Album Review – Heterogeneous Andead / Chaotic Fragments (2022)

A chaotic amalgamation of metal and non-metal styles beautifully brought into being by one of the most creative bands of the current Japanese scene.

Formed in 2013 in the metropolitan city of Tokyo, Japan, the idiosyncratic Symphonic Death/Thrash Metal unity that goes by the curious name of Heterogeneous Andead has just released their sophomore album, entitled Chaotic Fragments, the follow up to their 2018 debut album Deus Ex Machina. Comprised of Haruka Morikawa on vocals and Yusuke Kiyama on the guitars, synthesizers and programming (not to mention drummer Tomoyuki Nakano, who left the band shortly after the recordings of Chaotic Fragments), Heterogeneous Andead play a very unique style of heavy music that can be labeled as “Melodic and Symphonic Electro Death/Thrash Metal”, and it’s quite easy to identify all those elements in their new album, sounding very harmonious but at the same time chaotic, progressive but at the same time violent, and delicate but at the same time energetic.

The band begins a Speed and Thrash Metal-inspired attack entitled The Void Sacrifice, with Yusuke slashing his stringed axe while Haruka alternates between gnarling deeply in an old school Death Metal way and her operatic vocals; and the Anime-like keys and synths by Yusuke will penetrate deep inside your mind in Fragments of Memories, sounding as if you’re placed inside a video game where the soundtrack is ass-kicking heavy music, not to mention how awesome the drums by Tomoyuki sound and feel. Tomoyuki continues to crush his drums accompanied by the wicked riffs and keys by Yusuke in Last Reverie, fast and thrilling from start to finish with Haruka once again being a princess and a she-demon incarnate on vocals. Then close your eyes and succumb to the breathtaking Symphonic and Electronic Death Metal by Heterogeneous Andead in Beautiful Nightmare, also presenting elements from the Black Metal played by Cradle of Filth, or in other words, it’s nonstop adrenaline flowing through our avid ears.

Fission brings forward a fusion of the heaviness and rage of Death and Thrash Metal with the insanity of electronic music, with Haruka stealing the spotlight with another kick-ass vocal performance; whereas putting the pedal to the metal the trio fires the high-octane Mirror of the Lie, with its background keys adding hints of epicness to the demented Death Metal sounds blasted, once again reminding me of the heaviest and craziest Gothic Metal bands from the 80’s with a Black Metal twist. Their second to last explosion of idiosyncratic sounds is offered in the form of Regrettable, where Haruka’s barks make a beautiful paradox with the keys by Yusuke and obviously with her own operatic vocals, all supported by the classic blast beats by Tomoyuki. There’s time for one more round of their striking music with over eight minutes of flammable riffs and solos, sinister keys and massive beats entitled Licking, which despite lacking the creativity of the previous songs still provides a powerful ending to the album.

While Haruka and Yusuke search for a new guitarist, a new bassist and a new drummer to join them in their quest for heavy music, you can enjoy Chaotic Fragments in full on Spotify, as well as follow the band on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel. In addition, in order to show all your support and admiration for Heterogeneous Andead, you can purchase their classy new album by clicking HERE, or from Qobuz. You won’t regret succumbing to the chaotic and experimental music brought into being by Heterogeneous Andead, proving once and for all that if innovation is your cup of tea in heavy music, the beautiful Japan will always be your place to go.

Best moments of the album: The Void Sacrifice, Beautiful Nightmare and Mirror of the Lie.

Worst moments of the album: Licking.

Released in 2022 WormHoleDeath

Track listing
1. The Void Sacrifice 4:49
2. Fragments of Memories 8:26
3. Last Reverie 5:24
4. Beautiful Nightmare 6:53
5. Fission 6:05
6. Mirror of the Lie 5:34
7. Regrettable 5:23
8. Licking 8:29

Band members
Haruka Morikawa – vocals
Yusuke Kiyama – guitars, synthesizers, programming
Tomoyuki Nakano – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Haruka Morikawa

A beautiful Japanese nightmare!

As we’re getting closer and closer to the end of another year of pure fuckin’ metal, let’s keep banging our heads nonstop to another extremely talented woman from the underground scene, this time hailing from Japan, or as several people like to call it, the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Easily switching between deep, demonic growls and an angelic, operatic voice, our metal lady of the month of November has been making a strong impact not only on the underground scene in her homeland, but her voice has been echoing all over the world and, therefore, attracting the attention of a wide variety of headbangers worldwide. I’m talking about Haruka Morikawa, also simply known as Haruka, the lead singer for Japanese Melodic/Symphonic Electro Death/Thrash Metal band Heterogeneous Andead, and just by the name of the band and the type of music they play you know you’re in for a treat in our humble tribute to such unique vocalist.

Born and raised in Japan, the skillful Haruka has been the voice of Tokyo’s own Heterogeneous Andead since April 2014, when the band’s current style reached its desired shape and form. However, the band was formed a little before that, though, starting as a project named Andead by founder and multi-instrumentalist Yusuke Kiyama in 2012, changing its name to Heterogeneous Andead in 2013 when they started playing some live concerts. Singing about caustic topics such as sorrow, grief and despair, Heterogeneous Andead have already released one EP and two full-length albums in their career, those being their 2015 debut EP Undead, the 2017 album Deus Ex Machina, and now in 2022 the album Chaotic Fragments, which will be reviewed by The Headbanging Moose sooner than you can say “Japan” and is already available for purchasing HERE. In addition to those, the band was also featured in the compilations Fear Candy 150 (Terrorizer Magazine, 2015), 嘘。(BM Records, 2015), Bad Wish (BM Records, 2015), Halloween – Trick Or Treat (BM Records, 2015), Imperative Music Compilation DVD Vol. 14 (Imperative Music, 2017), and Metal Japan Heavy Chains Vol.5 TieUp ConneXion #2 (Metal Japan Records, 2019).

Heterogeneous Andead have been suffering with several lineup changes lately, with guitarist Sho and bassist Takashi Onitake leaving the band in December 2021 and drummer Tomoyuki Nakano also leaving the band in July this year, which means Yusuke and Haruka are currently searching for a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer to join them in their quest for heavy music. I’m sure they’ll find some talented musicians to be part of the band soon, and until then you can enjoy Haruka’s unique vocals in the official videos for the amazing songs Denied, Automaton and Fission, as well as live recordings of the songs Demise of Reign, Flash of Calamity and Denied live at WildSideTokyo on September 16, 2019, and Unleashed live on February 11, 2017 at Shinjuku Head Power. Furthermore, you can always stream all of the band’s creations on Spotify as well.

An admirer of Classical Music, Jazz, Electronic Pop, Brutal Death Metal and Grindcore, the stunning Haruka doesn’t only mesmerize us all with her mezzo-soprano vocals, singing like an angel, and with her guttural growls and screeches, sounding like a devil, but she also makes sure her looks on stage are in sync with the music being played. According to her bandmate Yusuke, the concept of costumes is basically darkness or gorgeousness influenced by Japanese visual kei, a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics, similar to Western Glam Rock. Simply watch the aforementioned videos of the band, as well as their live performances, and you’ll see the incredible fusion of music and visuals in their creations.

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Owner of a natural Anime voice (according to the band itself), when asked about how she manages to go from her growls to her mezzo-soprano voice (and back) in seconds without having any sort of vocal issues, Haruka said she has already found the perfect way to switch from one style to another, complementing she has never lost her voice due to that extreme change. In one of her interviews our beloved vocalist said that although she didn’t feel her voice was the most remarkable piece of her identity in the beginning, she now understands and feels the power of her voice as part of her character, saying that it was Yusuke who inspired her to sing both harsh and clean vocals when she first joined the band. It was a challenge for her at first, of course, but Yusuke made sure he adapted part of the band’s style to match with her abilities, resulting in a win-win situation for both him and Haruka as the music by Heterogeneous Andead sounds fantastic nowadays. If you’re in Japan you might be lucky enough to witness them playing live, which occurs only once or twice a month, and despite not filling up big venues yet they certainly have a decent amount of followers that always attend their concerts.

Regarding the metal scene in Japan and how well their unique type of Extreme Metal is accepted in the country, Haruka mentioned during an interview that she can see metal bands having issues playing in countries or regions where the catholic church is very strong, but that’s not a problem in Japan as most of the Japanese population doesn’t follow any religion (or at least they don’t follow it blindly, I might say). What’s interesting is that Haruka is a Protestant Christian herself (and she mentioned only 1% of the country is Christian, by the way), but fortunately music and religion are not connected in any particular way in Japan. She also said that because she follows a Christian way of living she believes she can better express herself when singing with Heterogeneous Andead, externalizing all the sorrow and grief from the lyrics in great fashion.

You can watch a few fun and informative interviews on YouTube with Haruka, who’s by the way a big fan of our beloved monster Godzilla. For example, you can enjoy this nice interview to Antichrist Magazine in 2018 where Haruka and Yusuke talk about their previous album Deus Ex Machina; and this one to the Argentinian webzine Territorio Rock, also in 2018. And last but not least, anytime you watch a live performance by Haruka with Heterogeneous Andead you’ll certainly notice her movements are very theatrical, adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result. The reason for that is that not only Haruka was part of plays and musicals when she was a student, but she also practiced Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art that is split into many different styles, during her childhood, allowing her to improve the visual effects of her personal performance while singing at the same time. In other words, don’t mess with Haruka or you’ll get your ass kicked, got it? Simply relax and enjoy her unique vocals to the fullest, proving how much Japan is and will always be one of the most creative countries in the world when the music in question is Heavy Metal.

Haruka Morikawa’s Official Twitter
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official Facebook page
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official YouTube channel
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official Twitter