NINGEN ISU

Heavy Metal / Hard Rock / Stoner Rock / Heavy Psych / Progressive Metal / Doom Metal • Japan
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Ningen Isu is a heavy metal trio from Aomori Prefecture, Japan, who play a range of styles from stoner and doom metal, to heavy prog, hard rock, alternative metal, heavy psychedelic rock, and more. They are primarily influenced by Black Sabbath and Budgie as well as many other heavy and hard rock bands of the early seventies.

Ningen Isu was formed in 1987 by Shinji Wajima (guitars, lead vocals) and Ken'ichi Suzuki (bass, lead vocals) who had attended the same high school and had shared their interest in seventies British heavy rock. The band name, which means Human Chair, was taken from a short story by Japanese suspense and mystery writer, Ranpo Edogawa, reflecting Wajima's passion for literature.

They were soon joined by drummer Noriyoshi Kamidate and surprised judges on a TV live band program with a song called "Inju" (Beast in the Shadows). In 1989, they released a self-titled ep. Some
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NINGEN ISU Discography

NINGEN ISU albums / top albums

NINGEN ISU Ningen Shikkaku (No Longer Human) album cover 5.00 | 2 ratings
Ningen Shikkaku (No Longer Human)
Stoner Rock 1990
NINGEN ISU Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita
Heavy Metal 1991
NINGEN ISU Ougon no Yoake album cover 4.83 | 2 ratings
Ougon no Yoake
Progressive Metal 1992
NINGEN ISU Rashohmon album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Rashohmon
Heavy Metal 1993
NINGEN ISU Odoru Issun-Bohshi album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Odoru Issun-Bohshi
Hard Rock 1995
NINGEN ISU Mugen no Juunin album cover 4.17 | 2 ratings
Mugen no Juunin
Heavy Psych 1996
NINGEN ISU Taihai Geijutsu-Ten album cover 4.33 | 2 ratings
Taihai Geijutsu-Ten
Heavy Psych 1998
NINGEN ISU Nijusseiki Sousoukyoku album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Nijusseiki Sousoukyoku
Stoner Rock 1999
NINGEN ISU Kaijin Nijuu Mensou album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Kaijin Nijuu Mensou
Heavy Metal 2000
NINGEN ISU Mishiranu Sekai album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mishiranu Sekai
Heavy Metal 2001
NINGEN ISU Shura Bayashi album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Shura Bayashi
Heavy Metal 2003
NINGEN ISU San-aku Douchuu Hizakurige album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
San-aku Douchuu Hizakurige
Stoner Rock 2004
NINGEN ISU Fu-Chi-Ku album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fu-Chi-Ku
Heavy Metal 2006
NINGEN ISU Manatsu no Yoru no Yume album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Manatsu no Yoru no Yume
Heavy Metal 2007
NINGEN ISU Mirai Romanha album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mirai Romanha
Heavy Metal 2009
NINGEN ISU Shigan Raisan album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Shigan Raisan
Heavy Metal 2011
NINGEN ISU Mandoro album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Mandoro
Doom Metal 2013
NINGEN ISU Burai Houjou album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Burai Houjou
Heavy Metal 2014
NINGEN ISU Kaidan Soshite Shi to Eros album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Kaidan Soshite Shi to Eros
Heavy Metal 2016
NINGEN ISU Ijigen kara no Houkou album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Ijigen kara no Houkou
Heavy Metal 2017
NINGEN ISU 新青年 album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
新青年
Heavy Metal 2019

NINGEN ISU EPs & splits

NINGEN ISU Ningen Isu album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Ningen Isu
Hard Rock 1989

NINGEN ISU live albums

NINGEN ISU Shipuu Dotou -Ningen Isu Live! Live!! album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Shipuu Dotou -Ningen Isu Live! Live!!
Heavy Metal 2010
NINGEN ISU Ifuudoudou - Ningen Isu Live!! album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Ifuudoudou - Ningen Isu Live!!
Heavy Metal 2017

NINGEN ISU demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

NINGEN ISU re-issues & compilations

NINGEN ISU Peten-Shi to Kuuki Otoko - Ningen Isu Kessakusen album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Peten-Shi to Kuuki Otoko - Ningen Isu Kessakusen
Heavy Metal 1994
NINGEN ISU Oshie to Tabisuru Hito - Ningen Isu Keisakusen Dai 2 Shu album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Oshie to Tabisuru Hito - Ningen Isu Keisakusen Dai 2 Shu
Stoner Rock 2002
NINGEN ISU Kessakusen - Nijuu-nenshu Kinenban album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Kessakusen - Nijuu-nenshu Kinenban
Heavy Metal 2009
NINGEN ISU Sekai wa Yume - Nijuugo Shuunen Kinen Best Album album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Sekai wa Yume - Nijuugo Shuunen Kinen Best Album
Heavy Metal 2014
NINGEN ISU Ningen Isu Meisakusen 30 Shuunen Kinen Best Ban album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Ningen Isu Meisakusen 30 Shuunen Kinen Best Ban
Heavy Metal 2019

NINGEN ISU singles (2)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Ringo no Namida
Hard Rock 1990
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Yashigaike
Hard Rock 1991

NINGEN ISU movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

NINGEN ISU Reviews

NINGEN ISU Mandoro

Album · 2013 · Doom Metal
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"Mandoro" is the 17th album by Japanese heavy metal band, Ningen Isu. For over twenty years, the band had sold enough records with each release to permit them to stay with a record label, but the band remained an underground phenomenon. In 2013, they appeared at Ozz Fest in Japan. Seeing the opportunity as a chance to introduce themselves to a larger audience, the band approached their next album as if it were their second debut. There was also a conscious decision to move the band's sound more firmly into heavy metal. Therefore, this album features less of the band's progressive rock side (no 9-minute songs with long, instrumental parts) and as well, it smartly strays from some of their more lighter, pop-influenced songs that had cropped up on albums during the previous decade.

The heavy guitar sound that had been used on some tracks on the last few albums was now the guitar sound of the album. The album is chock full of heavy riffs. Guitarist Shinji Wajima once again takes over all the lyric writing except for the track "Neputa no Mandoriko," which was written by bassist Kenichi Suzuki. The song was inspired by some of the images on the floats of the Neputa Festival of their hometown, Hirosaki City, in Aomori Prefecture. In particular, Suzuki liked the images of battling warriors with skulls, chopped off heads, and eye balls popping out.

Even without writing many lyrics, Suzuki still contributed the music for several of the tracks. Suzuki's songs are usually the faster and heavier ones, and there's no mistaking them here with "Jigokuhen - Hell Screen", "Neputa no Mondoriko", and "Jinsei Banzai". "Neko ja Neko ja - It's a Cat, It's a Cat" features Wajima's wah-wah guitar to mimic the meow of a cat. The song was inspired by an incident when they discovered a kitten had become trapped in a ventilation pipe just over the drum set in their rehearsal studio.

Wajima delivers some great heavy prog songs with some awesome riffs in tracks like, "Kuroyuri Nikki - Black Lily Diary" and "Jikan kara no Kage - The Shadow Out of Time". He also proves yet again to be a master of customized guitar solos, going from blazing metal solos, to psychedelic influenced effects, traditional Japanese music scales, and his unique style of playing what he called "Tsugaru jamisen". The shaminsen or jamisen and a traditional three-stringed instrument a bit like a Japanese banjo. The fingering involves many frequent slides and wiggles on the string to create a vibrato effect. Wajima applies this playing style to his electric guitar.

Wajima once again taps into literature for some of the songs. "Kumo no Ito - The Spider's Thread" and "Jigokuhen" are based on stories by Akutagawa Ryunosuke, a famous Japanese author from the early 20th Century, and H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Out of Time".

The whole album is packed with intense and exciting heavy metal songs. Some songs are heavy and prog-influenced while others are fast and furious. Drummer Nobu Nakajima sings lead on "Kumo no Ito" and belts out some killer screams at the end. He also plays a wicked drum pattern in "Neputa no Mondoriko" which came from a festival drum beat on traditional Japanese taiko drums played at the Neputa Festival.

Only the opening track, "Shigan Goeika - Hymn of This World", takes the tempo down and sounds like a Buddhist chant turned into a song for a three-piece heavy rock band. And the closing track, "Eisei ni natta Otoko - The Man Who Turned Into a Satellite" begins more gently with chorus guitar before switching to a heavy and groovy riff after fifty seconds.

"Mandoro" marks the change over to the current style of Ningen Isu which has continued over five albums now. Most of the band's official music videos on YouTube are for songs from this period. Though always heavy, the band sounds most metal from "Mandoro" and on. It remains one of my favourite albums by Ningen Isu.

NINGEN ISU Nijusseiki Sousoukyoku

Album · 1999 · Stoner Rock
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Requiem for the 20th Century. This was Ningen Isu's eighth album and it saw them back with the label Meldac after a three-album absence. The band released four albums with Meldac in the early nineties, but then their contract expired and a compilation album became their fifth and final album with Meldac. Guitarist Shinji Wajima and bassist Kenichi Suzuki not only had to find a new label but at the time they also had to find a new drummer. They spent the next three albums working things out on their own for the most part and were joined for two albums with a new drummer. But he quit as well. Finally, they acquired Masahiro Goto of Gerard and offered him a full-time position. At this point, Meldac rang up and asked Ningen Isu if the band would like to return.

Released in 1999, the album title was conceived of as a farewell to the century. Wajima was notorious for being behind on lyric writing but he had some extra help as Goto came up with two songs. Suzuki offered two songs as well. Nevertheless, during the recording sessions there were times when everyone would hang about the studio waiting for Wajima to show up.

The sound on this album was not an entirely new approach by Ningen Isu but there was a conscious effort to do something new. If you've heard their more recent albums with their full, rich metal guitar sound and drummer Nakajima's work, you'll likely be surprised to hear this old thing. The guitar sound is somewhere between a retro rock guitar sound and modern prog rock/alternative rock. While this means the band don't always come across as metal heavy, they do still hit hard and heavy on some tracks.

The song to have a music video made was the opening track, "Yuurei Ressha - Ghost Train". Here the guitar riff has a bit of a spy movie feel. Musically, it's up to Ningen Isu's standards; however, I haven't really latched on to this one. In fact, if I were to rank Ningen Isu's albums, this one would be at the lower end of the list. It's still a very good album but I am less enamored with it than I am most of their other albums.

Suzuki's first song is "Mushi - Bugs". It's off to a good pace and a fun rocker. Not as strong as "Imomushi - The Caterpillar" of the next album but nevertheless a fun track. Wajima's "Koi wa Sankaku Mokuba no Ue de - Love Is on a Wood Horse" keeps the lively and homorous feel but is more rock than hard rock and certainly not metal. I find it's one of those songs that sound better when you actually play it than when you just think about maybe listening to it.

Goto's "Tokai no Douwa - Urban Fairytale" at first makes Ningen Isu sound like some other Japanese rock band. Certainly his vocals stand out for being neither like Wajima's nor Suzuki's. The song does get some Ningen Isu styled treatment about halfway through to make it a little more interesting and familiar.

"Akatsuki no Dantou-dai - Guillotine at Dawn" begins with the album sound that is now no surprise. What is a surprise is how the song jumps into rapid pace partway through. Wajima's lead breaks are wild and fun.

"Shoujo Jigoku - Girl Hell" gives us more of a hard rock feel but Wajima seems to be straining for the notes in places. He was also known for writing songs a little too high for his vocal range. Not a song I usually think to spin unless I play the whole album.

The highlight of the album for me is track 7, "Haru no Umi - The Spring Sea". It begins with Ningen Isu's more recognized doom riff pounding before toning down for an eerie verse. Goto's drumming is frenetic to Suzuki's wails. The song takes a psychedelic turn with voices chanting hauntingly and guitar effects. Then it changes to speedy rock with some cool lead guitar effects (backwards guitar?) by Wajima.

"Fumin-shou Blues - Insomnia Blues" is kind of bluesy and has a nice groove. Goto's vocals are not that strong I feel. The music is a more enjoyable but still it sounds like a blues rock band. But wait! Here comes the thrash with Suzuki's "Sabbath Thrash Sabbath". It's a short blasting track with Suzuki snarling "Black Sabbath!" after the choruses. The lyrics are actually rather amusing. Each member of Sabbath's classic line up is mentioned: Ozzy Osbourne - bat songs, Tony Iommi - the enchanting guitar, Geezer Butler - the ghostly bass, Bill Ward - the drunken drums. The track concludes with an deliberate homage to "Iron Man".

"Kuro Taiyou - Black Sun" is the final track and should be where Ningen Isu show their doom metal side most strongly. The playing is heavy, though the guitar still doesn't have that metal feel. The drumming is great. The final tracks are usually quite long and with extra parts. But this song is only just over six minutes. At least it becomes more interesting in the final stretch of the song. It is one of the better songs on the album if you're looking for the band's heavy side.

Ningen Isu never make a bad album. There are no disasters or "What were they thinking?!" albums in their catalogue. However, they do have a couple of albums that are home to two or three great tunes and the rest as less memorable, less inspiring. I like this one, but I don't love it. Mainly, it's not heavy enough to be metal but it's also not quite proggy enough to be real prog. It's like crossover prog gone hard rock and stoner rock. When I listen to it, I think it sounds great mostly. But nearly all of their other albums excite me more.

Best tracks in my opinion: "Haru no Umi", "Sabbath Thrash Sabbath", "Kuroi Taiyou" and "Mushi".

NINGEN ISU Ningen Isu Meisakusen 30 Shuunen Kinen Best Ban

Boxset / Compilation · 2019 · Heavy Metal
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Ningen Issue's rise to international fame... Well, okay, they're not exactly that famous. But considering that until a few years ago, they were barely known outside of their native Japan and now they have videos on YouTube scoring views in the hundreds of thousands and even one over 3 million, their future has suddenly become rather bright.

But as I was saying, their rise in popularity first really began in increase after an appearance at Ozz Fest in 2013 and then increased further after having been invited back in 2015. Since then, heavy music fans around the world (England, the U.S., Russia, Germany, Korea, and more) have been taking notice, and after last year's 21st album, "Shin Seinen" was released with the video for its 8:30 single, "Heartless Scat", reaction video U-tubers have been helping to spread the word a lot.

That leads us to this compilation album, "Ningen Isu Seisaku 30 Shunen Kinen Best Ban", which translates as, "Ningen Isu Famous Works 30th Anniversary Best Edition", or something close to that. There are three important things to know about this compilation, which I'll lay out below.

First of all, the songs. This comp includes tracks from 15 of the band's 21 studio albums. That's six whole albums unrepresented and four of them I would include in my top ten picks for best albums. However, the album also includes the "Jinmensou" version that was recorded as a B-side for 1991's single release of "Yashagaike" (noticeably absent from this compilation), one of the four bonus tracks of new material from the 25th Anniversary comp, and three brand new tracks, two of which, "Inochi Urimasu (Life for Sale)" and "Ai no Nirvana (Love Nirvana)" have official videos on YouTube. So even though we may lament the absence of some tracks from some unrepresented albums, we get a little consolation.

Next, the music. Ningen Isu has always remained a heavy band though they went through a period of trying out folk rock, stoner rock, hard rock, and a few other styles that are more hard than heavy. This compilation generally sticks to the heavy sound of the band, just with a few small exceptions. Basically, if you enjoy the heavy, progressive British rock of the early seventies, the metal of the NWoBHM, frequent touches of thrash metal or even a hint of nineties hard and heavy rock, then you'll likely enjoy the music presented on this album. I think the track selection was made intentionally with their international audience in mind. Not everyone can afford to buy Japanese imports and so it's a good bet that most fans of the band haven't heard the majority of the band's catalogue. Therefore, someone decided that a compilation that emphasizes the band's heavier side would be best.

Finally, I was surprised to find such a thick booklet of liner notes inside. As it was, all of the songs on this 2-CD package have their lyrics printed inside in Japanese and in English. So now it's possible to learn at least what the songs are about. Suzuki's Hell-themed songs are sometimes rather gory while the Wajima-penned songs often have some connection with Buddhism. As well, we can now learn an English title for the songs instead of trying to remember the Japanese one. At the end of the booklet is a discography that also translates all of the album titles. While I prefer personally to get the know the Japanese titles, I think it's a great idea to have official translations to make it easier for non-speakers to talk about albums and songs.

Whether you're a fan of the band and have a bunch of albums or you are a newbie and not very sure which albums to get first, this 30th anniversary 2CD compilation is a solid collection of heavy rock and heavy metal.

NINGEN ISU Taihai Geijutsu-Ten

Album · 1998 · Heavy Psych
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Taihai Geijitsu-ten is the seventh album by Ningen Isu. It features the return of Masahiro Goto on drums, who had previously played on the fourth album, Rashoumon in 1993. The album was released on the Trycle label, their only album with that label. After the band's contract with Meldac expired in 1994, they released an album on an independent label in 1995 and then were fortunate enough to release their sixth album on Pony Canyon thanks to a collaboration with a manga artist. But after that, they were still without a regular label and their drummer, Iwao Tsuchiya left the band.

The album title translates as "Degenerate Art Exhibit" and was inspired by the Nazi exhibits of modernist art in the 1930's as examples of degenerate art. Guitarist Shinji Wajima reckoned that rock and pop music were also a type of degenerate art and thought it would make a good album title.

The music here has taken a retro turn once more. The guitar sound is decidedly old school, early seventies, and at least a couple of reviewers have called this album very heavy psych. The opening track, Tainai Meguri, begins with some punchy chords and Goto's psychedelic/early seventies/Ginger Baker-inspired drumming. The album stays pretty close to this approach and wraps up sounding very much like a lost gem of 72/73.

As is usual for a Ningen Isu album, there are heavy stoner rock / early doom metal tracks with a strong Sabbath influence. "Ahen-kutsu no Otoko (The Man in the Opium Den)" and "Dunwich no Kai (The Dunwich Horror)" are two tracks that hammer low and heavy. But there's more to the album than just that.

"Kuzouzu no Scat" is a grooving, hard rock track whose title was inspired by Heian Period Buddhist art in Japan that depicts in nine frames the stages of decay of a human corpse. Wajima's "Chu, churu, chu-chu-chu-chuu, yeah" sounds strangely like Jim Morrison. Suzuki's "Chinurareta Hinamatsuri (Blood-soaked Dolls Day)" is a unique cross of progressive heavy rock and traditional Japanese singing. It also includes what I think is a Taishogoto, a type of koto, a traditional stringed-instrument. Meanwhile, "Kikuningyou no Noroi (Curse of the Chrysanthemum Doll)" is probably the only Ningen Isu song to have any keyboards, but only at the end, and "Ginga Tetsudou 777 (Galaxy Express 777)" is the only track in their catalogue to include horns.

Two other tracks that stand out for me are "Mura no Hazure de Big Bang", a song that captures the band's humorous side. The lyrics open with, "Today is the Sheep's Sports Day / One Sheep, two sheep they jump over the fence". The song's chorus mentions an explosion on the outskirts of the village. It's a pretty fun song. I also really like "Tentai Shikou-shou". This roughly translates as "Celestial Body Dysguesia". Dysguesia in the condition some women experience when they're pregnant and their taste preferences change, though in this case it's the title of a short story. This is possibly one of the band's most melodic songs. It's pretty cool because it begins with a drum pattern and slightly distorted guitar and the bass guitar comes in played high up the neck and the bass strings humming the main melody. It's also unusual because it's one of the very few Ningen Isu songs to include hand claps.

This album gets very high ratings on the Internet with one person ranking this in the number one position for 19 of Ningen Isu's 21 albums. My first reaction when I heard it was that it was indeed their best album. However since then, I have found I like quite a few of Ningen Isu's albums as well and possibly even better. Still, for fans of early seventies heavy rock and progressive rock, this album satisfies very well considered it was released 25 years after the phenomena of this music had passed.

NINGEN ISU Peten-Shi to Kuuki Otoko - Ningen Isu Kessakusen

Boxset / Compilation · 1994 · Heavy Metal
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This is the first compilation album of Ningen Isu. It was released on Meldac in 1994, the fifth release on that label and the final release in the band's contract with the label until resigning with them in 1999.

This compilation includes songs from their four original studio albums with Meldac: Ningen Shikkaku (1990), Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita (1991), Ougon no Yoake (1992), and Rashoumon (1993). There are three bonus tracks as well.

The album does a good job of representing the first four albums. Ningen Shikkaku has Ayakashi no Tsuzumi, Tengoku ni Musubu Koi, and Ringo no Namida. These three songs capture that band in a very heavy and hard hitting retro sound that was their style on the debut album. The music resembles classic Budgie and Black Sabbath while sometimes going faster, bearing some influence of both NWoBHM and speed metal.

From Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita, there's Kokoro no Kaji, Yashagaike, and Taiyou Kokuten. This album's guitar sound brought us closer to the mid-seventies but the band's style remained a blend of seventies heavy and hard rock with some eighties influences. Kokoro no Kaji begins almost like thrash metal, Yashagaike features a Japanese folk beginning before the song evolves into a heavier electric mood, and Taiyou Kokuten reflects the band's fondness for doom-heavy, Black Sabbath-styled songs.

Two songs are from Ougon no Yoake: Shinpan no Hi and Kofun no Neji. This album was more progressive with longer songs; however, these two tracks here, while still showing the band's progressive rock influences, are more concise and capture the band's metal spirit. It's interesting to note that future compilations would largely ignore this album.

Finally, from Rashoumon we have Namakemono no Jinsei, which is a medium tempo but rousing heavy rock track about the life of a sloth-type person, Seishun Rock Daijin, a hard rocker with an upbeat mood, and Maisoh Mushi no Uta, and Motto Hikari wo, which was the opening track on Rashoumon and is a one-punch, two-punch hard and heavy rocker that's quite catchy I find.

The three bonus tracks are Daiyogen, a rugged, speed metal number that slows down for a solid metal riff in the middle before picking up the pace again, Hashire Melos, a Maiden-esque instrumental that was used for a Honda motorcycle commercial, and the Yashagaike single B-side version of Jinmensou. The original song appeared on the debut ep. This version was recorded with an acoustic guitar intro instead of the clean guitar intro of the original.

This is rather a good compilation, capturing the band's heavy and hard rock sound while at the same time giving some room for the impression that they are also a progressive band. For a first time listener, you will be get an excellent impression of Ningen Isu's early years. No other compilation includes as many tracks from the second to fourth albums. As well, two of the three bonus tracks are available only on this compilation.

Two strikes against this are one: it's out of print, and two: in 2016 most of Ningen Isu's catalogue to date was reissued on HQCDs and so the actual reissued albums from 2016 sound better than this compilation album.

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