We’ve all seen it. Who could forget that viral video advertising the anime convention Sakuracon in 2009 featuring a row of nameless sushi-loving otaku? Perhaps the most memorable and Youtube-famous of all these shining faces was a young man, clad in a black hoody and spiky hair, throwing his fist up into the air and emphatically saying one simple word: girugamesh (stress on the “ru”).
Hate it, love it, make fun of it, or send it to your five hundred friends on Facebook. Either way, no one can deny that girugamesh stirs that post-metal rascal in all of us to bang our heads, throw fists in the air, and yell the band’s name until it reverberates off the square heads of the people who just don’t seem to understand their darkness.
On January 31 girugamesh delivered a performance worthy of that right. Coinciding with the launch of their new album, NOW, the band performed NEW ALBUM RELEASE PREMIUM ONEMAN SHOW 2010 at Shinkiba Studio Coast in Tokyo. Known for its weekly parties and club atmosphere, the venue provided an odd setting for girugamesh’s otherwise heavy sound. But girugamesh managed to put together a rock show that induced enough fist pumping and bright lights without sacrificing their typical, darker-than-dark rock aesthetic.
That shouldn’t imply that girugamesh is stagnant in their sound. Rhythmically, not much has been altered for the band’s latest endeavor. ShuU’s bass is deceptively simple, favoring a steady beat over anything beyond a walking bass. The guitar follows suit, with Nii providing a lot of overdriven chords and almost no melodic guitar solos, which have unfortunately become visual kei clichés. Vocalist Satoshi is comparatively more guttural than most rock crooners in Japan, taking his voice down out of his nose and giving it a fuller, more menacing tone that translates well in concert. From the start of their career there hasn’t been a single moment of weakness in this basic structure, which lets the audience know that they are still listening to the same, sturdily-built band.
What have changed are the nuts and bolts, the synthesizers and the supporting drum machines. This is where nitpicking comes in handy, as it was hard to spot for the first five or six songs into the set. The sound is decidedly more industrial, building on the already rhythmic nature of the other instruments and adding a layer of technological composition. Instead of attempting to over-complicate the guitars or the vocal melody, the band decided to instead add depth to the rhythm, a much bolder and more difficult feat to accomplish. This ultimately shows that the members of girugamesh are growing as musicians, ready to fearlessly evolve.
Going hand in hand with the newfound industrial sound, the screen behind the stage displayed some entertaining visuals that rivaled the band’s presence on stage. In A Clockwork Orange fashion, the screen flashed images of cars speeding down a highway, naked women, song lyrics, and other things that a normal brain just cannot process at once. If only there had been someone to tape everyone’s eyelids open and administer eye drops every couple of minutes. The display was entrancing and an artwork unto itself, coupling perfectly with the music.
Transcending their age and relative lack of experience, girugamesh should be on everyone’s rock radar as the band to look out for. They will undoubtedly keep evolving and improving their sound to make it their own brand of fist pumping rock. They will also continue to inspire many fans to place videos of themselves on Youtube exclaiming the band’s name. But instead of satirizing otaku excitement, fans will sincerely raise their hands in the air and shout with correct pronunciation, “girugamesh!”
Official Website: http://www.girugamesh.jp