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Molten Sounds, Hardened Steel: Japan’s Asunojokei is a Black Metal Delight

awakening

In a scene with fickle tastes, “masterpiece” is not a word or concept liberally thrown around. With the work of Taito, Japan’s 明日の叙景 (Asunojokei) reaching for those heights, though, it is necessary to stop and investigate more deeply. While the four-piece makes for relatively easy listening compared to its black metal peers, the band’s knack for composition is anything but; hanging listeners on every note while simultaneously drawing them forward in sudden, dynamic changes facets the listening experience on their debut full-length Awakening which released in February last year.

With progressive droplets texturing sturdy bridges of sound, a stunning is balance is struck and maintained as this album unfolds.

Asunojokei (whose name translates to English as “scenery of tomorrow”) has been carefully curating their vision of the future since 2015’s demo release. This two-track foray into the world was an omen of great things to come: neo-folk guitar strokes explode into grinding yet polished riffs and blast beats which feel timeless, not just current. Even the indulgent fade-out separating the two songs alluded to a band who would cultivate albums instead of merely stringing together separate tracks. By interjecting gruffly rhythmic hardcore vocals into the mix, the quartet unveils an inspirational net cast far and wide.

This all came into focus even further on their A Bird In The Fault EP (2016) — Asunojokei continued to foster a funhouse effect in which the projected picture is sharp, but its image otherwise distorted toward abstraction. This particular crispness is maintained throughout tracks like “Easy” and “Silent Tears,” but resolves more ominously in autumn wind than the output of more lushly adorned and “green” metal efforts.

It is with this steady momentum that Asunojokei finally arrived at last year’s Awakening. It stands as a revelation for the band who offered their most diverse release to date: opener “Spring of Passion” embodies light guitar melodies that gradually spiral downward into a crunchy epic — a jazzy interlude then backdrops dabblings into depressive vocals but not before “Chains” drops in, fusing an otherwise shrieking style with some tried-and-true death growls. This dedication to challenging one’s own boundaries with sleekness to boot not only wields a potential of reaching wide arrays of palates but also keeps Awakening from growing stale. With an incredible range of sounds to embrace, there is no shortage of color in Asunojokei’s unforgiving and unrelenting universe.

And ending this feat with the celebratory epic “Thin Ice” leaves listeners grasping at the hope that there are good things coming — from the universe, maybe, but definitely from Asunojokei itself.

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Awakening released February 24th, 2018. Follow the band on Facebook.

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