Japan is perhaps not your first thought when contemplating black metal, but DEATHROLL have arrived to challenge any preconceived ideas. Formed in 2011 and hailing from the Fukushima Prefecture DEATHROLL is the brainchild of one-man army KAZU; he plays all the instruments (although he’s supplemented by a full band when playing live) and designs the artwork and it’s this singular vision that sets DEATHROLL apart from his peers. Everything surrounding DEATHROLL is finely honed into a laser beam of sound that cuts like a steely knife and the latest single, Causing a Nightmare, is something of a dangerous weapon.
Initially drawing inspiration from the early Norwegian black metal scene DEATHROLL have evolved into a wholly original beast, and that’s certainly saying something in a genre where bands are prone to stagnation and regression. Aside from the obvious influences such as Burzum and Morbid Angel, KAZU also cites Judas Priest as pivotal in the formation of his sound and by rolling all these fillips into a cohesive whole he’s produced an ever-expanding musical canon. Opening with a chugging riff Causing a Nightmare doesn’t waste time on niceties or fancy introductions, just a thunderous drumroll that cracks as if a thunderbolt piercing the night sky.
What Causing A Nightmare does share with the original wave of black metal is a certain atmospheric quality; it’s glacial and frostbitten and conjures images of snow-capped peaks and frozen fjords. KAZU’s vocals are tortured and suitably shrieky and seem to emanate as if from the depths of hades. Causing a Nightmare is a full-on musical pummelling, yet it seems to ululate as groove-laden passages nestle next to manic thrashings and each act as a foil to highlight the other. Likewise, the guitar solo that tails the track slides and slithers like an electrocuted snake and brings the song to a satisfyingly cataclysmic conclusion.
Also included on this single is the all-out rocker Destiny. Offering little in the way of redemption it’s a song that’ll sandblast your skin and floor even the most hardened metalhead as KAZU dizzies the listener with labyrinthian guitar riffs. Capturing that moment in the early 1990s when thrash and death were morphing into black metal Destiny comes replete with guttural vocals, pounding drums and chest-thumping bass to deliver the ultimate extreme metal masterclass.
Having released four studio albums (the latest of which, 2019’s A Sick Life, was released by Germany’s STF Records) DEATHROLL is an entity that’s moving towards great things. Global domination beckons.
Causing A Nightmare is released by STF Records on 8th October 2021
1. Causing a Nightmare