Alternative-rock subgenres have been sabotaged by J-rock bands whose lack of uniqueness has made a once-exciting genre stale. This year, though, 0.8 Byo to Shogeki recaptured that alternative spirit from the 1990s with “1-bo 2-bo 3-bo 4-bo 5-bo 6-bo Toyo no Techno.”
The track “Machizo Machiko Hakai” is one of the group’s most violent, mixing the coarseness of punk with the sophistication of industrial/EBM. Fellow rock acts this year tended toward using distorted, heavy riffs — leaving most tracks feeling too weighty. But 0.8 Byo to Shogeki leaves the distortion to the bass and uses sharper chord strokes, which gives the album more dynamism. Musical scales inspired by Middle Eastern compositions add a darker vibe on top of the whole thing. This peculiar mix could be an influence from ’80s postpunk. After all, lead vocalist Tadaomi Toyama sports a Joy Division shirt for the song’s music video.
Toyama screams and snarls when he sings, but his female counterpart, J.M., delivers J-pop-esque vocals and adds melodic hooks that may rescue alternative rock for a new generation.
What I am looking forward to in 2012: The debut release by Sekaitekina Band.