PICK OF THE WEEK: envy explode back to life, blend atmosphere, chaos on ‘The Fallen Crimson’

Music is supposed to be emotive by design. It’s hard to find songs that do not have elements built into it created to make you feel something, and many times that’s because the people making the music itself are spilling their experiences and emotions into their creations, leaving their existential DNA behind.

So, when we term legendary Japanese post-hardcore band envy an emotional outfit, it seems redundant on the surface, but you cannot walk away from their music without feeling transformed. Their output has been powerful and cut directly from their bleeding hearts, and “The Fallen Crimson,” their first album in five years, pours it on as heavily as ever. This album marks the return of vocalist Tetsuya Fukugawa to the fold after he left a couple years back, so he wasn’t gone long enough to miss a new record. That’s a good thing because he’s the absolute soul of this band with his shrieks, erratic speaking, and enigmatic presence, making him one of the most remarkable vocalists in heavy music. Language barrier aside (at least for me), it’s impossible not to be utterly arrested by his delivery. The rest of the band—original members Nobukata Kawai (guitar), Manabu Nakagawa (bass), along with newcomers Yoshi and Yoshimitsu Taki (guitars) and Hiroki Watanabe (drums)—remains in fine form and even have taken some more chances on this album, delving further into atmosphere and delicacy, but when they hit the power button, they’re still as explosive as any band.

“Statement of freedom” opens things up with energetic riffs as Fukugawa howls and has those lines echoed back to him. Rapid spat-put speaking lashes while rushes of air meet up with pained wails, and a massive blast toward the end floods the back end. “Swaying leaves and scattering breath” starts gently before a melodic barrage blasts through, and tremendous riffing cascades and overwhelms your heart. Fukugawa sings cleanly as the song continues to tidal waves, gushing and overwhelming before a spirited end. “A faint new world” begins as a clean trickle before the intensity chugs, and pained howls work with chugging guitars to increase the momentum. The heaviness wells up and threatens to blow down walls before the final moments unleash panic while burning out. “Rhythm” features guest vocalist Achiko, who delivers her heart on this song, working through gazey conditions that cause mist to glisten. As the song goes on, the power kicks in, and her singing fills your chest and causes trembling, leaving your body a heaving mess, unaware of how to deal with what you just experienced. “Marginalized thread” begins with dreamy guitar work before the playing begins its steamroll, vocals scraping along the way. A moment of cleansing washes over before the music spirals behind the storm, the boundaries are smashed, and wild howls slip away with the song.

“HIKARI” begins with rain falling and pooling as the music moves slowly, and Fukugawa’s singing reverberates in the wind. The pace begins blasting hard as Fukugawa speaks frantically with the tempo roaring behind him. The power and emotion spill generously while the band bashes away, fading back into the precipitation. “Eternal memories and reincarnation” is a hushed, foggy instrumental that feels like entering a dream kingdom, floating through the stars and into “Fingerprint mark” that ruptures boisterously from the start. The track clobbers as the vocals slice into you, leaving burns before some cooling brings relief. Fukugawa’s rapid speaking rumbles again as the playing wrenching and leaves you breathless, finishing in a flash that could melt bone. “Dawn and gaze” is quiet and reflective as it starts with vocoder-driven vocals streaming while the music numbs your mind and body. The explosion naturally arrives with massive cries and melodic trauma blowing everything apart, delivering a chest full of feelings until a gazey shower begins and soaks the ground. The thunder strikes again, joining with passionate vocals that quake the earth and the that music burns out. “Memories and the limit” feels like early morning as it dawns before coming to life, Fukugawa’s speaking sparks thoughts, and the playing floats reflectively. Clean pulses jolt before the track pummels, letting Fukugawa’s screams scrape and the song build momentum. The final burst finds the band playing higher than before, letting sun crush the sky as the track reaches its zenith. “A step in the morning glow” is your closer and the longest track here at 7:14. The track awakens and percolates, dripping slowly as the music starts to bloom. The song shreds its chains as Fukugawa takes forceful command vocally, letting your emotions flood over. The pace goes back and forth from forceful to calculated, letting alien vocals into your bloodstream before the song hits a frantic pace and ends the album shaking in its shell.

Envy are a band that can make it feel like you’re climbing a mountain, battling the world when you take on their records, even when the mood simmers in deep pain. “The Fallen Crimson” is a record that shows some new shades and edges, one that can be volcanic one moment, shatteringly vulnerable the next. This band’s legacy already was secure before this album arrived, but this collection serves to reinforce their will and might as one of the world’s most emotive collection of artists.

For more on the band, go here: http://envybandofficial.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.temporaryresidence.com/products/trr341

For more on the label, go here: https://www.temporaryresidence.com/

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