Without wishing for a second to sound like I’m in any way racially profiling, I don’t think it would be too risqué for me to suggest that on the whole Japanese bands tend to be pretty ‘out there’. There have been some pretty madcap oriental exports over the years in punk and metal circles, from Mad Capsule Markets to High Standard, Envy and A Page of Punk.
FACT are no exception. Their intense power metal with overtones of pop punk contains elements of thrash, hardcore, dance and everything in-between. They are as mad as a box of frogs, and they’re going to have sugar-high teenagers bouncing off walls and later confusing their parents who wonder what on earth that noise is coming from upstairs.
‘New Element’ ensures things are totally OTT from the outset, with in-your-face vocals, machine-gun drumming and a barrage of furious guitar sounds mixed with sampled elements. Vocal duties flit between frontman Hiro and the only non-Japanese band member: guitarist Adam who is English. He adds some Brit grit and attitude to the mix and creates a real hybrid sound in the process.
Hiro’s voice is much more melodic and works well for the parts that would genuinely be sugary pop, if it wasn’t for the double bass pedals keeping the beat. Adam’s fierce, punchy delivery adds a hardcore bite to songs like ‘Drag’ which is equal parts New Found Glory and Municiple Waste on performance enhancing drugs. Another track, ‘Witness’, sounds like Pendulum if they were actually a metal band.
It’s all new and exciting, but as you get halfway through it also starts getting a bit, well…irritating. You start to sympathise with those confused parents I mentioned earlier and feeling a bit like a moaning old person, albeit with more justification. It all feels like everything including the singing was pieced together mechanically, very much like a dance track. At times they just sound like a big hyperactive blast of silliness and I think FACT will struggle to appeal to many people above the age of 21.
‘2-1’ confirms my suspicions that all is not well with this album by being one of those token jungle/d’n’b tracks that seem to be all the rage to include these days. Look, I have no doubt the band’s musical taste is wonderfully varied and fascinatingly diverse…but there’s really no need to prove that by adding a dance track to your metal album. I doubt many Jungle DJs include a token pop punk track in their set.
Despite these fairly apparent flaws, there are definitely some merits to what FACT have attempted to do here. Certain tracks, particularly ‘Disclosure’ towards the end, recall bands like Ministry and Alec Empire who attempted to meld metal and dance some time ago and only really achieved recognition at a very niche level.
I won’t pretend I was convinced by the album on the whole, but there’s going to be some who read this review and think what I’m describing sounds like their idea of fantastic music. Believe me, as far as you’re concerned, this album merits a much higher score. I however couldn’t connect with it all due to the lack of depth and feeling between all the stabbing riffs, racing drums and frantic vocals. If you need your music to have a soul, you won’t find much of one here.
‘Witness’ by FACT is out now on Maximum 10 UK.
Words by Alex Phelan (@listen_to_alex)