Subconscious Terror is a Japanese band that during the mid-90s was an extreme machine with their first album “Invisible” (1996), That album is a Brutal Death Metal monstrosity in every sense and one of the few bands in those years that was important in every sense, but it was curious that after two years the band broke up and left a tremendous album on the air, but from there the band would return in 2019 and a year later they would release their second production called “Reprogramming” (2020). So, after that return, the band presented its new album called “Chaotic Diffusion” 3 years later through the impetuous Indonesian label Brutal Mind. For this reason, Metallerium interviewed Toshihide "Hammer" Hamasaki, a founding member of the band since the 90s.
Para leer la entrevista en español: Entrevista a Subconscious Terror
Metallerium: Welcome Hammer to Metallerium pages, It's a great pleasure to talk with you about the band, this new album, and more related things within the world of metal. For this reason, we will start by asking how was the band during these last three years after "Reprogramming" (2020)?.
Subconscious Terror: Hello there, this is Hammer from Subconscious Terror (Japan). I am playing guitar in the band. First of all, thank you for the honor of interviewing me. The last album, “Reprogramming” (2020), was released in the spring of 2020. Immediately after, COVID-19 caused a domestic lockdown, which was a nightmare. However, we distributed the album in digital format for promotion and fortunately went on a release tour in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya etc (major cities). We also played at Asakusa Deathfest in Tokyo, one of the biggest death metal festivals in Japan, for the second year in a row! And I wrote a new song at the same time. That's the latest album “Chaotic Diffusion”.
Metallerium: Talking a bit about this "Chaotic Diffusion", because this is the second album of the band after your return in 2019. So, what are the biggest changes that exist within the music of the band compared to the return of the band 3 years ago?
Subconscious Terror: I have written all the songs since the band was formed in 1994, so the ideas and characteristics have not changed, but the latest album has an overwhelming brutal sound. The blast beat parts are 260 BPM, and there are overwhelmingly fast guitar riffs packed in there. We started our career in the thrash metal scene of the 90s, so we have experienced the crossover with death metal. But for us, it's a style that came naturally.
Metallerium: One of the novelties of this album is that you are now supported by Brutal Mind. So how did you become part of the ranks of this Indonesian label? And do you plan to reissue the second album through them? Cuz that one was by yourself.
Subconscious Terror: We are very grateful for the great support we received from Brutal Mind!! We were looking for a record label that matched our sound, and Brutal Mind was the first company we sent a demo to. Brutal Mind is the largest brutal death metal label in Asia and a great record company that will further lead the death metal scene worldwide in the future. We are grateful to be a part of it! As for the re-release of the last album “Reprogramming” (2020), if I had the chance I would release it, That album sold over 1000 copies, it is a very catchy album. We are not a big-name band, but we're supported by fans old and new.
Metallerium: As you know, the world is going back in time with the selection of singles and not listening to entire albums on digital platforms. So, what would be the song that would best represent the whole concept of this new "Chaotic Diffusion"? And what is it that motivates you to continue composing albums in a world that now prefers singles?
Subconscious Terror: Let me list two songs. First is “Cybernetics”, the song that puts our origin and evolution in sight at the same time, and the second song is “Nostalgic”. The scale incorporates the Japanese scale. Isn't the guitar riff unique? and this may be an answer to your question about the lyrics of this song. I'll post the lyrics.↓
Recalling memories of those days
Do you like nostalgic music?
Modern AI is a hit-maker
Even recorded waveforms can be cut and pasted at will, and pitch can be perfectly adjusted.
In the heyday of digital music, I don't think there's anything wrong with that, in fact, I like music
But the sound that is burned into the human brain is becoming a skeleton.
As the human ear develops a sense of hearing that becomes a rhythm machine, personality will be lost.
Selling line melodies with combination codes
We will just continue to make the music we want to make, through the musical scale we want to make.
Streaming society Fortunately, or unfortunately, our music is detached from commercial music
We like underground brutal music to begin with
To keep making music that doesn't resemble anything else
To do what we want
To stick to it.
That's the true free music created by human beings
The sound of the instruments when you touch them is thrilling!
Old age and old age don't change that
We do what we want, just like kids.
That is to say, we will do what we want to do. hehe
Metallerium: A detail that caught my attention in this "Chaotic Diffusion" is the lyrics. Because looking at the cover, one can relate cybernetic organisms or technological things. But while delving into the concepts of the lyrics I saw titles like "郷愁" (Nostalgic) or "幻影みせかけ" (Phantom). This led me on the other hand to the concept of the album and I saw it more related to human feelings. So, what is the concept that the band has within the whole album?
Subconscious Terror: This is a very interesting question for me. First of all, the underlying meaning of the band's name itself is about Subconscious Terror. As for the lyrics, you are right, it is my own human emotion. I don't take any inspiration from novels, movies, etc., but only from my emotions. The art is a technological depiction but contrasting. We are born into this world ambiguously, and we meet our demise ambiguously (die), but technology can only evolve, right? It is also ironic in contrast.
Metallerium: Speaking of the song titles, I see that this time they are written in Japanese, and maybe the lyrics are the same. For a person like me who knows Japanese, this is not a problem, because you know what the band wants to say, but for people who are outsiders to have knowledge of the language. How does the band play with this idea of using Japanese names knowing that it is not a very accessible language for many people when singing or reading the lyrics? Do you think it's limiting for the listener to look like this and just focus on the music? And why this time it done like this? Because the first two albums were in English.
Subconscious Terror: All actual physical booklets are in English. Only the digital version is written in both English and Japanese as a supplement. This has an experimental element. Many of us Japanese do not speak English. Since English is the world's primary language, it was necessary for the lyrics to be in English, but we have included them in the hope that our fellow Japanese fans will be able to understand the lyrics as well as we can. To digress a bit, I own a live music pool bar. We usually have a very large number of international tourists and have friendly chats with them, but it seems that more and more people are becoming interested in the Japanese language. When I am at the bar, I have long hair, so people who like music talk to me, and it is a good place for language exchange. Please drop by when you come to Japan too, and let’s “Kanpai” beer!
Metallerium: Talking a bit about the history of the band and moving away from this "Chaotic Diffusion". What were the reasons why the band decided to break up in 1998? Because "Invisible" (1996) was a tremendous album on a general level. And what are your memories of those years in the sound and the beginnings of the band as one of the few Death Metal bands of the '90s in Japan?
Subconscious Terror: It was 1998. It was inactive. In the 1990s, Japan was in a period of rapid economic growth, and we were university students, but we all went to work because the salaries were high. I still planned to make my living around music, but the other members chose to work. There was no Internet, so it was difficult to find members, and even more difficult to find technical musicians. I regrettably chose to take a hiatus. At that time, technical death metal bands themselves were almost non-existent and very rare. In the early days, we would go into a music studio and record demos on cassette tapes with a boom box and sell them at live venues. Thankfully, this spread rapidly and led to our first album "Invisible" in 1996 (Eclipse Records). At that time, we were touring nearly 60 shows a year. One of my memories of that time is that the engine of our equipment car burst on the highway and we couldn't reach the venue of the show due to heavy snow. We also went to hot springs in the countryside. Oh yes, let me introduce the band I was touring with at the time. You probably know them as Defiled (Season of Mist). They are still one of my best friends, especially in the '90s when we were touring together dozens of times a year all over the country. They are one of the bands I respect very much.
Metallerium: Within the subject of Death Metal bands in Japan in the 80s and 90s, a few weeks ago I was able to speak with Yusuke Sumita from Defiled, and he told me that Japanese society was very close to external culture in those years. So, do you think those were the reasons why an extreme scene didn't have a correct development in Japan in the 90s? And how do you see the development of your country within extreme music in recent years?
Subconscious Terror: Oh! You are right about Defiled with this question, hehe. very naive question and hard to choose the right words, but let's talk about my image. I agree with Yusuke. There was a social impression that foreign music was absolute in the metal scene at that time, and metal played by the Japanese was not accepted. Imported culture was at its height. However, there were still fans who supported metal music played by pure Japanese at that time. All the fans from those days are still supporting us today. I think we have a good chance from now on, and I hope that more and more young bands will come out. We would like to be a bridge between them. My concern is that the number of young people playing in death metal bands is decreasing. This is due to the fact that there are no jobs for people with long hair, parents do not allow it, and society places a high value on academic background. It is still very difficult to have an environment to be able to play in Japan.
Metallerium: Correct me if I'm wrong, but a detail that I saw within the Japanese scene in the last 10 years or maybe less, is that Japanese bands of any metal style are not very interested in appearing in the media in this part of the world and I see that the internal support within your country is immense. For example, I see bands like Lovebites that have 5-6 dates in your country, and they are all sold out. So how do you view this whole idea of the metal scene in your country in front of the foreign media? Are you interested in appearing in media in this part of the world or media that govern at a European and American level?
Subconscious Terror: This is also a very interesting question. It seems that there are some aspects of Japan's unique culture that are difficult for people overseas to understand. As you know, anime manga and female idol culture are most popular in Japan. I think they are likely to attract the attention of foreign media, including their preconceptions about Japan. In addition, I think the fact that the skills of girls' bands have been improving greatly has also had an impact. However, it tends to be distinguished from the metal scene like ours as a separate genre (idol metal music). I welcome the exchange of Japanese culture with the rest of the world. We are very interested in it and would like to broaden our vision.
Metallerium: We are very close to finishing this interview, Hammer, so what are the future plans that the band has for this new album? Tours, concerts, videos, etc. Or maybe a first coming to this part of the world.
Subconscious Terror: As for the future, we are planning to hold release parties in Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. After that, we will be preparing for overseas activities, including networking with booking agents in the U.S. and Europe. And of course, the next album!
Metallerium: Well Hammer, the sad moment for this interview has arrived, I hope you enjoyed it like I did. Congratulations on this new album and thank you very much for your time. Maybe you have something to add to your Latino fans and Metallerium readers.
Subconscious Terror: I am very honored to be interviewed by Metallerium. Hope to see you in your city. Please take a listen to our Subconscious Terror's new album “Chaotic Diffusion”. Finally, thank you for all your support to us and this valuable interview, Arigato!!