Who doesn’t like going absolutely bat-shit-bananas-crazy at a metal show? No one, that’s bloody who! Embracing this code are Crossfaith, the Japanese infused electronic-metal crossover that have brought the bounce back into the pit. Hywel Davies meets vocalist Kenta Koie to get the lowdown.
Photo Credit: Ryan Winstanley
Trying to single out just one specific element that makes metal the greatest genre the planet is no easy task. But if we had to answer that question, it would be for the all you can mosh buffet of sub-genres that are readily available. From the fiery pits of thrash to the heavenly symphonic sweeps of power metal, there’s truly something for everyone - including your nan.
For the past eleven years, Japanese powerhouse five-piece Crossfaith have taken it a step further. Mixing two seemly contrasting genres (in this case, dance and metal) into one pulsating electro-metallic fusion of pure fucking deliciousness. Noizze caught up with beasts from the east last month in Cardiff as they supported Bury Tomorrow on their ‘Earthbound Tour.’
“Crossfaith is not your typical metal band,” confirms lead singer Kenta Koie. “We are an extreme rock band and that’s the reason why our electronic sound fits with our rock vibes. Teru [Tomano, keyboard/DJ] uses and listens to every single kind of electronic music as well as hardcore stuff, which really defines this band.”
Crossfaith have developed their own voice on their own terms, with two albums under their belt, as well as two EP’s including 2016’s New Age Warriors - their heaviest work to date. So, one of the big questions that sparks our curiosity, how and where did this sound come from, we ask? “We didn’t want to be like the other bands; we were always thinking about being original. For us, we didn’t have typical influences which I think is a good thing. We learnt from real electronic music like The Prodigy or The Chemical Brothers, Fat Boy Slim and even Nine Inch Nails. I think that’s kind of the reason we’re set apart from the other bands.”
“Teru, our guitarist Kazu [Takemura] and I were in an older band together,” he continues. “We covered Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, nu metal stuff with Teru scratching like an old-school DJ at the turntable. At the time, he also started making music on his laptop with a plug-in synthesizer. We loved that sound and that’s the reason why we broke up that band and we started Crossfaith. We were about eighteen when we started Crossfaith and there were only a few bands who started mixing rock music and dance at the time. All we really knew were bands like Enter Shikari, and they mixed great electronic stuff with hardcore music.”
Becoming good mates after meeting in their homeland, their inclusion on the ‘Earthbound Tour’ with Southampton natives Bury Tomorrow is a colourful addition to the line-up. Being the second from last date, Koie fondly reflects on the relationship he and his band have with tonight’s headliners: “It’s been going great; this tour has been great fun! Crossfaith and Bury Tomorrow, we go way back. When we met in Japan back in 2010, we hung out a lot and become good friends even though I couldn’t speak a word of English,” he laughs. “The next time we saw them it was in 2012 for our first ever UK tour. At the time, we were supporting Of Mice & Men, but by then we were really bonding with those Bury Tomorrow guys. For this tour it was like, ‘Yes, finally! We’ve finally come back here supporting our best friends.’”
Photo Credit: Ryan Winstanley
Over the past decade or so, Japanese music in Western culture has been welcomed with open arms. From the likes of Babymetal and X-Japan, we can’t seem to get enough of the heavies from the land of the rising sun. Still, a British audience is no easy win over unless you have the conviction and charisma of a stick of dynamite up the jacksy. Fortunately, this is Crossfaith’s domain as they have won the hearts of the British headbanger in force. “We always get great reactions from the audiences here. We love playing here and it only gets better and better and better. We are so much more comfortable being here. It’s like our second home.”
It hasn’t always been a non-stop party for this quintet. Before releasing their 2015 album Xeno, the worst kind of news hit the band. Whilst out on tour, guitarist Kazuki Takemura suffered a brain haemorrhage that not only left him unable to play, but had him starring death in the face. Reflecting on this, the vocalist gathers his words delicately of how the band not only persevered, but went on to release one of their strongest records to date.
“Before we released Xeno, it was the hardest time in our lives,” he says as the memory still resides painfully in his mind. “We found his haemorrhage after the summer festivals in Europe, and that was the worst time in my entire life. He wasn’t just a band member, we go way back since we were teenagers. He’s more like family to me, so I was like, ‘Fuck!’ I just couldn’t say anything to him. He told us to ‘Keep it going; keep the band moving and to keep making songs. I will be back as a guitarist.’ In a weird way, we made releasing this album our goal. After a decade as a band, we weren’t going to quit now.”
Remarkably, Takemura has returned to the band, much to the relieve of fans and the band. However, he still isn’t out of the woods yet, as it still haunts his system to this day. Undergoing physical therapy, how has he managed life back in band and what has life been like post-Xeno, we wonder? “He’s still struggling with his hands, but he’s trying to find a new way of making music and playing in a different way. Now I feel we can challenge anything because we released Xeno the way we did, and now we can start doing new things.”