Tokyo Damage Report

reup : BLACK METAL: cataplexy, belphegor, ssorc, galhammer, funeral elegy

7/18/2004 BLACK METAL SHOW

this was my first ever Japanese black metal show. Like all ‘first times’ there were surprises. The most surprising thing was, that it happened AT ALL. This is not a popular genre here. Also surprising: pretty much only nerds like it. A lot of short hair in the audience. A lot of glasses and backpacks and foreigners with pasty internet chatroom faces. Not like a punk show where the fans are pretty much as hard as the bands. The Japanese bands have this nice, '14 year old rocking out in his bedroom on haloween' quality, which make it kind of silly and yet honest at the same time. Plus, cloaks, cloaks, cloaks! Other east asian black metal bands (i.e. taiwan’s CTHONIC and korea’s OATHEAN) incorporate ‘traditional, pagan’ east asian instruments and melodies into their metal in an attempt to reconcile the contradictions of playing what’s essentially white power music. They’re like “well, we hate christians and modernity too, and we are also trying to reclaim the old gods of OUR countries too, so therefore there is a place in the black metal ideology for us.”

This was japan, though, so there was none of that. Just straight ripping people off. So, no surprise there.

band one : DEATH CHURCH

the music was as uninspired as the name : a bunch of identical, IMMORTAL-sounding BM riffs, but arranged in the ‘traditional Japanese way’. Like flower arranging or calligraphy, the Japanese have their own very time-honored way to write hard rock songs. Pretty much Japanese black metal and thrash and grind and old ‘jappacore’ all have the same approach: play really really fast for 20 seconds, everyone stop suddenly, take a deep breath, then just as suddenly plunge into yet another almost identical but really really fast riff for 20 seconds, repeat.

So, in other words, boring.

(ok, ‘boring’ and ‘interesting’ do not exist in the black metal lexicon. They say instead, ‘true’ or ‘not true.’) as in, the metal of DEATH CHURCH was not TRUE.

However, the singer WAS TRUE. I mean, he had these giant, puffy self-mutilation scars running all up and down his arms. Like fucking foot long scars maybe a quarter of an inch wide. You can fake a ‘tough guy attitude’ and learn guitar solos from a book, and buy like a million spikey bracelets at the spikey bracelet store, but you really can’t fake self-mutilation. This guy, for better or worse, is authentically fucked up.

Which leads to an interesting Heavy Metal Math Problem. Everyone please pick up your number two pencils.

How can a man who is true, produce music which is not true?

Also, for extra credit try to resolve this contradiction:

if the music is TRUE, it by definition must be about “I’m pissed off because Christianity took over and the old gods are no longer worshipped.” But, be honest, no one gets pissed off enough to massively mutilate themselves because fuckin’ odin doesn’t have a Jimmy Swaggart-like televangelist media empire and a Popemobile to ride around in. homey is self mutilating because either his family is really really fucked up, or he got destroyed by the Japanese school system and its soul-crushing uniformity/ incredibly violent gangs of bullies, or because he is a drug addict, or all three. But if he’s honest in his lyrics about why his lifestyle is so TRUE then his music becomes FALSE.

So, the proposition: “this contradiction is bullshit” : . . true or false?

band two: SSORC

the highest cloak-to-band-member ratio of the evening. Best part: they didn’t even have a bass player. What they had was THE CASIO OF DARKNESS. A keyboardist with like sheet music! The best part of THE CASIO OF DARKNESS was, one couldn’t hear it at all. Which meant that for once in my life I could actually hear guitars at a Japanese club. I don’t know why but the people who do sound here just HATE GUITARS. I’m sort of picturing the school where people go to learn how to work a sound board. The new recruits are lined up and the teacher is this totally savage drill instructor type guy who begins each class by forcing a Fender up everyone’s rectum, in order to break their spirit and make them hate guitars properly. I dunno, maybe they hate guitars because they can make a bass sound totally like Orson Welles farting, and they can make a kick drum sound like bubblewrap being popped, but they can’t really make a guitar sound unlike a guitar. Moral: if you can’t fuck it up to the point of unintelligibility, then turn it way down out of sheer spite.

Also, their name? It’s ‘C-R-O-S-S’ spelled backwards. What the FUCK? they’re so satanic they not only invert the crucifix but somehow turn it backwards in TIME too? Jesus, I’m going to start a fucking Unitarian Metal band and our symbol will be a crucifix on its SIDE.

band three: GALLHAMMER

they’ve dropped their gimmicky ‘nightgown’ costumes in favor of ‘regular’ heavy metal costumes. Good. the guitarist’s has a new hairstyle which makes her look like that fucking Canadian, Adidas Morrisey, or whatever the fuck her self-involved name is. Bad. They have new songs. Good. the new songs are faster, rather slower. Bad. I got to talk to the bassist. Good. I tried to say, ‘I was late to your last show so I came early to this one,’ but instead said, ‘I slowly that time came live show, but now I’m not wearing any pants,’ while nodding and grinning like an imbicile. Um, bad.

band four: BIRKENSTOCKS OF UNHOLY DARKNESS

wait, i mean FUNERAL ELEGY

the best music of the night. Usually, I hate overly-melodic metal (i.e. CHILDREN OF BODOM and all those ‘melodic death’ bands that sound like hyperspeed iron maiden but with no soul). I hate grind because it’s not melodic enough, it’s usually just random chromatic scales generated by some 10 year old Dungeons and Dragons kid rolling some 20 sided dice. But FUNERAL ELEGY is right in the middle, their shit was just the perfect combination of catchy melody and mournful dissonance, and creative chord progressions. Plus the songs actually had different tempos which I thought was adorable.

band five: CATAPLEXY

The unspoken rule for ‘extreme metal’ performers is this: long as you are grimacing, we the audience understand you are concentrating on you’re your incredibly technical guitar part /hatred of Jesus, and we don’t expect you to move around or put on any kind of show. This bullshit cop-out attitude is why I go to punk lives but generally keep my metal on the headphones. But cataplexy just said ‘fuck you’ to this stupid dumb and wrong rule, and they were like, ‘what if we can play shit that’s complicated and grimace. . . . AND KICK EVERYONE’S ASS TOO? IS THAT FUCKING OK WITH YOU GUYS?”

The other five bands combined did not move half as much as CATAPLEXY. It was just nuts. The motherfuckers had headbanging for days and just were all just drunk on Satan. They instigate more chaos than most punk bands, with like 4 times the musical chops. It was good enough that I don’t even care if their music was totally generic fake DIMMU BORING.

band six: BELPHEGOTH

here's the thing: the guitarist was wearing what might have been the best costume ever: a fuckin' VELVET CAPE with bandoliers of bullets and a crown of thorns. but then he blew it by rocking his crown of thorns at this side-ways B-Boy angle like he was ready to get jiggy with Asmodeus or something. sorry, but that kind of killed it for me.

you can’t really talk about BELPHEGOTH without talking about purses. See, normally I carry a little purse to shows, to put my camera / business cards / flyers in. but this time I figured, “If I show up with no purse, I’m sure to be a hit with the ladies. Maybe they’ll think I’m straight or something. Maybe they can overlook my low-top pink converse with no socks, and matching pink eyebrows. Maybe they will not notice if I become staggeringly drunk and incoherent. I’ll be all, ‘you are looking so fine tonight, pretty lady, and by the way, did you notice I don’t have a purse?’ Yea verily, I will be str8 pimping this evening.”

You won’t be surprised to note that I was already kind of drunk when I came up with this theory. So I left without the purse. So, a pint of sake later, when the time came for me to do a little bit of moshing, I decided, “ok, I am NOT drunk. I know very well that I need to put my glasses somewhere safe if I intend to get my mosh on. But?no purse! Ok, in a moment of utterly sober clarity I will put them in my pants pocket.” And of course they fell out of the pocket and got promptly destroyed.

Punch line: the fucking silly-ass demo CD the band gave me for free, THAT I put in a safe place and it survived the moshing just fine.

Punch line #2: Of course by the end of the show I was so drunk I totally left without it.

Anyway, my point is, I literally couldn’t see BELPHEGOTH because no glasses because no purse. Which taught me several valuable lessons:
  • purses are metal.
  • Purses and alcohol go good together.
  • What doesn’t go good together? Alcohol and bonding glue. Especially when you are half-blind with astigmatism, and shitfaced drunk at 1 in the morning trying to fix your glasses with superglue and the fumes burn your corneas.

now,  HERE ARE THE PHOTOS

—- DEATH CHURCH

 

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—- now, compare with Michaelangelo's Last Judgement!

 

—- in case you need more proof this is the same motherfucker.

 

—- I didn't go to art school for nothing, bro.

 

—- peep my man's insane self mutilations. Puff Daddy can't compete.

 

—- SSORC

 

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—- CASIO OF DARKNESS!!! BOO!!!

 

—- the expression on his face. Yes.

 

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—- GALLHAMMER

 

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—- 3

 

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—- #3bassclose.jpg" type="image" /> —- #3basspurpleCLOSE.jpg" type="image" /> —-

 

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—- #3gtrclose.jpg" type="image" /> —-

 

—- FUNERAL ELEGY

 

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—- the return of the BIRKENSTOCKS OF UNHOLY DARKNESS

 

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—- CATAPLEXY

 

—- they really ARE that fucking chaotic. Chaotic EVIL that is.

 

—- fuckin' 6th level, +5 metallers.

 

—- the ACCESSORIES OF INFERNAL DARKNESS.

 

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—- what the FUCK is the bassplayer doing ?

 

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—- AND THEN there is this guy.

 

—- BELPHEGOTH

 

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—- like I said before, the velvet trenchcoat plus bandoliers makes this just the best fucking outfit, but what ruins it is, he's got his little 'crown of thorns' on at this funky-ass B-boy angle, as if to say, "yeah, I'm hella satanic but I still chill with my Homies". No you don't. shut up.

 

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1 comment Tags: , , , , ,

1 Comment so far

  1. Paul McQuaid October 15th, 2017 10:30 am

    Aw man, hilarious review, kudos!

    Good to see the entirety of the world’s female black metal drummers were in attendance.

    I’m headed to Tokyo round the New Year and can only hope to stumble across a gig remotely as entertaining.

    Will make a point of bringing my velvet cloak and Birkenstocks of Evil, just in case!

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