This text was initially posted on the RJM Discord server.
BAND-MAID® are a peculiar group. I first discovered them through someone’s YouTube reaction video (don’t ask). They don’t really look the part and judging by their visual you would really think that they ought to sound like this. Imagine my surprise when I heard a very solid rock music coupled with not a cheesy anime vocal that I pretty much expected to hear. They really did rock. At first I found it just amusing, five girls dressed as cute maids making the most contrasting with their image music possible. But as I listened more and more I just forgot about this weird gimmick and came to appreciate them for what they did. I love how they sound: hard rock and power metal elements in their music are well-combined with Saiki’s and Miku’s vocals and the end product is something very distinct.
4. Yousei Teikoku
Yousei Teikoku is the closest Japanese band I know of that creates the type of music I enjoy from the western musicians — gothic metal. If you disregard Yui Itsuki’s vocals their music sounds like something Epica or Delain would produce. What sets them apart is the way they incorporate other elements into their music. Many of their songs feature heavy electronic distortions, and you shouldn’t be surprised by the dark ambient ring to their sound. The other thing that makes them notable is Yui’s vocal. She uses her range extremely well: high notes give way to low whispers, sweet and cheery expression can be replaced with haunting and cold when needed. All in all their music is very melodic and extremely satisfying to listen to if this is your cup of tea.
3. Kishida Kyoudan & THE Akeboshi Rockets
I don’t know if it’s only me, but I feel like Kishida Kyoudan & THE Akeboshi Rockets have a very distinct sound to them. It’s funny, but some of their songs somehow remind me of Russian rock of 80’s and 90’s. I may be out of my mind but that’s how I feel. Their music aside, I just low how sharp and clear ichigo’s vocals are. Her voice is very distinct to a point where you won’t mistake her for anyone else if you listen to her even once. Many people know this band through their many anisong appearances, but I found them when I had my annual ‘I must find some good-sounding doujin artists’ tic. By the time this occurred they have already had their memorable anime debut with Highschool of the Dead, but I was just not aware. I think they are quite known to people who are into Touhou stuff.
2. Ling Tosite Sigure
I don’t think there is anyone quite like Ling Tosite Sigure. They qualify as progressive rock, alternative rock, post hardcore and a shitload more genres but they may as well be considered their own genre. Shit TK does is out of this world, really. His music is distinct, his voice is distinct, and you can’t ever possibly forget his creations. Even in his collaborations he leaves an enormous stamp of his music. Take his collaboration with Aimer for example. The song ‘us’ is unlike anything Aimer has done before; TK managed to make Aimer use her voice almost to its limit.
Ling Tosite Sigure’s own music is a glorious mess of seemingly disjointed guitar riffs, metallic-sounding drums and interconnected vocals of TK and 345. Yet somehow it works and it works amazingly. Their music manages to make me listen to them more and more and more and more.
1. Haruka to Miyuki
Haruka to Miyuki to me is a duo that not just creates music, it’s a duo that tells me a story (mind that I don’t know Japanese, it’s just the way their music makes me feel). By definition they are a folk-rock duo, but it goes far beyond that. The way their lyrics are constructed makes it seem like Haruka and Miyuki are haveing a conversation during singing, or are telling a story together. Their sound is dominated by amazing drum and guitar work, and they are one of the few artists whose live performance videos I enjoy more than their studio albums or music videos.