Review Summary: Good Japanese post-hardcore, unfortunate band name.
Nervous Light of Sunday - Jakusinkoukei
When I was initially linked to this band's myspace I immediately thought: DANGER WILL ROBINSON ERROR ERROR DOES NOT COMPUTE. I think the timing of this first exposure to the band was in mid-2005 at the height of the Circle Takes the Square mania and I imagined this was some crappy local band or maybe even an mx supergroup being inspired by an awesome if overrepped band. However, after streaming the two tracks on myspace I recognized that this band was vastly different. There's no elaborate back story to these guys. They're just really solid post-hardcore from Japan.
And when I say post-hardcore I mean a lot of different things, so admittedly that's somewhat ambiguous. The core of their songwriting is from melodic hardcore. Their songs are fast as hell. The feel and pace of all of their songs are like the (obscure, sorry) bands With Resistance
and The Program
. The songs never stop the double-time punk beats unless pausing for stop times and breakdowns. However, I must stress, this band is incredibly melodic. This comes from the consistent use of major keys, not unlike fordirelifesake
, and the octave melodic lines in the guitar. I'd go as far to say that any time there aren't guitar riffs, there are octaves all over the fretboard, meaning a barrage of exciting, hummable melodies. However to just call this music melodic hardcore ignores the constantly rolling over interludes and really interesting song structures. Short of a few anthemic choruses, I don't think any section or idea is repeated on this album, which keeps this album moving along really briskly.
Another part of why I'd call this post-hardcore is its technicality. Other than just being harrowingly fast, its pretty forward-thinking. I don't mean These Arms Are Snakes forward-thinking, but there seems to be a lot of effort put into the speed and originality of the riffing. They're trying to be harder, better, stronger, faster, if not wholly original. Nervous Light of Sunday seems like they're definitely avoiding just doing a barrage of pull-offs. Or, when they do engage in pulls, they'll chunk that out with a hocketed power chord section so that the rhythms are constantly changing underneath the easier, more predictable riffing. The riffing doesn't come out of no where like Hot Cross' but is more like Thrice's on The Artist in the Ambulance
, in that there is a lot of variety and each one feels like its really well thought out. Also, the bass never doubles the guitar unless in a breakdown. In fact, it seems to purposefully counter the guitars. The bass is pretty much always in double-time like the drums and both instruments have a thick pulse to them. I can't stress how fast both of these musicians are. There's amazing clarity in the harmony despite the fact that the sections of the songs are constantly shifting. This quality all comes from the skill in the bass and drums, which can both be wildin out and still maintain excellent, crisp clarity.
Despite all of these pluses though, this band is caught in an unfortunate rut: they are a post-hardcore band that mixes fast beats, high-pitched leading guitar riffing, and screamed vocals, which means there's nothing that really separates them from the pack in premise. Sure their songwriting is fresher, their pace is faster, and their instruments are more technical than most similar bands, but the do wear their influences pretty openly on their sleeves. I can name drop tons of bands that they completely rely on or bite off of including but not limited to: With Resistance
, With Honor
, The Program
, Life in Your Way
, Shai Hulud
, Set it Straight
, etc. The list goes on. And, considering the album's short length and geographic separation from us USA-types, I'm not sure if this album is ever going to get the exposure it deserves. It's great, but not truly genre-defining. It's merely a solid release from a solid band. And to top it all off they end the album with a live cover of "Bombshell" by Operation Ivy