I’m going to share my thoughts about 2021 (albeit a little too late).
Was 2021 strong for VK and jrock in general? Did anything make me stop listening to pre hiatus LUNA SEA on repeat? Is there any cool left in these scenes? Well, yes and mostly no.
The GOOD. The BAD. The UGLY of 2021
Probably the only (newish) band I can say is really cool right now.
With the sub-sequential release schedule of -18- DEXCORE were, at least for me, at their absolute top. Writing on -18- is impeccable; a perfect blend of creative, brutally heavy and melodic.
DEXCORE is a love letter to the loud rock and metalcore scene in Japan. They took everything it has good and built upon it to take it even further.
If things don’t go VK, DEXCORE might just as well be the first band to properly break into the western scene, and all it would have taken was good music, and just being a cool band (/sorry Yoshiki)
Stand-out tracks: Self-Hatred, 20, EARTHWORM, the whole mini album, even the karaoke version of Self-Hatred lol
Following the style of the delightful ENVY maxi (like seriously have you seen this VK perfection?) R.I.P. presents a beautifully aged DIAURA, fully grown into their own sound. Nostalgic yet not dated whatsoever. Tasty lead work, kote rhythms with some of the catchiest DIAURA choruses I have heard to date.
Stand-out tracks: back to back Hidden cry and RED ROMANCE, 乖離性イデオロギー.
Finally something that isn’t rehashed DEATHGAZE. Banger tracks that lean on the traditional heavy metal side. From slow paced thrashers like D.D.I. to anthemic chuggers like PHANTOM.
A very delightful surprise
Stand-out tracks: PHANTOM, D.D.I, Elizabeth Mess.
The mere existence of these two bands explain the DADAROMA disbandment more than any long twit from the band members could.
Fukuro no Mori was an overall very enjoyable experience. I think there is a big absence of art kei type bands, and the world would just be a whole lot better if there were more bands like Fukuro and less like DDRM.
Beautiful Inferno kinda took me by surprise. After the catastrophic reveal with the song MADGAME I would have never given any much more attention to this project. Turns out it wasn’t that bad (if you discard MADGAME). A fun pop mélange of NEVERLAND with some girugämesh edge and a little 2012 MUCC sprinkled in.
Stand-out tracks: paranoia, graffiti days., Hikyoumono no ROMANCE.
There is nothing better than a DaizyStripper ballad. 音楽が消えた日 has some of the tastiest SUGIZO inspired lead work to date.
On a stark contrast new Crystal Lake is definitely on the nastier and darker side. I’m very curious to see this transpose further into a new LP.
I’m glad we didn’t see more disbandment in the scene (RIP Her Name in Blood) and these guys managed to release new music. Graupel and Sable Hills did their thing as always but I’m madly enamored with Earthists’ new sound!
While not bad per say, I felt like XAAXAA’s second LP was a little underwhelming, at least compared to the EP they released prior. It’s XAAXAA, nothing new, nothing bad.
DIMLIM - Lets talk about essence live
I enjoyed this live a whole lot better than the standard LP version. It shows what a live off the floor recording can do to a performance. It was almost like it had wholeheartedly breathe into it some new -essence-
I was actually looking forward to DIMLIM not ghosting their whole fan base - only to come back and announce their disbandment.
Nocturnal Bloodlust - The One + special live
I liked NB’s return last year, and their approach to more traditional metalcore rather than deathcore. The One is a decent song, more on the Crystal Lake side. Compared with Cazqui’s work in Nekomanju, new NB is miles ahead.
sukekiyo - Salus
Candis was something else. Very cute, thanks Uta! Never knew I needed this but now I’m waiting for the colab with Tatsuro Yamashita.
This was straight up bad. Terrible songwriting, allover the place with some of the most grotesque use br00tal breakdowns I have ever seen. It’s almost like whenever they didn’t have a proper finish to a section they would just throw in another breakdown. Also this was 100% mixed into someone’s bedroom and the fact that I could tell is not a good thing. Not cool.
キズ / Kizu
Imagine waiting for Kizu to finally release something and it’s a best-of. Then wait half a year for them to maybe release something new and it’s STRAWBERRY BLUE. insert kekw
The Gazette - Mass
I didn’t even expect anything and I was still let down.
Deviloof: very boring, dated, and frankly lazy death metal.
Nightmare - cry for the moon and Sinners:
The Desperado - Gerbera: listens to Lorna Shore once
Dir En Grey - Oboro: Kyo getting born to the soundtrack of an unfinished DEG b-side
Petit Brabancon - Koku/Kawaki: don’t really understand why were people that hyped for the three songs that this supergroup put out. Sure, it brought adidas tracksuit Kyo back and there is some good groove on Koku - but frankly it was underwhelming. Maybe they got some more for '22.
- nurié accident and death of bassist Yahiro
Completely devastating news to end the year (read more about it here).
- DIMLIM announce disbandment/ South American tour drama
If you’ve been here (or on MH) long enough you know DIMLIM has the best threads. Now, what happens when they (to no one’s surprise lol) announce their disbandment? You get new dirt from under the rug get pulled and new drama unfolds. Comedy gold, right here.
Thank you retsu, very cool.
- GACKT announcing going on indefinite hiatus due to a nervous system disease and dysphonia.
I wish my favorite magnum ojiisan a full and speedy recovery!
- lynch. announcing ~a temporary suspension of activities~
Apparently hazuki realized he’s been recycling the same riffs for the past 10 years so he decided to temporary stop (finally). If 2022 picks up and the world somewhat returns to normal, we will see them back for that sweet sweet live cash.
Hope he’ll just do his solo thing instead, 'cause I really loved -FUNERAL-.
There have been quite a lot of releases in 2021 (just look at all the entries in vk.gy) and I’ll have to thank @Rize for his playlist on Spotify to help me get an overall feel of how things went for the scene.