Tea Time With Jesse

Six of One, Half Dozen the Other

Music Fridays – Rock Inv-Asian

Posted by middlerage on April 18, 2014

[Note. This entry is meant to be played LOUD]

Several Music Fridays ago I was channeling my inner teenage boy and allowing as how I love heavy metal. The good old fashioned, dragons and vikings, head banging, studded leather bracelet kind. So sue me.

Anyhoo, a recent personal discovery is how popular heavy metal is in Asia, especially Japan and Korea (of all things). It’s known as J Rock and K Rock – following in the label-footsteps of JPop and KPop (e.g Gangnum Style). For that matter, one can find the labels J Metal and K Metal.

And while kind of hokey to our western sensibilities, the artists are really good. Here is a brief clip of an awesome J Metal band called Galneryus. I will post the full video further below, but you’re likely not to get past the over wrought singing (which I actually like. Did I mention teenage boy?) Prepare to pick up your jaw after watching these blazing fast arpeggios:


Yngwie Malmsteen eat your heart out.

I have to give major props to Japan for always being perhaps the greatest fan of western music there has ever been. One can find practically fifty (or a hundred?) years of screaming Japanese admiration for everything from American Blues to Mozart, straight up Jazz to Arena Rock.  And if plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery than we need to be so very flattered. If I posit some sort of polygon of music sensibility, then I would pin Black American Blues artist all the way out on the “cool” limb. Opposite, in the definitely not cool limb, but pegged at most sincere would be J Metal. They’re hokey but they really really like us. Witness the whole video (which it is your destiny to watch, yuk yuk):

Meanwhile, oscillating back a lot closer to the cool side of musicality is this Korean band called Crash, who would be at home on the same bill as Slayer in some LA rock venue. What little I know about Korean culture (and readers are welcome to correct me) makes me even more amazed. Korean men are supposed to serve some mandatory time in the military, where they spend their time in infantile obsession with cutesy K Pop Stars. Later, they graduate from university and take a soul ending job in the financial district working ungodly hours followed by the strange cultural requirement of taking their bosses out for a night of heavy drinking. Rinse and repeat.

How Crash escaped that plan in a very rigid society is a testament. Again, the musicianship is outstanding, and these dudes look bad-fucking-ass. I think I have a man crush on them. Here they are:

Moving back to Japan, remember my polygon of cool and sincere and, well, downright hokey?… there is a JRock phenomenon as strange as an anime storyline. It seems that while Euro Metal is dressing like long haired warriors of Odin, the Japanese have gone crazy for the Baroque look. In fact, a hugely popular band is appropriately named Versailles and watching this video is a delightfully cringe inducing exercise.

Come on, admit it. You secretly loved that. I won’t tell.

[ENDNOTE: western, Euro metal singing about slaying dragons with Odin’s mighty sword is NOT hokey. Not a bit. Nope. Shut it. I caaaaaan’t hear you, my ears are covered, nah nah nah nah nah nah……]


2 Responses to “Music Fridays – Rock Inv-Asian”

  1. Mark Leisher said

    Love the Crash tune! Versaille was a brilliant cringe-worthy smorgasbord of period glam metal and brown robed monks in the background was just icing on the cake.

  2. Dahveed said

    I’m with Mark. Crash was great. I wonder if if Japan, Versailles presents their schtick with a sense of irony. Viewed that way, they’re pretty cool. If they’re deadly serious about it (like we were in the ’80s), then I like them a lot less. 😉

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