Japanese instrumental rock outfit D-Drive have recently released their first new track since their 2019 album Maximum Impact. That album, which was their first for Marshall Records, was the bands fourth in total but their first to be released outside Japan.
Thumbs Up is the follow up and a step towards the future for the four-piece. Commenting on the release, Seiji Naka said: ‘Thumbs Up’ was inspired by Jon, the head of Marshall Amplification, he uses the thumbs up to communicate with me due to the language barrier. It’s a friendly, but powerful pose. We first played the song at Marshall GALA2, a Japanese Marshall event featuring a number of bands from around Japan, and dedicated it’s premiere to Jon.
When I composed the track, I was deliberately trying to avoid mimicking other songs I had been listening to at the time. I use an uncommon scale for rock in the intro, but something a bit catchier for the bridge melody. It is a bit strange compared to other D_Drive songs, but when we play together, it becomes another one of our famous ‘Driving Rock’ tunes.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7PphK4OU6M&w=560&h=315]
The line up who collectively make up this sensational outfit are Seiji Naka and Yuki on guitars, Toshiyuko Sugimori on bass and Chiiko on drums. The band has been in existence since 2009 although Toshiyuko only joined in 2018 and in 2019 they made the trip over to the UK to wow audiences at Marshall Live and Camden Rocks where they silenced the crowd with their fusion of jazz, prog and metal to create their unique sound they’ve branded as “Driving Rock”, as well as playing a very intimate press only showcase, which I was very lucky to attend at the Pirate Studios in Notting Hill.
Thumbs Up is five minutes of symphonic instrumental rock/metal at its finest.
I have listened to it over and over again today to really grab the feeling of the track and my overriding assumption is that it is like one of those classical Mozart or Beethoven symphonies, but written with and played out by guitars, drums and bass instead of pianos and orchestra, packed down in to an exquisitely dynamic little package, that is compelling, listenable and almost plays out a story inside your head as it draws you in for the duration.
D-Drive’s music is very much about all four members equally being a main part so you truly get a collective band feel about their music rather than it being a stepping stone for one member to stand out and showcase their own individual talents. That for me is what makes Thumbs Up and their instrumental “driving rock” so listenable and enjoyable. It doesn’t actually need lyrics as the music itself speaks louder than any words could do.
Throughout the whole of Thumbs Up, Chiiko, their petite drummer, packs more than a mighty punch with her drumsticks as she lays down a beat that is so incredibly powerful and mesmerising. That beat along with the sumptuous bass part from Toshiyuki gives the track a dynamic drive and rhythm that plays out alongside the guitar work perfectly.
That guitar work has to be seen and heard to truly be believed. It is nothing less than exemplary throughout and at times both Seiji and Yuki almost get their six string weapons singing to you. They do not need to fragrantly use their fretboard to get their point across as this is guitar work written to make songs. Yes there are solos, yes there is plenty of amazingly brilliant guitar work to be heard and enjoyed but this is more about the wonderfully written and crafted melodic riffs and parts that have been assembled to give us these five minutes of instrumental heaven.
This is undeniably a stunning piece of music that should help D-Drive spread the word about themselves and their “driving rock” around the globe.
When I knew I was writing this review today I asked founder member Seiji Naka if he could give Metal Planet Music a message for our readers and he like the gentleman he is he obliged with “Thank you for your support! It’s very tough time because of COVID-19. So we’d like to cheer up everyone with ‘Thumbs Up’.”
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Review by Darren Smith for MPM