The first is the ‘salary man’, a near robot so dedicated to his career he’s more likely to end up literally dead from over work as successful in his chosen field, the second is the often painfully cute and quirky, ‘kawaii’, aspect, with the occasional suggestion of a darker hint beneath the child friendly veneer.
A couple of years ago I first encountered something of the underground punk rock scene, as present in Japan as it is in any other ‘first world’ country, when unabashed hard living noise merchants PUNiK visited Guernsey for the Chaos weekend and I picked up a copy of their debut album, Fuck Yeah!, in July 2018 they returned to Guernsey with another band in tow to play a show at The Fermain Tavern, Morllyheads who greatly impressed live, so I picked up their self-titled record then and there.
While still clearly falling into the punk grouping of musical styles it’s safe to say Morllyheads were not exactly what I was expecting based on my experience of PUNiK and that continued as I hit play on the record (I’m not sure if it counts as mini-album or EP, or if such distinction is even important).
Led by bass player Yutaka Moriyama, aka Morlly, this is punk rock with an added groove and weight making for a sound that’s as much late 80s Seattle as it is late 70s London, New York or L.A. added to which, on a few of the tracks, is a guitar style that hints at the better side of 80s metal akin to the Anthrax or Megadeth end of thrash.
On top of this comes the sneering, snarling vocals of Kentaro Chiba which bring it all back to street level as he switches between English and Japanese seamlessly and, while the heavily accented English takes a few minutes to tune in to, it helps make the band’s sound complete.
The selection of songs gives a surprisingly dynamic feel as they roll along with each having their own identity but fitting the overall feel with the grooving bass lines leading the charge and the band clearly not being afraid of a lead guitar break or two.
Anti-Shit is maybe the exception as that is a blast of pure classic style hardcore and serves to show the band have a real depth that is what was evident live.
The recording of the songs is, in places, a bit rough and ready but not to their detriment, again getting a nice balance between a live and raw sound and a polished studio product.
This all makes Morllyheads a great blast of inventive and deep punk flavoured hard rock that is as confounding of expectation as it is vibrant and powerful.