we cover. If you’re familiar with his singing tone, and know the register in which he’s usually most comfortable, his performances in “GABBY” will certainly sound brand new to you. If you’re new to this project and/or Saito‘s singing, you’ll be surprised with his range and technique.

While for “GABBY” he was one and the same with vibrato, delivering a dramatic performance that demanded him to tap into both his lower and higher registers, in “ROSA”, Saito was completely unrecognizable. He challenged a much lower, rougher and more aggressive register, fitting with the song’s longing tone, as well as channeling perfectly the whole visual-kei frontman vibe for this performance. A reminder that Saito is a tenor, yet he was singing in faux baritone fashion in “ROSA” and pulling off a whole lot of vibrato (unusual for him) in “GABBY“, kudos to him for acing both performances.

All in all, MEDICODE‘s revamped darker, more dramatic and attention gripping sound gave new life to this band, something that, alongside Soma Saito‘s outstanding performances, make this release shine. “GABBY” is a must listen, regardless if you’re a fan of visual-kei or not.

Give this single a listen and, while at it, show some love to the extremely underrated FlyMe project by checking the other band, DRINK ME.

GABBY” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

description / MEDICODE
MEDICODE
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