Japan, land of the rising sun, it’s not the first country that comes to mind when you talk about Black Metal, but they do have a pretty decent black metal scene with some outstanding bands, for example, No Point in Living. And there is a new star on the horizon, Vandal just released their first EP, and it’s titled 地獄変 / Jigokuhen. It’s available on Bandcamp in digital format.
As said, the album is only available in a digital format on Bandcamp (so FLAC, MP3, WAV…) and their debut album contains 6 tracks with a total run time of 28 minutes. Those 28 minutes fly by when you listen to the music, so that’s a plus in my book. The tracks are titled as following:
- 現実になった悪夢 / A Nightmare Come True
- 後悔した魂 / Regretted Soul
- 大罪 / Deadly Sins
- 業火の紅蓮 / Crimson Lotus of Hellfire
- 等活地獄 / Sañjīva – Reviving Hell
- 最後の審判 / The Last Judgment
All the lyrics are in Japanese, but I’ve used DeepL translator to get a feeling what the songs are about. And in general, it’s about human anguish, but I could interpret it wrong of course, but that’s the feeling I get from the lyrics.
My favourite tracks on the album are tracks 2 and 4, Ill start with track 2, titled “後悔した魂 / Regretted Soul”. The track starts off with a rumbling in the distant, which could be hooves or an army. The fact that they sing in Japanese is a plus for me, it just adds a vibe to the songs that I appreciate. Around the 1-minute mark, the song starts to pickup, and you can hear a synth – like layer over the drums, a discord member noticed it first, but after checking it again you tend to hear it straight away. This continues through the rest of the track. The lyrics (which I translated) are to my liking as well.
He who passes me, enters the fortress of affliction.
He who passes me will suffer eternal torment.
He who passes me, is aligned with perished souls
He who passes me, falls into hell.
My second favourite track is “業火の紅蓮 / Crimson Lotus of Hellfire”. The song starts off with a sound I describe as being sucked into a void. Then the song picks off some great drumming. To me, it sounds like a human drumming and not a drum machine, but I’m not trained very well to hear that. The Metal Archive page does not list any members for Vandal. I like drums or I don’t. The vocals are spot on and the entire song has a nice vibe throughout its length. The synth – like sound is also noticeable on this track, and it reminds me a bit of the computer sounds for the Amiga.
Life is fleeting
Light heralds darkness.
You see nothing.
The sky fills with black smoke.
Vandal delivered a very nice EP, and I can’t wait to what they bring to the table if they’re ever going to release a full album. The start is great, and I can recommend this album to everyone who likes to listen to Atmospheric Black Metal, you won’t be disappointed. If you want to give the album a spin, you can do so via the YouTube video at the end of this page, but as always, if you like the album, buy it and support the artists!