Unearthing the Metal Underground: The Nagoya, Japan Metal Scene
Each week in Unearthing the Metal Underground, we give our readers a look at a few underground bands from scenes around the world to help spread the word about them. In March, I had the chance to do a short tour in Japan, and one of the tour stops was the city of Nagoya. While there, I had the opportunity to share the stage with and meet some of the prominent members of the Nagoya scene.
The members of Deaflock, formed in 2000, spend their days breaking their backs and risking their digits in the factories of Nagoya's industrial wasteland outskirts, and their nights breaking their necks in the city's downtown metal clubs with their own brand of Bay Area thrash. Bringing to mind acts such as Exodus, Heathen, Vio-lence, and Forbidden, Deaflock has an impressive knack for drawing out the rumbling hook and face stomping rhythms, with hints of melody and progressive elements as well. Signed to Arctic Music Group in the U.S. and Alkemist Fanatix in Europe for the re-release of its debut full length album, “Reality of False Pasts,” which first saw the light of day in April of 2008, Deaflock is now looking to break out in a big way, with plans for the next installment of their catalog to be released sometime next year. The band has also appeared on locally released compilation albums put out by various underground labels in Japan.
Unholy Grave is a name that is likely well known to grind freaks around the world already, but for the uninitiated, this Nagoya-based band is without a doubt one of the seminal grindcore acts of the Land of the Rising Sun. Taking the Agathocles approach to prolificness, the band has put out a monumentally impressive array of splits, full lengths, seven inches, EPs, demos, live recordings, and rehearsal tracks since the band's inception in 1993. Not ones to mess around, Unholy Grave is a band that will head into a studio and emerge mere hours later with 30 finished tracks of between five seconds and two minutes in length, ready to be pressed and unleashed in its rawest form upon the grinding masses. Vocalist Takaho Komatsu, the band's sole remaining original member, was spotted handing out old school black and white, collage-font fliers at the Nagoya stop of March's Extreme Dojo Tour featuring High on Fire, Unearthly Trance, and Melvins, for Unholy Grave's upcoming gig in April, showing that these old school stalwarts never have, and never will, lose touch with their D.I.Y. roots.
For those who like their metal slow and sludgy, Nagoya's Amber Vial has a hulking, monolithic mass of civilization crushing doom fit to implode skulls and reduce innards to sound wave rippled paste. Guitarist/vocalist Miffy runs No Remorse Records, a small record store that is a focal point of the Nagoya scene, and also organizes many of the local grind gigs. Taking cues from the likes of Goatsnake and genre progenitors Saint Vitus, Amber Vial draws out long, impossibly heavy riffs to shape sonic, otherworldly, evil, and dark soundscapes to the utmost destructive and mind bending effect. The band's debut release, “Stand Alone,” features two tracks of droning, seventies-inspired doom clocking in at just over 25 minutes in total, proving that the soul of southern U.S. sludge is alive and creeping in Japan's lurching metropolises.
If you know of other Nagoya metal bands worth mentioning, feel free to do so in the comments below.
Check back every Monday as we delve into a different scene to unearth some more underground metal bands.
Joe Henley is a freelance music journalist and editor currently living in Taipei, Taiwan. In addition to pulling vocal duty in a death metal band, he maintains a website on the Taiwanese metal scene and writes regular features on the touring bands that come through Taipei for a local monthly music magazine.
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