Japan doesn’t immediately pop into the mind when it comes to death metal. But Kruelty is putting the island nation on the extreme music map with releases like new record Untopia (Profound Lore Records, March 17).
Formed in Tokyo in the summer of 2017, Kruelty has emerged as one of the most notable artists to find that sweet spot between heavy, beatdown hardcore and 1990s American and Scandinavian death-doom metal. This devastating amalgamation becomes the blueprint of brutality and slam the band unleashes on the new record.
2020 saw the release of Kruelty’s debut album A Dying Truth, which revealed itself as one of the heaviest albums that year. With their second LP, Untopia, the band releases an album even more massive in scope and ultimately heavier than the debut. The bulldozing seven-song record was produced by Taylor Young at The Pit Studios (Nails, Xibalba, Section H8) while the band was touring in the U.S. earlier this year, mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Obituary, Terminal Nation, Mindforce) and features artwork by Norwegian artist Sindre Foss Skancke.
Regarding the song “Burn The System,” which was previously released as a single, guitarist Zuma shared, “Musically, I put massive Swedish death vibes on it, as I don’t think we had any of those songs before, but it’s still Kruelty for sure. I wrote the lyrics on this song, too, and the theme is how working-class people like us live every day. So basically, we chose this song for the first single to reveal how we improved from the last album. Hope you guys will enjoy some new Kruelty. Thank you!”
If Untopia is your first introduction to Japanese underground music, you might want to wear a helmet. At 37 minutes and seven tracks, the album is unrelenting, to say the least. From opener “Unknown Nightmare” to closer “Manufactured Insanity,” the five-piece unapologetically crushes through song after song. “Harder Than Before” is a fitting title and proofs that Kruelty just continues to up its game within a genre that’s historically been defined by breakdowns and d-beats.
While most beatdown can sound a little too formulaic at times, Kruelty does a nice job of keeping it fresh, particularly by mixing in some old school death metal elements that would sound at home on an early 1990s Tampa release. Untopia showcases that and then some.
You can follow the band here.