Crossfaith, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Architects @ Shin-Kiba Studio Coast (Feb. 11th, 2015)

Madness Tour Brings Bedlam to Tokyo
Live Report @ Shin-Kiba Studio Coast 2015.02.11


Studio Coast, a cavernous venue on the watery edge of Tokyo, is set in an industrial desert of highways, canals and a sad-looking smattering of eateries near the train station. It’s a venue that attracts some huge bands, and has the lighting and sound capable of dealing with the most inventive and demanding performances. Knowing how Crossfaith’s last Japan tour in December 2013 wowed to the point that it still causes goosebumps, I came to Studio Coast with the expectation of being entertained and I was not disappointed.

First up in the show were UK band Architects, making their first appearance in Japan and evidently excited to be on new turf. Kicking off with the machine-gun riffed “Broken Cross”, vocalist Sam Carter brought a mid-scream atmosphere to his angst-ridden voice that seemed rather apocalyptic in tone and which immediately set the audience off into circle-pits. “Dead Man Talking” brought with it some benthic breakdowns from the guitar, which sets Architects apart from some of the other current British metalcore acts. “C.A.N.C.E.R” had a hardcore chug and an almost djenty mid-section set to an echoing and atmospheric backing track. With the majority of their 9-song set taken from their most recent album “Lost Forever // Lost Together “ Architects did a great job of getting the fans involved in their sound as the full-capacity crowd set the building shaking in response.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas were up next and whilst not everyone in the building was so excited at the thought of seeing them, the occasional setting-off of frenetic head-twitching in the audience by behind-curtain techno samples attested to the fact that most of the audience were. Fear and Loathing are a musical form of Marmite, and I have to confess that the last time I saw the band I felt was in need of being 10 years younger and hopped up on multiple energy drinks to enjoy them, so being a captive audience member this time at least allowed for a second chance at appreciating them.

The band specialise in a highly idiosyncratic blend of techno-infused post-hardcore screamo – a filthy, two-stepping disco from hell – which maybe not sound like something you’d go for, but the audience absolutely loved it. Much of the time with Fear and Loathing it’s pretty hard to keep up with what’s going on. So and Minami share vocal duties, veering from clean and vocoder-laced parts from So, whilst Minami slams at his keyboard and growls a lot. The songs contain time-changes aplenty, and the band a guitarist dubiously sporting a sunset-coloured grim reaper-print leotard, causing all sorts of discomfort when you’re not down in the crowd going mental with the rest of the fans. Going into detail about the show would require a few hundred more words, and a fair amount of confusion, but suffice to say that Fear and Loathing are well worth giving a go if you have the chance – just remember to jack yourself up on taurine before you see them.

And so, on to the reigning princes of Japanese metal – Crossfaith. After the sonic pounding delivered from the first two bands, the atmosphere in Studio Coast was electric with anticipation. The show was a non-stop cavalcade of banging best-of tunes, and production values that have become increasingly slicker every time Crossfaith play. “We Are The Future” erupted into pillars of smoke and immediate chaos across the entire venue, followed by “Monolith” and “Photosphere”. During one of the songs, the lighting rig over the crowd started to descend, and murmurs around the room wondered what the hell was going on but, as it turned out, the rig had descended to blast the audience beneath with jets of dry ice, a move that had the counter-effect of setting the crowd figuratively on fire. “Scarlett” followed soon after and brought back the wintry vibe with a flurry of snow amidst a huge mirrorball throwing shafts of icy blue light about the venue.

New tracks “Madness” and “Dance With The Enemy” were well received by the crowd, contrasting with the rest of the set by being comparatively new and in a slightly different style, singer Ken going for more clean vocals in “Madness” and “Dance With The Enemy” allowing programmer Teru’s electro-influence a lot more sway. The songs sound slightly more radio-friendly, not entirely the Crossfaith of the past, and it will be interesting to see what direction the next step from the “Madness” EP will take the band in.

The encore for the show began with Teru and drummer Tatsu starting a dubstep party with a duet that had the crowd dancing along and Ken orchestrating callbacks with the audience. Breaking from their usual form of playing “Mirror” in the encore, Crossfaith instead took “Blue” from their “The Artificial Beauty For The Dramatic Music” album and gave it a tune-up in a properly brutal rendition, improving brilliantly on the original. Final song “Leviathan” brought a final avalanche of crowd surfing down upon the long-suffering security as the song pounded out, before the mid-song quiet breakdown produced more flurries of snow and waves of goosebumps in a baking venue.

Not matter how often you have the pleasure of seeing Crossfaith, their live shows never fail to disappoint, and as a sweat-drenched crowd piled out into the chilly night air outside Studio Coast the air of sated exhaustion was palpable. Who knows when our Japanese metal warriors will be back in town again, as they fly off around the world to continue blowing minds and speakers, but until then they have left the sold out crowd with a night many won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Top photo taken by Julen Esteban-Pretel at Crossfaith’s December 2013 World Tour Final at Shibuya O-East. Click through to see the report and more photos from an amazing show below.

–>December 2013 Live Report

–>December 2013 Live Photos

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Julen Esteban-Pretel
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Julen Esteban-Pretel's Works

Laura Cooper
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Laura Cooper's Works

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