Gotsu Totsu Kotsu (兀突骨) [Japan]
Bang the Head
Usually bands that give themselves non-conventional labels or genres tend not to be taken seriously by me, with some of the bands guilty of these being those that call themselves “shadow metal” or “pirate metal” (most turned out surprisingly good though). But Gotsu Totsu Kotsu was a different experience for me, being a band that boasts the excellent bassist Haruhisa, who is also a part of Japanese brutal/technical death metal outfit Defiled. Furthermore, his work on In Crisis was simply stellar, and there was simply no reason why I should miss the debut release of the band, Moryou.
A strong and technical bass riff hits the listener as the album opens with 出陣, and those who have heard Defiled‘s In Crisis would immediately find the playing style of Haruhisa familiar, utilising not only the finger-style of playing but also at times incorporating playing styles like slapping and popping and this is perhaps the main unique aspect of Gotsu Totsu Kotsu‘s music.But once that flamboyant section passes, what is presented to the listener are some extremely aggressive death metal with a tinge of thrash metal influences that are littered throughout (like the riffs on 局中法度), at times reminding the listener of fellow excellent Japanese death/thrash metal band GxSxD, though Haruhisa’s vocals are of a much deeper register. Guitarist Kentaro also unleashes relentless riff after relentless riff, and the melodic guitar solos that are present also present a slight oriental flavour and a stark contrast to the aggression.
Fans of Haruhisa’s bass work also need not worry though. Throughout the album, Haruhisa often gets to show off his talents behind his instrument through moments that are dedicated solely to his bass guitar, such as on 殉教者. One thing that fans can be assured of is also how on Mouryou the bass fortunately does not end up overpowering the guitars of the album, something that In Crisis unfortunately tends to suffer from at certain points. Also, while I definitely enjoy the gruff edge of his growled vocals, I wasn’t too keen on the clean vocals that he utilised, like on 兀突骨ノ乱, weakening the overall potential impact of the album, though such moments are fortunately rather few. However, the short chanting-sounding moment on title track 魍魎 gave a unique and somewhat authentic feel though, but other than that, the clean vocals definitely sounded slightly out of place.
Let’s also not forget about the samurai theme that the band has based their entire musical and lyrical concept on. These themes are often present not only through the lyrical contents of the songs, but also through the sounds of war and chaos that are hidden at the background.
Can’t wait for GxSxD‘s new album? Then Moryou would definitely promise to more than merely satisfy that craving for some quality death/thrash metal from the land of the rising sun with the pure brutality and intensity contained within.