It’s not everyday you get invited to a media only showcase by an instrumental Japanese rock/metal band that are in the UK for the first time but that is exactly what happened to me this week. So, when I was invited to attend the showcase by D-Drive the only thing I could do was accept that invitation and look forward to an entertaining afternoon. The reason for the showcase is that the band are currently celebrating their 10th anniversary and have a new 10 track album out on Marshall Records, which they are in the UK to promote.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0W01-xfCm0&w=560&h=315]
D-Drive are a four piece band made up of four incredibly talented musicians. The female half of the group is Yuki on guitar and Chiiko on drums with the male half being Seiji on guitar and Toshi on bass. Together they are a formidable line up that play, by their own words, “Driving Rock”. Their new album, called “Maximum Impact” was released worldwide on the 31st May through Marshall Records. This is the bands 4th album but the first to be released outside Japan.
Along with the media showcase which was held at Pirate Studio’s in Notting Hill, the band have also played at Marshall Live on June 1st and Camden Rocks on June 2nd as part of this brief promotional tour to the UK. From reports that I have read and comments that I heard at the showcase, the band went down an absolute storm at both of these events. After witnessing their talents first hand and up close and personal on Tuesday, I am not at all surprised.
When I arrived at Pirate Studio’s I really didn’t know what to expect. Built inside some arches in the West of London, the studio the band were set up in was very intimate, maybe 20 feet by 20 feet maximum. In attendance from Marshall Records were Steve Tannett and Peter Capstick plus the band who made us all feel welcome from the start. At the back of the stage was an impressive Marshall backline for such a small room and as the band got everything tuned up there was a scramble from the attending journalists and photographers to get those essential ear plugs in quickly! This was going to be loud, very loud!
What the assembled media got from the band for this showcase was 6 songs from “Maximum Impact”. From the opening bars of “M16”, one thing was very clear, this band do not mess about. Straight away the twin guitar assault from Yuki and Seiji was eye catching whilst Chiiko and Toshi provided a thunderous rhythm that just drove the song perfectly. Full of killer riffs and some amazing fretboard work from Yuki, it really was a joy to watch these artists at work. The band then went straight into “Cassis Orange”, a more melodic tune that showed a slightly different style of guitar work and gave the rhythm section a chance to have their little bit of limelight too. After two songs, it is hard to take your eyes off Yuki as she moves around, smiling and making that guitar talk. Just phenomenal.
“Lost Block” was up next and after a moody, slow paced intro it kicks into another full on guitar assault that would sit well on a host of progressive metal albums. An absolutely stunning piece of music that along with some more captivating work from Yuki on her fretboard sees a real chugging riff from Seiji that just gets your feet tapping and head nodding. From their we get “The Last Revenge”, a super fast paced track that is full of widdly diddly guitar parts and monstrous drums that hit you right in the solar plexus. You can see that all four band members are really getting into this intimate little show and if you didn’t know better you would say they were playing to a packed arena. You can just see the enjoyment and satisfaction they are getting from playing their music as they smile at each other and watch each other play the breath taking music they have created.
I am not sure whether the heating was on in the studio or it was the heat coming from the band as they powered and shredded their way through their set, but this intimate little venue was now getting really hot. “Attraction 4D”, the first single taken from the album is the penultimate song played today. The song has a real classic metal feel to it, with some great solos a bit like the stuff Maiden used to churn out in the mid-80’s and a pulsating beat from the bass and drums that you just can’t help but tap along to. The last song we are treated to today is the aptly named “Unkind Rain” which starts off with an almost atmospheric guitar part played out over the sound of falling rain. The song has the feel of a real “epic” track that starts slowly and turns into an exquisite melodic masterpiece that is just sublime to the ear. The guitar sound is so beautiful on this track I found myself closing my eyes briefly and just getting lost in the moment.
So that was that then, a brief but oh so brilliant showcase. All six tracks offered something different. There were air guitar moments and breath grabbing solos along with a beat and drive from the bass and drums that just makes the music complete. I found myself so absorbed in the music and in watching the mesmerising way the band put their music across that I wished they could have played for so much longer. Alas, that was not to be due to time constraints, but I can at least keep reliving a fantastic afternoon with the copy of the album that I was given and I have not listened to anything else since.
After witnessing the band first hand, I really hope they come back to these shores quickly so that I can take in a full live performance from them. When they do, make sure you get yourself a ticket as they are a sight to behold. In the meantime, if you like guitar music from the likes of Satriani or Vai or the guitar sound that bands like Iron Maiden and Dream Theatre produce then get yourself a copy of D-Drive’s album “Maximum Impact”, you won’t regret it.
Finally I would like to thank Steve and Pete from Marshall Records for bringing the band to these shores and hosting such a wonderful afternoon.
Review & Photos by Darren Smith for metalplanetmusic