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.
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