My thoughts on “Silent Cry / REVENGER”, the first single from Higeki no Heroine Syndrome.
Release Date: August 6th 2019
1. Silent Cry
4. Kodokuna Cinderella
5. LOVE YOU KILL YOU
6. Bara to Toge
9. Boku wa Koko ni Iru
While I wouldn’t exactly say that 2019 has been a very kind year to my, and most other peoples’ fandoms it has offered up at least a handful of interesting new groups to replaces the scores of them that it has taken away. Well, I think so anyway. Most of them are of course still in the feeling out process and we shouldn’t really expect too much from them for quite a while yet (if they survive that long) and then you have groups like the one I’m going to be reviewing today.
Enter Higeki no Heroine Syndrome or “HeroSyn” as I’ll be referring to them from this point on. They’re a group who want to “Save the tragic heroines of the world from things like bullying and discrimination” while sporting a “gothic” image. They’re made up of girls who are models, YouTubers, etc and as such already have a pretty huge (and quite heavily female) following. Not sure I’ve seen a new group rocket to this level of popularity in quite some time but I guess if you’ve got a good management team and the right group of girls anything is possible.
“Silent Cry / REVENGER” is the group’s first widely distributed single, though with all of the different types and b-sides it really is more of an album honestly. I’ve heard a couple of HeroSyn’s songs in the 6 or so months of their existence and what I heard sounded pretty good so I hope for good things from this batch of material. Or who knows, maybe all of the people who keep telling me the music doesn’t match the visuals and that everything is too manufactured are right. Guess I’ll just have to take a listen to these songs here and find out for myself. Won’t you join me?
The first of the single’s two a-sides “Silent Cry” starts off how I expect a lot of people would probably imagine a song from a group that looks like HeroSyn should be sounding like. Symphonic meets Metal, combining in a way that has been proven to work time and time again. The strings provide the instrumental with much of its melodies, while the guitars and drums add both depth and a ton of intensity to the song. It’s quite the juxtaposition having rather classy sounding violins pairing up with thunderous drumbeats and roaring guitars steeped in distortion. It all makes for a rather unsettling atmosphere, which I think is kinda fitting given the aforementioned visuals of the group. Oh yeah, the breakdown into the guitar solo was some quality stuff too by the way. Vocally people might actually end up being surprised at just how good things are considering this is a group full of models, YouTubers, etc. These girls can really sing, especially in the verses where each member gets their own moments to shine in a very natural sounding way as well. The chorus probably won’t be to everyone’s taste, as it does get a bit pitchy and a lot more Poppy than the rest of the song but I didn’t mind it too much after a couple of listens and it’s really catchy too which certainly helps a lot. As far as first impressions go, this is a pretty darn good one I must say.
“REVENGER” opts to take things in a slightly different direction from its accompanying a-side, instead opening with a very deliberately paced instrumental that sits somewhere between Tribal and Industrial in sound. Quite an ominous air to things as the drums slowly begin to build up pace and some pretty thick basslines get added into the mix. The vocals here are also delivered very deliberately and it really gives them quite a bit of impact which I thought was a nice touch. Once the chorus hits some synthesizer is brought into play and for some reason the instrumental loses quite a lot of definition. I kinda get the idea of wanting to change up the mood and the tempo but I kinda miss the vividness the instrumental had prior to this so it’s a bit of a shame. Once again the vocals go up several octaves for the chorus and while I don’t think it works quite as well and definitely isn’t as catchy as “Silent Cry” it’s not that bad either. Thankfully the verses do retain much of what was introduced at the beginning of the song, so I’m pretty happy with that though they do mix in a little bit more synth which is fine too. There was a couple of parts where the bass was maybe a bit too present but it’s a fairly minor thing. I also rather liked the…chanting I guess you’d call it that they used in the bridge. Very cool and really atmospheric. This one has its flaws but there’s still plenty of positives to be had here.
We move into the single’s many b-sides now, the first of which being listed as “KissMark” in the iTunes listing so let’s go with that. A pretty interesting song that’s composed by Hashibata Kanari, who is also responsible for lead track “Silent Cry”. Things start off with a sort of folksy guitar riff before bringing in the vocals and some more of that symphonic element that we’ve already heard previously on this single. Somehow they manage to blend both of these styles into one song and I’m not really sure how they’ve pulled it off exactly. I suppose by splitting each genre into verse and chorus respectively it’s easier to manage, but the transitions between the two are impressively effortless too. It even gets a bit weird around the midway point of the song, with what I can only describe as a synthesized accordion being brought into play and even that sounds pretty fitting in the wider context of the instrumental composition. For this song the vocals go with the tempo of the instrumental for the most part, the delivery bounces along during the verses in time with the guitar riffs which gives them a somewhat creepy but also playful vibe. Then for the chorus the members come together for something a little bit more melodic to play up to the more symphonic style featured there but while also at the same time retaining just enough of the character from the verses to create an underlying theme. It’s fairly catchy once again, but it’s not the most interesting chorus I’ve ever either. Not bad though.
I have to admit, I’m having a rather tough time of putting into words just what “Kodokuna Cinderella” is actually supposed to sound like. It’s kind of like Swing Jazz meets synthesizer I guess? There’s definitely that mid-1900s (boy is that weird to type) sort of feel to the instrumental but obviously given a modern twist with the synth and a quicker tempo to keep all of you crazy kids’ attention. Not something that I can claim to have heard much if at all, and especially not coming from an Idol group that is for certain. I absolutely love the beat that’s being supplemented by this really warm and rich bassline…we’re talking a lot about the bass guitar on this single aren’t we? Anyway, the instrumental has a really nice groove to it and while there is synthesizer involved I definitely appreciate that they’ve kept it fairly subtle and haven’t tried to be too in your face about it unlike some other songs that try to blend old styles with new and just totally overdo it. Though the guitar solo was maybe pushing it a bit. HeroSyn’s vocals once again adapt wonderfully to yet another genre being thrown their way and while not perhaps the most faithful of renditions of this style, they’ve got the spirit of it for sure. There’s a little bit of punch to the verses which definitely fits the pattern in which the lyrics are delivered and gave the song a little bit more energy too. The chorus adds a few more melodies and a slightly brighter tone but for the most part it sticks to a similar style. A pretty catchy song in an unusual and, especially from this group, unexpected style. I like it and I’m also very intrigued right now.
Things get a little bit more mellow with “LOVE YOU KILL YOU”, which I think probably comes the closest to being considered a Ballad out of everything we’ve heard up to this point. Far from the traditional sense of course, as though I’m sure HeroSyn would be perfectly capable of such a song it just wouldn’t fit the image ya know? Indeed the instrumental is a reasonably energetic Rock piece for the most part, with some pretty nice, squealing riffs every so often to keep things interesting to the ear. The beat is reasonably bouncy which is cool and provides a bit more dimension to a composition that at times does feel like’s almost going to be drowned under the wave of distortion coming from the guitars. I wasn’t super into that particular element of the song to begin with but it has started to grow on me a little after a few plays. I suppose the real “Ballad” element of the song is provided by the vocals which take on this melancholic, sort of gloomy atmosphere during the verses, which is a bit different, while also managing to give us some really nice melodies along the way too. The chorus is bit more upbeat in tempo and there’s a bit more energy to the vocal delivery as well. I maybe wish they’d been given a little more room to breathe by the instrumental but I could also see that causing them to be too bright in comparison to a lot of the verses. I did like how they kept the energy and momentum from the final chorus into the last couple of verses though, it made for a pretty cool ending to the song. Another pretty enjoyable track here folks.
“Bara to Toge” brings back the Gothic vibe we heard on a couple of the other tracks and really turns it up a notch or two. Opening things up with piano and some chimes certainly conjures a certain set of feelings and impresses a darker mood on the listener. Well, that’s what I got out of it at least. Of course guitars and drums enter the equation after a while to flesh things out a bit but a lot of the time the guitar is mainly being used for ambient background noise which I thought was a pretty interesting but actually very logical thing to do. You already have all manner of keys, chimes and strings so why over-complicate it by adding even more things for the ears to try to keep track of. Even the drums are fairly subdued as well, a lot of the time merely there to add a light but steady beat to keep the song on tempo. Of course the guitars and drums feature a lot more heavily in the chorus, which I’m sort of in two minds about because while it does create an effective change of mood and energy it does feel a little at odds with everything that’s going on in the verses. Speaking of the verses, HeroSyn really nail the Gothic thing we’ve got going on with some at times rather haunting but also quite beautiful melodies which vaguely and I mean very vaguely reminded me of NECRONOMIDOL a bit. The chorus is kinda weird mostly for the aforementioned instrumental reasons but also because the tone of the vocals continues in the same style and doesn’t really change up too much. It sounds good on its own, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like you either had to change both or neither. I still think the song is really good but I would have done a few things differently myself.
Any pretense of classiness that “Bara to Toge” might have impressed on the listener is quickly wiped away on “GAME”. Not that I’m saying songs with pounding bass are something to turn ones nose up at, but the change in both style and tone between these two particular songs is quite stark. It’s a rather unexpected turn, but seven songs deep into this “single” I can kinda get behind an EDM heavy instrumental that has a little bit of a Rock element sprinkled in here and there. The guitar riffs and basslines during the breaks in the pretty intense synthesizer parts add a bit of a Funk vibe to the song which is pretty cool and gave these old ears something different to listen to. Not that I’m saying the rest of the instrumental is bad of course, I actually quite like the beat and the energy while quite different in nature is infectious even if squealing synthesizers and heavy, pounding bass isn’t something I’m typically in the market for. Interestingly the vocals don’t really play up to the instrumental as much as you might expect. There’s a few moments where the delivery might match up to a particular beat but outside of that things are sung in a fairly clean and straightforward way. It makes for an interesting contrast against the quite busy and rather full on instrumental but the more traditional J-Pop style does a really good job of cutting through all of that. The lyrics are fairly catchy and pretty repetitive so in that sense everything marries fairly well and while we’re not reinventing any wheels here the song is a pretty enjoyable listen, even if it’s not really my sort of thing usually.
We add another twist in the tale of this single on “penultimate” track “Kakushigoto”. Once again HeroSyn change up their style and I’d say this is possibly the most…conventional of all of the tracks we’ve been hearing so far. The instrumental is a fairly trendy sounding Piano Rock composition that has been jazzed up a little with some light synthesizer. It kind of reminds me a little bit of Maison book girl with the tempo that it has going on. Not quite as ambitious with the use of instrumentation however, but the bite from the guitar balances well with at times quite emphatic piano playing to give the song a bit of punch while still retaining a lighter, almost playful tone outside of those moments. This also carries over into much of the vocals, which play off rather well in their delivery with the rhythm the instrumental provides which really helps to put further emphasis on the tempo that the song is going for. Unlike a lot of the other songs featured, this one also leans a bit more heavily on vocal melodies which HeroSyn appear more than capable of pulling off when the members aren’t doing their own solo lines and are allowed to sing together. There’s still a vaguely dark air to the tone of the vocals so it’s not like we’re completely binning that theme which I kind of appreciate. I wouldn’t have minded a slightly stronger chorus though, as I do feel it’s a little overshadowed by the instrumental. Outside of that, this one appeals to my love of Japanese Indie Rock which is never really a bad thing as far as I’m concerned. A bit different but still very enjoyable.
We finally reach the end of this mammoth “single” and close things out with “Boku wa Koko ni Iru”. I honestly thought they were going for some kind of creepy circus thing when the song started playing and the opening riff comes in over what sounds like some kind of vintage receiver. The instrumental is still kind of odd though, don’t get me wrong. There’s like a synthesized acoustic guitar going on in the background in my left ear which is occasionally brought into the center of the rather bass heavy sound stage and it even gets its own dedicated section in the middle of the song. Outside of that there’s a bit of record scratching and some piano in the background to keep things interesting and honestly, with how I’ve just written that all out none of you probably think it can work. Well, somehow it does and it’s actually really enjoyable? The vocals also draw several tricks from the bag, featuring a variety of styles from the more dramatic and Gothic to pretty upbeat and punchy in their delivery. There is a middle ground that they stick to for the most part but when they break off from it and push more towards a certain end of the spectrum it makes for a nice change of pace. The melodies are also really nice on this one, which I guess is something we should come to expect from HeroSyn and it has pretty darn catchy moments when they up the tempo and give the song an injection of energy. It’s a bit cliche, but this song does sorta have it all…somehow.
Let’s be honest, this isn’t so much a single but more of an album split up into half a dozen different parts. I don’t really like the idea of that honestly, but there’s a lot of really interesting material to get your teeth into here and especially so if you’re already into Idol groups with a bit of a darker theme. Though things probably don’t sound totally like the group’s image might suggest but I think that’s okay.
Speaking of which, I’m pretty surprised by this “single”. The songs are all really high quality and though they have their flaws in places (mostly choruses for me) I’m finding it hard to really find many negatives here. I’m not really sure what the wider impression of HeroSyn is in the fandom, but if you’ve been putting off checking them out for some reason then I would definitely suggest getting around to it as despite the members’ various other professions, this group certainly seems like it’s the real deal to me. Take a listen and draw your own conclusions.