After forming in 1988, Japanese death metal pioneers Transgressor released a series of coveted demos. Their Ether for Scapegoat debut (1992) revealed a band on the genre’s cutting edge. But the band soon entered a period of inactivity that lingered until the late ’90s. Although a splatter of splits and compilations followed, Transgressor has not recorded a proper new album in 30 years. The band reunited after multiple hiatuses in 2019. Takashi (Anatomia, Necrophile) was rejoined by Akihito and Kimihide from the Ether to Scapegoat lineup alongside newcomer Satoshi Ishida (Sabbat, Magnesium, Metalucifer) to craft a new album. Now they return with Beyond Oblivion, an EP featuring five crushing new songs. The EP was released on August 24th by Me Saco Un Ojo (vinyl and digital), Sewer Rot (CD), Unholy Domain (worldwide cassette), and Tanaka Shoten (Japanese cassette). But today the band shares tragic information about their reunion with a track by track guide to Beyond Oblivion.
“After Kill-Town Death Fest in 2019, I wanted to write a new song because we were going to tour Australia and Japan in 2020,” explains bassist and backing vocalist Akihito Kikuchi. “Unfortunately the tours were cancelled because of the pandemic. Then we got Satoshi [Ishida (Sabbat, Magnesium, Metalucifer)] as a new member, so I wanted to present the new Transgressor lineup. He helped us a lot with writing songs. I am truly thankful for everyone. Kimihide’s guitar arrangement, Satoshi’s song writing and guitar solos with awareness of Transgressor’s style, Takashi’s drumming, vocals, and mixing, Мe Saco Un Оjo, Sewer Rot Records, Unholy Ⅾomain Records, Tanaka Shoten, all those labels helping us to release our songs. I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and I decided that I wanted to create one more record before I die. Then we got the opportunity to play Kill-Town in 2023 and I asked for some help to make it successful. Those factors acted as the trigger for us to create a new album.”
Press play on Beyond Oblivion, and read the band’s thoughts on each track below. Decibel has said it before and we will keep saying it: Fuck cancer.
1. DEATH HEAVEN
Akihito: We wanted to introduce an element that Transgressor has never had before. We made a song where audiences can simply get into the rhythm at a live show. We wanted to emphasize playing with “Trans-bushi” (which means our own style) even though it has pros and cons because we thought that we can’t compete with other younger bands or other incredible bands playing more orthodox death metal. This song has mainly both funky elements and elements from heavy metal. I personally like heavy metal, that’s why this song turned out like this. The lyrics are based on the tragedy of the twin towers on September 11th, 2001. It was a Sophie’s Choice about death: one can burn to death or they can escape the fires by jumping to death. Either way a decision had to be made about how to die.
2. STUCK IN LIMBO
Satoshi: I wrote the song while trying to maintain the sound of Transgressor from 1992, and adapted it with our current members in mind. The beginning of the song is intensively heavy and aggressive, then we added a doomy part in the middle. We created an unpredictable and progressive song by adding one musical movement to another. After Kimihide added his input, I think the song ended up sounding more like classic Transgressor.
Akihito: Lyrically, it’s about someone who took their own life after a period of prolonged suffering and found themselves stuck in limbo because they weren’t granted entry into Heaven or Hell. The lyrics describe that there is a chance to escape limbo, but the result depends on the choices of the individual. The theme of the songs and lyrics in “Death Heaven” and “Stuck in Limbo” are both about death because I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and I knew that my lifespan would be limited, which influenced these songs. This is probably the last album release and live show of my life. I am pleased with these two achievements. This song originally came from my wife, Cathy, who wanted to write lyrics and gave me some ideas. Then, based on that, we finished up this song after tweaking it a bit.
Akihito: We thought we needed one more song for the EP after we had made three of them. We wanted to create this song as an instrumental. The song is meant to depict evil penetrating society like an invasive cancer. I wanted this song to be creepy and haunting, so that’s what I kept in mind while writing it. The last part of the song is inspired by Black Sabbath because I love them.
4. FOR NOTHING
Yoshio: I recorded the song after Takashi chose from some of the ideas I sent him. I didn’t have anything in particular in mind, the writing process for the song was pretty spontaneous. I just recorded a guitar riff that popped into my head. With around 50cm distance between the microphone and guitar I recorded twice to pan the mix left and right.
5. VISION OF CARCASS
Akihito: When the Japanese Death Metal compilation CD called To the Marrow: Japanese Deathnology was released in 1993, there was a release show and we composed and played this song only at that show. The reason why we include this song is that Takashi said, “Let’s do it again.”
Kimihide: This song was composed in 1993 and had been played only once [that same year]. The live recording was included on the split with Ocean of Zero from Australia, listen to it if you have a chance. When I listened to Shitfun from Autopsy, an album that Takashi went hard for at the time, I was inspired by their fast and sludgy songs. I wanted this song to be as fast and sludgy as our song “Suffocation.” The song starts slowly, suddenly gets fast, and then is followed by an oriental riff, then finishes slowly again. It’s going to be an impressive stand-out track live, fans will love it.
[Lyrically], picture a scene of dead bodies. The world fell into chaos because of the Gulf War starting when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Almost daily, the media showed us hideous tragedies. Times have changed. In 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine. Even now, videos of slaughter are instantly broadcast all over the world. A number of conflicts keep happening in the world besides Ukraine, innumerable lives are always being taken away. History is repeated because we don’t learn from the past. The lyrics were newly written while adhering fundamentally to the message from that time. The underlying message hasn’t changed. Every time, precious lives including children and elderly people are lost in these tragedies. The living become mere husks and become just “things” all within the blink of an eye. Dying souls. Can you imagine the scenes that those people previously living happy lives saw at the last moment of their lives? Can you imagine if it happened to your family, your friends, or you?”
Order digital and vinyl copies from Me Saco Un Ojo Records
Order the CD from Sewer Rot Records
Order the cassette tape from Unholy Domain Records
Or order the Japanese cassette from Tanaka Shoten