Asunojokei - Island (2022)Release ID: 38958
I should have known this wasn't going to be for me. The anime cover alone should have been a warning sign, but the Blackgaze / Post-Hardcore primaries combined with Screamo / J-Rock secondaries really should have rammed it home. The fact is that I'm not particularly experienced with any of these genres, so checking this album out in the hope of finding something to my tastes was more than a little naïve. No-one can say that I didn't give it a try though! To me this sounds like the sort of metal that a certain teenage crowd would really get into (note that I don't mean any offense to older fans, it's just my perception of it). Not only is it accessible, it also has a party atmosphere to some of the tracks thanks to the chosen beats. There are even leads on this thing that sound like they could accompany the theme song from an 80s/90s sitcom, which is a far stretch from the atmosphere I'm attracted to. Still, this is an album that fell into my clan, so I guess it's fair game. 2.5 stars it is. I would have gone even lower if it wasn't for a couple of mildly enjoyable tracks towards the end, particularly The Forgotten Ones.
2022 RANKING (65 releases so far)
60. Kostnatění - Oheň hoří tam, kde padl 2.5 stars
61. Asunojokei - Island - 2.5 stars
62. Mizmor - Wit's End - 2.5 stars
2022 BLACK RANKING (30 releases so far)
27. Kostnatění - Oheň hoří tam, kde padl 2.5 stars
28. Asunojokei - Island - 2.5 stars
29. Mnima - Disciples of Excremental Liturgies - 2 stars
I recently read Ben's review of this popular sophomore album from Tokyo, Japan & wasn't surprised to see him give it a thorough panning. I guess the blackgaze meets post-hardcore tag was a little scary for me too if I'm being honest & I suspected that it might not be for me either but that hasn't ended up being the case in the end. Despite the numerous examples of non-metal genres scattered across the tracklisting (post-hardcore, screamo, downtempo, etc.), "Island" is definitely a metal record; a black metal related one to be more specific. The shoegaze component may not be as prominent as it is on some releases but there can be no denying the generally positive feel to almost all of the riffs & melodies on offer because Asunojokai seem to be a consciously working against all traditional black metal calling cards here, even though they're clearly using black metal tools such as open-string tremolo-picked chords & blast-beats. The vocal delivery sounds very similar to Emperor front man Ihsahn & is pretty effective but it's the class in the executive & production that really shine here & make it hard not to enjoy "Island". The level of musicianship is outstanding which seems to be a prerequisite for most Japanese metal these days. It's a shame that the album peters out at the end with a couple of tracks that overdo the positive vibes because the majority of the tracklisting is really pretty comparable to bands like Deafheaven or Alcest, if taking things another step further in regard to the uplifting melodies. The cover artwork is also a little bemusing given that it's so clearly making a conscious attempt to push the elitists buttons. Regardless of these flaws though, there's easily enough quality (black) metal here to keep me interested, even if a record like "Island" was never going to make a play for my best-of lists.
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