Heaven In Her Arms: A Great Shining Beacon Over Japan’s Metal Scene

Bonus points for the Converge reference in their name too.

Japan really does have some fantastic heavy music exports within their borders, don’t they? Whether it’s the aggressive metalcore punch of Crystal Lake, the bouncy craziness of Maximum The Hormone, the methodical and maddening noise utilised by Boris, the instrumental oppressiveness from Mono (who are also touring Australia later this year), or the intensity and legacy of the legendary Dir En Grey: Japan has produced and continues to produce some damn fine heavy talents for those around the world to enjoy.

Now, there’s another band that you can add to the nation’s list of terrific bands and that’s Tokyo’s Heaven In Her Arms. Named after a wicked Converge song of the same name, Heaven In Her Arms surged back into life back in April of this year when the Japanese group dropped their first full-length album in six years, ‘White Halo‘; their first release since 2011’s split release with France’s Aussitot Mort.

Unlike their doomy beginning’s, here, the quintet’s sound is mainly that of intense, thundering yet serene and melodic post-metal. With the exception of the albums two interludes, the remaining five songs on ‘White Halo‘ mixes that aforementioned post-metal sound with skramz, poetic spoken word, atmospherics, the textured, layered instrumental tendencies of their peers in Mono and Envy as well as the melodic, emotionally pained blackened-shoegaze sound of your Deafheaven’s. (I know that the Deafheaven comparison is at that moot stage where it was four or five years ago where every single Australian metalcore band got lazily compared to Northlane, but here the comparative shoe does indeed fit). Together, it’s a truly effective recipe and one that positions the band in the upper echelons of the blackened-shoegaze/post-metal realms, the very same that are often dominated by Western bands.

And I feel that on no song is all of this most evident than the abrasive, double-kick blasting, tremolo-laden ‘Abyss Of The Moonbow‘ (found above); a song that finds itself skirting through every single inch of the band’s various influences and dynamic sounds. Well, when I say that there’s no better example than ‘Abyss Of The Moonbow‘, that’s not entirely true.

One of the other key standout song from Heaven In Her Arms latest LP to be carved out for the single/music video treatment was ‘Glare Of The End‘ earlier this month. Much like its fellow single in ‘Abyss…‘, this track is a fine example of how this band starts off small – with just keys, strings, and glockenspiel – and effortlessly flows the piece between sections of pounding drum fills, bombastic blast beats and galloping riffs to these suddenly cleaner, quieter and emotive passages that build back into the former sections so well. How HIHA guide their music through these dynamic shifts and how they grow the overlapping, building crescendo’s from the midpoint of ‘Glare Of The End‘ and onwards to its end is just fucking superb; crashing down layer after layer of emotional textures. And the way that the vocals crack and break in that final screamed phrase before the outro hits is just so raw.

Among the pack leaders of ‘Abyss Of The Moonbow‘ and ‘Glare Of The End‘ exists a third favourite of mine. This comes in the form of the album’s closer, ‘Turbid Fog‘. This ten-minute epic begins with a glitchy, IDM beat and with only a brief interruption of sampled static, the track erupts into a beastly, multi-guitar layered attack of tremolo riffs, blistering drums and savage screams. The song is a glorious finale showcasing of the best parts of Heaven In Her Arms, from the highest ranges of beauty to the lowest forms of the brutal.

Now, that’s not to say that the rest of ‘White Halo‘ should be forgotten about or dismissed. In fact, the remainder of the record more than holds up! The opening interlude ‘Ray Of Light At Dusk‘ does a fine job of ushering the listener in before the band unloads their blackened, post-metal sound upon them with ‘Abyss Of The Moonbow‘. ‘Forgivable Drown‘ is pretty much non-stop aggression across its five minutes and doesn’t partake in the pretty, serene instrumentals and lush tone colours that its peers indulge wonderfully themselves in, and that’s more than fine! The subtle piano that creeps in under the crushing weight of the remaining instrumentation on ‘Entangled Torus‘ and the (surprising) death metal-esque guitar solos that make their presence felt on said song really does flex HIHA’s instrumental prowess. And even the dramatic, operatic organs and synths that help to build-up mid-album interlude ‘Chain With Fetters‘ and how that flows right into ‘Glare Of The End‘ is also noteworthy.

Whether as a complete whole or in the three stunning standout tracks ‘White Halo‘ has resulted in, this is damned solid work that’s more than deserving of your time. Because in a world where bands from around the globe – whether they be from Japan or from right here in Australia – are all vying for your attention with their music, you want to be exposed to the best bands right? You’re goddamned right you do! So get around one such band with Heaven In Her Arms.

Buy or stream Heaven In Her Arms ‘White Halo’ right here. It’s a record that you don’t want to be missing out on any longer!

Heaven In Her Arms White Halo

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