Track Premiere and Interview: Japanese Thrash Metallers Gyze Seek to Export “Asian Chaos”

Japanese melodic death-tinged thrashers Gyze are on a mission to transform an album title into a worldwide movement — and with the imminent release of the ferocious and unique Asian Chaos it’s difficult to see this Hokkaido quartet as anything other than conquerers-in-waiting.

Today we’ve got an exclusive stream of a new track from Asian Chaos, “Japanese Elegy,” as well as a fascinating interview with guitarist/vocalist/mastermind Ryoji Shinomoto. (For more info and to keep up with the band via its robust social media presence, visit the official website.)

From the cover artwork to the unremitting attack of the songs, Asian Chaos appears to strive to intertwine two traditions — that of the Samurai as well as your country’s well-documented affinity for hard rock and extreme metal. Am I interpreting that correctly?

Gyze has been active overseas in many different ways — starting with a debut release via an Italian record company in 2013 and later co-operating with a big German booking agency. We’ve performed on big international festivals such as 70000 tons of Metal, Summer Breeze, and Leyendas del Rock, and even supporting Battle Beast on their long Europe tour. Every time performing overseas we were thinking “What is our unique weapon on the world metal market?” And then I realized it is our Japanese origin that can distinguish us from thousands of other bands. That’s why even in the artwork I decided to make an accent on a recognizable symbol of Japan — a strong and noble warrior Samurai.

I also wanted our new album to become a flagbearer of Oriental Metal so I tried my best to compose the unique music that has never been heard before.

Do you think Asian metal has not quite gotten its due yet?

What can I say? If we’re talking about metal my answer would be…both yes and no. If compared to the really famous foreign bands Japanese metal bands really seem a little weaker. There are such big and famous bands like X JAPAN and Babymetal is pretty popular. However, among metal fans, there are many who say those are not really metal bands.

I can say we’re definitely lacking core-class bands here. It seems like Japan is a country of two categories: We have a few really big bands and tons of unknown artists only.And there are many bands who try to copy the western style and almost no bands playing something really unique and original.
That’s why with Asian Chaos I tried to achieve the first in the world correct fusion of Japan and Metal. It’s not only about instruments and image. It’s also about the music scales and composing level.

Well, Japan getting Marty Friedman to relocate there seems like a pretty huge coup!

I thought Marty Friedman is Japanese, isn’t he?! (Laughs)

Do you remember the first records that sparked your love for the heavier side of music? How did you go from fan to creator?

My love for metal started with Kiss. In other words, 70s rock got things going. And eventually, I started listening to the Metal of the 80s — Metallica, Iron Maiden — and [from there] ended up getting into the Scandinavian death and speed metal of the 90s. However, now I prefer Classical, Folk and Film music. When I was in my teens I wanted to write my own music so I naturally started composing.

Did you and your two brother take this journey together or did one lead and the other follow?

Probably, I played the captain on board the GYZE ship and that’s how we were sailing. But we all experienced the same excitement, hardships, passion, I think.

What’s the origin story of Gyze? How did you link up with the members outside of the Shinomoto find one another?

First, when I was 18 years old I had my solo album released from a small company as a solo guitarist. But it wasn’t enough for me so I invited my brother and my middle-school friend and created a band. Unfortunately, our first bassist got in jail and thus quit the band. Luckily, it happened before our official debut so it didn’t affect the band and its future. At that point, Aruta entered Gyze. And three of us — Shuji, Aruta and me — had been working together for quite a while.

However, with this release and on we have my guitar teacher Shinkai with us so Gyze became a twin-guitar band. Shinkai is a professional music teacher, recording engineer as well as a keyboard arranger. We really needed two guitarists to perform Gyze music and until now the computer was performing the second part. I wanted to have real sound and boost the performance thus I added a guitarist to our line-up.

Is the sound we hear on Asian Chaos the one you initially set out to summon or did things shift and evolve naturally as you played together?

When creating Asian Chaos I knew what I wanted to achieve. I had many songs waiting to be finished and released, but I chose those that had the most Japanese feel to them for the strongest impact. Also, I invited the oldest Japanese traditional orchestra Gagaku with my friend Yohei Nakagawa to take part in the recording. And I also included female vocals part to the title track having my wife Stacy sing for us.

Moreover, my good friend Marc Hudson, the vocalist of DragonForce, performs guest vocals on one of the songs.

What’s the plan after the record drops?

After the release, first of all, we’ll go on Japan tour. Then we’ll bring our show to Mexico as we had to cancel our gigs there last year. After that we’re really hoping to bring Gyze music to the U.S. and Europe with a long tour. In America, we have performed only on 70000ton of Metal yet so we’d really want to tour North America—on the ship. (Laughs)

Photo by LITCHI.