Bleach03 Bleach03

[Australian Cattle God; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles:  hardcore
Others: Melt Banana, Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re

A hardcore musician, who happened to play very formulaic hardcore, once noted that all music is based on formulas, and he's right. Unfortunately for him, you can only listen to someone do a mediocre imitation of Minor Threat and Black Flag so many times. Granted, much of hardcore's appeal comes from the high-energy live shows, but "energy" too often means "elbow to the face" if not "karate kick to the face." As a result, I must admit my fascination with the genre has diminished and I have begun to fulfill my jones for "the heavy" elsewhere. While a few bands squeak under the radar and end up being worth it, they tend to be pretty far down the "art-core" path, such as The Locust and Melt Banana. What, then, is a fan of "the core" to do when they just want a little fun?

Answer: The first track on Bleach03's self-titled album, which is translated (from Japanese) as "My Sweet Angel and I Considered The Aesthetics of the Black Pen." Having more than just a stunning title, the track is one of the single greatest hardcore tracks I have ever heard. It employs a fantastically inventive rhythmic assault, almost melodic singing, plenty of screaming, and despite all that, it's even catchy. While I can't guarantee that it will get you out of your chair slammin', or even pogo'ing, I do offer a 100% guarantee that you will at least think about it. Afterwards, the band takes a three-track detour starting with an amped-up sea chantey"Sun-Dance””Moon-Dance" (think Ted Leo as interpreted by three hardcore girls) and then continues with the terrifically bouncy, beautifully melodic, almost-ska of "Canary Empire Strikes Back." But perhaps the biggest surprise is "Challenge," a slow ballad that actually isn't cheesy. Throughout the rest of the album, though never quite topping the highs of the first four tracks, Bleach03 show the rare ability to play hardcore that is melodically driven without being emo, screamo, or even remotely pop-punk.

On the band's prior album, Three Girls From Okinawa (which conveniently provides a mini-bio), Bleach03 proved that they could keep things interesting playing straight-up hardcore. This time through, they have pushed all the way to the limits of the genre, and in doing so, prove that formulas exist to be bent, twisted, and re-conceived by fantastic songwriters, not followed like an instruction manual. So, just as Sergio Leone revitalized the western, hopefully in the future we can fondly recall the days when Bleach03 revitalized hardcore.

1. Kuropen Bigaku O Tenshi-chan To Kangaemashita (My Sweet Angel And I Considered The Aesthetics Of The Black Pen)
2. Sun-Dance--Moon-Dance
3. Canary Teikoku No Gyakushuu (Canary Empire Strikes Back)
4. Chousen (Challenge)
5. Raikou~Kareki Ni Hana Wa Sakanai (Lightning~Flowers Don't Bloom From A Dead Tree)
6. Nils
7. He (Hips)
8. Howling
9. Arigatou Gozaimasu (Thank You Very Much)
10. Taiyou (Sun)