Gonin-Ish - Naishikyo-Sekai
2008 Season of Mist
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce to you the band the entire metal and rock world should fear, Mastodon, King Crimson, Between the Buried and Me, Rush and Dream Theater inclusive...
Though Gonin-Ish's Naishikyo-Sekai only just arrived in my mailbox the other day in a massive pack of Season of Mist releases, the old adage better late than never couldn't hold truer.
How best to describe this astonishing Japanese unit? Let's just say if Boris broke the continental divide for sludge, doom and psych metal and if MUCC and Dir En Grey did likewise for their unpredictable sways between pop rock merged with trad folk and thrash, then you've heard nothing yet. Perhaps the best Misfits reincarnate band likewise comes from under the rising sun in the form of Balzac, yet Gonin-Ish is going to literally wipe your membranes clean with some of the most cerebral music ever attempted.
Japan is leading the way into the modern age with its inventive anime (minus the kiddie crud such as Pokemon which this writer says is prolonged vengeance for Hiroshima and Tokyo) and undeniably Japanese cinema is staking claim for global leadership of the action and horror genres.
Naishikyo-Sekai is almost impossible to describe in words, but let's have a crack, eh? Try blinding prog meets fusion meets a fanged concerto piano meets Siouxie Sioux, Karyn Crisis, Bjork and Mike Patton meets punk and extreme metal. Intricate, frequently gorgeous to the point of tear inducement and brutal only when it needs to be, Naishikyo-Sekai is going to be all you can handle on the first listen because it delivers that much of an impact.
Gonin-Ish in wordage translates as "to unite songs by five members" and undeniably that is the mentality to this obscenely talented ensemble who bring multiple schools of thought into a coalition where the past is grabbed by the proverbial ankles kicking and screaming. Translating ancient Japanese lore using outdated language even for the native sons and daughters of today, Gonin-Ish are nearly terrifying with their intelligence, particularly when vocalist/guitarist Anoji Matsuoka merges her broad vocal range to portray both angels and demons at perfected intervals.
As you savor Gonin-Ish's masterfully busy blends of progression, chamber fugue and hammering metal bursts on the opening instrumental "Tokoyami Kairou (Eternally Dark Corridor)" you get merely a smackerel of what is about to come the remainder of the trip. In under three minutes, Gonin-Ish has already separated the prodigies from the posers and you might as well strap yourselves in for the subsequent aural journey "Narenohate (Na Re No Ha Te)," which sculpts in faster-timed brushstrokes than Isis. The payoff Gonin-Ish delivers towards the end of nine minutes of mind-melding prog metal is one of the most emotional climaxes ever put down. There's breathtaking and then there's soul-stealing...
The first twinkling bars of "Jinbaika (Parasite Flower)" are so deceptively placid you can sense the throat-slitting mayhem forthcoming, particularly with the traditional Shinto note lines bridging the quietude to the amplitude. The opening percussion from Gaku on "Muge No Hito (The Free Man)" is Sepultura-ish, particularly as the rest of the band climbs aboard his tribal rhythm with escalating, punk ad metal-laden contentiousness. It only grows more intense and detailed by the minute.
The 20-minute finale "Akai Kioku (The Crimson Memory)" is a knockout sequential listening adventure where Gonin-Ish hails every prog legend that's come before them; Yes, ELP, King Crimson and Nektar...all in there and rethought into ways you're not going to see coming despite the obviously pinched textures.
Anoji Matsuoka is as seductive as she is abrasive, personifying her varied muses with compelling execution. This isn't your typical chops-showing for bragging rights; Matsuoka's delivery will set you free as much as it will flog and scourge you where appropriate.
Fumio "Fu-Min" Takahashi's guitars are ripe with note-seeking excavation on a metal, prog and jazz scale while Masashi Momota delivers one of the other poignant dynamics to Gonin-Ish with his piano and synths. While other prog bands are wont to let their synth leads dabble and drawl for near-minutes, Momota throws out mere sequences then lets them disappear into the sheer power of his band. His piano work is both lofty and aggressive, assuredly a yan to Anoji Matsuoka's vocal yin; he frequently sprinkles beautiful note tapestries when she whips out a series of growls.
Had this album reached my mits last year, Naishikyo-Sekai would've easily vaulted in contention for album of 2008. It cannot be understated Gonin-Ish are pioneering something only the best of the best will be able to compete with. The accomplished discipline in this band is enough to make you bow in reverence.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Gonin-Ish - Naishikyo-Sekai