Major debut show kicks off tour
Live Report : “Vorchaos” @ Shibuya Cyclone 2017.02.24
Much as metal likes to think of itself as a genre of rebels sticking it to the mainstream, the reality is that we like a label and a set of arbitrary rules as much as the next “normal” person. Is your hair long enough to be playing thrash? Do you have enough time changes to be considered prog? Are you black metal or shoegaze and does that really matter? Back in 2014 when I last interviewed Vorchaos, drummer Ushi had this to say about Vorchaos’ music: “We’re metal but we’re not metal. We might be pop, but we’re not. We’re rock…but we’re not.” Which was helpful.
At the time, Vorchaos had just released their first album “Vortex of Chaos” six months earlier and talking to them then it felt like their refusal to be categorized might be because they were still carving out a nook for themselves in the Tokyo music scene. Were they going to be metal, or were they going to step along a slightly different path? Second album “Singularity” dropped a year later, a tighter, shorter album which seemed a little more mellow in it’s overall mood save for a couple of stand-out ass-kicking numbers. Third album “Vorchoas”, which also marks the band’s major label debut with King Records, appeared at the beginning of February this year with a diverse offering of tracks that builds on Vorchaos’ previous efforts and ramps things up a few notches.
The band’s one-man show at Shibuya Cyclone on February 24th kicked off the band’s Spring tour of Japan, and the show started much as eponymously-titled album “Vorchaos” does: by slapping you awake with some metal. “LET IT DIE” kicked off the evening, propelled along by galloping drums and thrash guitar riffs ripped out at a rollicking pace, followed up by “Unlimited” and “Im!”, the former taking on a pleasant rock groove while the latter dove back into head-banging breakdowns and stadium-esque vocal chants, all this embroidered with guitar-vocal harmonies and an oddly pleasing pig-scream from singer Jun. Later number “Rinne” also followed the same model, though was heavier for it’s thunderous machine-gun guitar riffing, all built around time changes and chanting.
“Gensou DIMENSION”, is one of those songs where you can see why Vorchoas are hesitant to pigeon-hole themselves. The song’s soaring lyrics allowed Jun to show off his vocal range, diving from guttural screams to top-end lyrical flights. The same was true for “Infinity” and “Aokagirinaku” with their rock-ballad stylings accented by meandering guitar build-ups and emotive peaks. “Touku” took things further with huge harmonies and sing-a-long choruses in what was the softest number of the night, with a guitar solo that took me back to Bon Jovi concerts when I was a kid. It was certainly the kind of song you would want to crack out a lighter for.
But let’s not just talk about music here. What made the night was the energy emanating off of the stage. Whatever they may be like without a spotlight on them, on stage the five members of this band are something quite distinctive. Kaz and Yuzo have clearly learned from the masters and know how to rock a pose for a guitar solo, much to the joy of their enraptured fans. Meanwhile, it’s about time someone gives bassist Fuji his own line in rock ‘n roll shampoo for all the blonde tendrils he windmills about with notable ferocity. Ushi commands attention through his own particular style of drumming, which probably comes with a cheeky wink if you’re looking look hard enough. Meanwhile, Jun not only stands statuesque, but engages the audience in a quite personal fashion – cracking the odd joke, singing mic-less to the crowd, mouthing words under the music and thumping at his heart. It all conjures an intimacy and accessibility with the band that is testified to by the huge range of people in the audience: from proud and devoted grandmas, to gnarly old rockers, young kids with their families, with men and women in equal number, from Japan and from elsewhere. It’s an eclectic mix, and one that says much about the band’s appeal.
When I first saw Vorchaos play many moons ago, they were on a line-up with a band that sounded almost exactly like Tool. Since then I’ve seen them play with bands who’d give Slayer a good thrashing, and bands who’ve taken things a symphonic metal fixation too far. But here’s the thing about this band – one thing they could never be accused of is emulating their idols. In a music scene that’s often filled with bands who either can’t break away from their muses, or who model themselves on them alone, it’s quite something to confidently say that Vorchaos are doing their own thing. The resolve to avoid compartmentalizing pays off, for they create something much bigger than the sum of their parts, and for that they deserve your attention. Sure, there might be the odd musical moment that wants to “rock you like a hurricane”, but you’re more likely to come up against something a lot stronger and it’s that Vorchaos just sound like, well, themselves. As the band say at the end of each show: “We are Vor-cha-os!” They’re not wrong.
The band will be touring Japan for the next few months before heading for a one-man finale in Harajuku in June – be sure to catch them in action.
LET IT DIE/ Unlimited/ Im!/ Gensou DIMENSION/ Infinity/ Shiny/ Singularity/ Aokagirinaku/ Vortex/ Rinne/ Touku/ Abanthrash/ Technobreak/ Namonakihana
Choas Core/ Give A Cry
Photos courtesy of Vorchaos.