Beatdowns from the East: Reviewing Bilo’u
I’ve spent the last half a year in Japan, but considering that concerts are quite expensive here, I’ve only been to two. The second of which was about a month ago, and the Japanese bands Within the Last Wish, bilo’u, and Arise in Stability played. It was my second time seeing Arise, and it was cool getting to see them headline, as they opened the first time I saw them (they play a pretty rad style of metalcore with more odd-time and less predictable song structure than most bands of the genre). But the most pleasant surprise of the evening was bilo’u. I can’t really come up with a good way to describe them, but they combine crazy mathcore elements with deathcore-esque beatdowns, some pretty clean stuff, and the end result is wildly progressive chaotic music that just keeps on calling you back for more.
After seeing them, I got to talk to their vocalist, Shinichi Takahashi, briefly, I bought a shirt, and learned that they had a new album coming out. Crazy anxious to hear it, I bought it the day of release (and it might be the only music I buy here physically, as CDs cost almost twice as much as they do in the States, if not more, depending on the band. But I digress). The point is, bilo’u’s new album, 擾乱スワール (Jouran Swirl, or something along the lines of “Disturbance Swirl” or “Swirl of Disturbance” if translated), is one of my favorite albums of the year so far.
bilo’u’s song titles and lyrics are in English (admittedly poorly translated English (though the lyrics aren’t bad in Japanese (the liner notes, thankfully, have both (I don’t think I have enough parentheses)))), but unless you’re looking at the lyrics, the chances are slim that you’ll pick out very many of the words that Takahashi is saying. The man isn’t the best an enunciating, but his vocal style is one of the most unique I’ve heard in a long time. His low and mid-range screams feel a lot more phlegm-y, for lack of a better description, than other vocalists of the genre, which is really interesting sonically. He also incorporates highs reminiscent of the late Mitch Lucker, occasional inhales, and he also sings and talks sometimes.
The instrumentalists in the band are also quite skilled. They’re all technically proficient and very tight with each other, evidenced by the chaotic nature of the songs. The band will go from dissonant tapping riffs to breakdowns to clean sections with maybe a measure of swing in between. However, while the songwriting is generally very good, some transitions between sections of songs seem kind of forced, and there are some sections that I wish went on for longer.
The production of the record suits the band quite well, and the guitar tone is a bit crispier and a step up from their last album, muzjou. This album is also a bit more diverse, as songs like “when you want to be a darwin, you will hear chain of clicking tongue” and “taba rasa” incorporate brief swing sections, “shimmer” and “swallow a series of points” have some Veil of Maya-esque sections, and the album’s interlude track “sharp light illuminates your bag” is a waltz of sorts.
To sum things up, if you like chaotic, progressive music that will make you question the sanity of the people who made it (and your own sanity) in all the best ways, this album is a must have. However, I don’t know the best way to have it if you’re not in Japan, as it doesn’t seem to be on iTunes, I don’t think the band has a bandcamp, and I’ve only seen it at Japanese CD stores and on said stores’ websites. So in the meantime, here’s muzjou, which is also fantastic: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/muzjyou/id382405993
And here’s the album preview for Jouran Swirl: https://soundcloud.com/makito-furuhata/jouran-swirl-digest
Thank you for reading, and make sure to check out my page’s various links for more information, and a few extra interest pages.
The League of Extraordinary Atheists Facebook – for discussions on religion and science, etc.
CSAW Wrestling Discussions Group – me and a group of international friends chat shit about wrestling.
Pro Wrestling Memes Facebook – Associated with CSAW, but on a more public level.
Captain Paddy’s League of Metal Radio Show – Where you can recommend bands to be played on the show.
IICJZII Metal Promotion – Another promotion services i lend a hand to.
History Enthusiasts Group – if you are at University/school and need help with history work, then we will be happy to help. Feel free to join if you are an enthusiast as well. We get some pretty good discussions going.
Basement Born – My death metal band.