"The world can be far too angry - we want to distract people from that." Japan's Paledusk mix gacha pop with metalcore, influenced Bring Me The Horizon and want to be their country's "first legendary metal band”

(Image credit: Yousuke Fujita)

In a world of grey, metalcore crew Paledusk exist in a blaze of technicolour. Defiantly resisting the doom-laden social climate, the Japanese quartet have dedicated themselves to churning out life-affirming anthems. “The world can be far too angry - we want to distract people from that,” explains vocalist Kaito Nagai. 

Formed in 2015 while its members were still in high school, Paledusk’s early days saw them sticking to clean-cut metalcore sonics on their early EPs. Then in 2019, the band released the Varied EP, transforming their sound with more emphasis on Bring Me The Horizon-style electronicore elements, the song COCO even incorporating raps and twinkling xylophone. 

Since then, the band have maintained a consistent presence, releasing another EP in 2020’s HAPPY TALK, as well as eight standalone singles, each fleshing out a unique approach that has made the band rising stars in metalcore. Weaving together buoyant electronicore breakdowns, bruising djent riffs and gritty industrial textures, Paledusk tracks thrive on dynamic twists and unpredictable turns. 

New EP PALEHELL is the culmination of their experimental sound. One moment you’re drowning in SUPER PALE HORSE’s haze of dizzying gacha pop [a term used for the diverse sounds of contemporary Japanese music], before RUMBLE overloads you with blast-beats and sax solos. The daring traversal of genres, styles and instrumentation is all thanks to guitarist and producer Daisuke ‘Daidai’ Ehara, who joined the band in 2017. 

“We always put everything into one track,” Daidai explains. “When I’m making songs, I have so many crazy ideas.”  Kaito admits he often struggles to “make sense of the craziness” when penning lyrics for a track. “Daidai’s writing is always fucking strange and weird,” he laughs. “But then we talk about it, he’ll explain his idea. Then it makes a lot more sense.”

The group’s neon-drenched visuals are just as peculiar as their sound. From Daidai’s bleach blonde, skunk-striped dye job to their bombastic music videos, Paledusk are outlandishly eccentric. During the music video to recent single I’m Ready To Die For My Friends, Kaito performs with gelled-up devil horns as a horde enact a massive ring a ring o’ roses around him. It’s delightfully bizarre and underpins the song’s weird bubblegum pop sensibilities.

But Paledusk are aware that their carefree, fun approach can alienate people. “Sometimes people are… confused,” Kaito admits with a grin. “The first time people hear us, we can almost see them thinking ‘what the fuck is this.’ But people seem to understand it more if they listen back a second time. With an open mind, they realise they actually love it.”

Regardless of whether you ‘get’ Paledusk or not, they’re undeniably charming. Live, the gang are powered by pure adrenaline, Kaito grinning throughout and urging the crowds to get involved. You can’t help but give in - and, when you do, you’re rewarded with a gleeful evening of bouncing along to EDM-infused metalcore bangers. And the band wouldn’t have it any other way. "When people come to our shows, we want to make them feel happy,” Kaito says. “We want everyone to leave the show excited to be alive.”

Community is an integral ingredient in the Paledusk formula. “When I started the band I was a high school student who enjoyed making music with my friends... it’s the same now,” Kaito says. ”Working with friends is important for our music.” 

So far the band have worked with Japanese talent from across the music spectrum, from rappers including VIGORMAN and Hideyoshi to rockers CVLTE and fellow Japanese metalcore band Crossfaith. Each collaboration is another chance to introduce a new flavour to their sound, but their quirky sonic palette also garnered attention from some of the highest profile bands in metalcore. Not only have they toured with the likes of Polaris, The Amity Affliction and While She Sleeps, but Daidai has also lent his writing and production skills to genre-behemoths Bring Me The Horizon, working with the band on the much-anticipated upcoming Post Human: Nex Gen record. On singles Darkside and Kool-Aid, the Paledusk influence is evident. 

Daidai hopes his production for bigger artists can serve as a gateway for listeners. “With Paledusk, we’re always aiming for a totally new, unique style,” he muses. “If I can put some of my style on a bigger band’s track, hopefully it will help people understand Paledusk when they listen to it.”

Divisive as Paledusk’s sound may be, the group have big dreams and even with a steady stream of singles and EPs, their sights are set on doing something truly special when they finally release a debut full-length album. “When I first started the band I was a high school student who enjoyed making music with my friends,” Kaito says. “It’s been an honour to have been given so many opportunities to see the world, to spread our music. But this is only the beginning.”

One of their biggest goals, according to Daidai, is making sure they shine a spotlight on Japanese metal. “When it comes to metal’s history, Japan is often left out,” he says. “Japan isn’t a huge country when it comes to metal - there’s no Slipknot or ‘legend’ bands. We’d love to be the first legendary Japanese metal band.” Daidai and Kaito look at each other and grin. “It’s a really big goal…” Kaito adds, “But we’re trying to make history.”

Emily Swingle

Full-time freelancer, part-time music festival gremlin, Emily first cut her journalistic teeth when she co-founded Bittersweet Press in 2019. After asserting herself as a home-grown, emo-loving, nu-metal apologist, Clash Magazine would eventually invite Emily to join their Editorial team in 2022. In the following year, she would pen her first piece for Metal Hammer - unfortunately for the team, Emily has since become a regular fixture. When she’s not blasting metal for Hammer, she also scribbles for Rock Sound, Why Now and Guitar and more.