Most of you have probably heard the name ‘Gilgamesh’ tossed around in your ancient civilizations classes, usually paired with long-winded and incredibly cool words such as ‘Mesopotamia’ and ‘Babylon’, and references to a huge wall and the invention of the written-word.
In the legends pertaining to Gilgamesh, king of ancient Mesopotamia, he was described as being “two parts god, and one part man”; a demigod of superhuman strength.
How, or more importantly why, the Japanese know about Gilgamesh and his wall, I have no idea, but two-parts god and one-part man about sums up head-bangable Jrock bad-boys girugämesh.
If you’re looking for screamo, metal, hard-rock, hard-core, hip-hop, mixed, howler, boy-band Jrock with a twist of balladic poetic license, you came to the right place. Refusing to be labelled, but preferring to have their genre put through a blender, girugämesh is exactly the breath of fresh air you may need to give the coming New Year a grand spike.
A relatively new band full of youngsters, girugämesh was founded in 2003, but didn’t form its current lineup until 2004, when the former vocalist Cyrien (sometimes credited as Tora/Cyrien) and guitarist Hotaru left the band, and Satoshi came on to fill the silent hole left by Cyrien. Pretty standard start-up; started playing gigs, a few singles and EPs were released, high Oricon indies ratings, etc.
Although their early years (what do you mean, “early years”? The band’s only existed for 5 measly years!) may be typical for an indie rock band, unlike most J-indies bands, girugämesh just went hog-wild and shipped their black-suited selves overseas to take part in the 2007 U.S. Jrock breakthrough, Jrock Revolution– a massive Jrock festival in L.A…..What did their mothers think?
They must’ve been damn proud. girugämesh performed on the second night of the festival along with big-deal Visual Kei bands Merry, D’espairsRay, and Mucc. This phenomenon of Japanese musical experience which yours truly missed by a freakin’ long shot resulted in some of the band’s music becoming available on the iTunes music store, as well as moderate international success– which is more than can be said for many a Jrock band.
The band has had a steady lineup of lives and tours (with performances in the US, Europe, and Japan), as well as consistent releases. Since 2006 they have released an album annually, including the upcoming album NOW, to be released Dec. 16th ’09. They have released 16 singles between August 3rd 2004 (distributed single, Jelato) and October 7th 2009 (Crying Rain).
Much of the band’s work includes plenty of hardcore and metal, with growly Satoshi howling and screaming himself hoarse, but don’t let that scare you off. Their music is original, unique, and professional; with very high compositional quality. Although the music can be rough and ready, the vocal melodies are often beautiful, and whoever was in charge of the screaming was well-appointed. They never get out of hand, and the screamo stuff is tastefully done.
And if it’s pure-pop you’re looking for, the band showed their versatility and covered the much-sung Glamorous Sky, written by HYDE of L’arc~En~Ciel, originally performed by Nakashima Mika.
They really showcase their talents in moody, tribal ballad Kowarete yuku sekai, blending seamlessly a dash of emo, a sprinkling of drums that could only have been supplied by the Mongol hordes, and again, the brilliant, just-enough screamy-ness. Eerie, thought-provoking, and exquisite, all in all, this is the perfect ballad from hell.
Although the band started up with a pretty heavy Visual Kei feel, in 2008 they mellowed their hardcore look and evened out their style. Face-cloths and great orbital Panda rounds of eye-makeup turned into a steadier, less-the-VK face and black-suit or hoodie and black jeans ensemble.
As usual, many people categorize the band as still being Visual Kei–and if it comforts you, go ahead–, they do nothing to be part of that culture or aesthetic. Their style is not beautiful or particularly parallel to the Visual Kei effeminate androgyny, but has its roots more in a grunge/goth arena, where we will let them fight it out~ a group of matador’s waving black flags at the raging masses of Visual Kei-labelers.
Яyo (drums/ primary songwriter)
2003 (with Cyrien)/2004 (with Satoshi) – present
Chiba, Kantou region, Japan
(gif image credit unknown. If it’s yours, I’ll credit you happily-gp)