Although Japan has a long history of producing top-quality metal acts (think Loudness and E.Z.O.), the last decade has seen an explosion of groups which have placed that country at the epicentre of the heavy metal world. One of the brightest newer bands are GUNGIRE who have recently released two mini-albums in quick succession and look certain to take the world by storm.
Released on 21st October 2023, SCATTERED arrived fully formed, with the opening shot Summer Lover reminding me of The Blackening-era Machine Head. It’s a track that arrives like a fleet of enemy aircraft appearing over the horizon, and heavy metal doesn’t get much better, or much more bombastic, than this. To an old metalhead (like me) it’s a track that’s very reassuring, and tells us that the future of heavy metal is in safe hands. There’s barely a pause for breath, because the following track Trigger arrives with little warning; as if a bullet from a gun, we don’t really sense it until it hits us right between the ears, and it is all the more powerful for it. What I like best about GUNGIRE is their stripped-back aesthetic; they don’t use two notes when one will suffice. everything being distilled into its purest form, with all excess fat removed and subsequently songs such as Bad Karma become all the more direct and visceral. Another heavy track to bookend the mini-album, Circle Of Wrath is a swirling affair which, like a raging whirlpool, sucks the listener down to delirious depths.
1. Summer Lover
3. Bad Karma
5. Circle Of Wrath
SCATTERED can be found on major streaming services.
Following their previous mini-album by a mere three weeks, SURGE still has the sense of urgency that characterised its predecessor and the band get straight down to business with Rotten Vegetable (SURGE mix). There’s no time for fancy introductions or preliminaries, just one of the heaviest riffs known to man that has come to crush our skulls like Thor’s hammer, and when the rhythm section kicks in, we are in real trouble. However, GUNGIRE aren’t all bludgeon and they are wise enough to insert quieter passages in their songs, these act as a mirror to highlight the heavier, and make them all the more potent. The duality that runs throughout this mini-album is most evident in the vocals which range from the heavenly harmonious to deathlike, demonic growls and this makes for an infinitely interesting listen, and you never really know from which direction the band will attack next. So, when ‘Stir Up arrives swinging to an almost pop sensibility, it makes a nice contrast to the more metallic elements. As with SCATTERED, this mini-album leans towards the brief, and with only one track (briefly) breaking the four-minute mark, it leaves us longing for more.
1. Rotten Vegetable (SURGE mix)
2. Stir Up
3. Smoldering Corridor
5. Missing Home
SURGE can be found on major streaming services.
Both of these mini-albumss compliment each other really well, and while they can be listened to separately, my advice is to listen to them back-to-back, as an old school album to really appreciate their ebb and flow. As these two records prove, with GUNGIRE around the future of metal is in safe hands.