If you’re ready to be lit aflame while still breathing, visual kei deathcore band DAMNED has got you. Emerging on the coattails of 2022 as a new band, they’ve quickly arisen as one of JROCK NEWS’ bands to watch this year. On October 6, DAMNED released the two-track digital single “Souen” (蒼炎 ).

It’s normal to watch a new band come into its own, but DAMNED does it with such velocity. While leaving a powerful impression with VELTRO, they powered through with their fastest track yet, “FLA:ILL” in May 2023. Yet, the band shows no signs of slowing down or watering themselves down. They’ve only leaned further into their loudcore and death metal roots with their newest single, Souen.

DAMNED 『Fla:ill』Official Music Video

Throughout 2023 the band has released a variety of singles. Each seems to have its own distinct background influence, oscillating between the world of western and Japanese rock while maintaining a distinctly visual kei sound. The single Souen is no different as it buckles down on two apparent influences—Japanese rock and western industrial music with death metal overtones. While Souen pulls you into its world with a distinctly Japanese melody on guitar, the second track WATCH ME BURN hooks you in the same key, but an entirely different worldview. As a whole, the single has a wide range of replayability because while both songs are distinct, they feed into each other subtly.

I rarely input my own personal background as a writer, but as a DJ who often spins aggrotech into sets, the backing synth on the b-side track WATCH ME BURN is such a treat. It sets it apart from other visual kei music by providing a danceable background to its culturally unique vocals, which adds an unexpected element to my usual audience. I look forward to spinning this track between heavier scorched-earth industrial tracks, with the added surprise of vocalist Keigo’s chesty growls which transition so cleanly into pig squeals.

Let’s not discount the distinct pleasure of the drummer, Masaya. This person has some clear talent and I applaud the mixer for bringing forward the drumming into such clear intensity. All the players in this band bring talent to the table but it’s rare for the drummer to be brought through so clearly. Their drumming has been so crisp in the previous singles and is equally hard to ignore in Souen.

DAMNED’s previous tracks solidified their identity as one of the heavier, fast-paced visual kei bands on the scene, but the diversity displayed in a mere two tracks really excites me as a writer. I’m on the edge of my seat to hear what they do next.

The digital single Souen is currently available to stream and purchase on Bandcamp. Please see the links below.

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