STRUGGLING HARSH IMMORTALS (S.H.I.)  4 死 Death (BLOOD RED VINYL)  LP   (Relapse)   22.00

I'm a fanatic for the later punk-adjacent projects we got from icons of the original Japanese hardcore underground. So many of these guys started coming out from the late 80s onward with a bevy of bizarro mutations of metal, punk, industrial, and psychedelia, creating a wonderland of weirdo extreme music out of millienial Japan. even then, I still wasn't expecting to hear this kind of industrial hardcore punk when these Zouo-related releases recently came out through Relapse, but holy crud, this band rips. One of the online reviews for Struggling Harsh Immortals (or S.H.I., as they often go by) compared 'em to cult UK industro-crusties Optimum Wound Profile, which just by itself had me slavering to sing some fangs into whatever was going on here. They've released a handful of other EPs and online titles prior to 2021's 4 死 Death , and I've heard them all. Brutal, berserk, bizarre amalgams of cyborg hardcore with a singular visual aesthetic. That stuff is great. But this album, oh man, this thing is murderous.

Nine songs of discordant, ultra-violent hideousness, with song titles that might be lifted straight off of a Cronenberg and Carpenter DVD collection ("eXistenZ", "In The Mouth Of Madness"). Stuttering breakbeats blast off into machine-driven stenchcore, clanking metal and bleeping electronics keeping time with the raging Ministry-style drumming, and vocalist Nishida is all growl and spittle and snarl as he rages over the vicious cyber-thrash. To me, it feels like there's a heavy Mind / Pslam 69-era Ministry influence, with each song filling with a chaos of squealing radio transmissions, harsh feedback manipulation, samples and looped voices, and some blistering hard rock guitar solos shredding through the mecha-mania. A chugging, persistant tempo drives the entire album, and every song's energy level is cranked through the roof. The classic Japanese hardcore vibe is also really present here, and 4 死 Death sounds exactly like what i would expect to come shrieking out of Cherry Nishida's skull. Oh, and this is also catchy as a motherfucker, "Terminus", "Casualty Vampire" and "Doesn't Mean That Much" all melding that industrial thrash with a powerful Motorhead-style punch, with fist-pounding chorus hooks galore. Despire all of the influences I hear in this, Struggling Harsh Immortals does sounds pretty distinct from other electronic-damaged hardcore outfits from Japan; the song structures themselves stick pretty closely to classic HC, pretty catchy in the hook department, and Nishida sounds as monstrous as ever, spewing all manner of gritty, ferocious ravings, without any added electro-warping.

Bent thrash metal riffs.

Air raid sirens (can never have enough of those)

Nishida ranting and howling like the schixoid leader of an apocalyptic death cult

"Hell Bounded Heart" is a slower stomper (and possible Clive Barker nod?) that lays down a gigantic groove while a battallion of busted analog electronic devices go haywire in the background,

There are some wild curveballs though. "Theme 2" for one, a weird fusion of surf-rock elements, psychedelic strangeness, and mechanical ambience. The warped thrash/dirge "In The Mouth Of Madness" with its tribal drums and swirling sampled noise. "Genocidal Organ"'s complete freaky funk-a-thon groove anthem, like early White Zombie run through a vat of untested research chems and joined by some maniac going bugfuck on a busted theremin. The furiouws breakbeats on "eXistenZ" that turn it into some kind of aberrant dance-metal that eventually contorts into a batshit-chaotic thrash meltdown. It's fucking awesome. You'll want to strap on your shitkickers for this one.

My only issue is that I cannot seem to find a CD edition of 4 死 Death , something that must be rectified as soon as possible.