The Year in Japanese Screamo - 2022
A couple of months ago, I realized I was wrong about something. I'd spent most of the year thinking that screamo (skramz, post-hardcore, whatever you call it) was declining in Japan. Most of the bands I'd cut my teeth on were defunct legends. Even the most recent wave of screamo bands had mostly broken up.
But I was wrong. 2022 was a killer year for screamo. There were a lot of releases, new bands, and killer shows. The disruption that was COVID-19 spurred many people in the scene to start new things and revive old ones. It was a really fun year, so here's what happened. Releases are in no particular order.
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Post Marked Stamps
The legendary Soul Ameria Records surged back to life in 2022, the newest releases being a series of splits between Japanese and non-Japanese screamo and emo bands. I was lucky enough to do all the design work for both of the two releases from this year, and we're hoping for many more in the future!
Burial Etiquette x Undermark - post marked stamps #1
Canada's Burial Etiquette meets Nagoya's Undermark. Two current screamo bands. Undermark is especially notable as it's a new band from Tomo Sato, who played in notable Sapporo bands such as The Sun and Anma. Other members are from Crows Caw Loudly, Emitation, and By The End of Summer.
Cuthbarts x We Are On Fire - post marked stamps #2
Germany's We Are On Fire meets Sapporo's Cuthbarts. We Are On Fire are now defunct, but Cuthbarts are entering their third decade as a unit. This is the first recorded output since their 2013 split with Material.
Asunojokei - Island
Maybe Asunojokei wouldn't fit in with other screamo groups, but they fit for me. And man, this album, their second, is spectacular. It's like a mashup of screamo, black metal, and j-pop. They swirl it together in an intoxicating way that is addictively listenable. I can't stop spinning this.
Alt Of The Society - 最果ての風景
A late edition to 2021, so I'm adding it here. I'll be honest, I thought Alt Of The Society had called it quits. I hadn't really heard anything from them in a while, but I was so glad to find this album had come out. They keep playing their solid screamo sound that adds clean singing to the mix.
Kudaranai 1Nichi - Rebound
I've always thought of Kudaranai 1Nichi as a bit of a quagmire. Each song seems to almost be from a different band. One song will be spastic screamo, and the next will be sappy emo. Rebound, their sophomore album, is no different. The thing is, whatever genre they're playing in, it's pretty awesome.
Ensa - アラガウ + DEMO + LIVE
Released on vinyl this year, this album collects Ensa's 2021 album アラガウ with some demo and live tracks. It's all killer, emo-violent screamo. Ensa is from Gunma prefecture, which is where Tetola93 was most active, if that tells you anything.
Sleep Dirt - Live At Morgana
Sleep Dirt's first album might be a live one, but the recording is really good and captures their feeling and sound. It might be the guitar tones and vocal style, but they remind me a lot of Anchor.
sassya- - Not The End
I was really surprised by this album. I hadn't been too impressed by sassya-'s early releases, but this album just rips. It plays on the more hypnotic, jammy side of post-hardcore (probably harder to call this straight screamo). Each song grooves hard and the whole album rocks.
Sanzashi - 灯ともしごろ
I haven't gotten to hear this whole album yet, but based on the single, this is an epic screamo jaunt in the vein of To Overflow Evidence (the album was released from the singer's label, Unbroken Records). Looking forward to getting this.
Kallaqri / Phone / Garan『』 / Braqkotone / Ricolt
Man, I could've never dreamed a split like this would ever come out. Each of these bands have their own history. Phone has been doing mostly splits (aside from a single EP in 2019) for their career, including an excellent split with Tetola93. Unfortunately, they decided to split up in 2022, so this was their last release. Kallaqri released a single EP in 2015, so it's awesome to get new tracks from them. Braqkotone has been very active since their first demo in 2008. These tracks follow their first full-length in 2019. I'm not too familiar with Garan『』, I think this might be their first release. Finally, Ricolt has been on my radar since their first epic EP in 2011. I'm still waiting on a full album, but these tracks are a good hold over. All in all, this is the best example of (what I'm calling) fourth-wave Japanese screamo.
Ensa / Ixtab / Lilyray / Pejite / Starship / 阿偶羅 / カイロウドウゲツ / 猿芝居
How many bands does it take for a split to become a compilation? I think the intent was that this release was actually a compilation, but most of the bands contributed several tracks. This release combines a bunch of the bands surrounding Gunma prefecture. Ensa, Ixtab, Lilyray, and Pejite play various types of screamo and emo-violence. The rest play various types of punk.
Swarrrm / Kamomekamome
Swarrrm has got to be one of the most prolific bands in the Japanese underground these days. After a stellar sixth album in 2021, they return with their 22nd (!) split release. This time, joining forces with the legendary Kamomekamome, who makes a comeback after almost a decade of no output. Two of Japan's greatest here.
ENS / e;in 7"
Buy from Further Platonix Distro
Y'all probably already know and love e;in. They are a spectacular instrumental post-rock group from Kyoto that I released years ago. This split makes it into the screamo article due to ENS, a screamo super group. This one's a little tough to get ahold of, but well worth it.
kokeshi / ['selve] / Presence of Soul
Kokeshi play dark screamo (blackened screamo?) and released a killer album in 2020. Presence Of Soul play instrumental post-rock. ['selve] are pretty cool, but from Italy. Each band only has one track on this split.
draw / Inverted Clap
Draw and Inverted Clap both play awesome, dark screamo. They’ve each released a few demos and smaller releases, but it would be awesome to see a longer album. This is a great one.
EPs and Shorter Things
Give Me Back! - Goldstein
Buy from Disk Union
The dissolution of Kyoto's Mother was really freaking heartbreaking. So, I was shocked and elated to hear that one of Mother's frontmen formed a new group with members of Nostalgic Four Past And Cigarette End and Look At Moment! Well, they dropped a 7-track album in 2022 and it's killer, a worthy successor to Mother's driving screamo.
Envy - Seimei
New envy, new best release of the year, heh. But no joke, these three songs are killer (even though one is more of an ambient thing). I’m honestly really feeling this shorter format, though. Historically, envy has seemed to feel a little more freedom to experiment with shorter releases (on their EP’s and splits), so I’m all for them doing more EP’s.
Odd Eyes - 原題
Odd Eyes pays unclassifiable punk/hardcore, a little experimental and noisy, not quite screamo but probably appealing to the same crowd. Either way, it’s a great listen and they even pressed it on vinyl, so get it before it’s gone.
満州候補者 - 最高存在の祭典
満州候補者 (aka. Manchurian Candidate) released their first EP waaaaay back in 2010. I didn’t expect they’d drop another one 12 years later, but here it is. Three brooding, groovy post-hardcore tracks here.
Dimensions of Chord - 3 Songs
I’ve had my eye on Dimensions of Chord for the last few years, as they released a couple of demos on their bandcamp. This seems to be their first proper release, a 3 song EP, and it’s awesome. There’s this post-hardcore sound (see Butter Sugar Toast below) that seems to be growing in Japan. Every few years a band or two will pop up going after this genre, but maybe there’s something bigger happening here? Pretty awesome.
Butter Sugar Toast - Extended Play I
They may have a weird name, but Butter Sugar Toast play some pretty bad-ass post-hardcore. It’s got a groovy vibe, kinda feels like There Is A Light That Never Goes Out or Detrytus. This is a recording of their first show, which is shocking for how good this sounds and how good the songs are!
ixtab - ixtab 7"
Maybe it’s because ixtab are from the same area as Tetola93, or that they have a similar feel, but I really love each new release they drop. Frantic, screamo with a Japanese tinge.
Gensenkan - skramz 2022
Gensenkan had released a split and demo back in 2020 that were excellent. Looks like they took some time off, but came back for a new EP (demo?). This is raw screamo. The title, skramz 2022, is pretty apt. I feel like screamo and skramz have some nuance between them, but this definitely fits more in the skramz field. The whole thing definitely has a more American sound to it, than Japanese.
Role - Decaying Shadow
I first found Role from a demo that Junki Morimoto put on Bandcamp in 2012. A decade later, the band (fully formed now) releases a single track that encapsulates how much they’ve polished their sound. They are moving towards this ethereal, dreamy mixture to place their mid-tempo Japanese screamo sound. It really works.
Angry Son - Pranks For The Memories
This is Angry Son’s third EP in two years (they released another one in January 2022, but I decided to only include one here). And seriously, they just keep getting better and better. They have a really epic, melodic screamo sound. It takes the Japanese sound and adds a little European screamo feel in to modernize. Maybe they should take a year off from releasing EP’s and drop an album instead?
Yarmulke - The Complete Discography
The incredible Yarmulke not only get all their tracks collected, but get their due here as well. For years, they always seemed to be on the periphery. Maybe because they were from Kyoto, maybe because they didn't go far enough to distinguish themselves from envy. But either way, they have an incredible discography and you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't get on this.
Pejite - 2012-2022
Pejite is pretty awesome and has been around for about a decade (!) now. Apparently, they’ve been dealing with a lot of member changes and stuff, which is probably why I hadn’t heard of them yet. This discography cassette collects their previous demo’s and live records. Some of the rougher recordings are tough to listen to (for me), but the better recorded stuff sounds super good. They were also on a big split (see above) this year, but I’m hoping to hear more from them.
So, as you can see, it's been an excellent year. I still need to jam most of these releases a time or hundred more. With everything that came out this year, I'm incredibly excited for 2023.
If this massive drop of jams wasn’t enough, I’m working on the hardcore and emo list next. Next time!
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