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Maximum The Hormone “Yoshu Fukushu”

by Patrick ST. Michel

Special To The Japan Times

Maximum The Hormone’s sixth album, “Yoshu Fukushu,” proves its members know how to laugh at themselves. The four-piece have long been slapped with the “hardcore” and “nu-metal” tags, putting the band in the company of other such acts like Limp Bizkit and Korn, who aren’t known for self-awareness. Yet Maximum The Hormone know to wink at the camera every once in a while, and that’s what makes “Yoshu” a charmer. It’s not a gag — there’s still the prerequisite power chords and screaming — but that’s all infused with some humor and pop sensibility.

The band’s go-to trick is undercutting the loud, scream-filled songs with interludes ripped from an entirely different (and far more perky) dimension. The title track opens the album with some sparse guitar and drummer Nao Kawakita singing a pleasant little melody … before a larynx-shredding shout rips through it.

“Yoshu” is marked with a lot of these moments. The bouncy “My Girl” meshes a screaming rap with Auto-tune-soaked singing and a hair-metal chorus. The album’s finest moment comes on “Alien,” wherein Maximum spends the first half of the track in standard headbanger mode before pivoting into a “feel-good” portion that builds into an arena-ready chant — all built around the line “Stop! Stop! Winny download,” a reference to a Japanese file-sharing network. It’s a bit of a baffling line, coming off as a bit too corporate for a band that you’d think would want to emphasize its rebel cred. Hey, if Metallica can do it then maybe it’s an artistic statement … or just a goof, the band doesn’t make it clear.

Most of the album’s accessibility hinges on whether or not the listener can tolerate the screaming and forays into rap-rock. At its worst, Maximum is a meat-headed outfit making loud, thrashing music that brings to mind the worst of nu-metal. Even for hard rock fans, it could be difficult to get through.

Those who aren’t fans of aggressive yell-fests, though, might find solace in the band’s pop moments. Cuts such as “Benjo Sandal Dance” (“Toilet Sandal Dance”) and “My Girl” feature hooks that take the best cues from pop-punk and emo rock, providing riffs that make wading through the noise worth it. The band even ends “Yoshu” with its catchiest moment, complete with a rousing shout-along chorus. It’s funny, though, that the track, which might be Maximum’s most accessible song, is titled “Koi no Sperm” (“Lover’s Sperm”). Really, it’s best to end it there.

  • Micky Vega

    This album is just brilliant!! ear orgasm: