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Up-and-coming band combines traditional Japanese instruments with pop metal

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These tattooed badasses are not, in fact, extras from that bafflingly misguided "47 Ronin" movie. They’re the members of the newly-signed Wagakki Band, which combines the chunky guitar chords and shredding of pop metal with traditional Japanese instruments for a totally awesome sound.

While the name Wagakki Band (literally, “Traditional Japanese Instrument Band”) isn’t going to win any awards for creativity, the group’s head banging videos are a spectacle to behold, sure to please fans of J-Pop, metal and old-time Japanese imagery at once.

You might notice from watching the video that Wagakki Band incorporates modern instruments, including bass, electric guitar and drums, but also utilizes a surprisingly wide range of traditional Japanese instruments, including:

Taiko drums – Already fairly well-known in the West, the taiko drum probably needs the least introduction, especially for anyone with a decent taiko drum master track record.

Tsugaru-Shamisen - Both an instrument and a play style, Tsugaru-Shamisen are a three-stringed guitar-like instrument that’s larger than a normal shamisen, and with thicker strings. It’s distinctively twangy, and if you’ve seen basically any documentary or film set in Japan, you’re probably familiar with its sound.

Shakuhachi - Otherwise known as Japanese flute, shakuhachi are 5-holed wind instruments traditionally played by men wearing funny hats.

Koto - The koto is a sort-of dulcimer style of instrument that’s played across the lap or laid on a stand. Like the taiko drum, this one is also an increasingly common instrument outside of Japan, played most awesomely by David Bowie himself.

Most of the members of Wagakki Band come from deep instrumental backgrounds, with at least one of them attaining the amazingly cool-sounding “master title” of YoZan for being so proficient with the shakuhachi – which we think means he can beat you senseless with it in addition to playing it normally.

Their first album is on sale April 23, although we’ll have to get back to you about an international release.

Source: DDN Japan

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Ki&Ki: The new face of traditional Japanese music -- BABYMETAL releases full album, metalheads and idol fans headbang in unison -- No instruments? No problem! Tokyo musicians use ordinary kitchenware to make sweet music

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5 Comments
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sounds like Kaggra, a bit

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"These tattooed badasses are not, in fact, extras from that bafflingly misguided “47 Ronin” movie."

The band members are not tattooed. They have kanji painted on their bodies. I've seen the drummer with different kanji on his back and the shakuhachi player sometimes has designs on the right-side and sometimes on the left-side of his face.

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I think it's nothing short of brilliant...

Subarashii!

Watashi daisuki ongaku no Nippon!

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The common term for bands like this, incorporating traditional instruments and melodies into metal music is "folk metal". There are a few of the around in Europe like Cruachan, Eluveitie and Korpiklaani. It's the first band I've heard of that combined Asian folk instruments with metal though.

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While not a band per se, idol trio BabyMetal has been doing when they incorporate Japanese instruments in their music. Maybe Wagakki is just the first to do this officially as a band.

@kchoze Nice term, "folk metal." lol I have to check out those bands you mentioned. Now would be interesting if we see bands of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and other Asian origins start mixing traditional instruments with metal.

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