Heavy Prog • Japan

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Ningen-Isu biography
The Japanese heavy rock outfit NINGEN-ISU (literally "The Human Chair") was formed in 1987 by Shinji WAJIMA (guitar, vocals), Kenichi SUZUKI (bass, vocals) and Noriyoshi KAMIDATE (drums). In this incarnation, the trio bummed around Japan for a couple years before garnering media attention in 1989 via the TV variety/game show 'Heisei Meibutsu TV?Ikasu! Band Tengoku' and released their self-titled debut later that same year.

Both the sound and spirit of NINGEN-ISU have remained constant throughout the years. Sonically, the influence of such 70's hard rock bands as BUDGIE, BLACK SABBATH and KING CRIMSON has resulted in a heavy, thrashy, grungy, stoner rock blend that often veers into Crims' Red-era territory. Additionally, the music and lyrics are sometimes directly influenced by Japanese folk - Shinji is an expert in Buddhist & Japanese literature, and Kenichi is an avid collector of local occult - resulting in the standard stoner/art/metal getting a unique Japanese twist (1998's 'Taihai-Geijutsuten' being a good example).

Despite the lack of a permanent drummer (Noriyoshi left in 1992, replaced by Masuhiro GOTOH in 1993, Iwao TSUCHIYA in '95 and again by Masuhiro in 1996), for the moment the position is held by Nobu NAKAJIMA. The band has steadily produced fourteen albums over nearly twenty years. Recommended for fans of classic heavy music with a strong national identity.

- The Whistler -

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NINGEN-ISU discography

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NINGEN-ISU top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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3.00 | 1 ratings
Ningen Shikkaku
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Sakura No Mori No Mankai No Shita
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Ohgon No Yoake
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Odoru Issun-Bohshi
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Mugen No Junin
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Taihai Geijutsu-Ten
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Nijusseiki Sohsohkyoku
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Kaijin Niju-Mensoh
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Mishiranu Sekai
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Hoochie Koo
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Manatsu No Yoru No Yume
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Mirai Romanha
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Shigan Raisan

NINGEN-ISU Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

NINGEN-ISU Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NINGEN-ISU Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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Peten-Shi To Kuuki-Otoko
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Oshie To Tabisuru Otoko
4.91 | 2 ratings
Ningen-Isu Kessakusen

NINGEN-ISU Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ningen-Isu Kessakusen by NINGEN-ISU album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
4.91 | 2 ratings

Ningen-Isu Kessakusen
Ningen-Isu Heavy Prog

Review by kluseba

5 stars Ningen-Isu is one of the most diversified bands I have ever listened to in my life. This great compilation presents twenty-eight tracks from the last two decades and around two hours and a half of music. That's why this record is an essential way to get in touch with the band and discover what they have created over all these years.

The band has many faces. The straighter and shorter tracks have many sudden changes in style that could remind of a band like System Of A Down or also The Offspring in the dirtier parts while some tracks also have an unpredictable crossover with a dominating slap bass, weird guitar chords and speed passages that make me think of the early years of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

On the other side, the record also has its calmer and rather progressive moments that honour the music of the seventies around bands such as Led Zeppelin and Golden Earring in particular but also Black Sabbath in some more doom orientated passages. Some slight folk influences and the vocals remind you that you are actually listening to a Japanese band. Ningen-Isu seems just to find the right mixture between exotic sounds and more Western influenced music.

The band has also a harsher side that is influenced by experimental thrash metal with spacey flows reminding me of Voivod that are combined with tight riffs, dominating bass guitar lines and many subtle changes that request a lot of time and multiple tries with this band.

The most amazing thing about the band is that everything sounds truly coherent even though there is such a high degree of diversity in the music. Ningen-Isu make me think about loads of different bands but in the end these are only comparisons and they always sound like themselves with heavy doom guitar riffs that regularly evolve towards faster passages, a dominating and deeply tuned bass play, soft but haunting vocals and many progressive changes of style.

Another strong point of this Japanese phenomenon is the fact that almost all tracks have a strong hit potential and are actually quite catchy even though the songs change a lot, are sung in Japanese and can sometimes crack epic lengths.

It's really hard to name some highlights among all these songs but I will try to. On the first disc, "羅生門" stands out for its mixture of old school doom with folk influences and unique guttural vocals that create a lot of inspiring images on my mind. "地獄" is a shorter track but contains as many different genre elements. The basis of this song is a straight traditional heavy metal track that is interrupted by a weird and disturbing middle part with discordant guitar sounds and wild laughter.

The second disc even pleases a little bit more to me than the first one. "幽霊列車" might please to any hard rock fan and is a huge tribute to the seventies with its dark progressive soul on one side and the highly addicting chorus on the other side. "相剋の家" has a completely different but as fascinating soul and is a very relaxed and spiritual track with a strong transcending flow in the charming chorus. I happen to ask myself if these Japanese are really heavily creative or if they were on drugs when they wrote this kind of song. "品川心中" is also a calmer song and has a doom vibe mixed with a catchy and almost commercial chorus that works surprisingly well and resumes what this band stands for. The music is complex and surprising but always catchy and easy to digest. The weird and straight forward attitude rather comes out in the closing highlight "狂ひ咲き" that sounds like a mixture of thrash metal and krautrock.

In the end, this compilation definitely offers something for anybody that likes rock and metal music. This band is very open-minded without losing its face. This release is a good way to get in touch with them and shows how many things Ningen-Isu experienced in their musical career that started more than twenty-five years ago in Aomori and they still stand tall after all these years. I even think that a regular studio record might sound more coherent but this compilation is still close to musical perfection which underlines my generous final rating. I will certainly try out to hear more from them and hope for an international release or even some concerts in the future as more and more Japanese bands such as Electric Eel Shock, Dir En Grey or X Japan got huge international airplay in the last years. Long live the diversified Japanese culture and long live Ningen-Isu.

Originally published on www.metal-archives.com on April 29th of the year 2012.


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 Ningen Shikkaku by NINGEN-ISU album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.00 | 1 ratings

Ningen Shikkaku
Ningen-Isu Heavy Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych / Avant / Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars (From PA blog "Japanese Progressive Rock presented by DamoX")

After weird and psychedelic air with sounds like an animal crying or being squeezed blowin' and twistin' around us, steady and heavy riffs by guitars and drums should come here.

A Japanese heavy rock outfit NINGEN-ISU was formed in 1987 by Shinji Wajima (guitar, voices) and Ken'ichi Suzuki (bass, voices). In 1989 they appeared as a bizarre project on a TV program introducing new bands and could knock all judges and audience out with their terrific technique. As a basis shoving heavy and progressive rock style influenced by KING CRIMSON, BLACK SABBATH or BUDGIE, they have released 14 studio albums since 1990. Their tune and lyrics are characterized by Shinji's grounding in Japanese literature or Buddhism and Ken'ichi's curiosity about doom or spiritism - the eerie and esoteric flavour gains them popularity among maniacs.

The heavy riffs can remind us the sound wall by King Crimson, Uriah Heep or Rush - pioneers in heavy prog scene. From the first track 'Tetsugoshi No Mokushiroku (The Apocalypse of Prison)' we can feel only two of their faces. Hey folks, a bizarre show with serious plays now gets started! 'Hari No Yama (A heap of needles)' is - you bet - just Budgie's Breadfan with their Japanese impressive arrangement. We can realize their respect for Budgie with this speedy and aggressive ensemble. Their lyrics are very funny (Gonna fall down from the heap of needles, with my body packed with massive fire and blood!) but plays and sounds are as serious and terrific as Budgie, in my opinion as a Japanese. ;-) For them writing lyrics should be really enjoyable we can feel. Next 'Ayakashi No Tsuzumi (Ayakashi playin' drums)' is exactly weird song - Ayakashi is an imaginary monster in the sea, that is appeared vividly by them. Listen and feel - like drumming in another world, heavy drum sounds with heavy bass ones and heavier voices go through our brain with weirdness of this monster. Ken'ichi's cult make this eerie song - tasted by his eerie voices and thick sounds. 'Ringo No Namida (Tears of an apple)' is an arrangement of a Japanese children's song, isn't it? Basically it's a song that an apple born on a countryside will go to a city by train for sale. The children's song is pleasant and expectable one but this version is very plaintive and tragic. I guess they should notify us the sadness of prostitutes... 'Sai No Kawara' - how shall I translate - may be from a Japanese tragic old tale. An orphan would try to find his/her parents with piling lots of stones up but the heap of stones should collapse down - this song is the repetition of his/her act. How sad! One of the most rhythmic and powerful love-rock song is 'Tengoku Ni Musubu Koi (Blooming love in the Heaven)'. Shinji's naive voices are very comfortable and make us lovely, however the lyrics are very severe - yea, "SEXUAL LOVE WITH A DEAD LOVER". Their drivin' the stream of this song is as if Robert Fripp drive...at least for me. 'Akuma No Temariuta (A devil with a ball in his hand)' is again a grotesque shot - 'bout murdered and entombed beautiful girls - the story is heavier and uglier than the sounds. But believe me, instead of the story, they can play so literarily and seriously with their heavy progressive style, and with their native language - Tsugaru-Japanese. And the highlight in this album - 'Ningen-shikkaku (Disqualified human life)' - is the most progressive, avantgarde, dramatic, and self-motivated song I wanna say. This is the literary one with full of Shinji's policy. Like a movie, there are lots of scenes and stages in this song. Life is changeable like autumn weather...? All of their faces this song has. On the contrary, the next 'Heavy-metal No Gyakushu (Revenge of heavy-metal)' should be, for us, an enjoyable song. 'Arnheim No Izumi (Spring in Arnheim)' is produced with Shinji's graceful three-minute guitar solo. The heavy and rumbling bomb, 'Sakura No Mori No Mankai No Sh'ta (Under full of cherry blossoms)', is very suitable for the last song of this work, in spite of this beautiful title. Exploded riffs can let us realize they should love heavy rock, death metal, and progressive rock. They can keep the eerie and solemn atmosphere around them till the last!

Wonderful eeeerriiee tales...recommended by eerie DamoXt7942.


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