On their second LP Untopia, Kruelty let you know what it feels like to mosh while covered in concrete.

Release date: March 17, 2023 | Profound Lore Records | Bandcamp | Instagram | Twitter

Everything Kruelty have done can be described simply with the word ‘hard’, which is apt, as they are a diamond in the rough when it comes to death metal and hardcore crossover bands. I always find that the best death metal is made by death metal bands and the best hardcore is made by hardcore bands, and the exception to this rule (as is often the case) comes from Japan. The land of the rising sun is known for a lot of things; two of these are metal and hardcore. Some of the finest hardcore of ever released and a range of great death metal bands have reared their heads from the country. In Kruelty, there are a couple of bands whose sound looms large – they sound like someone put Straight Savage Style and Coffins into a blender to come up with this ‘disgusting music from Tokyo‘. On their second LP Untopia, Kruelty have further sharpened their impeccably hard knife (another thing Japan is well-known for).

Within the hardcore scene, Japan is also known for its phenomenal mosh style, which comes with a lot of martial arts style moves. Moshing and mosh pits are ingrained in hardcore culture across the world, and in Japan, this is no different. The mosh style has become part of the show experience and in 2020, founding guitarist Zuma said that ‘Kruelty grew up with death metal music and hardcore pit!‘ The culture and specifically the pit of hardcore stands out almost as much as the music, combining this intense part of the hardcore experience with crushing death doom riffs is a potent combo. This is a combo that has been utilised to great success before by California residents Xibalba, another band who have a very strong national and cultural identity embedded into their experience. Like Xibalba, Kruelty are crushingly heavy but manage to lose none of the hardcore style and personality that is lost in other bands like Gatecreeper or Sanguisugabogg.

The first thing that can’t be missed is the quality of Taylor Young’s production and mixing. After a traditional Japanese intro, the opening riff of “Unknown Nightmare” is soaked in thick swathes of pure tone. The entire album has been carefully crafted to sound as dense as possible, something that Young has become a master of with Xibalba and his own bands Twitching Tongues and God’s Hate. The bass tone just rumbles underneath every dirty riff with the drums pounding alongside. When the whole band dedicates time to playing as a unit, even the smallest speaker seems to shake the room around it. The vocals are similarly dark and destructive. A classic death-doom vocal style, Tatami shouts and growls with a huge force behind him. Each member of the band and the band as a unit has dedicated themselves to be as heavy as possible and have come up with song after song of immense power.

On the face of it, Kruelty are an uber-serious band. With the earth-moving power of their music and the regular use of ski masks as part of their on-stage demeanour, you can see why a lot of people would be scared or intimidated by it. Yet, they represent the healthy duality of the music they play: the band are friendly and smiley off-stage, but are not to be messed with when they perform. This attitude that they have harnessed does really come through across Untopia. I feel as if I’m being trampled by an all-conquering, death metal and hardcore kaiju. Like all the best kaiju experiences, there is always an element of fun underneath the destruction and social commentary. The riffs are as thick and heavy as any other band and combining this with the driving-force and 2-step beat of hardcore gives the band a unique feel.

Nowhere is this feeling more present and potent than highlight “Reincarnation”, which manages to maintain the feeling of massive weight in a song that has a bounce within the beats. There is a full 2-step section in here that could fill the floor at any hardcore show while sounding absolutely nothing like a hardcore band. The near 6-minute monolith of a track is absolutely massive in its creation and is somehow still not as heavy as its follow-up “Maze of Suffering”, driving the listener into submission with blast beats and mosh sections all at once. Every single track seems to try and outdo the last with more blast beats, more breakdowns and even thicker textures, right up until one final wanton breakdown closes the title track and the album.

Listening to Kruelty is like moshing while covered in concrete: crushingly heavy but great fun. Untopia is 37 minutes of pure, unadulterated disgusting music.

Header photo by Jun Sabio



Leave a Reply