Published on November 15th, 2016 | by The Beige Baron0
Review: TILL YOUR DEATH VOL.3
Casting beyond the Tokyo and Osaka metro areas and into regional Japan, the third TILL YOUR DEATH Records’ compilation has netted a diverse catch of emotive hardcore that perfectly captures the dynamic underground scene right now.
Collected by Takahito Bannai, a former music journalist who’s run TILL YOUR DEATH for about 10 years (and been a player in the local scene for something like three decades), these 11 tracks were written specifically for this release.
“Really individual, really cool regional bands”
Bannai says the motivation for this third volume was to showcase “really individual, really cool” regional bands alongside such veteran acts as Osaka’s CYBERNE, who’ve remained at the cutting edge of the extreme music for more than 20 years.
“There are a lot of splendid bands in Japan now,” Taka tells BNU. “So I hope that people in other countries get to know them more.
“I think that Japanese hardcore bands in this scene are good at adopting various factors. I like the bands that always accomplish evolution.”
“Individuality … comes from a unique way of listening”
“Evolution” perfectly describes this collection. The music is future-focused, it sounds fresh.
It’s sometimes assumed that Japanese artists simply pass western sounds through their own cultural filter, but more often the individuality that defines the best bands comes not from imitation, but from a unique way of listening. Insularity to outside culture has freed a lot of musicians from the blinkered dictates of western fashion.
Japanese musicians listen widely and without prejudice, unconcerned about whatever style may or may not be considered “cool” at the time. In this way, a broader spectrum of sounds seep into structures loosely defined as “hardcore music”.
Add to this a special kind of tension that comes with living in a pressure-cooker environment and you’ve got ideal conditions for a uniquely chaotic sound.
TILL YOUR DEATH VOL.3 offers a unique blend of screamo, shoegaze, emo, noise, math, thrash, sludge, and crust, sometimes in the same song, but never borrowing too heavily from any single source.
These are not B-sides or throwaway demos, but original standalone songs
The other factor evident on this compilation is the intensity with which each song is delivered: playing live to a handful of punters or to a room of hundreds, these bands perform with a level of commitment that all too often blows headlining touring acts off the stage.
Here, each song is testament to that commitment: well recorded, carefully arranged, and delivered with stunning force. These are not B-sides or throwaway demos, but original standalone songs you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Each track—kicking off with ANCHOR from Niigata in the north, to DEAD PUDDING from Kagawa on Shikoku Island way down south, on to kallaqri from Aomori Prefecture, and Urban Predator from Ibaraki—brings something fresh and exciting.
But the crazy dual-drummers, frenetic bass attack, and Patton-esque megaphone screams of CYBERNE is a highlight, as is the mass emotional pull REDSHEER summons in its ever-shifting tapestry of melody and dissonance.
For full-frontal D-beat attack, it’s hard to beat NoLA from Tokyo. This new track corrals thrashing guitars and punishingly heavy riffage in an exhilarating blast, showing the band in peak form.
Wombscape is known for delivering loads of dynamics
Like NoLA, DEAD PUDDING serves up slabs of crusty metal that’s like a tightly coiled spring, with abrasive thrashy guitar and twin-kick assault churning under gut-busting screams.
Wombscape is known for delivering loads of dynamics and theatrical color, and their contribution gives a hint of where the band might be headed after last year’s epic concept album New World Specimen.
Regional bands might have things a little tougher than their city cousins when it comes to gigging, with longer ways to travel and fewer opportunities to play on big-drawing bills. But here they prove that geography is no handicap to talent, going blow-for-blow with the cityslickers.
TILL YOUR DEATH Vol.3 is essential for fans of Japanese hardcore, and a highly recommended jumping-off point for the curious overseas listener.