Single review: “black bullet” by fripSide

fripSide is a Japanese pop and trance duo signed to Geneon Entertainment. black bullet is their 8th single.

Release date: 14th of May, 2014

Track list:
1. black bullet
2. pico scope -SACLA-
3. black bullet (Instrumental)
4. pico scope -SACLA- (Instrumental)

1. black bullet
The latest A-side from fripSide opens with a dance beat bouncing alongside layers of synth, and within barely a number of seconds, an eruption of Guren no Yumiya-esque chanting suddenly appears, stirring up an ominous, almost menacing atmosphere. The built-up passion is stripped away to reveal a somewhat calm section of the first verse, with Yoshino steadily singing parallel to a beat and a piano melody. Trademark fripSide synths smoothly transition into the established arrangement, and their consistent pulsating are in perfect time with the vocal melody. The verse escalates into the high-spirited chorus, filled to the brim with catchy melodies wonderfully handled by Yoshino, as well as vibrant synths á la sister’s noise and LEVEL5 -judgelight-. This pattern is repeated until the bridge, in which the beginning segment of a dance beat, synths and chanting is intermingled with an electric guitar solo, giving rise to a much welcomed surge of energy. But again, this is taken away in favor of Yoshino’s clear, now insistent vocals, this time accompanied by strings and hi-hats. Soon after, the arrangement is rightfully intensified once again in time for the final chorus, as Yoshino finishes on an extended high note, and the instrumentation comes full circle.

2. pico scope -SACLA-
Tied to an anime short, the accompanying B-side starts off with a palpitating synthesizer, somewhat similar to the kind of sound that would accompany a tense moment in an action/sci-fi movie. As this lone sound thins out, a happycore instrumentation breaks out of the blue, and Yoshino’s higher, juvenile tone emerges to match the mood. Beginning the first verse is the simple combination of the faint sound of the palpitating synthesizer and the ever-present, forceful dance beat. As the arrangement increases in tempo, it is enhanced with a plethora of synths reminiscent to those heard in only my railgun, only much quicker. Oddly, this song doesn’t feature the escalating to a chorus, but rather, the verses almost blend into the chorus, as both sections seem like they are on the same level (intensity and tempo-wise). An entertaining electro/techno breakdown is what characterises the bridge, and just like in black bullet, much energy is present in this section. The track ends with a repetition of the chorus, soon brought to a halt in a similar fashion to the Gokukoku no Brynhildr opening theme.

I have been eagerly anticipating this single for a while now; partly because I’m a fan of fripSide, and also because I heard the TV size of black bullet several times while keeping up with the anime of the same name. Either way, I knew this was going to be good, and the duo did not disappoint. The A-side is basically anison done well, creatively incorporating chanting with the standard fripSide style we know and love. pico scope -SACLA- is probably the fastest I’ve heard from them as of yet, and even though it’s quite short and relatively straightforward, it’s an entertaining tune to hear. Overall, a commendable effort!

Rating: 4/5


On a side note:

The Limit Break review is taking a bit longer than we thought for a few reasons, so I decided to post this in advance :)


9 thoughts on “Single review: “black bullet” by fripSide

  1. Nice review Moira.
    I was waiting for that song as it was a great opening, but I’ve been losing faith at fripside because their latest have all sounded the same (except one of them). But once I heard this, I was thrilled with this, and now I want to listen the full version.
    But it’s not the same excitement as I have for the ending of Black Bullet (which I love) :)

    • Thank you :)

      I agree that their recent material sounds more or less the same, but like jstorming says, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nonetheless, black bullet is a nice change from what they have released prior to this.

      I’m really looking forward to the ending too. Hopefully the single lives up to our expectations :]

  2. While I still think “only my railgun” is my favorite fripSide song, “black bullet” was also a very good and a refreshing (though incomplete) departure from their usual fare. My issue with fripSide is that their songs are more or less musically similar which isn’t necessarily bad (why fix what isn’t broken?) I will note that the chanting aspect, while reminiscent of Guren no Yumiya, is by no means something exclusive to Guren no Yumiya, though it is something that’s pretty uncommon in J-Pop. Hopefully, this goes to show that J-Pop can benefit from some diversity in musicality, especially if it’s drawn from non-Japanese traditions and done in interesting ways.

    • fripSide is notorious for their songs using a tiresome, tried-and-tested formula (which I admit to complaining about as well), but it appears to work in their favor most of the time.

      Oh yes, I am aware that chanting is not exclusive to Guren no Yumiya — Kajiuran girl groups are no strangers to chanting — so given the acclaim that Guren no Yumiya has received, as well as the adoration of Kalafina and FictionJunction songs, like you said, J-Pop can really benefit from diversity in musicality. Details like this also help to clearly distinguish the artistry in Japanese music.

      On a side note, I’m not sure of my favorite song from fripSide, but I consider black bullet to be a contender now.

  3. My familiarity with fripSide is low, so I’m not the best person to make comments on their general style. But I think using the chanting and strings to give the dark, gothic atmosphere was a great change for them. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t carry through the song though. While the gothic bits were prominent in the instrumental breaks and there were a few chants in the chorus, the tone of the verse and chorus wasn’t significantly changed from their normal style (based on the five or so fripSide songs I’ve heard, so maybe I’m wrong). I just think they could have built on the verse/chorus more with the darker mood, and that also would have made there be a little less of a disconnect between the gothic parts and the more poppy parts. Nonetheless, it’s great that they moved away from electropop this song, and tried out some new influences.

    Btw have you seen the PV? The acting is pretty funny.

    • I agree, the song could have benefited by fully maintaining the dark, gothic atmosphere established by the chanting from the beginning. I think I would have liked it even more.

      the tone of the verse and chorus wasn’t significantly changed from their normal style

      Don’t worry, you’re right in saying that. I guess that’s another element that explains the similarity in many fripSide songs.

      Lol, I have seen the PV. The bodyguard dude was awkwardly funny to watch :D

  4. I feel rather alone in my position, but I honestly disliked this single. I felt it was frantic, messy and rather annoying. I considered including it in my “5 singles of the week” review but I just couldn’t get myself to listen to the songs multiple times.

    • Oh, I see. That’s alright, (and this will sound cliché but…) everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But then again, seeing as the A-side bears particularly discernible similarities to material that they have already released, could it be that you are perhaps not fond of fripSide in general as well?

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