Kawakami Forever! Japanese Raw Punk 101, Part 2

We kicked things off earlier today with an intro to the rawer side of Japanese punk that focused on works from Disclose, Warhead, System Fucker, Isterismo and Crow. In part 2, nine additional bands will be brought into the celebration.

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Confuse – Indignation [1984]

Noisecore band Confuse were as raw as raw gets. They were also the perfect example of how Japanese punk pushed the genre’s boundaries to the extreme from early on. Mostly active during the 80s, their primitive, feedbacking songs featured mountains of incomprehensible noise. It’s difficult to recommend an entry point into Confuse’s discography, not because it’s lengthy, but because every release is an ear-splitting challenge. You might as well just dive off the deep end and check out the band’s Indignation demo. Expect screeching waves of chaotic, noise-blasted guitar and crude percussion wrapped around unintelligible barks. Indignation is willfully obnoxious, and I love it, but to be honest, I would understand if you fucking hate it.


Framtid – Defeat of Civilization [2013]

Framtid’s 2002 debut, Under the Ashes, was widely hailed as an instant raw punk classic. Eleven years later, their second full-length, Defeat of Civilization, delivered even more acclaimed (and crushing) hardcore. Framtid set all their amps on 11 and deliver their music at warp-speed, but they also skillfully strip every extraneous element from their music, thereby honing their songs to their sharpest edge. Swedish hardcore plays a big role in Framtid’s visceral sound, as does feedbacking d-beat pushed to its breaking point. Both are reasons why Framtid’s formidable releases are much-revered. Also impressive: the way Framtid’s intensity has remained undiminished after two decades following their very first demo.


Disturd – Collapse [2012]

The Dis-this-or-that world features plenty of “what-the-fuck-were-you-thinking?” band names, but it seems pretty churlish to pick on a band who uses English and speaks a different language. Let’s just say that Disturd is a… Well, it’s an interesting moniker. Don’t let the band’s name fool you into thinking the music is a joke, though—even if it does have an appropriate whiff of stenchcore about it. Disturd mostly deliver OG crust with hostile intent and plenty of stamina. The band’s early material has more of a street-punk vibe that’s not quite as satisfying as the later work that featured a burlier, darker and more epic approach. I recommend starting with their Collapse EP, which deals in the kind of grim soundscapes that Antisect first carved out, but their Dark LP from 2015 is also very much worth tracking down.


Reality Crisis – Discharge Your Frustration [2008]

Reality Crisis formed in the mid-90s and play the sort of thick riffs that’ll be familiar to most anyone who enjoyed ragged-ass, dirty punk back in those days. The band channels traditional Japanese hardcore through a grimy layer of raw crust, and the overall sound also echoes heroes such as Doom and Extreme Noise Terror. Reality Crisis’ second LP, Discharge Your Frustration, offers primitive—albeit very explosive—tracks backed by a fairly punchy production that results in a very scummy subterranean punk experience. None of the material does much to reinvent hardcore, but it does the trick for showcasing how Japanese bands often find new ways of mining even more rage and increased intensity from punk’s tried-and-true sub-genres.


Kriegshög – Kriegshög [2010]

Kriegshög’s self-titled full-length debut is an absolute masterpiece of murderous music. Chock-a-block with reverb-drenched vocals, gutting riffs, and concussive percussion, Kriegshög is deservedly recognised as a genre classic. These guys ram ultra-fast, ultra-crusty, and ultra-bass-driven hardcore down your fucking gullet, and much like Disclose, Kriegshög exemplify how unhinged and belligerent blown-out punk can get. Kriegshög have dropped a few 7″ releases since their first full-length, and it’s all essential listening for enthusiasts of raw, bombarding punk. Fans of the band are hanging on for dear life for another full-length, as Kriegshög are, simply put, one of Japan’s most crucial active punk bands.


G.A.T.E.S – Back from the Grave [2017]

G.A.T.E.S are a veritable metalpunk dream team, featuring members who’ve played in Japanese legends such as Life, Coffins, Metalucifer, Sabbat, and (my all-time favourite doom metal band) Church of Misery. The band formed in 1999, but spent 18 years releasing demos, splits and singles before finally dropping a proper full-length in 2017. If you’re a fan of relentless, rough-as-guts riffage, and you enjoy filth-encrusted d-beat that pays due credit to Motörhead, then you’ll love G.A.T.E.S’ Hell-hammering furor. Definitely the most metal band on this list, G.A.T.E.S is unashamedly focused on recapturing the drive and spirit of old-school metalpunk.


D-Clone – Creation and Destroy [2012]

It’s a thrill to share all this ear-piercing Japanese noise punk with you, especially when it comes to the likes of d-beat miscreants D-Clone. This particular band takes all the chainsawing riffs, howling vocals, and galloping bass & drums of crust and d-beat and tosses everything into a turbo-speed blender for extra mangling effect. Disclose’s influence is clearly noticeable in these über-distorted songs, particularly when all of D-Clone’s instrumentation combines into an impenetrable wall of seething noise. There’s also a contemporary intensity to the way the band’s raging guitars cut with a serrated edge, and also in the way their rhythm section bludgeons with a heftier-sounding cudgel. Creation and Destroy was released in the U.S. by the always on-point 540 Records and should be tracked down immediately.


Gauze – Equalizing Distort [1986]

Gauze formed in 1981, making them one of Japan’s hardcore originators. They’re also one of the nation’s most influential punk bands, both at home and overseas. Fun fact: a lot of Japanese punk bands use English for lyrics and song/album titles in hopes of attracting international fans, but as Gauze became more well-known, they ditched all the English in favor of their own language. I like that stance. A lot. Unlike a lot of other veteran punk bands, Gauze have a fairly small discography featuring five full-lengths and a single EP, and every one of these releases has a long list of rabid fans. Despite their relative inactivity, Gauze have a recognition factor beyond the wildest dreams of many other Japanese punk bands. Just take a listen to 1986’s Equalizing Distort and it’s easy to hear why Gauze garnered international respect from very early on.


Gloom – Vokusatsu Seisin Hatansha [2003]

Crusty noiseheads Gloom formed in the early 1990s, and despite the fact that their discography is only a quarter of the size of Disclose, they’re arguably just as influential. Gloom bassist Jacky curates the long-running Crust War label, which has released countless formidable (and much-collected) Japanese punk releases over the years. Gloom have dealt in old-school neck-wrecking d-beat and crust throughout their career, and while their volatile music has varied its speed and thickness on occasion, it’s essentially been a gloriously over-the-top cacophony the entire time. The band’s 2003 compilation, Vokusatsu Seisin Hatansha, collects a stack of Gloom’s gnarliest tracks and is tailor-made for fans of the fast-paced/quick-fuck fraternizing made famous by the early dissonant and dirty UK crust and extreme metal of Extreme Noise Terror and co.

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TOMORROW: PART 3 & 4

Posted by Craig Hayes

Semi-literate hobgoblin, full-time shark obsessive, old-school nincompoop.

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