For the first thirty seconds of opening song ‘Pomegranate’, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate Asunojokei from any other band given the genre tag of post black metal. It’s a pretty straight forward intro in the vein of bands like Hope Drone or Archivist that very quickly break into a circle pit inducing post-hardcore meets black metal assault. Then, in another twist, ‘Pomegranate’ morphs into a full fledged Deafheaven-esque piece of atmospheric black metal beauty. It makes for a completely compelling and interesting opening track and sets a good pace for what is to come on the rest of Asunojokei’s first full length, A Bird In The Fault.
It’s a bit of a cop out to say Asunojokei sound like early Envy playing black metal, but it’s probably the simplest description. And like their fellow countrymen, Asunojokei doesn’t rest on one genre to forge their sound. At different points, you hear the previous mentioned post hardcore and atmospheric black metal, a bit of depressive suicidal black metal and doominess (‘Easy’), and bits and pieces of Sigur Ros via piano beauty (‘A Bird In The Fault’). It should be noted that while all of this might sound overbearing, Asunojokei meld it all perfectly into their sound. Everything is deeply rooted in black metal, but these outside influences help Asunojokei stand out in a field of bands that sound relatively the same.
As someone who can’t read Japanese, finding information on Asunojokei is a little difficult. I have no idea what their lyrics are and as most of their info is in Japanese, I’m pretty much out of luck on knowing a whole lot about the band. Luckily, their music is strong enough to stand on it’s own. The five songs on A Bird In The Fault are incredibly heavy and beautiful, both aspects coinciding without relenting to one or the other. They have blast beats working in unison with really wonderful and melodic guitar work. No song demonstrates this more than ‘The Drowned Body’. It’s a spectacular song that should make all the Deafheaven style bands of the world jealous. It’s a song I’ve been waiting years for someone to write. It’s the sound of The Head On The Door era Cure playing black metal and is a massive highlight of not only the album, but black metal in general.
‘Easy’, the albums centerpiece, counteracts all of the prettiness by being an utterly unnerving and slower paced song. It’s just shy of 7 minutes of gloom and sorrow punctuated by vocals that sound like cries of pain that eventually relent to Asunojokei’s normal black metal assault. It’s a wonderful track, but sort of sticks out amidst the rest of the beauty and atmosphere of the rest of the album.
I’ve been listening to black metal for a long time, going on at least 18 years now, and I can say that I’ve never really heard an album that encapsulates everything I love in music right now more than A Bird In The Fault. I’d actually go out on a limb and state that A Bird In The Fault might be the best black metal album I’ve heard in the last 5 years. That’s not hyperbole or overreacting. It’s going to be a very, very tough task for any band to top this album for me this year. Asunojokei managed to create a sound that a lot of bands strive for but haven’t quite hit yet. And while only being just under 25 minutes long, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Do not sleep on A Bird In The Fault or Asunojokei. They’re doing truly exceptional things.
A Bird In The Fault from Bandcamp HERE and follow Asunojokei on Twitter HERE!