The Japanese music scene has me engulfed in is beauty since the day I discovered it. It’s diverse, it’s a cesspool for counter-culture, and it’s very much the opposite of western music culture. There aren’t a lot of scenes with a sound so unique and expressive; it’s very endemic to this specific music scene. Today is the day I can proudly present another wonderful band from Japan to you, namely Vampillia. With their new release Happiness Brought By Endless Sorrow, the group will put out another short EP that will get you addicted and longing for more. Its release date is set to the 4th of May.
First, let’s look at how the band itself is different. Currently comprising ten musicians, Vampillia isn’t your average band. Armed with a violin, synths, and keyboards, they bring an almost orchestral touch to their atmospheric post-hardcore style. Compositionally they aim to hit a spot between modern classical and metal.
As always, Vampillia keeps their output short, HBBES clocking in at just less than seven minutes. The first track, “Winter Ash”, already shows that the band can fill barely two minutesto the brim with soaring soundscapes, ambient beauty, experimental instrumentation, and emotive vocals. Not a lot of reverb is added to the three guitars playing here, so a lot of the atmosphere comes from another source all together. ‘Layering’ is the key term here, and through extensive use of this, a thick, roaring sound is built by guitars, bass, and drums, while the violin chirps its melody and the keyboard dances over the fog of the distortion. A definite ear catcher are the synths, because when they manage to break through, they do so hard, bringing noisy or almost synth pop-like elements to the table. All of this is like a peanut butter, jelly and bacon sandwich: vastly different flavors, but they can fit so well if set in the right context.
Another beautiful song is “Ggggzzgggzzz”, and yes, I had to look if I wrote the name correctly several times. A drum roll starts the song off, and the guitars punch into the mix as hard as they possibly can. Surprisingly, this gives way for the violin and synths to shine and plant gorgeous, though a bit eccentric, melodies into your ear.
Happiness Brought By Endless Sorrow is a pure work of art that culminates into an experience that is as fun as it is musically eloquent. Although a violin or a keyboard are by far nothing new in the metal genre, I think I can confidently say that Vampillia use them in a fresh and exciting way. It is enchanting how unbound the other instruments are from the more metal configuration of guitar, bass and drums. It’s not about trying to fit the genre, rather a ‘let’s have a conversation with our instruments‘ situation. No instrument bends to the will of one theme or another, instead staying in an open-minded position towards the composition. The only problems I had when listening to this record were 1) that it was just too short and couldn’t make a point properly, and 2) that the production sometimes makes it hard to tell instruments apart and has drastic volume changes.
Notable Tracks: “Ggggzzgggzzz”; “Winter Ash”
FFO: World’s End Girlfriend, Serph