Intriguing new Japanese metal band NEMOPHILA offer up an intoxicating yet fierce sound they summarise as “soft and fluffy hell.” Indeed, they refer to the band as “smiley-faced and awakening” as well as “hell-grade,” which comes from the Japanese term “Jigoku no yurufuwa.” Or as lead vocalist mayu describes it: “The sound is fierce like hell, but the band itself is soft and fluffy.”
The quintet hail from various Japanese cities, with mayu coming from Saitama, SAKI and Hazuki (guitars) coming from Tokyo and Shimane respectively and HARAGUCHI-SAN (bass) and Tamu Murata (drums) both from Kanagawa.
They’ve honed a sound that HARAGUCHI-SAN describes as a combination of hard rock, grunge and various other elements, including metal and J-Pop. And summarising the band as a whole, Mayu tells us: “Smiley-faced, because playing together makes us smile. We have fun and laugh when our eyes meet. Awakening, because of the spirit created when we make something together.”
Our first taste of this is their new album OIRAN: Extended Edition, which is essentially a single with all its “B-sides” for audiences exclusively outside of Japan and was released in June.
The album immediately has you hooked on the superb intro to opening track and lead single OIRAN. It opens up with a fast-paced repeating guitar and doomy cymbals then stabs of guitar give way to a faster smash of guitars and drums before a huge scream from mayu leads into a vicious opening verse. Now that, is how you begin an album!
More melodic vocals take over and lead into a big energetic chorus led by mayu’s delicious vocals. A brief vicious verse follows, before a quick instrumental section flows into another catchy chorus, Heavy instrumentals build up to a brilliant searing guitar solo that seems to just keep going, before dropping into another chorus. Check it out in the video – which has had just the 1 million views – here:
The album is absolutely packed with more of the same energetic rock meets metal excellence. There’s a more electronic feel to second track MONSTERS, which develops into a big chorus. A second chorus ends on heavier guitars before a funky guitar solo develops into a dual guitar solo.
RAITEI starts out much heavier, with chugging guitars and powerful drums feeding into an engaging opening verse and a more melodic chorus that sees spinning synths join in. A second chorus gives way to a trademark amazing guitar solo, which ends on a dual solo that feeds into a final heavier blast of the outrageously catchy chorus before the track comes to a seriously heavy ending. Check it out in the video below:
There’s more of the same on the excellent SORAI and FIGHTER, which are sandwiched by the brilliantly dark DISSENSION. It opens up with a lively guitar riff and drums, then a cool spinning lick quickly gives way to chugging guitars and more heavy drums. A dark soundscape takes over and drops into an intense opening verse led by mayu’s impressively vicious vocals.
That builds up to a chorus of singalong vocals supported by atmospheric guitars, which flies into another breakneck fast verse. Another huge chorus drops into superb chugging guitars that setup another massive guitar solo supported by powerful drums, which drop into a final blast of the chorus. This song is absolutely stunning and you can check it out in the video below:
NEMOPHILA have also released an English version of DISSENSION, which is the final track on the album.
On the album, SAKI tells us: “OIRAN: Extended Edition is a compilation of our singles so far that were only sold via NEMOPHILA’s official website between 2020 and 2021. There were many requests from overseas fans, so we decided to make this release. We didn’t really expect it to be released outside of Japan, so all members are very happy! This album is like our business card for NEMOPHILA, and it includes not only loud, metal elements, but also J-Pop touches.”
The NEMOPHILA sound is influenced by a wide range of music, but the members all told us their favourite bands. For mayu it’s Foo Fighters, for SAKI it’s the Japanese band SEIKIMA-II. While HAZUKI likes Arch Enemy, HARAGUCHI-SAN likes Slipknot and for Tamu Murata it’s DREAM THEATER.
And on what inspires them to write music HAZUKI tells us: “Each of us has a different background, so I think that is interesting in itself. Having differing values and musicality is a plus. The main theme we write about also revolves around our concept of ‘yuru-fuwa.'”
Despite the massive numbers on their YouTube channel, NEMOPHILA are still yet to release any music in Japanese shops. And, from experience of living in Japan for a month, when they do it’s going to absolutely kick off. They’re currently preparing material for a first release to be officially distributed in Japan and are really keen to live stream a show.
And when asked what they want you to know about NEMOPHILA, Tamu Murata says: “Regardless of genre or gender, each member is pursuing what they think is cool; mayu’s vocal on top of SAKI and HAZUKI’s twin guitars, HARA-chan’s bass and my drums. That’s what makes NEMOPHILA and we hope to keep delivering our music to all of you out there!!
We are absolutely hooked on the awesomely heavy, vicious and extremely engaging sound of NEMOPHILA and can’t wait to see what else they have to offer us. Shockingly, NEMOPHILA are only the third band we’ve featured from Japan but, based on how good this band is, we’re really keen to discover more going forward.