*** Go to our YouTube channel in the link below to see the video review of this record in episode #47 of the SBR Album of the Week.
Glasgow grindcore quartet, Gendo Ikari, formed in 2016 as crater-faced kids with a lot of noise to make. They released two EPs and three split records, but only now, after seven years, are they ready to unleash their debut album. In true DIY fashion, they recorded some parts in the kitchen of drummer, George Henry, and mastered most of it in the bedroom of guitarist/bassist/co-vocalist, Hamish Black. You can buy a cassette version of the album on a German record label called Lower Class Kids Records. Rokubungi is fun – murderous fun – if you like insane levels of violence and face-melting rage in your music.
We all know that grindcore sounds like the last few seconds of life on board a commercial aeroplane heading to the bottom of the ocean, and Gendo Ikari are not about to redraw the boundaries of the genre like the mathcore bands of the late 1990s. Opener, ‘Abhorrent’, is what it sounds like when four musicians try to murder their instruments and hope for the worst. It’s all about the noise effect. Play it again on repeat and you’ll discern ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ by Sepultura with blast beats and hysterical screams that writhe in masculine pain. You can hear a hyper-violent Dillinger Escape Plan impulse to ‘Pity’, which mixes pinch harmonics and forceful down-picking riffs with the loudest bass you’ll hear all year. The unsettled beatdown groove in the last section is crunchy enough to place an imaginary axe in your hands with the impetus to swing it around your head.
Identifying the outside influences in this album is as pleasurable as the euphoric rage Gendo Ikari create for your repressed emotions. “Let it all out,” is the motto here. ‘It’s Mutual’ is like a stray propeller blade in search of a head to decapitate. Here, the chunky death metal guitar posturing boosts the sustained vocal roars. The noise rock mayhem of ‘Exhausting’ uses the bass to provide the low-end incursions while the guitars ache in a dissonant distortion worthy of a Big Black record from the late 1980s. Sometimes, the high-pitched guitar effects are nauseous. See how long your ears can stand ‘Cursed Absence’ without flinching. Vocalist, John Steven, sounds like a person trapped underneath a slag heap on ‘Lip Service’. And yet Gerald Chau and Hamish Black serve up genuine metal riffs of substance throughout this album. It’s a wise decision to plant a song longer than two minutes at track number nine. You can get behind the unmelodious start-stop jab of ‘Moments of Collapse’ before the guitars transition into intervals that resemble screeching sirens dropped down by four semitones.
Rokubungi is an unpleasant affair, but grindcore is extreme metal’s most offensive form of performance art. Words are less important than the emotions behind them. Musicianship comes second to the primary objective of subjecting the listener to a spectacle worthy of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty manifesto. The suffocating industrial noise grind of ‘Marred’ conjures images of coal miners trapped in a pit. You can feel the soot moisten on your forehead as your eyes ache and your limbs soften under the heat.
Gendo Ikari’s music is not as one-dimensional as a paint-stripper substance, but it will have the same health effect as methylene chloride. The doom-grind of closing track, ‘Profound Failure’, mixes punctured-lung vocals with raspy bass guitar notes and muscular riffs and ends in the chaos of a technological meltdown. You can see the smoke on your breath at the clang of the last note. Twenty-five minutes of audio annihilation seldom feel as invigorating as this.
One assumes the cassette version plays the entire album on Side A and Side B like Reign in Blood? Whether using hardware or software, you’ll need no excuse to flip it over and blast it again.
Release Date: 01/09/2023
Record Label: Self-released (CD/Digital); Lower Class Kids Records (Cassette)
Standout tracks: Pity; Exhausting; It’s Mutual; Beg-Die; Marred
Suggested Further Listening: Elder Devil – Everything Worth Loving (2023), Pig Destroyer – Terrifyer (2004), Rotten Sound – Apocalypse (2023)