Gotsu Totsu Kotsu: Mouryou
23/02/12 || BamaHammer
It’s not often that I get completely blown away by a band on first listen. I’m pretty cynical by nature, and it normally takes something truly special to impress me. However, from the moment I first heard Gotsu Totsu Kotsu, I was completely and utterly floored. This self-proclaimed “Samurai Metal” outfit is nothing short of absolutely spectacular in all aspects.
This band is three-piece from Tokyo and features Haruhisa Takahata of Defiled on bass as well as vocals. They definitely sound like a three-piece too. Their sound is very dry and raw and will surely satisfy the death metal purists and production minimalists. The guitar tone reminds me of Slayer’s “Divine intervention” with that dry, raunchy JCM 800-esque midrange bite. While I wouldn’t call the guitar sound massive by any means, it fits what the band is trying to pull off perfectly. Songs typically meander betwixt traditional, old-school Swedeath to thrashy death to some pretty funky death ‘n’ roll at times.
I’ve expressed my deep affection for Haruhisa Takahata’s unique bass style before on Defiled’s latest, “In crisis,” and his flair is just as instantly recognizable on “Mouryou,” if not more so. The bass lines are a lot funkier here than on his later work with Defiled primarily because of the basic differentiation in styles and Gotsu Totsu Kotsu’s leanings toward more of a thrashy death ‘n’ roll sound while Defiled remains more brutal. I’ve also always dug it when Alex Webster plays those short solo bass parts to introduce a riff, but Takahata takes that to a whole new level. He pops, slaps, and twangs constantly, and the result is just a really fun, interesting moment to hear in a death metal song, and when he’s playing one of those solos, you almost want to rewind it just to hear it again and again. The guy has quickly risen to near the top of my list of the world’s best bassists.
Vocally, Takahata delivers the goods as well, albeit in Japanese. If I had to make a comparison, I would call his vocal style reminiscent of Peter Wateverhisnameisek from Vader (their “Live in Japan” album had an even bigger impact on the scene there than initially believed, I think). It’s a loud, almost grunted growl. He even sneaks in a few clean whines in a couple of spots that fit the music like a glove. The fact that the vocals are so prominent in the mix and the vocals are in Japanese creates the feeling of rhythmic chanting to the already extremely groovy riffing. The only Japanese I know I learned from Styx, but I can assure you that when I listen to this album, I always at least try to mimic the vocal rhythms without even knowing what the word should even sound like. Does that make me retarded? Absolutely. I love this band.
The material on the album in terms of songwriting is excellent. There are a lot of fantastic ideas present here, and the level of flow between those ideas sounds extremely natural. Kentaro Takada’s work on the guitars is filled with tasty chops, groovy riffs, and melodious solos, providing an excellent companion to the crazy bass parts residing in the spotlight. The riffing itself is as groovy as it gets, and these guys are definitely fluent in their old-school Swedish death metal licks. Everything has just the right mix of brutality and groove to make it immensely memorable and enjoyable.
Hirotaka Nakazawa handles the drums, and turns in an eclectic blend of chops, fills, and rhythms. Much like Takada’s contribution, everything done on the skins is just really tastefully done. When they need something slower and groovy, he provides it. When they need a chaotic blastbeat, he delivers. There’s just not a single song on the album that sounds out of place or like it was meant to be filler. By the way, the track “Iyunkyousha” (however you’re supposed to pronounce it) in particular is a death metal hit worthy of any scene in the world at any point in metal history.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this album is amazing. If this is “Samurai Metal,” then you can count me in. I love it. These dudes can create some of the most killer death metal in the world. Without a doubt, if you like death metal to any extent, you need to hear this. Go to whatever lengths necessary to procure this album. You probably won’t be able to find anything but a digital copy, but whatever it costs to get it, it’s worth it. This is some truly incredible music.
- Released: 2009
- Label: Bang the Head
- Website: http://gotsu.komusou.jp/index.html
- Haruhisa Takahata: bass, vocals
- Kentaro Takada: guitar
- Hirotaka Nakazawa: drums
- 01. 出陣 (Shutsujin)
- 02. 悪×即×斬 (Aku Soku Zan)
- 03. 殉教者 (Iyunkyousha)
- 04. 蒼天スデニ死ス (Souten Sudeni Sisu)
- 05. カミソリ (Kamisori)
- 06. 魍魎 (Mouryou)
- 07. 局中法度 (Kyokuchu Hatto)
- 08. 兀突骨ノ乱 (Gotsu Totsu Kotsu No Ran)
- 09. 黒イ大安 (Kuroi Taian)
- 10. 川越ノ残虐王 (Kawagoe No Zangyakuou)
- 11. 陥落 (Kanraku)