Published on January 21st, 2015 | by The Beige Baron0
Album Review: Trikorona | Stubborn Father Split
If you’ve been waiting for the right introduction to the world of Japanese hardcore, this is it.
Kicking off with five tracks by Tokyo’s Trikorona and closing out with three from Osaka heroes Stubborn Father (brilliantly recorded at M4II Studios by Hidekazu Harada of the cult two-piece Ryokuchi), this split EP is an exhilarating blast from beginning to end—and a perfect snapshot of the inventive and original music bubbling up from underground at the moment.
Album opener 妖怪の手 (“Hands of the Specter”) packs more ideas into two minutes than most bands could come up with in a whole record—and over half of that is flesh-crawling feedback. Vocalist Koyama bellows like a wounded bull through brutal blast-beat drumming, but it’s the guitar and bass on this track that really sets Trikorona apart from cookie-cutter hardcore—a horrifying, atonal drone like the horns of Mordor. The song thrashes in a black, claustrophobic panic, passing through numerous tempo changes and even a doom breakdown before its climax in a burst of grindcore, leaving you sitting there with a broken nose and wondering the fuck just happened.
No time to think, though, 深い外 (“Deep Outside”) has already started kicking your ass all over the ring, each scream landing like a blow to the skull. Hiroyuki from Hater and Raging Blast joins in on guitar for a Pantera-like breakdown that demands you crank the volume to dangerous levels.
Third cut 蒲団 (“Pu Tuan”) is similarly schizophrenic and features what I am guessing are Tom Morello-inspired guitar pyrotechnics that add yet another element to the music.
Trikorona close out their contribution with 意識の高い豚 (“High Conscious Pig”) and 片輪の馬車 (“Horse-Drawn Carriage Piece Wheel”—or so says Google Translate), both of which demonstrate the brilliant vocal interplay between Koyama and guitarist Koreeda.
With all five songs clocking in at under three minutes each, it’s remarkable just how much Trikorona packs in to such a brief interval. Explosive musicianship, boiling rage, and a wealth of ideas make this band one of the most exciting I’ve heard in a long time.
But it’s Stubborn Father’s turn to take the stage, and I am astonished at the quantum leap forward the band has made with these three songs. The band has never sounded more focused and articulate than they do on this record, with every track bursting with dynamic originality and raw emotion.
裏側 (“Reverse”) steadily builds paranoid atmosphere with a creepy manipulated vocal sample as drums, bass, and guitar slam in with 10,000-volt force, a contorted beast in the jaws of a trap.
The guitarist in this band is a god. Channeling Larry LaLonde with his unusual tunings and minimal processing, Fukusuke leaps from riff to riff with insect precision in the blink of an eye, effortlessly combining delicate melody with furious riffing. Vocalist Shige climbs out of your speakers and screams his guts out about an inch from your face. The impact is colossal, the urgency and naked anger heartstopping.
Like Trikorona, Stubborn Father’s music is bursting with ideas. 降伏フィルム (“Surrender Film”) opens with warm billows of bass and plucked guitar harmonics before breaking into a wild sprint. Tempos change like lightening, switching from blastbeat to punk rock to head-nodding groove and back again before you know what’s happening. It’s fast and fueled by rage, but what really struck me was the range of colors the band paints with. The melodies on 痣 (“Mole”) even hold the faintest echo of Norwegian black. But any comparison is inadequate. Stubborn Father’s sound is their own, and it’s one blissfully cathartic release.
If an album’s quality is measured by how much you want to listen to it, then the Trikorona/Stubborn Father Split EP is an unqualified success. Even before the last notes faded, I was cuing it up again. And then again. I listened to it four times in a row. It’s that good.