Envy @ Ebisu Liquidroom (May 17th, 2015)

Post-Rock Legend’s Sonic Soundscapes Enrapture in Tokyo
Live Report : “Post-Rock Legend’s Sonic Soundscapes Enrapture in Tokyo” @ Ebisu Liquidroom 2015.05.17

Talking about Envy before the band’s “Atheist’s Cornea” tour, my friend remarked on the band’s influence. “Those guys were screamo before screamo even existed!” he said excitedly of their early sound. Make of that comment what you will, but that vocal style still remains, if not in quite the same way. What the crowd at Liquidroom was given on Sunday night was another chapter (five years since their previous installment) in the continual evolution of a band that continues to progress their sound beyond expectations.

As the lights dimmed and a soft piano track echoed out across the darkened room, little pin-pricks of light twinkled on stage, gradually burgeoning into glaring shafts of light picking out the audience as the band came on stage. The lighting prefigured the intensity of what was to come, for the quiet intro then slammed into the blistering assault of “Blue Moonlight”, the opening track on Envy’s “Atheist’s Cornea” album, released just a few days before the Liquidroom show. On this and the following punkier-edged number “Ignorant Rain at the End of the World”, vocalist Testuya Fukagawa brought his screams to the fore, weaving about in raptures and roaring like a man exorcising his demons through his lungs.

In contrast, “Worn Heels and the Hands We Hold” reverberated back and forth in intensity with waves of guitar arpeggio that built up with a beautiful cinematic quality before the screamo kicked in. The overall effect was minimalist, with an overarching hypnotic atmosphere that brought goose bumps along with it.

The hypnotic quality to the night was in part down to the fantastic job support drummer Rocky from “Heaven In Her Arms” did on picking up a set of songs with not the easiest set of drums parts to master. Envy were also joined during the night by keyboardist Sanni on “Shining Finger” and then a violinist who remained anonymous during final song “Ticking Time and String”. The final song of the night veered between a cacophonous mid-section, book ended with whimsical signing at the start and the quieter, solemn tones of the violin as one by one the band left the stage, leaving only the violinist holding the helm as the song slowly faded out to cheers from the crowd.

The ending was such that it felt as though an encore would destroy the mood and add very little to what had been a perfect evening, however, Envy came back on stage and threw out two early, thrashier numbers that allowed everyone to let off steam a bit, with plenty of stage diving from the guitarists, and more than a few people launching themselves across the crowd to surf. The wild abandon in these last two songs compared to the comparative restraint of the rest of the night not only gave a nod to Envy’s earlier records, but also proved they could still make 90 seconds of hardcore pack just as much punch as their 7-minute numbers.

The band will be continuing their album tour around Japan before heading off to France for HellFest in June. Keeping on the right-side of shoe-gaze, scoring expansive, cinematic post-rock soundscapes, and throwing up all kinds of references to other bands they probably inspired (rather than the other way round), a full Envy show is one of the best aural delights on offer right now.


Blue Moonlight/ Ignorant Rain at the End of the World/ Worn Heels and the Hands We Hold / Left Hand/ Footsteps in the Distance/ An Insignificant Poem/ Two Isolated Souls/ Scene/ For You Who Died/ A Cradle of Arguments and Anxious/ Toki Wa Owaru (Bloodthirsty Butchers cover)/ Shining Finger/ A Warm Room/ Ticking Time and String


Farewell to Words/ Testimony to the Existence

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Laura Cooper
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