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Crossfaith: Anthems Of The Apocalypse

Japan’s resident party boys Crossfaith are following the scent of Jägermeister wherever it takes them, and they’re wangling a following of epic proportions in the process. Gallery by Sandra Markovic.

The Congregation of Atreyu

It’s no secret that since discovering the electro-flecked metalcore and hard partying ways of Japanese quintet Crossfaith, BLUNT’s hearts have been sent aflutter (and our livers left somewhat worse for wear. Just check out our photo montage in issue #121 where we attempted to best the boys in a Jägermeister drinking challenge). Needless to say, news of their third and forthcoming full-length, Apocalyze, has us pants-wettingly excited. Currently making their way around the US as part of the Vans Warped Tour, Crossfaith frontman Kenta Koie is beaming at the new opportunities being hurled his band’s way.

“Oh it’s been amazing!” Koie says of the experience. “We’ve been waiting to play the Warped Tour for such a long time so we’re really happy to be here. It’s been super hot though,” he adds, referencing the high-40 degree days that the 150-odd acts have been forced to endure of late. “In Australia, that was so hot. It was like 47 degrees!” he adds, almost in disbelief at the disgustingly high temperatures an Australian summer seems to be able to produce every time the Soundwave festival rolls around. “My shoes were melting!”

Even despite the searing heat, it’s clear that the band have been taking pride in spending the last year upping the touring ante for themselves and cultivating an engaging live show, one that’s seen them rope in and secure fans from across the globe. Tours alongside the likes of Bring Me The Horizon in the UK, Of Mice & Men in Europe (both of which they’ll be playing shows with here in October) have given Crossfaith the chance to peddle their synth-riddled metal to the masses outside of their native Osaka, Japan, and any punters and stragglers that happened to stop by their mid-morning sets at Soundwave will be able to attest to the fact that these guys are on the up. But what is it that makes Crossfaith so dang appealing?

“We’re almost like a hardcore band meets a dance band,” the frontman begins, quickly mimicking a fast-paced dance beat that sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on a Prodigy record. “On this album, we put in so many drum and bass parts and more Boys Noiz, that kind of stuff. It’s kind of hard to blend hardcore and electronic music, but with our DJ [Terufumi Tamano] making the songs, with his sound, he made a whole song from the beginning to the end, so it’s really unique. There’s a lot of metalcore bands with a similar sound, scene bands, and we don’t want to be the same as them.”

Click on the thumbnails below to view images

Talk soon turns to the band’s latest full-length. Given their bread-like rise, it would be fair to assume that with more eyes on the quintet’s output, the making of Apocalyze would bring about an extra dose of stress, but Koie wasn’t fazed.

“Oh actually I didn’t feel any pressure making the record,” the singer says casually. “Our writing process is always… it takes a long time, it’s so slow, and we already released an EP called Zion, that was the new wave of Crossfaith. The Zion EP is on the way to Apocalyze. We were trying so many new things on the album and we really enjoyed making this record.”

Those new sonic elements Koie speaks of include his own clean vocals on the album’s second single, “Eclipse” (“This song is different to anything else we have ever done in the past, so I am excited to see how the crowd will receive this song live. Really excited actually!” Koie enthuses). It’s a comfort that can be largely attributed to working with Machine – the noise merchant behind The Amity Affliction and Miss May I among others – for the second time, having first enlisted his services for last year’s Zion. Given that Apocalyze is the immediate follow-up – coupled with Machine’s father-like status to the band – it was an easy decision to make.

“Yes, yes, that’s true! We did feel more comfortable because the process with Machine is almost like he’s family, like a father,” Koie chuckles. “On the Zion EP, when we went to the Machine Shop studio, we had all of the writing done, but this time we were only halfway there with it. So he [Machine] helped us with writing the songs, so this time it was very comfortable and we did so many new things and have so many new ideas from Machine. That was great for us. Last time we tracked with Machine, I had a cold so that sucked, but this time it felt great. I didn’t catch a cold or anything,” he adds positively.

Despite managing to fuse elements of metal, hardcore, and drum and bass (successfully mind you), the biggest obstacle for Crossfaith – Koie in particular – is writing songs in English. Remember the time in school you learned that ‘i’ came before ‘e’ except after ‘c’? And then the approximate 842 exceptions that then followed it? Learning English as a second language is no easy feat, but it’s a decision that Koie and the gang deemed necessary in order to take to the world stage and connect with audiences outside of their homeland.

“The writing process, it’s very hard for me, every time,” he begins. “I always get stuck writing for weeks as I’m still learning English so writing is really hard for me, but sometimes Machine will help out with writing the lyrics because that is always a hard point for me. We want to be an international band and tour in places like America, the UK, Australia, Europe, everywhere, and most people can speak English, so I have to. I have to speak English. It’s hard, but it’s very important for us and we want people to understand the lyrics, so I chose to write lyrics in English. When we play though and say things like ‘Wall of Death’ and ‘mosh pit’, people can understand these words, so it’s not so bad. I love it.”

As for the lyrics themselves – of which many of you are no doubt aware of the boisterous “Why don’t you take that drink and CHUG IT!” party mentality – this time around, Koie was looking to give a voice to some of the more pressing issues facing his countrymen at home in Japan.

“When I start writing lyrics, the song is almost fully formed,” explains Koie. “The other guys do their own parts and the vocals are the final process. One track on the album is a about a really heavy topic, the final track called ‘Only The Wise Can Control Our Eyes’. It’s about the terrible earthquake that happened in Japan. We had a heavy earthquake a few years ago and that was terrible and I needed… I have to write about it. The government was
hiding information from the people. I was so pissed off and every single Japanese person was pissed off about it, so I had to write about it.”

Koie speaks of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Tōhoku in 2011 resulting in a disastrous aftermath (including the level 7 nuclear meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex).

From this though, it’s plain to see that while Crossfaith are well and truly capable of partying like there’s no tomorrow (trust us), there’s a level of depth to the band that they’re beginning to unveil. And with the release of Apocalyze next month, it may just cement Crossfaith as the international band they’re striving to be.

Apocalyze is out September 6 through Halfcut.

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