Japandemonium – June 2011: ANTHEM, X JAPAN, BLOOD STAIN CHILD, And UNITED Offers An X JAPAN History Lesson…

Some loud and obnoxious activity in and coming out of Japan these days; check out the rundown below. And for the record, we finish things off with an exclusive X Japan-related history lesson…

Veteran bashers Anthem are gearing up for the release of their new album, Heraldic Device, due to hit shelves (yes, I still have a record store mentality) in July. Fans outside Japan can pre-order it here. This marks the band’s 14th studio album since 1985 and in reportedly in the vein as their last few records. So, no big surprises, but a guarantee of quality shred.

Click here for the complete tracklist and the band’s tour schedule for Japan. No word as to whether Heraldic Device will receive an official release outside Japan, but it’s doubtful considering they haven’t had one since No Smoke Without Fire in 1990.

X Japan are due to release their first ever internationally distributed single, ‘Jade’, on June 28th in all available digital formats. Live recordings of the song have been plastered all over YouTube for months, and I believe a rough studio mix is floating around as well, but a properly mixed sample of ‘Jade’ is now available at this location. The song is the precursor to X Japan’s full length international debut, which is still a work in progress at the moment.

In the meantime, check out my interview with drummer / founder Yoshiki, conducted in the fall last year, available in two parts here and there.

Blood Stain Child have released their new album, Epsilon, in Japan, and it’s due to be released internationally at the end of the month.The band has evolved in several weird and wonderful ways since I stumbled over them in 2003, having added female vocalist Sophia to the line-up and pushing their trademark death-trance metal sound into overdrive. Cover art can be viewed on the left, and a full length audio clip of the song ‘Sirius VI’ is available here.

An interview with the band will appear on this site soon, but for those that missed it, I spoke with Sophia about the Visual Kei phenomenon earlier this year in an exclusive interview. The end of the article features some discussion on how she came to join Blood Stain Child and her influence on the band’s sound. Check it out here because it’s actually worth your time to read it. The band’s official website can be found at this location.

Finally, old school thrashers United are celebrating their 30th Anniversary with a new album entitled Tear Of Illusions. Their first record in six years, it’s a brutal outing in the spirit of classic Testament and new Death Angel and features new Kuwait-born vocalist Faisal “Ken-shin” Al-Salem. Check out the video for the new song ‘Fight Fear Kill’ here. An interview with bassist Akihiro Yokoyama will surface on these pages and BW&BK soon, but prior to our discussion I discovered that United guitarist Yoshifumi “Hally” Yoshida was a member of X Japan in their infant ’80s years, back when they were known simply as X. Asked about the X Japan link, Yokoyama offers an eyebrow-raising look back:

“Actually, there are more links between X and United than that,” he says. “Me and Hide, the late guitar player of X, were actually friends from kindergarten days. We started playing in bands at around the same time, and would go to buy instruments together or hang around sharing beers on weekends.”

“Hally was in X for a really short period of time. He didn’t record anything with them, but only played in rehearsals. Not many people know about this, but Pata, the current X Japan guitar player, used to roadie for Hally, and the very guitar he was using when he joined X was actually the one Hally used to play.”