Thanks in no small part to Babymetal, heavy music from Japan is enjoying a bit of a moment. Bands from the east are making their mark on the Western rock scene, thanks to their accessible sound and recent European support slots with the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and Of Mice And Men.
Who better then, than Crossfaith frontman Kenta Koie and bassist Hiro Ikegawa, to pick the most promising rock bands shaking up the pop-saturated scene in Japan right now? Take it away, gents.
Kenta Koie: “They’re my friends, and they started the band about 14 years ago. They’ve had some hard times [the original singer and drummer left the band in 2011 and 2012 respectively but have since been replaced] but they’re always at the frontline of Japanese hardcore music. Their style is more Western, and they’re super aggressive, kind of like Parkway Drive and The Ghost Inside. They’ll definitely break through outside of Japan.”
Hiroki Ikegawa: “Before I joined Crossfaith, I met our DJ guy Teru at a Crystal Lake show when I was about 17. A bit of information for you there!”
HER NAME IN BLOOD
Hiro: :“They’re also friends of ours. They’re signed to a major label [Warner Music] in Japan now. They’re kind of metalcore, but also have a Lamb Of God influence.”
From: Kita, Tokyo
Ken: “He’s different from most Japanese hip hop. He’s kind of a pioneer. I think he gets a lot of inspiration from US hip-hop, and he’s a very skinny guy with tons of tattoos. In Japan, Japanese hip-hop is kind of ‘I love friends! I love my girl!’ But he’s singing stuff like, ‘I wanna get tattoos!’ He’s unique.”
Hiro: It’s kind of death metal, it’s really dark. I watched them in Tokyo two months ago, and it was totally different from the kind of metal I’d heard before. They’re dope.”
Ken: “They’re a girl band from Kyoto, a three-piece. They have a bit of a post-hardcore sound – they’re very technical, and they use strange licks and rhythms.”
Hiro: “They’ve just been on a European tour and I think they’re going to be really big.”
Ken: They’re from our hometown and we go way back. They’re famous in the Osaka local underground hardcore scene. The first time I met them was about 2007. I was there during their soundcheck. Their singer Toshi [Toshihiko Takahashi] came to the venue and was sitting on the sofa like this [Ken mimics sitting very still and glaring angrily into the distance]. I was kind of scared of him! But he started screaming on stage, and I’d never heard that kind of chaotic hardcore that was also so groovy. It was a bit like Converge. He always hit the mic on his head so he was bleeding as he sang.”
Hiro: “They sound like The Strokes, but maybe a bit more grungy. They’re about 19 years old, and they’re from Northern Japan. It’s really rare to hear that kind of music played by quite young kids.”
From: Kanagawa Prefecture
Ken: “We’re going to play with them after this tour. I’d never heard of them before but they sound really cool, kind of like Jamiroquai mixed with Maroon 5. They sing partly in Japanese and partly in English. The gig line-up is weird; Crossfaith and Suchmos are very different, but I can’t wait.”
Crossfaith’s album Xeno is out now. For more information, visit their Facebook page.