Catastrophic noise metal
Japan’s Endon makes its U.S. debut
There are plenty of “extreme” bands making the rounds in the music world these days, occupying various, almost imperceptibly nuanced micro-genres like black metal or grindcore. But despite checking all the boxes—insane drumming, molten guitar riffs, caterwauling vocals, dark imagery—very few of these bands are worth getting excited about. More often than not, purportedly extreme bands end up just sounding extremely like every other extreme band.
Endon, however, is not like other extreme bands. In fact, the Tokyo-based band’s first full-length, 2015’s Mama, isn’t like anything that most people have probably ever heard. The album-opening “Etude for Lynching by Family” sets the tone with more than seven minutes of musical chaos: layers of sampled and manipulated electronic noise washing over cataclysmic guitars and machine-like drums. As the record progresses, fleeting moments of musicality, even downright serenity, are quickly deconstructed. Above the din, the tortured vocals of Endon frontman Taichi Nagura vacillate from pained shrieks to demented chattering. It’s the kind of music that defies genre. Which is why the band created its own.
“When the album Mama was out, some interviewer asked me to describe our own music, and I did with the phrase ‘catastrophic noise metal,’” Nagura explained via a translation by the band’s manager. “To improve functionality of noise music as musical entertainment, that was our original concept when we got together. In other words, we would like to make a crossover between noise and good music.”
After gaining popularity in the Japanese underground scene and releasing Mama on Japanese label Daymare Recordings, Endon attracted the attention of Aaron Turner, former frontman of the band Isis and founder of Hydra Head Records, which recently rereleased the album on vinyl.
“Aaron liked the album very much and Endon played some shows with him in Tokyo last year,” Nagura said. “Then he offered a vinyl release idea. I think this is pretty helpful for us, especially outside Japan.”
To help further expand the band’s footprint abroad, Endon is currently on its first U.S. tour (which includes a stop at 1078 Gallery tonight, Feb. 25). The tour was originally slated to feature Endon opening for Turner’s new band Sumac, but Sumac had to back out of the tour at the last minute. Rather than cancel, Endon soldiered on, in part to satisfy the members’ curiosity about how American audiences will react to the their live show.
“We thought it is still worth it and meaningful for us to do it,” Nagura said. “I am just curious what kind of reaction American audiences show us. Of course, Japanese audiences enjoy our show and feel something in their mind, but it is pretty rare to see their visible reaction there.”
To cover the broad range of sounds incorporated into the band’s music, Endon includes two dedicated noise producers, Etsuo Nagura and Taro Aiko, in addition to Nagura, guitarist Koki Miyabe and drummer Shin Yokota. But beyond the band’s atypical personnel, Endon also exudes a sense of purpose—a “definitive loyalty to our own vision,” according to Nagura—that sets them apart from the howling masses.
Whether catastrophic noise metal is something you’d enjoy is, of course, an individual preference. But be sure of this: Endon is extremely catastrophic, extremely noisy, extremely metal and, most importantly, extremely extreme.