In my constant search for Japanese shoegaze bands a little more willing to go hard in the paint, I came across a little known band from Saitama called Collapse, thanks to a poster in our Japan Shoegaze Facebook group. Though the band was formed by bassist Kohei in 2013, a bunch of member changes hindered any sort of momentum until Collapse finally established its current four-piece lineup with the additions of guitarist and vocalist Tomoko, guitarist Satoru, and drummer Shibuya. Three or so years of settling culminated in a hot start to 2016 for Collapse, who, in addition to gigging regularly, released its debut self-titled EP on Bandcamp. Shortly thereafter, the band started selling physical copies of the EP via its newly established online store.
At first listen, I immediately appreciated the heaviness of Collapse's sound. In their biography they describe their sound as the combination of elements of "stillness" and "floating" from shoegaze and the "violence" and "speed" of metal. The result is a sound perhaps more similar to the recent western model of shoegaze than the pop-heavy style that continues to dominate the Japanese scene. There's balance though. The tonal aggression is contrasted by Tomoko's sweet-but-not-too-sweet vocals that sit just right in the mix. The melodies are poppy, but they're not too prominent. In that respect Collapse reminds me of a somewhat more balanced version of AZMA.
"Syrup" and "RIP", the EP's opener and closer, respectively, are the two tracks on the album that really stand out. Each really showcases the band's ability to just pour on the waves of guitar noise with catchy vocal melodies woven in. "Yellow" doesn't quite keep up in terms of pace, but doesn't lack for explosiveness. The third track on the EP - conspicuously titled "Intro..." - is just a brief ambient interlude before the screaming finale kicks in.
The debut EP from Collapse isn't perfect, but it's a really good start. I talk about my desire for more aggressiveness in the Japanese shoegaze scene in just about every other blog post, and Collapse has come through for me. It's recommended that you pick up the EP on Bandcamp. At the moment it looks like physical copies are only available for purchase within Japan. You can check out Collapse's homepage or follow them on Facebook for more information.