Less than a year after their first full album, DOUBLE COLOUR SHEEP, rockers NOISEMAKER return with a new mini release, as of August 20th. The band, a four piece unit made up of AG on vocal, Uta on drums, YU-KI on bass, and HIDE on guitar, has spent the past few years touring with big names like KNOCK OUT MONKEY and FACT, and making its mark on the so called ‘loud’ scene in Japanese music, drawing in a young and rebellious crowd of fans. The new mini album, MAZE, is a six track sample of their rap-meets-punkrock style, with a bit of nu metal thrown in, and the music’s potential to mature into something produced by one of their many big touring partners is clear.

The tracks that will stick in the minds of new listeners come right at the beginning, as ‘Drifting Clouds’ opens the album confidently with an immediately strong vocal, a catchy chorus and instrumentals that hint at heavier influences without lapsing into predictable breakdowns. What we get instead is a deeper, more ethereal atmosphere in the middle eight and an energetic, punchy finish. Next up is ‘Reason’, the band’s latest music video, featuring a stronger nu metal vibe which combines rap and screaming in the vocal, while some electronic additions are made to the core setup. Another memorable chorus and some addictive guitar are finished by a fantastic breakdown and instrumental- get your neck muscles ready for this one!

Unfortunately, the mini album begins to lose momentum in the middle. ‘Stray Dog’ gets a heavy, punk rhythm pumping, while the angrier verses build tension into the choruses. This track lacks the distinction of the previous two, with generally simpler riffs and little change in energy throughout, but maintains that angry, punk vibe that will still please fans of the genre. ‘Due Process’ returns the fresh, atmospheric feel to NOISEMAKER’s style in the opening, before descending into a darker, pounding riff. Catchy verses and crashing percussion make for an involving combination, although as with ‘Stray Dog’ there isn’t much in terms of emotion to engage with- save for a breakdown that focuses on AG’s vocal more closely, and the high-impact final seconds. Lastly, we get ‘Wake Up’ to finish the main tracklist; with those two words repeated perhaps a little much over the course of the song. Dramatic rhythms and a tense breakdown make for a mostly exciting finish, although the track fails to complete the album as strongly as they first began it.

However, NOISEMAKER saves something else for the end of MAZE- the final treat for listeners is a rather surprising cover of Rihana’s ‘Rude Boy’! AG’s punky vocals add some aggressive attitude to the original melody, while the driving choruses completely transform the track. Worth a listen if only for the novelty!

The nu metal and ‘loud’ rock scenes in Japan are growing rapidly, and perhaps intimidatingly for some new bands- with so many similar acts emerging into the charts it can be difficult to compete. What NOISEMAKER offers is nothing new, but what matters is that they do it well. A tight, well-formed unit, set to expand their horizons and hopefully push their music in the direction of ‘Drifting Clouds’ and ‘Reason’, NOISEMAKER is aiming for the heights reached already by acts like Coldrain and FACT. With a bit of polishing, I think they might just get there.

Words by Lauren du Plessis

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