Whether you like music, art or anime, Japan has always been a melting point of artistry and creativity. Some attribute this to the big, bright and noisy cities. Whatever the reason is for these great and exotic works of art, they are stunning, and today, I have an especially awe-inspiring one: わたしと私だったもの (Watashi no watashidatta mono), or what were I and I, is a record that displays the beauty and richness of the Japanese extreme metal scene in the most aesthetic way possible. Asunojokei has released the album on the 28th of February.
Like silk suspended in air the record dances to the seemingly most insignificant of motions, but can morph into a true beast of its own making. Simplistic melodies stand in stark contrast to technically proficient well thought out riffs and runs.
This is the case in our firs exemplary song, “Chain”. Soaring blast beats crash into the lightning speed riffs and warm but dark roaring of the amps. The tremolo bar slams down the guitars stop and the clicking of drum sticks and a very satisfyingly executed fill segues into the main song. A real MVP here, and on the rest of the album, are the drums. Whenever you listen to the drums they’re – something interesting is being played. From polyrhythmic drumming, to almost a poppy feeling, the drums deliver the strongest feeling of progression and change. Even simple four chord riffs get greatly improved due to the impeccable rhythm on display here. That is, of course, not to say the rest of the instrumentation is doing nothing here. Playing riffs that are reminiscent of tech death typical riffage, the guitars are quite colorful and bring everything the Japanese music scene has to show to the table. Mathy, technical, emotive and soulful are just some of the words that come to mind when thinking about skill and playing style.
The vocals have the typical Japanese timbre and go from suffering screams to an almost weeping tone. Occasionally a few spoken words are thrown in for good measure. The most amazing feature here is how they move with the also very jumpy instrumentation. It’s comparable to your cat, in one moment it wants to be petted and is quite calm and then slashes your arm out of nowhere. Why? Because it can. And like your cat Asunojokei goes into full overdrive in a matter of seconds.
Asunojokei has crafted an amazing piece of art that should be a banner for the Japanese music scene. It can as calm and tranquil as it can be thrashing and wild. While there of course are great feats of skill on their respective instruments, the band shines the most from a songwriting perspective. It is quite hard to blend so many styles and seemingly non-compatible influences together, but through subtlety and finesse are said influences weaved into a rich fabric. This has been an incredible step up from their last effort and if they continue this way, they could be the best black metal band to come out of Japan. Until then they have rightfully skyrocketed themselves on my AOTY list.
Notable Tracks: “Chain”, “Double Quotation Marks”
FFO: Heaven In Her Arms, Envy