It’ll knock you off your feet
For the most part, “friendship” is a word typically associated with warm and fuzzy pleasantries. You know, feelings of connection, affection and one of the only things that’s nice about human dynamics. But sometimes, all that’s good natured and likable when it comes to friendship doesn’t necessarily have to be lighthearted and positive. Quite the contrary, actually. Japan’s Friendship has given two albums worth of evidence to show that. Their 2017 debut Hatred was rife with intense, sludgy powerviolence. For some reason, it flew relatively under the radar as far as deserved recognition, but Friendship has come back with a vengeance with Undercurrent. On it, the Chiba Prefecture group demonstrate just how serious extreme music is taken in Japan, and it couldn’t be more eye-opening and ear-splitting.
Even their attempts at instrumentals and introductions are forceful. “Demise” starts the record off with fuzzy heft, acting as more of a palate-cleansing preparation than a taste of forthcoming ruggedness. That’s what the subsequent “Vertigo” does by forging a drum driven pathway of force throughout the album’s core. The track itself builds upon its thrash-like drumming that carries into “Punishment” and “Lack.” Just as intensifying as the thumps in these songs are the vocals. They’re loud, husky and hoarse in all of the most enjoyable ways, furthering the robust nature of Undercurrent.
All of that comes to a head towards the end of the 22-minute-long feat. “Plague” and “Garbage” are some of the best displays of everything present on the record—the drums hit breakdowns and blast beats with pitiless might (especially around the one minute mark on “Garbage”), vocals touch on every needed low tone, and the riffs are bleak and soul-crushing.
For a sophomore release, Friendship is out here staking their claim for attention and stance as one of the more extreme groups currently playing in Japan. If Hatred didn’t put them on your radar Undercurrent should, and their next release will keep them there.