A funny thing happened to me during the pandemic, an event influential enough to get me to do a concert review after a long absence, and since I’ve always been Lady Obscure’s favorite, she was more than happy to oblige my whims. In the early days of Covid, when we were all locked up in our homes with nothing but time to scour the internet, I came across a whole new genre of music that absolutely blew my mind, that of Japanese metal. And my gateway drug to this world, and still my personal favorite, is the mighty Nemophila of Tokyo.
Nemophila was formed in late 2019 by vocalist Mayu(ex Lipstick) for a one-off jam session that showed a chemistry so promising that the 5 musicians decided to make a go at a full band. For this session, she had the twin guitar phenoms of Saki (ex Mary’s Blood, Amahiru) and Hazuki (ex Disqualia, Lisa-X Band), drumming sensation Tamu Murata (ex Soramimi), and bassist Haraguchi-san. Together, with this newly found chemistry and fire, they thought to pull on the thread so to speak and see where this band could go. So they started to record a few songs for a debut EP and did a few live shows.
Then the world shut down.
What would be a death sentence for any otherfledgling band didn’t even make Nemophila skip a beat. They dove into a pattern of releasing cover videos every Friday, added two more EP’s, and did streaming concerts. Through this they managed to procure an intensely dedicated following of over 100k YouTube fans without performing a single live show in a two year span, and by the time the world was opening up again, they were ready and sold out the Line Cube Shibuya in days, eventually delivering a mind blowing show that amazed fans worldwide. After a Japan tour, they decided to branch out, and where better to do that then by selling out the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles.
Now for the good stuff… the dimming of the lights, and a steady beat as the band slowly comes down the stairs, hands clapping to fire up the crowd. A quick huddle around Tamu’s kit, and they launch into the fiery Revive, the title track of their debut album. The twin guitar attacks, coupled with Haraguchi-sans thunderous bass and Tamu’s explosive drums hit the audience like a runaway train. Once Mayu’s screams kick in, we know we’re doomed, and brace for a long night of getting our asses handed to us by Nemophila’s unique and beastly form of metal. And they are relentless. Revive finishes, and with a simple four-count by Tamu on the high hat, they launch into Raitei, another tour de force track that lives up to its name’s translation, thunder.
As to the individual members, they all perform flawlessly, and not just musically but as stage performers. Their energy is overflowing, they own the tiny Whisky stage, making it seem twice the size. The guitar work of Hazuki and Saki is about as precise as can be, zero mistakes in their intricate trading solos that usually meld together into one. Haraguchi-san is quickly becoming a critical force in the band, her furious bass carries the weight of the music easily. Tamu is about as skilled a drummer as I’ve seen, and I’ve seen the best of them. Mayu has a powerhouse voice, switching seamlessly between deep growls and searing clean highs, and as a frontwoman, easily owns the American audience even though she primarily spoke Japanese during the show (often translated by Saki). Their chemistry together is a sight to behold, a credit to their insane dedication to the craft. This was the first time I’ve heard a band to a 7+ song sound check before the show. They wanted it right, and they sure as hell got it.
The set continued at the same relentless pace, with early EP materials like Sorai and Monsters and new singles Adabana and Ray of Light mixed in with the majority of their album’s contents. All material was delivered at the same intensity, the same skill, and the same professionalism. Too soon for the amazed crowd, they took the brief break, and came back for their encore of the intensely emotional Life, followed by their first single, the mind blowing Oiran. They walked off, leaving the grateful crowd breathless and stunned. Their first step in, as Haraguchi-san put it “Destroying the US”, was a complete success, the self-described “loose and fluffy band from hell” could confidently call this night theirs.
The whole show will be released for streaming on July 16th, and the band will take another step in their mission quest in October at the Aftershock festival in Sacramento, USA, where they will be playing alongside a who’s who of heavy metal, and as one who has seen countless shows by some of the best over four decades, Nemophila showed that they’re definitely capable of playing alongside them all. They did the legendary Whisky proud, and left this reviewer one happy fan for life.
The official video of the first two songs
And tickets for the full stream to be released July 16th can be purchased here: https://l-tike.com/concert/mevent/?mid=552827