JADE FOREST COMPANY - JADE FOREST COMPANY
Some welcome reinforcements for Japan’s folk metal scene.
Of the trends in ‘90s European metal that’ve become ingrained in the Japanese scene – female vocalists, melodeath, fantasy power metal – folk metal is conspicuously absent. Even in the wake of WagakkiBand’s rise, local practitioners of the genre remain rare. That said, the ranks were bolstered in 2020 with the founding of JADE FOREST COMPANY by some unlikely collaborators.
A trio of visual kei veterans – ex-Mamono guitarist Chucky, ex-Inugami Circus-dan bassist Zin and ex-UCHUSENTAI:NOIZ drummer Satton – joined up with accordionist Naoki Ebisawa and violinist Kamijo, otherwise known as a guitarist for Bakudan Koukiatsu. Not long after they formed, My Complex Of Academy’s Maiko succeeded founding frontwoman nachamaroll. Their self-titled debut mini-album dropped last October.
Some folk metal acts certainly go harder than others on the folky elements. As if to tease wary listeners, it’s the rhythm section who open the breezy ditty Shinryoku no koyoku before Ebisawa and Kamijo make themselves heard. In case you’d forgotten who you’re listening to, the ensemble proceed to helpfully repeat the central refrain “JADE FOREST COMPANY!” no fewer than eleven times.
An accordion can be a hazardous instrument for any band to take into the studio. In the wrong hands, the blackest of ballads can become a sea shanty, so thank God for Naoki Ebisawa. The relentlessly ebullient Celtic energy he and Kamijo imbue CONFLICT with could whip the most reticent of mosh pits into a swing-dancing frenzy.
Just as one song follows the other on the mini-album, it’s easy to imagine the mellow Ewige Liebe following CONFLICT live. Picture if you will concertgoers swaying to the plodding beat while they stand at the bar, waiting to replace the beers they almost inevitably spilt during the preceding impromptu hoedown. Regular metal (well, folk metal) service resumes for Antinomie and Fairy Gathering.
If JADE FOREST COMPANY’s RPG-inspired stagewear is any indication of how seriously they take themselves, it’s hard to imagine them getting insecure about a perceived lack of originality like China’s Nine Treasures once did. That said, as there may be as few as one other folk metal band in Japan (namely Kasutori Gengakudan) who employ a permanent accordionist, they may be more unique than first thought.
It’s a continuing irony that Celtic-influenced bands like JADE FOREST COMPANY and BELLFAST still dominate what semblance of a folk metal scene Japan has, but these things have to start somewhere.
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