Idol deathcore: meet Japanese group, Broken By The Scream

Blast beats & J-pop, perfectly balanced as all things should be. 

A band like Broken By The Scream – truly horrible name, I know, but let’s not get bogged down by the small stuff – probably couldn’t exist in 2019 without the huge success of Babymetal. In this newish idol groups DNA, and in latest record ‘Noisy Night Fever,’ you can easily pick out the essence of Babymetal: the mixture of metal with J-pop, outfits, choreographed dance moves, backing live band with the female singers as the focus, and so on.

Yet Broken By The Scream aren’t just a carbon-copy of that other big well-known Japanese act, as they instead take their style of idol music into a more punishing, deathcore territory. With two vocalists – Io doing the low gutturals and deep growls, and Kagura ripping the higher-pitched screams – and with two clean singers, Yae and Ayame, with often all four teaming up to make for these big-ass, multi-part vocal harmonies, BBTS put their own little spin on the genre. Obviously, if you don’t like artists like Babymetal, this will do nothing for you, and you wouldn’t be alone in that – all of their channels’ videos on YouTube have the comments turned off.

Instrumentally, there’s plenty of djenty riffs, dissonant tapping, breakdowns, and blast beats, with plenty of bubbly pop synths, glitchy electronics, squeaky-clean choruses, laid-back J-rock parts, and some tight guitar-shredding. It’s not quite as speed metal or as power metal in the tempo’s and arrangements in terms of what Babymetal do barring the odd song, but that’s a good thing: it makes BBTS stand out more. Whilst also maybe not as technical as their bigger peers, their music is as “produced,” so if you’re ever looking for some overly-polished J-pop-deathcore tracks, BBTS has ’em.

Starting out in 2017 and growing their name in 2018 after ‘Koi ha otome no nakidokoro‘, “the screaming metal idol group” (as they put it) sure are a unique act. If you’ve read any of my reviews about deathcore over the last couple of years, then you probably already know that this is the shit I think we need more of; just more experimentation. It’s at least fun and interesting, and that’s more than I can say for most of the bottom-feeding bands out there. And with artists like this, one can only expect to see more idol music merged with other forms of metal as time goes on. (One of the English interviews I found with the group is from 2018, in case you wish to learn a little more about them.)

Below was my first introduction to this group, ‘KI・RA・I !!.’ My favourite part of this song is the surprising jazzier, piano-backed swing bridge section that comes out of nowhere halfway through that’s got death grunts bellowing over the top. It’s kinda surreal.

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