Album Review: ENDON Boy Meets Girl
Anyone even a little familiar with underground Japanese metal or hardcore should know that it's no stranger to violence and experimentation. From the live performances of G.I.S.M. or Hanatarash to the expansive weirdness of Sigh, Melt Banana, or Endon. The country knows how to party. It just might not be too pleasant on the body or brain.
Being plenty comfortable steeped in both of the aforementioned ideas, Tokyo's Endon is a quintet that is no stranger to creating claustrophobic soul violence seen through the cracked lens of a kaleidoscope. Their last two entries on Hydra Head—MAMA (2014) and Through the Mirror (2017)—were noisy, vicious, and weird. But they were only a taste of things to come. Whatever you thought of Endon before is going to be tested on Boy Meets Girl.
Boy Meets Girl is a sonic nightmare and that's the way Endon wants it to be seen. It's a concept album about a boy being birthed of the womb of noise and experiencing the horrors of love outside of his own ego. So, imagine a love affair between David Cronenberg, David Lynch, and Takashi Miike while they re-imagine The Audition. It's as distorted as it is abstract.
What Endon do differently here is they seem to build the album more around the noise than anything else. Whether things are blistering or slow burning, the noise always feels like it's not far from the center. As the record opens, so do the noise floodgates. Vocalist Taichi Nagura's frenzied, sometimes lyric-less screams and Taro Aiko/Etsuo Nagura's noise/electronics duo assault bring the chaos to an immediate boiling point. However, it's guitarist Koki Miyabe and drummer Shin Yokota that set a blueprint for where the band will play.
Boy Meets Girl is a lot of things, but it is mostly chaos. Underneath the layers are genres upon genres that the band plays. When the album opens with "Boy Meets Girl," its layered in a sludgy hardcore/punk way. The riffs are thick, but simple enough. Maybe even a touch of no wave in there. But it's hard to not hear some Dead Kennedys influence too. Especially once "Heart Shaped Brain" hits.
Fast forward to "Love Amnesia," the tone of the album shifts. From here the undercurrents become a little rockier and a little more Black Sabbath/stoner metal-fueled. Industrial is plenty present too. However, once "Final Acting Out" comes on, it's frenzy at first, but there's a nice, catchy Fu Manchu riff that comes out through the swirling, broken glass whirlwind of noise.
For those willing to venture through the static fields of Boy Meets Girl, you either find yourself rewarded or looking for an exit two-minutes in. It's Endon at their most inaccessible, which I'm sure the band has no problem with. It's arthouse film gone noisy claustrophobic everything. Even if you've liked Endon's past stuff, this is going to challenge you. But it's worth the trip.