Thursday, November 3, 2016

Jacques on Japanese Metal

HMT welcomes "Bree Bree" to the Blog!

Writer's Introduction

Mike "Bree Bree" Jacques
Music is my passion. I've been a little rocker since the pre-school days. I was raised on late 70's and early 80's metal and hard rock. I've always had a slightly different taste in music than the other "kids".
During the mid to late 2000's I became very bored with American music. It became stale and repetitive. I was bored and desperately needed something new. I sifted through the internet, music blogs and youtube playlists. I found Japanese metal! Now, I know music in Japan isn't anything new. Any historian can tell you that. However, the metal scene has exploded in Japan over the past decade. Here are some of my personal favorites from each sub-genre.

Band- Maximum the Hormone

This band is always my first recommendation for people looking to get into metal in general or a way to ease into Japanese music. They can be compared to a band like System of a Down (and there are many Youtube videos that do so). A band that cites Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Ramones, Tool, and The Deftones as influences. Despite fusing every genre imaginable creating a mish-mash that just shouldn't work, it makes the music fun to listen to and allows non-metal fans to find a part of the music to latch on to. My wife, in particular, is not a metal fan but has taken a liking to the band, even going as far as learning the dance for one of their most popular videos "Koi No Mega-Lover".

Songs like "A.L.I.E.N." starts with blast beats and pig squeals, transitioning into a funk rock, slap bass breakdown with tribal vocals and ending the song with a Japanese Pop sing-along are things that sound like they just shouldn't go together.

"What's Up People?!" is more of a straight-forward rock-metal song and is a lot more focused yet still has their distinct sound .

This last one is a self-titled song? Can you do that?  It encompasses so many different sounds and genres, yet manages to be cohesive. Easily one of my favorite songs from the band. They wisely chose it to close out their latest record. I'll leave out most of the songs details for you to enjoy on your own. Keep in mind the first minute and half or so are not actually part of the song. I'm not even sure what's going on there.

Band- Inhale

Here is a band that sounds like they came from Massachusetts about 12 years ago. Formed in 2006 they've only been able to release one record. "Heaven and Hell" was released in 2009. It's a solid metal-core record. Unfortunately, since then, they've been searching for a new vocalist since the original left shortly after the release of the record. They are writing and releasing new material while still looking for a vocalist. 

"Heart Rejection" is a great introduction to Inhale. It's the album opener and immediately gets your attention with a  blistering metal riff. With a catchy chorus and a traditional metal breakdown and guitar solo it makes you feel like you're hanging out at the New England Hardcore and Metal Fest.

"Dark Days" is the only song they've released with a vocalist since their record in 2009. It's a shame because I really enjoy the vocals on this song. This track shows the musical growth of the band with some keyboards in the background, some odd time signatures and better structured guitar solos.

"Rise" is latest song to be released, back in April 2015. A song with constantly changing tempos and complex guitar passages, it really showcases the true talent that the band has. It can stand on it's own a great intrumental metal track but I can only imagine what a great vocalist could add to this track.

Here is a live video from 2016 with a vocalist but the audio is not great.

Band- Shatter Silence

A great band that takes traditional melodic death metal and adds their own sound to it. I immediately fell in love with this band.
"Our Future Will Not Rot Forever" was my introduction to the band. The song from their debut
album instantly grabs you with a bouncy guitar riff. That riff flows into a very ethereal chorus that caught me off guard the first time I heard it. I listened to the song multiple times in a row because it was so damn catchy. The closing guitar solo is surprisingly reserved despite the chaotic nature of the song's intro and the somewhat technical main riff.

After listening to that song so many times, I managed to track down the record and buy it. The album opener does not disappoint. "Opening of the End" is an example of the band's sound that remains consistent throughout the whole record. This time around though, the guitar solo is not so reserved, the song structure is more straight-forward and the chorus is catchier. It was evident that the band wanted to blow out your stereo with this track.

The band is still going strong, having released an album in late 2015. Their sound remains unchanged which is something I don't have any issues with. I still enjoy listening to them as much today as when I first discovered this band for myself. Here is "A Courage of Convictions" from their self-titled record.
...and here is a full set from Osaka PIT FEST in 2015. They are incredibly consistent and rarely make mistakes. During this set they alternate between old and material without missing a beat.

Band- Death I Am

I'll close out the list with a rager. Death I Am is a band that writes music that is both brutal yet
incredibly intricate at the same time. Exhibiting amazing talent while managing to still write songs that listenable. Is listenable even a word? The vocalist has amazing range with no assistance from any effects or post processing. He has even uploaded a video to his personal YouTube page to showcase his ridiculous vocal technique. For a band with only one guitarist (currently), one bass player and drums, they manage to have a HUGE sound.

"Subatomic Shower" is a song that gives me chills every time I listen to it. Very reminiscent of the tech-metal legend(s) Necrophagist, this song blends hard hitting riffage with nimble fingered leads and takes an unexpected turn into a jazz infused interlude.

"Entheogen" and "Moira" are a couple of songs with a little more groove but manage to sustain energy throughout the entire track.

"Calculating Fate" is the latest single from their newest self-titled record. Despite losing a guitarist before recording this record, they managed to continue writing songs without losing substance.

Well, there it is. My personal picks to introduce Japanese metal to people looking for new music! I have many more if anyone is looking for even more recommendations. I am constantly looking for new music. I am open to writing new lists or getting input from the metal community so let's keep it going!


  1. Killer!
    Have you heard Yellow Machinegun?

    1. Not until today but I liked what I heard!

  2. Mr Bree Bree Seems to have quite a bit of knowledge in the Genre and particularly in the Japanese venue. His descriptions are meticulous and I would say helpful to those familiar with this music genre as well as those discovering it for the first time. His personal inflections ie: his wife willing to listen and in turn learning the dance added a humorous anecdote to his review. Well done and welcome.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. To know that people appreciate music as much as I do is inspiring.