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Envy

by Shawn Despres

Formed in the early 1990s, Tokyo’s Envy have seen their international fan base steadily expand since 2001′s “All the Footprints You’ve Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead.” 2008 has proved to be no exception, with the quintet showcasing their intense hybrid of postrock and screamo to enthusiastic audiences throughout Asia and Europe.

Their visit to the latter included a high-profile appearance at the hipster-approved All Tomorrow’s Parties music festival. Curated in England by U.S. postrockers Explosions in the Sky, the May event slotted Tokyo’s Envy alongside the likes of melodic avant-garde rockers Battles and psych-poppers Animal Collective.

The group’s affiliation with Scottish act Mogwai has made the U.K. a more receptive place. The heralded Scots issued Envy’s last three full-lengths and 2007′s “Abyssal” E.P. through their Rock Action Records imprint. They also invited vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa to guest on their 2006 disc, “Mr. Beast.”

Following a similar epic sonic path as local peers Mono, Fukagawa’s whispers and impassioned, coarse roars help to set his group’s atmospheric buildups and crushing climaxes apart. Their ability to appeal equally to hardcore and indie-rock zealots has pushed them to the forefront of Asia’s underground music scene.

Although the proper followup to 2006′s excellent “Insomniac Doze” won’t be released until 2010, new material surfaced on self-titled split albums with British art-metal band Jesu and American posthardcore group Thursday, in July and November respectively. Expect to hear songs from each during Envy’s December and late-January Japan gigs. The very talented DJ Baku will open the 2009 dates.

Envy play Dec. 12 at Takutaku, Kyoto (7 p.m.; ¥3,000; [075] 351-1321); Dec. 14 at O-West, Tokyo (7 p.m.; ¥2,500; [03] 5784-7088); Dec. 21 at Iwaki Club Sonic, Fukushima (6:30 p.m.; ¥2,500; [0246] 35-1199); Jan. 24 at Club Junk Box, Sendai (6:30 p.m.; ¥2,500; [022] 716-5155); Jan. 25 at Graph, Chiba (6:30 p.m.; ¥2,500; [043] 822-0661); Jan. 28 at Club Upset, Nagoya (7 p.m.; ¥2,500; [052] 763-5439); Jan. 29 at Shangri-La, Osaka (7 p.m.; ¥2,500; [06] 6343-8601); Jan. 30 at Cave-Be, Hiroshima (7 p.m., ¥2,500, [082] 511-1109); and Jan. 31 at Drum Son, Fukuoka (6:30 p.m., ¥2,500, [092] 737-5777). For more information, visit sonzairecords.com/envy.html