Album Review: Sokoninaru – Choetsu

It’s been quite a journey for Osaka’s Sokoninaru. Since their formation in 2011 the band have beaten a unique path with their progressive heavy rock sound whilst releasing six critically acclaimed mini albums along the way. After nine long years we finally arrive at their debut full length, Choetsu, and it was certainly worth the wait.

Like seeing your reflection in a bullet that’s just about to enter your cranium ‘Lament Moment’ arrives with little warning and it’s all the more powerful for it. As introductions go it’s the perfect calling card and rapidly runs rings around the listener. Hardcore played at an insane amount of beats per minute ‘Lament Moment’ builds huge walls of sound that give way to quieter, almost ambient, passages before the band whip up another maelstrom. Sokoninaru even find time to throw in an industrial interlude as some sublime harmonies float atop yet despite the invention and sonic fury there’s a strong sense of melody permeating Choetsu that renders it extremely catchy.

A satisfying bass rumble heralds the arrival of ‘Mirage’ and it’s gently entwined by bright and shiny guitar lines which snake around the rhythm section like ivy. That’s just one of many juxtapositions that echo throughout Choetsu as female vocals sit beside male and monolithic sonic structures nestle betwixt moments of calm. Starting and stopping on a dime ‘Mirage’ mixes up nifty time changes with great abandon and leaves the listener dizzied within its wake. The aptly titled ‘Complicated System’ is something of a musical maze and, like a cluster bomb, explodes in every direction as the six string mirrors the bass and flits from speaker to speaker in sensory overload.

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Originally formed as a two piece, bassist Misaki Fujiwara and guitarist Juko Suzuki share an obvious chemistry that verges on telepathy and that’s a prerequisite when makiing music this complex sound simple. ‘Avoided Absence’ begins rather sedately and incorporates elements of math rock and emo as it builds towards a humongous wall of sound that makes the silence that follows deafening. Kaleidoscopic guitars shimmer on ‘Tenbin no ue de’ as Misaki’s vocals skip like a stone over water. ‘White For’ ticks like a clock with keys standing stark against a dark background before ‘Black To’ brings the album to an epic conclusion with a constantly evolving song that finds Sokoninaru at their shapeshifting best.

Choetsu is available for streaming on 7th October and physically via JPU Records on 6th November with two bonus tracks.

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