"FIFTH" (Album, 2016) !Recommended!
A few years ago I came across Japanese art-rockers rhivs - an outfit who impressed with their unpredictability and creativity. Lead singer and, let's face it, powerhouse behind them was one YoshiS, who is back with a new project, FIFTH-NEWHEAVY, the style which the band describes as 'a new style of rock' (which isn't just marketing bluster BTW) and follows on from the foundations laid by his former band.
Following a series of four surrealistically eclectic EPs released during 2015 (including the superbly-named Plastico Human Nation!), this debut album, simply (and logically) entitled FIFTH, adds to those EPs, firmly throwing down a unique manifesto for the future of alt/industrial rock. They've taken the DIY ethos of punk but transmuted that, delivering the results with a slick, professional sheen.
eagle-eyed among you may have spotted their
contribution of In My Eyes
to the third instalment of Armalyte Industries'
compilation series Defcon Three:
Dirty World - also released towards the end of last year.
Their inclusion on that placing them in good and like-minded company.
the songs on this album are sung in English. Presented
in a sumptuous, superbly-designed DVD-sized digipack release, this is
13-track journey into (for me at least) largely uncharted territory.
From opening track Beginning of the End, that slowly emerges from the ether, sounding like a pre-synths incarnation of Kraftwerk performing an outtake from Autobahn, but with tambourines and reversed percussion, having listened to too much Hari-Krishna chanting, you know you're listening to something that doesn't just ignore any rules on genre, but simply doesn't see them.
be both a major asset and a challenge, even for those who like to
pride themselves on being challenged, particularly by rigid
interpretations of genre boundaries.
Stand out tracks include the 'late night in an empty club' groove of Damn It!, where YoshiS' screaming voice competes with a screaming harmonica for the upper hand, with neither coming out the clear winner. It's anchored by a laid-back but very funky bass, a simple, stabbing piano (which opens the track) and some tasty shuffle drumming.
opens with fantastically jittery drumming, sounding just like the sort
of track DC and Warner Bros. should be including on their soundtracks
to their darkest superhero movies when they're trying to give them
street cred. The four-piece look seriously cool too - so would look
great doing press!
In My Eyes is a humongously bombastic track that probably sounds terrifying live. It's like a resonating wall of noise where none of the frequencies is in harmony with the listener, that only eases off for a few seconds during the chorus, before the pile-driving lead guitar wrestles back control. The Riddle opens in satisfyingly eclectic fashion, mixing Indian tabla with a fat bass guitar right out of the intro to The Beastie Boys' Sabotage. Whilst Bum is the least frantic track here but definitely.
a nice sense of continuity, the album closes with End
of the Beginning. It's a deliberate counterpoint to the
opening Beginning of the End,
in that it uses much the same elements but goes in the opposite
direction structually by starting out loud and gradually fading into
the distance. Conjuring up images of the white lines on a remote road
flickering through the headlamps of an unidentified night-time
driver.It leaves you fascinated to hear what will follow.
lot of FIFTH
sounds like what might emerge if a 'supergroup' of like-minded,
musically proficient, members of separate legendary alt-rock bands got
together in a country manor studio and just jammed for a month, then
put out the results with the minimum of editing. It's hard to imagine
that when writing, the band
have any concern
for a 'demographic' they might appeal to. But everyone from skate
kids, through metal heads, grunge, crossover and industrial fans
could all get something rewarding out of this.
Rob Dyer (May 2017)