03 Nov 2022 - Knut
Atmospheric Sludge Metal/Post Hardcore/Post Metal | Pelagic Records | Release date: 09 Nov 2022
1992 in Tokyo: Young musicians form a Hardcore Punk band they call Blind Justice. In 1995 they change the band´s name to Envy. In 2022 they release an EP which merges the intense majestic crescendos and the passionate urgency they have become known for. An eleven minutes masterpiece of intense and soul-crushing atmospheric metal. They combine the release with an European tour where the performances are as vital and vivid as any young band out there. This review is written in the glimmering afterglow of such a performance.
When they changed their name to Envy in 1995 they ventured into the Screamo and Post Hardcore soundscape and with their album Insomniac Doze in 2006 the band morphed into Post Metal´s cinematic guitar textures and spoken words among the urgency, sometimes breathlessness of screamo vocals. With this record the band cemented their prominence in the genre.
There was a gasp in the metal community when founding member and vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa left the band in 2016, but a sigh of relief when he came back in 2018 and they released a new single with two songs, following up with an astounding release in 2020, The Fallen Crimson (for which our head honcho tried to give a creative review, you judge for yourself). The release of this new EP might be a sign that there is something in the works to be released in a couple of years. One might hope, but for now we can play this EP on repeat and find new layers in the complex textures the band throws at us.
The first song ”Seimei” combines immense crescendos, transparent ethereal sonics, aggressiveness and beautiful heavy yearning melodic themes. All held together by the vocalist who can conjure any feeling with his voice: Jubilant joy, soft spoken thoughtfulness, sadness-ladden sorrow, highwater hope, all-out aggressive urgency - you name it. He holds the melodies and leads the tremolos, the onslaught in the surges and the softness in the ethereal parts. I do not understand a word as it is in Japanese, but he transfers his and the musicians’ emotions and passion right into the depths of your soul. It does not matter if you watch them live or listen to the record, the turmoil of emotions will grab you by the throat and resonate within you for a long time. To top it all for me, they premiered this song at the Oslo gig live for the first time.
The second song ”Zahnshin” is driven forward by impressive drumming, urgent spoken words and sequencer playing captive melodic themes. Starting out, the drums lead with the bass, leaving the heavy guitars to form a dense foundation. Out of this a high-pitched tremolo guitar breaks out with a soaring melody. The song goes into a holding pattern with the melodic sequencer snaking melodic, almost idle, among the other instruments. The bottom falls out as there is a full stop. A spoken word restarts the music, then the drums once more drive the sonics forward. The song leaves you with a sense of breathless urgency, like it might be too late to do something with something.
The last track, ”Tamayura”, clocks in under two minutes and is a beautiful piece of heavenly music made with sound effects from echoing guitars giving the impression of a vast room. We have now left the urgent character of the two previous tracks as soft-spoken caring words make the track contemplative as it ends with heartbeats.
So many words for just 11 minutes of music? Well, there could be more as this is a celebration of a band who stays on top of the game, never compromises and as such has become one of the most influential bands in the genre. As I have written, the emotions run high from Envy´s music, and it is fitting to end this review with words from themselves. On their Facebook site, they write about this release: “We hope everyone will feel our thoughts and emotions of what we have been thinking of the world today.” We sure do.