The band in question is MAN WITH A MISSION and the Shibuya based 5-piece (Consisting of vocalist Tokyo Tanaka, guitarist/rapper Jean-Ken Johnny, bassist Kamizake Boy, drummer Spear Rib and DJ Santa Monica) are collectively one of the most relevant and loved rock bands in Asia today, selling out arena’s all over the continent, having racked up millions of streams and views on platforms such as Spotify and YouTube…but over the past year they’ve been broadening their horizons and have reached out further afield. Some of you may recognise them from their tour slot supporting DON BROCO recently but now in 2018 they’ve released their first international album; the appropriately titled “Chasing The Horizon”. The question is are these wolf men leading the pack, or just barking mad?
The international release itself has a couple of exclusive bonus tracks for those of us outside of Japan, which includes “Mr. Bad Mouth”, “The Anthem” and “Brave It Out”…the former is a well-worked combination of pulsing, bass-driven electronica and an up-tempo, rocking chorus which in places resembles the likes of FOZZY, but that’s really not a bad thing, while the latter uses a more R’n’B / rap-inspired approach to its verses with the guitars and synths layered throughout, “The Anthem” sadly click-baits you into expecting something big and bold, but what you DO get is a morose ballad type track which is very anti-anthem if anything…though it’s message is positive so it’s not all bad, just a tad disappointing.
The rest of the album features a selection of singles that MWAM have previously released and to be fair this is quite an impressive repertoire…”Take Me Under” for example is wonderfully infectious piece of synth driven alt. rock with plenty of melody and sing along qualities…”Dead End In Tokyo” has the additional appeal of having FALL OUT BOY front-man Patrick Stump on the writing credits, which makes sense when you listen to it, it’s got that certain distinction in tone…sticking to pop-culture references, wrestling fans may recognise “Break The Contradictions” from NJPW’s recent G1 Climax, the track being selected as its theme; with all of its clap-along charm it’s a really enjoyable track, before “Dog Days” give-off a more drum & bass vibe for a really up-beat slab of rhythmic techno. The only real downside I can find really is “Freak It!” which features the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra…the brass-sections coupled with the progressive jazz elements don’t really sit too well with the almost stop / start pacing of the track and really it just comes across as a failed experiment. All in all for an international debut it’s a shame…a shame because they’re actually a really good band underneath the furry gimmick and ideally we could have heard more of them sooner, and their back catalogue is well worth exploring. Definitely a recommended record, why couldn’t we get these guys instead of fucking BABYMETAL?!?!?!