REVIEW: IBARAKI – “Rashomon”
Matt Heafy of Trivium is known to be one of the premier metal frontmen of our times. His interests in Japanese folk and lore which would partly come as part of his Japanese-American identity have invoked the creation of a dark force that is IBARAKI. The debut album titled ‘Rashomon’ features other renowned names in Metal and rock such as Ihsahn of Emperor, Nergal of Behemoth, and Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance. Though the project and the album have primarily been termed as black metal, it just feels way beyond that.
‘Rashomon’ is not an album that can simply be defined to fall under the specifications of one genre. From scathing metal entwined with Japanese folk elements to deep sublime melancholic passages, the album embodies the real sense of dread. Rashomon carries the burden of the many heavy subjects portrayed here that is directly inspired by both his personal life and ongoing world events.
What sets this album apart are the aesthetics and its progressive nature. The interplay of dissonant black metal and clean vocal works sounds like nothing else heard before. As told earlier, the influences are immense and each passage has a different story to tell. The black metal quotient of the record is so unconventional that at moments it even stops sounding like one.
There are parts where chaotic blast beats subside to the kind of heavy metal riffing which is not something we get to listen to in conventional black metal. On the other hand, we have subtle folk elements layered atop fast rhythms invoking the demon it is. Amidst the chaos, Matt’s clean vocal performances weave a beautiful dream only to be shattered by the sudden barrage of sonic assault.
The album is heavily influenced by various dark but not limited to subjects such as violence against Asians in America or the ignored mental health of the country’s working-class (Japan) and the high suicide rate it ensues.
In IBARAKI, we see the artist paying homage to his Japanese heritage while being true and honest about his feelings. With the help of his bandmates in Trivium and other prominent musicians of the scene, he has created a beast that is ‘Rashomon’ and it would be a shame for this album to get lost in the archives without getting the appreciation it deserves.
‘Rashomon‘ by IBARAKI could be called a genre undefining rather than a defining piece of music. The various musical and personal influences Matt has created this otherworldly, vicious dark force that though unconventional, stays honest to its roots and purpose.