Seimei by EnvyRelease date: November 9, 2022
Label: Pelagic Records
There are few bands within hardcore who have come quite as far as Envy have. Though their earlier work had a brash NYHC backbone, it already displayed hints of the poetic flair that would come to define a career few can hope to match. Seimei continues down the road paved by 2020’s The Fallen Crimson by alternating delicate beauty and surging melodies that borrow from post-rock, metal and hardcore to create a lush, life-affirming rush of sound, all narrated by Fukagawa Tetsuya’s impassioned voice. It also offers a nod to the past in its brevity and sense of finality, recalling their splits with Envy and Thursday that combined hooks, emotion and intricate songwriting to create a solid standalone experience.
It’s Fukagawa’s voice that sets the EP rolling, ‘Seimei’ opening with an impassioned spoken word performance as a wave of feedback swells in the background. A brief pause paves the way for a lurching, sludgy riff that still doesn’t throw him off track, continuing his urgent delivery and playing off the colossal weight that Kawai Nobukata, Yoshitake Tsuyoshi and Taki Yoshimitsu conjure. As the song begins to pan out, taking in gorgeous, delicate passages and moments of post-rock splendour, the full scope of their sound comes flooding back. As a collective, they steep every second in emotion – hope, tragedy, loss, melancholy; they swirl and intermingle with the all-encompassing scope of a cinematic epic. As it pushes through to a cathartic climax, flickers of the unrestrained energy of their live performances joins the fray and takes over, Watanabe Hiroki’s drumming picking up pace and dexterity until all collapse, spent, at its finale.
Follow-up ‘Zenshin’ is the perfect b-side after that outpouring, an upbeat and aggressive cut that trades the broad emotionality of ‘Seimei’ for a blunter listening experience. At its core is a sharp, staccato energy that never quite lets the listener get swept away, instead keeping them alert while delivering the melodic goods like a siren call in the midst of a hurricane. It’s a breathless performance that is ratcheted up even further by its intricacy , flutters of synthesised harmonies filling the cracks while a crisp production job pulls the disparate elements together into a sleek, satisfying whole.
Finale ‘Tamayura’, although brief, is a moving comedown that rounds off Seimei with a sense of tender hope and warmth. To an extent it feels like an opportunity to show off yet another feather in Envy’s bow but they have become so skilled at using every weapon in their arsenal to tug at the heartstrings and inflame the soul that they are simply playing to their strengths. The difference here is that their music can now drag the listener through the breadth of human experience in ten minutes rather than an hour, which is no mean feat. It isn’t often that such a brief EP can rank among some of a band’s most accomplished work but this is an exception worth treasuring.