Review Summary: This is how grind should be played; fast, dirty, unrelenting and straight to the point....3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Call me old fashioned, or something of a rarity, but grindcore has always had more lasting appeal than the typical power metal offering, melodic death metal outing and any other sub-genre that you can muster up. The majority of these bands may, dare I say, lack the technical prowess and continuity than those of other metal powerhouses, but these will never have the wild, outlandish, over-the-top fun factor that grind has to provide to its listeners. Most have a hard time grasping the concept that grind is something that must be taken in stride. It’s unheard of to go into any grind album 'eagerly awaiting track six' or anticipating the 'upcoming segment at the one minute mark of track twelve,’ etc. Its nice to come upon an unknown jem like Japanische Kampfhorspiele's 2007 outing 'Rauchen und Yoga, which effortlessly breaks all preconceived notions regarding the genre.
Translated as 'Japanese Combat Action Hero Fighting Games'(or something close to it), these German grinders play a shredding, down-tuned mixture of grind, hardcore and crust with some punk influence thrown into the mix. I'll be honest, you will have one hell of a time finding dirt on these guys, being they are greatly unknown to the metal community. I was first introduced to these guys on the Slimewave Series, a compilation of goregrind splits initially released on vinyl only to be re-released on CD just some time ago. Soon after, I was able to find numerous samples on their Myspace page but had no real luck finding any prominent website where you could find their albums for sale. I managed to purchase 'Rauchen und Yoga' on Ebay through Relapse Records and received the album shortly after.
I'll be up front; this is how grind should be played; fast, dirty, unrelenting and straight to the point. What JAKA manage to do so well on 'Rauchen und Yoga' (translated as 'Smoking and Yoga') is craft technical, brutal, yet memorable songs; something completely profound in the grindcore genre. Its typical for the majority to turn away in disgust with most grind albums as a *** storm of blast beats and rhythmic poundings bombard the listener. Sure, the typical grind freak will salivate at the mouth, but for others, not accustomed to the genre, will merely see the musical arrangements as audible, fecal matter. Rest assured, these guys offer a fair mixture of both styles but blend the two together in way to please both parties. If my position on this matter remains under harsh scrutiny, get on youtube and see for yourself. The title track and ‘Punkerpolente’ are available for your listening approval.
The way 'Rauchen und Yoga' manages to leave a lasting impression is in its demented, on going, weirdness factor; even with the entire album being in German. The opening track starts with a quick homage to Queen (you read that right) as high-pitched vocal lines signal in some thick, bouncy, down-tuned riffing that is the perfect opener for the album. This track soon leads into 'Der Hund Kriegt Nichts' and 'Eruiert,' two tracks that show the technical power and precision within this German outfit. Guitar lines cut and weave while the drums add another heavy layer to the melodies. Again, the riffs are fast and fresh but are never drowned by the bass pedals or dual vocal attacks of both high and low-end screams. Any loyal fan of French Death Grinders Benighted will find something enjoyable on this. This is probably the closest comparison I can make being the riffs take on the same driving, hit-and-halt attack.
I can also make clear distinctions between this and Leng Tch'e's blistering 'Man Made Predator'. The dual, vocal work is nearly the same compositionally, and the guitar work has the same crushing atmosphere. Still, what sets Rauchen... apart from this death/grind album is its ability to craft each individual song with something different and memorable. Man Made Predator, while heavy and unique, begins to run together three quarters into the album. ‘Rauchen’ never shifts to a redundant pace.
While the album is near flawless, I have some miniscule gripes. ‘Das Experiment is the only weak moment on the album. The sludgy, doom ambiance created by the guitars seems to run on a bit too long, clocking in at almost three minutes. This track seems to slow the pace down and feels almost unnecessary. Some may find this as a welcome rest pit from the action, but I found myself hitting the skip button on multiple occasions.
Also, the album sits right around thirty-seven minutes. While this is a good duration for a grind album, the ferocious, none-stop brutality of this effort seems to come to a crashing halt, leaving me wanting a bit more. With that being said some segments of the album could be prolonged and replayed a bit more. Around the ‘1:38’ mark of 'Der Hund Kriegt Nichts’ the guitars exhibit an exhilarating riff that bring quick recollection to Disfear-type crust. The engagement however, is short-lived and the riff is left to stagnate as other ballads engulf the listener. Still, this type of musicianship might be a mere testament as to how remarkable this album really is. You be the judge.
I already know a majority of users who come across this review will be quick to hit the ‘back’ button once they see the dreaded grind tag associated with it, and that is extremely unfortunate. Japanische Kampfhorspiele have set the bar high with this release and I continually kick myself for being two years late to the party. Regardless of your musical stance within the metal population, you owe it to yourself to dig this one up.