Kawakami Forever! Japanese Raw Punk 101, Part 3

The first two parts of our Japanese raw punk primer from yesterday explored fourteen bands: Disclose, Warhead, System Fucker, Isterismo, Crow, Confuse, Framtid, Disturd, Reality Crisis, Kriegshög, G.A.T.E.S., D-Clone, Gauze and Gloom. Part 3 continues the phonic assault with eight more bands before things close out with part 4 later today.


Zyanose – Why There Grieve? [2013]

I first heard Zyanose when La Vida Es Un Mus Records released their scorching third full-length, Why There Grieve? (FYI: La Vida Es Un Mus Records is the fucking business.) Zyanose’s entire sound and vision can be succinctly summed up by the title of their debut album, Insane Noise Raid—there are no sweetened hooks or helping hand-holds in the band’s repertoire. Instead, they deal in disorder and disarray, and they top it off with entangled noise nastiness. It’s all awesome sound destruction, really, and admittedly an acquired taste. True audio masochists should apply within.

Folkeiis – Destroy Agony [2012]

A lot of Western punk bands blatantly steal elements from Japanese hardcore to frame and/or sell their wares. Of course, things go both ways; Japanese hardcore bands have been toying with the tropes of Western punk for an age now as well. In Folkeiis’ case, they’re interested in the insane world of Scandi crasher crust, and the band even sing in Finnish for good measure. Not that those vocals are going to matter, as such. I mean, good luck deciphering words in the feedbacking deluges that Folkeiis deliver on releases like the Destroy Agony EP. The point really is, like so many of Japan’s harshest punk bands, Folkeiis are serious students of European punk, which is precisely why their toxic riffage and intense performance cuts right to the heart of what makes Scandi punk so enthralling.

Catastrophe – The Chain of the Hate

Catastrophe are so obscure they don’t even warrant a placeholder entry on trusty old Discogs. Mind you, there’s obviously a very long line of punks who wouldn’t give a fuck about being cataloged correctly anyway. I didn’t unearth Catastrophe’s virulent The Chain of the Hate EP on my own, I stumbled on it via the embarrassingly convenient YouTube. But the combination of Catastrophe’s anonymity and the impenetrability of their strident music is pitch-perfect. Of course, the band’s music isn’t exactly pitch-perfect—The Chain of the Hate sees an unknown figure howling bloody murder through incensed waves of white noise. Murky bass and thundering (albeit muddied) percussion are throttled in the maniacal mix as well. Every song on The Chain of the Hate sounds apoplectic with rage, and Catastrophe deliver consummate cacophonous crust throughout.

Zoe – The Last Axe Beat [2004]

Discharge get a lot of love from most of the bands on this Japanese raw punk list. However, there’s no question that UK crust heroes Amebix get plenty of affection as well. Zoe certainly showed zero hesitation in professing their undying admiration for Amebix on their excellent full-length, The Last Axe Beat. Zoe features members who’ve played in Gloom and Framtid, but there’s no breakneck d-beat or fleet-footed hardcore here. Zoe are far more epic and brooding, and their music features a ritualistic aura that evokes Amebix striding across misty moors. It’d be unfair to say that Zoe are simply ripping Amebix off, but if you’re a fan, chances are good that Zoe will prove very appealing. The Last Axe Beat could sit comfortably alongside Amebix’s Arise! and Monolith albums, and you’d be a stubborn fool for not giving these guys a chance to impress.

Attack SS – No Boss [2009]

Go ahead and press play on Attack SS’ No Boss EP below. What I’m going to say about the weirdo d-beat band will probably make more sense afterwards. Ready? If you did press play, you’ll have quickly realised that Attack SS sound—by most measures—fucking awful. Repeated exposure to the band’s hissing/pissing guitar tone alone is likely to give you brain cancer, and the rest of their painfully caustic clatter is one giant earful of ghastliness. Keep in mind, though, we all love at least some fucking awful music. And fucking awful music can also be fucking fantastic. I’d argue Attack SS fall squarely into that category, and I’d also point out that a host of celebrated releases from UK punks Disorder have a similarly astringent sound. If you’re on the fence about Attack SS, you could try their No Nukes EP, which has a much heavier overall sound. But I’ll understand if you’ve already discovered that you’re allergic to Attack SS’ sound.

Acrostix – Dear Daily Life [2010]

There are two versions of Acrostix: the first version is the group that delivers crusty anthems shrouded in a bleak mantle through earlier recordings. Contrastingly, Acrostix version 2.0 provides brawnier hardcore, which you can find on the band’s Dear Daily Life album. Both versions of Acrostix are clearly influenced by groups such as Amebix, Axegrinder, Sacrilege, and Antisect. (In fact, I stumbled upon Acrostix via the killer Amebix Japan compilation, which also features great Japanese crust bands Zoe, Effigy, Raw Gauge, A.G.E. and Life.) All of the band’s releases make for a delicious spread of crunchy crust, so either version of Acrostix works as a launching point. Even better, Acrostix’s progression from an atmospheric to a more aggressive band doesn’t feel forced, so there’s no wincing weirdness as they rework their sound.

Life – Violence, Peace and Peace Research [2013]

The Japanese raw punk scene is stacked with lifers, and one could argue that this a bold path for a nation often governed by traditional social norms to take. Crasher crust band Life (a.k.a. Liberty Independence Freedom Equality) have been turning a blind eye to conventional society and embracing savage sonics and ideals since their first release in 1992. Life have been steadily dishing out thick slabs of rotten (and often reverb-drenched) råpunk for years, and their 2013 album, Violence, Peace and Peace Research, shows they’re as passionate about rampant, visceral noise as they ever were. Step back further in time, though, and you’ll discover Life’s debut full-length, The World Lies Across Them, which remains one of the most intense Japanese hardcore releases of all time.

Contrast Attitude – Apocalyptic Raw Assault [2009]

The title of Contrast Attitude’s full-length debut, Apocalyptic Raw Assault, is a perfect description of what lies within. Violent torrents of rough-hewn d-beat rain down hard here, and all of Contrast Attitude’s other EPs and splits feature the same tumultuous noise played in the same fashion. For some bands, that kind of unvarying modus operandi might prove to be a creative death knell. But we’re talking about red-raw d-beat here, where more than two riffs risks bordering on some kind of progressive rock bullshit. The best thing about Apocalyptic Raw Assault is that you can take it to either ease or increase your frustrations in life. Dual purpose noise: always the best kind of noise.



Posted by Craig Hayes

New Zealand's most successfully unsuccessful music writer. Dadcrust for d-beat dorks, noise punk nerds, and metal dweebs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.