Archive for gism

Review: Enslave

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on June 6, 2012 by Magadh

Enslave Far East Hardcore Punk MCR

A friend turned me on to this the other day, and I must I’m impressed. I have a long running thing for Japanese hardcore dating back to the 80s when it was seriously exotic and very hard to come by. Back then bands like Gism, Gauze, Lip Cream, Laughin’ Nose, The Stalin, etc. were just names on a page in Maximum Rock n Roll, not the kind thing that the likes of me and my friends were ever likely to come in contact with. The fascination continued in the 1990s when it became a bit easier to actually hear this music for those of us who weren’t manic record collectors.

What immediately became clear was the incredible breadth of the punk rock culture in Japan, ranging from straight ahead hardcore (Bastard, Gauze) to more metal damaged bands (Gism, Gudon) to bouncy funny punk, to old school Oi, to…well you get the point. Suffice to say that I’ve always subsequently been interested in bands out of Japan. I make no claim to be an expert, or even very well versed, especially these days. Thus, I was really surprised when I heard the first few cuts on Enslave’s Far East Hardcore Punk CD. Their music is really hard to pigeonhole, which is a good thing. They have dual male/female vocals, which adds variety. The singing tends to be a bit higher pitched than one is used to, at least if one came up listening to bands like Societic Death Slaughter. At points the screams almost seem to get into black metal territory.

According to the MCR website, Enslave started out with a sort of NYHC sound. Careful listeners may hear some vestiges of these origins, but it is fair to say that they have moved far away from that style. There is very little in terms of metal in the mix here. Rather, Enslave spend most of their time buzzing along at the high end of the d-beat tempo range, but with much more melody, no downtuning, and much greater variety in terms of the tempos that they are willing the explore. I saw a review that compared some aspects of their music to Articles of Faith, but I really don’t see that at all. Their music is fast, melodic, and tight. Imagine Feel the Darkness era Poison Idea being played by a Burning Heart Records band.

This disc is really a breath of fresh air. I will never get over my love of the classic Japanese HC sound, such as it used to be described, but this is a new thing for me and I find it really compelling. Maybe you will too.