2023: The Year of Anime-Inspired Metal
by Ryan Dyer
2023 is the year anime-inspired metal makes an impact that will be impossible for those unaware not to notice.
Two Chinese bands are taking this style, a hybrid of deathcore, slam, grindcore with lyrics, motifs, samples, and album art inspired by or referencing elements of anime culture, to the next level. Human Instrumentality Project, from Guangzhou and Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship, from various parts of China. Both bands have made their mark with their respective debut EPs and will release albums in the same time frame – May 20 for HIP and June 6 for DIW.
Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship – Otakuslam Animecide
Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship burst onto the scene with their EP μ’Sick. The band, spiritually influenced by the Love Live! anime series, made a mark on the metal community with head-spinning brutality accompanied by now-iconic ero-guro album art by 南极君.
Their new album, Otakuslam♡Animecide, makes up for the huge gap in releases in a major way. Its eight tracks culminate the band’s work from 2018-2023 and stands apart from their debut by infusing unconventional musical elements (at least when it comes to metal) and guest stars. Members of Bodysnatcher, The Dark Prison Massacre, DualInsomiNa, Gorepot, Kraanium, Chelsea Grin, Gizmo, Vulvodynia, Leviathan, and Scarlet Horizon all appear on the album, giving each track a different and often surprising flavor.
In late 2022, DIW gave fans a preview of the album with the song “Eien Parasites, “featuring some evolution in the sound of DIW. Vocalist Kiryu Zhang says of the changes, “There will be more tracks that sound different. An example is in the track “ストーム・イン・カーネイシ,” which has a salsa part.”
The album’s second single, ”$MOKE HALATION,” introduced a sample of these flavors. The track features Tom Barber and Gizmo, bringing dark trap elements to the band’s form of brutal death metal.
For the new album, the band shall explore other anime series, with Zhang revealing that Girls und Panzer will receive the Dehumanizing Itatrain Worship treatment. Remarking on the two bands taking influence from anime, Zhang has said, “We have metal bands writing about Lord of the Rings, why can’t we have some Evangelion?”
Human Instrumentality Project – LCL Sea
Human Instrumentality Project follow the release of their debut EP, The Brutal Angel’s Thesis (2021) with LCL Sea. Their first EP, based on the anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion was a state-of-the-art mashup of brutal deathcore which took musical cues and motifs from the series. The lyrical plot of the album was based around ‘The Children’ and their struggles as they attempted to pilot the EVA suits.
LCL Sea follows suit, with a further eight tracks exploring the world of Evangelion. The concept is divided into two chapters – the first, “Angel of Doom” and the latter “Dream,” which correspond to the “real world” and “spiritual world” respectively.
The album’s first single “Come, Sweet Death” offered a sneak peek into the changes and surprises HIP have in store for listeners on LCL Sea. It featured a collaboration with Argentinean metal singer Melisa Jimenez, one of a few guests to appear on the record.
“Fly Me to the Moon” features DIW vocalist Kiryu Zhang, uniting the two anime-slamming powerhouses. The song was famously used for the end credits sequences in EVA, with the song being slightly altered as the series went on. HIP give it another alteration – a fittingly brutal one, though keeping enough of the original to inspire a sense of nostalgia in the listener for the series.
Human Instrumentality Project guitarist Syond Lin says of the collaboration, “The entire process was enjoyable, and he demonstrated a high level of musical and aesthetic standards. We could look forward to the performance of this song together later. As for the theme of this song, it is an adaptation of a classic jazz song and also a crucial song in EVA. We hope to supplement the completeness of the story by including this song in the album.”
The nostalgic elements also come up with the many audio snippets used from the series. Tracks “A.T.FIELD,” “L.C.L SEA” and “The Beast That Shouted Love At the Heart of the World” provide dialogue from the series – a contrast to the chaos within the songs, which when heard next to these tracks, are like the abysmal Angels standing across from the children.
The future of anime-influenced metal
Syond Lin says of the band’s conceptual approach to anime-inspired metal and if they have influenced other bands, “In fact, in the past two years, our influence may still be limited, or it may be that the homogenized extreme music market, after so many years of sedimentation, is difficult to change the direction of due to the emergence of a certain band.
For ourselves, in addition to thinking about the technology and arrangement of the work, we hope to continue to improve and enhance the content of the work. Because good work cannot only have superficial techniques, the audience to some extent wants to know what content your work is expressing. I still think content is a very important aspect. For example, our new album, although based on EVA and deathcore, we prefer to convey deeper thinking. Faced with a world full of barbarians and the social tearing caused by labeling and opposition to different perspectives, whether we choose to immerse ourselves in our ideal dreams or give ourselves wings to fight against the storm is a question that everyone should consider. We are a lost generation, and we cannot think about many things clearly in a short period of time. However, the core concept of this album is that no matter what, we always have a choice.”
Is LCL Sea the final chapter in Human Instrumentality Project’s EVA-themed series?
“We believe that after this album, the band will soon face a transformation, which is actually a quite inevitable trend. As for where our path lies in the future, I still hope to leave a suspense here. I cannot say it absolutely;, I can only say that we will do our best to continue presenting good work.
Our positioning towards ourselves will still be deathcore, and the theme of human completion projects can actually be extended to a broad ideology, because there will never be spiritual communication between people, and each of us will have our own ideas and be independent individuals. However, the many divisions caused by this result in us never being able to be one mind. In other words, can you deny that swarm consciousness is perfect? It seems that we cannot say that the debate over social ideology is not a topic that we can easily solve. Perhaps we can continue to have in-depth discussions on this topic and content in the future. Alternatively, we will continue to adhere to the guidance of Japanese culture and highlight some exploration of the inner spiritual world.”