J-ROCK - Big in Japan
J-rock is short for “Japanese rock.” The genre dates back to the ’60s and has been continually evolving. At first, J-rock was heavily influenced by British and American rock bands, but now, the genre has become one-of-a-kind. The visual kei movement sprung out of the J-rock genre in the 80s. Some J-rock bands began to embrace visual kei, which lead them to sport androgynous, flashy clothing, wild hairstyles, and flamboyant makeup. Although the prevalence of the visual kei movement has died down over the years, it still leaves a huge impression on the j-rock community and also lives on as a subculture.
Visual kei (meaning ‘visual style’, with the ‘kei’ pronounced ‘k’) is a musical genre, and beyond that a subculture, which grew out of a tangled mix of glam rock, punk and new wave influences, combined with kabuki theatre and shojo (manga for young women).
Japanese rock music has received recognition worldwide, being widely known in Asia, and has survived through decades competing with its contemporary local style J-pop. The demand for rock in Japan is so huge that festivals mainly focused on it like the Fuji Rock Festival have been introduced since the late 90s with attendances reaching a peak of 200,000 people per festival making it the largest outdoor music event in the country. J-rock is unique, it sounds nothing like American or British rock, and that’s why it’s so fun to listen to. Take the time to put on your headset, and rock out to J-rock.
We will let you in on the basics of J-rock, and what J-rock bands you should listen to first.
Abingdon Boys School
Abingdon Boys School is a J-Rock band from Tokyo lead by Takanori Nishikawa, formed in 2005. Their music has been featured on many Japanese video games and anime series.
Abingdon Boys School T-Shirt
Aldious have been extremely popular in Japan since they appeared in the late 2000s. Playing a lovely and energetic brand of power metal, Aldious have been emulated by several acts during the past few years, drawing countless new female musicians to heavy metal music. In the midst of leading this modern feminine J-metal movement, Aldious have sold well enough to feature in the top 50 on Oricon with every release in their career thus far, with multiple top 10s in the process.
BABYMETAL is a Japanese kawaii metal band. The band was formed in 2010, with the original lineup of Suzuka Nakamoto as Su-metal, Moa Kikuchi as Moametal, and Yui Mizuno as Yuimetal, with the concept of creating a fusion of the heavy metal and Japanese idol genres. The band's name is a combination of "baby" (ベビー) and "heavy metal" (ヘビーメタル), and the Japanese pronunciation rhymes with "heavy metal".
2016's Metal Resistance saw the kawaii idol metal troupe embrace the darkness and dial back some of the more radio-friendly J-pop aspects of their sound. Metal Galaxy, the band's third full-length effort, aims to remedy that. The 14-track set commences with the fragmented "Future Metal," an overture of sorts that suggests Babymetal are taking the road less traveled this time around, when in actuality, the idea of globe-trotting plays a large part in the overall proceedings. Thai rapper F. Hero's gruff delivery brings added heft to the already muscular and mosh-pit-ready "Pa Pa Ya!!"
BAND-MAID are an all-female Japanese rock band with an image modeled on maid cafés, which are cosplay restaurants found primarily in Japan where waitstaff dress in French maid or anime costumes and treat customers as masters and mistresses; the group refer to their fans as "masters" and "princesses," with their performances being billed as "servings." The band's hard-hitting sound runs the range from hard rock and metal to punk and pop.
Blood Stain Child
BLOOD STAIN CHILD is a Japanese metal band from Osaka, that combines melodic death metal with electronic and trance. Amateras is BLOOD STAIN CHILD's seventh studio album. It was released on July 3, 2019, and peaked at #114 on the Oricon album chart. Cha-La Head-Cha-La is a cover of the original opening theme of the anime series Dragon Ball Z.
Blood Stain Child T-Shirt
BRIDEAR is an all-female metal band from Fukuoka, Japan, formed in 2011. After 50 performances in 11 European countries in 2016, BRIDEAR has established their status as a popular J-Rock band.
Broken By The Scream
Broken By The Scream is a Japanese metal idol group formed in 2016. Critically acclaimed around the world, with low growls from Io, high screams from Kagura, and clean vocals from Yae and Ayame, the screaming metal idol group Broken By The Scream is a unique combination never before witnessed in the idol or the metal scene. Their powerful screaming and beautiful singing is unlike anything else.
Broken By The Scream T-Shirt
Bump of Chicken
Japanese indie rock outfit BUMP OF CHICKEN formed in 1994 for a high school cultural festival. Over the decades, they have released a number of Japanese chart-toppers, including their third set, 2002's Jupiter, and four consecutive number ones in the 2010s, capping the decade with 2019's Aurora Arc. Their music has been used in various video games and as theme songs for movies, television shows and anime in Japan.
Bump of Chicken T-Shirt
Coldrain are a Japanese rock band from Nagoya, formed in 2007. The band's musical style has been described as post-hardcore, metalcore, alternative metal, alternative rock, punk rock, screamo, hard rock, and nu metal. The band has been focusing much more energy on touring overseas, and their popularity seems set to grow exponentially due to their excellent music and powerful live performances.
Desurabbits are notable for being one of the early pioneers of the death metal and J-pop cross-over music style known as "japanese death pop". The group is composed of 3 female artists, Yuzu Okawa, Emi Mochizuki and Karin Yasui and one male artist Akira Kanzaki, officially known as Bucho. The group's songs exhibit an eclectic mix of influences, including death metal, J-pop, kawaii metal, jazz fusion, electronic dance music and digital hardcore. The group's fans are collectively known as the "DESURABBITS Army".
Deviloof are a Visual Kei deathcore band, formed on December 12th, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. When you hear the name Deviloof, words that follow often include brutal, violent and fastest. These ideas are expounded upon in their music, where the band puts on a full display of blistering fast riffs, heavy drum beats and death-growl vocals for the better part of their songs.
Diaura is a Japanese visual kei rock band, formed in 2010 by yo-ka, Kei, Yuu, and later recruited Shoya. Their extravagant kote-kei looks and raw, metallic, yet accessible sound made them one of the most exciting indies bands. Diaura released their 1st full studio album Genesis in 2012 and their 2nd full studio album Focus in 2013. Definition is the 4th mini album by Diaura, released on 13 February, 2019. Definition discusses the existence of humanity, what humanity is, and thus was released in 2 versions, with 2 different covers: one with the theme "organic" and the other being "mechanic". Type A features a human being on the cover being eroded by technology, while Type B depicts an AI robot. The two types begin with two different songs, "ivy" and "Phantom", respectively, which discuss the "illusion of humanity" from different perspectives.
Diaura 2019 Definition T-Shirt
Dir En Grey
Dir En Grey is a Japanese heavy metal band formed in 1997. The band began as a visual kei collective but gradually moved to more reserved and darker attire and a separate sound that leaned on goth rock and death metal. With a consistent lineup of guitarists Kaoru and Die, vocalist Kyo, drummer Shinya and bassist Toshiya, they have released 10 albums. From the late 90s visual kei sound found in the Gauze (1999) and Macabre (2000) to heavy and death metal sounding tracks heard in Dum Spiro Spero (2011) and Arche (2014), Dir En Grey is a band dedicated to reveal the dark side of humanity and dwell in controversial tropics such as abortion and Japan’s wartime past.
Dir En Grey T-Shirt
GALNERYUS is a Japanese power metal band, formed in Osaka in 2001 by guitarist Syu and vocalist Yama-B. Syu has described the music of Galneryus as symphonic metal, classic metal and progressive metal. He said that while they are very much influenced by European music, they mix it with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi to create emotional music. Resurrection is the 6th studio album by GALNERYUS, released on June 23, 2010. It is the first album to feature Galneryus' new singer Masatoshi "Sho" Ono and new bassist Taka, after the departure of Yama-B and Yu-To. The track "A Far-Off Distance" was used as the ending theme for the anime television series RAINBOW 二舎六房の七人.
L'Arc~en~Ciel is a Japanese rock band, founded in Osaka in 1991. The band released their full-length debut in April 1993. Entitled Dune, the album reached #1 on the independent charts. In 1994 the band release its second album, Tierra. With momentum in their favor, L'Arc-en-Ciel released their next two albums in as many years, 1995's Heavenly and 1996's True. With a reported 40 million records sold, they were the first Japanese act to headline at Madison Square Garden. In 2003, they were ranked 58 on a list of the top 100 Japanese pop musicians.
Luna Sea is a Japanese rock band formed in 1986. Luna Sea were the definitive visual kei band of the '90s. Their sound was firmly based in '80s hard rock, but the band had a versatile, almost proggy approach to songwriting, and its softer side, displayed later on in the group's career, proved equally strong. Comprised of five extraordinary musicians, Ryuichi on vocals, Sugizo on guitar and violin, Inoran on guitar, J on bass, and Shinya on drums. Luna Sea is one of very few Japanese rock groups that not only are honored for their role as rock pioneers, but also as one of the greatest legends of rock in Japan.
Luna Sea T-Shirt
NECRONOMIDOL, is a Japanese idol heavy metal group, formed in 2014. They are a prominent force in the alternative idol and kawaii metal movements. Their music is a mix of genres like Black Metal, Darkwave, Synthwave, NWOBHM, Japanese folk and other eclectic genres of music. Their theme, lyrics, and visuals are based on the occult and paranormal, Western horror movies, Japanese horror and H. P. Lovecraft's stories.
PassCode is a Japanese idol group that was formed in Osaka in 2013 and consists out of the four vocalists Nao Minami, Kaede Takashima, Yuna Imada and Hinako Ōgami. The musical style of Passcode can be described as kawaii metal as the band mixes metalcore with EDM and J-pop.
Japanese all-female rock band Scandal emerged from Osaka as a spunky indie outfit playing anthemic, pop-friendly punk rock heard on early singles "Space Ranger" and "Koi Moyo" before taking their music to the masses on their major-label debut, Best Scandal (2009). Releasing one Top 5 album per year until 2014's Hello World, they hit a chart peak in 2016 with Yellow. Expanding their presence into anime and manga, Scandal also contributed singles to anime series, including "Shōjo S" and "Harukaze" for Bleach, "Shunkan Sentimental" for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, "Pride" for Star Driver and "A.M.D.K.J." for GeGeGe no Kitarō, which helped them capture an international audience. Scandal are Haruna Ono (guitar), Tomomi Ogawa (bass), Mami Sasazaki (guitar), and Rina Suzuki (drums).
Scandal band T-Shirt
UchuSentai:Noiz is a Japanese visual kei rock band, formed in 1996. They are known for their energetic music and live shows, as well as their eccentric cosplay outfits. The group released their first full-length album, Cyborg Rock Show Kanzenban in 2003. Their style is a combination of techno, hard rock, and pop. Assuming the roles of soldiers from space, they are decidedly serious about protecting peace on Earth with music.
Fusing Japanese traditions with a modern spin, Tokyo-based Wagakki Band blend elements of J-pop, J-rock, folk rock, metal, and ancient instrumentation with vocals influenced by Japanese poetry and theater. Their early songs were adapted from Vocaloid recordings but they have since written their own original music. Their music videos for the songs "Tengaku" (天樂) and "Senbonzakura" (千本桜) have attracted millions of views on YouTube.
Wagakki Band Limited Edition T-Shirt
Wagamama Rakia is a Japanese idol group formed in 2016, in Osaka. StartingOver is their first album, released in 2019. Wagamama Rakia are Hoshikuma Minami, Kaine Rin, Kawasaki Layna and MIRI.
Wagamama Rakia Killboredom Tour 2020 T-Shirt
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