“Man, you HAVE to go and see this band. They’re the best band I’ve seen in years. Seriously man, you’ll LOVE them!” How often does one of your mates turn around to you and say something along the lines of this? How often do you look on your Twitter/newsfeed and see someone flipping their shit about a band they’ve just seen and how you ain’t seen NOTHIN’ until you’ve seen the band they’ve just seen? Pretty often, we reckon, but in the world of the music industry, it’s rarer than Louis Walsh saying something that doesn’t make him look like a complete numpty that you get someone expressing that level of enthusiasm over anything, let alone a band they’ve just seen. Around the time of Nottingham’s Hit The Deck festival this year, though, our inboxes lit up like Guy Fawkes after seeing Rammstein and we were inundated by people clambering over one another to tell us that this is the best band they’d seen in years. As you’ll know by the fact that their name is emblazoned on this feature, the band in question are Japan’sCrossfaith and they really are one of the best bands you’ll have seen in years.
“It’s just been great to be here and to be given the chance to play,” says the band’s incredibly modest frontman, Ken (real name Kenta Koie), today giving Hammer his first ever interview in English. “It’s been a lot of fun playing shows. We just like to give everything and people seem to like us.”
First hitting our shores on a UK-wide tour with beatdown metal types Of Mice & Men and recently on a run with the mighty While She Sleeps, both times the band have stolen the show and left a sea of people breathless and wondering what the fuck just happened. Because they combine rave-ready synths with a bouncy riffing style, it’s easy to crack out the Enter Shikari comparison but to leave
it at that would be laziness of the highest order. Whereas Shikari’s music is gritty, political and as grimy as the British streets that gave birth to them, Crossfaith’s music is a far more uplifting, energetic and euphoric explosion of neon colour and white-knuckle excitement. A listen to their Zion EP is like whizzing along a rollercoaster at 180mph, such is the adrenaline rush it gives you. Put in point blank terms, this is the most exciting combination of dance and metal since The Prodigy changed the landscape of what can be construed as heavy music forever with their 1997 classic, The Fat Of The Land.
“The electronics were always a part of Crossfaith,” says Ken. “From the beginning we wanted to make something that pleased us and was exciting for everyone else.” One of the most appealing things about Crossfaith is that they’re almost impossible to pigeonhole. There’s no scene for what they’re doing because so few bands are as creative as this when it comes to fusing elements like high-octane, industrial-tinged riffing and the energy that’s been missing in our game since the highest points of nu metal with a Neapolitan of dance elements that include the high-pitched, piercing flavour of the early 90s, bursts of arse-quaking dub wobble and the odd part that could have been half-inched from Liam Howlett’s files marked ‘Invaders Must Die’. It’s a phenomenal juxtaposition to be at odds with most bands musically but have the energy of punk rock and a crunching heaviness that is unmistakably metal.
“We don’t feel like we want to fit in,” Ken says with an almost childlike innocence. “We are happy to be here and playing for people and getting our music across.” When asking the band about what influences went into making a band as unique as Crossfaith, we have to admit, they threw us. While we scratched our heads and heard moments of The Defiled, Pendulum, Mindless Self Indulgence and Zomboy in their widespread melting pot, they had another influence that we didn’t bank on hearing.
“Bon Jovi!” says Ken as we burst into laughter that’s part due to not seeing that coming and part “Is this guy fucking serious?!” “Bon Jovi have a show that is so big and I saw them many years ago and we wanted people to feel like that.” Moving quickly away from the fact that this band sound as much like Bon Jovi as they do like Woody Guthrie, what’s encouraging is that the band didn’t want to remain an undiscovered Japanese phenomenon. While the likes of X Japan and, to a lesser extent, Dir En Grey are happy to make their money in the Far East and stay on home soil, Crossfaith have the want to take the globe by storm. By the time you read this, the chances are you’ll have heard about them blowing minds on a broader scale at the UK return of Warped Tour and they aren’t happy to rest on their laurels.
“We want to play with as many bands as possible,” says Ken when we put it to him that it might be difficult finding shows because they sound so different to so much of what’s going on in today’s metal scene. “We enjoyed playing with Of Mice & Men and While She Sleeps and think we can play with anyone. We don’t worry about that. If we get the chance, we just want to play!”
On the shows with both OM&M and WSS, the reactions of the audience have been really something to behold. For a band of relative obscurity to have full rooms going absolutely bonkers (past the mixing desk in the case of London’s Electric Ballroom with OM&M) within minutes and leaving people with their jaws on the floor has really been something to behold. Their cover of The Prodigy’s Omen is played with more fire, conviction and energy than the architects of the song itself and, as you’ve probably seen The Prodigy, you’ll know what a bold claim that is. But we’re making that claim because it’s the truth.
“We don’t worry about the future,” Ken shrugs. “We are just enjoying what is happening now.” It’s an admirable stance to take, as the chances are that the future will take care of itself. Hell, there’s an argument that Crossfaith ARE the future. If you were to visualise how futuristic metal would sound (we envision the T-1000 and ED-209 having malfunctions caused by the riffs of Al Jourgensen), the chances are Crossfaith will be that sound. To paraphrase what we were told, you simply have to see this band. Trust us when we say you’ll be glad you did.
Crossfaith’s Zion EP is out in the UK this year.
Article by Terry Bezer