Formed in 1992, Envy is one of Japan’s most well-known bands. Through the years, they’ve defied genre labels but have found audiences in hardcore circles as well as post-rock throngs. With their latest release, Recitation, Envy continues to walk along the genre lines with beautiful and elusive emotion.
This is the sixth full length recording from the band and it is a mind-altering experience of supremacy and magnificence.
The quintet takes to the blending of soundscapes with hardcore breakdowns like few other bands can, generating some of the most overwhelmingly gorgeous pieces of work heavy music offers these days. The intensifying squalls of heaven greet the throat-shredding vocals of Tetsuya Fukagawa like the sun warming its first shards of land in the crisp morning.
Indeed, there is something otherworldly about the sound Envy produces here and it can be hard to compute. Other bands might have preferred a riff-heavy architecture to Envy’s wall of turbulence, but what makes this band stand apart is their attention to details others would have discarded.
Take how the legendary group opens Recitation, for example. “Guidance” is an Eno-esque swell of synth and backwards guitar harmonics, building to a seemingly unavoidable climax of tension. It is broken up by a female speaking in Japanese and we are, at least briefly, immersed in a sort of tranquillity.
Even as Envy takes off with the rest of the record – and even as Fukagawa invokes the damned with his ferocious vocals – we never really lose that sense of peace. Songs like “Rain Clouds Running in a Holy Night” and “Pieces of Moon I Weaved” have a sort of gentle spirit amid the turmoil, while the devastating guitar of tracks like “Dreams Coming to an End” wash over with disoriented ecstasy.
Recitation is, in fact, like poetry. Through Fukagawa’s vocals and the band’s active, punishing barrage of music, we witness an unfolding of emotion as tender and delicate as a rain-kissed flower.
With this recording, Envy has now pushed beyond the investigation of its split releases with the likes of Jesu or Thursday and, as a result, proclaims their own truth. It is a fully realized vision, one with a sort of expressive reconciliation as its centre. But there is no shortage of challenges here, of course, and the inevitable retribution is sweet.