The Tokyo-based upstarts are bringing a technical element to the genre that bridges precision and passion.
Emerging from a burgeoning Japanese metalcore community that is still in its infancy, Earthists. only needed a couple of years to make their presence felt on a global level.
In 2017 the band released their noteworthy debut with Dreamscape, only to follow it up just one year later with 2018’s LIFEBINDER. The album showcased a unique, futuristic take on the genre that not only captured the attention of a ever-broadening fan base, but challenged the conventions of the genre at the same time.
As the band pressed forward with bigger tours, and more impressive reviews, they found themselves in the middle of a dispute with their former record label, resulting in the band needed to step back, reassess, and recoup.
It seems as though that time away afforded a kind of refocus that has given the band even more creative momentum than ever before. Reemerging with “Purge Me” in 2019, Earthists.’ layered compositions and sophisticated complexity, differentiated the outfit in a way that resonated well with a receptive audience and asserted a new energy into the category.
The band’s continuous pursuit of evolving their craft is evident as tracks like ‘Sunblood” and their most recent, “Dawnshadow” showcase an embrace of influences ranging from Progressive rock to Jazz fusion – elements not often associated with metalcore.
Earthists. vocalist Yui and guitarist/composer Yuto detailed what their headspace is like moving into a new year and how the genesis of Earthists. has always been about progression and pushing the boundaries.
Lifebinder proved to be a huge step forward for Earthists. The album really solidified the band’s presence as real prospect in metalcore on a global level. Was there any pressure to live up to that in working on new music like “Dawnshadow” and “Sunblood”
Yui – We actually didn’t feel any pressure at all to showcase the sound like recent tracks “Dawnshadow” and “Sunblood”. We had already started working on the next release when Lifebinder was out, and Lifebinder was kind of a farewell to the traditional metalcore style of Earthists. This album was meant to break away from typical metalcore style. “Purge Me” was the first approach to this breaking away, and it worked very well. It resonated with a lot of people, and made it very clear that Earthists. had entered a new phase. We are still short of the number of reactions from all over the world that we are looking for, but every time we are working on a song, we quickly become convinced that this song will surpass the previous one. Above all, we enjoy the production so much that we don’t feel any pressure at all, and each release is rather exciting.
Earthists have a very dynamic, technically precise approach to songwriting. Do you feel like that sort of prog/tech accent to your songs differentiate you from most other metalcore artists?
Yuto – Yes, that’s how I feel about it. My musical influences are Prog Rock and Jazz/Fusion, so it’s natural that elements of those sounds are reflected in my music, and I think that’s a solid strength that other metalcore artists don’t have.
Yui – Earthists. debuted in the Djent / Progressive Metalcore genre, and in the beginning, the songs were more technical. Although there are still traces of that in the rhythm work, development, and riffs at key points, the technical elements have been overshadowed compared to the past. However, the recent songs sound simple at first glance, but with accents of technical elements, and I think the songs have become ones that you want to listen to again and again, so that you can discover something new every time you listen to them.
The new music seems to embrace more electronics as a part of Earthists sound. Is the songwriting shifting in the direction of incorporating electronics as a consistent element of your music or was this just for these tracks?
Yui – It might continue in the future, or it might be changed depending on the flow of the times and Earthists.’s future position in the scene. Electronics, like the piano in the first album, is a component of a song, but not the core of Earthists.’s identity. However, I think the action of boldly incorporating electronics into the music at this time is unique to us. In this scene, where each band has its own interpretation of metalcore with various essences, we took the essence of electronics to show our presence. Of course, it’s not something that’s just been thrown in, but the main composer Yuto has been unraveling the roots and genres of music he’s been exposed to, and has incorporated the sounds that he thinks best match the band into the most recent songs (SUNBLOOD, DAWNSHADOW). In that sense, I’d like to continue experimenting and creating music with a more aggressive attitude for a while.
Yuto – As a composer, I’m more sensitive to the music that’s out there, and I trust my instincts and try to absorb what I feel I need right now. As a result, I’ve tried to incorporate analog synth sounds often heard in the 70’s/80’s (e.g., YMO and Pink Floyd) and Trap type beats to create sounds that are featured in these two singles. So, while we will never lose the “Earthists. sound”, we believe that minor changes on our musical style can happen in the upcoming songs. Just like Yui, I genuinely love exploring/experimenting music.
The band had to endure some significant changes last year on the business side of things. How did that turbulence with your former record label affect the progress of the band if at all?
Yui – When we were in the record label, we had no idea what the market was like outside of Japan and how the business side of things worked. This was partly due to the fact that we ourselves did not fully understand the business system outside of Japan and trusted the label. As for expenses, we had always managed to pay for our physical production, recording, music videos and other promotions, as well as all domestic and international tours, through sales in Japan (merchandise, CDs, tickets, etc.), not through the label, so we didn’t suffer any direct damage from leaving the label. However, since we started to manage ourselves domestically and internationally, Earthists.’s position and character in the music scene became clearer. And I now have a stronger sense of responsibility to be a part of Earthists.. I’m still grateful for the opportunity to join the previous label, and I’m proud to have been a member.
Between the changes with your record label and the chaos of 2020, how has the band grown in the last two years and how has that resonated in your sound?
Yui – We’ve become more active on our own. During the past two years, which have been full of irregularities, we have been asked to make a lot of important choices as a band. The year 2020 has taken a heavy toll on us, with changes and cancellations in our touring and release schedule, but we have also taken some new approaches that are only possible because of the current situation. For example, in Japan, attended shows were completely banned until mid-June, and only at the end of June were attended shows allowed, although under very strict conditions. When the ban was lifted, we held a show with audiences in full compliance with the guidelines. In the metal scene, this was probably the very first show in the world after the Corona disaster started. We also did some other experimental activities, such as remixing FOOTPRINTS completely remotely and showing the production process on social media. This chaotic year came at a time when I had a stronger sense of responsibility and involvement in Earthists., having left my previous label, so I was able to actively take action on a variety of things.
Yuto – Regarding the sound, we took a different approach from the past and explored new possibilities for ourselves. I think that we often constructed the sound of our songs through the process of sensing the emotion and atmosphere that people were looking for at that time, digesting it in our own way and outputting it. And I think we were able to proceed with our activities as expected, feeling the good response to our recent songs and our live performances from our fans.
In a relatively short amount of time, Earthists have managed to generate a global audience with just two LPS and a few supplemental releases. What about the band has translated with such a broad audience in such a short amount of time?
Yui – I think the constant releases since the formation of Earthists. have turned out to be a very good thing for us. Originally, we were very eager to start playing shows and touring as soon as possible, and we wanted to make sure we had enough songs to tour with, so we released two full-length albums in just two years. In Japan, where the metalcore scene was in its infancy, we started our activities with the premise of expanding overseas. First of all, we had a clear listener base and label that we wanted to reach, so we conducted promotions aimed at that listener base. I was very happy that we were able to reach both the target audience and labels at a very early stage, and I felt that luck was on our side. Now that we’re being known by an even wider range of listeners, we’d like to continue to release our music consistently for the people who support us and for the new listeners who will discover us.
Watch the premiere of ‘Dawnshadow” from Earthists. below.