Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Coffins - Beyond the Circular Demise

Originally published on the Sleeping Shaman:

Legendarily prolific Japanese death/doom lords Coffins have returned with their first full length record since 2013’s ‘The Fleshland’, but they haven’t been quiet. Lots of splits and EPs have filled the gap, but there’s nothing quite like a full length Coffins record. ‘Beyond the Circular Demise’ releases on the 20th of September through Relapse Records and looks to be another record of superlative quality.

I’ve followed these guys since their superlative 2008 record ‘Buried Death’ and they’ve rarely disappointed. Immediately grinding out a nasty, Swedeath riff in the opener ‘Terminate By Own Prophecy’, the guttural death growls belching untold blasphemies. The doom is strong in the crush of ‘The Tranquil End’, but it neither overshadows nor gets lost in the crunchy death metal. Coffins balance the two genres perfectly, making the transitions from savagery to imperious, monstrous riff feel so natural. And the doom comes with churning intensity, with the monolithic opening riffs to ‘Impuritious Minds’ being an immediate standout but not the only one.

What I’ve always enjoyed about Coffins is that their brand of death/doom has never been the vast, clean doom riffs layered with brutal growls. They have always felt like a true amalgamation of nasty, raw death metal and the crushing nihilism of someone like Winter or Burning Witch. Their music has never seemed majestic or imperious; it feels like a true musical representation of death and decay. The gut wrenching weight of ‘Gateways to Dystopia’ possessing aching riffs, while the savage growl of ‘Hour of Execution’ maintains that nasty edge.

Coffins have created an art form out of this style of music. ‘Beyond the Circular Demise’ is yet another exhibit in their gallery of gore, death and rumbling decay. Lots of bands claim to make music that feels like the end of the world. Coffins actually do it, and while their tectonic riffs help our dying planet on its way we can all bathe in the glory of it. All hail visceral, toxic, TRUE death/doom.

The onslaught of barbaric black metal that prolific Japanese band Abigail brings is probably best summed up by the title of their new EP, ‘Far East Black Metal Onslaught’. This latest burst of blasphemy is due out in August through Helldprod Records, and looks to do nothing more than reassert themselves as the kings of underground Satanic panic.

Opening with ‘Unholy Bestial Fire’, cacophonous madness sprays from the speakers like the aural equivalent of barbed wire. Blackened thrash riffs fight against ragged shrieks and growls for position, with neither losing. The rabid majesty of ‘Nuclear Hammer’ is, frankly, intense as fuck. Abigail are not here to let anyone in easily; no their modus operandi is to destroy everything in site using the nastiest, fastest riffing they can slam together.

Reading from the codex necro, Abigail’s material is about as raw and fast as you can go, and yet it never feels purely one dimensional. Their music always has little doses of melody, even if all it is a thrashing solo ripping through like Kerry King on speed. ‘Far East Black Metal Onsalught’ is self explanatory, but it is also fucking awesome.

Japan’s Coven are a classy piece of heavy metal that’ll hook you straight in with their new release ‘The Advent’, a set up four track EP in preparation for their upcoming full length debut next year. This duo takes obvious influence from the likes of Maiden and Mercyful Fate, and it creates something just a bit special. Heavy metal is fucking great sometimes.

Opener ‘Brave Warriors’ provides instant gratification to that heavy metal itch we all need scratched now and then, with beautiful guitar harmonies and infectious melodies immediately planting seeds in your mind. The production has given this a wonderful, ‘Killers’ style feel about it, and that NWOBHM feel continues through ‘The Advent’. ‘Karma’ is a little King Diamond-esque with some soaring theatrics, and a soulful solo making the invisible oranges almost mandatory. Closing with a great 80s style metal power ballad in ‘Scream for Tomorrow’, Coven find more and more ways to make you fall in love with them.

‘The Advent’ is a mere appetiser for what is to come, but I really don’t want to have to wait very long for more. This is a fucking killer EP, with songs that bring you back to that heady early 80s period when heavy metal was coming into its own. I can’t wait for the full length!


Japanese trad metal heroes Solitude are representing TRUE METAL in all caps. ‘Reach for the Sky’ is now available further afield after a Japanese only release in 2015, and is bringing the riffs in spades. If you like the sound of NWOBHM brought into the 21st century via some Exodus and Tank, then I think Solitude are going to be right up your alley. Test Your Metal Records are handling the North American release, while you’ll find their older stuff on Spiritual Beast.

Opener ‘Venom’s Angels’ is full of killer riffing, awesome hooks and galloping melodies. You can feel how deep that classic Maiden influence runs, all the while being complimented by Bay Area thrashing sensibilities. ‘Blow’ is another kick ass track, prompting fist pumping and headbanging aplenty. You can tell instantly that Solitude would be a killer live act to go see. I love the intro to the title track, and there’s loads of moments on ‘Reach for the Sky’ where your love for heavy metal can be reignited.

The Bay Area thrash of ‘Don’t Need Mercy’ is classic, as well as the Saxon-esque ‘You Got My Mind’ and the elegiac ‘December’. ‘Reach for the Sky’ is an album steeped in tradition and, most importantly, enthusiasm and dare I say, joy. Joy in the simple happiness of heavy metal’s existence. Solitude’s record is a celebration of galloping guitars, massive hooks and killer solos. Something we all need to remember to celebrate now and again. Thoroughly recommended.

Abigail - The Final Damnation

Japanese blackened thrashers Abigail are one of those bands that have more EPs, splits and singles than molecules. Their latest full length is ‘The Final Damnation’, which follows the general pattern of all these kind of records; it’s fast, it’s raw as fuck, and it’s likely poisonous to mankind. Nuclear War Now have supported them since their iconic debut in 2002, and have released this too.

The title track opens up with some classic NWOBHM lead guitar work, and then the speed kicks into overdrive. A rampant spattering of bloodied guitar riffs, throat shredding vocal screams and some absolutely killer solos make this an instant favourite. The production is nice and crisp, allowing the relentless ‘Blasphemy Night’ and the scorching ‘Open the Gates of Hell’ full license to shred without fear of anything getting lost in the murk. It’s great to see a band that hasn’t lost the beauty of the guitar solo in amongst a torrent of scorn and toxic riffs.

‘The Final Damnation’ is simply just over half an hour of filthy, punkish shredding coupled with a frantic drumming performance and a scowling, raspy vocal that completes the whole package. Songs like ‘Whiskey Coke Bitch’ and the raging ‘Sweet Baby Metal Sluts’ are stupidly good fun, and the whole album shreds like no one’s business. Great record from a great band!

Japanese doom lords Funeral Moth are unleashing their latest masterpiece ‘Transience’ upon us through Weird Truth Productions, and what a glorious two tracks of crushing misery and melancholy it seems to be. Dark introspection hides within these spacious and minimalist riffs.

First track ‘Transience’ moves at a funereal pace, with echoes of latter period Earth in amongst the rumbling growls. Mournful riffing does appear in patches, but it is mainly clean guitar with glacial melodies and an overreaching sense of sadness and despair. There’s a kinship between this record and the ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’, but Funeral Moth is a little faster, and their vocals are definitely more brutal. ‘Lost’ is more guttural, more raw, more intense in its delivery. It has some of the more insistent moments, and more of the riffing, but the glacial, almost post metal parts are swelling and uplifting in a way that helps raise you from the miasmic gloom.

An almost meditational album, where the doom comes from the inward seeking viewpoint, the search for inner peace amongst the turmoil of modern life. ‘Transience’ is the most peaceful doom record you’ll hear this year, and yet still one of the most crushing. ‘Transience’ is an album that offers little in the way of riffs, yet a huge amount in the way of atmosphere, with a haunting minimalist approach that leaves you with open spaces to pour your own interpretations. Proof that music doesn’t need to be laden with riffs to be soul destroying poignant and heavy.

Horrific Disease - Outbreak

Japanese death thrashers Horrific Disease have unleashed their debut full length of plague-ridden death metal. ‘Outbreak’ marks their first release since 2012’s ‘Disease from Hell’ EP, outside a contribution to a 6 way split this year. It’s out now on Satanath Records.

Opener ‘Tortured in Entirety’ looms with eerie samples, before a killer riff explodes from the wasteland and batters you into submission. There’s something very Vader-esque about their relentless assault, even down to the cavernous vocals of Haruhisa Takahata. ‘Waste It Now!’ is a perfect example of this propulsive death metal influence. ‘Outbreak’ is an exercise in precise, chunky brutality. Wailing guitar solo madness opens ‘Under the Judgement’ which descends into rapid fire deaththrash goodness.

‘Outbreak’ is a brisk 32 minutes, but it’s the kind of death metal that you can just listen to all day. Slightly quirky chord progressions make Horrific Disease feel a little different, but the simple thrashing standard of the songs here is high, and they’re all good. ‘Newborn Reapers’ has the chug of prime Asphyx or Bolt Thrower, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it rage of ‘Mortal Bite’, and the thrashing chaos of ‘Slaughter’ speeds past at breakneck speed too. There’s some crushing breakdowns in ‘Your Own Justice’, while the headbanging rush of ‘Never Satisfied’ is designed to wreck your neck.

Horrific Disease have got this style of death metal hammered down tight, nailing every riff with aplomb and creating some of the most simple yet effective death metal I’ve heard all year. This is fucking smashing stuff, and you should seek it out

Coffins are Japan’s premier dealers of death metal in its most primal, sludge ridded form. Their discography reads as almost a hall of fame when it comes to quality, brutal death metal that has this unnervingly heavy quality. ‘Craving to Eternal Slumber’ is the latest, filth ridden addition to this formidable band’s legacy. A mini album that clocks in at just under half an hour, ‘Craving to Eternal Slumber’ keeps to their tried and tested formula of none more death.

‘Hatred Storm’ is an almighty belch from the underworld; a collection of swampy thick riffs with a guttural vocal vomiting unholy blasphemies. Coffins do death metal riffs filtered through quicksand, each one crushingly heavy and intent on dragging us all down to their level. ‘Tyrant’ echoes the legendary Celtic Frost with its proto thrash rhythm and obligatory death grunts. It is refreshing to hear a death metal band that is not content with either being uber technical and shiny, or OLD SKOOL DEATH with no sense of song writing. Coffins write solid death metal songs, and then back them up with a sickeningly dense guitar tone.

Everything they do is designed to provoke an atmosphere. Even the solos sound like voices wailing from the void. The doom infected title track sounds like Nile if you stripped out all the extras and left it at its rotten core. It is slow, menacing and unutterably dark, barely inching above a dragging pace. The helpless screaming is a perfect touch.

The quality rarely dips below excellent, through the rumbling ‘Stairway To Torment’, with its Autopsy worship showing, via the tectonic ‘An Obscure Pain’ and the queasiness sway of ‘Decapitated Crawl’. Coffins manage to create a record where every song is definitely different, yet all the same. It’s a rare talent.

Music journalists and fans will always talk about the evolution of music, and how each genre can move forward into new territory. Coffins are the exact reason why stagnation should not always conjure up negativity. ‘Craving To Eternal Slumber’ is primitive, Neanderthal death metal with copious lashings of crushing doom and savage sludge. Coffins are masters of death, and ‘Craving To Eternal Slumber’ is their gospel.

Having had a good long conversation with my good friend Teo of Italian black metallers Chiral about the merits of my favourite band, Boris, I’ve decided that this week’s Killchain Hour at Live Funeral Radio is my pick of the Japanese noise monsters’ best tracks. My difficulty is that I’m only allowed an hour, so that takes out their magnum opus debut ‘Absolutego’, which clocks in at one song, one hour and two minutes. Shame. Boris were the first band that really made me understand that music is more than just catchy melodies or riffs. Music is, at its core, the manipulation of sound.’Absolutego’ blew my mind the first time I heard it. Most of it is wailing feedback and distorted riffs that move at a snail’s pace. But it is inherently music, taken to extremes of sound.

Their yoyo-ing between experimental lower case boris, who specialise in howling drone doom and sludgy noise, and capital letters BORIS, who are all about raging stoner rock groove, has always kept them interesting and relevant. A new Boris record is never going to be what you expect. And that’s one of their most important features.

Anyhoo, enjoy the riffs!

1. Farewell (from ‘Pink’)
2. Heavy Metal Addict (from ‘Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Vol.2’)
3. Heavy Friends (from ‘Heavy Rocks’)
4. Rafflesia (feat. Michio Kurihara) (from ‘Rainbow’)
5. The Evil One Which Sobs (from ‘Dronevil Disc 2’)
6. Ibitsu (from ‘Akuma No Uta’)
7. Pink (from ‘Pink’)
8. Feedbacker (Part 3) (from ‘At Last: Feedbacker’)
9. Statement (from ‘Smile’)

Listen here: 10pm GMT, Tuesday nights


Iron Scorn cover art

Well, it’s time for Legion of Andromeda to prove me wrong! When I reviewed their demo at the end of 2013 for Sleeping Shaman (second review I did for them ever!), I commented that it might be difficult to listen to their particularly fucked up brand of noise for a full length album. Well, their debut, ‘Iron Scorn’ is out now and I snapped up a vinyl copy as soon as I could. Look how beautiful this vinyl artwork is by the way; a stunningly stark illustration that is truly unsettling. Kinda like the band themselves….

‘Transuranic Ejaculation’ begins our 42 minute descent into the most unnerving parts of the human condition with a dense, dark wall of riffs. There’s a horrible hynoptic effect here, like being forced to watch your friends and family being sucked into the void over and over. Vocally, the opener is on par with some of the more disturbing things I’ve heard in a long time. It is the perfect encapsulation of what Legion of Andromeda are all about.

‘Iron Scorn’ features three of their four demo tracks from their first release, and is good for those who missed them the first time around. Steve Albini’s production has added a bit of density to them, but has sucked none of the nihilistic sludge from their core. ‘Overlord of Thunder’ is still death/doom filtered through sewage, ‘Cosmo Hammer’ is still the sound of brain death through repeat bludgeoning and ‘Sociopathic Infestation’ is all about the menace. But it’s the new tracks that do it for me here.

Be it the droning, other dimensional chug of hatred laid down by the howling ‘Scourge of Pestilence’, the desperate shriek of ‘Aim at the Starless Sky’ or the straining, guttural beast that is ‘Fist of Hammurabi, Legion of Andromeda sound like the death of galaxies. ‘Iron Scorn’ is as bleak as the cold dead corners of space, and riddled with suffocating density. Simply put, this is what falling into a black hole probably sounds like.