Tokyo Chaos City: You’re Dead And You Just Don’t Know It

There is always a certain thrill when coming across a new release from Japanese rock band Tokyo Chaos City.  They were the first band these fingers chose to review as The RR began its first steps so a permanent attachment is in place but most of all the excitement comes because the band is so damn good. They still seemingly are a secret most have yet to discover and at times it feels like it is only us and the band itself who know of their existence. Admittedly whether previously the band has actually promoted themselves with any enthused energy has always been something to ponder though their recently emerged presence on social media sites is great to see and hopefully the beginning to wider recognition. You’re Dead And You Just Don’t Know It is the fourth EP from the Tokyo trio and if ever there was a time for the world to find their impressive creativity and sounds it is surely now.

The band began in 2010 and announced their presence with their debut EP Loser’s Bruise, a three track release which was as fresh as it was emotively stunning, the following year. The songs as with subsequent releases explored emotions and passions, bringing the likes of sorrow, anguish, and anger into a world of heart borne expression. Its glories were followed further into 2011by the equally impressive power and craft of the In My Death Bed and the Nothing Is Happening EPs. Combined their songs dealt with emptiness and loneliness, thoughts of desperate and pathetic situations, and the sense of being powerless and angry. You’re Dead And You Just Don’t Know It continues the investigation and openness of shadow drenched emotions  to again leave one gasping in pleasure and reflection, the imagination and invention of Aki  (vocals, guitars, drum programming), Ken (guitars), and Yuki (bass), as incendiary and startling as ever.

Choose Not To Live brings the release to life with an unsettling yet mesmeric stirring of the senses. Dark and intense the track pulls the blackest thoughts and the biggest shadow out to play, challenging and provoking its subject and recipients musically, lyrically, and moodily. Musically the track coaxes and draws one in with a breath which washes over the senses with a compulsive beauty whilst igniting a distressed atmosphere of discord to match the scars of the theme. It is glorious, at times understated and in other moments invasive whilst throughout the guitars perpetually twist and create unpredictable sounds to leave one in inspired absorption.

The following Drown In Broken Dreams envelopes the sense with a leaden emotive energy and oppressive presence. The song lays in broken dreams and lost hopes, again its breath spawn of emptiness and overwhelming shadows. The track pulsates through scorched melodic invention and consumptive atmospheres to leave once more a reflective and challenging wrap around the listener. It is as the release as a whole, simply beautiful, a black elegance which one can only immerse within and devour its emotive wash.

Closing with the magnetic 1440, a track which brings its own distinct imaginative lost world to envelope the senses, the EP is magnificent. From the glorious vocal caresses and harmonies, the dripping emotional textures, to the masterful unique invention of sound and words, it is dark perfection. To describe the sound of Tokyo Chaos City is not the easiest but imagine the essences of Radiohead, Deftones, Portishead, and Muse evolved into something more dramatically and emotionally stark yet openly gorgeous and you get a feel for the staggering music of the band and within You’re Dead And You Just Don’t Know It EP.

RingMaster 20/08/2012

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Waylander: Kindred Spirits

A band strong in stature within pagan metal and even more powerful in sound, Irish Celtic black metal tribe Waylander have released their fourth album to show that even after near twenty years they still prowl at the fore of the genre. Kindred Spirits is a vibrant and rippling beast of a release which is true to form for the band. One can argue that the album has nothing particularly new to offer nor is trying to explore or push the boundaries of the sextet but with a strength and compulsive air as deep as the Celtic mythology inspiration, it is a release which more than makes the time in its company rewarding.

The album is the second from Waylander via Listenable Records and follows up Honour Amongst Chaos of 2008. Since forming in 1993 the band from Armagh has drawn the fullest of acclaim and followings, their first demos Once Upon An Era in 1995 and Dawning Of A New Age the following year, leading to some announcing them as being one of the forefathers of the Pagan/Folk/Celtic Metal scene. Their first two albums Reawakening Pride Once Lost and The Light, the Dark and the Endless Knot, 1998 and 2001 respectively as well as their live performances, increased their stock and standing. The line-up changed over that time but was stabilised and at full force by the third album, whilst the release of Kindred Spirits shows the band still hold a place at the fore of the genre with its bulging muscles and exquisite melodic touches.

The album opens on a real high with the surging and pulsating twin attack of Echoes of the Sidhe and Lámh Dearg, two songs which rile up the senses into a feisty eager state. The first is a song rampant with air flailing energies from first note to last. Riffs barge through the ear with crisp and heavy intent whilst rhythms barrack with a ravenous keenness to leave one excited for the melodic caresses from the tin whistle of Dave Briggs, his mesmeric skill taking one into a warm absorbing world. The song does not attempt to explore new ventures but simply brings the most riotous and pleasing sounds with an accomplished skill highlighted by the thrilling heavy metal guitar play.

Whereas the opener looks at the enduring beliefs in old Gods and the higher plains of existence things find a fuller heat and intensity with Lámh Dearg, a song about the conflict in Northern Ireland with its title meaning Red Hand, the symbol of the northern province of Ulster. The track is harder with an explosive edge compared to its predecessor though the melodic charm still permeates the raging riffs and powerful theme. The vocals of Ciaran ‘ArdChieftain’ O’Hagan as always growl and bruise the sounds but here have an even more intense breath to their dark presence whist the drums and bass of Den Ferran and Michael Proctor make for a towering spine to what is a great track.

Through tracks like Twin Fires of Beltíne with its near concussive attack, the stormy atmospheric Of Fear and Fury, and the raging Quest For Immortality, the band take chunks out of the senses with skilled enterprise and unbridled aggression, the last of this trio a vibrant blend of hungry energies and shifting imagination. As mentioned the album does not really give anything new to play with but simply offers well groomed yet riotous ideas and sounds brought with the strongest passion and craft.

Just as it started, Kindred Spirits ends with two impressive tracks. The first Erdath starts with a resourceful melodic weave for the ear before exploding into a swarming corruptive maelstrom of aggression and aural spite. The song is insatiable, ravaging the ear with corruptive riffs and venomous melodic invention. The track twists and turns through unpredictable and fully intriguing avenues to emerge as the one track where the band risks trying new departures and results in it being the best on the album.

The title track closes things up and though it returns to the established well of the band without any experimentation or further true adventure involved it is still a track which hits the sweet spot through the combative rhythms, inciteful guitar invention, and melodic whispering within the heavy and intense sound.

With Kindred Spirits and its bounty, Waylander show they are still more than capable of creating music to inspire and satisfy, just without the strong element of danger the genre needs.

RingMaster 20/08/2012

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