The first casualty of the Metal touring and festival world due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has fallen. Slipknot’s Knotfest Japan, set to take place in three weeks on March 20th has been postponed until a later date TBA. The event is working with the band to reschedule at a later date. The band has postponed all of their expected Asia tour dates as well Fans wishing to keep their tickets may do so, as they are fully valid for rescheduled dates when they are announced. Fans wanted a refund will get one soon but have been asked to wait for imminent details to be announced. Knotfest Japan 2020 was to have featured Slipknot headlining both nights, along with Anthrax, Korn, Marilyn Manson, Man With A Mission, Maximum The Hormone and more! The first-ever Knotfest took place seven years ago in Council Bluffs, Iowa and moved two years later to San Bernardino, California. In 2016, Slipknot and Ozzy Osbourne joined forces for the first-ever Ozzfest Meets Knotfest, featuring both acts performing headlining sets on different days. Knotfest has expanded to an annual tour – Knotfest Roadshow, Knotfest Mexico, Columbia, the United Kingdom, France (Knotfest Meets Hellfest) and now Knotfest at Sea. Continue reading
Confession time. Up until two days ago when my editor sent me this assignment I had never heard of Crossfaith. So yeah, for a band that has been kicking since 2006 and consistently on tour it took me until their fourth LP Xeno (Razor & Tie) to acknowledge their existence. I am the definition of timeliness.
Anyways, during my lunch break I browsed the web out of boredom and realized that Crossfaith’s sound has been described as renown for combining metalcore and electronic dance music. Naturally when reading that combination of genres the first thing that comes to mind is “I’ve died and gone to hell.” Immediate visions of laptopcore bands like The Browning and Blood on the Dance Floor flooded the brain. Fuck me.
But don’t knock it till you try it, or at least that’s what the girl as the grocery store seems to always tell me. Look at the bright side, Crossfaith is from Osaka, Japan and the land of the rising son has fostered plenty of eclectic and talented metal bands such as X-Japan, Dir en Grey, and Maximum the Hormone. Just press play.
You only get one chance to make a first impression and Crossfaith for the most part hits the mark. Instead of the Hot Topic goth dance party I was dreading the music on Xeno was actually listenable. Multifarious to a fault, but still listenable. Pretty good, actually. However if you are looking for some dance party action then check out ‘Wildfire’ (featuring Skindred’s Benji Webbe) and it’s unholy matrimony of EDM and Reggae. And I can say with no shame that I blasted it out loud in my car.
That being said the tunes here are more in line with Slipknot, mid-career Soilwork and even some Linkin Park for good measure. Frontman Kenta “Ken” Koie leans more on his singing voice on this effort and it helps elevate songs like ‘Raise Your Voice,’ ‘Devil’s Party’ and the excellent title track to radio rock anthem status. In addition to Koie’s strong performance, much attention should also be paid to drummer Tatsuya Amano’s frantic bursts of aggression and producer Josh Wilbur’s (Avenged Sevenfold, Lamb of God) masterful work behind the studio board.
The one moment on Xeno that lost me was power ballad ‘Tears Fall.’ It’s an excellent showcase for Koie’s pipes and it does feature a tuneful solo from guitarist Kazuki Takemura, but it’s way too sappy to fully take seriously. So much so that you could sell it for parts to Bullet for My Valentine. While that gamble doesn’t pay off, Crossfaith pick up the pace again with ‘Paint it Black’ and the drumming showcase that is ‘Vanguard.’ But before the album comes to a close these Osaka natives get a another chance to play with dynamics and texture on ‘Calm the Store’ a melodic track that is much more in line with the aforementioned Linkin Park or Dead Letter Circus.
I feel slightly less hesitant about the melding of electronics and metalcore. Slightly. You done good, Crossfaith.
Marty Friedman has made a name for himself for his distinctive guitar playing style within his years in Cacophony and later for a decade in Megadeth. Legions of fans have grown to love his works on such albums as Rust In Piece or Countdown To Extinction, and has made a name for himself within the metal world for those bodies of work.
Since then, he took a left turn and ventured into the world of Japanese pop music (better known as J-Pop) in 2000, after being passionate about the Japanese culture and the music. Following his passion, he also moved there and has been a staple within that musical scene for the past decade.
He released his first new solo CD titled Inferno in 2014, aside from his Tokyo Jukebox 2 CD in 2011, both via Prosthetic Records in North America. He made his yearly Stateside appearance at the NAMM show in January, as well as a speaking engagement sharing his experiences living and working in Japan as a foreigner.
Friedman shares his feelings about returning to Los Angeles, a place he once lived him and any culture shock he faces, considering he learned to speak fluent Japanese as well.
“I feel reverse culture shock. I’m used to living in Japan and you get used to your surroundings, and then you return to LA, where I used to live here and it feels like I’m not at home, as I do in Japan. But I kinda like it. It feels fresh about it. I always like coming back to LA. It’s like a reverse fun culture shock. I get to enjoy the things I like about LA.”
Since releasing Inferno, he is constantly taking in a vast amount of music from all different walks of life and how it factors into the writing of albums such as this one.
“If you’ve heard Inferno, then you’d know it’s a pretty adventurous record. It’s allowed me to tour the world and allow me to hopefully tour America, which is why I’m here this time. Whenever I come here, they pile on nice events like this to do.”
Speaking engagements is something Friedman is no stranger towards, as it has become a common thing for him to do in Japan. “I do a lot of lectures in Japan, believe it or not. They’re often on different topics, not language so much but musical and cultural topics, issues having to do with foreigners in Japan and world topics. I’m not really a talkative person, but like I said before, it’s a way to get better at both languages really.”
He is discovering that fans of his music are discovering him through the internet, whether it is through their fascination of Japanese pop culture, anime, or music. “That’s definitely an important point of finding out through however they find it out through the internet by gossiping Marty’s the Japan guy. It just sounds weird. People do a little research after hearing that and they might find something I did with Momoiro Clover Z or with any of the other Japanese projects I’ve done or my own Tokyo Jukebox or something like that. I do so many different things. It takes one thing to be an entrance and then they’ll look into some other thing like that.”
He shares one of the Japanese metal bands he likes. “I’ve done TV shows (with Maximum the Hormone) and I’ve done their radio show. I covered one of their songs on Tokyo Jukebox (“Tsume Tsume Tsume”).”
While he has done a lot of music within his time in Japan, the subject of Megadeth does come up a lot from both the public and the press alike outside of Japan. Is this something he encounters there as well? “Not nearly as here (the US), because here that’s what I’m known for. But it’s taken a long time in Japan, not to wipe that out…I’ve done so many other things. Maybe if ten people meet me, two of them would know me from Megadeth, two of them know me from this thing and two would know me from something else. It’s all different things.”
He shares his thoughts on the subject and whether it truly hinders on deciding on what music he chooses to tackle at that moment. “I used to get a little bit…not upset but I’m doing all of this cool stuff now. Why do you keep bringing up Megadeth? Then I realize that it takes a long time of doing other things before people notice it. So then after a while, people ask less about it and more about what I’ve been doing lately. So I feel that it’s better. But I’m proud of all of that Megadeth stuff so I really don’t mind.”
He speaks about the rising popularity of Babymetal, a group who have been making waves Stateside and has a connection with. “My guitar player (Takayoshi Ohmura) plays in that. I’ve never played with them but we did some media stuff before, some magazine stuff.”
“I just think it’s really, really good. So I’m not surprised at the success. I’m glad it got found. There’s a lot of really good things in Japan that don’t get discovered and it never gets discovered. They’re not really normal for America so the fact that they’re popular is a great thing and will inspire a lot of people to look into Japan a lot more.”
While he has worked with a number of different people within his time in Japan, he still has a wishlist of people who he has yet to work with. “(It’s) mostly producers. When I get the Momoiro Clover stuff with hyadain, he was one of my favorite producers of all time. There’s also Tsunku, and I’ve done stuff with him but mostly guesting on TV shows. So we’ve never worked in the studio together. I’d love to do music with him, not a chat show. I’d love to work on a song with him. That would be a dream come true. He’s one of the reasons I went to Japan.”
Lastly, talks of a US tour came up and while nothing has been confirmed, he commented on where that subject stood. “That’s why I’m here because we’re talking about touring this year for Inferno. We’ve toured in Europe and in Japan. We played Loud Park in Japan. It’s going to be a really, really intense, high energy show.”