Nail nail nail...
Genre: Maximum the metal
With their avant-garde approach to genre transgression, Maximum the Hormone might well be the elusive progressive nu metal band that some people are looking for. In any case, I think they are one of the most innovative bands on the nu metal scene, which, I think, is quite well documented by this single release.
The opening track "爪爪爪" (or "Tsume tsume tsume" in Romaji) was the first song from Maximum the Hormone that I heard, and it remains one of my favorite metal songs ever. After a brieft drum explosion, it starts out with an uptempo aggressive dissonant riff accompanied by extreme metal growls and screams and a fast drums, changing to a more off-beat figure and then again to a more samba-like riff and drum beat, while a more rapping style of vocals (accompanied by riot background vocals). Then the tempo drops and a crushingly heavy groovy riff kicks in, as the vocals go back to a more extreme metal style, before an extremely melodic chorus that just compels you to sing along even if you don't speak Japanese. The entire sequence of riffs is repeated, and then a groovy percussive bridge kicks in, evolving around a Latin-type of groove. Giving you another chance to sing along, the chorus is repeated, and the dissonant riff serves as a coda.
The following track "「F」" is no less sensational It starts out with a simple aggressive figure, featuring some thrashy drums, a slapping and popping bass, and aggressive riot singing, and then morphs into a melodic section featuring both vocal harmonies and rapping in extreme metal screams and growls. This is followed by a nu metal groovy riff accompanied by the same type of aggressive rapping. A brief interlude is given in form of an of beat funky section which also combines the melodic vocal harmonies and aggressive rapping. This is followed by an extremely melodic sing-along chorus and complete with underlying guitar harmonies. The entire sequence is repeated but with a couple of variations in the vocal styles to keep things interesting. Then a guitar solo kicks in, and the chorus is repeated in different variations.
The third track "Kill All the 394" starts out a fierce hardcore punk song, complete with old school blastbeats, simple aggressive guitar riffs, riot vocals and extreme metal vocal styles. After a frenzied barrage hardcore passages, a coda kicks in which has the form of an uplifting sing-along-part (this time in English).
What I like about the songs on this album is the way that a lot of different genre elements are included without it seeming forced or artificial. In fact there is a quite fluid dynamic feel throughout the album, and it actually seems natural whenever Maximum the Hormone jump from one genre into another. I would say that this genre transgression is an, if not avant-garde, then at least a quite innovative trait. Still, the listener will notice that, despite the many elements that each song contains, the overall song structures are not too complex, but rather easy to follow. This ensures that the music is accessible at the end of the day.
I also like the many different vocal styles included - ranging from rap over clean vocals to growls and screams. Moreover, all members of the band contribute to the vocals-aspect of the album which definitely ensures variation. In addition, the drummer, Nao Kawakita, is a woman; apart from being a kick-ass drummer, she can naturally contribute to the overall sense of variation with the quality of her voice (just check her brief lead vocals section in "爪爪爪").
This is only a three-song single, but listening to it is almost like listening to a full-length album in terms of variation. And, well, to put it very briefly, it's fucking awesome!