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The Cold Spring Weather Blooms Cherry Blossoms

03-24-2019 | By Peter R. Clark | Issue 102


Sometimes I have no idea how I find music. It's a weird combination of factors that go into the discovery of new music. Sometimes I just have to be in the right place at the right time, in the right mindset.

花冷え。(Hanabie) is no exception to this case. The way I discovered this band, which would have easily gone undiscovered, is through a long process, and would take quite a while to explain.

Hanabie is a four-piece metalcore-ish band from Japan. But as with any genre that Japan gets their hands on, it is their own interpretation of the genre. It happened with Envy, Heaven in her Arms, nervous light of sunday, and other Japanese bands. They always tend to make it their own, but still show some sort of appreciation for the original style. So, while I say Hanabie is a metalcore band, they are also at the same not. This can only be fully realized once you hear the band's music.

Their first mini album release, 「開花宣言」- Cherry blossoms are blooming, is an excellent first foray for this fledgling band to showcase themselves. Along with the album, the band has also released two music videos.

The basis of this group, I feel, is the great music the singular guitarist, Matsuri, can create. She is able to create a sweeping sound of music all by herself, making the band feel much larger than it is. Backed, of course, by the bassist, Hettsu (Moonwalk), who is able to provide fills, like the plucking parts on "TIME OUT," to really pull the whole sound together. It's a fast and furious affair of sound that I haven't heard in a while from such a young, and small band.

The interesting thing about this group is that they have a drummer. I mean, every song has drums in it. The two music videos have the same drummer, and the few live videos available on YouTube also have a drummer, but this person is not credited anywhere. I have no idea why, he's actually really good. There are parts of some of the songs, such as the blast beats on "ドラスティック・ナデシコ," that wouldn't be same without the intensity of the drums. 

Then there is the range that the vocalist, Yukina, can make. She can go from a normal singing voice to a high scream, to a lower one without really batting an eye. It is at this point that I should mention that every member of this group (except the nameless drummer) sings at various points in the song, with Matsuri providing most of the chorus/clean singing parts, and Hettsu (Moonwalk) providing some background singing to support Matsuri.

Lyrically, this group is a mess. A trend I've noticed in Japanese hardcore and beyond, is to include English words alongside Japanese words. In most cases, the English is generally fine, not exactly proper English, but through context it makes sense. Hanabie, on the other hand, needs someone to proofread their English parts, as they make no sense. Vocally they are fine, the words flow with the song well enough, but lyrically I am at a complete loss as to what they are trying to say. The lyrics, however, are not that important.

What makes this band great is the interplay between all the members. Songs are often switching between vocalists. Or the guitarist and bassist take turns sharing parts of songs. Don't even get me started on the excellent composition of "ghost mania," and "ZERO." Some of these songs border on strokes of genius for this genre. Maybe I'm just over-exaggerating because I've been starved of good bands in this genre, but I do truly feel something good about the future of this band. Hanabie has done their homework, they know what they are doing.

This album only has 5 songs worth mentioning, as the other is an instrumental intro. Of the 5 songs on the album, I cannot pick out the best and the weakest. They are all great. From the extremely catchy nature of "Envy," to the heavier than a boulder nature of "ghost mania," this album has everything. Well, everything that I am looking for at least.

I have been talking about it a lot, but "ghost mania" is probably my favorite track on the album. The parts with Matsuri doing her clean singing are unlike any of her other parts on the album. The chugging guitar accentuates her flowing voice. It reminds me a lot of some of the older bands I used to listen to like Nevea Tears or maybe even Scarlet at times. This also contains probably the heaviest breakdown album, which is one of my weaknesses in this genre.

Hanabie is a band that I am glad I discovered. It could have easily walked on by without me even noticing. I look forward to upcoming releases from them, and I honestly can't wait to see what they come out with next. If this first mini-album is any indication of what it is to come, I eagerly await their full release.

You can find their music videos on their YouTube channel HERE.

And you can buy their album HERE.

Editor's Note: All song titles are listed as they appear on the CD. In addition, the band names listed are as the band wishes them to appear, lower case letters instead of upper case.