Various Artists

Japanese Assault

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This four-way split CD is the sixth volume in Relapse's Global Assault series, with previous volumes having surveyed the Polish, Czech, Brazilian, Dutch, and Swedish underground metal scenes. This is the least death metal-oriented CD in the series yet, with the emphasis instead on the more grindcore- and hardcore-leaning aspects of metal. Senseless Apocalypse kicks things off with 14 brief tracks of vaguely Naked City-like splatter-grind, with mildly quirky, rock & roll-ish punk riffs punctuated by leveling blastbeats and outbursts of Tasmanian Devil-like vocals. Muga is next, offering up five tracks of American-style metalcore with hints of grind, Swedish melodic death metal, and more old-school hardcore (drumming-wise, at least). The band employs two vocalists, one a panic-stricken, high-pitched shrieker, the other a bellowing, deeper-voiced fellow who sounds like a Japanese version of the lead singer for Relapse signees Mastodon. Next up is Realized chiming in with 14 tracks of fairly traditional, doom-laden death metal à la early Carcass, Napalm Death, or maybe Entombed. The dirty, low-ended guitar sound is a plus, although musically the band isn't especially remarkable. Finally, and most impressively, Swarrrm contributes four songs of varied, complex post-grindcore with more interesting song structures and melodic twists than the other bands on here. The band's rubbery basslines often carry a melancholy feel to them, and the vocals are especially intense and unhinged (see the standout closing track "Strength" for an example of this). All in all, this disc isn't quite the insane free-for-all one might expect from a compilation of Japanese underground metal bands, but like the other volumes in this series, it is still a good way to hear a variety of quality lesser-known bands without shelling out a bunch of money for expensive imports.

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