Quiet, reserved, shy, these are words foreigners often use to describe the typical Japanese person. Anyone who has tried to coax a group of students into volunteering for a question or has been the target of disapproved glances for speaking too loudly on the train knows this. However, music has and always will be a platform where individuals can offer stark contrasts to stereotypes. J-rock and more specifically the subgenre of Japanese metal/hardcore are perfect examples of this. Unlike, J-pop and its popular expression of Japanese ã‹ã‚ã„ã„ (cute) culture, Japanese metal and hardcore bands often take the ã“ã‚ã„ (scary) route.
Simply take the band Her Name In Blood, or HNIB for short, whose name alone conjures up images of children chanting â€œBloody Maryâ€ in a bathroom waiting to see blood run down walls and a ghostly face appear in a mirror. HNIB formed in 2003, but the name was not acquired until 2007 and may have been influenced by the punk song by the same name released in 2004. The act includes five members from Tokyo. Ikepy leads with vocals, T.J. and Daiki are on guitar, Makoto plays bass, and Umebo tackles the drums. Although they have existed for nearly eleven years, it took HNIB 7 years to release their first full studio album, Decadence, with Keep and Walk Records. Since then their popularity within the metal/hardcore scene has steadily grown and attracted another boost with the release of their EP, The Beast, in 2013. The Beast was enough to catch the attention of Triplevision Entertainment, which works with many indie, post-hardcore, rock, and screamo bands including American favorites Stick To Your Guns and Woe, Is Me and worked with HNIB to release their self-titled LP in April earlier this year.
The hardcore genre, an umbrella term that has a plethora of subgenres, is often known for its fast instrumental pace, back and forth head rocking, and rowdy and reckless dancing. HNIB falls under this umbrella with vocalist Ikepy using a deep harsh scream throughout his songs and is sometimes joined by his bandmates who use softer vocals during a chorus, as heard in the song â€œHalo.â€ Although screaming tends to be difficult to understand, HNIBâ€™s lyrics are packed with so much English that it should make the ALT in all of us proud. One of the most crucial aspects of any metal/hardcore song is the breakdown where the vocals are suspended to allow the guitars and the drums to create a heavy and slow feel before the music picks up again and the crowd unleashes a fury of elbows, fists, and kicks. HNIBâ€™s songs provide their fans with plenty of breakdown opportunities sometimes having two or three in one song. Lastly, in songs like â€œGasoline,â€ HNIB pays homage to their metal influence by periodically taking large swathes of time to allow for seemingly endless guitar solos.
Since May, Her Name In Blood has been roaming Japan during their Return of the Beast Tour and although they played at Summer Sonic, they only participated in Tokyo. Fortunately, one of their last three shows of the tour includes the Kansai area in our neighboring Osaka prefecture. For only 2,500å†† you can watch HNIB play at Club Drop in Shinsaibashi on September 20. Check out their homepage for more information about the band and their tour dates. If you are a little concerned about the music genre, think of it more as an opportunity to witness a side of Japan that is unique and seldom seen. My advice, bring earplugs to prevent hearing damage, but I canâ€™t promise theyâ€™ll block the nightmares.