Trivium frontman Matt 'Kiichi' Heafy has unveiled the first single from his long-awaited solo black metal project, Ibaraki. Titled Tamashii No Houkai, the single features a guest appearance by Emperor frontman Ihsahn, who assisted in the album's production.
Though a stylistic departure for the Trivium vocalist/guitarist, Tamashii No Houkai bears hallmarks of Heafy's core songwriting, taking the imperious fury of black metal and adding in classic heavy metal panache that will be familiar to anyone .
The single's accompanying video plays up to the project's main themes of exploring Heafy's Japanese ancestry, with visuals of a traditional karesansui garden (a kind of traditional sand garden that helps stimulate meditation) and a samurai in full armour performing kata on the beach.
Watch the video below.
Ibaraki is a project long in the making; in a 2021 interview with Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta on the latter's podcast, Heafy admitted he had been working on the project with Ihsahn for "around 11 years". The project had initially been called Mrityu, but changed names to Ibaraki, taking its name from a demon from Japanese feudal legend.
"I didn't really know what to write about lyrically," Heafy told Jasta. "I was talking to Ihsahn, because I've always loved Scandinavian mythology, Norse mythology, and Swedish mythology. I wish I could write about Thor and Jörmungandr - I love these stories. He's like, 'Yeah, but Matt, those have been done a lot, and you have your own rich history to tap into with your Japanese side.' And then a lightbulb went off. I was like, 'I need to just write about that.' I started writing all the lyrics about Japanese stories because that's something that hasn't really happened."
Though a date has not yet been announced for the release of Ibaraki's debut, the album is expected in early 2022. Speaking about the single, Kiichi explained that "Tamashii No Houkai means 'the breaking of the soul' or 'soul collapse. It's a Japanese term that didn't exist before, but one we forged to reflect the song's meaning."
Kiichi also goes on to say that the song was "the turning point" for Ibaraki.
"Tamashii No Houkai is co-written by Ihsahn — the legend behind Emperor and a musician who has been a longtime influence and mentor to so much that I do in music. The writing of this song was the turning point for Ibaraki — it summarised everything from the past, present, and future of what I thought black metal was, is, and could be. Tamashii No Houkai is the perfect summary and representation of everything that Ibaraki is… and will be."
Ibaraki's debut album is expected in early 2022. For more reasons to be excited for 2022's album release schedule, see our feature on the 50 albums we're looking forward to in 2022.